Identifying Your Target Customer: Who are they?

This is part one in a five part series about identifying your target audience.
We all do it when we are just starting out. We join tons of crafting communities to promote our handmade shops. In theory, hey, it's hundreds of eyes on your products, right!? Up until several months ago, I was marketing in a similar manner - then I shifted to marketing only to my target audience - young, married, trendy parents who live in the suburbs with 1-3 kids who like organic, natural and ecofriendly products for children - and my sales went from 1.38% conversion rate to 3.87% conversion rate in less than two months. Whoa, right? 

While networking with other shop owners has serious advantages, like a supportive community & a place to gather advice for your creative journey, odds are others makers aren't your target audience to sell your handmade products to. Investing the time to identify your target audience & developing a marketing strategy to approach them is invaluable. I am so glad I spent the time doing the research & incorporating new marketing tactics to help me reach my target customers, resulting in in rapid growth in my social media channels and almost 50% increase in new customers over four months, and I am eager to use this series to help other makers grow their businesses by helping them identify who their target audience is, what they like, where & when they spend their time online & how to approach them! 

Who is your target audience may seem like an easy to answer question but it's probably more complex than you think. So below I have created a series of questions for you to ask yourself. Concentrate on each one. Visualize your dream client, the person you want to see holding your products. Imagine where they live, how they live, what they do. 

Are they male or female? 

What is their style like?

How old are they?

Do they live in the suburbs, city or country? In a house or apartment? 

What kind of hobbies do they have? 

What sort of job do they have?

What is their average income like? 

Are they blissfully single, or happily married? 

If neither, are they planning a wedding?

Are they parents? 

If yes, are they natural parents? 

Do they have pets? 


To participate in this exercise: in the comment box, copy these questions and your answers to them.

Expand on as many questions as you can - the more you can identify about your target audience, the easier it will be to learn to market to them! If they are parents, how many kids do you think they have? If they live in the city in an apartment, how do they decorate & use their space? If they are trendy, describe how you imagine their personal style. 

Over the next few weeks, we will use your results from these questions to determine your target audience & how you can use this knowledge to your advantage, so even if you don't want to publish your answers here, print out the questions, write down your answers and keep them handy! 

Not sure what to post on Instagram? Easy prompts to keep your account active and interesting!

We've all been there - stumped about what to post on social media. You don't want to fill your social media outlets with just photos of your items, links & "Buy me!" content. You want to show people the person behind the process. You want to build organic, lasting connections with your audience. And I have just the solution for you!

#creativedaily is the only photo challenge geared directly towards creatives, artists, makers and small business owners - anyone who needs a spark of creativity daily is welcome to join in and make new friends through this fun photo collective. This is especially wonderful for crafters to put their latest designs & products in front of consumers and show their process and peeks into their lives in a very organic way! 

The goal of #creativedaily is to inspire people to document not just their indie biz journey but their life and processes through daily photos & bits of text, encouraging them to fill each day will a little bit of creativity while fostering creative community & new friendships through social media. If you miss a day or few, it's not big deal - this photo challenge is just for fun! 

How it works:

Each day, you upload a photo to Instagram or other social media outlets that relates to the dated prompt (for example, the 1st is "but first" so you would post your interpretation of that prompt on the first) and share a blurb about what the photo represents. Be sure to add the #creativedaily hashtag to group to photos with the other images from this collective.

Click the #creativedaily hashtag to find out what others are posting and make new friends by liking & commenting on their photos! 

This collective is such a fun way to make new creative friends, discover new brands and share your own story. 



This image is sized for Instagram - feel free to save this graphic & share via social media so others can join in on the fun too! :) 

Will you be joining in on August's photo challenge? Which prompt do you look forward to the most? 

#happyhandmade week seventy-four

Hello & welcome to #happyhandmade, a social sharing collective of handmade products from various artists, shops & platforms, all brought together to aid in product discovery and help connect artisans with new audiences and other makers! 

Each week there is SIX chances to be featured, either as staff pick or most viewed - so be sure to share #happyhandmade with your friends, family, Etsy teams, in forums and Facebook groups you are a part of - the more people seeing this link up, the more people shopping & seeing your goods and the bigger our #happyhandmade community grows! 

