Handmade in Europe - How to make Social Media work for you

SOCIAL MEDIA, WHERE TO SPEND YOUR TIME

Handmade in Europe - How to make Social Media work for you

For every handmade artist building up the name and brand is one of the key points in making it. You need to create a profile for the outside world to see and then share it consistently to the right audience. Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol are very good examples here, they built up distinctive images of themselves, stuck to them, and regularly hit the headlines in their days.
Nowadays it is much easier to profile yourself as there are multiple channels to communicate and share your works as well as your points of view. It is all a matter of time, organization, and choosing the right platforms to reach your target audience. What is important, you want to do it in such a way that you still have enough time for your most important activity: creating.


Choose your platforms

It’s not about telling you where to go, that you will have to decide for yourself. Just remember to consider your target audience’s preferences, you want to be present where your potential customers are. You also should keep in mind the fact that your content might be suitable for some platforms more than for the others. Whether you choose Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Flickr, it doesn’t matter as long as you know why you’re choosing it.  You have to evaluate each and every site you are considering and decide how it’s functionality can help you. Just because some platform is great for one business, doesn’t mean it’s going to be the best choice for yours. If you can’t see how a site might help you it is better to try to look for another one. Remember, the time spent on comparing platforms and choosing the best ones is going to pay off, really.

Amongst others there are two factors that you should consider when choosing platforms for yourself: the time you can spend on the social media and the amount of content you plan to post. For instance, Twitter or Instagram might work well for short daily updates while you will need a blog for long posts with many photos.

Also consider the fact that not all your target group is using the same platform, people have their preferences, some just want to read the headlines (eg. Twitter), some want to watch the photo’s (eg. Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook), some like to shop or see pretty collections (Wanelo, Pinterest) and some people really want to read the details (websites, blogs, newsletters).

Below you can read the very basic information on the most popular social media platforms but there are many more out there for you to look at if you want. Just don’t go wild and try to use them all! Choose two or three that suit you and stick to them.

If you are interested in some more numbers and stats you are welcome to visit the Digital Marketing Stats site listed in resources and references at the end of this article.

FACEBOOK
This is the highest ranking platform with over 2 billion users, of which 1.4 billion are active (logged in regularly).
Works best for sharing photos, videos and events, as well as text content. There is a difference between personal profiles and business accounts (fan pages).

GOOGLE+
1+ billion users of which 540 million are active. It works much like Facebook but Google+ content will often rank higher in the Google search results..
You can share photos, videos, events etc.

TWITTER
500 million users, 284 million active. It was launched as a short message app  where you can share messages up to 140-characters (Tweets). It is mostly used to send many short messages a day to share with the world.

INSTAGRAM
300 million+ registered users and almost all of them are regularly active. Used to share mobile photos which can be easily transformed with filters for vintage effects (think polaroid pictures). The photos are easily shared to Facebook (who owns Instagram), Twitter or Tumblr at the time of posting.

PINTEREST
An online pinboard where you can ‘pin’ or upload your favorite photos. Photos can be grouped on boards and used for inspiration. Pinterest has got 70 million users, 80% of them are female.

FLICKR
92 million users. Photo sharing service owned by Yahoo.

TUMBLR
420 million users, 100 million active. This is a microblog platform on which you can share texts, video, photos, and follow other blogs.

WANELO
This is kind of a huge visual shopping mall where you can share and save products you like (want, need, love) from all over the internet. All products posted have a link to where you can buy them. Wanelo has 11 million registered users, 90% female. You can also find the big brands there.


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10 STEPS TO MAKE PHOTOGRAPHY YOUR KEY TO SUCCESS

10 STEPS TO MAKE PHOTOGRAPHY YOUR KEY TO SUCCESS

 

 10 STEPS TO MAKE PHOTOGRAPHY YOUR KEY TO SUCCESS | Handmade in Europe

 

Everybody has heard the importance of great photos before, that’s because they can make or break one’s shop. But on their way to improving their shops people very often come across enough “do this” and “never do that” tips to become quite lost and confused.

If you are not very experienced with product photography, this post will give you 10 easy to follow steps (and a lot of resources) that will help you with bringing your photos’ quality to a whole new level. And if you consider your photography good it still might be worth reading as there always are new things to learn.

