I know I’ve said it before, but I’m going to say it again. Marketing for your creative business comes down to one word. Blogging.
But if you’re like most people, it’s one of those words that can make you shout for joy or hide in a corner (I’m assuming based on whether or not you have a blog post due).
As much as I love the Etsy sales platform, the problem when you have an Etsy shop is that you don’t have an official home on the Internet. Etsy is part of a wonderful marketplace with lots of other shops.
And it’s a great platform to use for e-commerce. It rarely goes down, it’s easy to figure out (no html coding required) and you have a built in audience that starts seeing your product listings on day one. Etsy is a wonderful thing when you want to start a creative business.
But, it’s not really a home for your shop. When I’m talking about a home, I mean a place where your shop lives.
To be a successful Etsy seller, you need to start a blog for your Etsy shop. Your blog is the place where you can share ideas, sign up your biggest fans so you can communicate with them more often and cultivate an audience that cares about your brand.
I’ve laid out my case for starting a blog for your Etsy shop in more detail here. But the most important reason to start a blog for your creative business is that it will become your number one marketing tool.
I recently started experimenting with direct pins to my Etsy listings on Pinterest. Although they are becoming easier to make, it’s kind of weird promoting my products in this way. Let’s be honest. Creating a pin description that isn’t too salesy and doesn’t scream “Buy Me” isn’t easy.
When you sell something directly, customers are the least likely to buy. They want to get to know you and your story. They want to know what your shop is all about and how it’s different from other creative businesses.
Just posting all of your products as pins or using social media to market them directly isn’t going to build these important relationships.
This is where your blog comes in. It’s a tool that promotes your products more discreetly. You can include product links in your blog posts, feature your products in action and write about new product lines without shouting “Look at Me!” from the rooftops.
Most importantly, your blog posts are shareable. Whereas direct pins to your products – no matter how snazzy – aren’t as shareable. Potential customers want information and content. Your blog posts answer their questions and introduce your brand to them in an indirect way.
Your blog – better known as your new home on the Internet – also gives you a chance to build a relationship with your customers. The saying used to be that someone needed to see a product 7 times before making a purchasing decision. With the birth of social media, that number is now unknown. But, we do know it’s a lot more than 7.
The best customers are the ones that you create a community with. It’s almost like you want to invite them over for a cup of coffee in your living room (without actually inviting over a complete stranger). Your blog let’s you establish this community. It’s a powerful tool when used correctly.
But starting a blog for your Etsy shop might seem daunting at first. You have so many other tasks that you need to do each day – especially when you’re first launching your Etsy business – how do you find time to run a website too.
I recommend making the cultivation of your online community one of your priorities. Especially during your first couple of years selling on Etsy. As your community grows, you will have an audience that will help guide your business in it’s next directions.
You also create an insurance policy for yourself if something happens to your Etsy shop or Etsy itself. Let’s just say that Etsy shuts you down unexpectedly (this does still happen), you and your audience can seamlessly move to another sales platform.
Your home – the blog – always remains the same.
What if I started my Etsy shop years ago, but never created a blog for it. Can I still start a blog?
The age of your Etsy shop doesn’t matter when it comes to starting a blog for it. No matter your shop’s age, you need a home for your shop.
It’s probably a bit easier to start a blog for your Etsy shop after you’ve been established a little while. There is some cost to starting a blog, so you’ll be more likely to want to invest in this step after you’ve tested and proven your product concept.
But how do I start a blog for my Etsy shop?
It isn’t as daunting as it looks. Promise. You just need to decide your budget and how complicated you want to make it. Here are some basic steps for starting a blog for your Etsy shop.
(Stick around until the end to grab a checklist that will make sure you don’t forget any of the steps.)
Securing your Domain
The first step to start a blog for your Etsy shop is getting your blog’s name. Ideally this should be your Etsy shop’s name or something really close.
Even if you don’t plan on starting a blog for your Etsy shop right away, secure your domain name as soon as you decide that you want to stick with your Etsy shop concept for the long term.
Domain names are funny things. And they are snatched up quite quickly when you’re not looking. If your shop concept becomes popular, someone else might get wind of it and realize that you never bought a matching website domain. They might try to buy it first and then resell it to you for a ridiculous sum. (I’ve seen this happen.)
So, secure your domain name in the beginning. You can purchase the name from Go Daddy. Especially if you just want the website name, but aren’t ready to start the blog yet. (This tool is also a great place to search if your domain name is still available.)
You can also purchase your domain name from your website host. They usually offer it as part of their initial service package. The nice part about having it all in one place is that you can renew everything in one location. You don’t have to track multiple subscriptions and remember when different things expire.
Choosing a Host
The next step is to choose a host.
Depending on the type of blog that you decide to set up, you will need different kinds of hosting services.
