What’s Your Spin? Creating Your Electronic Press Kit or Media Page

Having an electronic press kit (EPK), is essential for crafters wanting to build their business reputation on the internet. With the best information you can provide compiled into one easy to navigate format, people who want to learn more about your business have all the resources they need close-at-hand. An EPK gives customers a chance to learn more about you and your business. That means anyone looking to promote your business, either online or in printed media, have the information they need to write a quality piece with a spin you can be proud of -- because you created it!

EPK's are important because people who write content have deadlines. You want to make it easy for these time-strapped writers to get the information they need to create an interesting and informative article or blog about you for their publication. If their job is simplified they will be more likely to feature you over other craft artisans who have not provided easy information. Once people hear about you and take notice that other people are interested in your work, it can start a snowball effect of free promotion. A little up-front effort on your part creating an EPK can go a long way in building your business.

There is a standard for what should be included in an EPK. Of course you want to provide thorough contact information for yourself and your business. That’s a given! Your press kit should contain biographical information that succinctly describes the path you have taken to your current position in the craft industry. This should include classes and experiences that have helped define you as a craft artisan as well as any interesting stories about important moments that helped propel your career forward. Next, you will need descriptions and, if possible, pictures and links to your professional work. This is a great resource for anyone who wants to promote you through their own site or publication. Images and graphics are a great selling point with online customers.

Another great inclusion that should not be overlooked are any positive quotes you have received about your work. You can find these in your positive feedback, in conversations you’ve had with friends and customers and in any other types of communication you’ve had that compliments any aspect of your work including teachers and other artisans. Other places to look for favorable remarks are in any spotlight segments where you’ve been featured on other people’s blogs, websites or other publications. Remember, you can help foster these quotes through networking with craft sites and people in the industry that are always on the lookout for new content to share with their audiences.

Finally, make sure to add links to your websites and online shops. After all, isn’t promoting your merchandise the goal? It’s important to add links and information to any upcoming venues or events that you will be attending. You should also include links to your social media, often represented by social media icons. If you work to promote through social media, these sites can also be a reservoir of current information for people interested in your work.

Just remember, that when you are creating your electronic press kit, you are in control of the information that is provided. You are your own public relations agent and you can put an impressive and engaging spin on the information you provide. With the kind of promotion having an EPK can provide, free advertising through online media and blogs can be an effective tool to your success. With just a little time to create your electronic press kit, and some occasional updates (because an EPK is always a work in progress), you will have a great resource for promoting yourself and your business to people who could really boost your career.

The Importance of a Good Image – A Tale of Two Purses

A pet peeve of mine is bad pictures. Now, I know not everyone has a state-of-the-art camera, a high-end light box or professional photographer in the family. However, we all can recognize a dark, over-exposed, blurry or out of focus image and those types of photographs should not be used to represent your merchandise. I’ve actually sat looking at images and had to ask other people to come look at them to try and figure out what they were a picture of… “Do you see a clasp?” “Are there beads?” “Is that an arm?” I’m sure you’ve seen those types of images before too. Do you know how many sales those people are going to get from the merchandise in the picture? I’d venture to say, “None.”

Something else to be on the lookout for? Wayward items in the background of your pictures. If you set an item on a table in your house, make sure to put some kind of fabric drape behind the item. No one needs to see your dirty dishes on the table in the background, your cat or your underwear hanging on the doorknob (yes, I’ve seen that photo!). You also want to try to avoid getting other people or your own body parts in the picture. Laying the beautiful, painstakingly-created sweater on your dirty carpet with your toes in the photo is not going to get you customers. So, make sure to check your pictures for all outside intrusions that could prevent a sale.

Background, lighting and focus are key to good photographs. We’ve taken many quality photos with bed sheets as our backdrop, light ones if our merchandise was dark and darker ones if our merchandise was light to really bring out the details. My daughter made a make-shift light box with a box lined with white paper and her pictures look as close to professional as any amateur photos could look. There are directions on how to make an inexpensive light box online.

