If you’re reading this, it is most likely because a crafty friend or family member of your’s sent you this link. Or maybe you’re a maker looking for the answer to a question I’ve had since starting my business:
How can my friends support my creative small business?
Whether you are a crocheter, potterer, painter, quilter, or whatever beautiful art you make, sometimes it is hard to know just how friends can family can help your business. Take my business for example I am a crochet blogger that designs digital patterns. On rare occasions, I do sell finished pieces at the Village Life Boutique and at the occasional craft fair. However, my main focus is sharing premium designed patterns with other crocheters.
When a friend asks me in one way or another how they can support my small business, the answer isn’t always obvious.
Of course, the easiest answer would be: “Buy my products.” However, I also know that my products aren’t always meant for everyone. I can’t tell my best friend of eight years to go buy a PDF of a pattern, because it would be useless to her since she doesn’t know how to crochet.
I have found that sometimes the problem isn’t because a maker’s friends and family don’t want to be supportive. This issue is they just don’t know how to support their small business friend… or they just don’t have the money.
Here are 5 Free Ways to Support Creative Small Businesses!
1. Understand What Your Maker Does
Since crochet is at the heart of my business, a lot of time friends will eagerly want to buy my finished products, such as beanies and cozies. It honors me when someone asks me to buy a product that I have designed. However, if I only have X amount of hours to work on my business per week, then I would rather spend that time working on a pattern to add to my library, instead of working on the finished product.
It seems counterintuitive to tell people that my business is crochet, but I don’t sell crochet items. That is until I break it down to them like this:
When you listen and understand the small business your maker is running, it helps you change your frame of thinking. Then you are able to share ideas or feedback based on the kind of customer they are appealing to.
Here is another example:
Your friend Cara, the photographer, wants to specialize in real estate photography. However, oftentimes people stop listening at the word “photographer.” That job title could include a lot of different types of photography such as nature, wedding, product, etc. If you realize what Cara’s business goals are, the next time you hear someone is trying to sell their house, she might be someone you can recommend to take the real estate photography.
This leads me to my next point:
2. Word of Mouth
I remember the first time someone made one of my patterns. Up until then only my family had been reading my blog posts. Turns out, my first “follower” didn’t even have the internet! A family friend showed his mom, who crochets, some of my patterns. She loved them!
Your maker buddy may not necessarily want you to shout it from the rooftop. I have found that even mentioning your friend’s business in small talk may lead that person to become a customer, or follower.
Another example: You see someone crocheting while you’re out and about. How easy would it be to say: “That’s cool! My friend does that too. She sells patterns!” Keep in mind, that crochet is a niche, skilled-based art. Our type of maker group is tight-knit (no pun intended), and we tend to want to support each other. Just by a couple of sentences to that stranger, their interest could be peaked, which might lead to future buying opportunities.
I know this may seem like it is coming out of left field, but just wait:
According to Pinterest Business:
- “478 million people use Pinterest every month to find ideas and inspire their next purchase.”
- “45% of people in the US with a household income over $100K are on Pinterest”
- “85% of Pinners say Pinterest is where they go to start a new project”
AKA this is marketing heaven for your maker friend. So if you have an account on Pinterest, consider next time you log on pinning a few pictures from your friend’s Etsy or blog! You may not be able to buy or use your maker’s product, but out of over 478 million buying users, there is a guarantee someone out there will!
4. Social Media
Pinterest is the fourteenth largest social media platform.
Since we have already established that everyone wants to be helpful to their maker’s small business, the more exposure their business gets, the better! Sometimes creative businesses feel discouraged because of the myth that their “market is oversaturated.” It’s easy to compare one’s self to another famous artist or maker.
You may think, “Well, no one on my Facebook really is into [insert art].” With share after share, there is no telling whose feed it lands on, even your share doesn’t go “viral.” My mind goes to all of the different Groups that has really taken off on Facebook (I mean really…there’s a group for everything).
On a personal level, I am so appreciative of the people that share my product or work!
5. Be Encouraging
A person’s love language doesn’t have to be words of affirmation in order for praise to be uplifting. I mentioned that one insecurity many makers have is being competitive online. This is just one of many insecurities and main concerns artists have. It costs zero dollars to give a compliment or to be happy for their success. You never know how much your friend will need it.
I truly hope that this post has captured different ways to support your friend’s creative small business (other than buying something), and that your maker would agree. If you think of any additional ways, I’d love to hear your input at firstname.lastname@example.org