So you're addicted to using Pinterest, are you? Isn't it fun? The site has made it so easy to find inspiration!
Since Pinterest is a relatively new site, many users are still learning its best practices and how to be effective there. One of these best practices is Pinterest courtesy. We should always strive to be courteous on any social networking site that we use. Are you a polite Pinterest pinner? Stay tuned for some quick tips.
photo from The Purl Bee
1. Polite Pinterest users pin photos from the original POST where the photo appeared.
For example, if I spot some fabulous polka dotted pillows on the Design Sponge blog and want to pin them to my weekly polka dot board, I need to find the permalink of that blog post and pin the image from that permalink.
In the polka dot pillows example, I found that post on page 2 of the Design Sponge blog. Notice the URL in the browser bar below. That URL is not the permalink of the polka dot pillows post.
HERE is the permalink for that post. It includes the date of the post (month and year) and the name of that particular post.
If you spot a pinnable image while browsing your favorite websites or blogs, follow these steps:
1. Navigate to the permalink of that particular post.
2. Use the handy Pinterest bookmarklet to select the image that you want to pin.
3. Write a short description of the pin. See tip #2 below.
What happens if you don't pin images from the permalink where they first appeared?
The pin will still be "attached" to the site where it appeared, but if you pin from the main domain of the site, anyone who clicks on the pin to find out more about that image will end up on the main page of that site. If a person arrives on the site days, weeks, or months later, the post with that image will be buried, and they might never find the image!
By the way, this rule goes for re-pins, too. If you see an image that you'd like to re-pin to one of your boards, check to see if the image links back to the original permalink. If it doesn't, try to find the permalink and create a new pin.
Be kind. Pin from the permalink.
2. Polite Pinterest users write a short, meaningful description of the image.
I must admit that when I first started using Pinterest, I wrote shallow descriptions like "I love this!" or "Yummy!" Now that I've used the site a bit more, I've started to put more thought into my pin descriptions.
Take a peek at this pin description (not mine), for example:
This wording includes great keywords and makes me feel like I can actually create eggs like these myself.
Here are some tips for writing pin descriptions:
* Tell why the image is meaningful to you.
* Remember that other Pinterest users can view your description. Is it helpful? Appropriate?
* Mention the source (blog name) if you wish.
If time permits (and especially if you'd like the image to be re-pinned by others), write the description in elevator pitch style.
By the way, have you ever wondered if it's okay to keep the description of the original pinner when re-pinning an image? I've never read a hard-and-fast rule about this. In my opinion, if the original description matches your thoughts about the pin, keep it! If you want/need to tweak it to suit your taste, feel free!
3. Polite Pinterest users do not copy wording from the image source's website and paste it into the pin description.
Plagiarism is never okay. Enough said.
4. Polite Pinterest users pin their own images sparingly.
According to Pinterest etiquette, "if there is a photo or project you're proud of, pin away! However, try not to use Pinterest purely as a tool for self-promotion."
How about this idea? Why not create a Pinterest board of images that coordinate with one of your products? For example, if you sell necklaces, you could pin clothing, patterns, and accessories that would pair nicely with your product. You could share a screenshot of the board on your blog or on your Facebook fan page -- alongside a photo of your product. Now that's a fun way to use Pinterest!
What other Pinterest etiquette tips would you add to this list? Please share in the comments.
Do you wish potential customers would spend more time in your handmade shop, rather than clicking away to another spot on the World Wide Web? Want to keep those customers around a bit longer (and increase your profits)? You, my friend, need to use a simple technique called upselling.
I've talked about upselling before in this post: Upselling: An Easy Way to Increase Profits, but I saw a wonderful example of the technique while eating in a restaurant this past weekend.
Joe's Crab Shack is one of our favorite restaurants to visit in Myrtle Beach each year, and my husband and I found ourselves at Joe's once again a few days ago. (The coconut shrimp is fabulous!)
Sitting right on the end of the table was the "teaser" advertisement below. Campfire S'Mores?? Yes, please.
