HOW TO GET NOTICED BY BLOGGERS WHEN SELLING ON ETSY (OR ONLINE)

So you’ve made it to Etsy (or opened an online business), kudos to you! You’ve set up your beautiful shop, you’ve worked on your detailed product descriptions to overcome SEO and now you’re wondering how will people know that you’re somewhere ‘out there’.

Well… there are a few ways how these things might happen. To me, it seems the basis of it all is still this little word called ‘communication’ and various forms and strategies that are related to it.

COMMUNICATE WITH A GOAL IN MIND

It can’t be emphasized enough that creating, holding and keeping up good relationships with your customers as well as peers in your network is a MUST. Turn your ‘nice’-button to the max and start making friends. Having friends in the business scene will get you further.

If you’re able to please a customer with your products and buying experience then there’s a more likely chance that they will rave about their awesome experience to others as well. This is especially true about fashion bloggers or today’s vloggers (short for video-bloggers) who often do product reviews in front of a screen and if you’re lucky enough to get mentioned this could bring a lot of good exposure to your business.

However, getting their attention is the key to getting noticed and mentioned in their blogs or vlogs. There are many roads that might lead you there eventually – some longer, some shorter. But getting started by following their blogs, commenting on topics that are genuinely interesting for you and engaging in online conversations is a good first step.

NETWORKING IN THE NAME OF BUSINESS

Selling something online is a tough business but having a group of like-minded people support you on the way is a good start. So my suggestion to you would be to find ways how to collaborate with your fellow peers to create ‘win-win’ situations. Organize a fashion show together with other designers, join forces and set up a pop-up shop at a local fair or city in anticipation of big holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day etc).

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Women helping other women succeed will have a better outcome than everyone trying to make it on their own. In the process of running mutually beneficial projects, you’ll make new friends and partners, get more insight into how other people are working and simply think bigger. Networking, when done the right way, leads to important new connections, meeting the right people and getting your foot in the door. Plus, it’s always great to meet people that are having similar kind of hurdles when it comes to running online businesses.

The good news is that when you’re organizing a joint effort such as a fashion showcase, a pop-up shop or a networking night it’s always a great idea to involve known local bloggers or newspapers in the events. Invite the blogger or reporter over, give them a free seat, meet up and ask for advice or invite them to come and give a talk at your networking event to educate others about blogging in general.

COLLABORATING WITH STRANGERS

Getting good collaboration offers from strangers on Etsy might initially seem the very unlikely thing to happen, however, you might be surprised. If your Etsy shop looks appealing, the quality of your product pictures is high and your personality oozes through the descriptions, then you might get picked up by other fellow Etsy sellers/bloggers. After all, on Etsy you’re both the seller as well as the buyer and everyone loves looking at pretty things.

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There are 2 ways how getting noticed and offered a collaboration might happen: 1) they’ll ask you if it’s OK to blog about you and your products 2) they’ll ask you to send some free stuff that they’ll take photographs with or of, that they might video blog about and offer you some exposure through that.

The first option, of course, is the less risky business, because then you won’t have to send any free stuff to a stranger at your own cost. The least you might be asked to do is to answer questions and share your product photos. So it’s always a good idea to keep a collection of work in progress shots, images about your workspace or studio, or amazing product photos at hand. The latter, by the way, makes also great material to use on your Instagram or Facebook channels.

Option 2, as shady as it sounds, however, could also be a blessing in disguise. A fair warning before you start sending free stuff to someone: make sure you do your background check: look at the person’s blog, vlog or photographs, see how many followers they’ve got and if the audience fits your brand’s, and ask if you can use the photographs (if the person is asking your products to use on a photo shoot) later on for your own shop or blog. That way it will be a bigger win for you as well than just a vague promise of ‘exposure’ on a channel that might not even be popular.

PARTICIPATE IN OFFLINE EVENTS

Having an online shop is a big deal. But don’t forget that you’re dealing with real people and people who shop for hand-made things will more than often also want to touch your things. After all, that’s why clothes stores were invented! Same goes for jewellery and another kind of products. The more expensive your product, the more likely it is that a person will think long and hard before hitting ‘buy now’ button.

