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Voice: The Next Frontier for Search

Posted By TNNA Editor, Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Voice: The Next Frontier for Search

By Leanne Pressly of Stitchcraft Marketing

Stitchcrafting Marketing - Voice Search

Voice search is using your voice, and your words, to request assistance from a digital virtual assistant. Think about Google Home, Siri from Apple, or Alexa from Amazon; these are three of the most popular voice search assistants. Even now, you can ask Siri or Alexa to find information or complete actions by using simple words or phrases. Statistics suggest that people are making increasing use of voice search over text search (i.e. typing words or questions into a search engine), and that by 2020 more than half of all searches will be voice searches (via ComScore). Further, Gartner predicts that in the next few years as many as 30% of searches will be done without a screen (via Mediapost).

Why is voice search important to your creative business? Your customers need to be able to find your website and your business services using voice search. At some point in the future, you may even wish to incorporate a digital assistant into your website design to help customers navigate your site.

How do you prepare for voice search?

In the past we have written articles about search engine optimization (SEO), and the importance of using keywords to improve search results and drive traffic to your creative businesses. Voice search adds another layer to that.  Typically, voice search will consist or more than a keyword or two, and will involve some sort of a question or command.  These longer phrases, called long-tail keywords will help your customers find your business through voice search. For example, previously you may have used a keyword like “hand-dyed” to promote your creative business selling hand-dyed yarns. A long-tail keyword voice search might include the phrase “Where can I buy hand-dyed yarn?” Think about voice search as a conversation between you and your customer. What questions might your customer ask you that you can answer ahead of time?  Think of preparing for voice search as creating a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) in advance.

What do your customers want?

In developing your long-tail keywords you have an opportunity to hone in on what needs you are fulfilling for your customers. Are you providing your customers with information like posting craft  tutorials, technique demonstrations, creative ideas or exercises? Are you allowing your customers to more easily navigate by finding specific content or a product on your website? Or, are you allowing your customers to engage in a specific business transaction with you? The creative content, goods or services that you provide should drive your development of long-tail keywords based on the kinds of questions you already receive from your customers. If you are already surveying your customers to learn how they found your creative business, you can use this information to improve and expand your keywords 

First steps

Given the statistics, voice search seems like a trend that is here to stay (via Branded3). How will you use it to make your business successful? There are some simple steps that you can take now, even if you’re not ready to invest a lot of time or money in voice search.

First, you can ensure that your business is listed appropriately on the web. Go to Google My Business and make sure that you have a listing with all relevant information correctly entered.  There should be nothing easier than sharing how your customers can best contact you (business name, address, website, email, and hours open, if applicable). Ensuring this information is up to date and easily available means that when your customers conduct a voice search for a product or service you provide based on where they are located, your business should populate in their search results.

Second, make sure the same information above is readily available on your website. To ensure that search engines can “read” this information from your site, make sure that the relevant information isn’t in a graphic image, but rather in standard text that is easily searchable. If you want to add a graphic element to it, add headers or other kinds of formatting to set this information apart in an easy-to-find way. There is nothing worse than searching for a business and not generating results, or finding a website, but not being able to contact the business!

Third, give some thought to the content on your website. Do you have an FAQ section that includes questions people ask about your business? Do you include information on your product pages that answers the typical questions your customer will ask about your products? If not, starting thinking about the conversations you have with your customers and proactively add this information onto your website where it can come up in searches using your keywords. If you’re really stumped on coming up with keywords, give Ask the Public a try and see if it will kick start the way you think about long-tail keywords.

These three tips above are just a few of the ways you can start to prepare your creative business for the voice search frontier.

This article provided courtesy of Stitchcraft Marketing- a niche agency serving creative companies. If you have additional questions or are interested in working with us to include voice search in marketing your creative business, please contact

Tags:  business  business tips  Stitchcraft Marketing  TNNANews 

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Planning and Executing an Effective Content Marketing Program in Just 30 Minutes Per Day

Posted By TNNA Editor, Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Planning and Executing an Effective Content Marketing Program in Just 30 Minutes Per Day

By Leanne Pressly of Stitchcraft Marketing

Stitchcraft Webinar - Content Marketing

With TNNANews readers in mind, member content partner Stitchcraft Marketing has put together a FREE WEBINAR for next Tuesday, June 12 at noon ET on “Planning and Executing Your Content Marketing Program in Just 30 Minutes Per Day.” This 30-minute webinar is specifically aimed at Craft business entrepreneurs and will focus on the following subjects:

Who is your customer?

