Once you’ve exhausted popular marketing channels to get traffic to your shop, you feel like you’ve hit a roadblock. It’s like you have run out of marketing options and somehow, you have to make up with what’s existing. But a little creativity can open up new channels that will bring a lot of visitors to your shop.
Sharing on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest is something you must do by default. Leaving a comment or two on related blogs, posting on forums, ads on websites/Google, word-of-mouth … you’ve probably tried them all. These are conventional ideas. They work but you hit that wall after a while. That’s when you need other methods – some unconventional ways to drive visitors to your shop.
Here’s a handful of ideas you can start from:
1. Team up with other sellers
One great thing about indie stores is the community. It’s passionate, highly involved and very helpful unlike those of larger, commercial stores (like Amazon or eBay). On Etsy, for instance, you can be a part of many Etsy Teams.
Etsy Teams are great for exposure. But the trick is to be an active participant, to help other sellers and build relationships. It’s a slow but successful way to become a popular seller with a voice.
One actionable way that you can increase traffic is by teaming up with other Etsy sellers in the same/similar niche. If you sell framed posters, you can team up with a digital artist selling prints.
You can also do a Etsy Mini swap where you put up an Etsy Mini widget of another shop on your page (and the other seller puts yours). This is one simple but elegant way to target more people.
2. DIY Forums
I love DIY forums. Not much of a DIY guy myself, but I like to hack available, ready-made items and turn them into multifunctional objects. On r/DIY (a reddit forum for all things DIY), about three million people talk about DIY. If you make hand-made crafts, DIY forums can be a fertile marketing channel.
Write a detailed DIY post about something that you made yourself – not necessarily an item from your shop but if it is, even better! – and share it with the members of these forums. You’ll not only find appreciation and gratitude but also feedback and ideas. And you can link to your shop through your profile or through a relevant post.
What if you don’t do DIY? You can find interesting DIY resources (blogs, websites, other forums) and can share these on DIY communities (with proper attribution).
3. Creative/Entrepreneurial Community
While setting up shop, you’ve probably stumbled on (and joined) many creative or shop-talk communities. These can be in the real world or online forums. You’ve probably mentioned your shop (“I just launched my shop!” or “I created this!”) on these communities. But you can do one more thing: sell items from your shop directly to the people in these communities.
Creative communities are not just makers. They’re an interesting bunch of buyers who have wonderful tastes. Someone from that community (or someone who knows someone from that community) might just be interested in what your shop has to offer.
Don’t pitch. You’re just letting people know that you’re selling something delightful because someone might be looking for just the thing.
You can also tie this up with coupons and discount offers specifically for the entrepreneurial / art community you are a part of.
4. Your Buyers’ Community
Just like how creators have communities to help each other out, buyers have communities too. Like, for instance, buyer teams on Etsy.
On these communities, buyers are vocal about the kind of handmade items they want to buy. It takes little time to sort and find your target audience here.
5. Sending Samples to Bloggers In Your Niche
This one involves a little more than mere effort. You will have to send samples of items you sell to bloggers who have considerable voice (following, popular blog, popular social channel). Within the handmade, indie, artsy community, there are many bloggers who passionately write about all things artistic (think SwissMiss).
Find these bloggers, reach out to them and ask them if they’d like to get a sample in their mailbox. Tell them you’d love if they tweeted or wrote about your item. Don’t be pushy or blatant – ever.
Bonus: Your Contact List
Go over your contacts list (again). While reaching out to our contacts, we skip some because we think this person has no connection with the things we sell. But the number of times someone we think can’t help us turns out to be a great source of referral is astoundingly large.
Reach out to people personally – a Facebook post doesn’t cut it. Send emails. Call up people. Write crafty little postcards!
Got other ideas that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear! Share your thoughts in the comments!