If you want to be successful on Etsy and make that quit-your-day-job income, then your Etsy shop is going to need a marketing funnel– a way to get people from point A to point B — from a casual window shopper to a paying customer.
There are a lot of things that can go into creating your Etsy marketing funnel– SEO, social media, and advertising are fantastic ways to start funneling your traffic into sales. But I won’t lie when I say that they are all a bit time consuming and take a while to get going.
Should you be working on them? Absolutely. But what if you want to start seeing sales RIGHT NOW?
I love, love, LOVE this strategy because you don’t have to have an email list, a social media following, or even perfect SEO to make hundreds of dollars at a time. It’s seriously the perfect strategy for those Etsy sellers who are just starting out and trying to make those first few sales.
Now if you have sold on Etsy for any amount of time, you’ve probably been sent more than a few conversations or emails from bloggers/influencers that would like for you to send them free product in exchange for promotion on their website + social media channels.
Now before you knock this idea on the head (because giving away free handmade product? It’s HARD!!!), let me point out a few benefits take a minute and think about the benefits that could come from this opportunity:
• Your product + brand is instantly marketing to a whole new market— and sometimes a much, much larger one (I’ve noticed that most bloggers that pitch to me have around 5,000 – 20,000 followers) with very little work on your end. These people are just sitting there waiting to be shown your product (read: fall in love with it!)
• You can passively market your product. Like, seriously. Besides creating the product + shipping it off to the blogger, you don’t have to do anything else! The blogger will do the rest– the photos, the copy, and the promoting. And guess what? Usually (make sure to ask, of course!) they’ll share those photos + posts with you so that you can promote them too. Free professional lifestyle photos of your product? Yes please!
• You gain credibility. If a well-known blogger is showing off your product, you better believe that people are going to start taking notice and view you as more of a boutique shop instead of “just another Etsy shop.” The blogger took the time to notice you, so why wouldn’t they as well?
So yeah, there are A LOT of benefits to sending your product out to bloggers. Almost every time I’ve done it, I’ve received a HUGE spike in sales immediately following the post/promoting, and the free residual traffic for MONTHS afterwards.
If you’re still dubious, let me share a quick case-study story that might just change your mind 🙂
I was fortunate enough to have 7th Heaven star Beverley Mitchell contact me a year ago asking if I’d be interested in supplying my headbands for her daughter, Kinzi’s, birthday party favors. 20 headbands (because what 2 year old doesn’t have that many friends?! ;). That was over $200 worth of product given away for free and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I thought long and hard about sending them out– it was a lot to give away!
But guess what? She made a post about it on her social media + blog that earned me $800 that day (this was back at a time when I was averaging around $150/day) and I AM STILL RECEIVING TRAFFIC FROM THOSE SOURCES. 1 year later! I am still getting customers who will order and leave a note about how they saw my product on Beverley Mitchell’s blog. It’s amazing. Oh, and my Instagram numbers jumped up by a few hundred as well which was a happy bonus 🙂
Now, obviously not every blogger will be as popular as Beverley Mitchell (and some will be even more so!), but I want you to see the POWER of having your product featured elsewhere. It’s not just that initial spike in sales the day of– it’s the continued traffic it drives that makes it more than worth it.
I’ve talked about it before (you can find it here), but customers need to see your product up to 7 times before they’ll be convinced enough to buy it. If you can get your product out there to the right influencers (ones that interact together is even better!), their audiences can be exposed to your product over and over again with minimal effort on your part.
And this is called marketing magic 🙂
You’ll also get the added benefit of increasing your Etsy SEO awesomeness– your products will start jumping up in ranks because Etsy rewards item listings that are getting viewed/favorited/bought a whole lot more (want to learn some serious Etsy SEO hacks? Grab my free cheat sheet here!)
But maybe you’ve been around the Etsy forums or heard another seller complain about sending product out to bloggers and not receiving any additional sales, or (worse yet!) the blogger didn’t even post about the product! And if they did post about it? What if they didn’t follow through with any promotion (I once had someone post about my headbands at 11:45 p.m. [which is a horrible time to promote, btw] and by 9:00 a.m. the next day, it was already buried by 2-3 more posts. Worst. Feeling. Ever.)
Below I’ll break down–from start to finish– my process for
Let me start out by saying this: Just because an influencer has an audience it doesn’t mean that they are your audience.
THIS IS ABSOLUTELY KEY TO YOUR COLLABORATION SUCCESS.
Ignoring this and focusing just on the “vanity numbers” is the part where most Etsy sellers fall short and start giving away free product to anyone and everyone and then become discouraged when they don’t see an increase in sales.
Example: If you sell children’s clothes at boutique prices (because they’re worth it, obviously!), sending free samples off to a blogger that blogs about budgeting or coupons is not going to bring you any sales. Even if she posts ridiculously beautiful photos. Even if she writes insanely captivating posts. Even if she has 100,000 followers–they are followers that are not going to be interested in your product. #truestory
So yes, numbers are important to consider with pitching your product to bloggers, but if those numbers aren’t a part of your target market (which, in this case, would be style-conscious mommas with disposable income), then you are wasting your time.
So when you hear of a shop owner complaining that bloggers never bring her shop any extra sales? I’ll bet my life that she’s not working with bloggers in her “niche.”
So the first step is to define your target market, figure out an influencers/bloggers in your niche that share a similar target market, an
So how do you find those bloggers that will actually sell product for you? One of the best (and fastest!) ways is to get on Instagram (seriously, this is the method that I use and it’s ah-mazing). Here’s a step-by-step (ridiculously easy) breakdown of my method:
1 – You’re going to type in the name of a blogger/influencer that has a target market that would be interested in your product.