Before going further please note that this is not a tutorial on a particular photography technique. It is a guide that will help you in finding your own creative way of photographing your products.


 Step1: Look around.

Take a look at some successful shops (or the ones that you like), and not only those selling products similar to yours. See how people photograph different sorts of products: pay attention to the composition of the photos and to their quality; notice the way of lighting the products; check the backgrounds and the props. Check the old listings in the shop (you have big chances of finding them among the sold items) and see what has changed in the shop’s photography along the way. Try to figure out why certain tricks work for certain products while some others don’t. This exercise will help you in judging your own photos, it will also show you that there are many different ways of photographing similar products.

Having done the exercise above take a look at the photos in your shop (or on your disc) and evaluate them in the same way. Note down the things you like about your photos and the ones you don’t like at all. Also take notes on technical mishaps, like bad lighting, blurriness, any imperfections you see and would like to get rid of. Doing this be critical and also be honest with yourself. If something is bad call it bad, otherwise you won’t be able to improve it. And if something is good, don’t forget to note it down as well.

So, by now you should have a list with all the strong points of your photography vs the weak ones and you should be able to see what areas will require more of your attention than the others. Keep your list and all the notes for the future – they will be of great help at the time of evaluating your progress.


THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN EVALUATING PRODUCT PHOTOGRAPHY

  • General quality of the photos (sharpness, colors, contrast).
  • Composition: how are the products positioned? are they fully visible or cropped? if cropped, does the cropping look accidental or intended?
  • How is the product lit: are there any shadows on the photo? if yes, are they very obvious or not? are the shadows distracting? can you see reflections on the products? if yes, do they seem to be accidental or intended? are the reflections distracting? are they necessary (in your opinion)?
  • Are the products popping out on the photos or are they blending in with the background?
  • Background: is it neutral or rather strong? patterned or not?
  • Props: are there many of them used? how are they used? do they make the photo prettier? are they complementing the product in any way? are they drawing your attention away from the product? are they giving you the sense of scale of the product? are they necessary (in your opinion)?
  • Models: aren’t they distracting? how are they presenting products? how are how are they posed? how are they styled? how are the photos cropped?

Keep in mind: Product photography is a TOOL, it is not the PRODUCT. You cannot look at it in the same way as you look at art photography. It is not only about aesthetics. It is about presenting the product in the best possible way.

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Keywords, what, where, how & why | Handmade in Europe

KEYWORDS, WHAT, WHY, WHERE & HOW

Keywords, what, where, how & why | Handmade in Europe

Online promotion is hard work. There is much competition out there, and it takes a lot of work to be found. One of the things that really help in the online world are keywords. In this article I’m going to explain the basics of keywords. I’m going to try to keep it short and practical, and provide links to useful external articles, as there is really tons of info on this subject on the internet. It is what makes your online business found.

Recently we started promoting using online ads, both with Facebook ads and with Google adwords.
We found that for reaching the correct audience, i.e. the people that are interested in the products we sell, correctly identifying and using keywords for your business is, well, the key to success or failure online. And this not only applies to the ads, they are very important to use on your website and in your products if you want to get found by the right audience.


 What are keywords

You could think of keywords as your business titles, describing you business in just a few words, as precise as possible. Think of doing a search on the internet for exactly your products, on images or in text. Your keywords should enable the search engines to show your products in the search results, preferably on the first page.
The closer the match between the text used for the search and your keywords, the more chances there are you will be on the first page. […]

The keyword is quality | Handmade In Europe

QUALITY CONTENT IS THE KEYWORD

The keyword is quality | Handmade In Europe

We have published several posts on how to target your market, how to use Social media to advertise and how to optimize your search engine results.
All those things are important but they wouldn’t mean much without something else, which is your content.
While the exact way in which Google rankings work still remains a mystery, there is one thing that most marketing bureaus agree on: quality content is an important part of the game.
Take a look at the big companies and their websites and you will see that very often they have many pages filled with well written articles, and are not overloaded with flashy intro’s nor screaming banners. There are exceptions (most of them being web designers trying to show off), but most of the successful businesses rely on quality content rather than on gadgets.
What does this mean? It means that if you want to have a successful site, you need well written articles and pages, in which you should use the main keywords relevant for of your business. You also should take care of updating your content on a regular basis, as in a keyword search it is the most recently updated sites that will be shown on top of the list.


