With competition fierce in the craft community, a great way to set yourself apart and grow your business is by building a community of fans and buyers who are interested in what you have to say (and sell).
I've outlined 5 great ways to start and grow your community below:
1. Set Goals
Before building your online community, I highly suggest creating a set of goals in order to determine how your current and future efforts are paying off.
For example, if one of your goals is to get 100 new visitors to your shop per day, it's easy to determine if you reach that milestone by using an analytics program such as Google Analytics or Stat Counter. If you didn't have the goal, you'd never track it or know where you were in terms of visitor count.
2. Tell Your Story
Tara Gentile, who blogs about running small businesses and runs the site Scoutie Girl, once told me that instead of focusing on a niche, sellers should tell their story. While I didn't get that at first, in time I realized that the ability to be yourself in every facet of your business makes you more likable, interesting and bankable.
I have experienced the benefits of telling my story firsthand. Thanks to my more personal posts in the last few weeks, my subscribers have increased, readers are more vocal with their comments and sales are up!
3. Keep Your Look Consistent
Without a doubt, people can build amazing communities with sites that look just awful. That being said, with the competition growing and your professionalism on the table, I recommend a clean and unique look.
If your blog or shop is full of clutter, typos, bad photos and inconsistent graphics, people will get the wrong first impression and it would be unlikely that they'd purchase anything from you.
4. Blog For Your Customer
With all the competition out there, I do think it's more important than ever to have a blog, because no one likes a faceless company any more.
The key to building a loyal community through blogging is to write about things that would interest an ideal customer. For instance, if you sell handmade soap, what would your audience be Googling?
Answer their questions (I'm thinking "What are the benefits of handmade soap?" or "Is goat milk soap good for you?") and they'll show up on your site organically, see a nice-looking site, with an interesting person telling their story. You'll have a better chance of selling something to them now or in the near future.
5. Offer Value With Everything You Do
In order to really grow your community, you'll need to be a value provider. That means everything from your products to services to blog posts needs to give your target customers excitement and inspiration, so they become your fans and loyal customers.
You can think about what else your customer needs and easily give it to them in the form of helpful tips and advice on your blog or products tailored to their unique interests and desires.
Justine Smith is an Etsy success story who used her experience selling online and turned it into a full-time wholesale business. Her real passion is helping handmade sellers find success marketing their craft products. She offers tips on advertising, branding, social media and growth via email through her blog Justine's Media.
Main image courtesy of Kathy Panton