Saturday , 19 June 2021
If you remember your high school algebra, one of the basic functions of life is exponential; something starts very small and over time begins to accelerate faster and faster. That's what you want with your marketing, so start thinking and doing!

Marketing 101: Niche Markets Part 3 : Getting Out There


Marketing 101: Niche Markets 3

Getting  Out There

Just what does that mean? We’re talking about marketing your products without spending money. In Part 1 you looked at other uses for your unusual product, and a lot of you had really good ideas. In Part 2 last week I asked for unusual marketing ideas you’ve tried.

And poof, just like that, the conversation went dead.  In fact, I found myself short on ideas. It seems if we have a store front, it’s a lot easier to come up with ideas. Rachel from Rayela Art talked about literally stopping traffic with a belly dancer in the window of her shop. Michelle of SHELs Unlimited does yard sales on a regular basis and includes a drawing for a chance at a coupon in her store.

Belly dancers certainly work with a store front, but now they have no storefront and have moved into the realm of social media.  Michelle is looking to do something more unusual. And I pondered for several days, trying to figure out how I could help you all jump-start some ideas.

Did you see this new headline on Handmadeology? “May 2012 Etsy Stats – 1.29 Billion Page Views and $65.9 Million in Goods Sold.” Pretty impressive, and we all need a piece of that pie. So let’s get brainstorming ideas to market ourselves.

This presupposes you all have Etsy shops, but even if you don’t, these ideas can work for you.

1. Get your profile up on LinkedIn. It takes some time, but it doesn’t cost anything. Then you can include that in all your email addresses, business cards, and the like. It makes you look a lot more professional at your art. I know a lot of “gurus” suggest your profile picture be actually of you, but hey, I’m different. I have a piece of my art as my profile picture, and I keep the same one across social media platforms. Once I had my profile up, I began to look for groups to join within LinkedIn. I hooked up with presenting some potential marbling classes, and participating in an unjuried show last fall, just to name two opportunities from LinkedIn. Take the time to do this.

2. See what professional groups have blogs and discussion groups on line. Have you done any searches? Many have restrictions about outright marketing, but you can have a tag line at the end of each of your posts. Start a dialogue, ask questions, follow potential ideas you see, comment thoughtfully on other posts. Yahoo has a marblers group we belong to. We are not only up-to-date with what’s happening in the field, we also learn of new supplies, who’s having issues, new ways of trying marbling techniques, and just in general having a way to stay in touch with other professionals.

3. Get more pictures. Use your own living space and think about how else your product could be used. Can you hang it on the wall? Take a picture. Can you wear it? Take a picture.  Can it be part of some other product? Take Pictures!!!

4. Start some partnerships with whom you can trade supplies Who’s your supplier? Would they like to have a sample of what you do with their product? Could you do a demo or teach a class for them? In fact, where do you buy your supplies? Do you follow them on Facebook? Do they have a website? Do this for all the suppliers you use. We met a batik artist when we did an art show in the Seattle area. We traded fabrics to see if we could marble over batik, and if she could batik over marbling. You could have another by-product you can sell.

5. Get noticed on line. Dharma Trading likes to spotlight folks who use their products. ArtsyShark has a call a couple of time a year to spotlight artists on their weekly blog. If you have an Etsy shop, is one of your available pictures what your product would look like in something else or in the home?

6. Start reading business blogs. Now, there are a LOT of business blogs out there. Are you reading Handmadeology, primarily focused on Etsy? (Hint: your answer should be “yes.”) Check out Alyson Stanfield (ArtBizBlog) and Tara Reed (ArtLicensingBlog) – always insightful and full of good ideas.

7. Schedule time for marketing each week. You need to find a balance between marketing and make product. Set aside one day a week, even just a couple of hours, and read blogs, respond, look for opportunities, follow through on new ideas. It takes a while, but it does pay off.

If you remember your high school algebra, one of the basic functions of life is exponential; something starts very small and over time begins to accelerate faster and faster. That’s what you want with your marketing, so start thinking and doing!

Leave me comments – I want to know what you’re currently doing, what you’ve already tried and with what success, and what you’re thinking about. Let’s share the wealth of ideas each week.

Dean and Linda Moran are the owners of Marble-T Design and have been marbling for 20 years. You can see their work at “The Art of Fabric,” follow their adventures on their blog, see examples of their marbling in their Etsy shop, and watch their updates on Facebook.



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  1. Once again, a great post, Linda! I’m on the web all the time looking for these kinds of connections and I can say that they can easily eat up all of your time. I encourage TAFA members ( to zoom in on three places where they can be effective and develop some real relationships. Yes, I think people should set up profiles on all of the big social media places and keep them up with weekly updates, but to try to be everywhere with meaty content and interaction can be utterly exhausting. So, I would say explore a new place for awhile and get a feel for it. If it doesn’t “give back”, put it on your “superficial” list. But, do find a couple places of real engagement.

    For example, I was very active on Etsy forums when I first started there (years ago when forums were open and not teams). I did learn a lot, but also found them to be groupy and although some contributors offered exceptional insights, most were whiny about lack of sales. In time, it got old and I didn’t feel like my contributions were valued. However, Etsy has a plethora of great tutorials and when looking for a strategy or learning something new, it’s worth searching it.

