I am forever saying that I run my business without the use of social media so I thought it best to give a broad outline of exactly what I do when I approach a new product collection and how I view things overall. I have also outlined what I think is important to take into consideration when launching a product and generally operating a business.
Firstly, let me tell you that I don’t have anything against social media, I just don’t like it for myself. I am sure there are many business that are making a great success out of their business with Facebook and Instagram, I am just not one of them. I know I am not alone either in this hatred of the way social media works and in order to avoid being a slave to their ever changing algorithm, I come up with my own strategy to sell online. Hopefully this overview will be helpful to others, including you.
Why don’t I use social media?
I hate to start on a negative but these are the reasons I don’t use social media. I have tried in the past and joined the # brigade, I have done daily posts on facebook and I even joined snapchat in the hope that I could use that for business too. And while I never say never (because that is just silly), for the forseeable future, I cannot see me ever having the time needed, to dedicate to any of these platforms.
Reason Number One
The content we provide on social media is not evergreen. Posts are fleeting and even if you hit gold and get tons of likes and comments on a post, it disappears within a day or maximum 2. That time spent on another of my strategies would be certain to bring in sales.
Reason Number Two
We are not guaranteed to be seen by all the followers that have told Facebook they actually like us. We are a slave to their ever changing algorithm and what might work one week may not work the next. I was on Facebook in the days when everyone seen business posts, back in 2005 with my first business, and even then, it got a few sales but i reckon if the conversion was worked out in terms of time spent talking to people, the results would not be fab, monetary wise. Disclaimer: I am not saying advertising doesn’t work here, just that it is something I will not put my time or money into.
Reason Number Three
Respect the platform and its purpose. Yes, your demographic may be on there in their droves but ask yourself why? People are there to chat to their friends, see their status and generally pass time, they are not there to buy so are not considered a ‘warm lead’ at all and to get them off the platform with a call to action to visit your website, Etsy or Amazon (which is what you should be trying to do), is literally impossible. The other option is to take private messages for sales and that fills me with dread. Endless talking to customers back and to via a messenger app is such an inefficient use of time which could be spent on more evergreen tactics.
So, enough of the negatives, what do I do?
Ok, firstly I put all of my efforts into strategies that are going to reap rewards long term, or as I call them ‘evergreen’ strategies. You will probably have heard this term around the net and it is one that fits the bill perfectly for me.
I have outlined the strategy I follow with the rules I have set myself below. They help me to stay focused and while I am not saying that other strategies would not work for me, I am saying these do.
With regards to the products you sell I feel it is really important to look cohesive and not like an online jumble sale. Think about when you are shopping. If you wanted a pair of earrings, would you be more tempted to buy from a jeweller who had a great collection of jewellery including maybe bracelets and chains or would you buy from someone who did cushion covers and wine glasses with the odd pair of earrings thrown in. Personally I would choose the former and I know a lot of others would too. Try not to beat yourself up or take this personally if you do have a random collection of makes, we all start out like that and it is easy to try new designs out in excitement. But reign youself in and make a plan and stay committed to one of two things.
- Be a specialist in one product and make lots of varieties of that product for lots of occasions.
- Or, serve the same audience. (For instance, all baby things are great, all wedding things, all things vegan). In other words, a cohesive collection.
Now, I am not saying you cannot move onto another product eventually, because I certainly have, but I made sure that I had a really wide range of glasses before I moved to other products. And, each new product will always have at least 5 collections within the product offering.
Firstly I produce a product collection. I sell wine glasses and an example of a collection would be an anniversary collection.
I make glasses people want.
I do not make glasses and then find people to want them.. that is TOO hard!
Take the love out of it, this is business. Sorry to sound harsh, but this is true. If you want money in the bank with a nice tidy profit, you have to give people what they want.
So, research what is selling. Look at trends, look at top sellers on Etsy, top sellers in the handmade section in Amazon, look for what people are searching for and make a collection of products that they want. For instance, if you were around a couple of years ago you will know that Unicorns were massive. Now it barely mattered what you sold, you stick a unicorn on it and you had a sale. This would have been true for nursery prints, jewellery, wine glasses, art work, soft furnishings.. need I go on? Now they are dying down a little but you only have to walk into your local high street to see that sloths and pineapples are taking over. Sell what people want, not what you want to make.
Look at the latest colour schemes and fashion trends. Foliage was massive last year along with succulents and rose gold has been the latest colour scheme for some years now. You catch my drift don’t you? And, this does not mean copy what others are doing, it means use the trends to design your own products and make them unique. You will find that keywords are great to find when you are following trends.
Now, I am not saying this is all you should have. Every business needs their bread and butter products. As a florist this was always a white lily bouquet, they literally never go out of fashion. But, alongside that I would offer hot pink and green (this was the in thing back then) and this bouquet sold like hotcakes.
If you don’t want to find a trend, find a market to serve. There are plenty of markets that you can niche down in. Baby, vegan, LGBTQ, wedding market etc. And, although these are huge markets, you could niche down further to maybe offer twin products within the baby market, or gay weddings within the wedding market.
In a nut shell, you are looking for people who want to buy your product before you make it.
So, now you have found the product and remember this is only a brief outline of what I do, you then need to sell it.
⭐️SEO – SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION
I use SEO. Now if you don’t know what SEO is, I will tell you briefly but I intend to do a proper guide within the next two months. This is going to take some putting together though so bear with me.