2 – Make sure and “follow” that blogger. If you are already, unfollow and then follow again 🙂
3 – A box will then pop up below with 3-4 new similar bloggers that you can view. These are your people!
And if you’re worried about being turned down or wasting time with the wrong people, check to see if they have an email address listed in their Instagram bio– if they do, you’re golden! These people are use to collaborations and will more than likely respond to your inquiries.
Ahh, the scariest part of the whole ordeal: Actually pitching your product to the influencer.
But here’s the thing: I promise it doesn’t have to be nerve-wracking! It can actually be kind of fun 😉
First off, you need to understand that bloggers/influencers (in general) receive dozens of these collaboration requests every week– more if they’re a big name. And sending a cold (out-of-the-blue) pitch to one of these bloggers? It’s probably going to go straight into the trash.
So how do you warm up to these influencers?
Yes, it’s much easier to copy + paste an email in over and over again when you’re sending out dozens of inquiries, but you better believe that you’re going to see a lot less success that way. So take the time to be genuine. Complement them. Use their name.
One of my favorite marketing strategies is really simple: Give, give, give, then ask. Link to their shop in a blog post, maybe highlight a favorite post of theirs on Instagram. MAKE THEM NOTICE YOU + WHAT YOU’RE DOING FOR THEM. Be incredibly generous in everything that you do.
When I first started out pitching to bloggers I was so worried that they would see right through me (to the stay-at-home mom with spit-up on her shoulder) that I did everything I could to sound professional and perfect.
Ask me how well that went over.
It wasn’t until I started sharing my story–about WHY I had started up LittleHighbury that I started getting back almost immediate replies– new momma bloggers that were so excited to help share my message.
Hooray! They’ve said yes! The hard part is over!
Once you’ve celebrated the win, it’s time to set up a couple of rules so that this collaboration is everything that you hoped for + more.
I promise that this is NOT a step you want to skip. Yes, it’s a little extra work, but it will ABSOLUTELY be worth it. And probably save you a few tears.
This wasn’t something I did in the beginning (I hadn’t even thought of it at that point!), but after a few crappy experiences working with bloggers, I looked EVERYWHERE online to find that “secret” that other brands were using to guarantee that both parties upheld their end of the deal.
Well guess what? I couldn’t find ANYTHING out there. So I ended up messaging my sister who worked for a mermaid fin company (but seriously) that was on track for hitting $5 million in sales for the year. And a large part of their growth strategy? Sending free product to bloggers.
So I begged her to learn more about how they ensured that these bloggers would hold up their end of the deal– because try as I might, I kept sending away free product for promotions that fell short of what I was hoping for.
Her answer? Just a simple contract. Her company would send out a short, friendly contract (through a series of emails) that would be signed by both parties.
But what the heck do you include in a contract? And how did you send one out without seeming all high and mighty?
The best experience I’ve found success with is from a series of shorter emails. Then, these emails are combined into a contract to be signed.
This process will look a little different for everybody, but if you’re absolutely clueless on what to include, the structure below should point you in the right direction 🙂
Start by thanking them and then loosely outlining the collaboration via email
No need to get into the nitty gritty details yet– this initial email can also double as a pitch to bloggers, if you’re searching them out (if they’ve pitched to you, however, just use this email as a way to define the agreement). You’ll want to include your terms + conditions, clarify any questions you may have, and make sure you are on the same page.
Refine the collaborations and get the details formalized
Consider this your “play-by-play” email that will discuss specific questions you may have for the blogger (including, but not limited to):
What type of content will the blogger be creating? Will it be a blog post? Or just a casual mention on social media?
What is their timeline + when can you expect to see your products promoted? Make sure to get this in writing! If you don’t, it can go months and months before a blogger will “remember” about a product you send them. Get a time-frame commitment up front.
How much social media will they be doing? Is it a post on all their social media platforms? Or maybe just Instagram?
Will you receive the rights to use their photos in your promotional pieces (be sure to request this before using any of his/her photos!)
What do they charge for their services? (A lot of the time you can just send the product for free, but sometimes a blogger will ask for additional compensation)
Be sure to send the following information to the blogger:
When they can expect to receive the item(s)
If/when you’ll be posting about the collaboration as well
Work out the nitty-gritty details
Now is the time to talk about payment– and how services/dollars will be exchanged. Are you going to use PayPal? Dwolla? Quickbooks? Make sure your collaborator knows up front which method you plan to use.
Policy on what happens if one end of the contract isn’t upheld
Create the actual contract
Having written (emailed) documentation is KEY to making this an awesome experience for everyone involved. You’ve already gone through the details (from emails 1-3 above!), so presenting the blogger/influencer with a contract won’t be out-of-the-blue, and there shouldn’t be any fine print that will cause them to question the arrangement.
It’s as simple as filling in the blanks with the emails you’ve already sent back and forth!
If you’re really worried about appearing too structured with sending out a contract, consider making sure to note in the email that you’re doing this to ensure that EVERYONE benefits from this collaboration in the best ways possible. This really is the best way to ensure a win-win situation.
And please, please don’t get bogged down by all this detailed contract talk! In its essence, a business contract is really just a friendly way to make sure that both parties are getting what they want out of the deal and knowing what is expected (and how they can exceed expectations!) up front. It doesn’t have to be super legal-jargon filled– keep it friendly, but clear and concise.
Have you ever pitched your product to bloggers + influencers? What worked for you? What didn’t? Share your story in the comments below! xoxo
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