Any business’ reputation is made up of feedback, trust and brand recognition earned. Your creative business is no different! Here’s why online reputation is important, how to earn it, and how to continue to build it over time.
A trustworthy online reputation = social proof
Social proof helps the customer feel “at home” while shopping with you. On Etsy, it’s the combination of history and experience (as well as the site-familiarity that Etsy provides) that helps the customer trust the transaction. Social proof can also come from word-of-mouth, product reviews, and brand recognition (i.e. “Oh! I’ve heard of the Energy Shop before! My best friend LOVES her bracelet.”).
You can help your customer find social proof on your business by using phrases such as, “best-selling,” “back by popular demand,” and “previously sold out” on items that have a history of doing just that. Your customers are influenced by people with similar tastes, and when they’re shopping your brand and niche, they automatically find people with kindred styles in your sales history.
How to earn an online reputation
Isn’t it easy for me to say lots of sales and feedback equal a good online reputation? You might be saying to yourself: Okay! But, I’m reading because I need the sales and feedback! When you’re first opening shop or trying to make your first hundred sales or so, you need to build your reputation gradually. You want your shop to start off by giving a polished impression (great photography, professional listings, etc.), and, then you can build your price points as you go.
While you might see products similar to yours selling on Etsy or outside websites for a lot of money, the profit margin grows organically with your reputation and the size of your business. This always reminds me of Hollywood. Can an unknown actress expect to earn as much per film as say, Emma Stone? Of course not.
If you don’t make much money in the beginning, well, that’s to be expected. The typical new start-up does not see a profit for the first 3-5 years. In the handmade community (and with good marketing), we generally have a better turn-around … but not by much.
How to build your reputation
I recently wrote an article titled, How to Focus Your Time at Any Stage of Creative Business to help sellers get a handle on where to spend their precious hours. In it, I discussed the major pitfall of waiting for your “big break.”
One thing I know for sure after five years in business is that there’s no such thing. I’ve had my share of huge moments, such as when the actor Aldis Hodge wore my bracelet on the red carpet at the 2013 Golden Globes, or the day one of my bracelets was featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. But, those moments are just that: one second of elation in long day of hard work.
The fact of the matter is, those notable moments never brought much business. I smiled at my accomplishment, shared it with friends and customers, and then got right back to my to-do list.
We often dream of a big break, but in reality, a business succeeds because of a long history of small wins. In order to build your online reputation, you just keep putting yourself out there in ways both big and small. Be open and willing to go for new opportunities, and never stop creating. Every blog post you write, every sale you receive, every time you share on social media … it all adds up to a stronger online reputation. It’s a slow-growing, yet necessary part of the build. Keep at it, and your business will shine.
(Photo credit: unsplash.com)