March 19th, 2010
I’m stretching my Milomade wings and exploring ways to get my products noticed more online and in the process I discovered The Handmade Gift Guide – it’s the sister site to Shop Handmade UK which has been around for a while and is a directory with over 1300 UK makers listed on it – Milomade being one of them. I needed to change my details on this site and that’s what brought me to The Handmade Gift Guide.
I contacted Belinda who runs the site to find out more and she kindly answered the following questions – this will give you a good idea of what the site is all about and how it works.
1. Where did you get the idea to start The Handmade Gift Guide?
The idea evolved from Shop Handmade UK, (a directory site I manage with over 1300 UK makers listed). As a jewellery maker myself I started to think it would be useful to create a collective paper catalogue where us handmade designers could promote our work and compete with other larger sellers who can afford their own catalogues. Most of us simply can not afford the outlay of such but the idea of a collective catalogue would reduce the cost as well as offer a variety of products. The idea would be that those participating would receive their own catalogues to promote to their customer base so each participant would receive the benefit of cross promotion to customers who already buy handmade goods.
Initially it was going to be called Shop Handmade UK Gift Guide then over time it made sense to call it The Handmade Gift Guide which explains quite clearly what it is. Whilst my main goal is for the guide to be a paper catalogue it made sense to start it as an online guide to set the standard and layout and determine the interest and establish it as place to find good quality handmade gifts.
2. How long has the site been running?
It’s quite new really. I soft launched it at the end of January so it’s only been running about 6 weeks now but has received very good reviews. I’m in the process of writing a number of press releases aimed at the gift giving seasons to really promote it to buyers outside the crafting community.
3. Do you source the products that are listed on the site or do all the listing come from people wanting to be listed and approaching you?
Prior to launch I sourced many of the products from those who are currently listed on Shop Handmade UK & previous advertisers. I needed a full guide to allow me to demonstrate how it works, to build visitors, to be able to promote it fully and to set the standard of goods that I will accept. Since launch I’m offering product features on the guide at just £2.95 for a 6 week feature, less than £0.50 per week. I wanted to keep the cost of advertising low and the idea behind 6 weeks as opposed to 4 is that you can often capture 2 gift giving events like Mothers Day & Easter by having a longer feature time. Full details and requirements for advertising can be found here: http://www.thehandmadegiftguide.co.uk/advertising.htm
4. How does the site work?
The Handmade Gift Guide is an online catalogue of great gift ideas. The guide is split into 7 main categories: Women, Men, Children, Babies, Pets, Homeware & Art and Cards & Papergoods which covers all occasions and loved ones you may be gift buying for. Each category is further split into either 3 or 4 price bands to help you find a gift within your budget. One click and you will be taken directly to that product where you will be able to purchase it online direct from the maker / designer themselves.
5. Can you explain your visitor demographic – how many hits do you get? What kind of visitors? How do you monitor the sites success etc?
Being only 6 weeks old our visitor numbers are on the rise. In February we received just over 2150 visitors and are set to nearly double that for March. We are attracting visitors from around the world although the larger majority from the UK. The site only promotes UK based makers and whilst we don’t want to close the door on international buyers our main focus is UK buyers for now. Monitoring the site’s success is more than just numbers to me, I want to see the right type of visitors that are looking for what the guide offers and to ensure those featured on the guide are benefiting from it from increased views and most importantly increased sales. With a number of planned promotions I’m confident our visitors and popularity will continue to grow month on month.
6. Do you have a limit of how may items you will showcase?
Yes, currently we set a limit on each designer / maker being permitted a maximum of 2 products in any given price band / category to ensure good product and style variety. Whilst I’ve yet to set a limit on total products in each category I will be doing this soon. I’m keen for the guide to be known as a place for finding quality not just about quantity. Sometimes too much choice is overwhelming and defeats the purpose.
7. If someone wanted to list an item – what do they need to do?
It’s quite easy however to ensure quality of product & images I have set some guidelines to being accepted to feature your products. Best place to start is consider both the next gift giving event coming up, which for us is Easter and what products you have in stock that are new that would feature well. Next, read the product & image requirements here: http://www.thehandmadegiftguide.co.uk/advertising.htm and then purchase your feature online. If anyone is unsure I’m more than happy to help, you can contact me here: http://www.thehandmadegiftguide.co.uk/contact.php
8. What do they get for their money? Explain the benefits of being listed on your site.
All new product features on the guide are positioned at the top of the category price band. Your product will over the course of the 6 weeks be featured on the home page in both the ‘New’ section and on the ‘Featured’ section which both alter regularly. I also offer link tracking so I know how many clicks you are receiving and will give and update during and at the end of your 6 week feature. The main benefits are getting your products seen by more buyers. Despite being live just 6 weeks, many products are receiving good click throughs.
9. Any other info you woudl like to add that you think would be interesting and relevant to promote your site...
Shop Handmade UK will be featured in a book about home working due for release in May, as sister site to The Handmade Gift Guide I’m sure both sites will benefit from this additional publicity so it will be a good time to feature your products.
Thanks Belinda for taking the time to talk about your website – it’s a brilliant site promoting lovely, original work. I’m so glad I discovered it!
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