An essential element of content marketing is a clearly defined audience. If you don't have a clear idea of who your customer is, how can you anticipate what content will be considered valuable to them? Spend some time developing a detailed description of your customer avatar.

Resist the temptation to define your potential customer too broadly. For example: "anyone between the ages of 18 and 65" is too broad a group to address effectively. Consider breaking that down into more specific profiles. "Active mothers under 40 who enjoy crafting with their kids and watching HGTV" is much more useful for visualizing your customer.

Compelling Content Creation

Decide what form(s) you want your content to take. Blog posts? Video tutorials? Inspirational images? Free patterns and how-tos? Utilizing a strategy of cornerstone content and evergreen content is best.

Whatever form you choose, be sure your content reflects your brand and is optimized for SEO.

Quality counts! Every piece of content may be a potential customer's first introduction to you and your company. If you feel the need to apologize for the quality of a piece of content (poor photography, questionable taste), don't use it.

Content Distribution: Social Media

What social media channels are most appropriate for the promotion and distribution of your content? Where is your target audience likely to be found?

Each social media platform requires a different strategy for success. Be sure to maximize your efforts by following best practices for Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

Building Your Tribe: Newsletters

When consumers opt-in to your email list, they have specifically asked for more of what you offer. What could be better than that? The people on your email list are your richest source of potential sales.

Once customers have joined your list, reward their trust by producing a newsletter worth reading. Consider segmenting your list so you can deliver content specifically targeted to that customer's interests.

Has enrollment in your list stagnated? Consider using a lead generator to introduce interested consumers to your company.

Continue the conversation beyond regular newsletters. Consider using an autoresponder to generate an email (or series of emails) in response to specific customer behaviors.

Putting the Plan into Action

Your content marketing plan will not be effective if it isn't implemented consistently over time. That means your plan must include manageable steps and a workable timeline.

Once the initial plan is in place, you can manage a good content marketing program in as little as 30 minutes a day by breaking the execution into specific tasks. Consistency is key: when your calendar says you're going to spend 30 minutes every Wednesday morning scheduling social media posts for the next week, you're more likely to get it done.

How will you know if your content marketing plan is effective? Identify some Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to help you quantify the impact of your efforts. Is your audience growing (more followers, more views)? Is engagement growing (more likes, shares, comments)? Did content which featured a specific product result in increased sales of that product? What paths are customers taking to your website? Remember to track these numbers over time. On any given day, you're just seeing a snapshot – long term trends are a better reflection of what's working and what's not.

REGISTER NOW to join Stitchcraft Marketing for this valuable learning opportunity.

Tags:  business  business tips  Stitchcraft Marketing  TNNANews  webinar 

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Why Take Advantage of the Education at #TNNASummer18

Posted By TNNA Editor, Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Why Take Advantage of the Education at #TNNASummer18…. Especially My  Photo Shoot A-Z: Planning, Producing and Picture Making

By: Gale Zucker

Apologies for the longest blog post title ever! I’ve been teaching at TNNA for a few years now — and love every minute of it. Here’s why:

The workshops I teach/co-teach — social media photography and writing — cross over between the categories of Expanding Your Expertise; The Two-Way Conversation; and Leveraging New Tools & Technology. They’re fun. They’re helpful. My co-teacher Beverly Army Willams and I are nice. We share skills that you literally put into practice before you leave the classroom. If you are like me—a hands-on knitter/maker kind of person — there is nothing harder than listening while not being able to jump in and try it till later.  Not in our classroom. We go all in right from the start, with creative exercises, smartphones and Wi-Fi.

(Photo © Gale Zucker)

Beverly and I are consistently jazzed by the students at TNNA.  We think it’s because everyone in the room — from the person who hasn’t even opened the doors of her yarn shop yet, to the yarn company who’s been around for 20 years - is eager to use social media to connect with our very special corner of the world.  Everyone in the room is motivated to be there and passionate about the work they do. Plus, no one looks twice if you knit or stitch in class.

That, in general  is why I love to being a TNNA instructor. Now some specifics. This June, in Cleveland, I’m offering Photo Shoot A-Z: Planning, Producing & Picture Making on Thursday from 8 a.m. - 11 a.m.

Here’s why I put this workshop together: the comment I hear most often from first-time clients goes something like this: “whew! I had no idea what went into a photo shoot! Thanks for holding my hand through it."

