5 Things Bloggers Look for When Choosing Work to Feature

 

 

 

 

guest post - november

Ever wondered how you get your fabulous designs/handcraft/artwork featured on blogs? How come you see some makers/artists get their work featured in lots of places all the time? How do they do that?

Or are you even unsure of why you would want to have your work featured – surely the fact that you’ve got an online shop and people can find you with just a few clicks is enough? Ha! The obvious answer is that unless you get yourself out there, nobody knows you even exist…

There are MAJOR benefits to having your work featured, because there are so many other things competing for your customer’s attention. Having your work featured by bloggers regularly can be a huge boost to your business in terms of visibility.

Getting a feature means that not only do potential customers see your work on those blogs, but if they like your work enough, they might also share it on their social media, such as Pinterest and Facebook. And that snowballs. The more places the better I say! Best of all, getting your work featured on blogs is most often free.

So, after featuring hundreds of artists over the past (almost) three years of blogging, and being disappointed many times by great work with poor photos and/or information, I thought it would be useful to write a post on what bloggers really look for.

The number 1 thing is to create beautiful, shareable images. Now of course, that means you have to have great photos of your work – but it’s not the only thing.

 

1. YOUR PRODUCTS have to be excellent.

Good design and good craftsmanship are the foundation of your business. A good photograph can help sell your product, but it still has to be an honest representation. You don’t want your customer to be disappointed when they open your package, do you? Think quality, always.

Bloggers also value originality. When your work has a particular style that is unmistakable, that’s fantastic. It makes it easy for the blogger to pick a group of work and write a cohesive post about you. When your work and your images look like a mixed lunch, that makes it a whole lot harder for them. And when your work and your presentation look like a hundred other shops, well, they might just move onto something more interesting.

 

2. YOUR PHOTOGRAPHS are the real clincher.

(You knew I’d get to them, didn’t you!?) When it’s online, it is visual impact first and foremost that you should be thinking about, and your image needs to be beautiful in order to compete.

It really should go without saying that your product photographs need to be crisply focused and in good light. The styling of your product images needs to be consistent too – this doesn’t mean that all products need to be photographed on exactly the same background at the same angle. You could for instance, have a “family” of backgrounds (perhaps 3 – 5) which work together in terms of colour and props.

Create & Thrive has some EXCELLENT tips on getting your photos looking fabulous with the Create & Thrive Product Photography e-book.

Another thing that makes me cringe is large, obvious watermarks on your images – especially ones that slash right across the centre of your pic. I won’t feature your work, no matter how beautiful it is.

I completely understand that it’s important to state your ownership for some things (especially photographers’ images), but you can still get your message across with a smaller, softer watermark in the corner of your image. Wouldn’t you rather receive a heap of publicity for your fabulous work, instead of it languishing alone in your shop? You need to realise too that a watermark is an inconvenience, and not a permanent deterrent to stealing your images/ideas. If you are really worried about people copying your work (and remember that 99.9% of population don’t!), don’t put it out there at all.

 

3. YOUR DESCRIPTIONS might not be as important as your images for convincing bloggers to feature your work, but if you can tell a good story about your pieces, it most certainly helps.

For instance, if you make and sell girl’s dresses, that’s OK, but not very interesting. However, if you sell girl’s dresses that are made from fabric that is handprinted by a textile artist you met at uni a few years back and now you collaborate on the designs – that really gives your work a whole different dimension.

 

4. YOUR ARTIST BIOGRAPHY is a great way to generate interest in your work.

Again, it’s a lot to do with stories – if you’ve got an interesting story to tell about what drives you, and/or how you ended up where you are, then tell it! Be passionate; don’t be shy about what you’ve done and especially about why you do what you do. Share some of your techniques and inspirations too. People love a good story, and bloggers love having something to write about.

 

5. BE PROACTIVE. Last but not least, help yourself.

After you’ve got your work and photos in order, be proactive and approach bloggers to feature your work. There is SO much out there for them to choose from, the more you can reach out and say “Hi!”, the better it is for you. Not everyone will say yes, and that’s OK because each blog has its own particular flavour and you may not be a great fit for them. When that happens, just try another blog.

Often when blogs accept submissions, they’ll have a list of criteria they are looking for in work to feature, as well as a list of what they won’t accept, so do spend some time checking that out too.

