Wednesday, 7 November 2012

What can £5.00 get you


What can £5.00 get you these days?

I feel like I’ve just aged 40 years with immediate effect after that question – it is like something my grandmother would have said if she were here … but bear with me as I’ve just come out of recovery from my first CRAFTfest and am still bleary eyed with some RSI to boot!


It cost £5.00 in September to register to a glorified online chatroom called Creative Connections that bragged about some internet craft fair called CRAFTfest.


I paid up.


Personally, I liked the idea. I couldn’t quite imagine what it would look like but there was something about the idea of an online craft fair that floated my boat. I was intrigued and somewhat enchanted. It helped too that I didn’t have to pay big money for a table or worry about transport costs. And like everyone else out there – a few more sales would have been more than welcome!




CRAFTfest is run and managed by a number of crazy volunteers all of whom had been cajoled and hood-winked into servant-hood by the creative geniuses that are “The Crystal Lady” (AKA Anna, http://www.wowthankyou.co.uk/mystic-earth/) and “Sprinkles Sparkles” (AKA Avril, http://www.wowthankyou.co.uk/sprinkles-sparkles/).


I, like them, had no idea what I was letting myself in for!


For £5.00 I spent the guts of a working week (my choice – you can opt to do just 10 to 15 mins a day instead) promoting my own stall and items of the Lilac team (one of 6 teams to which we were assigned), led by the wonderful Flick of “Perfect Patchwork” fame. During the week I then Tweeted, Facebooked, Stumbled, Pinned and Wanelooed my work, my wife’s work and the work of many other stall holders.
Was it worth it?
Absolutely!


Did I sell?


I definitely covered the cost of registering but there is more to it than just the sales…


Take the long view and if you do – there will be many rewards. In fact I will give you more than 60,000 reasons (I won’t take too long – honest).


I’m assuming you have a WowThankYou shop that you try to sell from and promote as best you possibly can? You may even have a few online or physical shops to work from too. Why dedicate a week to promoting your work anymore? We are, after all, busy people trying to fit this in between jobs or work all hours to get our little business off the ground. Selfishly, we all ask “What will I get from it?” (Or is that just me?)


Let me ask you a question: Who actually knows about your WTY shop bar a few family and friends and visitors that Tracey has driven across to you? Forget the website’s SEO – how good is yours? That’s Search Engine Optimisation for those of you who are as technologically challenged as me. If people are looking for your product on Google – have you used the right tags in order for it to be discovered or do you need a little help?


Did you know that the more links you have to your shop and to your site the more seriously Google will take you and the higher up the rankings your products are likely to be in a search? By creating all the social links to your shop and having other people connect with you through these links you are increasing your chances of being found on search engines. If you create enough noise online you may even have the chance of getting something to go viral.


Herein lays the genius of CRAFTfest. The CRAFTfest community is about a market stall – but it is so much more than that. It is fundamentally a means of creating noise on the internet whereby we collectively work together to see hand-made products “trend” on social media and search engines.


What about your photos? Are they up to scratch? Have you managed to get online marketing and promoting down to a fine art? Do you schedule your posts on Facebook and Twitter? Do you know how to use HTML links? Have you realised the wonders of Fotofuze and Picmonkey yet? Did you know you can link your Pinterest account to Rebelmouse which carries the advantages of showing your tweets – with photos?
… Information overload anyone? And, if it’s any consolation – me too!


What about Kaboodle, Bizspeak and Pinspire for your items? No listing fees and free publicity with links straight back to your WTY shop? Or, the advantages of using Crowdboost, LFTT or Pinerly to monitor how many people see your posts, synchronise them and provide statistical feedback on their reach to your own followers.
I’m almost done …


What about the sheer joy and privilege of having around 200 people promoting your items to the 60,000 people they managed to bring in to the CRAFTfest online virtual stall. That’s right 60,000 people called in to the last CRAFTfest Market Stall in September and what’s even better is that our soaps were in the top 25 most visited stalls of the week! If that’s not 60,000 reasons to sign up then someone please let me know why not.
YOU CAN’T BUY THAT TYPE OF PUBLICITY FOR £5.00!


As a newcomer to the site in September I have learnt a massive amount of information – some of the above I did know but much of it I didn’t. Online I found computer whizz-kids and craft geniuses that guided me through the “ins and outs” of online selling.


Like anything, the more you put into the week the more you tend to get out of it. For ScENT we benefited from a magazine interview and a magazine feature – we were also featured in many blogs; each with their own groups of followers. We also had hundreds of tweets and re-tweets about our soaps.

Within a month I now have so many links to my little shop that Google can barely cope (well – in my ever so humble opinion). All thanks to the wonderful people over on Creative Connections (CRAFTfest). It has helped me create a brand awareness of products we believe deserve greater attention and which we hope will continue to grow in popularity.


But even for the hobbyist out there – I am sure you want your items to be seen by the largest possible audience. By collectively working together to make some noise – we might just do that! Selfishly – I would love you to join in – as I’d love to engage with the people you have engaged with just as I will let you engage with mine.
Why is WowThankYou involved in CRAFTfest?


I was a CRAFTfester that got involved in WowThankYou relatively recently – but now it’s your turn as a WTY shop owner to transfer over to CRAFTfest. WTY sponsors the site because Tracey knows the great benefits that such networking can bring to us, the sellers and subsequently create stronger brand awareness for WTY. It also brings a social side to WTY that may otherwise get missed. It makes you feel part of something bigger.


Oh… and did I mention the banter? Always good to network – there are some great people online at Creative Connections!


The next CRAFTfest takes place between 24 November and 1 December 2012. Stalls are filling fast and now is a great time to join and start setting up at your own pace; people are online to help you throughout the process. It’s fun, and it’s only a fiver! To find out more visit www.craftfest-events.com. Join up – it’s Christmas! x