Quality pages, quality posts

What exactly defines quality content? This depends on the kind of a business of course, but there are a few points everybody should follow: […]

Search engine optimazation | Handmade in Europe

SEO, OPTIMIZE YOUR SITE FOR SEARCH ENGINES

Search engine optimazation | Handmade in Europe

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the keyword these days. Get found, get more visitors, and what is most important, get the right visitors to find you. After that it is up to you to provide quality content targeted at those visitors. You want to attract them so that they want to keep coming back to you.

First some statistics, on which I can be very short: Google rules.
Their search engine gets used most often, most statistical bureaus agree that their share is somewhere around 80%, and that is still a careful estimate. Over 80% of the people using Google do daily searches using Google. Google handles 40.000 searches worldwide per second.
The verb ‘to Google’ is officially recognized. Do you Bing? Do you Yahoo? Need I say more?
If we’re talking about SEO, go for Google.

Page speed

Often I notice that when people talk about SEO the focus is on keywords, meta-tags and titles. All too often the page loading speed is being overlooked.
People are not too patient anymore, so if your pages load slowly this will not be good for you. Try the online GOOGLE PAGE SPEED tool and see how you score. I would think Google will base your ranking on your loading speed. Caching, image sizes, huge scripts for fancy effects, they all need to be considered.
Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do you really need these sliding effects with 10 photos on your front page, which takes quite some time to load?
  • Do you compress photos before you load to optimize them for the internet?
  • Do you load the photos the exact size needed, or do you load them much bigger?
  • For the techies: do you have caching enabled so people do not have to load previously viewed banners, logos & photos again next visit?

Take an extra step and if your shop photos are displayed as 800 x 600, upload these as 800 x 600. Your browser does not need to resize and compress them then.
And check your settings on the compression. Pixel-perfect professional photos for printing are not needed for the internet (unless you offer them as printable downloads, of course).
There’s many free image optimizer tools on the internet, in many cases saving you up to 80% in size. Google’s own free application Picassa has an export function that lets you set the size and quality of your photos and then export them in bulk.

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target market

TARGET MARKET. WHY IS IT IMPORTANT AND HOW TO DEFINE IT.

target market

Do you think you know your customers? The ones that have already bought your artwork and the ones who potentially might become your customers one day? And please, don’t say your products are perfect for everyone…

It is very difficult to promote your products and your business in general if you don’t know who your customers are. Some business owners resist the idea of defining a target market because they want to be able to sell to everyone. They feel such a definition would limit their audience and reduce the number of potential customers that might walk through their door. The truth is that business does not work like this. Without the knowledge of your customers you might be spending your effort on selling sand to the Arabs. Sometimes it might work but it wouldn’t make much sense, would it?

So. It has been decided, target market is something you must define before you can even dream of being successful in your business.


 Everybody means nobody

If your products are for everybody, they are for nobody. Even Apple products don’t suit everyone, do they?

Same counts for your marketing activities: if your message is not targeted for specific audiences (your potential customers), it is very unlikely to be seen as useful or interesting by those audiences. Both your products and your promotional content have to be tailored to your audience’s expectations and needs.

Limiting your market might seem a bit crazy  but in fact this way you can focus your efforts on the people that are most likely to spend money on your product. When you have your niche defined it will become easier to present  the benefits of your products to the audience because your products fit their style and/or lives. The market will still be large enough to bring you a good income and you will be able to build up your position in that market as you are very clear on what you provide.

New business owners sometimes start with targeting everyone as they hope they eventually will find someone interested in their products. This is not the right attitude as the costs of the promotion will result in very little response. To make your marketing efforts successful you have to tailor your campaigns in such a way that they will reach those most likely to buy. As an artist you are looking for people who appreciate handmade AND can afford it. Don’t waste your time and money trying to reach those people who love your product but have no money. As much as they might love what you make, they won’t buy it anyway. And guess what? The ones who do have the money but are not too crazy about handmade (or your products in particular) will not buy it either.


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