This collective generates over 2,000 click-throughs to participants shops every month thanks to everyone spreading the word about the link up and sharing items from the collection to social media, which leads to even more traffic to everyone's shops! Keep up the great work sharing #happyhandmade!


Rules:
Link up to three {3} handmade products from your shops below! 
  • Share at least three {3} items from this collection (not yours) via social media
(Do not Pin items to Pinterest without express permission from the creator)
  • Spread the word! the more people who hear about it, the more exposure everyone gets!
  • Please show your support of handmade and leave a comment listing your favorite three products from the link up that you shared!
What can you link up? Handmade products, art prints, and any designs you personally have created and had printed in small batches on clothing, fabric, notecards, etc. So long as you made it, you can share it! 

What you can't link up: blog posts, Facebook pages, giveaways, tutorials, items that are factory produced. This collective is to connect handmade shop owners with one another and promote one another's products, so all links you share should be to an individual product in your shop. 

Click "add your link" - in the first box put the URL to your INDIVIDUAL product listing, not your shop home page. In the second box, put a description of your product. In the third, your email address. Click Submit and then select a thumbnail for the photo!

Making Shipping Easy - Two Great Shipping Rate Guides from Stamps.com!

So, these are pretty incredible shipping rate guides to keep handy! 

2014 Priority Mail Rate Comparison Guide

While I always try to ship first class whenever possible to save my buyers a little moolah, I recently found this amazing Priority Mail Rate Comparison Guide via Stamps.com and wanted to share it with all of you! Super handy to print out and keep handy when packaging orders! Download yours here
The pricing table sorts package rates by weight downward and by zones across, so find your package weight then determine which zone it will be traveling to and viola, you've just found the cheapest way to ship your product via USPS Priority Mail! 

2014 USPS International First Class Rates

Shipping internationally can be scary - but with this handy guide, you will find that it may not be as complicated as you thought! This guide makes it easy to find shipping rates for international first class packages to help you accurately set your international shipping rates in your shop!



Download your International First Class Rates guide from Stamps.com here!

Better Photos on a Budget - Light Reflectors

This post is brought to you from Melanie of Violet's Buds. Melanie has Bachelors of Science in Photography and provides product photography advice and services to entrepreneurs.

Using a light reflector is a great way reduce harsh shadows, produce evening lighting and highlight your product's greatest features - and can be done without breaking the bank purchasing expensive studio equipment. Several household items produce the effect of expensive light reflectors - but are a fraction of the cost, and most cam be found at a dollar store! Here are a few economical choices for reflectors:


Poster Board is one of the easiest reflectors to find and to use. Using white poster board will bounce light  evenly, and won't create unusual tints of color are on your product images.
Depending on the size of the product you are photographing, a dry erase board is another good option. The slick surface bounces light well but sometimes can create harsh reflections if used in direct sunlight, so they are best used bouncing light around your product, but not on it. 
White canvas board can be found at many craft stores & dollar stores, and is another great choice. It comes in various sizes and the matte surface creates a soft reflection and is easy to prop in place. If you have several canvas boards, you can use them as your backdrop as well.



Silver car window shades can be found at most dollar stores or at automotive stores. The flexibility of the shade helps when positioning, and is large enough for many sizes of product. A silver or gold-tone shade is perfect for portraits or modeled product photos, but may alter the color of product photos.  


A few other things you can experiment with: a white sheet, aluminum foil, or a large sheet of white paper. Each material reflects light differently, so having a few choices on hand is a great idea to play with so you have the right set up for any lighting situation!

  Do you currently use a light reflector for your product images? If so, what is your set up like? 

#happyhandmade week seventy-three

Welcome to #happyhandmade, a social sharing collective of handmade products from various artists, shops & platforms, all brought together to aid in product discovery and help connect artisans with new audiences and other makers! 

Each week there is SIX chances to be featured, either as staff pick or most viewed - so be sure to share #happyhandmade with your friends, family, Etsy teams, in forums and Facebook groups you are a part of - the more people seeing this link up, the more people shopping & seeing your goods and the bigger our #happyhandmade community grows! 

This collective generates over 2,000 click-throughs to participants shops every month thanks to everyone spreading the word about the link up and sharing items from the collection to social media, which leads to even more traffic to everyone's shops! Keep up the great work sharing #happyhandmade!


