Handmadeology – Niche Markets

Here’s a look at what’s coming on the Handmadeology blog, of which I am a regular correspondent. I’m focusing in on niche markets, since a lot of us have unusual things we sell, items that don’t seem to fall into a general marketing category.

You can see the first two posts on Niche Markets here and here.

And here’s this week’s post:

Marketing 101: Niche Markets 3 – Getting  Out There

Just what does that mean? We’re talking about marketing your products without spending money. In Part 1 you looked at other uses for your unusual product, and a lot of you had really good ideas. In Part 2 last week I asked for unusual marketing ideas you’ve tried.

And poof, just like that, the conversation went dead.  In fact, I found myself short on ideas. It seems if we have a store front, it’s a lot easier to come up with ideas. Rachel from Rayela Art talked about literally stopping traffic with a belly dancer in the window of her shop. Michelle of SHELs Unlimited does yard sales on a regular basis and includes a drawing for a chance at a coupon in her store.

Belly dancers certainly work with a store front, but now they have no storefront and have moved into the realm of social media.  Michelle is looking to do something more unusual. And I pondered for several days, trying to figure out how I could help you all jump-start some ideas.

Did you see this new headline on Handmadeology? “May 2012 Etsy Stats – 1.29 Billion Page Views and $65.9 Million in Goods Sold.” Pretty impressive, and we all need a piece of that pie. So let’s get brainstorming ideas to market ourselves.

This presupposes you all have Etsy shops, but even if you don’t, these ideas can work for you.

1. Get your profile up on LinkedIn. It takes some time, but it doesn’t cost anything. Then you can include that in all your email addresses, business cards, and the like. It makes you look a lot more professional at your art. I know a lot of “gurus” suggest your profile picture be actually of you, but hey, I’m different. I have a piece of my art as my profile picture, and I keep the same one across social media platforms. Once I had my profile up, I began to look for groups to join within LinkedIn. I hooked up with presenting some potential marbling classes, and participating in an unjuried show last fall, just to name two opportunities from LinkedIn. Take the time to do this.

2. See what professional groups have blogs and discussion groups on line. Have you done any searches? Many have restrictions about outright marketing, but you can have a tag line at the end of each of your posts. Start a dialogue, ask questions, follow potential ideas you see, comment thoughtfully on other posts. Yahoo has a marblers group we belong to. We are not only up-to-date with what’s happening in the field, we also learn of new supplies, who’s having issues, new ways of trying marbling techniques, and just in general having a way to stay in touch with other professionals.

3. Get more pictures. Use your own living space and think about how else your product could be used. Can you hang it on the wall? Take a picture. Can you wear it? Take a picture.  Can it be part of some other product? Take Pictures!!!

4. Start some partnerships with whom you can trade supplies Who’s your supplier? Would they like to have a sample of what you do with their product? Could you do a demo or teach a class for them? In fact, where do you buy your supplies? Do you follow them on Facebook? Do they have a website? Do this for all the suppliers you use. We met a batik artist when we did an art show in the Seattle area. We traded fabrics to see if we could marble over batik, and if she could batik over marbling. You could have another by-product you can sell.

5. Get noticed on line. Dharma Trading likes to spotlight folks who use their products. ArtsyShark has a call a couple of time a year to spotlight artists on their weekly blog. If you have an Etsy shop, is one of your available pictures what your product would look like in something else or in the home?

6. Start reading business blogs. Now, there are a LOT of business blogs out there. Are you reading Handmadeology, primarily focused on Etsy? (Hint: your answer should be “yes.”) Check out Alyson Stanfield (ArtBizBlog) and Tara Reed (ArtLicensingBlog) – always insightful and full of good ideas.

7. Schedule time for marketing each week. You need to find a balance between marketing and make product. Set aside one day a week, even just a couple of hours, and read blogs, respond, look for opportunities, follow through on new ideas. It takes a while, but it does pay off.

If you remember your high school algebra, one of the basic functions of life is exponential; something starts very small and over time begins to accelerate faster and faster. That’s what you want with your marketing, so start thinking and doing!

Leave me comments – I want to know what you’re currently doing, what you’ve already tried and with what success, and what you’re thinking about. Let’s share the wealth of ideas each week.

 

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