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Hi! I’m Lucy.
Chardonnay and vintage finds lover, founder of the handmade jewelry brand bel monili *and* your new guide to making your handmade business WORK online.
When you first started selling handmade items, you probably sold them to friends and family. And hey – a sale is a sale!
But we all have a finite amount of friends and family members. Eventually you exhaust the list of people closest to you that want to purchase your creations (again).
How do you go beyond family and friends, and start expanding your customer base?
Here are a few tips I have for you to start selling handmade items to a world beyond your close circle.
Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
This one is the next logical step. Ask the people closest to you to refer you and your business to THEIR family and friends!
This can mean asking them to share your social media accounts. Or you may want to give a few business cards to them and ask them to share the love.
It may seem like they would just naturally do this, but they won’t. And it’s not because they don’t love you, they just don’t think of it!
A simple ask like this is not being pushy or “sale-sy” – it takes someone a second to share your website with their Facebook followers.
A personal message, DM or phone call is the best way to ask them to share your business.
I talk about your Perfect Customer (PC) a LOT – but for good reason. Knowing your PC completely is really one of the keys to success when it comes to selling online.
Once you know your PC, you can speak directly to them with your messaging. You will know where they “hang out” online, and you can address how your product solves their problems so directly – they’ll really have no choice but to buy from you!
If you are just starting out and don’t know who your PC is, here are some tips.
Your PC will evolve over time, so don’t worry about getting it perfect right now. Just do your best to get a sense of who your customer is, and then use that information in your marketing.
Here are more posts about your Perfect Customer that may be helpful:
Your Perfect Customer: 3 Things You Need to Know
Who is Your Target Market? Finding Your Perfect Customer
Your Perfect Customer: Where to Find Them
The point of using social media for business is to develop a relationship with your customers. It is to gain trust, to introduce your business and products to the world, and to find the people who are most likely to purchase from you.
If you use social media just to sell, it’s not going to work. Trust me, I know! People don’t want to be constantly sold to – they want to learn about YOU.
Post to social media consistently, and in a way that feels good to you. Again, perfection is going to stifle you here, so don’t worry about being perfect!
Show your workspace and what you’re working on. Show your weekend and what you did to relax.
Present your new items with the intention of showing your followers what your business is all about.
Of course you can include links to your shop, but don’t make every post a “buy this!” plea.
And be SOCIAL on social media! Respond to comments, check out your followers’ posts and leave comments for them. Get to know them, really. This is the part that makes social media fun and not the chore it can sometimes feel like.
Opening an Etsy shop or Facebook page does not automatically guarantee sales. There are millions of sellers out there so if you don’t let people know where to find you, they won’t.
Social media is one way to do this, of course. Besides posting regularly and consistently, make sure you have your links posted everywhere possible.
One mistake I see a lot of sellers make is they forget to add their business to their personal profiles. So on Facebook, make sure you have a link to your business on your profile!
Getting traffic to your website or shop may require investing in ads. I would suggest looking into targeted Facebook ads that link to your products.
Shopify has a great starter article on Facebook ads. You can learn how to create simple ads that target your perfect customer, and you can set a budget for the month so you don’t spend outside of what you can afford.
This might not be something you can do right away, but realistically a business will need to spend money on advertising to build their customer base.
When I first started out, any money I made went right back into my business, usually in the form of advertising. Eventually I was making enough sales to support my ads while also taking an actual profit.
If your products are in a space that has influencers (mommy bloggers, home decor, food, etc), you can try reaching out to them for a product exchange.
Smaller influencers (those with less than 10K followers usually) are usually willing to help promote your items in exchange for products.
Take some time to create a list of influencers in your product’s space. Take a look at their posts. Do they get a lot of engagement when they post? Have they worked with other products and brands?
If you like them and what they’re doing, send them a message and see if you can work together. Most are very honest and are looking to work with brands.
You can also include a request with your thank you emails to customers that asks them to post about their purchase and tag you. Customer generated reviews are great for generating interest and new sales.
Always have your business cards on you, because you never know when an opportunity will come up! Don’t be afraid to talk to someone about your business if it comes up in conversation, and hand them your card.
If you’re in a boutique or shop that you think might want to carry your products, ask to speak with the owner and see how it goes! Some smaller shops love to carry items from locals. This can be hard for you to do, but the worst they can say is no! And you may develop a relationship with another business owner in your area, which can be beneficial in so many ways.
Selling handmade items at craft or art shows? Make sure you have information about your website in your booth! Make small takeaways with your website information on them. (And definitely make sure to get emails for your email list.)
As you can see, there are several ways you can start expanding your customer base beyond your close circle. It takes patience and consistency, but you will grow your business if you focus on these tips.
Need a bit more help growing your business past family and friends? Check out my course Clear Cut Content! I’ve created a proven system that can help you quickly and easily create irresistible content. Click or tap here to get more information on my self-paced course, Clear Cut Content.
After running bel monili (my handmade jewelry business) for 10 years, I launched Bloom in 2019 to create a community where handmade business owners could learn, grow, and support each other in this wild venture of small business ownership. Welcome to Bloom!