SEO is search engine optimisation. This basically means that your listings or pages on your website, Etsy or Amazon are ready to be found within the search engine that the platform uses.
For instance, if you sell pink wine glasses, you want to make sure that your pink wine glasses come as close to the top as possible when people type in ‘pink wine glasses’ in the search bar. ‘Pink wine glasses’ would be considered a ‘keyword phrase’. You need to find keyword phrases that people are using to find products you sell. They need to be an accurate description because imagine if you searched for pink wine glasses and gold ones come up, would you click on them?
The first thing to remember with SEO is this..
‘SEO is designed to please the customer and show them products they want to look at’. It is not designed for the seller.
Each listing should contain keywords pertaining to the product you sell. Applying SEO to each platform is completely different but the same principals apply. Don’t over use the same ones over and over again, use long term keyword phrases (three of more words together) and be specific and generic at the same time.
Generic – personalised gifts for mum
Specific – Silver bracelet for mum
I cannot go too much into the SEO because this whole blog would be pages long and not in any kind of order and I really want the SEO guide to be cohesive and easy to follow. Suffice it to say that if you get your SEO right on your products, this is an evergreen strategy that should not be messed with once it starts working.
As soon as a product starts selling, other factors come into play from all platforms such as relevancy, conversion rate and authority. Basically, if the platforms see that people have clicked onto your pictures and bought as a consequence, they start to trust you and will show you to more people.
Please note that I apply SEO to Etsy, Amazon, my Website, Pinterest. I do not drive traffic to these places, I let them provide the footfall they say they can provide by making sure my SEO is as good as I can get it.
⭐️Other things to consider
Good clear photographs.
Good clear descriptions that answers all potential questions about your product.
Good materials list
Good price point (not too cheap and not too expensive, unless of course you have positioned yourself as high end). See my branding blog for information on where to place your brand strategically.
✨Please do not make excuses about any of the above. I really hate to be the one to break it to you but customers do not care if you don’t have good light, or haven’t had the time to write a good description or the kids were playing up so you couldn’t finish the materials list. You have to find a way to make it work, that is your job as a business owner.
⭐️The buying habits of a customer online
Below is my list of what I think customers do. This may help you realise what is important with regards to a listing and why.
✸SEARCH – firstly using a broad search term such as ‘gifts for mum’, then they see a variety of different gifts. They may like a bracelet they seen but then this makes them do another search so they do a
✸SECOND SEARCH – which is more specific and may be, ‘silver bracelet for mum’. They then
✸CLICK – on a product based on a picture that shows the bracelet in a clear light uncluttered that appeals to them. They then
✸READ – the description to see if it ticks their boxes, will it arrive in time for the birthday, will it fit her, can you personalise it. If they like what they see they will
✸BUY. Done and dusted, sale is yours.
It really is that simple. You have to make sure all of these things are ok. The good news is that you don’t have to strive for brilliance, ok is great at the beginning as you can then make improvements along the way. Bad is not ok though so don’t fool yourself with that old chestnut. Be self critical because if you are not, the customers will be.
⭐My Launch Strategy
Ok, so I have outlined the list I follow when I create any product collection
💖List on Website, Amazon and Etsy
💖Pin to Pinterest
💖Email / Blog
💖Put a gallery up on FB, simply to have a presence.
I have done a three part blog series showing exactly how to build and use an email list. You can find that here. Read them in order of numbers as this will make more sense. 1,2,3.
I have also done a series on how to set up pinterest for business and how to make sure it is SEO friendly. You can read that here.
⭐️⭐️What I DONT do.⭐️⭐️
I have listed what I do but I am going to list what I don’t do too. This has also helped me to keep focused on the job in hand.
✹I don’t panic when sales are slow. In my experience sales slow down during all school holidays, when the weather is really good and in November and January. In my third year in this business I have managed to stay steady during these times but in my bricks and mortar and the first two years of this, these trends followed and across lots of areas too. I know lots of business owners, online and off.
✹I don’t moan about changes. Etsy and Amazon have created their own rules. Stick by them and get on with it or move on. Moaning is not productive and will not make you feel good and it will also definitely not make sales, that is for sure.
I have always kept in mind what a customer doesn’t do either.
⭐️They don’t care about any amount of ‘love’ that was put into the design.
⭐️ Don’t wonder how many hours of work was put into it.
⭐️ Don’t think about the sellers family.
This may sound harsh and I of course care about other people’s families and how hard people work but buyers don’t and that is fact. You may find the odd gem who does but in the main, nope they don’t care.
I am really sorry that I have rambled on for so long. I am also sorry but not sorry for being blunt in places but I am blunt with myself too if that helps. I do hope it has helped some of you even create your own strategy and maybe get rid of some things that are just not working to help you stay focused.
Remember you are not superman or superwoman so cut down, keep it simple and doable. Do the boring stuff that others wont do, it can sometimes be what sets us apart.
And, most of all, put in the graft, you have to remember to graft. But it has to be focused graft, not all over the place. How do I know this? Because I have run a business without a plan, without a strategy and by the seat of my pants. Yes it did well but I know for a fact if I went back with my attitude now, I could double that turnover for sure!
Oh, and I know that you are probably thinking that you need step by step hand holding for SEO and I totally understand I really do. Please remember this is a passion project and I will be getting onto the guides as soon as I possibly can.