"The landscape of online sales is rapidly changing." That is the opening line in an eBook I received for review called the Art of Audience Building for Etsy Sellers by the Hunting Handmade Collective. It's so true.  It was never enough before to just set up shop online and hope customers will come. The need to promote is much, much greater today simply because there is now so much more online. The use of social media is no longer an option but an absolute necessity for getting your brand and products seen.

I do not know who the individual team members of the Hunting Handmade Collective are but they, as a team, have grown their own audience on Instagram called @Etsyhunter to nearly 60,000 followers - the highest Etsy related account after Etsy itself.   Each day they post a small curated selection of products from Etsy sellers. They welcome submissions but these have to make the cut (note, there is a fee for this service ).

They created @Etsyhunter because they wanted to help a friend who was starting out on Etsy and struggling to get noticed.  They said, "We decided to pool our resources and help her build an audience in relation to Etsy related products - to create a tool to allow her and others like her to get their products out there."

It is clear from the book that the collective learned a great deal from their hunting and curation. They firmly believe in attracting an audience first and foremost. The selling of products is secondary but will flow once there is a sufficiently large base of fans.  And once that base is built, word of mouth and referrals (in today's parlance, "likes","tweets") will also follow.

This approach is totally opposite to what so many people think and do. But it also explains why so many struggle to sell  -  they essentially have no audience to sell to.

The eBook is not a step by step guide per se but offers, in a logical fashion, explanations and many suggestions on how to market, network and interact with others.

The 56 page eBook is divided into 6 chapters and a conclusion:
  • The Art of Audience Building
  • Six Steps for Blockbuster Branding
  • Success with Social Media
  • Networking for Success
  • Becoming a Thought Leader
  • Back to Basics
  • Conclusion - Tying It All Together
In the Art of Audience Building, the authors make it easy to understand why and how you need to be seen as a trusted expert on your chosen craft. In addition, it is not always about you and your products. Indeed, hard selling is off putting and rarely works. Branding is also something many are ignorant of or just can't grasp. It is however essential for a cohesive appearance and marketing of one's business.

They were spot on with their social media platform picks - Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr. The social media chapter covers how to use these effectively.  The authors said to try others as well but it is important to pick a couple of these or even all 4. Why?  These sites all share 3 things in common - enormous numbers of people, predominantly visual media and the ease of sharing especially via smartphones. The potential of going viral on these is definitely there. For example, this remarkable teen has made $100K in sales on Etsy - she didn't have much luck on Facebook but one of her rings was reblogged (shared) on Tumblr about 50,000 times.

What they don't cover is how to manage your time doing all this!  Hiring someone is not feasible for many people.  So being organized, prioritizing and using helpful apps like Hootsuite for scheduling are steps in the right direction.

I also found The Secrets of the Etsy Hunter at the end of the book very helpful. No one should be surprised photography is one of those secrets! Good photography is essential for successful audience building.

Their long term observations of why some stores do better than others is distilled into a list of 7 tips to consider when designing a new product. Being aware of current trends is one such tip - popular items are easier to sell.  I felt there could have been an 8th tip - making something nobody else offers but where there is a demand. To be fair, the book does talk about niches but in the Branding chapter. Finding a niche requires keeping vigilant for untapped markets and opportunities. But as they pointed out, it has to be something you enjoy making and are passionate about it.

Although they are targeting Etsy sellers, the book's topics are also relevant for other marketplaces. Etsy gets a ton of traffic but individual sellers need to get their brands visible in this crowded marketplace. Smaller sites have far less traffic which makes it even more important for sellers there to promote their stores.

This eBook definitely explains and brings up to date the approaches needed to grow an audience of potential customers.


If you'd like to win one of 3 eBook copies of  The Art of Audience Building, please make a comment below. Make sure you leave contact info below if you do not have an online shop or blog.

Email subscribers need to scroll down the post they receive, click on Share Comment and enter your comment. Pick Name/URL. If you don't have a store or blog, leave the URL blank.

This giveaway is international.

Extra entries if you become or are a blog subscriber or follower etc. If you also do shout outs about this giveaway, those will count as additional entries too! Please say so in the comments.

It ends in a week's time at 6 pm EST Thursday, July 16, 2015 . I will pick the winner randomly and announce the results as soon as possible after. So be sure to leave a contact email if you don't have an online link or make sure you come back and check! Otherwise I will redraw in a week. Good luck!


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