Last Saturday four local Etsy artists/small businesses were invited to share their experiences in how technology has helped them grow and maintain their business. I was one of them. Etsy is pairing up with Apple to offer a series of these events in a few cities – NY, Chicago, San Francisco as well as in Australia. Since a few of you have asked about what my contribution to the event was, I thought I’d share some thoughts in a blog post.photograph courtesy of Step Brightly
I started by giving a short introduction on how I started my business and the inspiration behind it. It was a bit surreal being in front of a full room (and standing) people eager to listen and learn from you. I tried hard to keep within the 5 minutes time frame (although I think I wrapped up in 3 minutes – public speaking is not my forte!) I am not sure if I ever shared with you all my story – but you can find it summed up here.
After we all gave our business introductions, Randy from Etsy continued with a moderated discussion focusing on how we use technology to grow and maintain our business.photograph courtesy of Kara Witham with Secret Safe Books
The discussion was broken in 3 parts:
1. Creating your product
We each described how we went from an initial idea to making actual sell-able products. I explained how I come up with the idea for a particular product, the steps involved into making it happen (like researching, designing, making a prototype) and what goes into making my product stand out in the best possible way. You guessed it! I spoke about the importance of great photography – especially when it comes to selling online.
2. Managing your business
Most of us started our businesses online and to this day we still sell online (whether that is via Etsy or through an E-Commerce site). I shared some of the analytics I pay attention to in managing my business online – like analyzing the source of my online traffic. Google Analytics does a good job helping me figure out what strategies have been most successful.
I do a lot of business on the go – mobile tools like my iPhone make my life easier by allowing me to respond to my customers’ questions/inquiries quickly. I once read that it used to be normal to reply to an email within 24 hours, now that average is 4-8 hours! Shocking yet understandable! We all are on our smart phones – why not use them to our benefit?
3. Marketing your business
There is so much to cover here, but I will keep it short and to the point. Marketing your business starts with the way you creatively package your products to communicate our brand. It is also demonstrated in the tools you use to communicate to your customers. We discussed the various marketing strategies we each use in our respective businesses. Everyone shared some of their most invaluable tools in operating online – participation in social media was one of the tools we touched upon the most. I shared how I use facebook, twitter and my blog to connect with my fans and customers and how I believe we should use all of the above as an extension of our business. I can’t stress enough the importance of having a facebook page for your business. For me, it has proved to be one of the most successful marketing techniques.
At the end we took questions from the audience. I was happy to see so much interest. The handmade community seems to be growing each day and many crafters are discovering ways to make a living even in this tough economy. Etsy is a great place to start making that happen.
Well, there you have it friends! I had a great time sharing my story as well as connecting with some online fans in person. We grabbed dinner with friends afterwards. It made for a perfect end to a great day!