Artisan markets are more diversified than ever, causing unanticipated difficulties and opportunities for creatives. Where will it all lead?
Artisan markets have been exploding over the last couple years, mainly due to the rapid influx of new entrepreneurs aiming to tap the power of evolving handmade and micro trends. What does that mean for long-time artists and craftspeople who have always been committed to their work, regardless of mass popularity?
In my opinion, recent developments have created an uneasy mixture of sellers who aren't always on the same page with regard to primary life goals and the values associated with them. For example, these two sets of sellers aren't entirely like-minded when it comes to adopting mainstream sales and marketing strategies. And they don't always interact the same way with conventional business advisors, who might not relate personally to the creative lifestyle.
There's also the question of the newest trend, which is for craftspeople to diversify and become business consultants without having had any mainstream business training. This type of consultant might have some insight into how creatives think and work, but might not have had broad enough experience to effectively guide market newbies.
What does this mean for both micro entrepreneurs and self-identified artists and artisans? Small business owners with an entrepreneurial mindset are more likely to connect comfortably with sales and marketing concepts than their art-identified counterparts. If you've started out primarily to make a living, and have intelligently identified artisan markets as the appropriate venue, then all you really need is solid professional advice, helpful tips and some general business coaching to get you going. Whether or not you're successful in the long run will depend on your talents, your determination, the quality of the advice you're getting, and a lot of luck.
Creatives, on the other hand, generally find it more difficult to relate to the entrepreneurial lifestyle, and have a tendency to feel alienated by standard business presentations, marketing strategies and sales concepts. If you're driven to create, if the creative process is your primary (sometimes only) objective, the time spent doing business can be physically and mentally painful. Unfortunately, mainstream business advisors often remain unaware of this disconnect, and will sometimes pound away at conventional methodologies without regard to the effect it might be having on their own clients. In fact, this kind of mismatch won't matter at all to highly income-driven consultants, whose services favor the high-potential, entry-level entrepreneurs who can most easily benefit from their advice.
Success for self-identified creatives will depend primarily on adaptability. Can you stretch your lifestyle to accommodate these alien sales activities? Can you tolerate the time spent talking about the features and benefits of your work (rather than let it just speak for itself)? Are you able to find a balanced spot within yourself where selling can take place while you're also maintaining your own artistic and personal integrity?
The world is definitely changing. It used to be that artists never expected to be famous or even to make a decent living with their work. Craftspeople would simply aim to create a small local following, and would be satisfied with that, even if it meant also holding a regular part-time job to cover monthly expenses. Fame and fortune were entirely unpredictable and unanticipated. The newest market trends offer a tremendous opportunity to break from old habits and expectations, with the potential for significant financial benefits. But is the evolving artisan scene really as beneficial for true artists and artisans as most public observers tend to think? I'm not sure.
What's your opinion? Feel free to comment or ask a question. And browse the blog for more on marketing, social media, copywriting and SEO.
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Don't forget your Etsy shop categories when using keywords! Watch the screencast to learn about a major SEO opportunity!
Etsy shop categories are easy to overlook when planning out your SEO strategies. They're off to the side on the computer, and behind a tab on mobile. But it turns out that Google pays attention to those labels and uses them to identify your shop and its products. Watch the screencast to get a few quick tips about what to avoid and what to aim for when naming your Etsy shop sections.
After viewing, if you have any questions, feel free to comment below. Also, browse the blog for more on SEO, copywriting, social media and marketing.
How can you create unique pages that optimize both SEO and onsite customer engagement? Here's a first look at how it all works!
One of the most common complaints about small business e-commerce sites is the seeming push and pull between SEO and copywriting. It's hard enough to write a single product description of any kind, much less craft dozens or hundreds of unique listings for items that are almost identical. After combing online thesauruses for synonyms, you can quickly use up all the available options. But if we look closely enough, we can see that, in reality, the two sets of requirements—SEO and copywriting—have very similar goals, are well matched, and if handled properly, don't really conflict at all.
We've talked elsewhere in general about what Google considers to be duplicate content, and how to avoid it. Google is actually more lenient on this issue than most people think, but it's still important to differentiate each listing from the others as much as possible to ensure that all your listings are considered for placement in search results.
From the copywriting point of view, uniqueness is also very important as part of your sales strategy. It helps you to:
Meeting the Uniqueness Challenge
So how do you achieve this ideal selling environment, where every listing in your shop becomes its own well-defined little universe? It helps to remember that this is a basic part of doing business—the need to continually be as creative as possible in your interaction with customers and in maximizing the SEO value of your copy. Unfortunately, there isn't a universal, 10-step process to get there. Each business has different goals, is at a different stage in its growth, must appeal to its own specific customers and has its own individual style.
And there's also the human factor. There's a certain psychology involved in the sales process. It's critical to understand the relevant aspects of human behavior, know something about typical buying patterns, and connect effectively with people who are in a purchasing frame of mind. To optimize all of this requires imagination, some talent, and a lot of hard work.