We hadn't even ordered our main course yet, and I already knew that I wanted to order that dessert. I rarely ever order desserts at restaurants, but those s'mores looked too good to pass up. And yes, the dessert was every bit as good as it looks . . . yum.
What lesson can we learn from Joe's technique?
Put featured products in front of customers as often as possible, even if they aren't in the market for that particular product.
Etsy sellers have the opportunity to do this by selecting items to feature at the top of their online shops. Customers see those items first, so sellers should put their best products (most popular, most unique) in those spots.
Another place to upsell is in your Facebook fan page timeline. The photo strip at the top of your fan page is a wonderful place to feature your signature items. I talked extensively about the Facebook photo ribbon in this post: The New Facebook Fan Page Can Boost Your Etsy Sales - Part 1
If you haven't yet taken my free 7-day e-course about writing irresistible product descriptions, I encourage you to sign up today. I devote an entire lesson to tips on upselling. There's a great tip in there about using Etsy URLs to upsell in your product descriptions.
What are some other ways you can incorporate upselling into your marketing strategy? How are you already using the upselling technique? Do tell.
Since author Lewis Carroll's birthday is Friday, January 27, I'm thinking thoughts of Alice in Wonderland today. And look at the adorable party items I found on this theme!
Don't you just love those Alice place cards from TomKat Studio? And of course, I love that polka dotted napkin, too! :)
How about these fantastic photo props from the Windrosie Etsy shop?
These cupcake toppers and this rabbit centerpiece from Windrosie are also darling! What a fun idea for a party!
And now, I leave you with a quote from the classic Alice in Wonderland:
"It seems the hurrier I go, the behinder I get."
Truer words were never spoken. I'm feeling a bit "behinder" today myself. :) How about you?
Have a wonderful day, friends!
Did you know that today, January 23, is National Handwriting Day? Let's be honest here: raise your hand if your handwriting is less than stellar. (I'm raising my hand) I suppose we can blame it on technology, right? Typing and texting has made handwriting almost a lost art.
Maybe this adorable polka dotted pencil case from the Little Bobbins Etsy shop will inspire us to tote pencils around in style. That might encourage us to write more often! :)
Here's one more cursive writing print from Livy Love Designs that I shared on Twitter today. I love this!
You'll find all sorts of adorable handmade creations in these two shops. Happy browsing!
Since Benjamin Franklin's birthday was yesterday, January 17, what a more fitting handmade product to show you than this fabulous kite invitation from the RBC Color Etsy shop?
Because I have a six-year-old son, I am well acquainted with the classic book The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss. This birthday party invitation follows the theme so nicely, featuring 1) the kite that Thing 1 and Thing 2 dragged through the house, 2) the stripes (like the cat's hat), 3) the blue and red color scheme used in the book, and 4) the Dr. Seuss-ish looking font. I love it! And look -- the inside of the envelope is even polka dotted!
Rebecca can create invitations like this for your little one's birthday party, too! Such fun!
Here's another item from this shop that I love: a candy heart save-the-date invitation -- CUTE!
Up, up, and away! :)
Have you heard? Sunday, January 22, is National Polka Dot Day!
Of course, I can't let this day pass by without at least some kind of pomp and circumstance. Want to join me?
I'm planning some fun goodies (and of course, lots of polka dots) on that day, and you don't want to miss it!
Help me spread the word by pinning the graphic above on Pinterest and sharing it on Facebook so that we can spread the word!
And don't forget to check back here on Sunday, January 22, for all the fun! :)
Long live polka dots!
While it isn't particularly bone-chilling cold here in North Carolina right now, I know that many of you live in areas where it's really cold. And hey -- I think these polka dotted gloves are cute enough to wear any time of year -- cold or not! :)
I found the Just Wool Etsy shop while browsing for polka dots, and I encourage you to stop by this brand new shop! Such beautiful felted items!
For example, take a look at this gorgeous felted girl's dress:
Isn't that photo precious?
Happy browsing, and stay warm! :)
Dimple milk bottles from Hannerysgaard
It's MILK DAY! Help me celebrate by feasting your eyes upon these fabulous polka dotted milk items:
Polka Dot Milk Cartons from Hannerysgaard
How about a polka dotted milk shake?
