If you have a newsletter set up for your handmade business, congratulations! You’re using the most effective form of marketing and are ahead of most of your competitors. But let’s make sure you’re putting that list to use and sending content that will help boost sales.
If you don’t have a newsletter set up for your handmade business…
DO IT NOW!
Follow the steps in this article. In 10 minutes you can set up a free email marketing account, create your first landing page, and start collecting email addresses.
And you don’t even need a website.
Once you have one person on your list, you can start sending emails.
Newsletter lists are all about quality over quantity so you can absolutely send emails when you only have a few subscribers (for all they know, they’re one of hundreds on your list).
So what should you send to your subscribers? Here are 5 ideas to get you started.
PROMOTIONAL VS. NON-PROMOTIONAL
There isn’t a store, aside from the grocery store, that I visit and buy from every week. Sending promotional buy this type of emails every week makes your newsletters predictable and leads subscribers to believe they don’t need to open your emails to know what’s inside.
Keep your subscribers engaged by sending a mix of promotional and non-promotional content.
Both help promote your brand, business and products, however, non-promotional does it in a more subtle way.
- Promotional emails focus on selling without beating around the bush (e.g. Get 10% off your next purchase)
- Non-Promotional emails focus on providing value first. They should still encourage a sale, but in a more nonchalant way (e.g. 3 fashion trends for spring – educating readers on upcoming trends and linking to a trendy product in your shop)
With that in mind, here are some ideas for what you can send subscribers this month:
EMAIL #1 – Stock (Promotional)
An email notifying subscribers a sold out item has been restocked, a seasonal item is back in stock, or that a popular item is about to be out of stock, can create a bit of urgency and encourage sales.
You may even consider offering limited quantities for extra urgency goodness.
For example, let’s say I sell scented candles and am bringing back a popular scent from last spring. I may send the following email:
SUBJECT LINE: It’s baaack…but not for long
I’m so excited for spring! It’s been a long, cold winter and although we’re still a few weeks away from the first day of spring, I had to share last year’s most popular spring candle just a little early.
Lovely Lilac is back, but only for a limited time.
It’s a sweet, fresh floral scent mixed with earthy notes that makes a room smell like you’re standing next to a lilac tree after an April shower. It comes in a modern frosted glass jar so it’s the perfect accent on a side table, next to a stack of your favorite books.
*Insert photo of the candle on a side table, next to a cozy chair. It may sit on top of a small stack of books with a steaming cup of tea in front*
I love to burn this candle while I do a bit of spring-cleaning; it gets me excited for spring and gives me a little extra motivation to clean 😉
I’m making limited quantities of Lovely Lilac and last year it sold out quick!
LINK TO PURCHASE
EMAIL #2 – Tips (Non-Promotional)
Think about the product you sell and what your customers want out of it. Why are they buying your product? It’s to improve their life in some way. For example:
- Accessories – to look stylish
- Bath & Body – to relax or care for their skin
- Children – to have a happy, healthy or stylish kid
- Home Décor / Art – to add style to their home
- Pets – to make their pet happy
Now think about tips you can share to help them achieve whatever it is they want to achieve through your products.
Focus on helping your subscriber first, and then work product mentions in after.
For example, let’s say I sell cat toys. I may come up with the following content for an email:
SUBJECT LINE: 3 tips to help your cat beat the winter blues
I always notice a shift in my cat’s mood this time of year. Just like me, he starts to get a little stir crazy.
The cold weather keeps him inside more during the winter and his typical buzzing social life with the neighborhood cats slows down.
But in all seriousness, cats can get the winter blues too. Here are 5 ways to keep them happy:
1. Cuddles – this is a great mood booster for you and your feline friend. Turn the TV off, put away your phone and give some undivided attention to your cat.
2. Play – this is entertainment for both of you. Get out your cat’s favorite toy or surprise them with a new one. Again, dedicate undistracted time to play with your cat until they get bored.
3. Clean – cats are clean freaks and they’re likely doing more of their business inside during the winter. Be sure to keep their litter box clean by scooping it each day and regularly changing the litter.
Now that I’ve come up with 3 useful tips, I can go back in and add a product mention. Obviously #2 would be a great place to do that:
2. Play – this is entertainment for both of you. Get out your cat’s favorite toy or surprise them with a new one. These catnip infused fishing rods are a best seller (link). Again, dedicate undistracted time to play with your cat until they get bored.
