Expert Advice to Make Your Handmade Shop Successful

So you’ve opened a handmade shop selling some awesome artisanal product… that’s where your work ends, right? Unfortunately, your handmade shop’s success hinges on much more than your product alone. Erica, President of aftcra – an online marketplace where you can buy and sell handmade goods made in the USA – shares her expert opinion and provides advice on what you need to know to get your handmade shop discovered by buyers.

1. Consistent Branding

Branding is an important part of every business. It encompasses everything from your product titles to your product photography to the voice you use in your emails. To create and maintain a brand, you need to take some time to identify the following:

  1. What is your organization’s mission?
  2. How are you different than the competition?
  3. What tone of voice will you use in your marketing pieces (flyers, product descriptions, emails)?
  4. What are your branding elements (logo, name, theme, colors)?

Then figure out how you would apply your brand to the following:

  1. The experience with your shop
  2. The service customers can expect to receive
  3. Your social media presence
  4. Packaging materials

Once you’ve solidified your branding, you will feel confident in moving forward with other shop elements with ease.

2. Beautify Your Photos

Product photography is one of the most important elements to make your handmade shop a success. Since you’re selling online, customers aren’t able to touch/hold/try on the products you are selling. Your photos need to provide the customers with enough visual information to make them feel confident in their potential purchase. Below are four tips you should review before you post your photos:

  1. Think clean and visually simple. Your job is to showcase your product, so eliminate as many distractions (other photo props) as possible.
  2. Keep your brand consistent in all pictures. If your branding is more “moody”, be sure that all of your photos develop the same emotion.
  3. Photos should be well-lit and clear. Pictures that are dark or pixelated aren’t as eye catching as beautiful images.
  4. Include a variety of photos. Show the customer how the bracelet really looks - up close, whole body, on a person, alone.

And remember – beautiful images are typically the ones that handmade marketplaces like aftcra and Etsy use in gift guides and advertisements.

3. Beef Up Product Titles and Descriptions

Product descriptions and titles are crucial elements to your shop. Handmade marketplaces rely on product titles and descriptions for search functions - both within the marketplace and with search engines (Google, Bing and Yahoo!). Crafting product titles and descriptions that are informative and SEO-friendly helps buyers discover your product and make a purchase.

When you’re working on your product descriptions and titles, shy away from only using your brand names for your products. Be sure to add descriptive language so buyers understand what they are about to click on before they dismiss your product.

When you’re creating your product descriptions, think like a customer. Consumers are going to be looking for information about your product that they can’t gather in the picture, so include necessary sizes, weights, cleaning procedures, etc. in your descriptions. The more information you provide to the customer, and the least amount of steps the customer needs to make, the more likely they will purchase your product.

If you still need more help you can learn more about SEO in this related blog post.

4. Give Good Customer Service

Customer Service makes or breaks a company. Good reviews and referrals are the best way to build your handmade shop’s repertoire. Answering customer emails in a timely manner helps build trust with the buying community while reassuring them that you will not only fulfill their order but ship the order within the time suggested in your product description.

If you’re trying to sell a product and you aren’t responsive you will most likely lose the sale because the buyer will feel like you won’t follow through on the order. Answer emails right away, be friendly and listen to your customers.

Also, if you have a social media page, respond to customer inquiries and be engaging. Buyers may be reviewing your social presence for additional input before they make their purchase. If they see that you are unresponsive to questions on your social account they may hesitate to make a purchase with you.

5. Drive Traffic to Your Handmade Shop

When considering options for marketing your handmade shop, thoroughly review all avenues to find what works best for what audiences. For social media, Twitter can be more business-focused, Pinterest is consumer-driven, and Instagram and Facebook speak to both audiences. Pick one or two social media outlets that work best for your audience to start. Unless you have help, I highly recommend not creating a presence on all social media streams – you will find yourself overwhelmed and over-worked.

Newsletters are a great way to engage your customers. Unfortunately there is no secret to how frequently you should be sending out your newsletter or what content your customers want to see. In order to discover what works best for your company, you will need to conduct tests on your newsletter group.

If you decide to move forward with a newsletter, be sure to promote it’s sign-ups on your website, your social media accounts, your business cards, and anywhere else you can direct traffic. If nobody knows about your newsletter, then you won’t have anyone sign up for it.

And lastly, if it is taking you too long to create a newsletter or your social media strategy/posts then it is time to ask for help. Explore finding an expert who can help make the most for your organization.

You can learn more about cross-promoting your handmade shop with this handy blog post.




Author Bio: Erica Riegelman, President and Co-Founder, aftcra

Erica Riegelman is the President and Co-Founder of aftcra, an online marketplace where you can buy and sell handmade goods made in America. She lives in Milwaukee, WI with her family.