You'll find the recipe for this shake on the Sweet Paul blog.
And what's a tall glass of milk without something sweet to eat with it?
Polka dot cake from I Am Baker
Mmm. I think I need a fork.
So, what percent of milk do you drink at your house? We're a 1% family. How about you?
Last week, we talked about creating fantastic landing pages for the various social media sites that we frequent. Today, I have an example for you . . . my Pinterest landing page.
This is the page that I link to in my Pinterest profile.
Simply click Edit Profile or Settings to update your link.
Now, when people click on the small world symbol (see the orange arrow below), they will be taken straight to that specific landing page.
Of course, you can put the main URL (web address) of your online shop or blog in that field, but why not create a specific page that will appeal to the people who click over to your site? If people click to my site from Pinterest, they might want to know how I use Pinterest or what they can expect if they decide to follow me.
There are tons of ways that you can tweak your Pinterest landing page:
* You could encourage people to follow you on Pinterest
* You could ask people to like your Facebook page
* You could direct people to a group of fantastic posts on your blog
* You could link to some of your favorite boards (some of which might include pics of your products!)
The sky's the limit! Just remember that people who land on that page already like (and use) Pinterest, so including language on the page about Pinterest would be in your best interest.
I hope this little example helped you. Have you created a laser-focused landing page for your Pinterest profile yet?
Pinterest, Pinterest, Pinterest! I can't tell you how many times I've heard about Pinterest lately! I'm sure you've heard the buzz too, so I don't have to tell you how FUN (and addicting) it is!
Well, I've had an account on the site for a while, but I just recently started checking Pinterest daily for fun ideas. And yes, it can be a time suck if you don't set limits. However, for a blogger who is looking for fun products, ideas, and projects to feature -- it's awesome!
So awesome, in fact, that I've decided to create a new board each week, just to pin the lovely polka dotted things that I find.
Would you like to see the items I pinned this week? Last week?
Now, I've got a crazy, fun, AMAAAAZING idea for Pinterest!! Want to hear it?
Wouldn't it be fun if I created a polka dot board that all of you can contribute to? It would be like one huge board of DOTTY GOODNESS!
Here's how it would (could) work. Remember, I'm just brainstorming here:
1. First, you need to be a Pinterest user. If you're still waiting for an invite, please let me know. I can invite you!
2. We need to think of a cool (I mean really cool) name for the board because this thing could get really huge!! If you have a suggestion for what we should call this board, do tell.
3. If you're interested in pinning items on this polka dotted board, I'll need to invite you to be a contributor to the board. See the screenshot below? I have to know your username or your email address.
4. As you come across polka dotted items on the web, you would pin them to the board. You'll need to add the Pin It! bookmarklet into your browser's tool bar (see this page for details). OR (for those of you who know Pinterest lingo) you could re-pin polka dotted pins to the board.
If you're interested in this, please leave a comment below, expressing your interest. Make sure that you leave an email address or some other way for me to contact you, okay?
So . . . are you on Pinterest? What is your username? I'm onthedot. Need an invite? Ask away.
Mosaic Tile Table from slgeorge / Polka dotted skirt and tights from Pinterest
I'm SO excited to introduce you to a brand new weekly feature here at On the Dot called Mix & Match.
This photo collage will feature at least one handmade item (in keeping with my mission statement: featuring handmade creations), and at least one of the items will be polka dotted (of course!).
I'd like to introduce my super-creative friend Amber Guge, who will be helping me pick items for these collages each week.
Without further ado, meet Amber:
"My name is Amber, and I am a 29 year old stay-at-home mother of 2 boys. I have been designing and selling jewelry for 3 years, thanks to my husband's persuasion. I love everything crafty, and I usually spend my mornings drinking coffee and searching the internet for my next must-do project."
You can find Amber's designs here in her Etsy shop: Amber Dawn Jewelry
So what do you think of the new feature? Like it? Love it? Do tell.
