Wednesday, December 7, 2011

How to Make Your Own QR Code for Your Craft Business

The Beading Gem's QR
Some of you were a little leery about personal QR codes when I first wrote about Skanz's QR bracelets. But really you only share what you wish to share.

QR or quick response codes are sprouting up pretty much everywhere. For a jewelry artisan with a shop or blog to promote, they can be useful. How useful?

Used in the right way, QR codes are very useful. They help promote whatever it is that's dear to you by distributing it efficiently without pen or paper and immediately engaging your target audience
 
Take business cards for example. Craft show visitors often pick up one but would they actually keep it or transfer your site details?  Most won't. So make it convenient for them to email you or email themselves your shop URL using just a few clicks on their smartphones.

The number of people who are or will be using internet enabled mobile devices is rising dramatically. Market research has pegged smartphone/tablet use at 65% of the US population by 2015!

Smartphones image source
So if you want to take advantage of this surging wave, generate your own QR code.  There are tons of QR code generators available, either online or via smartphone apps. Some are free and others are not.  They vary too in quality and in what services they offer. So find one which suits your needs or preferences.

I went surfing looking for some free and easy code generators to use.  Shown below are actual examples of the 3 main types of QR codes which would probably work for many of us.  But you are by no means limited to these.  For a list of all the different types with explanations, see here

If you have a smartphone, check out the app store for a free QR scanner. I used QR Reader for iPhone by TapMedia for quite a while but I now prefer Skanz's which is incredibly fast and accurate.  If you don't have a smartphone, here is a list of online scanners to try.

ANATOMY OF A QR CODE 

QR codes are data matrix or 2-D barcodes first used in the auto industry to track cars. The codes are highly efficient in data representation. See those 3 large squares in the corners plus one small offset on the bottom right?  These are for positioning and aligning. Some QR scanners like the one I use get you to align the electronic squares you see through the camera with the corresponding ones on the code.

Image by Zephris

1. URL ONLY
Many code generators offer all sorts of options. You could link to your shop, blog,  a favorite video, email or whatever you choose.  I used BeQrious.com to input just a website URL - my Etsy store's. This particular site also lets you embed an image right in the middle of the QR if you wish - choose graphical mode.


If you scan this, the code will direct you to my Etsy store. Below is the view from my smartphone. People who scan in this code can then email themselves the URL for reference.


You could have more than one QR code on your site. Here are more ideas :
  • Discount coupon - upload a picture of your discount coupon to a free picture hosting site like Photobucket.  Grab the image URL to generate its code.
  • Flyer - Upload either an image or a pdf to a free account on Scribd.com and grab that URL to use .
  • Event location - Use the map mode to generate a code to show where your next craft show will be! 
  • Product Label - You can make sticky labels with QR codes and put them on the products (if possible) or on the packaging
Think of the amount of paper and ink you will be saving!


TEXT ONLY QR
This type of code generator allows you to input any text you wish up to a certain number of characters.  I used Quirfy to create the code with the resulting smartphone view below.
As you can see, I managed to put in all sorts of information but stopped short of adding my social media sites.  The reason is the code density - notice how much more crowded the little dark pixels look compared to the first one above which only carries a single URL link?  If it is too dense, code readers could have trouble scanning it properly.

I found that the actual smartphone views were different depending which of the two scanning apps I used.  With QR Reader, I got the standard yellow ruled page with an ad but the Skanz reader just delivered it as a message.


SOCIAL MEDIA QR
I tested out two free code generators which could display my online presence in a more pleasing manner. In order to do so, you have to register (free) in order to create a QR site of your own. You can edit the information as much as you like. Both are very user friendly.

QRMobilize does a nice job of presenting a large image with the important information like email, shop and social media links at the bottom.  This site provides two sizes of codes including a high resolution one for printing, say on a big poster, t-shirt or bag.


The disadvantage is having to scroll down to see all the links as shown in this smartphone view :



However, that large image can be used to showcase jewelry rather than a logo.  I tried to substitute my logo with this photo collage of some of my creations (see my past post on Photovisi : Make Your Own Photo Collage)  but couldn't do so presumably because of a glitch.


I also joined Skanz. I must say I prefer this one. Remember you don't have to fill in everything.  You do have to input your age and zip code but as far as I can tell, these don't show publicly.


I like Skanz because it provides the user an easy way of emailing you via the contact link at the top left.  I added my Facebook, Twitter and blog links to the social  section and wrote a brief intro.  You can also choose different backgrounds and whether or not you want to add a v-card (the index card logo) so the user can add your basic info into their own contact list.



Skanz, like some other free QR sites, make their money from the products (or additional services) they sell.  Skanz can display your code on bracelets, iPhone covers and decals. And no, they did not pay me to say any of this.

WHERE TO USE YOUR QR CODES

For starters, I added it to the right hand side bar of my blog. I also added a map QR in my workshop location post so people can scan and have it on their phones.  I think the real benefit  is in the offline use of QR codes like during craft shows.

I make my own business cards and only print out just what I need.  So it was easy enough to rearrange the elements to include my QR code in new ones. I always carry some cards in my purse so if anyone wanted my info electronically, they can scan the code rather than take a card.

Old vs New Business Cards
Putting it on all sorts of promotional materials as mentioned above definitely makes sense too.

For a great long list of other code generators, check here. Google for even more examples of QR code generators. Some offer stats or tracking services which gives you an idea how many people actually scanned your code.  Unitag gives you colored QR options for example. Rasoftwarefactory's is for generating codes for Facebook liking. The possibilities are endless!

There goes the day.

Before You Go :
______________________________
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips 

9 comments :

Divya N said...

Lots of great tips...Thanks Pearl...I see that you have done a lot of research for this...but I have a basic (actly stupid doubt) since the QR code is for smart phones what good will come out of putting it in websites/blogs, where the person can already see all the info that is req to be seen?

The Beading Gem said...

There is some benefit to having it on websites. Visitors can scan it to save your website info into their contact list (if you use the vcard) or immediately contact you using their phone.

Sally Anderson said...

Pearl, thank you so much for this post. I feel like I finally get it with these QR codes. I get your posts in my email so I sat here and scanned the codes as I was reading. Fun! But really helpful information. One of these days I'm going to have an etsy site and do some marketing and I'll definitely use this all!

Hollie said...

Very useful blog Pearl, thank you. It is one of those things I keep meaning to do but never seem to get around to doing. Now I know where to go...

The Beading Gem said...

Glad you both found the post useful! Sally - you could use QR codes for personal uses too. Have fun Hollie with making your own!

Divya N said...

Thanks pearl :)

Kelley Pounds, Kell's Creations said...

Great info on your blog! Thank you.

I'm new to the QR code craze, since my cell phone isn't "smart," but I use it with my iPod Touch occasionally.

I created two, one at kimtag.com and one at getsharesquare.com. The Share Square QR code allowed me to create a photo slideshow, which was fun.

I print my business cards using my own design on VistaPrint, so what I ended up doing was buying Avery labels to print my QR codes on for my biz cards and shopping bags. #22805 is the perfect size

Kelley

The Beading Gem said...

Thanks for the awesome tips, Kelly! More things for other readers to check out!

Karen said...

Hi Pearl, my husband showed me how to make these a while back but I still haven't utilized them. I like your business card, maybe that's what I should do. Thanks!

Custom Design by Bloggermint & Blogger Themes