Yeah, that’s right. Running your own small, handmade business is a lot of work. You’re a proverbial one (or two) man band, and that takes some pretty serious skillz. Not everyone can make things with their hands and simultaneously run their own online shop (yes, Etsy sellers, you too). For each part of your handmade business, I’m guessing you have a plan. You might not even know it, but you do.
“I’m going to make twelve Star Trek teapot cozies today” is a plan for product production.
“I’m going to put together a proposal for the S.S. Applepies Bakery in Uptown” is a plan for a wholesale deal.
“I’m going to take a day off because I’m ready to headbutt my sewing machine and then spend the rest of the day eating chocolate in the bathtub” is a plan for employee management.
But the question is…do you have a plan for your marketing and promotional activities? Marketing is one of those scary, slippery monsters that it’s hard to get a mental hold on. Could it be that you don’t have a plan for wrestling that critter to the ground?
Over the next 3 weeks, I’ll help you make a plan. We’ll start with your blog, move on to your Facebook and Twitter accounts, and wrap it up with your Etsy or other online shop. (Be sure to grab a blog subscription if you’re not a regular visitor so you don’t miss anything, over there in the right sidebar.)
So let’s get started: your blog. We have three points to work from here.
- How does your blog help the world?
- What does your blog have that no one else has?
- What would make blogging more fulfilling for YOU? (These cookies would do it for me!)
How does your blog help the world?
This is, interestingly enough, the un-cheesiest way I could think of phrasing this while still getting my point across. Knowing the answer to this question will unlock a whole world of promotional chutzpah and ideas for your small business.
It can be a simple answer. “My blog helps the world by challenging culinary norms” is legit. “My blog helps the world by sharing clothing I bought on discount, allowing women to feel beautiful for less” is a glorified (and true) proposition. If I follow the sentence format I’m going to have you use, my blog helps the world by offering business advice from someone who’s learned it herself, rather than by reblogging content from everywhere else, helping people with their own businesses succeed. (Why yes, I AM a fan of long sentences!)
So now it’s your turn. Fill in the blank. “My blog helps the world by…” Write this down so you don’t forget, because remembering is half the battle.
What does your blog have that no one else has?
It has something, I can tell you that much. Do you have insights into using antique cameras for portraits? Do you share vegan recipes for every flavor of Cheez-It? Find something that motivates you, and as far as you know, is unique to your blog. Write ‘er down.
What would make blogging more fulfilling for YOU?
Blogging is an intriguing medium in that it IS all about you. Why do you blog? (I’m gonna scream if you say “because I want more sales”. Blogging’s about soul!)
I blog because I enjoy writing, have delusions of grandeur (heheh), and love WordPress software almost as much as I love spreadsheet software.
So if you know why you blog, what will make it more fun for you? A rabid fan following? People asking you to guest post? Creating a knockout theme for it? What gets you excited about doing what you’re doing?
If you’re not passionate about your blog, you’re going to let it fall by the wayside (ineffective) or produce fast, cheap content that will leave your readers disappointed (also ineffective). I promise you that there are other people out there just waiting to find what you’re writing about. Have the confidence to be your real self and not a photocopy of someone else.
Also, right the answer to this question down.
Putting It All Together
Remember way back at the top of this article, we talked about simple plans for your business? (To jog your memory without scrolling up, think of “I’m going to lay face down on my bed listening to the Footloose soundtrack all day because I dropped my whole kiln-load of pottery in the parking lot” as an inventory management tactic.) Our plan is a little more comprehensive.
You know how your blog helps the world. Cry it from the rooftops. Offer solid counsel for your readers. Your ability to solve your readers’ exact problems will keep them coming back for seconds, and bringing their friends along for thirds (and fourths, and fifths, etc etc etc).
You know that your blog is unique, like a really good batch of French fries or something. Revel in that uniqueness. As my uncle says, “Let your freak flag fly.” Stick to it, and don’t give up, even if people tell you to your face that your blog is too weird. There are plenty of “weirdos” out there. They are nice weirdos, and they want to read your blog. You owe it to them, and yourself, to stick with it.
You know that you’re blogging for a reason. Make it fun. Discard your expectations of what blogging “should” be, and do what makes you happy. Whether that’s changing your header image every other week or posting only in images, do what makes sense for you. Your life is too short to have a crappy blog, so make your blog one you love.
And as for that plan, you’ve already made it. Save your slip of paper with your answers. Bedazzle it if you so please. Most importantly, keep it where you’ll see it, and follow it, and create a blog (and handmade business) that is fulfilling for YOU.
I’m Amelia, your intrepid guerrilla blogger. I know that you don’t have to be a genius to have fun and make money doing what you love, so join me here each week for ideas on how to grow your handmade business (whether or not you’re a genius).
If you thought this post was spot-on, you might like my new time management workbook, which I made from scratch and original thought. You’ll be able to figure out how you’re wasting your time, how to get rid of tasks you hate (without losing business success), and how to make the ol’ to do list work for you (not vice versa). If this sounds like a good deal, pop on over to the Etsy shop and grab a copy for yourself.
Finally, if this post struck a chord with you, chime in and leave me a comment. If not, I’ll see you next time back here in my little corner of the interwebs!