Written by Vena Carr, Craft NB Marketing Manager
Chances are, you probably already have an online presence. If you don’t, then get online already! Like the famous Bob Dylan lyric goes, “The times they are a-changin’…”
Maybe you’re still struggling to make online sales, and you’re starting to feel like it’s impossible to sell your work to an online audience. Maybe you’ve been selling your craft for a long time and you’ve always met with customers face-to-face at festivals or exhibitions. In these scenarios, you have been able to make a sale because the person can touch your work and meet you, the artist! That interaction with you is half the reason that people buy. You gave them a good impression, you told them a story with which they identified, or maybe they just liked the cut of your jib!
How do we replicate this in the online world? Better yet, how do we build an online following and keep those people engaged?
According to the Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” To put it simply, content marketing is a chance for you to use your creativity and personality to increase sales and awareness of your craft!
Artists often lead isolated lives; we spend most of our time in our studios working away on our craft. Some of us are more extroverted than others, but typically we keep to ourselves because our work forces us to do so. For many, this can cause us to believe that we are “boring” or “have nothing interesting to say”, which can make content marketing seem daunting.
Let me tell you something: Artists are inherently interesting. You took your passion to create and turned it into a career, which is something that many people never even attempt! That alone makes you unique. In addition to that, I bet there is a reason why you enjoy your craft; a reason why you make what you make. Share your success, dreams, and even your failures. People will love your artwork for how it looks, but people will love it more if they feel like they know the artist behind the work.
As a craftsperson, you should treat your online presence as an opportunity to express yourself and share your professional life with craft enthusiasts. The more people enjoy your content, the more likely it is that people will also buy your work.
Not selling online yet? Check out “Etsy vs eCommerce: Crafting Your Business” to learn which is best for you and your business.
For the sake of this blog post, we’re going to break content marketing down into three main elements: Social Media, Blogs, and Newsletters. We’re not going to get into the specifics of how to use each individual platform out there. That will come in a blog post later. Instead, we are going to discuss the importance of creating content that will keep your followers engaged. Consistency, subject matter, and tone are the keys to keeping people interested.
We may feel that because we spend so much time in our studios, we can’t possibly spare any more time to focus on social media. However, if we create some structure around how often we post, it will not only help to keep our posting consistent but it will also help us with time management. Start by spending two hours per week on social media. Break it down into two one-hour evening sessions every week. Make time in your schedule to post a picture and share a thought, then comment on some other people’s posts.
The more consistently you post, the more engagement you will see from your following. If you always post something new twice a week, you will stay relevant in your followers’ feeds and they will begin to expect that frequency from you. If you only post once in a blue moon, your posting schedule will be irregular and your content may be easily overlooked.
The next most important thing is to use a voice that is friendly and enthusiastic when you write a post. Don’t share an image of your work and simply say, “Ceramic pot, 2018”. Give us some substance! What were you thinking when you made this piece? How much trial-and-error did you experience before getting the finished product? Are you happy with the end result? Generally, people don’t buy artwork just because it is pretty but because it makes them feel or think something. Imagine you were following your favourite artist online. What would you want to see from them?
When you comment on other people’s posts, you increase your social network and you increase your visibility on the platform. You’re reaching out to an influencer or fellow craftsperson, and your comment will be seen by others who see their post. That being said, you should try to be personable. Don’t just leave a comment saying, “Nice! Check out my page at @desperateartist and please follow me”. That just looks like spam… Instead, tell the person why you love their work and how it made you feel. Be sincere.
When you begin posting on social media, keep in mind that it takes time to build a following. People aren’t going to find you overnight, so don’t get discouraged! We all have to wait for the likes and follows to trickle in. If you give up early, then you’ll never see any return on your investment. Acknowledge that these things take time.
Want to reach more people? Use popular hashtags, tag your location, and tag relevant organizations in your posts! Also, make sure that your social media page links back to your website.
Blog writing is another opportunity to share your story. However, your blog should feature more than what you shared on social media, which is likely what brought people to your website in the first place. Don’t use your blog to upsell your work; use it as a way to give your following an opportunity to learn more about you as an artist and as a person. Your audience is expecting to connect with you further. Find out what it is that interests them. Maybe they want to hear how a childhood experience inspired your work today. They might like to know what products you use to create your art. Tell them something that is relevant to you and your career. Reward your readers by using your blog as a way to create a stronger connection between you and them.
Blogs are also a great way to educate potential buyers and fellow craftspeople. What knowledge do you have that may help others in your field? How can you help buyers understand the importance of purchasing handmade products? You can use your blog as a platform to not just help yourself but to help many in the crafts sector. Many craftspeople today incorporate an educational component into their overall business plan. Readers become students and students often translate into buyers.
It helps to do some research and read blogs from other artists. Check out this post from smartblogger.com, “49 Creative Geniuses Who Use Blogging to Promote Their Art”.
The more blogs you publish, the more content that creates for your website. More content means a higher ranking in Google searches, which will help users searching for a craftsperson near them to stumble upon your website. Again, if you’re worried about the time it takes to write blogs, make a schedule for yourself, and keep your blog publishing as consistent as possible. You may also want to create an email list so that you can notify your audience when there is a new blog post, which leads us to our next subject…
Note: Because we’re discussing the topic of digital content marketing, this section will focus only on electronic newsletters.
Like blogs, newsletters can allow you to share more and stay in touch with your audience. However, unlike blogs, you don’t want to cover the exact same subjects, and you do not want it to be chock-full of text. When done right, newsletters can be one of our most effective marketing tools.
First, you have to put effort into building your mailing list. Invite your social media followers to join the list, embed a registration form on the homepage of your website, and keep a physical sign up sheet at your booth during markets and festivals. The bigger the audience, the better the readership becomes!
Frequency is vital when it comes to distributing your newsletter. You do not want to send your newsletter so often that it begins to look like spam and people start to ignore it. On the other hand, you do not want to send it too infrequently or people will forget who you are or why they signed up for your newsletter in the first place. Before you decide on a distribution schedule, you need to consider how often you have big news to share and how much time you have to work on your newsletter. Sending your newsletter on a monthly basis is a good place to start, and remember to always be consistent.
Next, we need to consider content. Again, we want to maintain that same approachable tone of voice we’re using on our social media and blog posts. However, we don’t want to say too much. Avoid using multiple long paragraphs because newsletters are often something that readers skim. Keep the text concise and use keywords that will grab the reader’s attention. As for topics, think about what would be exciting from the perspective of your audience. Subjects may include:
- Recent blog posts
- Upcoming events
- A new product line
- Latest inspirations
- Special giveaways and sales
Give your readers the sense that they are receiving a VIP experience. Offer them sales, coupon codes, or deals that are exclusive to them. Extend special invitations to an upcoming exhibition opening or give them a discounted rate to one of your workshops. This will make them feel appreciated and will incentivize them to continue reading future newsletters.
Speaking of newsletters, if you found this article helpful and would like to stay updated on Craft NB activities, please sign up for our newsletter here.
We live in the digital age now, so it’s time to update our marketing strategies! Now that you know about the three main elements of content marketing, you’re ready to become a marketing machine. Use your creativity to craft interesting, engaging content and share that with your fans. Again, consistency, subject matter, and tone are very important. Your content should encourage your audience to stick around and join you on your artistic journey. They should feel inspired to take action and support your work, which helps the cogs of your business to keep turning.