Tuesday, December 9, 2014

tips for running a successful, small business shop

in my etsy shop: red, heart kit
(kits I used to sell in my currently abandoned etsy shop)

It sounds like a pretentious title given that I don't run a successful small business. I don't have a business background or anything either. You should probably take my advice with a grain of salt. ;) Seriously though, I offer these tips as a buyer and supporter of small business shops- especially those with handmade goods.

First and foremost, be sure you've established your shop and online presence: have a catchy shop name; have unique, one of a kind products; have good descriptions and good quality photos of your product; have a fluid online presence (for example, consider having your shop name match your blog name- you want people to know it's you on any given social media platform).

Use social media to help sell your product
You want to get as many eyes on your product as possible. To do that, use a variety of social media platforms: a blog, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. People prefer various forms of social media. For example, some prefer Twitter over Instagram, Facebook over blogs, etc. You'll want to use as many forms of social media as possible. That said, if you really don't like or prefer not to use a particular platform, don't force yourself to do that. Chances are you'll give up on it, and you will have a disappointed potential buyer. Use those you enjoy using.

Link to your shop especially when you mention it
My favorite shops don't link to their shops sometimes. Yes, I know exactly where they are, and can easily go search for the shop, but sometimes I'd rather not go through the trouble. Whereas if the link was easy and readily available, I'm more likely to go peek around. For example, I read blogs through a reader, which show me only the blogger/shop owner's current post and not their entire site. I say that because shop links are usually in the sidebar when viewing the actual site. If the link to the shop is not available within the post and I'm not over the moon about the current product (it's cute, but eh), chances are I will give up and not go to the shop because I'm lazy pressed for time. Your other buyers are also "pressed for time." Make access to your shop as easy as possible.

Offer a newsletter
In your newsletter, try not to say the exact same thing you've said everywhere else. Make it special. I go through so many emails a day as I'm sure most people to. If your newsletter is a recycled blog post, I will delete it because I've already seen it. If you're offering new information outside of your other social media platforms, I am more likely to read it.

Run promotions
Not all the time because then it seems gimmicky, but definitely run a promotion on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, when you release a new product, etc. I love a good discount. Who doesn't?

Engage with your buyers/potential buyers beyond your product
Show people you're not just a business person. I get turned off by the constant salesman no matter how much I like the product. I feel like I'm part of an agenda, and nobody likes being part of an agenda. In short, hustle, but not excessively.

Offer new product, but bring back old favorites
I recently came across a product and wanted to buy it immediately. I went to the shop, and the shop owner said something along the lines of that item being wildly popular, but it is now retired and no longer available. It was a print. Seriously? Like all you have to do is print the thing and you'd get more sales? It seemed like a bad move not to offer a "wildly popular" item. I understand retiring a product and offering a product for a limited time (people want to buy it NOW when they know it's limited). Will offering the item for a longer amount of time mean more sales? Probably. That said, if you lose interest in an item and can't stand the sight of it anymore (lol), by all means, retire it.

Be nice
Good customer service goes a long way. I'm a repeat customer to those shop owners which are polite. They say thank you, they update me on when my item was shipped, they follow up. These may seem like insignificant gestures, but I assure you that they're not. Buyers will come back to your shop if you treat them with kindness.

Be prepared to encounter weirdos
There are some buyers who won't be pleased no matter how nice your product or how polite you are. It's okay. It's not a reflection of you or your shop, but of them. Don't take it personally.

Package your orders nicely
I love pretty mail. A cute sticker, a "thank you" stamp, a freebie- all good things. All good things.

Be you
The best seller of your product is you. Those who follow you and your work are interested in you. Be authentic and watch the money stack up. ;)