Target Necklace by AgHalo
Want to create a strong connection between your brand and your potential customers? Looking for a fun way to turn random visitors into loyal followers?
I wrote a blog post once about leaving bread crumbs so that customers can find you. Today, I’d like to talk about a different type of bread crumb: the links you leave around the World Wide Web.
The links I’m referring to are the URLs that represent your brand on social media sites.
For example, take a look at this screenshot from the comment form on the Handmade Success blog. Each commenter has the opportunity to type a website’s URL in the third field down.
What website URL do you usually type in a field like that? Most handmade sellers type the URL of their online shop, but is that the best strategy?
As you know, there are many social media sites where we can set up profiles. We’ll talk about some of those in future posts, but today I’d like to focus on the website URL field on blogs.
Read on for some tips about this often-neglected strategy:
Step #1: Find blogs in your niche and be a thoughtful, regular commenter on them.
Okay, first things first. If you’re going to leave comments on blogs in your niche, please make them helpful comments. Add to the conversation. Share your input. Respectfully disagree, if necessary. But above all, add value to the blogs through your comments.
Leaving thoughtful comments on blogs in your niche is a great way to make friends and even share your brand with other readers.
Step #2: Create a web page (often called a landing page) that you will use as the “website URL” on blog comments.
This should be a page on your blog or website that only those who click that particular URL will ever find. Most blogging software and website platforms allow you to create dedicated pages for specific purposes. Make your landing page exclusive to those who click the link.
In the website field, most of us type the URL of our brand “hub.” For example, I often type www.onthedotcreations.com
Wait a minute, though. If readers click on that link and end up on the front page of my blog, will they really be prompted to connect with my brand?
I’ve got one chance to “hook” people when they arrive on my blog, and sometimes the front page isn’t the place to hook them (despite my best efforts to make my front page awesome!).
The same thing goes for your handmade shop. If you always put the URL of your online shop in the website field of a blog comment, what opportunity does a person have to connect with your brand? They’ll end up in your shop, browse around a bit, and poof! be gone before you know it!
On this special landing page, you could include some wording such as the following:
“Thanks for clicking over to my blog/website. Whether you found this page after clicking on a comment I left or just stumbled upon it -- welcome!
I’m a _____ (use your handmade biz elevator pitch here - keep it short).
You might enjoy some blog posts I’ve written lately. Here are some of the more popular ones: (include a couple fabulous links here). You might also want to subscribe to my e-newsletter. It’s chock-full of ___ (whatever is appropriate here).
Thanks for stopping by!”
Another fun way to spice up your landing page is to include a welcome video - what a great way to allow visitors to connect your face and voice with your brand!
Of course, if you sell handmade products, you’ll want to include a link to your shop, but don’t over-sell: let visitors connect with your brand first. If they are attracted to your brand, believe me, they’ll search out your shop!
Step #3: Provide some “sticky” content on the landing page.
Sticky content makes people want to hang around on your site. Provide something of value on your landing page, and visitors will stay around to learn more about you.
Some examples of “sticky” content are:
* a link to an awesome (popular) post on your blog
* a free e-book that you have created about your niche
* a welcome video
* a tutorial you created that is related to your niche
* the sign-up page for your e-newsletter
* a coupon code for a purchase in your online shop
The Problogger blog has some wonderful posts about creating “sticky” web content.
Step #4: Provide a Call to Action
The goal of the landing page should be to make a CONNECTION with the person who ends up there. Remember that this connection doesn’t have to be iron-clad (like a tight knot). It can be a loose connection (like a pretty bow). Loose connections are things like signing up for a fun newsletter or an auto-responder of some sort. For example, I could encourage people to sign up for my free e-course.
People who click on your landing page might not be in the market for your products right now, so cramming them down their throat might be a turn-off. However, if you gradually work them in to your subtle marketing messages (while providing value at the same time), you might just make a customer for life!
Step #5: Keep it short!
Remember that people who land on this page are probably surfing around and might not have time to read a lengthy post about the philosophy of your brand. They are probably looking for something that catches their eye. If your landing page is way too long, they will likely click away . . . fast.
