Starting a handmade business from the ground up can be an exciting and thrilling journey. But it also comes with its fair share of challenges. One of the biggest obstacles you will face as a small business owner is how to get your first customer.
When you’re just getting started, it can feel like you’re shouting into a void and no one can hear you.
So, how do you start getting those first sales?
Whether you make jewelry, pottery, handmade soap, mugs, or something else entirely, here are some tips for how to get your first customers and gain traction as a new business!
How do you find your first 10 customers?
As entrepreneurs, of course, we want to have hundreds of customers flood our store right away. But, this isn’t a feasible goal unless you have a large budget for advertisements.
So, how do beginners get customers?
The approach that I think works best is focusing on how you will get your first 10 customers. Instead of being overwhelmed by the goal of getting hundreds of customers, try to focus on how you can get just 10 people excited about your handmade products!
Doing this will give you time to:
- test different marketing tactics to find out what works best;
- develop relationships with customers, one at a time;
- get feedback and insight so that you can address any issues or concerns;
- form a community of people who are passionate and excited about your products;
- build word-of-mouth referrals.
If you can turn your first 10 customers into raving fans, the floodgates will open. So, just focus on how you can get your first 10 customers, and the rest will follow!
Now, let’s take a look at some of the different strategies you can use to find those first 10 raving customers.
#1 – Optimize Your Online Shop or Website For Search Engines
When considering how to get your first customer, you should always make sure that your online shop or website is fully optimized. This will help your customers find you and ensure they have a good experience.
There are a couple of different things you can optimize. Let’s look at those now.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is the process of making your website or shops more visible and search engine-friendly.
For example, if someone goes to Google and searches handmade soap, you want your shop to appear at the top of the first page. This is where most of the clicks come from.
And this doesn’t just apply to Google. Etsy, and Shopify; all work the same.
By optimizing all of the pages, listings, content, etc., on your site or shop with keywords, you will make it easier for customers to find your business in search engine results.
It’s also important to optimize the user experience of your website or shop. Your goal should be to make it as easy as possible for customers to navigate and use the site. This includes:
- finding specific products;
- being able to add them to their cart;
- easy checkout.
Make sure your website or shop is well-organized, visually appealing, and free from any technical glitches that might frustrate visitors.
By optimizing the user experience of your site, customers will be more likely to stick around and make a purchase!
Optimization Tips If You’re Using Your Own Website
If you are using your website to host your shop, there are a few things you can optimize to make sure your customers can find you and have a good user experience while shopping.
Here are some ideas:
- easy-to-follow navigation
- fast loading speed
- product sorting and filtering options
- good product photography
- clear call-to-action buttons
- detailed product descriptions
- easy sales process and check out
Optimization Tips If You’re Using A Platform
Alternatively, if you’re using something like Etsy or Shopify to sell your handmade products, you will want to focus a lot more on optimizing your product listings. This will help your listings get found which is key on these platforms.
Here are some ideas:
- include a shop bio that helps your potential buyers connect with you
- use keyword-rich titles and descriptions for product pages
- use keyword-rich titles and descriptions in the product listings
- upload clear and high-quality photos of your products
- include easy download instructions for every product
If you are using Etsy specifically, go here for a list of tips to optimize your Etsy store.
#2 – Run A Launch Event
The next strategy for how to get your first customer, or 10, is to run a launch event. Doing this can help create a lot of buzz and excitement about your products!
Here are some launch event ideas to get you started.
Run A Contest or Giveaway On Social Media
With billions of people using social media every day, it can be worthwhile to generate buzz online about your products. And a great way to do this running a contest or giveaway directly on social media.
What’s cool about these events is they can reach people in all corners of the world.
Some contest ideas you could do include:
- Post Your Best Jewelry Combination
- Participate In An Instagram Story Scavenger Hunt
- Best Caption Idea
- Online Trivia
For prizes, you could do:
- A Mystery Box
- Free Product
- Discount Coupons
- Freemiums or Resources (that align with your products)
By running a contest or giveaway on social media, you can increase awareness of your handmade business and attract more potential customers.
Host An In-Person Launch Party
Have you ever been invited to a Tupperware party, Pampered Chef party, or something similar? These are so popular because they:
- create a sense of community;
- bring friends together;
- allow you to get to know your potential customers on a personal level;
- give people a chance to see and test your products in person.
And you can easily do this with your handmade items!
To plan one, reach out to your friends and family and invite them to the party. You can provide snacks and drinks, set up decorations, and even have games or entertainment.
And if the party goes well, you might even find that your friends want to host a party for their own friends! This is a great way to spread the word about your handmade products.
Host A Virtual Launch Party
If you don’t want to host a party in person, then you could schedule a virtual launch party instead. This could be done using Zoom or other live-streaming platforms.