(Photo © Gale Zucker)

The truth is, that day you have a camera in hand shooting is just a tiny part of a photo shoot. The preparation, the planning, the thinking through the elements —  that’s what makes a successful and productive photo shoot. It’s partially stepping back to see the big picture of what else beside your product needs to be considered —  theme, setting, styling, wardrobe, light sources, effective colors, people? Who is arranging those things? What kind of help is needed? And it’s partially  lingo—what kinds of files do I need? How do photographers charge if I decide to hire one? What do I ask for? How long is expected  to get the final images and how many do I get? What are rights? Who chooses the model? Eeeeek!! How do I even find a model who represents my vision for my business?.

And, more such thoughts. It was fun for me to break down what I do and make a flow chart. It’s designed to lead students choice by choice from their very first thought of needing a photo shoot, through to planning it, including choosing whether to do it themselves or seek the skill of a photographer for the project.

This class is not necessarily for someone who wants to work as  photographer (though it certainly could be helpful to someone who is). It is for anyone who needs to create powerful images of their product, shop or business, to enhance their marketing. Because as we all know, that old saying — A picture is worth a thousand words — is truer more than ever on social media and online marketing.

This is all about you learning to be the confident leader/creator of the photography for your business, no matter who is holding the camera. The class will be small enough to customize information for those who attend.  We will have time for Q&A at the end, so we can take it in any direction.

(Photo © Gale Zucker)

Classes Beverly Army Williams and Gale Zucker* are teaching:

  • Leveling Up Your Business on Social Media | Wednesday, June 13 | 4:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
  • Photo Shoot A-Z: Planning, Producing and Picture Making | Thursday, June 14 | 8:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
  • 10 Photo and Hashtag Tricks to Build Community | Friday, June 15 | 7:45 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.

*PhotoShoot class is Gale alone, the other two classes are co-taught.

Register for the TNNA Summer NeedleArts Trade Show here

Tags:  business  business tips  Summer Trade Show  TNNANews 

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What is Dark Social and Why Should You Care?

Posted By TNNA Editor, Wednesday, May 23, 2018

What is Dark Social and Why Should You Care?

By Sandi Rosner for Stitchcraft Marketing

Dark social sharing is what happens when people share content via private networks and messaging apps such as email, text, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. These shares are called dark because they are hard to track and quantify. Dark social is traffic that’s not attributed to a known source, such as a Google search or a social network.

In this post, we’ll look at the impact of dark social sharing. We’ll also discuss some tools for shedding light on dark social.

How much sharing happens in the dark?

When you look at your analytics for sources of web traffic, you probably see a big slice of the pie labeled “Direct”. The Direct category includes all the traffic that comes to you without an identifiable source. When you click a link on a Facebook post, a tracking tag is added to the URL to tell the destination website “Facebook sent me!” Links shared through private messaging apps and networks do not have these trackable tags. As far as your analytics knows, these visitors appeared out of thin air.

It’s very likely that a high percentage of traffic to your site is the result of dark social shares, which show up in the Direct category in your analytics report.

According to research from RadiumOne, 84% of outbound sharing (that’s consumers sharing content from your website) occurs over dark social channels.

Think about that for a minute. More than 80% of shares are happening where you don’t see them or track them. You might obsess over Facebook shares and Instagram likes, but this public sharing is just the tip of the iceberg.

If you are measuring the impact of new marketing initiatives only by looking at public social network likes and follows, you’re getting just a small part of the picture. Dark social sharing is so pervasive, your new content has likely been seen and shared with far more consumers than is reflected by counting Instagram likes. Was there an increase in “direct” traffic to your site? It’s highly likely this increase was driven by the dark social impact of your marketing program.

Dark social sharing impacts your business, whether you see it or not

RadiumOne’s research shows that 32% of consumers share exclusively via dark social channels, with this number jumping to 46% for consumers over age 55. This segment is likely to grow with the recent controversy surrounding Facebook and other public social networks. Privacy concerns and an increased wariness about “oversharing” will amplify the importance of dark social in the future.

Dark social sharing is far more compelling than public social sharing. Imagine two scenarios:

       Amy is looking at her Facebook feed and sees that her friend Christie has shared a link to your new product announcement.

       Amy gets a text message or email from Christie with the same link, to which she’s added a note: “I came across this and thought you’d enjoy it.”

