So you own a little handmade shop on Etsy and make beautifully unique items for the world. Your pictures are well-taken-- accurately and charmingly representing your items. Your descriptions are helpful and disclose everything a shopper needs to know. Your tags are well-chosen and on-point. (And I am not at all saying that I am a shining example of this, especially when it comes to choosing the perfect tags. We must all strive for something :) Now you just need to be found by people who will enjoy and appreciate your hard work! Although everyone has their favorite methods, some of us like to blog.
Now THIS is a good example. Chewbacca mouse? Come on, I think I'm going to have a heart attack from the cuteness.
Chewbacca Mouse by TheHouseOfMouse
I recently received an e-mail from a fellow Etsyian, asking for advice about how to start a blog for her Etsy shop. She found me through the "Sellers Assisting Sellers" Team (a.k.a. Team SASsy, of which I am a mentor :) and asked me several good questions, which I thought would be helpful to share with anyone else interested in starting a blog for their handmade shops. Btw, Team SASsy is a great pool of resources for anyone with any questions even remotely related to Etsy.
Today Should Be Fun by MursBlanc
Let me start by saying that these are my opinions and I don't claim to be a blogging guru. Although I can't help you through the more advanced/technical side of blogging, I can give you a push in the right direction, along with a basket of cookies (a.k.a. motivation and perspective). Blogging should be fun and enjoyable, regardless of the results that come from it. If you're not getting an overall sense of satisfaction from your efforts, maybe this isn't the platform for you, or maybe a reevaluation of priorities is what's in session.
I am the master of my fate necklace by lulubugjewelry
Now, onto the questions!
How do I start a business blog?
It's very easy. Join Blogger or Wordpress for free and sign up. If you're good with HTML and have more experience with web design, Wordpress may be a better choice. If you need something super user-friendly, Blogger is a great choice. Both come with templates that you can start off from and adjust to your liking. One thing I like about Blogger is that it's connected to Google, which makes it easier for anyone with gmail to comment. If they really like your blog, it also makes it easier for them to follow your new posts. There's also Tumblr, which is growing in popularity, but it's much simpler in format, with less (or harder to customize) design options, though it's very convenient to constantly update your posts. I think the easiest way to describe it is: if Blogger and Twitter had a baby, it would be Tumblr.
What should I write about? Should I include posts relating to personal life?
At a glance, a good blog is one that's neat, easy to read, and aesthetically pleasing. (Why? You'd dress yourself up for a fancy dinner or date. Isn't it because you know we humans are visual?) It would also have good content that readers would be interested in. One good and obvious start is to blog about your new products (every time you add something new that hasn't been in your shop before, sales, promotions, etc.) so that those who've shopped from you previously or who are interested in your shop can check your blog for updates. If you focus on beauty and bath products, additional blog entries could be related to tips and techniques for taking care of oneself, how your products would enrich and benefit its users, and other general self-care tips not necessarily related to your products, such as simple face-washing methods, simple haircare/skincare recipes readers can make at home, etc. Make these into many simple and specific posts pertaining to one topic at a time. If, in all your excitement, you jump from topic to topic and end up with a 10 page paper about your favorite skincare methods, very few readers will reap the benefits of your knowledge because when we're on the internet, our attention spans decrease significantly for some reason. I wouldn't blame you if you've already stopped reading this :)
You can also blog about your own fun excursions as well to bring your personality to your shop and to add some variety. Blog about anything that you think you'd be interested in reading on someone else's blog. Blog about your Etsy friends, feature their shops, and bring them some well-deserved attention. Not only will they help you succeed, you'll be helping them too. Stick to upbeat and positive posts, since I believe we are all likely looking for content that takes us away from the stress and problems in our own lives (or at least I do). I guess a good mind set is to blog with the intent of improving your readers' lives in some small, fun way.
Set of 20 hand-stamped tags by thesundayflower
How do I promote my blog? How do I attract readers/followers?
Know the saying that goes, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink?" Well, you can expose your blog through many outlets, but readers will only follow you if they feel like it. This can get tough, but joining linky parties is a good start. Remember to give more than you receive (that means support other blogs :). There are blogging communities you can join, such as BlogFrog, 20somethingbloggers, Etsypreneur, and several others (you can see the ones I've joined on the right side of my blog near the bottom. They've helped me progress, especially when I just started blogging). It's a bit time-consuming, so if you start, try to stick with it and don't give up. It may take several months or longer before you see results that you want. Just remember that in the beginning, when you have no followers, blog for yourself for the sake of expressing yourself and have fun with it! Blog (with abandon!) as if you don't care if no one reads it :)
Where can I promote my business online?
Facebook, Twitter, your blog...(to see the networks that I've joined, check out the bottom of my Contact + Submissions page. Some have been more helpful to me than others, but it also varies according to the time you spend on those networks). Join one or two very active and tight-knit teams on Etsy (doesn't have to be a big one) and invest your time there. When I had lots of time last year, I spent most of it in Treasure Lover and the Promotional Frenzy Team, as well as a few others. There are such big-hearted and supportive groups of people who are serious about helping one another, so if you find one, stick around! In the past few months, I've become super busy again (working full time), but I still occasionally hang around the Promotional Frenzy Team because I can't stay away :) Help others and they will help you back. Join with the intention of giving to others because you're not going to start off even. Invest your time and your returns will catch up with you.
Are there any things I should concentrate on to gain exposure/sales?
Aside from the things I've mentioned in the above questions, another good way is to be featured in many blogs. Whenever you see a blog that does features, contact them and ask if they would feature you. You'll get some rejections but you'll also get lots of acceptances. You can also do a few occasional giveaways on other people's blogs. You can take the extra step and check their previous giveaways to see how well their previous shop owners did, as well as contact their previous shop owners for input.
oh darling, let's be industrious by fifiduvie
Hope that was an informative and helpful perspective to get you started (if you haven't already started). If you have any additional tips, opinions, disagreements, etc, leave them in the comments. I'd love to hear other opinions and insights!