I use to have a hairdresser who would say, “It’s all about the product, babe.” In this case it’s all about how you set up your merchandise to be photographed. If you take the time to find a good backdrop, take some practice shots adjusting lighting and learn to focus your camera on the right spot every time, in no time the process will get easier. That means that in the future you will have a shorter set up time to arrange things in the way that worked before and that your pictures will turn out better every time.

Don’t default to, “I don’t take good pictures.” It just takes a little practice. Sure, there’s a learning curve, but it’s worth the time! Good pictures can make a huge difference in how people respond to your handcrafted merchandise. Make sure to take a few pictures with different lighting and from a few different directions. You can always delete them later, but to put everything away and then realize the one shot you took doesn’t look good once you uploaded it to your site is a waste of one of your most important resources – time!

I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but I’m going to tell you a quick tale of two purses that I bought from crafters on etsy. One was just beautiful in the pictures online. The person had a lot of sales and I could see why, all of her craft work pictured on her etsy site was exquisite. When the purse arrived I was surprised and kind of disappointed. The purse was actually flimsier than it looked in the picture. It was not quite the show stopper I was hoping for or that I’d imagined it to be from the pictures. It was still an attractive, quality item, but a little less impressive than I was expecting. This person has thousands of sales to their credit.

The second purse I bought looked okay in the online images. I was shopping based on color, pattern and size, more than looking for a show stopper though. I was ambivalent about buying it, but it fit my wardrobe and the season, so I purchased it anyway. When the purse arrived, it was so much more attractive than the pictures I had seen! I have had so many complements on that purse. Someone even offered to buy it from me after I had been using it! People are always stopping me to ask where I purchased it. The person who created this purse had a few dozen sales to their credit, nothing even close to the other seller yet their purse was more professionally crafted and much more attractive in person. There wasn’t much difference in how they ran their businesses except the quality of their images and that is why I’m saying make the effort! Practicing taking pictures of the items you sell before you're in a time squeeze to get your online shop stocked. A few hours dedicated to learning to take better photos is really all it will take.

One final thought, I know photography might not be your passion, but why take the time and heart to handcraft your wonderful merchandise only to spoil it with a "good enough" attitude when it comes to taking pictures? Take a cue from the Tale of Two Purses. Respect your handiwork enough to represent it in photos with the same care you craft. It could make all the difference!

The Pitch

The Pitch

By now most of us have been introduced to the idea of the 30 second elevator pitch, a widely used technique for selling your business ideas to someone in a fast paced or chance meeting. The purpose is to have the facts about your business and goals at the ready when you get the opportunity talk to people who could be influential to your business and career. Although the elevator pitch has its place, different aspects of your business have a different focus and different people wield influence in different areas. Therefore, one generalized elevator pitch probably won’t be beneficial in every situation.

Of course, any rehearsed material will need a basic foundation that introduces you and your business. From there knowing the facts about your merchandise, customers, pricing, sales, competition and your expected growth and earnings will cover just about any situation you find yourself in. The trick is to know your audience, in this case the person you’ve just run into, and know what is possible, what could this person do for you?






For example, if the person you’ve just met has financial connections as an angel investor, you need to steer the conversation to your projected success, your need for funding and the return on investment (ROI) possible for the right investor. If you met a well known art critic, introducing yourself as a successful craft artisans, turning the conversation to your growing popularity, your interest in more exposure and suggesting a mutually beneficial arrangement that will allow them an inside look into your crafting expertise while you gain publicity at their hand, is a good way to handle this chance meeting.

Sometimes giving your pitch has more to do with networking with peers than in trying to elicit a favorable response from someone in the industry. In this case, introducing yourself and your craft business in more general terms, along with an invitation to meet again at a more convenient time and place, is often enough to get the ball rolling. Some of these more casual interactions can often create wonderful relationships with people with whom you can share support and information that is not available to everyone.