Which link is Amy more likely to click?

Dark social shares are marketing gold. A direct message from one interested consumer to another carries a halo of like and trust that no public Facebook post can match. The dark social share is far more likely to result in a sale.

Shining a light on dark social sharing

When customers copy your URL from the address bar and paste it into an email or message, any traffic resulting from that link will be dark. There are three popular tools that enable you to encourage dark social sharing while tracking the impact of this activity. All these tools work by capturing information about what is being shared. Rather than looking at traffic coming into your website, you can see what content your customers find share-worthy and see what channels they are using to share it.

Sharethis is an easy to use tool that adds share buttons to your content. You can choose to include buttons for popular dark social channels, such as email, WhatsApp and SMS (text message), as well as for the public social networks. The buttons are optimized for mobile use, and you have choices about the size, position and look of the buttons. is a product of RhythmOne (formerly RadiumOne, the company who produced the definitive study of dark social trends). adds a sharing tool to your website which includes robust tracking and analytic tools.

GetSocial works through plugins for WordPress or Shopify. In addition to tracking the use of share buttons, GetSocial will tell you how often a URL is shared through copy/paste.

Once you’ve got your share buttons in place, remind people to use them! A surprisingly effective, but often overlooked, way to encourage sharing is to simply ask. End your tutorial or blog post with a friendly request, like this: “Do you know someone who would enjoy this project? Use the buttons below to share it with them!” Not only are you reminding them to share, you are directing them toward the buttons that will enable you to track that activity.

Social media marketing is key to the success of any business in today’s economy. Of course, you want to continue to maximize likes and follows on Facebook and Instagram. But don’t forget about the person-to-person sharing that is quickly replacing traditional word-of-mouth. Dark social sharing is a far richer source of potential customers than public social networks. A little effort spent encouraging dark social sharing and making it trackable can pay big dividends. If you see an increase in “direct” traffic to your website, that’s a good indication that your content is being shared in the dark.


Stitchcraft Marketing a niche agency specializing in creative companies. They are ready to work with you to create content worthy of sharing. Contact to learn how we can help you grow your craft business.

Tags:  business  business tips  Stitchcraft Marketing  TNNANews 

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Selling on Instagram: New Year, New Options

Posted By TNNA Editor, Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Updated: Monday, February 19, 2018

Selling on Instagram: New Year, New Options

With more than 500 million active daily users, Instagram has become the social platform of choice for many of your customers. Crafters of all kinds look to Instagram for inspiration and information. And Instagram users are the audience you want to reach – 90 percent of users are younger than 35, and 68 percent of users are women.

You’re probably already using Instagram as part of your overall social media strategy. But can you leverage your Instagram account to produce more sales? Can you make it easier for customers to move from inspiration to pressing the buy button?

In 2016, we gave you a rundown on various third-party tools available to make your Instagram posts shoppable. Not surprisingly, the landscape has changed in the past 2 years. In this post, we’ll update the currently available options. We’ll also peer into the future to see what’s in the works.

Third Party Update

Remember, Instagram was designed to keep users in Instagram. Your bio page allows for a single clickable link. Captions on individual posts do not accommodate links.

Third party tools were developed to work around these limitations. Soldsie let’s your customer trigger a purchase by commenting “Sold” on your post. Spreesy requires customers to comment with their email address. Have2HaveIt and Like2Buy use the link in your bio to direct customers to a shoppable gallery of products that looks like your Instagram feed. Linktree uses the link in your bio to send customers to a separate web page, which displays any number of clickable links to your website or blog.

These tools are less than perfect. Each adds friction to the buying process. They require that the customer leave Instagram to get additional product information, as well as to make the purchase. And we all know that the farther the journey from impulse to purchase, the less likely we are to buy.

Shoppable Instagram Tags

Shoppable tags are the solution for a truly native Instagram shopping experience. Shoppable tags pull product information from the product catalog in your Facebook Shop. Tapping a tag opens a new window which contains product details, along with a “shop now” link. This link leads to your website. To see how it works, take a look at this video.

Instagram began testing shoppable tags in 2016, starting with just a few brands. During 2017, the test was expanded to fashion and beauty brands. Shopify and BigCommerce worked with Instagram to ensure integration with their e-commerce platforms. As of this writing, the ability to use shoppable tags in Instagram is available for all companies who use BigCommerce. For Shopify users, Instagram product tagging is still in testing. Participants for the test were selected by Instagram last Fall.