Okay, here’s your challenge for this week: create a landing page that you will use in the URL field of blog comments. Use the tips above to create a rockin’ page!
Now, go forth and comment on blogs. Again, I’m talking about valuable comments, folks. The kind of comments that you would want people to leave on your blog.
Monitor your stats for that landing page, as well as the blog posts, videos, e-books, etc. where you direct your visitors. Can you see more interaction with your brand? I’ll be surprised if you don’t. I mean really try it . . . what have you got to lose?
I’ll be back with more ideas about special landing pages for other social media sites next Tuesday.
Have you ever used laser-focused landing pages before? On Twitter, Facebook, or some other social media site? We'd love to hear about it.
Did you know that this week marks the 124th anniversary of the patent of the paper drinking straw? In honor of this occasion, I went on the hunt for polka dotted drinking straws . . . and I found some pretty ones!
The Hey Yo Yo Etsy shop is filled with all sorts of wonderful whimsical notions, and it looks like Amanda is a fan of polka dots too! :)
Wouldn't these straws make a baby shower, kids' party, or even a special dinner at home a fun occasion?
Not only does the Hey Yo Yo shop carry these fun straws, but there are many fun ways to dress up the straws, too! Check out these straw toppers:
Now that's cute!
What this shop is doing right:
1. A Fun Shop Header
I love the carnival/circus theme and colors in the shop header. Just perfect for the fun, colorful items in the shop!
2. Great Product Staging
Amanda photographed many of her products staged with other items. For example, she shows her products in action in the photos in this polka dotted straws listing. I love those flag toppers!
3. Fun Photo Backgrounds
I love the creative use of the photo backgrounds (many are polka dotted) in this shop! Take a look at these cake/cupcake toppers, for example. Isn't that striped background paper awesome?
Have you ever used fun paper straws for your special occasions, or do you prefer the plastic kind?
Happy New Year to you!
Looking for a fun way to market your products and increase profits? Then you're going to enjoy this guest post about affiliate marketing by Meagan Visser! Read on ...
In the world of creative business comes marketing, and marketing includes Twitter and Facebook.
Now with social media sites like these, one of the primary goals is to establish relationships with customers and colleagues. One of the ways you can do that is by promoting others, right?
Whether you're a customer posting on Facebook about the great experience you just had with a particular business, or you're tweeting about a colleague's new service, you're promoting, engaging, and building relationships. That's marketing at its core.
Another form of marketing that fits right into this promoting and relationship-building idea is that of affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketing allows you to set up a program that rewards your customers with money or other types of discounts when they make you sales.It's a great tactic to use for your business, and it will get your customers' attention and get them excited about working with you.
Today, I'm going to take you step-by-step through setting up two different types of affiliate programs for your business -- one free and one not. Both are great, but have different pros and cons. It's for you to decide which is right for your business!
Free Affiliate Program
This is a great avenue for those of you on a tight budget, but it takes some organization and a bit more work on your part. Still worth the effort, though!
Here's an example of how this type of affiliate program would work:
You're offering your affiliates 20% on any sales they bring to you. You have a loyal customer that loves your products and wants to become an affiliate after seeing your new program. Your customer signs up via your form, you email her with her special code, and you give her some examples of how she can use the code to promote your biz and make some money herself.
Later on, she sees you've listed a new product in your shop so she goes to Twitter and sends a tweet about your new product. She promotes "free shipping on orders over $25 with coupon code allierocks." You get 10 orders that day that use that particular coupon code, so you make money and your customer made 20% of each order for bringing you new customers! Win-win, eh?
Paid Affiliate Program
This is the type of affiliate program I use. It's a great way to go and is one of the cheapest affiliate options out there. It's through e-junkie.com and you pay based on how many products you have. You can either set up different programs for each product or you can create one program for all of your products. It's totally up to you.
First up - one program for all your products
Next up - different programs for each product
This is great if you offer different types of products such as physical products and digital products. Most affiliate programs offer their affiliates a higher percentage for sales on digital products, but it's totally up to you.
