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Etsy Resolution: Week 4 – Marketing 101 (for creative types!)

Feb 16, 2015

by Jess Van Den handmade and vintage goods

Today, we’re going to tackle something that many new business owners say they struggle with the most – marketing.

The first thing you need to do is get comfortable with the idea of yourself as a salesperson and marketer for your business. Many of us feel a bit ‘icky’ about this part of the process, because we have an idea in our heads about what those words connote.


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I used to have a really negative reaction to these words myself. Selling is pushy. Icky. Inauthentic. Smarmy. All those 80’s Glengarry Glen Ross stereotypes. Right?

Well… no. It can be, but it doesn’t have to be. Ironically, I internalised this perspective growing up, even though my father, one of the best men I know, was a salesman! I had absolutely zero interest in going into business or sales when I grew up, it seemed not only boring, but had a kinda negative connotation for me, though I couldn’t really pinpoint why.

I guess life had a different idea, and here I am today, happier, more joyful, and I believe, doing more to serve others than ever before in my life – through doing business! Who woulda thunk it? Certainly not me 10 years ago – if you told her what I’m doing now, she would have raised an eyebrow at the least, or laughed outright in your face at most. And yet, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Amongst other things, I’m a saleswoman. The thing that makes me okay about being a saleswoman is simple. I believe that what I’m selling is good. And by good, I don’t mean a good product (though it is that, too), I mean it’s good for you, good for the world, and good for me, too. I believe that my work fulfils a need, makes people happy, adds nothing but good to the world. And that, dear reader, is why I’m happy and proud to sell it.

You, too, need to reframe the idea of selling and marketing as coming from a place of service. It’s simply the process of helping people who need what you make find you, so you can serve them.

Put in another way, marketing is simply the process of telling your story, and helping your ‘right people’ find you via the connection they make to your story.

We’re going full circle here people, right back to week 1, where you wrote your own story, and clarified what makes you awesome to your right folks.

So, once you’re comfortable with the idea of sales as service, and clear on your story, how do you go about telling it?

I’m betting that you, like me, don’t have a heck of a lot of money to spend on advertising, right?

That means we need to spend time, rather than money, marketing our indie businesses.

There are two great ways to do this, and chances are you’re probably doing them already. Yep, I’m talking social media and PR.

Social media is you getting out there and telling peeps about your business and building community. PR is getting OTHER folks, usually folks people like and trust, to tell people about your business.

Social Media

A few tips for making social media effective, fun, and non-time-sucking (because we’ve got other work to do!).

First, remember that social media is exactly that – social.

Don’t be that person who is always just talking about their business and nothing else. People who buy handmade do so because they are interested in more than just the fact you’ve got a new thing out, they want to know how you made it, why you made it, and who you are. They really do!

Be social. Interact, make friends, and enjoy yourself!

Second, the key to killing it on social media is to choose one or two that you actually, genuinely enjoy, and jumping in the deep end!

Whether that’s instagram, facebook, twitter, pinterest… whatever floats your boat and meshes with your personality and product, go with it.

Don’t be all over facebook just because you think you ‘should’ be. Don’t try to keep up with all of them at once, you’ll just stretch yourself way too thin, burn out, and give up on all of them.

Your time is stretched thin as it is, I know, so be strategic and authentic with your use of social media. If you enjoy it, fit it into the ‘gaps’ of your day – when you stop for a coffee, waiting to pick the kids up at school, waiting in line – there are scores of opportunities to fit in a few minutes of social media use. Just take a bit of time up-front to get clear on the types of content you are going to share, so you have a bank of ideas and aren’t having to come up with new ideas each and every time you want to post something.

Public Relations (PR)

PR is actually really simple. All you need to do is send a quick, informative email to folks that you think might like what you do. They might be magazine or blog editors, or social media influencers, or maybe journalists.

