In short? A f’in nightmare.
Print advertising seems like it’s hardly worth mentioning. I’d love to be able to afford to advertise in my favorite feminist magazine… I did, once, when I first started HaldeCraft, but it’s gone up from about $300/issue to $500/issue, and “they” (“experts,” whatever that means) says that you need a minimum of three month print advertising in front of the same eyes before people start responding to your ad.
I have taken out ads in friend’s kids school theater playbills, but it’s hard to tell if that’s where people have found me.
That leaves online advertising, and hoooooooooooooooooooooo boy, what a FUN CARNIVAL GAME OF LUCK that is! I’ve already even got something going for me, in that my shop is hosted by Shopify, which has been slowly gathering integrations/extensions. So it has “sales channels” which are ones that automagically sync with your Shopify back end once you get them set up (more on this in a sec) and there are extension apps that will “handle” cross-posting for you to many of those places, and/or social media places. Honestly, looking through it all is enough to make me crawl back under the covers for a week or two.
Amazon Handmade – I tried this one when Shopify first added it, and honestly I don’t even know if they integrate any more because it was so expensive ($45/month plus percentages) and so time-consuming to re-write everything, I gave up and cancelled it after a couple of months.
Etsy – Sigh, I have stooped to using Etsy again, but just for advertising. Well, I call my listing fees there, and the app I use ($20/month) to sync things from Shopify to Etsy, part of my advertising budget. I’ve been doing this for a month and it did get me an $80/sale so … so far it’s worth it? If it didn’t sync seamlessly I wouldn’t do it, though. When I first started out, I started on Etsy, and then started to move to Shopify because I had some growing pains, and it was nigh impossible to keep the same stock as available in both places. So this? Advertising budget. Plus my time to double-check the listings I sync over, which are ones that I can choose, it doesn’t just upload everything.
Facebook/Instagram – Lawd have mercy. Pull up a chair, pour a drink.
So, Meta is a sales channel that Shopify offers; meaning, I can plug in a bunch of info (or it takes info) from my back end on Shopify, ports it directly to FB/Insta, and then I have a “Facebook” or “Instagram” shop that I can use. It does sync stock, so I don’t have to worry about that, but I do have to spend time making the shop look like what I want it to look like. It only costs small percentages, though, so… so far the biggest sync has been my time. And my mental bandwidth, because although everything was working FINE for a couple of years, whenever they started it… there was some sort of change in the last six months or so and now everything is borked.
The Business Commerce part of Facebook constantly tells me that there are problems with my FB shop; that I need to upload a business license or other official document proving that I am who I say I am. Can I find my business license? Hahaha. No. So, Articles of Incorporation, then? Nope. Doesn’t like those. Sales Tax info from the Florida Department of Revenue? Nope, doesn’t like those either. FEIN Number? Sure, they’d love it! And although you can look those up online, to cross-check that I am who I say I am, they want an original, official document. Same thing with a Sales Tax number. The Government telling them, online, that I am who I am, isn’t good enough. They want papers. So if I can’t find those papers? Hahahaha. Too bad.
However! My Facebook shop seems to be there. I can’t really make it look like anything having categories, so frustratingly, everything is just thrown up there. Including some things that I’ve marked on the back end of Shopify as “hidden” or “draft” and not actively for sale because I’m out of it. So that’s great. But my Instagram shop seems to be non-existent. I’ve been able to make kind of a workaround by starting to use Tailwind to post to Insta, instead of the Meta Business Suite, because Tailwind as a thing they call “social bio” or something, where I can basically make shop page that is …. of things I post about on Instagram, in the order that I post them. So, again, no organization. Good times.
Will I ever fucking get this fixed? I have no idea. It’s not like I have a whole three days to devote to it, and in working on it just a little bit at a time, I forget what I’m doing, or what I’ve already done, and I feel like a dog chasing it’s own tail.