Participating in online events, such as craft fairs or beauty fairs, has a lot of advantages, in addition, to actually selling things. I personally have found it a great way to communicate my brand, introduce myself as the face of the brand and to convince people to buy my products. Once they are on the hook, keep up their interest by encouraging them to touch your products, feel the texture, try it on etc.

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And don’t underestimate the power of having your business cards on the table. If you’re taking part in a big fair the people might get overwhelmed by all the choices they’re surrounded with. Having business cards available at your desk will allow possible customers to pick your card and find your Etsy shop later on online to close the sell.

Furthermore, offline craft fairs are like a buffet dinner for fashion bloggers who come to hunt down their next big article idea, favourite designer or up and coming brands. And sometimes you might just attract the eye of a tourist or travel blogger that will share their experiences and cool findings while writing about their trip to your country. If the outcome is a blog post, you’ve been successful!

JOIN FORCES WITH FELLOW SHOP OWNERS

If you’re running an online shop then the chances are that you’re active in social media as well – if you’re not, I would suggest getting busy online to draw in more traffic into your shop. The key to getting more traffic, however, is to keep a blog, make constant photo-updates on Instagram or Facebook and keep your possible fashionista buyers in the loop about what’s going on.

One quick way of getting more exposure on other people’s blogs is to take advantage of your fellow show owners and designer’s that need the exposure as much as you do. Fair warning though, as much as it seems like an easy way out, it might not leave the best of an impression if both of you are not so genuinely raving about each other’s products. I would suggest you find a more creative way of approaching things.

Galway Designers Studio House

If you’re selling clothes, ask your blogger friend to write or video vlog about ‘outfit of the day’ or ‘3 ways to wear this piece of clothing’. It’s easy to include links in a not so obvious way to products being mentioned in such a blog post. If you’re selling jewellery then a review of ‘what’s in my jewellery box’ kind of a post might be the answers to your prayers.

Whatever you decide in the end to do… just remember to make sure the outcome won’t look like an obvious advertising piece. That kind of a reading material would not be interesting to your current customers as well as new business and it might have the complete opposite effect on the fans of your work.

LET’S WRAP IT UP

To summarize, the key to any kind of good advertising is the kind where the customer doesn’t even realize that by reading your content they’re slowly but surely being drawn into your world: so instead of selling a product, ‘sell’ an experience, a feeling, a brand.

Have you got any cool tips or tricks to share about getting your products noticed or picked up by bloggers online? If you do, don’t be shy about sharing your thoughts in the comment section below. After all… communication is the key to learning.

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Kaisa is a freelance graphic designer, Jack(ie) of all Trades Creative and the creator of the brand Sylph Designs that is known for its quirky and colourful retro-vibe pixelated jewellery. Feel free to check out her Etsy shop or follow her on social media (F

Images courtasy: The daily beast, Aay Kay and Sylph designs.

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Sell, Sell, Sell | How to Market Your Brand

Young designers need to understand what they are and why they are starting their own businesses. If they do it, it is because they really believe that they have something to say that cannot be said in the context of Paul Smith or Oscar de la Renta or Dior.

Vanessa Friedman, Fashion Director, The New York Times.

In the How to Start a Fashion Business blog post, I mentioned a tip regarding the importance of creating your brand identity through marketing and advertising. I will include the exact extract below but click here for a link to the full blog post. 

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There is no point in having a company if no one knows about it. Right from the beginning you should establish your brand identity, by which I mean how you want the public to perceive your business. This refers to the consumers perceptions about the product, the quality and the advantages your brand has over its competitors.

A strategised marketing and communications plan are key to building your brand. Understand your market share, your target audience and how you are going to approach your customers. While social media is critically important to tapping into the current fashion audience, there is a lot more to it than setting up an Instagram page. You need to create a disciplined approach to tackling your consumers and peaking their interests in an super-saturated market.

It is also important to see PR companies and the rest of the media as powerful aides in your broader marketing plan. Hiring a PR agent or company is probably one of the best steps you will ever take in taking your business to the next level, but you should only try to bring your work to the attention of a wider audience if your business can sustain it.