Remember that these people are getting pitches all the time, so make it easy for them! Be succinct, be on-task (don’t tell them your life story) and make sure to include a few low-res photos of your work so they can see immediately if it jives with their audience.

Do your research and make it personal! Use their name, know what sort of stuff they look for, and only contact people who you think will genuinely like what you do. They’re a person doing a job, just like you, and their job is to find awesome content. Your job is to help them by giving them awesome content.

A simple initial email might go something like this (remember to be genuine here, and modify it to be true to what drew you to their blog/publication):


Hi Sarah,

I came across your blog, ___name of blog____, recently, and it stopped me in my tracks – I really love your posts on ____category/style of post. I dig your eye for design!

I actually make eco-friendly sterling silver jewellery for everyday wear under the Epheriell label, and based on what you’ve shared on your blog in the past, I thought you might connect with my work. My jewellery is modern yet classic, and is effortless to wear – perfect for the modern, busy woman who appreciates a minimalist, clean style aesthetic.

I’ve attached photos of a few of my pieces, and if you like the look of what I do, you can see more of my work in my Etsy shop here: I’d be happy to send you high-res photos and answer any questions you might have about my work if it appeals to you.

Thanks for taking the time to read my email, I really appreciate it!




Simple as that. Straightforward, friendly and honest. You’ve made it obvious you’ve done your research, you’ve made it easy for them to find your work and investigate you further, and you’ve made it obvious you’re happy to share good quality photos (a must for being featured in a quality publication) and to talk about your work.

Other Marketing Avenues

There are, of course, other ways to market your business for free (or cheap).

I highly recommend starting a blog if you haven’t already, it’s the perfect platform to tell your story in long-form, something you can’t really do anywhere else.

I’m also a huge believer in the power of a mailing list. At this stage, Etsy doesn’t have an inbuilt email capture system, so you can only invite your customers and potential customers to sign up for your mailing list (never, ever add a customer to a mailing list unless they have given you their express permission, preferably via a mailing list client like Mailchimp or Aweber).

You can ask me about both of these avenues in the Facebook group if you want any further info on what I recommend!

For now, focus on getting going on at least one social media platform, and choosing a blog or other publication to write your first PR pitch for.


Homework: Exercise your new PR skills! Reach out to a blogger who you think might be interested in featuring your work, or write a press release and issue it to your local paper/a relevant magazine etc. Share what happens with the group!



  • kazzycaboodles

    Kaz from kazzycaboodles said 5 years ago

    Excellent lesson. This is definitely one of the areas I struggle with as I find it hard to promote my own work. Some fantastic tips here and I can't wait to see how the discussion goes in the Facebook group too! :) xxx

  • shell07

    Shell from Sweetsherbetdesigns said 5 years ago

    Awesome advice. Thanks Ladies :)

  • troval

    Lisa from MadeByLTshop said 5 years ago

    I hear you ladies

  • MerlinMN

    MerlinMN from MerlinMN said 5 years ago

    Hi Jess! Sorry to ask this again, but...Etsy is allowing us to contact our customers and potential customers to ask them if they would want to be on our mailing lists? If so, whoopee! yippy! yahoo! (finally!) I'm getting better in using FB and Twitter, still not a fan of the other social media outlets because of the time it takes (now working 10 hrs/day outside of my own biz, even as the biz is picking up (go figure!). Still shy of asking bloggers to help promote, even when they have asked.

  • chelseamaydesigns

    Chelsea Hantken from Pollypixels said 5 years ago

    I've really enjoyed your lessons girls, thank you!!!

  • DeeSterlingSilver

    DeeSterlingSilver from DeeSterlingSilver said 5 years ago

    This is just so useful, everything I need to know in one place. Thank you so much!

  • chelseamaydesigns

    Chelsea Hantken from Pollypixels said 5 years ago

    Also, I reached out to the local newspaper just a few weeks ago and my story was published! Yay! So I really recommend doing this- it's not as scary as you anticipate!

