Monday, November 24, 2008

A Balancing Act

So this is my first real post here on Handmade Business and I wanted to talk a bit about web presence and where you should put your focus. I strongly believe in not putting all your eggs in one basket, especially online where servers can go down, data gets lost, and hard drives fail. At the same time it's very easy to get spread too thin to be doing too much and not really put enough time and effort in as you should. So how do you balance things and what sort of sites should you be participating in. Here are my thoughts:

Website
I think every handmade business should have a main website, a hub for all their other online activities. For me I have noadi.net a site I've had since Noadi's Art was simply a way to show off my artwork with no plan to sell anything and was named Noadi's Pixels. The benefits of having your own website and domain name are that you aren't reliant on an online venue staying online or keeping their fees low, you're in charge. You also have the option of running your shop directly from your site without the need for online venues like Etsy or Ebay if you no longer want to deal with the extra hassle or you outgrow the venue you are using.

Hosting and domain registration don't cost very much depending on how much storage space and features you want. I would recommend going with well known established hosting and domain registrations companies like GoDaddy and Bluehost, I've heard too many horror stories of smaller web hosts going out of business with little notice to their customers.

Blog
Your blog could be part of your main website or hosted separately (which is what I do) but you should really have one. A blog is the best way to keep people up to date on what your working on, upcoming sales, etc. It can be very business-like or more casual. I would recommend being careful about how much personal chatting on your blog you do, if it doesn't fit what your business does save it for a personal blog instead. If you make homemade dog treats your dog (and presumably taste-tester) is great to talk about but not so much if you make non-canine themed jewelry. I should also point out that google and other search engines seem to really like blogs so they pop up frequently in searches.

Online Selling Venues
I have my thoughts on which selling venues are best though I'll save that for a later post. I want to talk about how many you are using. I see many sellers with their products on 5 or 6 or more selling venues and I really think they are spreading themselves too thin. You don't need a presence on every online selling site and you can't effectively promote that many shops. My recommendation is to instead focus on at most 2 selling venues (if you have a shopping cart on your own site that counts as one).

Social Networks, Forums, etc.
I love social media and I have accounts all over the place. However in all honestly there are only a handful I really put time into. It's too much to really participate everywhere, so I have my favorites that I really participate fully in and enjoy and then those that I merely maintain an account on and update it from time to time. How many you can handle depends on you and the amount of time you can spend on them, 4 or 5 seems to be my limit.

I hope this has given you some ideas to think about. I think my next post will be on using Twitter, one of those social networks that I really enjoy.
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