There is no word from Instagram or Shopify on when this feature will be available to all, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see a wide roll-out before the end of 2018.

Getting Ready

What can you do now to position yourself to take full advantage of shoppable tags?
Set up a Shop page on your Facebook account. You can use Shopify to create this page.
Be sure you have an Instagram business account.

If You Build it, Will They Come?

Now, more than ever, increasing your engagement on Instagram needs to be a key component of your social marketing plan. If customers are already accustomed to interacting with you on Instagram, they’ll be primed to take advantage of making a purchase through shoppable tags.

Stitchcraft Marketing can help you develop and implement a plan to gain followers and drive traffic from Instagram to your website. From our 30-day Instagram Power-Up to a comprehensive social media strategy, we’re here to support your success.

Contact to learn how we can help you grow your craft business.


Tags:  business  business tips  TNNANews 

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Business Corner: Capitalize on Pantone's Color of the Year!

Posted By TNNA Editor, Thursday, January 25, 2018

Business Corner: Capitalize on Pantone's Color of the Year!


Look at what my amazing hubby brought back for me from Amsterdam!!!!! When I found out he was going there for a business trip, I jokingly told him he simply had to stop by @stephen.and.penelope to check it out. Well, he secretly DID and picked out these two glorious skeins of @uschitita single ply yarn and an adorable project bag!!!! I couldn’t have chosen better for myself, and I’m so excited to have some of her yarn in my stash finally. Colors are Feather and Sugared Violets. 😍😍😍 #purpleisthenewblack #pantone2018 #ultraviolet #pantonecoloroftheyear . Ok now I’m going to go finish our holiday preparations. Hope y’all are having a great start to your week! . . . #uschitita #yarn #stephenandpenelope #christmastree #happyholidays #yay #knit #indiedyers #indiedyersofinstagram #indiedyersrock #knitting #knittingaddict #knittersofinstagram #knittersgonnaknit #knittersoftheworld #knitting_inspiration #acolorstory #purple #speckles #specklesaresohotrightnow

A post shared by Lesley Anne Robinson (@knitgraffiti) on


According to Pantone, it is officially the year of Ultra Violet. Incorporate this bold purple into your business plan this year to catch the eyes of customers. Click through for a roundup of inspiring articles!

Tags:  business  business tips  TNNANews  trends 

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What Shops Should Tell Customers During Dye Disasters

Posted By TNNA Editor, Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Updated: Friday, January 5, 2018

What Shops Should Tell Customers During Dye Disasters

By Shannon Herrick, dyer and social media maven for Frabjous Fibers 

You’ve spent the last 11 weeks knitting your masterpiece of color work, and painstakingly woven in all the ends. It’s time to plop it in a warm sink full of water and your favorite wool wash, which smells of deep woods and sunshine, so you can block it out into the perfect size and shape. To your horror, the water is quickly stained turquoise and the white, negative space which used to make all the other colors pop, is now dulled with dye re-adhering to the knitted fabric. This process, usually irreversible, is wildly frustrating, especially when, moments ago, your shawl was perfect.

Why did this happen? What could have been done? What can you do now?

Many factors can affect colorfastness after the manufacturer has set dye. In certain cases, it may not have been colorfast to begin with, whether commercially dyed by a large manufacturer, or hand dyed by a small, indie dye house, mistakes can happen with dye lots. For the purposes of this article, let us assume that the dyer did everything right, and when the yarn left the dye facility, it had been dyed and processed perfectly well. Maybe you’ve even used the same dyer’s yarn many times with no problem. But, your 10-color shawl is now a mess. So, what gives?

One hidden potential culprit is the fact that certain fragrances have the ability and tendency to pull dye from fabric or yarn. This means that your favorite eucalyptus scented wool soak might actually be a threat to the richly and/or multi-colored knits you’ve poured your heart and skill into. It may only affect certain colors, usually saturated hues and especially reds and turquoises, so it may be perfectly safe for the colorways of some knits and not others. The pH of your water could also be a factor that may compromise the integrity of the dye’s adherence. Temperature of the water, hardness or softness and added chemicals in treated city water…all these factors may be different from the water used when the yarn was dyed and could affect the chemistry.