Just like with in-person events, you can show off your products and how they work and answer questions from customers. It’s also recommended to include giveaways to increase attendance at the event.
To invite people to your virtual launch party, post about it on social media or online communities, invite friends and family, etc.
An added benefit of doing it online is that you might be able to reach more people. Not everyone can attend in-person events. Plus, since it’s online, anyone from anywhere can join in!
#3 – Content Marketing
When thinking about how to get your first customer, it can be helpful to yourself in their shoes. What are their pain points? What are they struggling with?
Then, you can turn around and answer all these questions through content marketing. This is a great way to build trust with target customers, address their pain points, develop relationships, and more.
Here are the top ways you can use content marketing in your business.
There are a lot of people online who still just love to read. So, a great way to communicate with these buyers is through blog posts. With a blog post, you can answer questions, showcase products, provide helpful tips, and so much more.
One of the most important things about content marketing is that everything you share is high-value. This will help you build strong relationships with your customers.
Blog posts also demonstrate your expertise which can help build trust too.
To get the best results with your blog posts, you should use SEO strategies to increase the visibility of your blog posts. This includes writing blog posts that answer questions, using relevant keywords, etc.
Some popular blog post types are:
- How To’s
You can increase your reach even more by guest blogging on other bloggers’ websites. Consider bloggers that are in complementary markets to your handmade business. Then, reach out to them to see if they are interested in guest posting on their website.
Podcasts are another great way to promote your handmade business and reach customers. Similar to blog posts, you can use podcasts to build trust with potential customers, answer their questions, provide helpful tips, share stories, etc.
And since they will be able to hear your voice, they will connect with you on a more personal level. This is good for building relationships with your customers.
To get the most out of your podcast, you should consider how you can provide value to your listeners. You could interview experts in the field or talk about how your products have helped customers.
And last but not least, you have the option to create long-form videos for YouTube. Video is growing in popularity because of how engaging it can be. Plus, people are more likely to watch a video than they are to read a blog post or listen to a podcast.
The added benefit of videos is that your potential customers will be able to see your products much better. You can also create videos on how you make your products, behind the scenes of your business, and more. Trust me, your customers will love this!
By creating content that is informative and engaging, you will be able to reach more potential customers and convert them into paying customers.
#4 – Social Media
Whether you love or hate social media, it’s still undoubtedly one of the best ways to promote your business online. And that’s because of how many people use social media.
According to Statista, more than 5 billion people in the world use social media. That’s a lot of people!
So, when thinking about how to get your first customer, you should consider using social media. This is because you can easily reach your customers here as long as you are sharing valuable content consistently.
But, I don’t recommend being on every social media platform to start with. They are a lot of work, and you don’t want to burn out. Instead, I recommend choosing just one to start.
- what platform do you like using the most
- where your target audiences are hanging out
- which platform has the content style that will work best to promote your business and products
Let’s take a brief look at how you can use each platform to market your handmade business!
Twitter is the perfect platform for quick updates about your handmade business. This includes how-to’s, helpful tips, and testimonials from your customers.
You can also use Twitter to connect with potential customers, industry experts, and other small business owners in the handmade space.
Facebook is the perfect platform for sharing longer-form content, such as blog posts, how-tos, and helpful tips.
Of course, you can utilize your own Facebook page to share content. But, you can also share value in Facebook groups where your ideal customers are hanging out.
*Tip – if you will be doing Facebook advertising as one of your marketing strategies, it will be beneficial to also post regular content on the platform.
Instagram is one of the most powerful social media platforms. Not only do billions of people use it daily, but you can also post several different types of content. This is great as every user will resonate with different content types.
You can post:
- static images – good for pictures of your shop, products, the space you make your items, etc.
- carousel posts – good for how-tos, testimonials, and more.
- reels – good for behind-the-scenes footage of how you make your items, how customers are using them, etc.
- Stories are great for sharing snippets about how you make a product, behind the scenes of your business, or even snippets of your personal life to help build customer relationships.
If your handmade items are a good fit for professionals, then LinkedIn is the perfect platform for you. You can use it to get in front of your ideal customers and show them how your product will benefit them.
You can also use LinkedIn to network with industry experts, fellow small business owners, or even local businesses.
While TikTok is the newest kid on the block, it is hands down one of the best social media platforms you can use right now.
TikTok is primarily about short-form videos. So, you should focus on entertaining content. Some ideas include how-tos, behind-the-scenes footage of how you make your items, how customers are using them, etc.
No matter which platform you choose, the best thing you can do is to be active, post consistently, and engage with your ideal customers.
#5 – Referrals
When thinking about how to get your first customer, you are likely focused only on things that you do yourself. But, one of the best ways to get new customers is actually something your customers do for you.