For this week’s blog post, I thought it would be ideal to elaborate on the importance of marketing for the success of your fashion brand and offer a few helpful tips and tricks. Hopefully, you will learn something new or can adapt some of the techniques to suit your business. 

Starting a business, particularly in the fashion industry can feel a little overwhelming. With so many brands out there all vying for coverage, your efforts to get your brand noticed can feel a little futile, almost as if you are just one of many, spreading your message, hoping it catches someone’s attention. However, you should never let the saturation of the marketplace deter you from giving it your best effort.

Once you have a solid foundation for your business – by which I mean you have a comprehensive understanding of your brand identity, including your distinct design voice and aesthetic, values, beliefs and an understanding of your customer (click here to read last week’s blog post for some helpful tips on how to identify and target your perfect customer) – it is time to use all of this information to create a marketing plan.  

Some of the simplest tips for marketing your business are to post regularly on social media, having a blog, running competitions, joining different online or offline communities and going to events. However, sometimes you might find you have attempted all of these things and they seem to have no impact. That is hopefully where these few tips will come in and help you to market your business. 

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Tip 1: Directly Ask People to Share 

This may seem slightly intimidating, or even a little desperate, but it is probably the most effective marketing technique. If you are lucky enough to have a customer base already, contact them and ask them to share your brand with a friend, or tag it on social media. There have been numerous times where I have been scrolling through Instagram, saw an outfit I liked and tapped the picture to check the credits only to discover that the one thing I was interested in wasn’t tagged. If you don’t have customers yet, ask people in your circle or even other members of our own Galway Designers Network.  Make a list of names and send a short email telling them about your latest work or newest pieces, how much you would appreciate a little support and add the direct links to your various profiles and social media pages. It will not appear pushy so long as you phrase everything in a polite manner, and the majority of people are happy to support brands they admire, believe in and have good experiences with. 

 

Tip 2: Ensure Your Presence at All Events

…even if you are not physically there.

How can you manage this? Well there are a couple of options available. One way many of the larger designers and brands do it is through the use of ambassadors. While this can take some time, finding a customer who knows your brand as well as you do and who is happy to publicly represent you will be an invaluable resource. If you have someone you think fits the bill, organise an event that your ambassador can host to present them to the world as your new Brand Ambassador, perhaps a lifestyle event or a personal styling session. That way, you have someone who can host events for you in areas where you or your team cannot be or even have them simply attend events in your stead. 

Another option could be to try and gain sponsorship. This does not have to cost a fortune; make use of interesting events or clubs in your locality where you could offer merchandise, goodies or services, or even some financial support. By conducting some succinct research, you can gain an understand of the interests your customer base has and use this information to create an effective   sponsorship marketing plan that will not cost the world.

 

Tip 3: Share your Expertise 

We’re all experts in something. As a designer, you will  have extensive knowledge about textiles, pattern drafting, construction, sustainability practices, even topics like the tools required for starting a business, what its like to be a designer in a small town etc. Take your experiences and channel them why writing about them. Be yourself, open and honest, and share everything you can. Find the best place to share your work, either in a magazine, newspaper or on a blog. By doing so, you will broaden your audience and cast your sales net even wider, thus attracting more sales. 

 

Tip 4: Social Media Conversations

Social Media is one the most critical marketing tools for the current retail sector. As a designer, it is important to have an online presence where you can engage with customers. Make sure your have a Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram and Snapchat and use them to interact with customers, bloggers and journalists in your area. By doing so, you will open your brand up to a world wide audience and help to strengthen it. 