So, what could you have done differently to prevent an unwelcome bleeding and blending of colors in your finished piece? Firstly, everyone’s favorite friend, the Gauge Swatch, can serve two purposes, especially with colorwork. Soak your swatch before you soak your actual piece of knitwear. Soak it in plain, hand-warm water first, and if the colors stay put, try soaking it again with that lavender garden wool wash and see if the color still holds. If you’re good, you’re good. If it bleeds only with the latter, than you know you need to use unscented wool wash or plain water for this particular item whenever you block or wash. If you don’t have a gauge swatch, you can either make one with your leftovers (recommended), or find the most obscure corner of your piece to do a test soak.

Now that you know to do a test next time, what can you do about the piece that’s ruined? There are a few products on the market, like color run removers and dye stain removers, but most people say they don’t work very well or at all with wool knits. Your best bet is to follow the steps above to prevent further bleeding in subsequent washings. For single-color bleeders, you could try to set the dye yourself with common household vinegar, but in order for that to work, you must also introduce heat. Vinegar alone in your blocking bath will not set dye, a commonly perpetuated myth and misunderstanding of the chemistry involved in using vinegar as a mordant.

In order to try dye-setting at home, you want to use a pot you can sacrifice from culinary use. Cover your yarn or knitted piece with water and add a generous glug of white vinegar. Bring slowly to a simmer over low heat and hold it there for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the item to cool in the water (to prevent felting in non-super wash items, and for safety’s sake…I mean, why bother handling simmering-hot fabric or yarn?), and then squeeze the excess water out and block/hang as normal.

Even the most well-dyed yarns from practiced and skilled dyers may bleed on occasion, due to either the saturation and richness of particular color families, or because of external factors affecting the chemistry of the dye process after the fact. Take care with the treasures you create, and always test before you wash. In this way, you should be able to enjoy your knits for years to come!


Tags:  business  business tips  TNNANews 

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How to Become an Affiliate with Online Teachers

Posted By TNNA Editor, Thursday, October 12, 2017
Updated: Saturday, October 7, 2017

By Joy MacDonell

In the past two decades, you as an independent retailer have been challenged by the rise of offline mass-market stores. Mass stores were able to leverage lower prices, broader selections and convenience, to put your retail success in jeopardy. But the seemingly overwhelming rise of mass stores has slowed and the new dominant force plaguing both mass and independent retailers is e-commerce. The next decade will be about the market fragmentation e-commerce will create. In this new climate, the independents who best adapt to the needs of the modern e-commerce shopper can not only compete in this new arena, but thrive.

The old retail goal used to be to get a customer to make a purchase. But in the new online world, an equally important goal should be to get permission to talk to these customers in the future. The most obvious and useful method is to obtain e-mail addresses. Failing that, getting your visitors to follow you on social media is vital to communication and your store’s community. Social media has shown that people enjoy sharing their creations and with a little encouragement from you can provide another outlet for that desire.


A new opportunity is now available to the independent retailer that was out of reach in the past. One method independents were able to utilize to compete with big box stores was in-store classes. This created a method of bringing in foot traffic, increased the educational level of your customer base, and created an image for you and your store to be the educational authority on your crafting. But as with all things, your customer is moving online. Your store needs to move with them.


There was a problem with in-store classes. They created tremendous pressure on you as an owner to generate new class ideas, find teachers, promote classes, and attract attendees. I am very familiar with the pressure of retail education as I used to own a scrapbook store where we had to teach new classes regularly. Online education opens a new line of revenue for you and can make it easier for a retailer to teach their customers without adding a ton of work to their already busy schedules. 


One method would be making your retail store an affiliate to an online educator. Often, that word "affiliate" gets tossed around without a definition.  Basically, it is a fancy word for "sales person" or "retailer".  Digital content is a sell-able item in a retail environment.  A store can earn an agreed upon percentage of a student's tuition just by telling customers the classes are available. For example, if I were selling an online class for $10 and your store were my affiliate and we had agreed upon a 25% commission, then you would get $2.50 every time you sent a student to my online school.


Thus, when a retailer becomes an affiliate of an online school - they can turn a profit, just like selling an item on the store shelf!  Except they don't have to reorder product or worry about being out of stock or even have to unlock the doors or turn on the lights to the store!  The customer can take the class at her leisure and maintain lifetime access to the education along with getting handouts and classroom assets.  The only thing the retailer needs to do is tell their customers that classes are available and provide their class affiliate link to the customer.  When the customer signs up for class, using the link, the store gets paid by the teacher.  It is that simple!  The store can provide links to classes on signage in-store, or through emails, blog posts, or social media - how they promote the class is completely up to them.


