The excellent and wise Michele Banks (of Artologica fame) has written a fantastic post on one aspect of e-commerce that is so often overlooked by newbies. What it boils down to is engagement, and so many artists just…don’t. They put their work on Etsy (shameless self plug) or RedBubble (also a shameless self-plug) or some other online marketplace and they just figure people will somehow find them and buy their stuff. It doesn’t work like that. Michele’s post brought to mind a dozen similar conversations I’ve had with fellow artists and crafters who are struggling to market themselves online:
I suggested she start by posting her new shop on her Facebook page. “Well, that’s the thing, I don’t do Facebook.” Twitter? Nope. Instagram? What?
When you’re a small independent retailer you can’t afford to spend money on advertising, you don’t have an established brand, and you don’t have a strong enough web presence to dominate search results. When a McDonald’s opens up on your street, they don’t have to advertise – everyone knows it instantly. When a tiny hole-in-the-wall burger joint opens up, they have to get out into the community and MAKE everyone know about them. How do they do that? By engaging with the community:
Well, if you have an online shop, the internet is your neighborhood. Get out there, take a walk every day, and say hello. Read some blogs. Read some tweets. Make some intelligent comments. Then say, “here, have a look at what I’m working on.” Repeat.
It can feel awkward at first to shamelessly plug yourself, and if you’re not used to using social media, there are certainly learning curves associated with those. It takes time and energy to build a following and become a part of the community. But there aren’t a lot of hermits who own successful burger joints, and maybe that should tell you something.