Don’t be afraid. Us bloggers are generally a very approachable lot – as long as you treat us like real people!! Don’t address us as “dear sir/madam” – at least spend a few minutes finding out a name to address your email to. Introduce yourself and what you do briefly, and explain why you think your work would be a good fit for that blog. Include 5-6 of your (top-quality of course!) images at medium resolution (around 600px wide is a good size).

 

If you don’t hear back, wait for a week or so before contacting the blog again – don’t hassle us! But DEFINITELY send a reminder if you need to, as sometimes we get sidetracked and crazy busy and forgetful because we’re human…

So what are you waiting for? Go to it!

#CTWordsofWisdom: What YOU Want to Tell People Starting a Handmade Business

 

 

 

What YOU Want to Tell People Starting a (1)

A while back, I put out a call.

The other contributors and I share our own thoughts, experiences, and lessons learnt here on the blog every week. It’s all hard-won knowledge, because you know what?

We’re JUST like you.

We’re all indie makers. Solopreneurs. Learning as we go. Risk-takers. Dreamers. Do-ers. We don’t have all the answers. We haven’t figured it all out yet. We’re just sharing what we HAVE learnt, what we DO know to work – at least for us – because we want you to figure it out sooner than we did.

There is nothing extra-special or super-important about us that sets us apart from you. We’re all in the same boat.

With that in mind, I wanted to tap into the wealth of wisdom that exists here in the Create & Thrive community. So, a few weeks ago, I asked you:

What would YOU tell people just starting out in handmade husiness?

And you answered!

Below is a compendium of those answers – which I’ve dubbed the #CTWordsOfWisdom.

Look out for many of these on our Instagram and Facebook page over the coming months – Megan E’s been hard at work turning your words of wisdom into inspiring and motivating shareable quotes! I’ve taken your comments from the previous post and broken them up into concise snippets of advice. Feel free to tweet and share these – just use the hashtag #CTWordsOfWisdom and link back to this post if you can!

Before we immerse ourselves in your wisdom, though, I wanted to extend an invitation.

This is not a static document.

I want YOU to share your tips, ideas, lessons learnt, aha moments with us in the comments. Let’s keep the bank of wisdom growing and flowing and help each other figure things out!

Now, it’s over to you.

What would YOU tell people just starting out in handmade business?

Making clear times to do your craft (especially if you’re doing it around work) will help ensure that it doesn’t take over your life. Make sure that you include pack up time into that too! ~ Macramake

Believe in yourself and your craft. After I quit my day job to follow my dream, people say to me, “What are you doing now that you don’t work?” Well actually, I do work. More than I ever did. Now I can proudly answer that question. “I’m a jewelry designer”. Don’t let people trivialize your work! Believe in who you are, your talent and your creations. Because no one else will believe it until you do. ~ Tracey Atkinson

Always have your “end game” in mind. Is what I’m doing today in line with how I envision my business down the road? Is the way I’m running my business scalable and sustainable long term and at a higher level? Can I make enough money doing my handmade business full time? ~ Cortney Nichols

Don’t stock up wanting to “save money” on items that you visualize you are going to need when your product “takes off”. Get the information you need to order, what you need in bulk, so that way when the time comes you can have it when you need it. Otherwise you will end up with a whole bunch of “stuff” that you may or may not use within your lifetime, because you are so over the product you were creating when you stocked up on that item. You tie up your money thinking you “save” and then you don’t have the working capital when you need it. ~ Miska Black

One thing I found I missed out on was as soon as I had a business name was not getting it set up in all the different social media options. Even if you aren’t using them to begin with, get registered and be consistent with your name. It will help with branding and customers being able to identify. Don’t do what I did and be ‘frightened’ of all the options out there. People use social media differently so you need to cover all the bases even if you don’t like them yourself! ~ Tricia

Just keep going but go like water in a stream. If you can’t move the rocks in your way, you have to be flexible to go around them. ~ Allison Dey Malacaria

Unless you are one of the very fortunate few to suddenly be “discovered” after making and listing a few items for sale, you have to really work hard to figure out who your customers are and then find them. Who you are, how you dance with the music of business is more telling of your future success than anything else. ~ Allison Dey Malacaria

Temper the initial passion for your biz. When I started I thought everyone would love it so I overbought and money I could have used for other things got tied up in inventory for years. ~ Wendi Unrein

Be careful who you get ideas from and pay attention to what you are needing/asking. When I started I got inundated with the “You should..” people with good ideas but not the ones I needed. That is very important. ~ Wendi Unrein