  • FacebookIt is important to post regularly, with relevant updates. You can also try to engage with your customers by posting poles or doing live Facebook videos showing you at work while taking questions from your followers. Facebook is one of the best channels for audience interaction and questions, but it will inevitably be the first place they go to complain, so keep an eye on all customer interaction. 
  • Twitter: Much like Facebook, you should try to tweet regularly, ensuring your tweets are relevant and consistent with your brand. You could tweet about your latest design, a new fabric or pattern, your current line, some of the best sellers etc. Also, promote your other social media platforms as well as your sales channels. Another tip is to be seen to be tweeting with reaction to different collections during fashion week/cruise collections or other fashion business news to showcase your awareness of current developments.  Keep the tone personal, approachable and interactive – get talking to people! 
  • Instagram: Use Instagram to showcase your work by post images of each of your pieces. Show them individually and styled with different outfits to give your followers inspiration. If you see a piece from a high end designer similar to a design of yours, share that, with the relevant link to your item showing your customers how to get the look for less. Instagram is fast becoming the most relevant social media platform for fashion and offers a wonderful place to engage with other designers, customers or bloggers and journalists in your area. Instastories also offers you the chance to post daily updates and short videos of you at work as a designer or even offer sneak peeks of upcoming pieces. One of the best features of Instastories is the ability to tag where you are, adding to the Instastory of the locality, particularly helpful if you decide to upload a video of an event or showcase you are taking part it. 
  • Snapchat: Although, Instastories has somewhat over taken Snapchat in recent months, having a Snapchat account can prove to be a critical social media tool in terms of engaging with followers and potential customers. Snapchat is a quick, hassle free means of taking customer questions and interacting with your audience. It is also a great tool if you want your personality as the designer to become part of your brand identity, as many people will feel like they can get to know you through the videos or images you post. Again, much like Instastories, you can post daily updates and short videos of you at work, offer sneak peeks of upcoming pieces, or tag where you are, adding to the Snapchat story for the local area. 

By using social media, you can expand your audience and forge better relationships with the followers you have. Tools like Facebook Live/Instagram Live are great means of having long, engaging conversations with potential customers, rather than sporadic chat in a comments section.

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People love what others are passionate about, and if your fashion line is your passion, then there is someone out there just waiting to discover it. How do they do that? Through your effective and efficient marketing strategy.

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If you are a young designer looking to make your mark in the retail sector and start your own fashion business, check out the following blog post for a strategy in negotiating the various challenges of going from a hobby-designer to a successful fashion business. It might also be a good idea to read last week’s blog post about how to identify your target customer or this post about the various challenges and opportunities for designers in the modern retail environment.

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The Galway Designers Network are looking to make our own mark in the fashion retail sector. Our current project the Galway Designers Studio House has been established by Ann Petrov of Cozy Handmade Designs and Gayle Poppers of Kizmet Clothing but they need your help to make their dream a reality. Follow the Galway Designers Studio House Facebook Page  to read all about the project and how you can take part.

The Galway Designers Network are always looking for new and exciting designers or anyone who feels they would love to be involved. Get in touch by commenting below, via Facebook @galwaydesignersnetwork, via Instagram @galway_designersnetwork or email galwayfashionshowcase@gmail.com.

We the People: How we are changing the Fashion Industry

The fashion industry has undergone some pretty significant changes over the course of the new millennium.

Trends are dictated less and less by one It-Girl/Celebrity or one designer showing in Paris/London/New York/Milan and there is a surplus of disposable income like never before.  As a result of this new found financial freedom, fashion is starting to become dictated by us, the People, as we have more money to spend on the clothes we want. We as consumers and fashion lovers have drastically changed the ways designers, creative directors and buyers have had to approach their jobs.

This week’s blog post is going to explore three new developments in the current fashion landscape which have been directly influenced by us and how we are approaching fashion in a modern world.

Ethical Fashion

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via Pinterest

 

Sustainability is trendy

One of the biggest developments in fashion in recent years is the move towards socially just, organic or fair-trade fashion. The cosmopolitan middle class of the industrialised nations in the Western World are more aware than ever, thanks to the widespread availability of news and media, how immoral some clothing production and manufacturing methods have become. No longer ignorant to the damage fast fashion has caused, designers and buyers are increasingly looking for goodly alternatives to satisfy the now savvy consumer.  

The LOHAS Market

Consumers are now looking for fashionable clothing which has been manufactured under environmentally friendly and socially just conditions. Designers and buyers have to make smart decisions in order to meet the high standards of this new target market, an educated middle to upper class grouping known as LOHAS, which stands for lifestyle of health and sustainability. These people want to buy clothing that is socially conscious but without any concession on style. Nowadays, ethical fashions are compatible with the desire for mass consumption, given they are no longer inferior to the mass produced competition.

