Now where do you begin? I didn’t have a clue where to start when I first opened Twinkleballs but through the help of my very kind sister- in-law Gem Clarke, owner of Gems Craft Corner and Gems Cupcakes, my little business was up and selling in no time.
I have written this short guide to online selling and using social media as a little helping hand for all the new sellers out there that need a little assistance getting started.
Good photos of your products are an absolute must-have, your photos are all the customer has to judge you on. Blurred pictures look unprofessional and don't do your products justice. I LOVE my little mini studio kit, I can get great pictures day or night and it folds away for convenient storage. You can pick one up for around £30 from ebay, Amazon or Maplin.
The key to selling through social media is networking. It takes a lot of time but is essential to running a successful business. A good proportion of my own sales have come via requests posted on these networking pages.
I recommend posting on networking pages at least once a day, remember to vary each post as not doing so could result in facebook telling you off for spamming and banning you from posting anything!
The first thing you need to know to network is how to tag your page.Tagging is providing a click-able link that takes people to your page, a tagged page name will appear in blue. To tag your page type @and your business name without a space. Pop over to my page TwinkleBalls, give me a like and then practise tagging your page in the comment box. If you do it right I will be popping over to your page soon to return the like!
There are loads of friendly networking pages all inviting you to share your wares and make new crafty friends. I personally recommend The Supermums Craft Fair, I Run A Small Business, Handmade Parade, Wedding Find It Buy it (for wedding goods only) Crafty Likes, Handmade with Love and Nice Things Events.
Never just post your goods and run, take time to like and comment on other peoples posts, networking is about making contacts as well as showing of your crafty delights. Get your name noticed, build a good rapport with other crafters and they will remember to recommend you when they see a request for goods you sell.
I also recommend that you always post a photo of your products when networking. I, like many others tend to skim past the text only posts, I get drawn to the photos and then read what the post is all about!
When it comes to advertising your work and trying to get new likes you don’t want to be treading on anybody’s toes, so here are a few simple rules to avoid any upset.
- Don’t post your pictures on to other business pages except networking pages or when you are invited to do so
- Avoid sharing a link to your page on other business pages, it is fine to say “hello, new like from TwinkleBalls” this lets the page owner know where to find you so they can return the like but a link to your page basically puts a big advert on their wall which is a bit cheeky. If posting from a mobile you can choose to hide the link preview so you are only really leaving a tag. Lots of pages just delete shared links!
- Don’t say things like “ I have liked your page, like mine back” it’s just not friendly. Take a little time to like or comment on the page’s products then simply say hello and tag your page.
- Keep your business page professional, it is your shop and no one wants to see arguments and slagging matches played out on a business wall. If you have a problem with a customer or another page keep it private. Your wall should be a positive place that shares the glory and success of your business!
- Don't get hung up on the 'likes' count. It is always nice to have lots of fans but genuine fans are far more valuable then 'like for a like' fans who probably haven't even bothered to look at your products. Some people request that you only 'like' from your personal account as only personal 'likes' show in the 'likes' count but most people hide pages from their personal news feeds where as a like from a business page usually means you will be seen on that businesses newsfeed, a far more precious 'like'!
Setting up your own website isn’t as daunting as it sounds. You no longer need to understand HTML to create one. There are numerous sites that have drag and drop programmes making it super easy to create your own site in a matter of hours. as you can see I use weebly but there are other out there just google it!
SEO = Search engine optimization – I had not a clue what this meant and you really need to know.
Set the Price
It is one thing that all of us struggle with. We think that people just won’t pay a higher price for a ‘Handmade’ product – this is not true, making your products cheap can make them less desirable. Do not under sell yourself, value your skill and charge for your time. Your business will not survive if you do not charge enough for your products. There is a fantastic excel pricing calculator available through @irasb forum that will give you a guide as to what you should be charging. And remember you can always run special offers and promotions to make the customer feel they are getting a good deal.
(see facebook rules before running any competitions or promotions)
Looking after your customers is a top priority if you want a good customer base, and to gain new customers through recommendations. Distance selling relies on getting good reviews from clients so do all you can to provide the best service possible.
Everyone makes mistakes, it will happen to you at some point, be honest and upfront with your customers and offer compensation or discounts where you have made a mistake or a product has not met their expectations. A little good will gesture will go a long way to maintaining a good reputation.
Ride the roller coaster
As with all things in life there will be highs and lows. Some days facebook will feel like a ghost town and others will be buzzing with enquiries and new orders. Just remember to stay positive and NETWORK your socks off to maximise your reach.
Quiet periods can be used to catch up on paper work, plan for forthcoming events and think about where you want your business to go and how you are going to get it there. Don’t sit about feeling sorry for yourself and checking you message every five minutes, put your mind to work on new products, special promotions and marketing because when business is on the up again you won’t have time to think about anything other than getting all your orders out on time!
Need a little help from a friend?
Founded by Caroline Thomson of Candy Parade, IRASB forum is the ultimate advice hub for online businesses. It has saved many crafters from despair and brought them back from the brink of giving up and closing down. With hundreds of members from all walks of life there is an endless amount of knowledge and support to be shared and I for one find the conversation and friendly banter a welcome addition to my home based working life.
For a fantastic insight in to running a home business I recommend you check out Liz Broomfield’s blog http://libroediting.com/category/freelancer-chat/ The blog contains lots of information about business start up and Liz writes regular interviews with small business owners from many different fields, talking to them about how their business started, what they have learned and what advice they would give others. These interviews make for a nice coffee break read and are packed full of helpful tips and advice.
Lianne-carla Savage owns ‘Working Freedom for Women in Business’ a business dedicated to helping women in business create business models that grow their business whilst creating a life they love. I recommend signing up to her 365 Days Of Marketing video posts for tons of business marketing advice for FREE.
PVB is a fabulous website run by the lovely Peta Coote. Not only does she sell gorgeous vintage jewellery but she also works really hard to support other small businesses. PVB magzine offers features and advertising exclusively for small businesses at amazingly low rates and Peta also writes a blog dedicated to supporting and raising awareness of small businesses.
Networking pages aren’t just for selling your wares, they are a place for making friends and sharing knowledge. So if you have a question or need a little advice from fellow business owners just ask for help through these most helpful communities.
Running your own business is not going to be easy, it takes a lot of commitment and hard work. The single most important thing to remember is that you must ENJOY what you do! If you don’t enjoy your work you won’t give it your best and it will fail. Crafting is grafting and it takes a strong will to succeed, do what you do best with passion and determination and your business will bloom!
Spread the Word!
Thank you for reading my blog, I hope you find it useful, should you have any question please do not hesistate to contact me.
Please do share this blog on facebook and on twitter, there are lots of small businesses in need of a little help to get started.
Wishing you the best of luck for the future, Jenny x