Affiliates have their own affiliate page where they can select what product they want to promote, get their code, and use it in their promotions. The codes can be used openly or they can be hidden in text or images.
It's pretty straight forward, and e-junkie has a section all about helping you figure out your affiliate program if you need it. It keeps up with your affiliates sales, and you only have to remember to log-in once a month and pay your affiliates what they've earned. All sales and payments are through PayPal as well.
I am not an e-junkie affiliate BTW...it's just a simple and cheap way to help market your business. So if you are looking for another way to get your business out there in front of more people, let your customers help you out and reward them nicely for bringing you new leads that will hopefully convert. Like I said before, it's a win-win for both of you.
Does this sound appealing to you? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Meagan Visser is a wife, mother, and creative entrepreneur living in the Southern Appalachian Mountains of East Tennessee. She helps moms ROCK their creative biz dreams on her website MeaganVisser.com, and she offers fashionable and eco-friendly products for babies and toddlers in her Etsy shop, Baby Swank.
Looking more like a fun dress than a functional kitchen accessory, this polka dotted apron from The Glam Finale Etsy shop makes me want to pull out a recipe and cook something!
I love the generous-sized pocket, and the removable feather pin is such a fun touch, too!
What this shop is doing right:
1. Product Photography
I love the gallery shots that display the aprons at an angle. That really catches my eye!
2. Shop Consistency
I love the consistent photo background -- the pink and white striped wall and the white dress form. So cute!
3. Marketing Idea
I love the mother-daughter aprons packaged together. Such a great idea for Christmas presents!
You'll find lots of other dotty designs in this fun shop -- some sized for young and older cooks alike!
Happy weekend to you!
If you're looking for a pretty bowl to serve Halloween treats in this year, look no further than the Joy Elizabeth Ceramics Etsy shop! Owls are so popular this time of year, and I love the vivid colors in these pieces (and the polka dots too, of course!). These bowls are also pretty enough to display empty.
And look at this owl family, perched on a branch together on this dinner plate. So cute!
You'll love all of the ceramics in this wonderful shop -- I love the rabbit designs too!
Do you serve Halloween candy out of a bowl as cute as these each year? Maybe it's time for a new tradition! :)
P.S. If you're visiting here from Pinterest, I'd be honored if you followed me there!
It's finally starting to feel like autumn here in North Carolina, so I'm in the mood to feature some woodland-style handmade goodies today.
First, we have these adorable fabric trees from Quietude Quilts. I love the bright primary colors in this group, but wait until you see the other tiny forests in this shop: so CUTE!
Here's a lovely pincushion from Sew Realicoul along this same woodland theme. Not only is this pin cushion cute . . . it's also fragrant, stuffed with organic lavender!
To finish out this group, let's take a look at two fabric baskets from Jenn Maruska Design.
If you look carefully, you'll notice the woodland design on the fabric. Wouldn't these be great to hold various supplies: in the kitchen, in the studio, or in the office?
That's it . . . your polka dot fix for today. Have a great weekend, everyone!
Funky, vintage, and dotty -- aren't these polka dotted earrings from Passing Love Notes great? Long, dangling earrings seem to be "in" right now, and these are sure to attract attention!
I love these pink dotty earrings too. The Passing Love Notes Etsy shop is filled with all sorts of other vintage earrings. I also love the vintage-style backgrounds in the product photos. What a great shop!
Looking for a pretty way to transport tasty pies, casseroles, or cakes? Vonny to the rescue!
I've mentioned Vonny before, so I was so excited to hear from Vonny herself the other day when she called to let me know about her brand new Mardi Gras Holiday Pie Carrier, covered in polka dots!
I absolutely love this idea, and I just know that Vonny is going to sell a ton of these!
I love the fact that the inside of the carrier has a skid-proof material to keep pies from sliding around and damaging the crust. What a great idea!
If you haven't checked out the Vonny site lately, you really should! Such adorable entertaining products there!
Happy Labor Day, everyone!
