"If you build it, they will not come," says jewelry designer and top-selling Etsy craft business owner Mei Pak. At least, not based on that fact alone. Since 2006, this one-woman powerhouse has been the sole force behind promoting her shop Tiny Hands Jewelry. Since her scented, polymer clay jewelry charms were featured on NBC's "Parks & Recreation," Craft Gossip and Artfire, just to name a few, we know she's doing something really right. From photographs and social media to why she wishes she had written a business plan sooner, Mei offers expert advice for getting others to notice your online craft business.
What do you wish you knew when you first started an online craft business?
I wish I knew about the importance of making a business plan. I started my online business at a really young age and didn't think too far ahead. Without a business plan, I ended up making a lot of drastic changes to my branding, product line, website and packaging because I didn't know any better. After 6 years I've finally gotten it to where I dreamt it would be, but if I had planned everything out first I would have gotten to where I am today much sooner!
How important is photography to your business?
I consider photography the one thing you need in your business, next to having a website. A good photo really helps showcase your product and gives customers a clear idea of what they're looking at. Not only are you building trust with your customers, great photography can also appeal to a person's emotions. That's totally essential for getting them to either buy your product or at least share the photo with their network (think social media!). Having amazing photography is a surefire way to increase the virality of your products. Also, if you have good photos you're taken a lot more seriously in the market.
How do you keep your customers happy?
When a consumer goes through the buying cycle, there's a time after the point of purchase when most people look for justifications that they made the right decision. We ask questions like, "What if this product breaks within the first use?" and "What if I won't like the taste?" and "What if the colors are different from the pictures online?"
To keep my customers happy all the way through their entire shopping experience at Tiny Hands, I make sure they never get the chance to ask these questions, and if they do, I try my best to address them. For example, I send handwritten thank-you notes with all my packages saying that the item is handmade and that I really appreciate their support. It really helps build a positive relationship with my customers and makes them feel confident about shopping with me again.
Marketing — what should those new to running a craft business know?
If you build it, they will not come! Running an online craft business is a whole lot more complex than just crafting. If you're new to running your own business, take the time to plan out your brand and product line. Really think about how you're different from your competitor. Ask yourself, "Why should someone buy from me instead of from my competition?" Build a nice website and take good photos. Have excellent customer service. Marketing your business is what helps you sell your crafts so you'll want to strike a balance between marketing time and crafting time. Otherwise you might end up with so much inventory but have no sales!