How to Build an Audience
Now, it's time to talk about how to build an audience for your craft. This is the thing that everyone wants to know, right? How do I find more people? So, remember that business at its core is just something to sell, and somebody to sell it to. Your craft, and your audience. These two things happen simultaneously. So it's not like, "I'm going to spend a year doing this, and then a year doing that." Or even like, "A month doing this, and a month doing this." They're happening at the same time. But, we can't talk about them at the same time, because that would be impossible. So, we're going to discuss them one at a time, but know that, in your life, they're happening simultaneously. The other thing, of course, that's happening is that you may be spending more time in one or the other. And that's really based on your financial pressure. So if you're like, "I have to make money right now, and my audience is tiny," guess where you're living? Right there. Little more focus on growing your au...
dience. Maybe you don't quite have as many of those pressures, and you're like, "All right. I want to spend a lot of time working on my craft. I'm still figuring things out. But, I'm going to start building my audience a little." That's fine, too. And we're going to dive more into this later, when we put together your action plan at the end of this class. Because, remember, my goal for you, is that by the end of this class, you're going to be able to wake up every day, and say, "I know exactly what I need to do today to move my business forward." All right. So, like I said, we're going to talk about these one at a time. And we're going to start with growing your audience, because you can't have a business without people to sell to. Does not exist. And, just because you've built it, doesn't mean people will come. You can put up the website, or you can put up the Etsy shop...and crickets, right? When I first started selling on Etsy...I think I set my Etsy shop up in February. And my first sale happened in June. Now, that was not the only way I was selling my products, but, (inaudible) I was like, "I've been on Etsy for a month and I haven't sold." Six months, basically. Nothing happened. So, just because you put it out there, doesn't mean that people are going to be paying attention. And the thing that I see, is that most makers really aren't proactive enough with their audience building. They take that "I've built it, where are they" approach. And some of the reasons why makers aren't as proactive with their audience building as they should be, first of all, they just don't know how. Does anyone feel like, "I just have no idea"? Is anyone feeling like that? You're like, "I don't know." And that's fine. That's why you're here, right? We're going to talk about that. The other one is that they might not realize how much time and effort it actually takes. So, one of the things that I remember that really vividly stuck with me is, I watched a webinar that Susan Petersen, the founder of Freshly Picked, did on Instagram. Now that is literally how she built her business, was Instagram. And she was talking about how in the beginning, she would spend six to eight hours a day on Instagram. This was not on taking her photos. That was a small part of her day. It was on interacting with people, getting people to follow her. Really, just, working it on the platform. I'm not saying that you have to spend that much time. But I think it's one of those where you can look at someone like her, and say, "Man. She's just blew up." When really there was a lot of hard work that happened in there. So you might be trying it, but you're just really not doing everything you need to get you there. Or, maybe you're taking a scattershot, "a little of everything" approach, and so you're never really gaining traction. Who's trying to hedge their bets and do it all? Yeah. Right. So you're like, "Okay. I got a little Instagram, and then I got a little Pinterest, and then, now I'm going to try this, and I'm doing some craft shows, and I'm maybe reaching out to stores. And that. And this, and that. And nothing's sticking," right? So, really, that's because it's focus that creates traction and momentum. What happens is, you need to put in the time. And when you're trying to do too many things, you're never getting enough time into any single one of those. So, our goal is to get you to focus on something, so you can get that traction. Now, growing your audience isn't just about growing your social media following. Good news, for those of you who are not fans of social media. I know it's really easy to default to that. It seems like nowadays when we talk about growing an audience, everyone jumps to, "Well, that means growing a social media platform." Whatever platform that is. But that's just one way to help people find you. So I've identified five key ways to build an audience for your craft. I'm not saying these are definitive, but these are five, really key, proven strategies. And I'm going to talk more in detail about all five of these. We're talking about shows, stores, search, press, and visual content. And my goal for you is that, by the end of this lesson, you're going to pick one to focus on. So let's talk about those in a little more detail and what I mean. So by shows, I literally mean selling your work through craft shows, arts festivals, farmers' markets, pop-up shops, whatever that is. Literally selling in person. And shows grow your audience by connecting you with the show's audience. So the show has built an audience. Guess what, most of their shows, if they're any good, they have an email list. They're reminding people. So they have an audience, and they're bringing that audience in. So you're leveraging that office...that audience, and they're, ideally, buying your products, grabbing your promotional materials, joining your mailing list. So you're really leveraging their audience to grow yours. Stores is another way that you're leveraging someone else's audience. So this is really just selling your products to retailers. And, essentially, they grow your audience by connecting you to the customers of the retail stores. And in this case, this is the one exception where more of your list building is happening with your store list, than your end customer list. But it's still important to have the mailing list for your end customer, because even if you're mostly selling to stores, some of those customers who buy your products at stores are going to want to know more about you, right? So they're going to Google you or they're going to come to your website, or they're going to look at you on Instagram. Then, you ideally want them on your email list, so then you can remind them when you send new work to those stores. But this really leverages someone else's audience, to help you grow faster. Search is, very simply, getting your products to rank high in search results on Google, or Etsy, or Pinterest. Yes, Pinterest is a search engine. It's a really, super-powerful search engine, actually. You can also treat it as a social platform. We'll talk about that. But it is also a search engine. And, so, this, the idea is getting your products found. And this isn't one that we typically think of as an audience-building strategy, but that's what it is. It grows your audience by connecting