Does anyone remember the saying by Walt Disney “Keep Moving Forward”? I’ll admit it, I learned about him saying it from a movie, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. Obviously, the Covid-19 problems have caused some problems for people… and getting supplies! However, I’m on the West Coast and I think we’ve been advised to stay indoors for the past month or more due to bad air quality due to forest fires. (That’s why I put a picture on here of the beautiful sky that I miss so much.) Being stuck in the house has let me start to catch up on a few things (slowly), but one major thing is that I am finding ways to keep moving forward and I have been thinking about ways to help others do the same. My sister and I have some plans, so keep reading on to catch up on what we’ve been doing and see if something we have available for you will help you to “Keep Moving Forward”!
Focusing on Your Business
Many people shifted to crafting of some sort when they were stuck in their homes during the pandemic shut down in the United States. My own shop ended up with record sales… in APRIL. What is typically the start of a huge slowdown for the year ended up being the beginning of a busy rest of the year. I was definitely not the only one! People that started selling masks were weeks behind. (I bought from a few shops and it took a month to get the masks, so I know they were busy!) There were many, many news stories about crafts shops across the country increasing their online sales… like some random yarn shop that I’d never heard of. I’m not sure how the news tracks these people down, but they do it!
It was not just people crafting for fun that increased, though. With so many shops shut down, people were making handmade products and selling them all over the place. I can’t even tell you how many NEW shops opened up on Etsy alone during that time. There was an increase in both: people selling online and people buying online. I’ll have to do a different post on the shift in buyer behavior, but just know that what we THINK we knew from before about buyer behavior has drastically changed because of the pandemic. This is something important to know, but it will be years before marketing experts can really show any trends. Apparently studies take a long time to complete. My personal experience with customers has shown that there are a LOT of new customers buying online. There are some key things to know about when new customers enter a market. (I will briefly discuss this a little ways down the article.)
Anyone selling anything right now should be focusing on their business and shifting at least partially to online selling. If you are like me, you are wanting to constantly refine and polish your processes. I find better products when I can, but I also have lowered packaging times and made adjustments to the new demands in the market. Most of my previous processes already met guidelines for Covid-19, so I did not have to implement too much. I work out of my home right now, and I do not have any employees, so keeping my distance is super easy! I’ll have to do another post about how I keep up a shop that sells the high volume that I do and NOT have employees. I know this is a struggle for everyone that wants to grow!
Educate and Expose
Did you read that and say “wait, what?” There are many rules with new to market anything. If you have a product that has never been in the market, you have to educate consumers about the need for the product and how you fill that need. You have a target market that you have identified and you should have a basic idea of how to communicate with those people. However, things have changed a bit online. This is where the educate part of this section comes in.
When you educate a customer, you usually are educating someone that is coming to your shop or site for a specific reason. They might have a need and your product seems to be something that will work for them. Right now, though, there is a gigantically different type of user on the internet…. one that has NEVER used it before. The ages are ranging from young adult up to… well, basically just up. I’ve exchanged conversations with well over 100 new to the internet customers even in my super small niche of the craft market. That’s just the last few months. We don’t really know how much longer we will see a shortage of products in the market overall, so it could increase drastically as the holidays get closer.
When you educate these customers, you need to act as if they are literally like a child. Let’s face it, I bet many children these days have a better handle on browsing online than some of us adults! However, think of a young child that hasn’t been exposed to something and doesn’t know what to do. They might click around and experiment a little, but after a while they might get frustrated and leave if they can not figure out how to use a website. If you have a complicated website, it will be almost essential to have some kind of how-to on navigating the site. Make sure you have information about your brand, product, company… whatever you feel is important to people. Also, ABSOLUTELY make sure to have terms and policies listed for people to know what to expect. If you don’t have a “regular” website, find out how to tell about your products on the platform you sell. This is your opportunity to EDUCATE anyone that comes across your shop. If they like what they are reading, they might come back and possibly even pass along the information to other potential customers!
So what do I mean about expose? Well, in order to educate and get sales, you need to have some exposure. If you are not already online, get online! There are so many options for websites out there. You can sell on your own website or a marketplace (like Etsy where my main shop is right now). So, when I say expose, I literally mean get yourself some exposure online. Getting traffic to those sites is difficult, but you cannot get found online if you are not actually online. Once you find a place to start, this is where we can help!
Getting Help From the Twins
Most people might think that since my sister and I are identical twins that we naturally have the same interests. That’s not actually true. We sort of overlap in our interests. My sister was actually into crafts long before I was, but those crafts were totally different than what I do now. We both went different ways in our lives and have ended up on the same path. Instead of having the same interests, we tend to have complimenting interests. I won’t go into a lot of those details here, but I will say that we want to help other people with those complimenting interests.
The two of us sat down one day and decided that it wasn’t fair that the people that wanted help for their business and were willing to put work into it were not able to get help while others that just happened to know somebody were basically handed customers. It’s always nice to know someone that can help, but if you don’t have that, we think you should still get a fair shot at selling your products. We want to help the people willing to help themselves!
We can’t do it all, but we can help you with what you do. If you haven’t already been there, we set up a website called Crafty Universe. It’s purpose is to get people that sell within the craft market some more exposure. We are also going to have information on there for sellers to help with their online business. We want to make sure you have access to helpful resources as well as a place to be featured. Hopefully it will turn into a good little community of crafters that can find other people that complement their interests and talents. Come over and join us there while we grow!