EMAIL #3 – Product Launch (Promotional)
There’s a big ecommerce store (I won’t mention any names) that emailed me every day, twice a day, to share a “new” product I might like.
I had just bought a product and was excited to have discovered them. I loved almost everything in their store but couldn’t buy too much at once so I signed up for their newsletter so I wouldn’t forget about them when I was ready to shop again. I opened the first few emails but then they started piling up in my inbox. And then they became annoying.
So I unsubscribed. Now they have zero chance of me opening one of their emails and buying.
A new product being listed every day becomes predictable, and not very exciting for consumers. Having a day of the week when new products are released (or a month or season) creates more suspense and excitement.
Instead of adding listings to your online store whenever you create something new, why not create a theme around a group of products and plan a special day to list them. Then you can coordinate a newsletter to send on the same day.
For example, let’s say I sell sundresses for little girls; I may plan the following product launch email to be sent at the beginning of July:
SUBJECT LINE: A guilt-free sweet treat for your little one
Did you know National Ice Cream Day is on July 21? Ice cream is a sweet treat we get to indulge in once and a while but with my Ice Cream Sundress line, your little one can enjoy the treat every day of the week!
These sweet ice cream fabrics come in a bold pink, colorful teal and lime green.
With three different styles of sundresses, these ice cream themed dresses will become your little girl’s new favorite outfit for a picnic or a summer stroll. You can even slip one over a bathing suit and be ready for the splash park.
*Insert photos of the products and a link to buy with each photo*
P.S. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #sweetsundresses when you share a photo of one of my dresses on Instagram! You’ll be entered into my monthly draw.
EMAIL #4 – Educational (Non-Promotional)
Similar to a tip email, you can teach your subscribers something new. Again, think about what your customers want to get out of your products and something they may not know.
For example, you may point out the difference between ingredients used in mass produced candles or soap and ingredients used in your handmade products. Share benefits consumers will care about (i.e. why does it matter to them?).
Someone selling accessories may educate subscribers about the latest trends or hot new colors for spring.
Someone selling art may teach subscribers how to create a balanced gallery wall. A follow up email may share tips on how to hang photos in the perfect position the first time; so they don’t have 5 nail holes behind each frame.
And just like the “Tips” email, the focus should be on educating the reader, but you can still slip a product mention in.
EMAIL #5 – Discount (Promotional)
Only run a sale if your profit margins allow; if you’re not going to make any money by discounting your products, don’t do it. On the other hand…if your profit margins are too low to allow discounting, you may consider raising your prices or lowering your costs.
Don’t offer discounts too frequently or regularly. Subscribers may become accustom to them and wait for a sale to buy.
Here are a few discount options you may want to try:
- Offer a promo code – you may share a promo code subscribers can apply at checkout that gives them a certain percent off their purchase.
- Offer a free gift with purchase – you may offer free gift wrapping around a gift giving holiday or if you’re testing out a new line of soaps, you may offer a free sample soap with any purchase made within a certain time frame.
- Clearance – if you make seasonal products, you may mark down products at the end of a season to clear them out.
- Offer free shipping – you may want to put restrictions on this as offering free shipping to someone on the other side of the world may put you in the hole.
Be sure to mention the time limit on the discount your offering so it creates urgency and gets subscribers to act now.
Find a good frequency for sending your newsletter and stick to it. Twice a month is a good place to start and if you find you have lots of content to share and engagement is good, try ramping it up to once per week.
It’s important to be consistent with your newsletter so choose a frequency you can stick to.
Have you read about the Trojan Horse strategy? To keep readers engaged, make sure your content entertains first, sells second. No one wants to read a “here’s a product I have for sale” type of email week after week. Businesses that stick to promotional emails only, tend to have lower engagement.
Hide a promotional message in an entertaining story and your readers will look forward to receiving and opening your email.
The mistake I see lots of businesses make with their newsletter is using boring subject lines. Everyone get’s more emails than they have time to read, so your email must stand out in an inbox and entice subscribers to open.
Also think about the first sentence of your email. It can be seen before the recipient opens your email so it should be used to intrigue. Start with a story. “I was in line at the grocery store today and I couldn’t believe this woman…” Aren’t you curious to hear the end of it?
You’ll find lots of tips like this in HOW TO START, SEND & GROW A SUCCESSFUL NEWSLETTER.
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Hey, I’m Erin 🙂 I write about small business and craft show techniques I’ve learned from being a small business owner for almost 2 decades, selling at dozens of craft shows, and earning a diploma in Visual Communication Design. I hope you find my advice helpful!