Thursday, September 5, 2013

The CraftStar Tips: Preparing Your Shops For the Holidays

I can’t believe we’re in September and already looking forward to a very busy holiday season.  Considering the summer months are a notoriously slow time for e:commerce, The CraftStar did remarkably well and we’re very excited to see what’s ahead of us.

Last night we did a LIVE broadcast on The CraftStar about preparing your shops for the holiday buying season.  We’ve had such a great response from it, that I thought I’d send this email to everyone signed up, blog it and write a HOW TO GUIDE.

Our LIVE broadcasts occur 2 to 3 times a week.  We go LIVE every Monday and Thursday at 7:30pm EDT / 4:30pm PDT before our BNRs and often we do a Wednesday LIVE HANGOUT.  These are geared towards building your business and are usually filled with valuable information.  If you’d like to catch up on any of our LIVE broadcasts, you can do so on our You Tube channel:  https://www.youtube.com/CraftStarTV

So, decking the halls for the holidays … LOTS of great tips and perhaps some relatively easy changes to what you already have in your listings on The CraftStar.

Let’s start with the most important factor in your e:commerce selling.  PHOTOS!  We’ve said it a million times, and will keep saying it: You get one shot, make it your best.  That one shot is the primary thumbnail of your item.  It’s what gets seen on the front page when you list it, it’s what shows up on Facebook, and it’s the shot that represents you in any CraftStar Collections you may be in.  This one shot is IMPORTANT!  And even more so as we’re growing by the day / hour!  Last night, John told us something he had read, that sums up listing items perfectly:  your photo should capture your items without words, and your words (descriptions) should capture your item without photos.  That’s a lot to ask for … but your photos are showing the world what your item is, how well it’s made, where it will fit, etc.  Take the time to make them the best you can!  If you have trouble with photography, please don’t hesitate to reach out.  Heather, one of The CraftStar team, is a professional photographer and can give you some pointers.  We also have some great tutorials in the HOW TO GUIDES at the bottom of the front page of The CraftStar.

John also had a great suggestion last night … if you offer holiday wrapping, use one of the four image slots in your listings to show that off.  That’s a great bonus for people (like me) who manage to get tangled in any amount of wrapping paper and tape.  And taking this one step forward … you could also offer to send the item DIRECT to the recipient if it’s a gift.  This would be a great line to include in your descriptions as it takes the hassle from the buyer having to receive, repackage and resend.  Perfecto.

This leads us nicely on to: Titles, Text, and Tags.

Titles:

Titles should be descriptive enough to describe your item, but not too long and definitely not too short.  “Bracelet” as a title does not work.  Think in terms of how people are searching for your items.  I can’t imagine many people going and typing the word bracelet into Google.  They’re typing phrases like pink agate bracelet, or brown leather boho bracelet … so you want to make sure you’re getting some detail in here.  It’s also very tempting to be creative in titles, but those don’t work either.  Another example from John (wow!  Lots of name checks John!)  “Moroccan Sunset Bracelet”.  Now, while this sounds lovely and romantic, what the heck does it mean?  YOU might mean it’s a bracelet with oranges and pinks … but not many others (if any) are going to get that.  If you like painting that romantic picture, hold that thought for the descriptions … where they belong and work perfectly.

Text:

I won’t go into detail here on how to write descriptions as we have that in our HOW TO GUIDES, but will talk about how to “holidayify” them.    Now is the time of year people are shopping for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Years … NOT Valentine’s Day or Easter.  If you have a lovely heart necklace (which I have seen) and it’s either called Valentine’s Necklace in the title or the description starts off with ‘This is a perfect necklace for your Valentine …” your item is most likely going to get looked over.  People don’t think as laterally as we might want them to … they’re thinking fall / winter / holidays.  Remove those other mentions for the moment and put back in when the time is right.  DO include suggestions on who your item might be a perfect gift for ... the hard to buy for friend who seems to have everything, the dad who loves beer (I’m thinking of the newly listed glass sets.)

Tags:

Here we go.  Here’s the main crux of this email and where you’re going to get the most benefit with the time you take to get these right.  We broke them down into categories last night, so I’ll do the same here.

The most popular search terms for HANDMADE items are:

Handmade jewelry
Handmade cards
Handmade quilts

So if you sell any of those, make sure they’re in your tags AND your descriptions!  Along with HANDMADE.

Most popular for VINTAGE:

Unique Vintage
Vintage Jewelry
Vintage Finds
(and another we’ve just found): Vintage Books

Again, make sure those are in your tags and descriptions.

For EVERYONE, each item should be tagged: UNIQUE GIFT.  HUGE search term.

Also, local shopping is getting bigger and bigger each year.  Add:  Made In USA, Made In UK, Made In Australia … wherever applies to where you are.

Now to get creative with your tags.  Who are you selling to?  Whose attention are you trying to grab?  Here are some ideas:

Gifts for guys, gifts for girls, gifts for dad, gifts for fisherman, gifts for wine lovers, gifts for vintage glass collectors, gifts for vintage book collectors, rabbit collectibles, gifts under $10, Thanksgiving gifts … you see where I’m going with this.

Keep in mind that millions of search engines are scouring the internet every second looking for this sort of information to fulfill the searches they receive.  Make it easy for them!  Also please keep in mind:  don’t make getting to the front page of Google the be all and end all of your dreams as an e:commerce seller.  Over 70% of Google’s front page is paid for placements … even though some look organic, they’re not.  People / companies are paying A LOT of money to get there … so don’t worry if you’re not number one.  And if you ARE, please let us know how you did it without a $100,000 budget!

The CraftStar is on track to have a fabulously successful holidays sales period.  As our community grows, it will make it even better.  One of the most amazing things about our community is our willingness to help and support each other.  You re-tweeting someone’s new listing, or sharing a Facebook post – might just land them that sale.  If we ALL do it, we will be a formidable force.

I can’t get through an email like this (and I mentioned it last night on the LIVE show) without saying: The Teddy Bear Syndrome.  If you don’t know what I’m referring to, it’s explained in a HOW TO GUIDE.  Basically, there’s no point in going to the trouble of opening a shop on The CraftStar, loading it up with your lovely items, and then ONLY promoting E.  It’s a waste of your time and to be honest, I don’t want you to waste time or money.  I’m very aware that we’re MUCH smaller than E, so therefore we have less traffic, but look at that in a positive way.  It means you have about a bazillionth of the competition, so the traffic we’re getting is much more likely to see YOUR item when they search for “brown boho necklace.”  And they certainly won’t be finding any resellers on The CraftStar.  We shut those shops down within minutes of them opening.  AND  … WE (all of us, the community) have the ability to continue to build that traffic exponentially.  If we ALL promote our CraftStar items, the traffic will follow.  It’s a law of the universe (I think) and I can promise you it will happen.

So, to wrap this up (tee-hee .. holiday gift joke there), let’s make sure our shops are in tip top shape, which means, a banner, an avatar, the appropriate titles, text, and tags and PROMOTION.

I’ve added a note to my auto-email reply and you might want to consider doing something similar.  It’s a gentle reminder to all my friends, family, customers, etc that buying from small business is a GREAT thing to do.  Mine says:  Please keep in mind, buying from small businesses helps families directly. Please consider The CraftStar for your holiday gifting.
 
If you found any of this information interesting and / or useful, I urge you to watch last night’s show:  The CraftStar Wednesday Hangout:  Titles, Tags, Text, Tips:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-JazTxs_5k


As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out.  We’re here for YOU.

Bethan and The CraftStar Team

(The John referred to above is a veteran e:commerce seller.  He has a shop on The CraftStar:  Galleria di Giani)
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