    I’m a bit stumped about how to use LinkedIn. We have a great TAFA group there and I’m on a bunch of groups but they all start sounding/looking the same. Any ideas about how to keep things fresh there?

    My favorite social media place is our private TAFA group. Members are really engaged there and contribute excellent feedback on the issues that come up.

    Google+? Lovely set-up, but still have no clue about how to get people engaged there.

    I would be interested in your take on these and other social media platforms. How to go beyond the routine posts into something more meaningful. Maybe you could explore them one by one….

    • Thanks, Rachel!! Lots of ideas here to explore, and I agree – some things can eat up a LOT of your time. I’m thinking about how I can use TAFA more effectively. I occasionally tweet items and articles of interest, but I don’t follow it regularly – that’s a huge time suck….

      I’m still figuring Etsy out – selling very small practice quilts (<$25,but they were "learning" quilts), and I know I need more in the store.

      Linked in – I think it's a case of lurking on some group discussions and seeing what people are up to. For example, one of the ones last week listed a workshop retreat in Oregon, and I emailed for some information.

      I think I'm missing out on the private TAFA group…..not the one on FB? And I agree on Google + – no idea there. Someone want to jump in here?

      I think you and I have moved into some more in-depth areas of marketing, and these articles are meant to be "get it in gear" for those who aren't quite sure what to do next. Hopefully these articles will lead to some nuggets that we can mine further.

  2. Great article! I’m doing some things right!
    I’ve found it is great to really participate on Etsy teams and create treasuries to meet other Etsians. I also use Pinterest for showcasing team members items and have a board or two that include some of my own work. LinkedIn is a fascinating HUGE world and a little overwhelming. I post photos on Flickr and belong to groups there.
    One of my best tools has been a little ad in the sidebar of a friends amazingly popular blog.
    It all adds up!

    • Annie – thanks for your reply!! I’ve been in a couple of treasuries – not really quite sure how they all work, so that’s something new to study. Can you tell me more about Flickr? What are you finding good about that? Did you negotiate for the sidebar? Lots to pursue in the future!

  3. Great article! Funny you should mention Linkedin; I was recently invited to join by someone I’m not even sure I know but I thought why not. I had never even heard of it. I am taking baby steps but I’m glad to learn it may be beneficial to my business. my plan this summer is to work on my Etsy site, to be more active in it. glad to know I’m on the right track without even knowing it. Funny how lfe works out sometimes.

  4. Very good suggestions! I’ve been in business longer than the internet, so I go back to some of the networking basics and they translate back to an online presence. I attempt to be active in my community by being on the Board of Directors for the local Visitor’s Bureau, I skate with a recreational roller derby group, I continue to go out of my studio to teach in elementary school programs. This helps get my name out to groups that are not textile related and build an audience for my work that might not otherwise seek out textile art. Then I go back and blog/link and otherwise promote what I’m doing on my website, FB, etc. You never know what link or search someone will take to “stumble upon” your work. And TAFA is one of those wonderful opportunities to showcase work in a professional platform!!!

    • Pamela – same here! We go back to basic marketing that hubby did when he was running WT Grant stores (ice ages before the internet!). We always include thank you notes when we mail purchases. We let people know when their package has been shipped and ask them to let us know when it arrives. We send thank-you cards (made from our own images) when needed. And whenever we walk craft shows, we’re always on the lookout for who might need some of our fabric to add to their own creations. Never go anywhere without your business cards! And I agree with you about going back and blogging about your adventures! You just never know!!

  5. Thanks, Kathleen, for your comment! I spent a lot of timelast summer gettingm profile set upand learning my way around, thanks to a course crom I’ve been in a couple of groups, but sometimes it’s just too much to read. I’ll spend some morre time with it and pass on what Ifind out.

  6. Sorry -i I didn’t proof….I’m not fond of the spacebar on the ipad……

  7. great follow-on article linda. start with a small familiar circle when joining linked-in and eventually you’ll circle will grow by knowing somebody who knows somebody. it takes some time to build up your connections.

    another thought ~ you can look locally for events like small business group meet-ups (and don’t forget your business cards). i’ve also seen events posted on artisan-type shop windows of local happenings geared towards crafters. marketing can be a lot of work so Linda is right, schedule the time into your work.

  8. Hi Dawn – thanks for the comment! It does take time. If you look at the graph at the bottom of the article, we have really slow growth for a while – in fact, it can look like no growth at all – and then you begin to see a slow upswing in results, and then that begins to build even more. And small local groups? We have one that just developed on FB here in Tucson that is sharing potential venues and ideas. What we need to realize is that every single thing we do builds our business.

  9. This is some wonderful advise…. I have in fact done alot of these thing and am seeing an exponential growth (still need more). I have used my Facebook, set up a twitter account under my store name, set up a couple of squidoo lenses and linked almost my entire product list thru stumbleupon

  10. OK, I have read and implemented but minimal results. Seven pieces on line in seven years. As far as I can tell no one visits my web page, (I need a counter), my FB, weeks on end gets zero likes. Working abroad in a clannish society which just does not have a lot of the community groups existing in the states limits net working. I printed out a complete gallery list, five pages and the few possibilities have rejected me, NO WOOD! Fortunately my craft shows do OK but not at the prices I need.

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