Technology has made it very easy for anyone to start their own crochet business, whether you’re selling crocheted items or items that crocheters will use, such as patterns, hooks, yarn, tools, and other items. Because the barriers to starting a business are now so low, there are more small, indie (independent) crochet businesses than ever before. It can be very hard to get attention for your business and even harder to stand out from the rest.
What’s a business owner to do? Many will search the internet for articles on “how to promote your business.” Unfortunately, that usually pulls up a good number of sites full of bad advice. You may hear suggestions such as: “Join a lot of Facebook groups and post on them as much as you can with information about your business.” Maybe that works in some industries. In the crochet world, though, there are a lot of groups created by crochet hobbyists so they can connect with other hobbyists. They don’t want their groups clogged up with people trying to sell to them. Posting about your business can get you kicked out of the group very quickly. Another bad suggestion is to post on the pages of other crochet-related businesses as your business page with a message such as: “Love your page. Here’s a link from Business XYZ,” making sure that your business name is a hot link to your Facebook page. Unfortunately, Facebook considers this type of post to be spam. If enough businesses report your message as spam, Facebook might shut your page down.
The crochet world is pretty small, at least compared to the rest of the big wide world of the internet. Crocheters talk with each other. Crochet professionals and business owners talk with each other. If you follow that bad advice, you’ll quickly develop a bad reputation and other business owners who want to be seen as true professionals will be very reluctant to work with you.
I hate to disappoint you, but there is no quick and easy way to build up an online following for your business. It takes time. Lots of time. It also takes lots of effort and personal involvement.
I do have some tips for you. They will not result in a base of 100,000 fans overnight, but they will help you develop a reputation as a true crochet professional.
1. Create a Facebook page for your business.
Select an avatar and cover photo that are appealing and reflect your business. Be sure to fill out your page profile with information about your business.
2. Be sure to create a special URL for your page under Settings.
For example, Crochetville’s Facebook URL is http://www.facebook.com/crochetville.
3. Share your Facebook page on your personal timeline so your friends and family will see it.
4. Invite your current customers and email list to visit and “Like” your Facebook page.
5. Add a Facebook page badge to your website. You can make one on the Facebook website here.
6. Include a link to your Facebook page in your email signature.
7. Include the URL to your Facebook page on your business cards and marketing materials.
8. If you use Twitter, connect your Twitter account to your Facebook page so your posts are automatically posted to Twitter.
9. Engage your followers and develop a lot of fan interaction on your page.
Create posts that encourage your fans to respond. Ask intriguing questions. Encourage them to post feedback about your products. If you sell patterns, encourage them to share photos of projects they’ve made from your patterns.
10. If you find a Facebook page or group where you’d like to post about your business, look to see if that page/group has published policies.
If so, be sure you read them and follow them. If there are no published policies, contact the page/group’s admins and ask if there’s an appropriate way to share about your business.
11. Develop a networking group.
Find others with a crochet- and craft-related business at a similar stage to yours. Talk with each other and develop mutually beneficial ways to promote each other’s businesses. Like each other’s pages. Link to each other’s pages.
12. Be careful in how you approach much larger businesses.
When you see another business with a fan following that is much larger than your own, it’s always tempting to contact that page and ask if you can promote your business to their fans. Of course you would appreciate such an easy way to get your name out to so many other crocheters at once. Who wouldn’t? But remember, you’re not the only business to think that way. Large businesses tend to be overwhelmed with similar requests from many of the other small crochet business owners who want the same thing. A large business might get several dozen requests a day from small business owners.
If you decide to contact that page, remember that you’re contacting a business, not someone with whom you have a personal friendship and can expect a reciprocal arrangement due to that friendship. You’re make a business request, and you need to approach in a business-like manner. That means thinking about your request not just from the viewpoint of the huge benefit you hope to receive. You also need to consider what you are offering to the other business. The larger business likely receives so many requests they cannot possibly accept them all without diluting the purpose of their page: to promote their own business. To give your request the best chance of being accepted, offer the other business something that makes it worth their while to say yes to you, whether in addition to or instead of saying yes to someone else. If the business is much larger and much more well-established, you may have to get pretty creative in coming up with something to offer.
13. Remember that it’s all just business.
If the larger business has to turn you down, don’t take it personally. It’s very likely not a personal judgment against either you or your business. It’s simply the nature of business: each business has to make decisions that are in the best interests of their own business, not somebody else’s business.