2/22/2012

Blind Spots.

I've been thinking a lot about my business situation lately, and I think I need some advice... Being semi-self employed and freelancing instead of having a usual 9-5 job has a lot of rewards, a bit of peril, and a definite learning curve. Even though I've kept this blog up for 6 years, and my etsy shop for 5, I feel like I still have a lot to learn. This has always just been a fun little side job, an outlet for my creativity really, but now it needs to be something more substantial. Having more time to focus on it now, I have seen it grow so quickly in a short period of time that I know I can make it into exactly what I need if I get over a couple key personal hurdles.

My biggest "blind spot", if you will, is in the realm of advertising. I'm a pretty shy person by nature really, and I've always just left it to etsy to advertise my shop, and blogger to get people to my blog. I've never been the kind of person to try very hard to stand out, and I need to change that behavior when it comes to my business. But really, I have no idea where to start, so I was hoping you all might have some advice to share, or some help to lend. I'm going to start small... Very, very small, and work my way up. First of all, I now have a mailing list! Check out the sidebar for the sign-up form. I'll be using it to send info on new projects, upcoming shows, and coupons, and I know myself well enough to know that I won't be sending out too many newsletters so don't worry about me spamming you to death! Anywho... Now you must all know by now that I am a huge dork, so this is the first piece of advertising I have come up with:


Okay, you can stop laughing now. Yes, this is one of those posters with the tear-off strips. I designed this a couple weeks ago when my new printer arrived, and just printed and cut 2 of them. (Mine say "Designed and crafted right here in Oakland" because I'm intending to hang them around town.) See what I mean about starting small? I've also got some new business cards printed up:




And these little guys are coupons for returning customers that I'm putting in my packages. They've got a thank you note and a code on the back in the same style as my cards:

(I used moo for the printing, www.moo.com.)

I've looked at buying some ad space on other websites, but I have such a limited budget right now that they all seem a little too pricey. So I was wondering if any of you lovely readers would be interested in trading some ad space? I have quite a good readership these days and it keeps growing (for the stats see the new "Advertise" tab at the top of the page), and if you have a site with comparable stats I'd love to do a straight-up even trade. In case you haven't noticed, I've cleaned up the sidebar to make room for some new sponsors, and moved the How-To's and Recipes links to the tabs at the top, and I've also added a couple new tabs. I'd love any feedback or advice you guys can offer, and please send me an e-mail at ohthecuteness@hotmail.com if you're interested in teaming up for advertising! And heck, if you wanted to print that flyer up there and hang one on your community bulletin board, send me a pic and I'll send you a coupon for the shop! Just click on the image for the larger version.

I also recently learned about this little doodad on Amazon... Apparently you can become an "associate" and basically build you own mini amazon shop, stocked with all the stuff you love. And when you refer people to an item in your shop, you get a little commission when they buy it. I think it's pretty cool, and since I'm always posting links to books and other stuff I blog about, I figured why not? So now when I link to a book it will still take you to Amazon, but it will be in my own little bookstore and if you buy it from there you'll be supporting my business! You can also check out the entire little shop under the link at the top called "My Bookstore". Hope you like my selection! ^_^

10 comments:

  1. Anonymous11:16 AM

    Your cards and coupons look great!

    ... your book store idea sounds great ....who does'nt like books...

    be sure to list the books your patterns are in that are for sale as well !

    i will put up a few of your posters around here and SLO...

    good luck :)on your new ventures...

    your patience will pay off ...

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  2. my shop & blog is much newer than yours and still only a side venture. I don't have enough time to dedicate to it's success because my 9-5 (8-8) keeps me too busy.

    I have purchased ad space on a couple of blogs in the past. And while it gave me a spike in views, it didn't result in sales. So I don't know if it was worth the investment.

    I decided a while back to be an ad-free blog. But I do wonder how well blogs with ads really fare. It seems they may have a lot of repeat business and referrals. I'm just not ready to take that leap. And my readership is low (commenting even lower), so I don't think I'm there yet.

    I currently only sell on Etsy and I'm sure that's not a good idea. I started there as a buyer when they first opened. Finding handmade stuff online was so new and the site was perfect. Now I feel like my products get lost in a sea of others that are far better than mine!

    So I guess I have no advice since I'm not successful at this. But I do wish you the best of luck with this new step towards success and branding. And I think your new cards look great!! :)

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  3. It sounds like you have a healthy attitude towards your business ... always be open to learning and growing. :) Not to be "that guy" but I sell super cheap ad space on my site if you ever have a budget and want to try it out.

    Other thoughts (the things I do instead of advertising) with regard to generating buzz are writing articles for craftzine.com, letting sites like whipup.com know about projects I've posted on my site, writing tutorials, offering free patterns, leaving thoughtful and enthusiastic comments on the blogs of people doing things that I LOVE, and replying to the awesome comments people leave on my blog.

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  4. Thanks ladies! It's so nice to know that there are people out there in the same boat as me!
    @Mom: Thanks for all your help, I couldn't do most of this without you!
    @Tsuki: you are way too hard on yourself, everything I seen on your blog and in your shop is lovely!
    @Alice: You are such an inspiration to me and I'll take all of your advice to heart!
    And @Leslie, who commented on the "Advertise" page: I love your site and all your sweet free patterns and tutorials, let's get together some advertising trades!

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  5. I'm not sure if you've done this already, but I sell some of my things by consignment in a local bookstore. While sometimes it can be frustrating as they DOUBLE my prices (jeeze!!), I have had sales and I've definitely noticed a spike in my blog viewers since doing so. I make sure to leave plenty of business cards, and have had orders from people who saw my work and were savvy enough to know that the prices had been hiked!
    ALSO, I see you've already done this a bit- I still say that parents/family are the best advertisers. My parents are so supportive and proud- they always carry around a little stack of my business cards and give them to people who comment on something they're wearing that I had made for them. They also hand cards out at work and add a facebook link on their page when I have a new post out.

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  6. I love that your business cards are also coupons. Very smart.

    Sometimes when I fav something on etsy, the seller will send me a note with a 10% off coupon code. Something that might get you a few more sells.

    This might be helpful. Online classes about how to grow your blog/online business. $15 seams like a reasonable investment. http://www.altitudesummit.com
    /altchannel/

    I know that there are tones of other articles and discussions around the web too.

    Lastly, I do design for trade. :)

    Good luck!

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  7. @Emily - not to ruin the suprise, but I've been working on getting over my crippling shyness and getting some consignment gigs, and mom and dad sure do help a lot!
    @Vanessa - oooh girl don't tell me you do things for trade!! It's on!

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  8. Boy, I hear you on the whole 'shyness' thing - I feel really uncomfortable with self promotion, and yet you need to advertise if you want anyone to find you! I think you've made a great start, and I'm looking forward to seeing how your plan works. (Adorable cards, by the way!)

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  9. I'm planning on getting back on my blog with updates and all. Sadly working and stressing so much had made me stop for far too long. When I get back rolling I will definitely be looking into purchasing ad space! I love your new cards too! SO adorable! Thinking of getting some of the mini ones when I get my baby knit store up. Be good for thank you notes in packages!

    If you want I would totally post one of those posters in Portland for you! haha. We all need to stick together in the crafting world.

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  10. Thank you much Barbara! Things are going well! And Breana, I'd love to work with you!

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