You’ve launched your online shop. Now what? Breaking through the “noise” of the internet and getting your online shop discovered can feel like a daunting task for new business owners. With the help of Monica Bacon of Oh Me Oh My Sewing, the latest installment of the Small Business Handbook will share tips and tricks for catching the eye of future customers online.
Monica: So you’ve made yourself a beautiful product, it’s available for sale in your online marketplace of choice and you just know people are going to love it! I agree. It’s a great product. Pat yourself on the back. There’s only one thing left to do—the rest of the world needs to see it! An important place to start is with amazing photos, but where do you go from there? Over the past eight years of selling online, including two years of selling sewing patterns under the brand Oh Me Oh My Sewing, I’ve learned many different tips and tricks to answer this very question. Today I’ll share the strategies I’ve learned so you can apply them to your own small business.
Step 1: Know Your Keywords
Knowing which keywords to use to describe your product is the first step to search engine optimization, also known as SEO. So, let’s start brainstorming! Here are some questions to ask yourself that will help you determine keywords that you can then use in your product listings in your online shop:
- What is it? (maxi dress, spiral notebook, laptop decal)
- What style is your product? (boho, modern, minimalist)
- Who is your product for? (kids, women, teachers)
- What occasion is it for? (engagement, Christmas, summer)
- What is it made out of? (organic cotton, sterling silver, polymer clay)
- What makes it special? (beginner’s sewing pattern, squirrel print top, hand-painted jewelry box)
And so on. With these keywords in mind, it’s a good time to do some research. Take a moment to look through Instagram, Pinterest, and Etsy. These sites are where I’ve gotten some of my most valuable information for my own SEO. What words are used to describe items like yours? Lastly, try and think like your customer. What words would you use if you were searching for the item you are selling?
Once you know which keywords your buyers are looking for, apply them everywhere! Use them in your descriptions, title, alt text, and tags. When platforms limit the number of allowed tags, you want to be sure to prioritize tag diversity to ensure your results are served in as many searches as possible. Using different keywords across multiple listings can help with this as well. It’s also important to use a mix of broad and specific keywords, as broad keywords are very highly searched but also very competitive. When you use specific keywords you’ll be much more likely to land yourself at the top of that particular search but the volume of that search will be much lower. Finally, try to use as many unique keywords as possible rather than different combinations of the same ones.
After applying your well-thought-out keywords to your product listings, it’s important to check that your titles are concise, descriptive, and engaging and that your product descriptions are informative and contain your brand identity. This can be in the tone of your writing, the formatting, or explanations of your process. If your titles and descriptions are just a long list of keywords, not only will potential customers lose interest, Google’s search algorithm will know and you’ll see your rank lowered for it. If you’re selling on Etsy be sure to use multi-word keywords in your tag slots. Etsy’s algorithm prefers keywords like “modern baby clothes” and “kids sewing pattern” to “clothing”, “baby”, and “dress”.
Step 2: Make Social Media Magic
It’s impossible to give advice on how to build brand awareness without mentioning social media. Not only is it a great resource for reaching potential new customers, but it also allows you to maintain relationships with people who already love your brand. There are a lot of different places to start so I suggest beginning with one platform and giving it your all. Facebook is good for more professional posts, reaching mature audiences and releasing video. Instagram is great for more casual posts, a younger demographic and visual content. Pinterest is excellent for capitalizing on trends. And don’t forget your newsletter! A timely email can turn a one time buyer into a repeat customer.
People who buy handmade like to get to know who they’re buying from, so feel free to get a little personal about how you run your business. Not only are you selling your product, you’re selling your story too! I like to share a mix of new products, process photos of what’s in the works, and customer makes. Don’t forget to get creative! My favorite aspect of Oh Me Oh My’s social media is our Facebook community sewing group. It’s fulfilling for me to see our community share their projects and help each other through sewing questions. My customers are always inspiring me with how gosh darn cute their creations are!
Step 3: Get Together and Collaborate
Collaborations are a great way to grow the reach of your business through mutually beneficial relationships. I’ve had the opportunity to work with many baby clothing small businesses, and whenever they’ve made anything with my patterns they’ve let me use their photos. This has been invaluable to me, as it’s been the only way I can get photos of my work on kiddos. They love it too as I credit their photos whenever I post them on social media or on my website.
One way to find collaborators is by reaching out to bloggers or influencers that you think your customers are watching. Offer them a collaboration or free products for a feature. I’ve personally found that Instagram is a great place to find other brands you might want to connect with. If you use any materials made by a brand with an Instagram presence, it’s a good practice to tag and mention them in the post. As a bonus, maybe you’ll get featured in return!
Step 4: Learn from What Worked
Always be checking your analytics/stats pages. Improving your business is going to be all about learning what your customers want, so look for patterns in what items, keywords and photos worked for you. Invest in the mediums getting you traffic. Update keywords that are underperforming and take note of your power keywords. Use what you’ve learned to make more lovely things that are even better suited to what your customers are looking for. Some of my most popular items have been inspired solely by previously successful keywords. One of my early sewing pattern hits was my baby pinafore dress. I’ve made several dresses that use the pinafore tag since then because of it. Pinafore dress is still one of my top keywords but now it’s my flutter pinafore dress at the top!
Now go forth and share your products with the world. Good luck!