If you have a small business that sells handmade items or craft supplies you already know it's not easy.
There's a lot of competition. Big box stores, other sellers copying, unscrupulous Chinese companies steal photos and then mimic your products on Alibaba. Search engines make it hard to be found and social media hides posts from followers. In having both a handmade and craft supply business I've been up against them all. Yet many of us are still hanging in there with our labor-of-love shops, despite the challenges.
It's getting harder to be found by new customers and, importantly, to continue to reach them. To find other small businesses to connect with and support isn't easy either. Advertising can be expensive and not very effective.
I want to change all that.
I've decided to launch a new link/social media party every week called Crafty Business Fridays. The idea is much like my weekly Craftastic Monday Link Party which is for blogs posting projects & tutorials. Sharing what you do with others and discovering others who's work you enjoy.
Every week I will welcome any small business that is handmade or sells craft-related supplies (fabric, ribbon, beads, jewelry findings, notions, patterns, digital designs, etc.) to come link up.
Share your main page, a new product, a giveaway, a special offer.
ALL of it is welcome.
Both stand alone shops and those on Etsy, Facebook, ArtFire or any other selling platform. I'll have a photo link party here on the blog every Friday as well as a post on Facebook where you can link in the comments. If it grows enough, I'll also expand it to Instagram.
I also aim to help create ways to collaborate, cross-promote and share thoughts. Small businesses should have more opportunities to get the word out about their offerings and support one another, so I'm starting Crafty Business Fridays.
Blogs used to be the best way to create personal connections and community & grow an audience but the past few years scrolling through social media feeds has replaced direct human connections on individual sites. Now most of those platforms want payment for posts be seen by the very followers who already opted in or decide to hide posts they disagree with politically, philosophically or, as it sometimes seems, just because it's a Thursday and they hate ____ on Thursdays. It's insane.
I'd been thinking about this for a while, but Etsy's announcement this week made me want to launch now.
If you haven't already heard, Etsy is giving shops that offer free shipping top placement. Buyers searching for items will see those first every time. Their ultimate goal is to be a free shipping on everything site, much like Amazon. Except it's not Amazon, who has paid Prime memberships and heavily discounted shipping rates with carriers offsetting the free shipping, warehouses in every state, billions in revenue rolling in. Etsy is thousands of individual little businesses who don't have any of that to draw from. This time last year Etsy increased their cut of each purchase and started taking a cut of the shipping cost too. Sellers were upset, but Etsy shareholders were delighted and many suspected this strong arm attempt for shipping would come next.
Since most small businesses don't have a lot of margin to eat the shipping costs and still make a profit, Etsy's "solution" for sellers is to just roll the shipping into the price, so everything will now cost more per item. Which isn't good for buyers either. Shipping varies widely, depending on where the buyer is, so increasing the price by $10 to everyone because that's what it costs to send to the opposite coast when the shipping could actually be $5 to someone nearby isn't a good solution. And someone buying multiple items will now pay more because combined shipping won't be possible because they suggest that cost be baked into every individual item. Charging less than what the postage really costs means sellers can't afford to sell.
Someone is always going to lose money,
but Etsy loses nothing.
Sellers are once again upset and frustrated. Those based outside the US and sell here are livid. Buyers won't like seeing jacked up prices. It's terrible for everyone. I will not be doing it in my Etsy shops to keep things reasonable and will continue to direct customers to shop my main business's stand alone site, HeavenlyFabricShop.com, where I can always get better shipping rates for my customers and even offer price discounts because the fees there aren't as high as Etsy.
So...I hope by launching this weekly link up it will help other shops to be discovered, help small businesses support one another and help buyers find great items & shops they might not normally stumble upon. Come join me next Friday, July 19th, to kickoff the first of Crafty Business Fridays and spread the word that is the place to be if you own a crafty business or love to buy crafty things!