Stay tuned for more details in coming weeks! In the meantime, if you have any questions, feel free to comment. And browse the blog for more tips on copywriting, SEO, marketing and social media.
There's no point in overdoing specific keywords. Google will either ignore you or apply penalties. Avoid trying to "work" the system.
Keyword stuffing is the practice of purposely inserting specific words and phrases in non-natural ways in an attempt to call more attention to a page's content in online searches. Over the years, Google has become very smart about detecting abnormal text and will either apply penalties to your site or simply ignore the page where the keyword stuffing appears.
Keyword stuffing usually refers to long strings of keywords that don't look like sentences at all. Or sentences that are awkwardly written to repeat certain key phrases. "Maya's Gold Jewelry offers gold jewelry at the best gold jewelry prices in today's competitive gold jewelry markets."
You might also have heard the phrase keyword density. This relates to an outdated practice used to determine the optimum amount of times that a keyword phrase should be used on a particular page. As Google has recently said, keyword density is "no longer a thing." In fact, Google states that after a particular phrase appears on a page a couple times, the effect on relevance might actually drop. Yes, that's right. The first couple times, you're doing the right thing by showing the search engine that your page really is about that topic. After that, Google starts losing interest. By overdoing it, you could be hurting yourself rather than helping.
Google consistently recommends that you write for people, not for search engines. Google's algorithm is designed specifically to find content that naturally delivers information of importance to the searcher, and is relevant to users based on the actual value it delivers, not solely on the keywords that appear on the page.
If you insert a good keyword phrase once, that's enough for Google to see it and use it. On a longer page, one or two other mentions can be helpful, assuming that they're integrated in a natural way. But be cautious about overusing keyword phrases to the point where you trigger a negative reaction.
Earlier this month, Google also made it clear that the algorithm can tell (don't ask me how) whether apparent keyword stuffing is the result of an active attempt to manipulate search results, or if it just reflects a spurt of enthusiasm on the part of the site owner. "We know that many websites aren't really trying to fool Google's system. It might just be a normal attempt to get across what the website is all about. Maybe they're just following bad advice they got somewhere. We want to rank a website based on the good things on it, rather than remove it for any small thing they do."
In general, Google's approach nowadays is to negate the effect of manipulative actions by simply ignoring them. Which means that, instead of having greater effect on results, these attempts to rig the system end up having no effect at all.
Cynthia Pepper-Jones, Gypsum Moon
Gorgeous Instagram photos, but still can't attract a loyal following? View the screencast for tips on how to fix that!
Instagram and other social media accounts tend to be all about the images. Visuals are what attract attention, but the next step is crucial: Keeping the viewer engaged. Watch the screencast to view a beautiful account that's just sitting there without much love. Great tips on ways to boost your visibility, improve engagement, and hashtag more effectively.
After viewing, feel free to comment or ask a question. And browse the blog for more tips on social media, SEO, copywriting and marketing.
For immediate help, visit Services to find out about consults and coaching options. You might also be interested in The Copywriting Coach on Facebook.
Good writing is enjoyable and attractive. But "copy" sells. So how do you make the leap? What's the magic formula?
A lot of people have the "gift for gab." They're able to sit down and write engaging words that spark the imagination, uplift the spirit, and make listeners feel great. Sometimes, in a store, that warm, fuzzy feeling will seduce a customer into making a purchase. But that's accidental. Language like that isn't copy. It's delightful, but isn't targeted to sell. What makes the difference?
It's All About the Customer
Copywriting isn't a case of sounding generally appealing and exuding a lovely personality. That will win friends but won't necessarily build a customer base. To sell, and to continue growing on the foundation of earlier sales, you need to genuinely connect with your customers' particular style, way of life, product needs, buying habits and personal characteristics. As we discussed in another post about marketing strategies that fit your business, there isn't a one-size-fits-all writing style that works for all businesses.
Many business owners who aren't also writers find it very difficult to write ordinary descriptions, much less create focused copy that is intelligently and effectively designed to sell. So how can you manage to write a good product listing or bio without either taking classes or hiring a professional? In some cases, those options will work for you and would be good alternatives. But if you're trying to go it alone, here are few tips that might help:
Avoiding the Hard Sell
Of course there are many "hard sell" tactics that work purely on the basis of manipulating consumers' emotions, and can successfully sell with having to remain authentic. Note that even in those cases, a business needs to understand its high-potential customers in order to drive them toward making a purchase. But overall, I can't recommend those methodologies—even in cases where they might work. In my opinion, not everything that works is worthwhile doing. I prefer to respect the customer and to rely on honest, direct engagement rather than subtle or overt manipulation.
Google's secret algorithm strikes a balance between keyword relevance and content quality. What's the best approach for success?
As we've seen in previous posts, being seen in Google search results involves a lot more than just keywords. Google's ranking formula incorporates over 200 diverse factors, including popularity measures and content quality assessments. Not only that, but, order to provide the best experience for Google searchers, the algorithm changes almost daily! How can a small business like yours get a better handle on how search works, in order to decide where to focus your limited time and resources?
