Starting a handmade clothing shop can be an exciting and rewarding experience. However, many people fail to grow their business because they don't know how to promote their brand effectively.
Here are five tips that will help you get more traffic to your shop.
1. Build a Strong Social Presence
Social media is a great first step in marketing your shop. It gives you a chance to build a brand and connect with customers directly. When used correctly, social media can expose your shop to a wide audience and help you grow organically.
Here are a few tips on how to grow your social presence:
Be authentic: People love authenticity. Inject your personality, tell your story, and mix up your content with behind-the-scenes peeks to help your customers feel close to your brand.
Post regularly: Building up a solid social presence takes time. Post regularly on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, etc., and then start looking for opportunities to cross-promote on multiple platforms (e.g., post your Instagram feed on your Pinterest). Social platforms reward consistency.
Engage with your audience: Replying to comments on your posts and starting conversations shows social media platforms that you have engaging content. They'll reward you by sending more users your way. Commenting on posts from other companies can get the attention of their audiences and drive more traffic to your profile.
Tag bigger brands: A great way to be discovered is by tagging bigger brands when you use their products in your images. Many brands will like your content or, in special circumstances, share your content on their own feeds!
Link your profiles on your website: Include links to your social profiles on your website and links to your website on your social media profiles. For the latter, we recommend using tools like Linktree so interested parties can access all your links in one spot.
Some FREE social media tools we love:
Planoly - Social media planning software to schedule posts ahead of time
Canva - Design tool that helps you make everything look more professional
Linktree - A link in your social media bio that you can fully customize
Bit.ly - Create custom links so you can track how many people are actually clicking
2. Follow the trends, then find your niche
As a small shop you can move and adapt to trends far quicker than the big-box retailers. New trends (ex: Shackets) will take some time to saturate the market. Take note of what’s popular and then put your own spin on it.
Test different products and gather feedback from your customers. Find what they like, and equally important, what they don't.
Being a handmade shop owner, you should focus on quality over quantity. So, lean into those trending items and find the niche that keeps your customers coming back.
Once you've found the products your customers love, and the messaging that brings in new shoppers, double down and focus on your niche.
The more specific you are with the products you offer, the clearer your shop's value will be to your customers.
And the clearer your brand, the easier it'll be for existing customers to think about you and new customers to find you.
The best marketing is product-led. This means customers will start to come to you rather than you having to chase them down.
Companies that have honed in on their brand niche:
3. Start an Etsy Shop
Etsy is one of the best places for a handmade clothing shop to be discovered. 90 million customers shop on Etsy (up 50% year-over-year from 60 million in 2020).
Many customers specifically visit the site to find high-quality, handmade clothing.
These customers are often willing to spend more knowing they are purchasing quality items that will last longer than typical mass-produced retail clothing.
By simply having an Etsy shop you are putting yourself in a spot to be found by potential customers. And as your sales grow, Etsy will reward you by placing you higher in their search results.
We sell our patterns on Etsy, and many of you found us through our Etsy shop!
Setting up an Etsy shop is simple. Visit Etsy.com/sell and click "Open your Etsy shop."
Etsy seller accounts are free, and you don't have to pay any monthly fees. Etsy simply charges a small fee each time a product is sold.
4. Get Creative with Your Packaging and Inserts
Every touchpoint you have with your customer is a marketing opportunity.
People remember the way you make them feel.
It's the little extra things like including well-designed packaging inserts that can make your brand stand out from the crowd.
Create inserts that tell your customers more about yourself, what inspires you, how long it took you to sew each item by hand, etc. These are personal touches that show your customers you care about them—and they pay off.
People who feel connected to the sewist who made their clothing tend to buy more, leave positive reviews on social media (which boosts your SEO), and tell their friends (which increases word-of-mouth marketing).
Here are some packaging insert ideas you can implement right away:
Send a handwritten thank you: What better way for customers to feel connected to your brand than to receive a personalized, handwritten thank you note from the creator? Address them by name and provide styling suggestions or other notes to help them get the most out of their purchase.
Give free shipping: Create a custom discount that gives them free shipping on their next order. You can print out the code or even write it out by hand!
Provide product samples: If you have fabric scraps left over, you can cut them into small squares and send them in the package. This is a great way to showcase the quality of your fabrics or how well different colors can match with what they purchased! We also recommend tossing in a note explaining why there are fabric scraps in the box.
Request a product review: People are busy. And even if they love the product, they may not leave a review or share their purchase unless you remind them. Include a simple, well-designed card to gently remind them to leave a review and share their small shop purchase with their friends. The more authentic your request, the more successful it'll be.
5. Launch a pop-up or sell at markets
Selling online is a quick and easy way to reach a large audience. But when it comes to clothes, many people are hands-on shoppers. They prefer to see, feel, and even try on clothes in person.
One of the best and easiest ways to start your shop's physical presence is to participate in local pop-up shops and markets. Here are a few benefits:
Build relationships with other creators and local influencers for potential future collabs
Access a larger audience brought to the venue by other shops and the venue itself
Get feedback as people see, feel, and even try on your clothes in front of you; you'll be able to get real-time reactions and opinions from your target audience
Find wholesale clients who want to source products for their curated style shops
Create a local following for those who want to buy clothes from brands and people they trust; meeting with people face-to-face will help facilitate that connection
You don’t have to make a huge upfront investment to sell at markets. You only pay for each event, so if no one shows up or you don’t sell anything, there’s nothing lost.
And if it goes well it can put you on track for presence in a brick-and-mortar store. Most handmade retailers start with pop-ups and markets!