Large Edison Lightbulb Print from Momoma
Whew! I'm glad to be back blogging again after being without power for 74 hours as a result of Hurricane Irene. We are thankful that our house did not sustain any damage, which is not necessarily the case for some people in other parts of our state.
I hope that those of you affected by the storm are safe and sound. Now, on with September! :)
Happy to have electricity,
If you've paid any attention to the news lately, you've probably heard that a huge hurricane named Irene is predicted to affect the eastern part of the US this weekend. North Carolina is scheduled to be one of the states hardest hit, so we've been hearing lots of hurricane talk around here lately.
In honor of the storm, I searched for some polka dotted items on this theme today. Just look at the cute cloud/raindrop necklace that I found from Ordinary Mommy on Etsy.
You'll love the soft, cozy products in this great shop! Happy browsing!
If I don't blow away this weekend, I'll be back here next week. :)
Like many of your children, my little guy went back to school today. He was a little nervous about entering first grade . . . you know, going a full day instead of a half day like last year in kindergarten. Too bad he didn't have a cute polka dotted pencil case like this one from the Pocket Carnival Etsy shop.
I love the faded polka dots at the top and bottom of this case -- very subtle but very cute! :)
So how about your kids . . . have they started back to school yet?
QR Codes -- you’ve likely seen these around lately: a black and white pixelated square on the packaging of some product, along with instructions to read the code with your smart phone. Sounds a little mysterious, doesn’t it?
Those little squares are called QR Codes (QR means "quick response"). I've seen them in more and more places lately: in magazines, on ads in my mailbox, and even on a strawberry carton in the grocery store!
Did you know that handmade sellers can use these QR Codes too? Read on for some ideas to use this fun marketing tool!
First, some FAQs about QR Codes:
What are QR Codes?
QR Codes are two-dimensional bar codes that, once scanned by a smart phone camera, automatically send the phone user to a website URL or even a phone number!
Why should I create a QR code for my handmade business?
A QR code is another marketing tool that handmade sellers can use to attract customers to their online venues (an Etsy shop, a Facebook page, a company website, etc.). Since QR Codes are most often found in offline places, this is just another way to draw customers to your online presence.
Who will be able to read my QR code?
Anyone with a smart phone camera who has downloaded a free QR Code reader will be able to access your code. The person simply (1) opens the code reader application, (2) aims the phone’s camera at the code, (3) snaps a picture, and (4) is taken automatically to the URL that you pre-determined when you created the code.
Where can I (or my customers) get a QR Code reader/scanner for my smart phone?
You can find a comprehensive list of code readers here:
I use the QR Code Scanner Pro for my BlackBerry. It’s free and easy to use!
How do I make a QR Code for my handmade business?
Just do an Internet search for "create a QR Code," and you'll find lots of options. One that I've used is the QR Code Generator from Kaywa. The service is completely free, and it will create your very own QR Code in seconds!
* Please note that according to the Kaywa site, this code generator is not to be used for commercial purposes. Another site that you might consider is uQR.me, which has different pricing plans (including a free plan!).
What URL should I attach to my QR Code?
The sky is the limit, but I would suggest sending customers to a URL that will provide some value to them. Here are just a few suggestions:
* your Facebook page
* your Twitter feed
* a popular post on your blog
* a free e-book that you have created about your niche
* a welcome video
* the sign-up page for your e-newsletter
* a coupon code for a purchase in your online shop
The easiest way to create these exclusive pages with dynamite content is to develop pages on your blog that only those who read the code will see. These pages should not be accessible from the main page of your site. This makes them exclusive to just those who read the QR code!
Can I customize my QR Code to make it reflect my brand (or am I stuck with a plain black and white code)?
Yes! You can pay to have a company customize the code for you, or you can try it yourself with software like Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.
Just remember that the black part of the code must remain dark, and the white part of the code (the background) must remain a light color, preferably white. Also be sure to leave some white space around the edges of the code when you display it. This makes it easier for the smart phone to read the code correctly. You can add design elements (text, symbols, etc.) in the white spaces, though.
