EP15: How To Market Your Own Custom Products

In this last episode with Sarah Day, we discuss how you can start marketing your products on Instagram and your website to increase sales. We each go over our biggest failures to help you make money, not lose it.

So you checked your bank account recently. Did it inspire a trickle of sweat? Or are you gung-ho on that christmas list! Not to depreciate the end of year festivities, but that last quarter can quickly translate into a lot of dollar bills. And no one wants to budget the Turkey, never mind your Niece's latest coding obsession.

In this last episode of this three-part series with Sarah Day, we’re here to market our way into the New Year the right way.


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What do people typically get wrong when marketing their products - anything that makes you cringe?

Timing is of the essence. Understanding your product and when to start marketing it is key. You want to get that sweet spot, not too early, not too late. If you’re dropping a sticker pack, you don’t need to announce it two weeks ahead of time because people will most likely forget; loyal fangirls not included. Yet, if it’s a clothing line, there’s a whole lot more leeway in terms of building up launch anticipation.

As for the stuff that makes me cringe - it’s got to be disingenuous product pitches. There has to be soul and humanity to whatever they’re promoting, otherwise it comes out forced and awkward. I am not connecting to you, or the product, ergo I’ve already moved on.

And that’s hard. Bringing your humanity to the table and seeing it as a valuable asset in terms of business is something I feel we’re all gradually shifting towards. Then again, you don’t want to overdo it either. Putting your soul on blast will only result in pitch fatigue and eye rolls.

So it’s a fine balance of transparency in that this is how I make my money, and I am relying on “you”, my community, to support me.

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How do you sell art in a way that actually makes people want to buy it?

Good product photos. We’re not talking about dropping a load on some snazzy DSLR to shoot your stuff on because most phones these days can do that too, so chill.

But, you know, playing around with the setup and switching up the lighting can make all the difference. Your selling some T’s? Bribe a friend to model them for you for a free meal and merch. The effort you put in will contribute to the overall quality and vibe of the photos, so treat it like its own mini campaign.

And if you just don’t feel like your space is “instagrammable” enough, not matter the amount of DIY, then turn to your community (whether that be family, friends or your online following). Sending out some free merch for a few product shots in return is totally viable.

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Was there ever an instance in which the marketing of a certain product totally flopped?

I did a collaboration earlier this year, the product being this tote bag. Between just having come out of surgery, not quite knowing how I wanted to approach the artistic direction of formally shooting the product, and being off time in announcing the project, totally cramped the collaboration.

We’d also gone the route of ethically producing it as this was an important factor we both aligned on; knowing however, that it may be beyond the price point that some of our consumers would be able to afford.

I’ve also come to notice that if you’re releasing a collection, more often than not, you’re reaching a wider pool of people. If they don’t vibe with the sticker, they might like the pin. In that way, my products shoot and sell easier as a collection rather than a singular concept.

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How often should we be coming out with new merch?

I am constantly producing, however, not in the sense that it’s all on my own shoulders. I have my own line of merch, but separate from that, I am doing a collaboration with a ceramic artist, and then custom portraits for those looking to own something a little more personal.

But in terms of my enamel pin production, I am not looking to release more than once every three months. It really comes down to what level you’re operating on, how big your store is, your consumer basis, and what’s financially viable

I released my Halloween pin collection two months after my “Everything Changes” collection, and had people writing in to let me know that, as much as they’d like to, they couldn’t make yet another purchase within such a short time period. I certainly don’t want to make my audience feel like they need to purchase with every release, so I’d say that three-month breather is my sweet spot for now.

Though I will point out to plan a season ahead. Make sure you’re ready to hit the ground running when those orders start streaming in and that you’re not in the midst of a two week shipment delay. When it’s fall, we’re planning Christmas, and when it’s Christmas, we’re planning valentine’s and easter. You get the picture.

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How do you balance out the pitch fatigue?

People followed me and are buying my stuff because of who I am as a brand. They resonated with what I am putting out there, and I can’t lose the essence of that by clogging up my instagram grid with merch posts.

Between promotion/pitching, I make sure to clear the air with some lifestyle content, maybe a heart to heart, or just something a little more personal.

On the other hand, you really need to get a feel for your community in regards to how much pitch they’re willing to take, and the instagram algorithm. I’ve had cases where I’ve made four to five merch related posts, and still had people telling me they never saw it!

A good way to combat this though, is to put out a newsletter or get on Patreon. This way your core community will be sure not to miss out on anything. Granted I still need to get on this!

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Have you ever thought about using influencer marketing?

22k Gold Plated Pendants is what’s up! So that’s some of my new merch coming out during the festive season, and I will, as it turns out, be using influencer marketing as a part of the campaign.

Initially, I wanted a certain type of necklace for my birthday. Couldn’t find it, so I drew it, hence this pendant collection. And in prepping for the release, I made sure to target influencers who aren’t per se within my own niche, but are still of a like-mindedness.

For a while now, I’ve been instagram buddies with someone who reviews bath bombs and soaps, and thought they’d make for a perfect partnership in reviewing my pendants. We dig each other’s content, they review product all the time, win win.

Though I’ve stayed within the realm of instagram as I don’t really follow blogs, and would need to invest more time into pinpointing who, exactly, I’d be down to partner with.

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In terms of compensation, how much is this marketing technique costing you?

Everyone I’ve reached out to, thus far, is a micro-influencer with a small to mid-sized following, and we’re doing this on a product-for-review basis, so no monetary compensation.

Family and friendship has been, and is, one of the most important elements in helming my business and scaling it.

For those of us dealing with presences and followings of a more humble nature, apps such as Tribe allows for people with a base following of three thousand and upwards to apply as a content creator. So if you’re in the market for some influencers, I’d scour their directory to see what content creators potentially vibe with your message.

I may not have the financial means yet, but I definitely know where I am placing my buck in terms of marketing looking forwards. Targeting micro-influencers/influencers to push for my stuff rather than feeding the money-gobbling machine that is Instagram and their sponsored posts - which I’ve already done - is where I am hoping to get the most return on investment.

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What’s your biggest piece of advice, something we haven’t touched on yet!?

Closing this out with confidence. You are worthy of asking for money in return for what you’ve got to give!! Read all the marketing books you want, watch all the marketing videos you want, but it’s going to stem from that self-worth and confidence within yourself.

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SARAH DAY

ILLUSTRATOR


Aftri Marrisk - Video Editor
Editor & Lettering Artist
Pontianak, Indonesia
Website | Instagram | Facebook

Rachel Campbell - Show Notes
Illustrator and Animator
Based in Amsterdam
Website | Instagram

THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN AND EDITED BY OUR AMAZING VOLUNTEERS