I’ve been thinking about how I run my jewellery and crafting business a lot recently. I mean, I have always thought about it a lot, but this year has been a particularly thinky one, because this year has also been a particularly tricky one. Like a lot of small businesses, mine has suffered recently due to a whole combination of factors. The recession has meant people have less to spend on non-essentials such as jewellery. It has also meant that a lot of people have lost their jobs, and many have turned to crafting as form of self-employment in order to pay the bills, or as a way to save money by making their own rather than buying mine – so there’s both a smaller market and more competition out there.
Another aspect of it all is that Google has recently made some changes to how it works, which have knocked all my websites down the search results and put a great big dent in my traffic. I’m not alone in this – loads of people with smaller websites are in the same boat, and search results are generally dominated by the big sites: eBay, Amazon, Etsy, and even Not on the High Street, who may not be as huge as the others but have clearly put a lot of money and effort into their search engine marketing.
It used to be that I just put things onto my website, they came up in Google search, and people found them. That’s not so easy any more. Making it happen takes a lot of time and effort.
What else has happened? Google Shopping, which used to be free for merchants, started making us pay to have our products included (not to mention jumping through a mass of not-quite-functional hoops in order to do so). Facebook has stopped showing posts from Pages to 95% of the people who have “liked” them, unless the Page owner pays to have their posts promoted. Obviously Facebook and Google are businesses, and their primary objectives are to make money, so offering small businesses something for free was never going to last very long – they were always going to do this, and it was just a question of when.
What this has made me think, amongst other things, is that there is no point in me having a Facebook page any more: I can’t afford to promote my posts, and I don’t want to mislead people into liking the page and expecting to get the promised news, special offers and all that stuff which they’re not going to see. So from now on, the news about my jewellery will only be on my blogs and my mailing list. I’m even going to combine the mailing lists for Button Jewellery and Unexpected Boutique into one big list, given that everything on them is so closely related anyway, and then I get to spend less time making newsletters that are almost the same as each other, and more time making jewellery.
Because that’s the thing: the more time I have to spend wrangling marketing and social media, the less time I have to actually make the jewellery, take nice photographs, and write blog posts. Making jewellery and blogging are what I’m good at, and what I enjoy. Social media and advertising just aren’t.
I know many people say you can’t run a business without doing these things, but I’m going to give it a go. This probably sounds completely counter-intuitive after all I’ve just written about having lower traffic and sales, but: many other people say that you really need a blog and a mailing list to run a business, and I don’t have time to do all of the things, so I’m going to stick with what I actually like doing. It’s not just about Facebook – it’s about what I actually spend my time doing. If running a handmade jewellery business means that my job is actually mostly marketing, then I’ll stop the whole thing tomorrow.
So: if you want to be sure to get my occasional updates, you can join my mailing list here; and if you’d like to follow the blog, you can do so in any RSS reader, or on dedicated blog following sites such as Bloglovin’ or Feed.ly.