One thing to note here is that people are becoming accustomed to seeing those black and white codes everywhere, so if you get too creative with your code design, customers might not realize that it is a QR Code. I would suggest adding custom designs sparingly.
Where should I display my QR Code?
At a Craft Fair
Think of a creative way to display your QR Code at your booth. Do you give away samples? Use a QR code on the packaging!
On your business card
If you use the MOO company to design and print your business cards, you can use the back of the cards too! Keep your current business card information on the front and then include your QR Code (plus instructions on how to use it) on the back!
On a T-shirt (that you wear or give away)
You could put your company logo on the front of the shirt and the QR Code on the back (or vice versa). OR, if you create a custom QR Code that includes your business branding in the code itself, you could just put the custom code on the T-shirt! How fun is that? (This idea would work for tote bags or other products too!)
On your shipping labels
If you create custom shipping labels for your business (which I highly recommend), you could include your QR code on those labels. That package will be seen by several people as it makes its way to your customer, and you never know who might read the code to learn more about your business!
On postcards or other direct mailings
If you do any direct mailing of postcards, catalogs, etc., you could use your QR Code there. Be sure that the URL where the code leads the customer applies in some way to the piece of mail.
In your brick and mortar shop (if applicable)
There are so many creative ways to do this, but here’s one suggestion: you could display your QR Code in the shop window or on the front door. Customers walking by could read the code to receive a special coupon code (an additional 10% off, for example) on any purchases in the shop that day! That would be an incentive for a customer to come inside and shop!
photo credit: nick365
How can I track stats for my QR Code?
Some websites that create QR Codes for you have stat-tracking capabilities, but some of these charge a fee. I have found a free way, though! Here’s how:
1. Copy and paste the URL of the page where you want to send your customers into Bitly to get a shorter (trackable) link. You’ll need a free Bitly account.
2. Create a QR Code for your business. Copy and paste the bit.ly link that you just created into the URL field of the code generator.
3. Once a person views your code and visits your URL, Bitly will track how many times the URL is visited, along with what country the person is from.
Another way to track your QR Codes is to send customers to a page that lists a special coupon code for their next purchase. You could track how many times that coupon code has been used.
Why do I need a QR Code for my handmade business now?
Because QR Codes are still somewhat new, people are curious about them. More and more people are buying smart phones, and they love to try out new phone features. Jump on the bandwagon while this idea is still fresh!
As a magnet to your online venues
If a customer is already in your online shop and you want to encourage him/her to visit another one of your online venues (Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.), you could create a code just for that venue -- just be sure to have some amazing content waiting for them when they arrive! Give them access to something special (a coupon, a free report, a welcome video) - not just the generic front page of your site.
As the 5thphoto spot in your Etsy listings
For example, if you have a handbag listing in your Etsy shop, you could create a QR Code that sends the customer to a video showing how the bag was made or even a testimonial page if you have listed and sold that style before. Upload the QR Code as the fifth product photo.
Caution: An explanation should accompany your code (at least for now)
Since QR Codes are still relatively new (and some people have no idea what they are - especially those without smart phones), you’ll need to provide a brief explanation with your QR Codes:
1. Let customers know that they will need a code reader on their smart phone.
2. Let customers know where the code will lead them. Build excitement!
For example, “Snap this code with your smart phone camera (code reader needed) to receive a free scoop of ice cream.”
As we wrap things up, here are a few helpful tips to make your QR Code campaign(s) worthwhile:
1. QR Codes should send customers to laser-focused landing pages that provide value. Make it worth their while to scan your code!
2. The URL where the QR Code leads your customers should be optimized for the mobile Web, since that is how they will view the page.
3. Bottom line: your QR Code should lead customers into a stronger relationship with your business. Make the destination an exclusive gift for those who read your code -- something that not everybody gets to see!
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What are your thoughts about QR Codes? Have you seen them in marketing materials? Do you think they would be a good addition to your marketing toolbox?
Feel free to share your thoughts and questions in the comments.
Additional reading (some great tips here!):
QR Code Tips
13 Creative Ways to Use QR Codes for Marketing