This accomplishes several things for the independent retailer.


1.       It is another way to get permission to talk to their customers in the future. Signing up for an online class also captures the customer’s email.

2.       It provides additional utility for your customers. The retail owner is now able to offer instore and online classes to its clientele.

3.       Education moves your customers into a deeper appreciation for the hobby they love. Craft enthusiasts who consider themselves an “expert” spend a disproportionate amount of their discretionary income on their hobby than crafters who consider themselves a “beginner.”

4.       It saves the owner from not only the headaches associated with creating an instore class from scratch, but also from the technical and logistical challenges of filming online classes (camera, lighting, audio, studio, scripts, etc.).

5.       Making your store an affiliate to on online school can generate income just like a product on a shelf - except that it is digital!


There are several teachers in the industry who have online classes that would love to be promoted in stores. One of the most popular is Mimi G who has a sewing academy ( Another is my own new online educational site called I am putting up new classes every few weeks. Becoming an affiliate with sites like these would provide numerous online classes immediately to any independent retailer.


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If you do have a little tech savvy with applications like Premiere Pro or Final Cut or know someone who does and would like to host your own classes, there are any number of sites such as Teachable ( that would allow you to host your own classes. In addition, many of these sites, including Teachable, allow you to determine who can author your courses. So you could recruit teachers locally, give them permission to author online educational videos and then share revenue with them in the same way.




A final suggestion for how you can leverage online classes to compete with bigger competitors is turn some of your old monitors into instore class displays. We have all walked through chain craft stores and seen displays running videos on a loop. You can do this with your own online courses. We all have an old monitor lying around. There are 7” HDMI displays on Amazon for as little as $60 ( or 24” monitors that are highly reviewed in the low $100s ( You can covert one of these monitors to a workable computer with an ASUS Chromebit for $85 ( or an Intel Compute Stick for $127 ( Now your old monitor can connect to the internet and run your own online educational courses on a loop.


This is just one of many methods you as an independent retail store owner can adapt to this new  e-commerce education model with your brick and mortar store. Adding your own courses to your online presence or becoming an affiliate to sites like or create new revenue streams, offers new utility to your customers, and captures email addresses that you need to generate conversations with your clientele.


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About Joy Macdonell

Joy Macdonell ( is a Creative Blogger and Fiber Consultant. Her job has provided her with lots of great opportunities to teach, including as the host of a television show on the DIY network (Greetings, from DIY) and one on PBS (Crafting at The Spotted Canary). She has also been the guest representative for Martha Stewart Crafts on the Home Shopping Network and has been the education director for the Martha Stewart Crafts brand since it launched in 2007. Prior to starting her career with EK Success Brands in 2001, she and her sister owned the very popular scrapbook store in Fairfax, VA, My Scrapbook Store.

Tags:  business  business tips  TNNANews 

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How to Engage Your Community in an Event

Posted By TNNA Editor, Thursday, September 14, 2017
Updated: Monday, September 11, 2017

How to Engage Your Community in an Event

 By Stephanie Shiman

Shop events are a great way to connect with your current customers and attract new ones, but how can you get the word out? Here are some ideas for publicizing your event and making it enjoyable for everyone.

Get the word out

Use your social media outlets and start mentioning the event two to three weeks in advance—or earlier if it’s a bigger event, like a weekend retreat.
Place eye-catching posters at other business or places where potential attendees will see them. Fabric stores, bead stores, and coffee shops are all good spots.
Put invitations in customers’ bags when they make purchases, perhaps including a coupon that is only valid during the event.
Post to your city or town’s online calendars. 
Consider cross-promoting with another small business. Will the local cupcake shop set up a table and sell goodies at your event? Will a local brewery or wine bar give out free samples? Help each other advertise and you will both benefit.
Signs and balloons outside your shop during the event will help get you noticed and make it easy for new customers to find you.