The first step is becoming more comfortable with the difference between keyword relevance (how closely your content matches up with customer searches) and content quality (how highly Google values your content based on its ranking factors). If you focus solely on one aspect of Google's complex algorithm, you could miss significant opportunities for optimization.
Although Google provides hundreds of pages of information and recommendations regarding how to use keywords and how to optimize content quality, it maintains secrecy over the exact relationship between the two areas of SEO in its algorithm. In my opinion, this is perfectly natural, since Google is a business and there's no reason for it to release all of its in-house, proprietary knowledge. Other search engines have their own secret recipes, and it makes sense for Google to keep its constantly evolving approach under wraps.
Nevertheless, recent statements from Google indicate that the algorithm uses both keyword relevance and quality as prime considerations, and both are strongly involved in determining where a page ends up in search results.
A lot of SEO discussions focus on keywords only, and those discussions have become widespread enough that even small businesses have begun to incorporate keyword research into their daily routine. But what about the quality side? It's important to focus just as strongly on areas that include (but aren't limited to):
Clearly, this is an ongoing conversation, with lots more to talk about. Stay tuned for upcoming posts that will focus on specific ways to strengthen the quality of your site, outside activities that will help your ranking, and insider details about how search works. In the meantime, feel free to browse the blog for more tips on SEO, copywriting, social media and marketing.
Need immediate help? Visit Services to learn about consults and coaching options.
Unfollowing is common practice on IG, so how do you know which accounts to follow back and which to avoid? Watch the screencast for today's tip!
A professional "follow for follow" gesture is often a good move if an account is relevant to you or if you just happen to like it, but what about all those accounts that immediately unfollow? It's easy to become depressed as your "Following" numbers continue to rise and your "Followers" keep dropping. In principle, there's nothing wrong with following someone who doesn't follow you back, but there's no point in completing a "follow for follow" with people who don't genuinely want to maintain a relationship.
Watch the screencast to learn one easy way to spot likely unfollowers and cut back at least somewhat on those followed accounts that you don't want or need on your "Following" list. Since Instagram doesn't provide an easy way to keep track of unfollows, it's safer to spot them ahead of time.
After viewing, feel free to comment or ask a question. And browse the blog for more tips on social media, copywriting, marketing and SEO.
Make those first few sentences count! View this Etsy listing critique to find out how to connect with customers in the first few seconds!
In a previous blog post, I talked in general about making sure to say the most important things first on any e-commerce web page. This is especially true for product listings. Customers who loved your photo enough to click on the listing are poised to buy. So don't lose their attention now!
Here's a specific example of this principle in action. View the screencast to see how a good listing can get even better by focusing on value, and engaging customers when they first lay eyes on your listing copy.
Feel free to comment or ask a question. And browse the blog for more on copywriting, SEO, marketing, and social media. For immediately help, visit Services to learn more about consults and coaching options.
What makes "sales" different from "marketing"? And how does knowing the difference help you to optimize your business strategies?
A lot of new and smaller sellers tend to confuse the terms sales and marketing, either lumping them together or ignoring the terms altogether. But a failure to grasp the difference could cost you opportunities to gain a larger audience and grow your business.
In the long process of acquiring customers, marketing comes first. This is the stage when you make yourself visible to the marketplace. Marketing plans help you:
Sales comes next. This is the stage when customers are already at a point of sale where they can easily buy your items. They've found your store, have demonstrated some initial interest in what you do, and are looking for additional reasons to purchase.
Note that when customers find you through online searches, they've skipped the marketing stage. They're jumped right to your store and directly into the sales process.
What's Your Goal?
Understanding what stage you're at with customers helps you decide what to say and how to say it. It also helps you pinpoint the best strategies to use for each location where you make contact with buyers.
For example, if you have a product post on Instagram, but the customer can't purchase there, that's a marketing post. Which means your goal is either:
In the first case, you need to provide a way for customers to get to the point of sale and also need to state your goal clearly. "Buy Now."
In the second case, you need to provide a way for customers to remain in touch and need to state that goal in a way that helps customers take action. "Click on the link to learn more." You can also keep them engaged by starting a conversation. "This month's birthstone is the opal. Do you have a favorite piece of jewelry with your birthstone in it?" There are lots of options.
In large companies the distinction between sales and marketing is very clear, since they maintain separate departments for each. The marketing team develops the programs that get the message out into the marketplace, motivating potential customers to learn more and ask questions. Once a customer starts showing an interest in the company's products or services, the sales team takes over.
Does this brief overview give you any ideas for ways you can shift your social media or onsite activities to optimize the selling process? Feel free to comment or ask a question. And check the blog for more tips on marketing, social media, copywriting and SEO.
Barbara Clavan provides copywriting, coaching and consulting services to high-growth businesses, high-profile individuals and creative entrepreneurs.
Visit Services to learn more.