by Cassie Gray
It's no secret that I love blogs. You probably do, too, it's a common addiction around these parts. :) So if you've got a little handmade business, have you tried blog advertising? It took me a while to make the leap (for some reason, it just didn't occur to me.) My first paid ad was last April on Creature Comforts.
Once I saw the response (even though it was before Etsy added Google Analytics, it was clear I was getting more traffic), I added Heart Handmade, as well, for the Holidays. I'm now a firm believer in blog ads (and curated online exhibitions, like Poppytalk Handmade and Paper 'N Stitch). A good ad on the right blog can firmly establish your brand in the minds of your target customers. Sure, everyone wants editorial coverage, but a month-long ad is going to get way more eyeballs on it than one feature on a random Tuesday (which is not to say I don't love features---I loooooooooove being featured, it freakin' rocks and always gives me a thrill.) Really, you should cover all your bases, hope for features and pay for ads.
Anyhoo, the best advertising reinforces your brand. Recently, I went to Craft Cult and just noticed which ads stood out the most to me. They were either a) beautifully simple, perfectly conveying a mood; b) intriguing (I had no idea what Potato Benevolence was, but damn straight I was gonna click!); or c) perfectly concise and clear about what's for sale. The ads that don't work? The ones that try to shove too many images into a single, 100x110 px space. One image, maybe two TOPS--any more than that, and it quickly becomes muddled and unclear. Also unfortunate were the pixellated ones that had clearly just been blown up/reduced from an original. I would rather take the time to create an ad to each site's specs than try to use one image for every site and risk having some of them look bad--an unreadable or visibly distorted ad is such a waste of time and money, and could be worse for your business in the long run than never advertising at all. Maybe the most important thing you can do is to check the site you're advertising on the day your ad goes up--if it doesn't look right, fix it asap and resubmit it. I'm also a firm believer in NOT using animated .gifs. I think your ad will stand out more (at this point, in what's become a sea of animation on most blogs) if it doesn't move!
Finally, I think it's good to know when to call in the reinforcements. There's something about being a handmade artisan/crafter that makes us think we should be able to do it all: create our product, photograph it well, maintain an online shop, package and ship efficiently, write a blog, promote our work, and create ads in our spare time. I say: know when to delegate. If you're gonna spend days agonizing over creating an ad in picnik or photoshop, maybe it's worth the money to pay a professional to do it. There are tons of folks on Etsy who offer ad design--your time is money, so if you can't do an ad quickly, pay one of them to produce one for you (that said, I haven't taken my own advice yet! I'm still making my own ads). Some blog owners--like Jena of Modish--offer ad design as part of an advertising package. This seems like a great option if you're just getting started.
So, do you advertise on blogs? What tips and tricks have you picked up? What's your ad strategy? I'd love to hear from you guys on this topic.
*Visit Cassie: shopclementine.blogspot.com
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Monday, June 22, 2009