Rules:
Link up to three {3} handmade products from your shops below! 
  • Share at least three {3} items from this collection (not yours) via social media
(Do not Pin items to Pinterest without express permission from the creator)
  • Spread the word! the more people who hear about it, the more exposure everyone gets!
  • Please show your support of handmade and leave a comment listing your favorite three products from the link up that you shared!
What can you link up? Handmade products, art prints, and any designs you personally have created and had printed in small batches on clothing, fabric, notecards, etc. So long as you made it, you can share it! 

What you can't link up: blog posts, Facebook pages, giveaways, tutorials, items that are factory produced. This collective is to connect handmade shop owners with one another and promote one another's products, so all links you share should be to an individual product in your shop. 

Click "add your link" - in the first box put the URL to your INDIVIDUAL product listing, not your shop home page. In the second box, put a description of your product. In the third, your email address. Click Submit and then select a thumbnail for the photo!

Using SocialBro to Analyze Your Twitter Account

Today's guest post is brought to you by Toni of Little House of Crafting!

If you're looking to analyze your Twitter account I highly recommend SocialBro. SocialBro has the most in depth Twitter analysis I've seen yet! There is so much information to be gathered for free it's unbelievable!

Let's get to it!

Once you sign up and sync your Twitter account to SocialBro you will have a dashboard to play with. It's packed with information. I'll detail a few things:

Follower stats - You can see the trend of your followers. The "annotations" feature is very nice! Want to see how many followers you get from a giveaway or a sale you're promoting? Use the "annotations" feature to select the days you would like to track. 



Countries - An interactive map of the countries you have followers in.


Kred score - Your Kred score is based on your interaction with others on Twitter in regard to mentions and retweets of others. Influence ranges from 1 to 1,000. Outreach ranges from 1 to 10. Business Today notes that scores of at least 700 and 7 is good. How do you score?



Under the "Analytics"tab, "Community insights" provides variety of information:
Time zones - A graphic representation of the time zones your community. This information can be used to detail the best time to tweet. SocialBro has a report for that. I will detail that soon!





Locations
 - Location information detailed from your community's bios.



Right under "Community Insights" is my favorite report - "Best Time To Tweet":
You can customize the report or you can base it off your top 100 followers.
After the report is created you will see a wealth of information!


When followers are online - A graphic representation of when your followers are online. The black dots shows the best time to tweet on the day you run the report and the best time to tweet during the week. My favorite part of this report is you can sync these times with HootSuite and Buffer!

Online followers by hour and day of the week - You can select days individually or you can see the details of the week as a whole by choosing "all". This information is useful but I find the next set of data even more so!


Potential exposure by hour and day of the week - This set of data details the potential exposure your tweets based on the followers of your followers. Your influential followers are exposing your tweets to their followers, which increases your reach.


What followers talk about - This data details the most used tags of your community. You can then better tailor your tweets to include tags and links that your community will most enjoy.



​Finally, under "Best Time To Tweet" is "Real Time Analytics". I don't spend a lot of time here but it's fun to watch! You can see what app and client is being used to access Twitter too.




Thank you so much for hanging with me today to learn more about SocialBro. 

Have you used a website to analyze your Twitter account? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

meet the maker: Kelsey from Honey and The Hive



Hi! I'm Kelsey. A bit about me: I'm a 22 year old picture painting lady living in Michigan with my husband and our two year old son.  I have always been a very hands on person, as a child I loved making things - I've always been incredibly fascinated by the idea of making something completely from scratch.  Though I spent a lot of time doodling in notebooks and on letters to friends, it wasn't until my junior year of high school that I took an art class and realized that I had such a passion for it.  Since then I've dabbled into just about every medium from graphite drawing to sculpture and mixed media until finally finding my niche with watercolor painting.


Fast forward a few years to 2013 when I had started to post a couple of paintings I had done for fun or as gifts for family members to Instagram.  Much to my surprise people started asking how to buy my art.  Little by little I started doing custom orders, selling prints here and there, and eventually there was enough interest in my art that I made the decision to open my first online shop.  When it came to naming my business I wanted to come up with a name that best reflected my little world - a little bit of crazy and a whole lot of sweetness, plus I've always had a thing for bees.