Show up, each and every day. Do something for your business every single day. ~ Barb Lieberman

Bookkeeping from day one. Real cost of each item, inventory, sales tax, sales, shipping, everything. If you don’t have the time to do it right now, today, you won’t ever find the time. The task grows exponentially if you do not do it as you go along. ~ Barb Lieberman

Research events before you do them. Not all handmade? Might not be a good fit. Talk to others who are vending about the event. Most are happy to share their opinions. ~ Barb Lieberman

Network! Find other handmade businesspeople and get together to commiserate and celebrate. ~ Barb Lieberman

Celebrate! Every sale. Every new lead. Every new product. ~ Barb Lieberman

Organize your workflow. Organize your packaging flow. Organize for events. Organize inventory. Don’t waste time looking for things. ~ Barb Lieberman

Ask questions. Try new things. ~ Barb Lieberman

Look for inspiration. Add new products or twists/improvements of your regular items now and then. Give customers a reason to come back. ~ Barb Lieberman

Say “I” when you talk about your business. Be your brand. ~ Barb Lieberman

Do not give away your products. Do not discount their value. Charge what they are worth. Place value on “handmade” and all it offers. ~ Barb Lieberman

Enjoy what you do. LOVE what you do. If you don’t, it’s a job. If you do, it’s a blessing. ~ Barb Lieberman

PLAN!!! What your long term plans are, what do you want out of this? When you are going to make, market, book keep, supply shop- organise your time. ~ Sue Bertozzo

Trust yourself to be capable of learning the skills you need as you go along.  ~ Alison Comfort

Don’t be afraid of the many hats you will end up wearing as you grow your handmade business! ~ Alison Comfort

Start where you are, do your best, and don’t be afraid of stepping up to learn each new skill as you go. Your handmade business will grow organically, and you can grow along with it. ~ Alison Comfort

Make peace with the seasonality of your business. Your year will likely be dominated by the busy season and the slower season, so take advantage of each while not getting too attached. ~ Alison Comfort

Have what I call a ‘complete concept’ – a confirmed aesthetic, unique selling point, ideal customer profile and keyword collection. ~ Penny- Elizabeth Neil

Treat it like a real business with intent to profit, and to get used to that idea. And get used to the idea of doing it 24/7 for the first…. 10 years. ~ Penny- Elizabeth Neil

Having a set visual concept (brand) is incredibly important – it helps you figure out what to call yourself, how to design your calling cards and social media graphics, who your customer is, where to find them, how to sell to them, what kind of photos to have and how to make sure the stuff they’ll make is something that will actually sell. When you figure out those three facets, half the work is done for you. ~ Penny- Elizabeth Neil

You really need to love what you do. Not only because you will be doing it, taking about it, living it and breathing it for the rest of your days…but because your love for what you do needs to show in your product and also in how you present it to the world, to make it special. ~ Margeaux

Create systems that you can replicate & stick to them. Alter if needed but if you have to do it more than once: determine a way to make it consistent & efficient each time. ~ Robin Ritz

Enjoy the Process. “When we take care of the Process, the Product takes care of itself.” ~ Robin Ritz

Learn from ‘trials & errors’ and be persistence, tenacious & determined. Keep trying. ~ Robin Ritz

Be kind to yourself & give yourself credit for all your bravery, courage, effort and hutzpa. ~ Robin Ritz

Listen & Observe. Ask customers for feedback, find out what’s working & do more of that. ~ Robin Ritz

Trust your Intuition. Stay True to Yourself & remember the reason you began creating to begin with. ~ Robin Ritz

Really nut out whether you’re doing it as a hobby or business. ~ Jewel Divas Style

Decide if you have the time or energy to put into a business and the hours it will take and the energy it will suck out of you. ~ Jewel Divas Style

Do you have the ability to sell at markets, or don’t have any near you at all? ~ Jewel Divas Style

Is social media something you are already into or want to go into? Because you will need to, and then spend time updating and using it. ~ Jewel Divas Style

Embrace social media, if used correctly it will be a great friend. ~ Tania

Do you want to set up a website straight away, or start selling on shops like Madeit or Etsy? ~ Jewel Divas Style

Do you have the money for set up costs or will you have to hassle with bank loans? ~ Jewel Divas Style

Do you need to do short courses to learn about the aspects of running a business, or perfecting your craft? ~ Jewel Divas Style