you with potential customers who are in a buying frame of mind. So later, we're going to have Tiffany Whipps here. She runs Tiffany Anne Studios. And she has literally built her business on search because when someone goes into Google, and they type in, "Thin gold hoop earrings," it's probably because they want to buy thin gold hoop earrings, right? And Google, as we know, has a huge audience. So you're tapping into the power of that, and getting people who really are, very seriously, thinking about buying your products. So we have press. So press is getting your products featured in blogs, in magazines, in newspapers. There's a lot of different kinds of press, but really what we're going to talk about in this one is actually getting your products featured. And so press, again, leverages the power of the media outlets audience to bring you people who will join your mailing list, or buy your products. And some of that depends on price point. So, if you're doing a lot of press and you have a lower price point, usually they're just going to buy. If you are a little bit higher, we have to focus a little bit more on getting people on your email list, so you can nurture that relationship. And then our last type is what I call visual content creation. And this is building an audience with images, on something like Instagram, or Pinterest, or even putting those images on your blog. So this is probably what most people think of. Because you're thinking of, "I'm going to grow my audience on Instagram. I'm going to grow my audience on another social platform." And, what this does is, it obviously grows your audience by literally growing followers. And ideally these people will go to your email list, and buy your products. And it's okay if, hearing those five, you don't know yet which one is the best for you. That's what we're going to do in this segment, okay? So, obviously...I feel like this is pretty obvious, but I wanted to just state it. So, shows and stores are clearly more of an offline strategy. And search, press, and visual content are online. So one of the things you can think about as you're trying to make this decision right off the bat is, how and where do you want to be spending your time? If you're like, "I don't want to spend hours every day on my computer," then you might end up at one of these two. That might be the more natural fit for you. But if you're like, "I don't mind hanging out at my computer." Or in my case, "I don't want to (inaudible) my stuff to shows every weekend. I want to be in my studio, and if that means I have to spend a couple of hours on my computer, so be it." So that's one of the things you can think about. The other thing that I want to talk about here, is that, even though shows and stores are a 100% valid way to grow your audience, we're not going to be talking about them too much today, in this class. There are a couple of reasons for that. First off, if they are things that work for you...if you purchased this class, you got our handy quick start guide. And in that quick start guide, I do have steps for getting started on shows and stores. But, there are a couple of other reasons we're really not diving deep in them today. First one is that there are already complete classes on CreativeLive about these strategies. So, I'm not going to reinvent the wheel. One of those classes is my class, "Sell Your Products to Retailers." So if you get to the end of this exercise, and you are like, "Yes. Stores, totally the right way for me to go," then I hope you check out this class. And I'm not telling you that because I want you to buy it, I'm telling you that because this is a really good class that teaches you everything you know to do this. So there's no point in me trying to rehash it. If shows are something that you think you want to do, Nicole Stevenson has a great class here on CreativeLive. That's "Craft Show Secrets: How to Get In, Make Sales, and Grow Your Business." So if we're doing all these exercises and you're like, "Hey. Shows. That's my route, but I need more information," beyond what's in our quick start guide here, you can go ahead and grab Nicole's class. The other reason that we're not talking about this here is because this is a class called, "How to Build a Business While You're Learning Your Craft." And shows and stores both work best for slightly more developed bodies of work. So, search, press, and visual content creation can actually be used to build a business around a single product. So if you've one thing, you can make these things work. Tiffany is a great example of this. She started with one thing. And because she optimized it for search, boom. Her business took off. Right? If you've one great product, you can use that to pitch the press. And coming back to my favorite example of Freshly Picked, she had one thing, baby moccasins, and built an entire following on Instagram around it. So if you're really at the beginning and you only have one product, or a really small body of work, these are easier ways to get started. The reason that you need that more developed body of work is, you need to fill a booth. Whether you're doing trade shows, or whether you're doing craft shows, you have to make the booth look full. And then the same thing with stores, you're putting together a line sheet, you're sending that out. You need something that's a little bit more developed. I'm not telling you guys this to scare you off. I built my business, really, on those two platforms first. So they are great options. But I want to make sure that you guys have all the information. The other thing just to keep in mind, is that shows require you to apply, and they're very competitive. Particularly in certain product categories. I apologize to all my jeweler friends. We all know it's true. It is really hard to get into a show as a jeweler. Because there is just so much competition. And so, you do want to be aware of this if this is the platform that you're looking into, that you probably are going to have to apply to a lot, a lot of shows. And, again, you need that more developed body of work to be competitive with your application. But that said, if we do these exercises and shows and stores are the right strategy for you, go for it. I'm not trying to discourage you. I'm just explaining why we're not really diving deep into them today, in this class. The other thing to keep in mind is that your focus may change over time. I started out doing craft shows. Pretty quickly I was like, "I don't want to spend my weekends in a tent in the rain." So I moved over to stores. And I spent a long time on stores. That was really my main focus for years. And now, I'm at a point where I'm making more one-of-a-kind work, and I'm sliding more into visual content creation. So your focus can change. You're not married to anything forever. Isn't that nice to know, right? That you can make a decision, and you don't have to stay with it forever? That said, when I say it can change over time, I mean years, not months. Because it takes time to gain traction. So you can't be like, "This month, I'm on shows, and next month I'm on stores, and then I'm going to jump over to Pinterest." You're not going to gain any traction. Anything that you do, plan on giving it at least a year before you decide if it's like, "I'm going to bail," or, "I'm going to transition."