The biggest struggle I have faced since starting Honey and the Hive has been with several members of family not accepting my choice to be a working artist.  Coming from a family of 9-5'ers, they aren't able to relate to, or even begin to understand my crazy work schedule or how art can become a job.  I am however incredibly fortunate to have an amazingly supportive husband who is full of encouragement and will make me tea while I pull a late night painting session.  Heck, he'll pull up a seat and paint along with me (did I mention he's an incredibly talented tattoo artist?!).  My friends have been a huge source of encouragement from the start too, from celebrating with me as this little dream started to become reality, to converting our "girl time" to sitting around my table and talking while I paint, to volunteering their time to help me with my very first art market coming up in August.  I've also met some incredibly wonderful and talented people through the handmade community and have a great support system there as well.


The greatest achievement I have had so far is honestly just looking back at my art from a year ago when I started this journey to now and seeing the progression I have made - all of the trial and error has finally come together into something that I am so proud of.  I can't wait to see what another year, or five years, or ten years will bring.  I feel incredibly fortunate to do what I love and to be able to make cheerful art that is inspiring and encouraging to others.


Save 25% off anything in Kelsey's shop with code DAFT25 through August 1st, 2014!

connect with Kelsey

Craft Junkies - A New Community for All Levels of Crafters!

Today's guest post is brought to you from Kristin, owner of the new community for makers, Craft Junkies

Before I started Craft Junkies I was a member of several groups that were really strict. It was either all business talk, all selling, or no crafting talk at all. I wanted to create a group where handmade business owners and crafters could go to and ask questions about their business, projects, and just chat about their creations. On January 3rd of 2013 I decided to take the leap and started my own Facebook group, Craft Junkies.

Today Craft Junkies is a community of over 14,000 crafters from all over the world! Because of the huge growth that it has achieved I decided it was time to move off of Facebook. On June 22, 2014 our new site launched that will used to share business articles, tutorials, and even a marketplace for shoppers to find great handmade products. Along with the site, we also launched a new membership program., the Craft Junkie Addict Membership. 



This membership will allow crafters to join in on the private forums and network with other crafters and business owners on a smaller scale. It will also give them an ad in our marketplace, social media shout outs, and a chance to be featured on the Monday Meet the Junkie blog segment. 


I am so excited about the response that this awesome new site is getting that I would like to invite you to join. Feel free to use coupon code : Daft to receive $2 off of any Craft Junkie Addict Membership. That makes it just $3 a month! I hope that you decide to stop by, check it out, and join! I'll see you there!

What to Consider When Selecting Backgrounds for Product Photos

This post is brought to you from Melanie of Violet's Buds. Melanie has Bachelors of Science in Photography and provides product photography advice and services to entrepreneurs.

Recently I shared about experimenting with different backgrounds alters the feeling of your product photos. Flat backgrounds allows your products to stand alone and speak for themselves. But by experimenting with depth of field and texture, you can produce images that sets your creations apart from similar products, making your items the pop from a sea of similar items in a virtual marketplace. You want to select backgrounds that complement your products, tie in with your branding, show scale, and do not distract from your product. 

Consider these things when experimenting with props and backgrounds that add texture to your product photos:  
How will your product be used?
What feeling do you wish to convey?
Does this backdrop fit with your brand?
Is it cohesive with your shop's look?
Does it distract from your product, or draw you eye towards it?
Does it make a statement?
How does it set you apart from your competitors?

Here are some excellent examples of creative backdrops that play on depth of field and texture to help inspire you:


Ella Bella Bows produced this fun image of her Yoda hair clip by positioning a repeating line of the hair clips in the background. Though there are multiples of the same item in the image, your eyes are drawn directly the the clip that is front and center due to the excellent use of depth of field, which slightly blurs the products in the background and makes the nearest item POP from the image! 



This photo from Polder's Old World Market is a stunning example of successful product photography using props and texture to demonstrate the quality of their product. They captured an image of a handmade coffee scoop sitting atop a pile of coffee beans  - it shows scale, product use, and emotes a feel for a simple, natural life. 

Something as simple as shooting a hair accessory in a model's hair rather than flat on a white background can change how people see your product and make it pop in a virtual marketplace. Experiment with depth of field and texture and see if you can come up with some fun results for your product photography!