From the beginning, I’ve always had my blog running off of WordPress. It’s just been the easiest choice for me.
The problem with WordPress is that you will need to hire a designer to set it up at first if you don’t know HTML.
My favorite place to purchase WordPress themes is Blu Chic. They specialize in modern, feminine themes that match most creative businesses.
The thing that I love the most about Blu Chic, though, is their customer service. None of my questions ever seem to big and they are still answering them even years after I purchased the theme. They are also patient to walk me through any of the snags that I encounter.
Also, in case you’re new at WordPress, they offer a very reasonably priced service to set up your new blog theme for you. Although you will have to have WordPress installed and a domain name purchased, they can get your blog off and running.
When I used to use WordPress before, you needed to know a lot of html code to customize it. This has changed with the new editing system. You can easily adjust colors, font sizes, graphics and add widgets.
If WordPress seems a bit overwhelming for you, my second favorite option is Squarespace. This is an all in one website design tool where you purchase a theme, custom domain and even host an online store. Although you might have an Etsy shop, it’s always a good idea to keep your e-commerce options open.
The other great thing about Squarespace is that their designs are created for creative business owners. They specialize in themes for photographers, artists, photographers and other types of creatives.
Squarespace themes are known for their ease of designing. You don’t have to know html code, which makes it a lot easier to create a website that you love.
You can choose one of their packages, which range from $12 to $18. This cost also includes hosting, so it’s a pretty good deal.
Designing your Blog
After you have your blog up in running, it’s time to create content for it. Although you could probably spend days building your website to be exactly the way you want it, there are a few areas that you should focus on first.
The welcome page is the space where you tell your audience about your shop. You can use photos, text and graphics. Some blogs have a landing page welcoming customers. From here, your visitor can click on your Etsy shop, blog or other places that they want to go.
However you choose to set up your blog, make sure that all of the important information is on the welcome page. Your visitors should know what your shop sells, who you are and what problem you solve without having to go to any other pages.
One of the strongest pieces of your shop’s branding is you and your story. Every creative business has a story. It’s the reason behind why you started your shop.
Your About Page is the place to tell visitors about your why. Let them know how you dreamed up your brand, why you create the products that you do and the process that you’ve cultivated for making your products unique.
This is also a great place to showcase photos of your workspace, products in action and YOU. Visitors want to see the face behind the business. So don’t hide. Let them identify with you through a photo (or two).
Link to Etsy Shop
Establishing a home on the Internet doesn’t help your Etsy shop unless you link back to it. Include a link to your shop in your top menu, footer, side bar and any other elements that it makes sense to include a link.
On Katarina’s Paperie website design, the web theme includes a set of boxes under the slider. In these boxes, I included one that links to the shop. That way the link is front and center (and above the fold) when people stop by.
Not everyone is a big fan of including affiliate links and advertising on a shop website. But, these types of links are a source of additional revenue for me, so I like to mention them. Many of the bigger websites for Etsy shops include them and I don’t find them as distracting as others might when set up correctly.
As your shop grows, you will have lots of different kinds of visitors stop by your website. Some might be ready and wanting to buy. Others might not, but they may be interested in another product that you’re advertising.
I am a big advocate for establishing multiple income streams for your business. If you have an opportunity to create affiliate partnerships or get enough monthly views to qualify for an advertising program, go for it. These alternative income streams can help your business stay afloat during slow times and make more money in the long run.
Ways to Get in Touch
It’s always important to provide blog visitors with an easy way to get in touch with you. Create a Contact Us page that has a fill in form so visitors can get ahold of you if they have questions.
This is also a great place to add your social media buttons and email. Make it easy for visitors to reach you. You never know when that person might turn into a customer.
Include a Search Bar
Imagine visiting your blog for the first time and you’re looking for something specific. Since you are a new visitor, you want to ask someone where to go. But, because you are on a website, there is nobody to ask.
This is why you need an easy to find Search Bar. You can include it in the top header, the side bar or the footer. Ideally, having it in at least two locations is helpful.
I know there have been times that I’ve visited a new blog and couldn’t find what I was looking for. Or a search bar to help me find it. So I left. And I didn’t return.
When creating your blog, consider visitor experience and make things easy to find. You’re potential customers are more likely to stick around longer if they enjoy spending time on your blog.
Add Social Proof
If you are active on social media, make sure that you have your social media handles clearly displayed on your website. You can use pretty buttons that match your color palette. I display these buttons on the top right hand corner, the side bar and the footer. This way they aren’t easily missed.
Another fun feature to add social proof to your website is adding plug-ins and widgets that display your social media accounts on your blog in real time.
On Katarina’s Paperie website, I’ve added an Instagram Feed plugin below the footer. I love sharing photos on our Instagram feed, so this let’s me showcase them to our blog visitors (and hopefully gain some more followers).
