When I created my blog and handmade shop last year, it seemed like I got the same advice from everyone: Pay for good web design and marketing. All of this made sense, but there was only one problem. How did these people expect me to pay for all of this?! And what if I did invest in all of this, and then my business failed?
After talking to many creative entrepreneurs, I quickly learned that I was not the only one with this problem. So I devised a DIY Business Plan, and have implemented it with both of my businesses. Before anything, I asked myself a few questions:
How much money do I want to make per month?
How do I expect to make it?
How many hours do I want to dedicate per week?
What social media sites will I use?
What third-party sites can I use to sell my goods?
What in-person opportunities are there for me to sell my product?
What kind of self-promotion and marketing can I do?
Is there any bartering/trade can I do?
Do I need a separate blog for my shop? (I already run my own blog, so this may not apply to everyone)
How will I design my logo/business cards?
Now, your questions may be a little different, but you can certainly use this as your starter if you feel stuck and/or need some inspiration. Write down at least 10 questions and know that you may not have all the answers right now, but it will give you something to think about.
When you set your financial goal for the month, start small. While I would love to make $1500 or more per month, I knew that probably wasn’t going to happen. I knew that after I deducted 30% for taxes, I wanted to make $500 per month. So, I set my goal for $800.
I decided to set a goal for $400 per each, which I could get from selling 16 items worth $25 and getting 16 sponsors on my blog. I already knew I could not dedicate more than two hours per day combined, with school and an adventurous one-year-old on my hands.
I have stuck with all the big shots for my social media needs – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Since Sweet Mariposa is still in its infancy, I decided to just stick with my blog profiles on each for now. As for sites to sell on, there are a ton: Etsy, Handmadeology, Big Cartel, Storenvy, Amazon Marketplace, eCrater, Mashable and Square Market, just to name a few.
Online directories like Handmadeology, Handmade Success, Oh My Handmade! Goodness, I am the Lab and more have made it easy to see and be seen in the online marketplace. You can also find indie craft faires through Handmadeology and by checking out local events in your town. Is your friend hosting an event? Ask to be a vendor. Feel nervous about setting up shop in front of that many people? Ask a friend or family member to host a home show so you can practice. Your friends and family can give you pointers from the buyer’s perspective, and hey – maybe they’ll even buy something!
Since I also run a separate blog, I dedicate every other Wednesday to sharing any updates I have on my business and I put Sweet Mariposa’s logo up on my site. If this is not the case for you, don’t fear. You can reach out to bloggers to offer giveaways and see if they will write a review or post a tutorial using your product. Most bloggers have a sponsorship tab, or if they are like me and just want to get their name out there more, they will probably do it for free. Trust me, bloggers love when they get post ideas delivered to them!
This is the perfect way to do some cross promotion (the virtual bartering system). The blogger will help spread the word about your company by either writing a post, putting your logo on their page, or both! You can help promote their blog by sharing the link to the post on your social media sites.
If you need some graphic design done and don’t want it to look like you did it in grade school (I have that issue a lot as a beginner designer), then ask one of your design friends if they want some free product in exchange for a more affordable rate. Depending on what they charge, you may even get it for free and you both win!
Designing your own logo can be easy, even if you suck at designing. All you need is a pretty font (like Design Sponge) and you can add a picture of your favorite product, or heck, even yourself! You can add that to your business cards (Vistaprint is my favorite business card site and you can choose recycled paper!) and social media sites. You can change it later when you have the funds to do that.
I currently have my questions hanging up in my baby’s room (where my “office” also happens to live). I do that because every time I’m exhausted and just don’t feel like doing it anymore, I have a constant reminder of why I’m doing it in the first place. And she’s not old enough to scream at me for being in her room yet.
I plan to keep them around until I re-evaluate my business next year. Then I’ll know what progress I’ve made and can decide what worked and what didn’t. You may even want to start a journal and jot down your achievements, fears and goals as you go.
Guest post by Amanda
I write about my creative business journey over on my blog, and post on social media about it regularly. You can join me by using the hashtag #creativebusinessjourney on your posts. Please feel free to connect with me on any social media channel…I would love to meet you!