Tools of the Trade: Marketing

Tips & TricksElizabeth Ramos

We all know that making our crafts is the easy part. Running the business is where it gets hard. Even though Indie Craft Parade isn't necessarily a business, it takes the same focus and effort of a business venture to put on our event each year. So we want to share the resources we use to make our lives a little easier. To follow up on last week's post on keeping your business organized, we wanted to give you a few online sites we use that focus on marketing and selling goods.

Facebook is truly one of the best ways to network your small business. The social sphere online has a massive audience, which means your products can be spread way beyond your physical contacts. The more you post, the more people will acknowledge your presence. Plus Facebook provides a perfect occasion for others to spread your information. It definitely takes creativity and a bit of discipline to maintain your online presence, but the rewards are certainly worth it. We've heavily relied on Facebook to get the word out about Indie Craft Parade. Besides it's potential to reach new people, Facebook makes it very easy to create events and interact with fans.

Mail Chimp has been a great tool for managing our email campaign. The software is surprisingly simple and easy to use, and it has features such as customizable templates which make the emails going to your fans look organized and professional. Not only does Mail Chimp manage your email lists, but also it shows you stats about unsubscribers and if your emails were read. The service is also free.

Big Cartel might be a good fit for you if you are thinking about opening an online store. Although we think Etsy is a fabulous resource for selling your goods online, Big Cartel gives you your own website, and you won't have the hassle being lost among the thousands of other vendors on Etsy. We've used Big Cartel to sell Indie Craft merchandise after our event in September. The entry level of Big Cartel is free. That subscription only allows you to sell a couple of products at a time, which isn't a problem if you're just getting started. But the prices of higher subscriptions are reasonable if you want to fully customize your store.

Twitter has many of the social benefits of Facebook paired down into small bits of information at a time. Unlike Facebook where you primarily follow friends and personal contacts, twitter allows you to follow and be followed by people with similar interests. This is an excellent way to get your products and information out to a group of people with a specific interest in arts and crafts. If you're not particularly internet savvy, and maintaining both a Facebook and Twitter account isn't appealing, you can link them together. You can configure your accounts so when you update one, the other updates as well, saving you the time and effort.

Again, this list is just the beginning of helpful resources. We'd love to hear your opinions and experiences about these services and others that you've used. Let's help spread the knowledge!