Tips On Approaching Design Blogs, Buying Ad Space

The European Etsy Street Team has put together a very informative blog over at Handmade-Europe.com.  We are launching a series covering some of the top posts from their blog that we feel will help improve your handmade/craft business.  We hope you enjoy!  Today’s article covers the topic of buying ad space and approaching design blogs get get your work featured.

OK, there you are with your shiny shop, with beautiful products, and you try to figure out how to spread the word about your awsome goodies. Nowadays there is much talk about utilizing networking tools – such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr etc etc – for marketing, and a lot of “how-to”-s in this field urge everyone to start networking now. No doubt, networking can be powerful marketing tool if wisely used, but today I want to talk about something more conventional: banner ads and features on design blogs.

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Advertising on blogs
Let’s jump into its core: there are endless debates about the effectiveness of banner advertisements, if it worth or not to spend money on it, or it is better to spend that amount of money on product developement for example.  I think two factors define the perception of a banner’s effectiveness, that are more or less results of subjective and individual decisions.

1) First of all: No one should expect miracles from paid advertising, since CTR (click through rate) is very low, it is less than 1% on average. This means that out of 1000 appearances of a banner only 1 percent of the visitors actually click on the banner. This ratio might be a little higher on blogs devoted to certain topics (like fashion, handmade etc) since their readers are basically interested in the topic so your banner have a little higher chance to be clicked.

Banners are good for showing to a large audience that you exist, nothing more. At least that is how I see them: I do not expect sales directly from them. It is more like an investment: people see my name – most of them do not click – and they start to learn, that my name exists.

photo by Ben Heine

2) It is very important that your banner ad is on the right site or blog. Choosing the “right” is often not easy; you have to check a lot of blogs or sites and decide on each if your product fits to that particular blog and its  audience or not. Checking a bunch of blogs is one thing, but the moment of truth can come only by trials and errors. What works for others may not work for you, and vica versa. For example I wanted to be accepted to a very famous online marketplace for a year at least, but I did not succeed. After many trials I got accepted, but what worked for many fellow Etsy sellers, did not work for me: in that period I got far more views from a design site where I had a banner campaign, than from the famous online marketplace. Lesson learned.

As a 2nd and half wisdom I would like to suggest this very practical guide to banner ads: it is written by Jen from Indiefixx, who obviously have a lot of experience in this field.

Approaching (design/handmade/indie fashion) blogs

How can you spread your name around the (blog)world, if you don’t like and/or don’t believe in paid advertisements? You can contact them directly with your shop, new line of product etc.: bloggers are always searching for new shops, people to feature, and they don’t always have time to browse social media outlets for new talents.

photo by Ben Heine

OK, but what to write? First of all: you do not have to be witty, you do not have to write novel, you do not have to explain your life – just be yourself in a few simple sentences, and do not forget to attach a few photos (under 1 MB!) and your shop’s and/or website’s link.

A while ago Jena from Modish collected all her very useful tips in one post: as a well-known blogger she really knows how to approach them. Here are some of her key points.

– Address the blogger by name
– Answer the the who, what, and where that bloggers are looking for succinctly and creatively
– Try not to get too lengthy

See more of her tips here. Also, I found a similar post on Design Sponge, written with different method: well-known bloggers answered the question of DS: what type of approach do they like and why. Though it is a long post, it really worth to read!

And again: try to contact that blogs that you think your products fit into their line. But how do you know which blog is for you: either for featuring you or for advertising? Well, it is a work you cannot save: browsing through some of those dealing with design, handmade and indie art. Here are some to start browsing, and you can continue to check their blogroll to see more blogs.

Scoutiegirl, Rikrak, Paper’n’Stitch, Designismine, Lushlee, Modish, Indiefixx, Pikaland, Lovely Clusters, Poppytalk, Lillyella…and many more, don’t forget to check out their blogrolls as well!