A lot of creative businesses rely on art exhibitions and craft events through the year to sell their handmade products and make useful contacts with the owners of gift shops and galleries. But, with gift shops and galleries closed and events cancelled or postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, how can these creative businesses survive and thrive in this new and restrictive environment? Here are some practical ideas to help boost your creative business on a limited budget.
One benefit of the fact that most people are now at home for work, furloughing or self isolation is that they are turning to social media and websites for information, support and to relieve boredom. Therefore, you need an active, online presence to take advantage of this increased traffic.
Build a website
If you don’t have your own website, now is the time to create one. WordPress is a good place to start and offers free tools to build one. You can choose a tiered pricing plan if you want something a bit more sophisticated.
Make sure you add an option for visitors to sign up for a newsletter. Once you have a good following for your newsletter, you can start sending out regular emails with news and offers.
Add a blog
Make sure your new website also has the option to add a blog. A blog is a valuable tool for sharing news and product launches. It keeps your website up to date, as well as building your reputation and trust in your brand with visitors. Blogging regularly also improves your website’s ranking with search engines, increasing your visibility online and helping to draw organic traffic to your website. Make a list of topics that your audience would find useful and informative and start writing them up.
Add an online shop
Another useful tool while so many people are shopping from home is the facility to sell your creative products direct to your website visitors. WordPress offers a paid eCommerce option for your website. One of the most popular shop plug-ins is called Woocommerce.
Share on social media
If you don’t already have social media accounts, now is the time to open them. These can expand your visibility online, generate a following of people who like what you do, and draw people to your website. Some of the best for creative businesses are those that focus on images, such as Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter. Make sure you follow lots of other posts from other people whose work you admire and ‘like’ and comment too. It is a two-way street. Try to post regularly to build your following and add hashtags to increase visibility.
If you have social media accounts already, focus on posting frequently and engaging with others. Think about offering free postage or another deal to boost sales of products you are sharing. Build your community and support others as much as you can. People will appreciate your efforts and support you in turn.
Sell via online outlets
The most well-known retail spaces online for creative businesses are Etsy, Folksy and Not On The High Street (NOTHS). They all charge different amounts for listings and NOTHS has a stringent selection process. There are also huge numbers of sellers on these websites, so it is not easy to get your work seen.
You could also try less creative-focused websites such as Etsy and Amazon to sell your wares. Again they charge commission and it is not easy to be found, but it is good to try a variety of platforms and be prepared for a slow rate of sales. In the current climate, a few sales are better than no sales at all.
Research physical outlets
If you are not making so many products currently, take the time to research galleries and outlets that may stock your artwork in the future. Make a list ready for when they reopen. Research events and exhibitions that you may not have considered before.
Offer online courses
If you provide in-person courses, consider whether you can share your skills in an online format instead. If you set up an online shop, people could pay for courses through that and be given access to a YouTube video tutorial, or series of workshops, for example.
Offer gift vouchers
If you offer gift vouchers, people can buy them now, either for themselves or as gifts, for use when you are offering in-person courses again. This provides money in the bank now that will help your cash flow. If you have a good network of contacts, send an offer like this in a newsletter.
Boost your own knowledge
Many companies are offering free online training during the COVID-19 crisis. This could be an opportunity to learn more about SEO, marketing or other business skills that will help you to do business better. Networking groups are also offering online meetings where you can connect with other businesses and support one another. The more people know you and your business exist, the more likely you are to get sales, either now or in the future.
One resource that is useful for creative businesses is The Design Trust. There is a wealth of free information on their website and the option to pay for training, too.
Nobody is saying it is quick or easy to activate all these ideas but, while many creatives have more time currently, they are positive steps that you can take that will help your business, both now and in the future.
If you want help with words that will work hard for your website, or regular blogs tailored to your market, please get in touch.