As makers and creatives, we all work hard to create the fabulous items in our shops, and while we may be masters of our chosen craft, we often struggle when it comes to getting our hard work noticed by potential buyers. For many of us, social media has become the ideal way to connect with our customers and to market our new products, but how can we expand our reach beyond our own followers to grow our businesses? Have you considered a paid feature on an authority account for your product or target market?
Now you might be saying, “yep, already tried that, didn’t work.” But ask yourself, did you really find the feature site that was best for your business? Not sure? Here are 10 things to consider when choosing your business’s feature site soul mate.
1. Is it your season?
If you knit beautiful thick wool hats, having your hats featured in June may not be your best bet. If you have seasonal items, identify the peak seasons for your products and plan to have your features just before or during your prime season. You want to catch your customers when they are starting to think about your season and are ready to buy!
2. What is your goal?
Backwards planning is key. Try to decide what you are trying to accomplish with a feature in the short term as well as the long term before you approach a blogger or authority account. Generally speaking, the immediate purpose of a feature is to showcase your items to a large audience to help encourage brand awareness and familiarity for future customers. Oftentimes there is an added bonus of gaining followers or making extra sales, but many small business owners don’t realize that being featured is actually an investment in your company’s future. You’re planting a seed that you will carefully cultivate into a growing cash crop. Don’t be disheartened if don’t make a ton of sales or gain hundreds of followers from your feature, you are laying a solid foundation for future sales.
If, however, your main goal is to gain a large number of followers in a short period of time, you may want to consider a giveaway, but choose wisely. Make sure that the giveaway will attract followers who would be genuinely interested in your items. You don’t want a ton of new followers, you want a ton of new followers in your target market. Having 6,000 followers is great, but only if they are potential customers!
3. What sort of feature will it be?
How do you want your item to be featured? In a blog post that showcases all the wonders of your product? In a flash feature to raise awareness of a new product? If your item requires a bit of an explanation, or if it has a wide variety of uses, a blog post detailing its versatility may be your best choice. However, if your item is pretty straight forward and visually appealing, a flash feature may do the trick!
4. How large of an audience will your feature reach?
How many followers does the blogger or feature site have? A popular blogger or a large feature account may expose your shop to a huge audience, but they are often more expensive and more selective when approving applications. This may be perfect for your shop. The followers may be more loyal because they know all of the feature shops have been vetted and are of only the best quality. If you are just starting out, a blogger with a slightly smaller audience or a feature site with fewer followers may be the way to go.
5. What is the interaction rate?
Having a huge audience or a gazillion followers looks great, but how many of those people are actually interacting with that blogger or site? Remember, almost all of social media is now based on interaction. The more, the better. If the blogger or feature site you’re considering only has a few comments or likes on each post, your feature could be a waste of time and money because your post may not actually be shown to the gazillion followers because of the algorithms many companies use to rank posts. A blogger with a smaller audience or a feature site with fewer followers can sometimes be more advantageous to you if they have a higher interaction rate because more members of their audience will be shown your post.
6. Are their followers your target market?
This is a big deal. Take a look at who is following the blogs or feature sites you’re considering. Don’t be turned off right away if there are a large number of shops in the follower list, no one supports handmade shops like other handmade shops! You should instead be looking at how well those followers fit into your target market. If you sell adorable newborn outfits, you may receive more benefit from choosing a smaller photography blogger or feature site over a huge handmade blogger or site because more of your target market (people buying photo props for newborn photo shoots) follow the smaller site.
7. Does your product line match the feature site’s overall aesthetic?
Can you imagine your items in the blogger’s or feature site’s feed? If you sell bright, boldly patterned bags, you want to find a blogger or site that also showcases colorful items. You want your items to stand out because they are beautiful, not because it’s the only rainbow in a sea of muted boho colors. Also, having items that fit well with the blogger’s or feature site’s overall aesthetic increases your chances of being accepted for a feature, so be sure to look for a site with a great fit for your items.
8. Do you have a say in what is featured and when?
Many bloggers and feature sites want to pick the item they feature and the date of the feature for a variety of reasons. They may want to keep with their aesthetic or site theme, or maybe they want to pick the best photo to feature and schedules can be tight and tricky. These are all great things for the feature site, and for you as well, but think back to your goal for the feature. If you are trying to promote a new item or a specific item that you are trying to move in a sale, you’ll want to have some input on what is being featured and when.
9. How will your product be featured?
Is it a permanent feature? Do you want it to be permanent if the item is one of a kind? Will it be featured on multiple sites, in multiple formats or in an email blast? Will your feature link back to your shop in some way? You will need to decide what options are best for you to meet your goal.
10. What is the total cost of the feature?
Frequently, makers and creatives don’t stop to think of the total cost involved in a feature. If you are having a blogger review your product, keep in mind they may wish to have you send them a free product on top of the cost of the feature. If you are teaming up for a giveaway, you often have a feature fee plus your costs for the giveaway item. Can you really afford it? Will you recoup those costs by being featured? Many times, if you choose your blogger or feature site wisely, the additional costs of giving away free items are far overshadowed by the huge benefits of the feature itself. Having your items featured can bring you large numbers of new followers and a huge boost in sales while laying a foundation for future customers by increasing awareness of your brand.