How to Market off Etsy without Being a Spammer
I received a lot of concerned commentators in my previous Handmadeology post regarding marketing your Etsy shop off of Etsy. I suggested joining online groups and forums where your potential customers might be hanging out as a means of reaching them. The concern is, of course, we have all been a part of that one group or forum where the annoying spammer joins and start his or her very first thread with a pitch to get members to buy his or her products. When I suggested you to market to these outside-Etsy groups, this is NOT what I was suggesting you do.
Rather than beginning with a sales pitch, begin as a new member and gradually make yourself part of the conversation and community. Instead of starting new threads right away, be a helpful responder and participant in the already existing discussions. Read what is going on BEFORE commenting, and make it obvious that you have ACTUALLY READ any questions that might have been asked before offering your helpful solutions.
Most forums or online groups allow your to place your shop link in your signature, or your name can link to your shop. This means, every time you make a comment or suggestion, your link will be there for people to click if they are curious. The more interesting and/or helpful your comments are, the more likely people are going to click on those links. Generally, you will never have to openly state that you are a seller, trying to make money by selling your stuff. People will figure it out eventually, but only after you have gained their trust by befriending them first.
Making online friends is a great way to expand your network and gain more customers and followers. The best way to achieve your maximum network is to befriend FIRST, market SECOND. Just like with Pinterest, you don’t want to be only posting your own listings. Take the time to comment on blogs other than you own. Share valuable information on forums (maybe a how-to tip, or a “wear I bought this” suggestion.) If you take the time to care about the other members of these groups, they will generally take the time to care about you (and what you sell) in return.