Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How To Get Your Shop Noticed

It would seem that there are a lot of artists, crafters and vintage sellers all after the same bit of disposable income out there. How can you get noticed enough to get a leg up on the competition. There are several things that you can do. You can do free advertising. You can spend some money on advertising. You can write press releases and interviews and submit them to the media.

Free advertising is the only option some of us have. We are already living on a shoestring budget and just do not have the money to advertise. Social Marketing is one really great way to help spread the word about you for free. Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and many more sites allow you to spread the word about you and your product for free. Some do not allow actual links to a shop but any exposure you can get can be a good thing. Trial and error here is free of cost but can take a lot of your time. Time is money so try and make sure you are getting your money's worth.

Paid advertising is good if you can afford it and if you can track the results. Back in the days before the internet the only way to track if advertising was working was an increase in revenue. With all the stats available today you can see how many times your ad was viewed and how many times it was clicked on. Being able to track a paid advertising campaign is great because if it is working you may want to extend it and if it isn't working you will want to move on. Trial and error can be expensive here. Ask your fellow shop owners what has worked for them and try to get as many details as possible.

Lastly, getting interviewed for a blog, newspaper, magazine, radio or TV can really help boost your brand and your sales. Look at the team forums on Etsy and forums on ArtFire or anywhere that a large group of bloggers hang out. Bloggers are always looking for things to blog about. It seems that blogs about people seem to do very well for all involved. Many times it is just a matter of letting a blogger know that you are interested in being interviewed. You can also write up an interview type letter asking and answering interesting questions about you and your business. Make it so easy on the blogger that all they have to do is copy and paste!

Writing press releases and articles and sending them to your local media is a great way to get some exposure. When writing press releases make sure that it is for something that is press worthy like a craft show or fund raiser and how you are donating a portion of your proceeds to a local charity. As for articles, most newspapers have a spotlight on locals. Be sure to send it to the appropriate editor. Make your story concise and to the point and include high resolution photos. 300dpi is usually good enough for print. Be sure the photo is in CMYK because this is generally the color scheme that is used in print. It is also a good idea to send a B&W version of the photo as well. If you are emailing this is easy, if not be sure to either not expect your photo back or send an S.A.S.E. with your submission.

Free advertising is great! Remember to watch how much time you spend on it. Paid advertising eliminates the need for a lot of time being spent on it but can be costly. Writing articles and press releases take time but can get huge amounts of exposure. Remember that the more work you do for the editor the less they have to do. If it is written well enough it will go in the media right away, but it might sit until there is a need for it.

Let me know if you have any questions or comments.


  1. One note I forgot to include is that any kind of interviews, shows that you attend, jurried art shows that you are in, should be kept in a "press kit" type format. Press kits help you to get into shows, create wholesale accounts and just show all your accomplishments.

  2. Great article with some vary useable tips thanks.

  3. I just sold a vintage Michigan pull-down wall map to a film studio for a Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation to appear on ABC in 2012. Because it takes place in Grand Rapids, MI, I expect the movie to get some press here. I'm going to pitch this to the Grand Rapids Press as a rags-to-riches story, even if it's just the map going from a Dumpster to the movie set.

  4. watching your time is wise advice. I used to have a lot of project wonderful ads which were "sort of" free because they were paid for by the ones I hosted on my own site. I spent a stupid amount of time micro-managing though, and eventually I decided I didn't want to host any more so gave up on that. I'd say build up a social network and you might find, as I do, that people suggest openings for you. My moment of fame on national TV would never have happened if someone on twitter hadn't suggested it, and that led to two further TV commissions and lots of local press. I'm still waiting to get rich though!

  5. I've worked as both a writer and an editor, and I wanted to share my perspective. First, even if you send your photos with an SASE, don't expect them back, at least, not when you can still use them. I mean, I think about 30% of editors will send them back...eventually. But many publications work on a shoestring--I had one fulltime writer/dataentry person and some freelancers, so I sent things back when we had closed one issue and didn't have anything pressing for the next one (read: every 6 to 8 months). If I used your photos back then, I might not ever get them back myself--all originals went to the printer just in case, and I rarely saw them again. That's probably changed by now, though.

    Also, it's worth noting that great photos and a great quote will help to get exposure. It's perfectly reasonable to quote yourself talking about your work in your press release as if your PR firm's minion had called you up and asked you a question.

    "Great photos" doesn't neccessarily mean great photos of your work. For American Craft or Ornament, that's definitely what they're looking for, but your local paper or city-regional magazine would rather run a shot of you in action--interacting with a customer or making what you make--than a static shot of your work, no matter how good it is (though they'll probably run a smaller shot of that too).

    When I was working as an editor, I had no money and forty pages to fill. One of those pages was the arts page, which I had to do, even though it generated no revenue, therefore had no budget. Guess which page I left to last? If I had a decent press release with a great photo at two in the morning, I rewrote that. I rarely had the chance to call the contact person. I don't think our little monthly tabloid ran all that differently from many local publications, so if you can do their work for them, editors may reward you by giving you press.

    Long comment--hope it's useful--this blog certainly has been very useful to me.

  6. crewelwhorled, Thank you for your valuable perspective. It is always good to hear experience from the other side. I hope I can keep being useful to you.

  7. Just the thing I was looking to read today, planning to do some press releases later and wanted a little motivation. Thanks for this!