Business Tips

Why Sharing Your Unique Story Through Visuals Can Be Powerful as a Handmade Online Seller

I had so much fun this past weekend watching and supporting the SF Etsy team #shoptiny online event. It was held Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

The event was to showcase and support the local SF Bay Area’s maker community since all in-person events are currently on hold until who knows when!

They featured a number of different makers from jewelry, to home decor to fashion and everything in between!

What I loved most about the event were the stories and videos! Makers showed off their workspaces, how they make their work, and even walked us through their booth displays (it’s like you were at a show!). Some even shared DIYs which was a lot of fun to watch and follow along.

Trina Moreau (and her daughter) of Decadent Mini

I know A LOT of artists, makers, creatives, etc., don’t like having their photo taken, being on video, or being in the spotlight. I get it because I struggle with it too!! 

But you know what? It’s SO FUN for those of us on the other side!

Through the videos, I learned about the screen printing process (omg it’s so much work!), the basics of drawing, how truffles are made, how scarves are created, how to letterpress cards, and so on. 

Kristina Sullivan of Eko Kreations

It was a good reminder of how important it is as a creative who is selling handmade items to share not only your story of you but your work process. By sharing what inspires you, the work that goes into creating the products you sell, seeing works in progress and so on, adds so much value to you and your products.

We normally see the end results of what you make, but by sharing how you got to the final product, it helps us appreciate you and the work even more. 

Through telling your story and sharing with us who you are, you can inspire us, help us feel connected to you and the work you create. 

I felt SO inspired throughout the event! It took everything in me to resist the urge to purchase from every single maker! But it showed me the power of storytelling and important it is to leverage this in your business when you’re a maker.

Robert Liu Trujillo of Art of Rob Liu Trujillo

You may say to yourself, “I don’t have any good stories to share,” or “I don’t have anything interesting or unique to share.” 

Um, yes you do!

Here are a few writing prompts to help you get started:

  • What inspires you?
  • What are the tools you use to create?
  • What materials do you use?
  • What are some interesting facts about what you create most people might not know?
  • When did you start creating your work? What’s the story around that?
  • What’s your workspace look like? Maybe give us a tour?
  • What’s your favorite part of what you make?
  • How long does it take to create your work? 
  • How did you learn how to make what you make? Self-taught, in school, etc.?
  • Is there a personal story or history to each piece you create?

Share your responses through videos or photographs. Document the process. Give us a behind the scenes view of what goes into what you create. 

Leah Jachimowicz of Coffee n Cream Press

If you can, ask a family member or a friend to take photos of you with your camera phone or an actual camera. Bonus points if you know someone is a photographer who takes good pictures.

It doesn’t have to be perfect. The more you practice sharing your story and all the amazing skills you have to create your work, the easier it will get. Photos and videos are powerful, especially when selling online so help us connect with you by giving us the insider’s view of what goes on in your world.

Do you love hearing the stories behind handmade products from your favorite makers? Let me know in the comments below!

*Artists featured in this post were just a few of the amazing makers and creatives who participated in the #shoptiny SF Etsy event. 

How the Details in Your Photography Can Add Value to Your Handmade Product

When shopping in person, customers inspect products with all 5 of their senses. They’re able to look closely at your product and figure out the quality of the craftsmanship, the color, texture and so on.

But you can’t do that when shopping online. A customer can’t pick up and inspect your product like they can in person. 

That’s why it’s important to think about showing as many detailed shots as possible of your product in your photographs.

Here are some reasons why you should be getting a little closer to your products next time you need to photograph them.

 

Show off the quality of your work

If you make wooden bath mats, photograph the interesting patterns, grains or natural flaws of the wood. Take a few shots of how the wooden slats are all connected together to create a sturdy mat. 

Did you just finish making a gorgeous vase? Get some close up shots of the unique indentations you added to give the piece some added personality.

If you create one-of-the-kind oil paintings, photograph the layered textures details of your work. You can even photograph different parts of the painting to show the quality of the paint used in the piece.

Labels ARE important

Whether it’s a label indicating what designer made a handbag you thrifted or a product label you worked hard to create, be sure to photograph it. Labels give the impression that you’re not just a hobbyist, but that you take your business and products seriously. It helps build your brand and remind customers of you in the future.

Labels can also indicate sizing information and care instructions for your product which is important. While you may add this information in the listing description, showing your customer the information can also be found on the product is a great detail to capture.

Flaws and imperfections are important

If you’re selling something second-hand or maybe one of your pottery mugs didn’t come out perfectly but totally usable, be sure to photograph any imperfections or flaws. 

Customers need to know if something you’re selling has a hole, a stain or maybe the color is off before making a purchase. No one wants bad surprises when they buy. 

Always remember when selling online, your customer can’t touch, feel, smell or taste your product. So it’s your responsibility as the seller to provide your customers all of the visual information they need to feel comfortable purchasing from you whether your product is $5 or $500.

By being detail-oriented when it comes to photographing your product shows that you care about your business, product and customers. It’s a way for you to educate and show the quality of your work to your customer so they can appreciate what you make even before they buy. It also helps build your reputation as being a trusted seller that will keep customers coming back for business. 

What details do you capture when photographing your products?

An important message for creative online sellers who hate marketing and promoting themselves

A lot of makers, creatives, artists have a difficult time with marketing themselves and putting themselves out there. Promoting yourself can feel weird.

And I get it. It can feel real salesy and not authentic. We don’t want to seem like a sleazy car salesman who’s like “what can I do to get you in that car today?”

But I want to help you reframe it in a different way. I think, when it comes to marketing and selling yourself and your products, it’s not about you. 

Wait, what?

Yeah, it’s not about you. 

It’s about what you do to help someone else in their life.

Think about what you make. How can it make someone else’s life better?

Let’s say for instance you sell hand lotion. How would this help someone in their life?

  • It makes their hands feel hydrated and smooth
  • It makes their hand smell good 
  • The essential oils and scents in your lotion help them feel more relaxed and calm
  • They’re not as self-conscious about their painfully, cracked, dry hands
  • Their nails and cuticles have become stronger and healthier

Anytime you’re worried about promoting yourself or putting your product out there, think about the 1 person your work can help. 

In the example above, think about how many people need a good hand lotion that helps heal their painfully, dry hands. And think about the long term impact of what using your product can mean for them. 

What if the person was really self-conscious about their hands and didn’t like holding hands with their SO because their hands were scaly and rough? But then after they started using your lotion, they were more open to holding hands with their SO and in doing that, helped them feel closer to their SO a result? What if it improved their relationship? 

What if they decided to begin a new ritual of making sure to hydrate their skin after a shower in the evening and began unwind after a long day? Maybe before they didn’t have a routine to relax before bed, but now they make applying your lotion an opportunity to give their hands a mini massage. The scent of the lotion helps them feel more relaxed, feel calmer and helps them get to bed in a better state of mind which translates to better quality of sleep. Think about that!

It can be a total domino effect.

Don’t discount the impact of your work on others beyond what you initially see. As you can see, the lotion can impact not only the customer’s life, but even those around them.

We buy things to feel a certain way. We want to feel comforted, nostalgic, relaxed, energized, calm, happy, alive, confident, beautiful, attractive, cozy, etc. What feeling does your work give someone or a space? 

So next time you’re scared to put yourself out there, think about how your work makes a difference in someone else’s life. You may think you just create wool hats or illustrations, but your impact can go pretty far if you think about the bigger impact it can have in someone’s world.

You have a gift that needs to be shared with the world. And to do that, you need to put yourself out there and remember your work serves and helps people. 

Keep going. Keep sharing. Keep making.