The idea is to know the facts about your business, inside and out, and then determine which information will be most relevant to the person you’re talking with and most supportive of reaching your goals with that person. As I’ve said before, you are the public relations agent for your business. That means you get to put the spin on the information about your business in order to sell your ideas and goals. A chance meeting is your opportunity to sell more than your merchandise. You’re selling your concept of what you want your business to become and you want to paint the picture of how your success could be their success too if they become invested with you in achieving your goals.

This is also a good opportunity to share your business card, pamphlet or other printed materials as well as offering to send the person a copy of your press kit. Your impression will be that of a well-organized and motivated, creative professional. For most professionals in your field, those with be memorable traits and even if they don’t chose to work with you, they will be sure to remember you. In business as well as in many other aspects of life, being prepared is a great first step to being successful.

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Press Releases

Release the Secret Weapon!

When I began in the public relations industry, I was just starting out in that field. I had this misconception that press releases required a level of training that I had yet to acquire – and then my customers started asking me to write press releases! I approached it skeptically, but to my surprise I enjoyed writing them, I was good at it and the response was phenomenal. Am I special in this regard? Well, my mom would tell you, “Yes,” but between you and me, almost anyone can write a decent press release. That’s the first secret. The second secret is that press releases are a free, or very low cost, way to promote your business. It just takes a little prep work and a little effort.

I’m going to start by getting down to the basics of how a press release works. If you keep these things in mind, you’re well on your way to successfully using this marketing technique. The goal in writing a press release is to get editors to pick up your article for redistribution in their own publication. It’s a pretty simple concept. You write about your business and then hundreds or thousands of other people read it when it is published as content in other publications. That sounds great, right? Well, that’s because it really is pretty great!

What you need to know in order for your article to be chosen to be published is that editors don’t want a self-serving article about you and the fact that you’re hoping to sell things. If they did, their publication would be in short demand and on its way to going out of business. What have we learned about audiences? They want to be educated with a little entertainment on the side. So, that’s exactly what you need to supply, an educational and entertaining article that mentions your business and has contact information about where people can find you and your products.

Often when I write press releases, I take a few minutes of brainstorming to decide how I can make the article connect with the general public. Is there a holiday or season I can reference? Is there an emotion or sentiment the product provokes? Is there something about it that could make people’s lives easier or more pleasant? I look for the “hook,” that will get people to connect with the information I’m providing.

It helps to write in short paragraphs, to add interesting quotes and to add a picture, although that usually comes with a price tag. Some PR sites allow one link, but for some adding a clickable link also is an added expense. It’s up to you to decide if the cost of these “extras” is worth the expense, but if you’re launching a business or product, if you do any of the following then the extra expense to really get your product or event noticed through a press release may be worth it.

• create high-end crafts
• are looking for an upscale clientele
• have an extremely noteworthy experience or event
• are launching a product that you anticipate will be popular with the general public
• have images that really sell your merchandise

I have used PR.com, successfully for many years although clients have also requested I use other submission sites occasionally so I am also familiar with 24-7pressrelease.com, inewswire.com and several others. All of these sites have the same basic format, with free, one time or multiple press release plans.

Since your article will be available on the internet, your text should be search engine friendly. The first three words of your title should be keywords referencing your article. It’s also important to know the keywords associated with your merchandise and industry and use them throughout your article. Here is google adwords keyword finder to help you get started: Google Adwords Keyword Planner

TIP: It’s a good plan to keep a list of the keywords associated with your product or business to use in all your online content.

Speaking of plans, remember to plan ahead! There is the option to pre-schedule your press release for a specific day and time, but there is a middle step. Your press release will need to be approved for distribution, so don’t wait until the last minute. Approval times vary, and there is the possibility that you will need to make some changes and resubmit your article for another round of approval. Remember to pay attention to the site’s writing guidelines and get your article submitted early if you want it published by a certain deadline date that coincides with your launch, a holiday or a specific event.

The bottom line is that press releases are an easy and inexpensive way to get publicity for your business and merchandise circulated on the internet. It allows your information to be available to craft and trade related magazines as well sd accessible to search engines. It really is a great resource for promoting your business and your success as a craft artisan.