I am a crafter, not a tech person. (Anyone who knows me well knows that I am NOT being modest here.) That being said, in the interst of promoting our stores, communicating with our clients and sharing fun beading ideas, I’ve learned to embrace technology. It has been a surprise to me how much the computer can help me in my various artsy pursuits. Even more shocking has been my enjoyment of the process! Three scant years ago, the Bead World web site was a one page blip with a couple of photos, and map and basic contact information. The range of media we now use to spread our message is, in my opinion, pretty impressive. More important, though, is that anyone could use the same systems to promote their own projects. Everything we use is inexpensive, widely available and user friendly. Here’s a rundown of our growth:
- http://www.beadworldinc.com/ We completely redesigned the site in 2007, adding interactive maps, class schedules for all of our stores, detailed information about our inventory and lots of gorgeous photos. We added even more in 2009, including free downloadable projects. The addition of our web goddess, Brittany, to the executive team really made the continuing expansion of the web site a joy.
- Beading Your World Bead World’s monthly e-magaine was launched in 2007. It features informative articles about gemstones, new materials, techniches, classes, events and a letter from our executive team. We include a fun coupon inside every e-magaine, too! As an e-magazine, it is emailed out to every client who has opted in by signing up on our web site. We use http://www.constantcontact.com/ for this service, and I would recommend them to anyone. Their program is inexpensive, easy to use and very professional.
- Email Coupon Program Launched in early 2008, we piggy-backed this fun coupon program onto our e-magazine program, sending out emailed coupons to everyone on our opt-in list. This has been a hugely successful program. After all, who doesn’t love getting discounts and advanced notice of sales?!
- http://www.facebook.com/ Did you know you can be a Fan of Bead World on Facebook? In 2009, we built our company its own Facebook page. We update our status to show info about sales, new products and beading trends. We also have great discussions going on about dream materials, new store locations, busting “beader’s block” and more. It’s a wonderful opportunity to interact directly with the people who love Bead World and want to help us make it even better! Facebook is a no-brainer: it’s easy, it’s free and almost everyone you know is already using it!
- http://www.twitter.com/ Yep, we tweet, too! We use Twitter to let our clients know when a new blog entry has been posted, when great coupons are in their email in box and all kinds of great updates.
- Beading the Bead World Way You’re already reading our blog, so you clearly know all about it! Launched in February, 2010, this is our newest foray into digital communication. If you can’t get enough of beading, or of Bead World, we’ll keep you inspired with fabulous ideas! We currently publish two posts per week.
- Desktop Publishing with Microsoft & Adobe: We’ve really utilized our desktop publishing programs, using them to design and create class instruction hand-outs, jewelry kit packaging, our employee manual and lots of marketing materials for the stores. More recently, we have published (in-house, of course) a series of six instructional books. Doubtless, more are on the way. Next on the horizon: publishing those books as ebooks on http://www.amazon.com/ so that everyone can enjoy learning to bead the Bead World way!
I know that, for a lot of crafters, jumping onto the computer can be a bit of a departure. But there is no better way to share your message! Customers and fans are not going to wander into your craft room — you have to go find them. Get out there and try it. I promise, you’ll love it!