Do you have any support system around you or are you doing it all yourself? ~ Jewel Divas Style

Maybe start of as a hobby for a year or two until you fully understand how it’s going to work… and then decide whether you want to turn it, (or it’s become successful enough to turn), into a business. ~ Jewel Divas Style

If you start a business you will need to register the name and get an ABN (or equivalent in your country) and make sure you put in a tax return even if you make NO money (something I was not told and did not know). ~ Jewel Divas Style

When you make a sale note it down in your ledger/ excel doc… and make sure you have a day set aside once a week, or once a month to jot down all your expenses for that period. It seems like hard work in the first couple of months but soon it will be second nature, and come tax time it will make life SO much easier. You may need to write down all the steps you need to take (and frequency you are going to do them, daily, weekly, monthly etc) and refer back to it until you get used to it… but you won’t regret it! ~ Imogen Wilson Jewellery

It’s bloody hard work!! ~ Tania

Good photos are everything. Take the time to ensure your products are photographed in the best way possible. This doesn’t have to mean spending money on professional photos. There are lots of great photo taking tips out there so read up on them and also make sure you edit photos after taking them. ~ Tania

In the beginning, there is so much work, so many new learning experiences, so many first offs and much time spent working out how its done… but once you do these all once, the second and third are easier and take less time. ~ Fluid Ink

Try not to judge your business by looking at others and competing with others that are in the middle (time wise) of theirs. Things take twice as long at the start and it feels like you are a mouse on a treadmill, but gradually things take less time once you have worked out systems. Feeling competitive or trying to compete with others in the same industry is heartbreaking and mentally exhausting. ~ Fluid Ink

Do your own thing and stick to it. If you get a random request for ‘do you do this’ if its out of your range and its going to take more time effort resources than you have, say no. In saying that, sometimes, accepting a customer directed request, can force you to experiment with something you hadn’t though of and can be refreshing (although often un-profitable!) ~ Fluid Ink

Pay yourself!!! Just because someone else is selling a similar product for cheap, doesn’t mean you have to! When I compared my sales to others that were selling cheaper, I found that I had MORE sales for HIGHER prices! Don’t short yourself. ~ Yarned Together

Don’t procrastinate! Just list your items on whichever platform you have chosen and let the buyers out there be the judge. Don’t go by what your family and friends say, just get it out into the marketplace and gauge the response. And if the marketplace does not respond well then what have you lost? A few listing fees and a bit of time and material. What have you gained? The knowledge to alter your product so it better suits your buyers ~ Leanne Hewens

Create a brand and carry it through all you do. ~ Barb Lieberman

 

Now it’s YOUR turn…

Create & Thrive : Sunday Reading {Week 45, 2013}

C&T Recommended Reading Week 45 2013

Happy Sunday! I am running on coffee today after a long day at market with my jewellery yesterday, followed by dinner and a gig with a friend (we saw Boy and Bear, they are AWESOME live!). I have big plans for this afternoon… but I may just end up curling up with my kindle and working a longer day tomorrow…

However! I can’t leave you without some Sunday Reading, so here you go.

Here are my fave reads from the week:

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Why Sunday? Well, Sunday is not only the end of the week, it’s also the day where many of us have the most free time to catch up on news and other informational goodness without having to rush off to work. Think of this as your weekly Sunday paper… especially for creative, inquisitive, & entrepreneurial souls.

Remember, you’re welcome to share your fave reads of the week in the comments, too.

Create & Thrive : Sunday Reading {Week 41, 2013}

1-C&T Recommended Reading

I don’t know about you, but I read a LOT of awesome and useful articles on creating & thriving in life and work every week.

In fact, after my morning walk, I spend anywhere up to an hour each morning just reading helpful, educational, and enlightening articles from dozens of different websites and blogs.

I know I share a lot of these posts with you over on twitter and facebook, but I thought you might find it useful if I put together a weekly ‘recommended reading’ list of the best stuff I find on my daily dive into the internet rabbit hole. Yes?

Okay! So, here we are with the very first C&T Sunday RR post… on Week 41 of 2013. No time to start like the present!

Here were my fave reads this week:

 

P.S. Why Sunday? Well, Sunday is not only the end of the week, it’s also the day where many of us have the most free time to catch up on news and other informational goodness without having to rush off to work. Think of it as your weekly Sunday paper… especially for creative, inquisitive, & entrepreneurial souls.