This is called word-of-mouth marketing.
This means your most loyal customers are shouting your name from rooftops. They are telling their friends and family about the awesome experience they had with you, how your product changed their lives, and encouraging them to go buy your stuff too.
This adds so much credibility to your products.
What’s cool is you can encourage your early adopters to do this with a referral program.
This means you are encouraging your first customers to send more business your way from their friends, family, and colleagues. Then, as a token of your appreciation, you give them something in return. This can include:
- offering them a discount code for every person they refer that makes a purchase.
- offering free shipping.
- giving them a gift.
- donating a portion of their purchase to charity.
- giving them exclusive access to new products and collections before anyone else.
- giving them loyalty points that they can use towards future purchases
Referrals are one of the best ways you can grow your handmade business at the beginning. To take full advantage of it, make sure you have some sort of incentive program in place for your customers. It will be worth the effort in the long run!
#6 – Run Advertisements
If you have the budget for it, running advertisements is one of the best ways to get your handmade business in front of potential customers.
You can start small, by running targeted Instagram or Facebook ads, or you can go big and run Google Ads.
Whichever route you go;
- make sure the ad copy is clear and concise so people know exactly what product you are offering.
- make sure you have a strong call to action that clearly states how people can buy from you.
#7 – Cold Emailing
While reaching out to strangers can feel a bit uncomfortable at first, (trust me, I know), it’s a great way to get your handmade business in front of potential customers!
Thankfully, you don’t need to be an expert copywriter to do this. Just make sure you are personalizing each email and offering something valuable. You can do this by offering a gift, free shipping, or even just advice on how they can use your product in their daily lives.
Start by writing out a few different emails so that you can test to see which ones work best.
Once you’ve crafted an email that people are responding to, you can start sending that out to more and more people.
(If you’re nervous to do this, consider sending the emails to your existing network first to test them out and make sure everything works. You can also do cold calling if you’re more comfortable talking to people directly.)
One important thing to remember with cold emails is that you aren’t just trying to get the sale. You need to build a relationship with the person on the other side of that email message. So, keep up with the conversation by engaging with them and sending follow-up emails. This is how you’ll create lasting relationships with people that will eventually turn into loyal customers.
To find a business’s contact information, you can check Google, the company’s website, LinkedIn profiles, etc.
#8 – Networking
The next strategy for how to get your first customer is by networking with other people. You can either do this in person at networking events or online via social media.
You might feel nervous to start networking, but it’s a great way to get your name out there and meet people that could potentially be interested in what you are offering.
And even if they aren’t interested in what you are selling, you might be able to make friends with other small business owners. This can be super helpful when you need a friend to lean on who understands what you are going through.
At in-person networking events, make sure you have something to offer – whether it’s advice or some kind of special deal for those members who join your network. And always go with the intent to listen, learn, and be helpful. That will go a lot further than trying to sell people on your product right away.
*Tip – make sure you get emails at networking events so that you can build an email list for your business.
When networking online, make sure you are engaging with other users regularly by liking their posts, commenting on them, or even just sending them a quick message saying hello!
#9 – Attend Local Events
Almost every town and city will regularly host local events where people can come to buy products from local businesses. Whether it’s a farmer’s market, an art show, a craft fair, a holiday market, or something else entirely – attending these events is a great way to get your handmade business in front of potential customers.
When attending these events, make sure you have a setup that is attractive and inviting for people who are browsing. You want them to feel like they can stay awhile.
These events can also be a great way to meet other small business owners, make friendships, and even create opportunities for collaboration if that is something you are interested in doing.
#10 – Partner With Complimentary Businesses
The final marketing strategy for how to get your first customer is partnering with complementary businesses.
For example, if you sell handmade soaps, you could consider approaching local bed and breakfasts to offer your soap as a free amenity for their guests. Then, the soap can be available for purchase if the guests like it.
You could also look into how to get your products carried in local stores, or team up with another small business owner that sells complementary items.
The possibilities are endless. With a bit of creative thinking, you’d be surprised how many companies you can team up with in your local area.
Each of these 10 strategies is a great way for you to get started on how to get your first customer.
And you don’t even have to do them all to see results! Instead, just focus on the ones that:
- interest you the most;
- feel like they would work well with your customers.
For example, if you don’t like creating content but you like networking, then you can skip making content and focus on networking events and finding business collaborations instead.
The important thing is to just start somewhere and go from there. You won’t know if something is going to work until you try it.
I hope this blog post has shed some light on how to get your first customer!
Get More Tips For How To Get Your First Customer Here!
There are a lot of steps when launching your business. And all of these things influence how to get your first customer.
Luckily for you, I have so many helpful resources here that will help you launch your handmade business with a bang! Consider reading these blog posts next.