Provide some “shoppertainment”

Learning opportunities and demos during an event are great ways to get people excited to come and learn something new. It doesn’t need to be complicated. Set up a few tables and show simple but useful ideas and techniques, such as pom-pom and tassel making, needle felting and god’s eyes. A quick search on Pinterest for “simple yarn crafts” will bring up a wealth of clever ideas.
Coordinate vendor trunk shows with your event. Feature one brand or type of yarn during your event and have sample garments on hand for inspiration. Keep in mind that trunk shows often need to be reserved months in advance.
Feature a specific yarn’s story and help the customer get to know it better. For example, the story behind a hand-dyed yarn, or facts about raising alpacas and how their fiber is processed. When customers understand the story behind a product, they will more easily connect with it and have an appreciation for it.
Encourage your customers to bring their favorite knitted garments for a fashion show. Everyone loves show and tell!
Offer an exclusive buying opportunity during your event: a limited-run colorway or a flash sale.
Last, the classics are always a hit: free food and door prizes!

Learn all you can for the next event

Be sure to take many photos during the event and post them on social media. That will help people visualize what happened, even if they didn’t come. When you host the next event, they will have a concept that you can build on.

As soon as you can after the event is over, put everything you learned into a big envelope and label it “Next Event.” You can pull this information out next time, and it will give you a jump-start on planning, getting the word out, and providing a fabulous experience for you and your customers!

About Stephanie Shiman

Stephanie Shiman (www.frabjousfibers.comstarted frabjous fibers and Wonderland Yarns in 2004 with a box of yarn stashed under her dining room table.  Now, with a team of a dozen or so creative people, FF&WY hand-dyes fabulous yarns and fibers that make their way to LYS all over the world.

Tags:  business  business tips  TNNANews 

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Tips for Keeping Business Outreach Organized When You're Busy

Posted By TNNA HQ, Wednesday, August 23, 2017
Updated: Thursday, August 24, 2017

Tips for Keeping Business Outreach Organized When You're Busy

 By Stephanie Shiman

As the summer ends and the weather gets cooler, we enter into what is, for most, the busiest time of year in the needle industry. Add that to school starting, weather changing and holidays on the horizon; so much to keep up with! A little planning now can save you a lot of headache later when it comes to keeping marketing and customer relations organized during this busy season. Here are a few tips to help you manage your customer outreach.

Plan.  Make a calendar and map out the coming months.  Fill in holidays, special events, festivals, shows, sales and important shopping days, such as the three below:

Black Friday – November 24th

Small Business Saturday – November 25th

Cyber Monday – November 27th

Think about what you’d like focus on between now and your “end date”.  For example, using the winter holidays as the end date, September and October could be spent working on larger gift projects, November finishing last minute quick-knits and December choosing gifts for crafters—such as project bags, gift cards or other ideas that take little time to prepare.  What can be planned alongside the themes you choose -  classes?  Sales?  Webcasts? Pattern promotions?

Set realistic goals.  What goals do you have that you’d like to accomplish this busy season - better attendance at classes?  More sales from your website?  Research has shown that setting yourself two to three goals a day is more productive than giving yourself a long list for the week.  A short list helps keep goals manageable instead of overwhelming.  One acronym used in goal-setting is S.M.A.R.T.

Specific:  Be clear on what you want to accomplish.
Measurable:  How will you know when you’ve accomplished it?
Attainable:  Don’t set yourself up for failure by aiming too high.
Realistic:  Is what you’re working toward truly possible?
Time:  Attach a time frame, breaking bigger jobs into smaller tasks if necessary.

Keep this acronym in mind when planning.  Everyone loves that empowering feeling that comes with checking things off the to-do list; a carefully thought out list makes that easy! 

Schedule.  With most social media marketing platforms you can create posts in the present that can be scheduled to automatically post in the future.  This can help you stay currant with your customers even when you are at your busiest.  Set up as many of these as you can, saving time for on-the-fly posts as they occur.  The same can be done for email newsletters.  Even if you don’t have all of the details now, fill in as much as you can and save the drafts for later.

Divide and conquer! For larger projects and events, share the load with other members of your team!  Assigning tasks makes sure everything is dealt with and eliminates confusion regarding responsibility.  Whether you like pen and paper or project management apps such as Asana, it’s helpful to take the guesswork out of what needs to be done and who will be doing it.  

Ideally, applying any one (or more) of these tips will help you make it through the busy season with enough time to get to your own holiday craft projects!

About Stephanie Shiman

Stephanie Shiman (www.frabjousfibers.comstarted frabjous fibers and Wonderland Yarns in 2004 with a box of yarn stashed under her dining room table.  Now, with a team of a dozen or so creative people, FF&WY hand-dyes fabulous yarns and fibers that make their way to LYS all over the world.

Tags:  business  business tips  TNNANews 

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