Setting up an online enterprise is a great way to start making some extra money out of something you are passionate about, especially if you are creatively inclined. Setting up an Etsy store (or something similar) is really quite simple- the hard part is getting customers to your online shop. You can have the most fantastic products available in your online store, but if you can’t get traffic coming to your page, the unfortunate truth is that you won’t sell a thing. I launched my Etsy store last year alongside a dedicated Instagram page, and instantly noticed that most of my customers were coming to my online store straight from Instagram, rather than through the search pages on Etsy.
If you don’t already have an Instagram account for your craft business- I would advise you to get one. Right now. Share it with all of your friends and family, and start building up some beautiful visuals of your product. The reason Instagram, above all other social media sites, is such a great accompaniment to an online store is that it is super visual. Followers can get instant updates of new products available or any offers that you might be running. Start by uploading a few times a week, follow your favourite crafters and makers and start interacting with their pages. You will be involved in the crafting community on Instagram in no time.
When I set up my Instagram page for my t-shirt store, Tee Party Clothing, I had no idea that it would lead to such great opportunities. The power of Instagram really astonished me as a few months after I set my page up, I was approached by a wonderful PR manager from The Maybourne Hotel Group (Claridge’s, The Connaught, The Berkeley). The Connaught bar is rated as one of the top five in the entire world, and I have had the incredible honour of completing two commissioned embroidery projects for them. My embroidery was even featured in an issue of Homes & Gardens magazine a few months later- a definite highlight of my year so far. If I didn’t have an Instagram page alongside my Etsy shop, this opportunity would have never come along.
You will find that if you sell a unique product, people are likely to share their purchases on social media and your following will grow and grow. This means that Instagram is the perfect place to get in touch with some of your favourite bloggers- offer them a gifted product and they will nearly always share it with their followers. I offered a few of my favourite bloggers a t-shirt of their choice, and one particular success meant that I made over £500 profit in just one month, along with gaining hundreds of new followers. When you are first starting out you could add something on your labelling or packaging that says ‘share a photo of your purchase with us on Instagram @XXXXX’ which might just help one or two more people come across your store.
Hashtags are also in very frequent use on Instagram and you can use this to your advantage to connect with other people. For example, because I hand embroider personalised t-shirts, I always use the hashtags #dmc and #dmcthreads (the brand of thread I use), they have over 100k followers on Instagram and have featured me on their Instagram Stories in the past. I also always use the hashtags #etsy and #etsyuk as there is a whole community of crafters on Instagram who are willing to support each other. Check out what hashtags other crafters are using and try out different combinations to see which ones work best for you and your product.
Although I’ve seriously slowed down my focus on my online store over the last six months to focus on my new passion project (this blog!), I still maintain a connection with my customers via Instagram, even if I’m not showcasing new designs right now. Finding a way to connect with your customers is so vital when building a brand, you can get to know your customers and they can get to know you. If you have this connection it means that your customers are likely to make repeat orders AND tell all their friends about you.
My top tips summary:
- Network with other crafters and makers
- Research and use relevant hashtags
- Contact bloggers for gifting opportunities
- Tell customers about your Instagram account on your product packaging and any online receipts
- Build a connection with your customers
- Offer discounts and offers through your Instagram page