  • ikaprasetio

    Ika Prasetio from JentikManis said 5 years ago

    Thanks for the tips Jess! I definitely need to go outside my comfort zone and be social.. :)

  • emmapro

    Emma from BreathofJoy said 5 years ago

    Thank you again for such an informative, honest and to the point lesson. Marketing does sound eew to me but this has popped it into a positive perspective:) I'm not on any social media, sooo lots of thoughts and work ahead. Thanks again!

  • ingedewi

    Inge Dewi from WireJewelryTutorial said 5 years ago

    Thank you for this great article, awesome tips, just what I needed!

  • amandambwilson

    amandambwilson from Dreamtimedolly said 5 years ago

    Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou !!! To your team..I have learnt so much and you guy,s have totally turned "My Head Around"...So loved the last weeks with you all and a special thanks to Kate and the Co -op for getting your messages to us!!! Cheers Amanda and a much " Happier "Dreamtime Designs..Xx

  • jennymanners89

    Jennifer Magno from JenniferEmilyMagno said 5 years ago

    Great lesson with plenty of practical tips to apply! Am feeling inspired! :)

  • JessesMess

    Jess from JessesMess said 5 years ago

    Thanks guys! Top job and loved the video.

  • purehavendesigns

    Jo Camelotti from PureHavenNaturals said 5 years ago

    Thanks so much for sharing these fabulous tips with us! Very inspiring :)

  • marioncagney

    Marion Crystal Creations from MarionCrystal said 5 years ago

    Thanks for all the advice & inspiration, it's been great and I hope the facebook page will continue for awhile so I can catch up with the lessons and network some more with everyone! Cheers from Marion Crystal Creations :)

  • ECFGroupAU

    Tracey Sharp from ECFstudio said 5 years ago

    Thanks for this information, there is a lot of great tips and advice!

  • Epheriell

    Jess Van Den from Epheriell said 5 years ago

    So awesome to hear how much you're enjoying the lesson, all! Merlin - the best way to capture those buyers is to send them a personal convo whenever someone buys - I always do this. At the end, I have a P.S. that directs them to sign up to my mailing list if they're interested.

  • angiemoonmagic

    Angela Moon from MoonMagicAustralia said 5 years ago

    Thank you girls and the Etsy team for everything! What a great opportunity, I really appreciate it :) x Angela

  • jiah

    Jiah Harrison from elephantandrose said 5 years ago

    I worked as a sales person for years before launching my own business. I loved what I sold and was more than happy to do the heavy sales pitch for someone else's product. Yet when it comes to my own products I feel really uncomfortable about it. How bizarre. This has definitely helped me re think my approach ( or lack of) Thanks so much for this lesson and for the whole series. I'm so excited to be learning from two such gorgeous and inspirational ladies.

  • lissyc1

    Melissa from SassySoy said 5 years ago

    I am catching up on the lessons, slowly, still struggling with my about page, but will get there! I love the PR lesson, will give it a go! Nothing to lose right? :-) Thanks Jess

  • mettaville

    Guatyen Koh from Mettaville said 5 years ago

    I am still behind on my lessons but will catch up soon. I've always wanted ot start a mailing list but yet to do it. Thanks so much for the lessons and inspirations!

  • mysweetprincess

    mysweetprincess from mysweetprincess said 5 years ago

    Thank you!! You guys are so real. You present the info so smoothly and easy to grasp with so much fun :) It helps me take the next step up to begin marketing even easier! - Dina

  • kathenglish

    Kath unsworth from ScratchyBirdDesigns said 5 years ago

    Thank you so much Im now waiting for my cards to come back from the printers and soon my shop will be up. Thanks to all the wonderful tips here.

  • chewietags

    Lisa from HandstampedMPJ said 5 years ago

    Thanks for such great tips :)

  • nicembra

    Nic Embra from OnePlacePlanner said 4 years ago

    Thankyou for sharing such wonderfully helpful information! The article is interesting, easy to relate to and practical!

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