Fashion with Social Criteria

Designers and buyers have to look out for materials which have been grown or processed organically without the use of chemicals, pesticides or pollutants, and without the wasteful use of natural resources like water. They have to ensure that they are liaising with suppliers who are ensuring an infallible application of social criteria in regards to working conditions whereby the staff receive reasonable wages and working hours, adequate health and safety protections as well as a ban on any child labour. The current move towards market globalisation along with technological advances have meant that production, networking, purchasing and shipping of clothing for the Western market have created numerous ethical black holes for consumers. We as consumers are aware more than ever before of the hazardous conditions in which some clothing is produced for the West, and the fashion industry have become acutely aware of the resulting backlash.

Gone are the days of fair-trade fashion being associated with hemp trousers – sustainability is chic, and the People have created a need to meet the growing gap in the market.

Changing Fashion Cycle

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via WT VOX

 

Now, now, NOW: A shift towards immediacy

Today, fashion shows are being streamed live and we, the consumer, have become obsessed with shortening the turnaround from catwalk to wardrobe. As a result, the fashion industry has had to change in ways like never before and the fashion cycle has had to evolve to keep up with consumer demand. Gone are the days of design houses showcasing looks in a catwalk presentation and the consumer having to wait six months for the new collection to drop. Designers like Burberry and Tommy Hilfiger have adopted a ‘See Now – Buy Now’ model with catwalk looks being readily available as soon as the clothing hits the runway. Consumers want to be as trendy and fashion forward as possible as soon as possible and this has created a whole new dynamic in the fashion industry. 

The rise of the Fashion Blogger 

Fashion blogging is reshaping the fashion cycle as the People have looked to bloggers more and more as a source of inspiration.  If a blogger has it, a designer, buyer or retailer knows the customer will want it sooner rather than later. No better way to have your item sell out than have it featured in a blogger’s Instagram. Consumers do not want to wait to have their favourite bloggers latest accessory, which has shifted the fashion cycle from a waiting game to a now is not soon enough space.

The idea of a fashion cycle is becoming more and more obsolete as we as consumers have decided to disregard its rules and we slowly move towards a constant and immediate fashion continuum.

Technology

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via Damsel in Dior

 

The Smartphone, the modern fashion magazine

Technological developments in recent years have had a dramatic effect on fashion. The advent of the smartphone and laptop have created new tools to harness our interests by enabling us to constantly keep up to date with fashion news through multiple media channels: online newspapers and magazines, fashion blogs, fashion related YouTube subscriptions and other social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. We are living in a sea of continuous fashion feeds and designers have to create work that is not only trend driven but also conscious of the fashion culture within which they are being created and viewed to satisfy the interests of their consumer base. Designers are no longer creating clothing with a view to how it will look on a runway or in a printed magazine; now they have to create with a square Instagram frame or YouTube thumbnail in mind. 

Your Order is on its way: The Internet & Changing Shopping Habits

Technology has streamlined business interactions and impacted consumers shopping habits unlike nothing before. We are conducting transactions in a much more efficient manner than ever before. With a few simple clicks, we can have clothing at our front door in a matter of hours. The advent of e-commerce has meant that designers and retailers now not only have to stay connected to the people who walk in and out of their stores, but they also have to form a critical understanding of the customers who buy from their brand online. Our choice to consume much of our fashion content and conduct purchasing online has given designers and buyers the opportunity to form a comprehensive study of a detailed analysis of our buying habits in having access to our internet history. Technology has been able to capture consumer information which is critical for designers and buyers when making decisions about a future seasons’ range plan i.e. size, colour, silhouette, macro/micro-trends etc.

By understanding the influence technology has had on us as consumers, designers and buyers can assess market trends, enabling them to make smart decisions in the future.

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via 3Dfashionshow.org

 

The biggest change to have struck the fashion industry in recent times is the influential role our voice as consumers has begun to have. We are dictating the trends in deciding what we want to buy and while there are those still out there who will heed the advice of Anna Wintour and her ilk, more and more designers and buyers are coming directly to us, the People.