You can also add widgets to your side bar and footer that display everything from your latest tweet to your new favorite read on Goodreads.
Just don’t make your website look too cluttered with too much social proof. A little bit goes a long way. Mainly focus on the social media marketing that you are currently cultivating. It will help you grow that marketing tool faster.
Crafting a Tempting Opt-In
One of the biggest reasons that you need a stand alone website for your creative business is so that you can grow your mailing list.
Think about it. Anything can happen to Etsy, Creative Market or one of the many other e-commerce platforms that you may use. But your email list is yours. And if you need to move your business or choose to add e-commerce to your own website in the future, you will have a way of contacting your audience directly to let them know.
But people aren’t so eager to just hand over their email address – especially these days. Email addresses have become almost like pieces of gold.
In order to get visitors to sign up for your email list, you need to create an opt-in that they interests them in exchange for their email address.
There are lots of different opt-ins that you can create for your mailing list. You can find my 10 favorites here.
When choosing an opt-in make sure it matches your audience in both time and interest. It never works to create a huge opt-in only to discover your audience doesn’t value the topic enough to give over the email address.
One suggestion, is to start small. You could have a couple different opt-in options throughout your website to engage different customer interests.
After you have the basics of your website set up it’s time to move on to one of the most important steps to start a blog. Creating content. Otherwise known as the fun part.
I love creating content. It’s one of my favorite activities (like I consider it a hobby). But not everyone enjoys this process. If you find that you’re dragging your feet to start a blog because you don’t want to create content it might be time to hire a freelance blogger to help.
Check for writers on Fivrr, Upwork or even the Facebook Groups you follow. But don’t avoid starting a blog because you hate to write. You’re only hurting your business.
When you start to create content, brainstorm blog post ideas that are related to your business niche. You might want to write about trends, new products, tutorials, free printables, round ups, recipes, personal stories (related to your business of course) or other things you’re audience is interested in.
Once you have your potential blog post list, analyze it to see how your products can connect to each post. You can find more information for how to structure a business blog post here.
Then, start writing. Make a blog post schedule for yourself to keep organized. I recommend writing for your blog once a week. That’s usually all creative business owners can manage and it’s enough.
If you get the writing bug, feel free to add an additional post. But once a week is really enough to stay active on your business blog.
Don’t forget to add photos to make your blog posts more interesting. It’s great to use photos featuring your products in action when you can (and if it’s appropriate). Or you could choose from an assortment of free stock photos or even some wonderful paid photo sites.
The photo website that you choose to use depends on what you’re looking for. I never like spending too much time searching for the right photo, so I have a subscription to Deposit Photos for all my photo needs. It also makes me feel confident in their licensing policies.
Just find one or two photo sites – free or paid – that work for your business’ look and feel. And stick with those websites. No need to waste a ton of time searching multiple photo sites for the perfect photo.
Or you could start your own photo library of your products, real world shots and other blog photos you’d like to use. Check out these tips for taking your own amazing blog photos.
Make Links to your Products
After you’ve written the blog post, it’s time to review it and add in your product links. Choose specific keywords that you want search engines to recognize your shop for and link back to the products in your shop.
This is where the magic of a business blog happens, so don’t skip this step. Make sure that your blog post has multiple links to products in your shop. You want to make it easy to turn readers into potential buyers.
If you review your blog post and find that you didn’t feature any products in the shop, at least add a link to your Etsy shop or other e-commerce platforms.
Without these links your blog post is just a blog post. Make sure your blog posts effectively market your products to help grow your sales.
Promoting your Blog
Once you’ve published your blog post, it’s time to promote it. This step is not optional, but it doesn’t have to be hard.
Share your post on your business social media accounts. Create pins for each blog post and add to related Pinterest boards.
Other ideas for blog post promotion is joining Facebook Groups that have group shares and work together to promote each other’s posts. As long as you aren’t posting directly about a product, most people in these groups are more than happy to help each other out.
You can check out how to develop a Facebook Group strategy to help grow your business and blog here.
It’s no secret that I think creating a business blog is one of the most effective marketing strategies that you can have as an online creative business. Your blog becomes your home on the Internet and is a place where potential customers can always find you.
But, it can seem overwhelming to start a blog for your creative business. Especially when you’re busy with everything else.
If you are just starting your business journey and sales are still slow, consider investing in starting your own blog now. It’s a great way to establish an online presence for your business early on.
But, if you didn’t start a blog when you opened your Etsy shop, no worries. You can start a blog at any time that you’re ready. Check out this free printable checklist with all of the steps to kicking off your creative business blog right.
Have more questions? Sign up for our free First Steps to Marketing Class where I share even more ideas on how to use blogging as an effective tool to grow your business.