Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What I Thought Would Happen, and What Actually Did - Advertising

This week I’ve been writing about my recent journey of small buiness improvement . . . my small business being my Etsy shop, One In The Hand, where I sell sewn and knitted cup cozies (for now!). I’ve talked about the changes to social media and the changes in products I’ve worked on . . . what I thought would happen as I implemented changes, and what actually happened.

Today I’m going to talk about advertising.

What I Thought Would Happen

When I got more involved in the handmade Twitter and blogging community, I was inundated with the way the community supports each other through all the advertising, sponsoring, giveaways, contests, etc. That’s actually how I got involved in this community – Jody from The Fabric Shoppe, one of my favorite Etsy fabric sellers, ran a giveaway of some of my cozies last winter. One of the options for entry was to follow me on Twitter. I gained a lot of followers through that giveaway (my first of that type) and jumped right in. As I mentioned in my social media post on Monday, I didn’t completely fit in, but eventually found some nice folks to enjoy friendship and collaboration with.

I thought my connection to all the bloggers and Twitters and shop-owners would drive traffic to my shop. I thought I’d find a group of blogger BFFs and we would take over the handmade world and be sought-after for movie deals and consultation work. Ok, not really. But kind of.

Oh, and I’ve stressed over getting a blog button made. How in the world would I ever generate another sale without a blog button?

What Actually Happened

I don’t know about you, but I tend to have “following frenzies” every once in a while. I’ll get in the mood to find something new to read and I’ll end up following a handful of people on Twitter, or bloggers, all at once. These are almost always topic-driven. Well, it’s hard to keep up with all those blogs and twitter accounts, and I recently found myself unfollowing quite a few bloggers and people on Twitter because I just couldn’t keep up with everything they were writing.

I suffered a bit of guilt over this, even though most of the time I doubt the people ever knew I was following them in the first place. I also feel guilty when people follow me because of a giveaway (I’ve done a few more since last winter) and I don’t follow them back. Sometimes I do follow people back out of obligation . . . but most of the time we don’t have a ton in common and I just don’t get much out of what they have to say. I’m sure some of them follow me for giveaways and then unfollow (so far I haven’t watched my follower numbers so I’m just assuming), which is honestly fine with me.

Oh – well, I have developed a few friendhips and small partnerships, things that I hope will grow over time. But – now don’t tar & feather me for this, fellow crafters – I don’t see all the giveaways, sponsorships and whatnot as being that beneficial. FOR ME, AT LEAST. Maybe it’s because I’m not using my blog as a way to make money, maybe it’s because I can’t seem to write only about handmade stuff . . . but so far, I haven’t seen any of that stuff translate into sales. I know, I know, it takes time and maybe a giveaway-Twitter-follower will buy something from me this winter. But I don’t know, man. I’m kind of over it. At least, in terms of feeling it is an essential part of my ability to progress. Please understand, friends, I am NOT knocking you if that’s what you enjoy or if it’s been successful for you. I know there are positives to it all. It’s just not a good fit for me.

Changes I’ll Be Making

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to stop participating in giveaways. For me, that’s an easy, inexpensive and fun way to advertise my items. I won’t, however, participatein giveaways that require people to follow me in any fashion, as entry options. So if you’d like to host a giveaway of my items, contact me, by all means. And you can ask people to follow you as much as you like. But I don’t want anyone to follow me for a contest. It makes me guilty when I don’t follow back or when I unfollow after realizing we’re not a good fit.

I probably won’t be doing any blog sponsorships. It’s possible that I will find a blog that I feel is the perfect fit and that I feel will really give me a return on my investment, so I’m not completely ruling I out. But it won’t happen often. I like the idea of supporting my handmade peeps, but I would rather just buy something from them than pay for sponsorship – I simply don’t think they’re that effective.

On the same token, I will not be asking for blog sponsors. I’ve been waiting on this anyway until I get the new site design up and until I got enough followers to make it worthwhile for those buying the spots . . . but now I don’t think I will get into it at all. I don’t want a cluttered sidebar full of stuff no one looks at. I want my blog to be focused on ME and what I like. I feel selfish saying this, but dude, it’s business. I want my blog to represent my brand, not everyone else’s brand. That is not to say I won’t ever add someone’s blog button to my site or that I won’t have a link list directing readers to other blogs. I will. I just don’t want to deal with money making things complicated. I don’t want to feel pressure to write about something might not completely believe in or be excited about. Like I said – I *do* want to support others and I would rather do that directly through the handmade items they create. I promise, if I like your jewelry or artwork and wear it or have it in my home, I am going to write a great review of your product and talk you up. I don’t want to be paid t do it. Again – I am NOT knocking you if this works for you. I know that (most) people who take sponsorships do it thoughtfully so that the businesses they support are in line with their own beliefs, asthetic, etc. For me, for now, I am not interested in generating revenue directly from this blog. If that changes, I’ll deal with that then.

What do you think? Have giveaways, sponsorships, blog buttons, etc worked for you? Have they not? What are some of the positive things that come from these methods of advertising? What are some of the drawbacks?

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