Oh! Oh! And I’m also in trouble with Facebook right now, because they say one of my posts violated community standards. Let me see if I can screenshot the post….
Huh. Well. OK. I mean, that looks like about 80% of my posts, and they’ve never had a problem with any of those. I wonder how they thought that was … wrong?
OK, so you’re telling me that a computer decided it was … threatening? or something? Can I get a little more clarification on that?
Well obviously I appealed it. Because my post wasn’t doing any of those three things. They denied my appeal, within minutes. I appealed it again. It was allegedly going to be looked at by a human, and I would be gotten back with in four business days. That was… fuck, July? August? Meanwhile, my OG profile (Lorena, instead of Lore) is in danger of being restricted, or even disabled, if I go against their Community Standards again. How do I know if I’ll do that, if I didn’t think I was doing that in the first place? Good thing, I guess, that I have that second account, because before I started the Lore account, if I lost access to the Lorena account, I’d also lose access to my HaldeCraft account… making all of this trying to sell on Facebook and Instagram a Moot Point.
Oh! Oh~! And, AND, I haven’t even gotten into buying ads/paying to promote posts on FB/Insta. First, a lot of people I know use ad blockers on Facebook. And I hear that Facebook is rolling out a paid version, to be ad-free. So why would I even pay to advertise on Facebook if I’m definitely not going to be seen?
Anyway! Moving on!
Pinterest – Another sales channel through Shopify, so allegedly it will sync my products and people can buy directly off Pinterest, and Pinterest takes a small percentage. Except! Hahahaha! Pinterest doesn’t believe that I have a return policy posted, in spite of me having had it posted since I started using Shopify in 2012. And they have a three-strikes policy; you’re only allowed to appeal their “we don’t think you’re following our rules” three times before they won’t let you sell through them. I sent them my final, third, “BUT MY POLICY IS POSTED HERE” back in… early September? Late August? And I was told I’d hear back in 3-5 business days. I haven’t heard back yet. And there’s no way to jump-start the process. I’m just wearily stuck in “your merchant account is under review” purgatory. So, again, there’s a Tailwind workaround like there is with Instagram, so I’m using that… but I’d sure like to just have things automagically ported in there from my shop.
Ravelry – like Etsy, I am now using Rav again for advertising. I don’t have an active forum there any more, everyone sort of ported over to the HaldeCult on Facebook because of some… choices… that the Rav people were making. And you know that’s got to be some fucked up choices if Facebook is the better option! But I’m getting to the point where if someone will easily let me advertise with them in return for money, SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY. I’ve seen a lot of hits from the new ads (I started last month) and I have had a couple of new sales, but it’s hard to narrow down if they’re from Rav or not.
TikTok – another Shopify sales channel, so… guess what isn’t really working? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH sob. I have no idea why. I think it was, at first, and actually… if I go to Tiktok, I have a shop BUTTON (which is more than I can say for Instagram)… but it says that there are no products yet. On the back end of TikTok in the Business Suite it tells me, that similar to Facebook, they want an original of my Business License, or I can go fuck myself. However! The back end of Shopify tells me that I’m good to go with TikTok, I’m just waiting for my products to sync. So who the fuck knows what’s going on….
Tumblr – I give up. I tried Tumblr, I let it sit, I used an IFTTT recipe to cross-post from Insta to Tumblr because I just never got over to Tumblr, the IFTTT recipe failed because of some sort of I don’t even know what, and now I’m back to ignoring Tumblr again, for the most part. My personal blog, this one, will cross-post to Tumblr, but nothing work-related will. For the love of god…..!
Twitter/X – I deleted my Twitter account the day after Elon Musk bought it, and I have regretted nothing.
Other newish social media sites such as Mastodon/Spoutible/Threads – I have signed up for those, used my work name as the login (well, Threads I got automagically, because of Insta) but I decided that I’d actually rather use those to talk to human beings as a human being, because if you’ve even skimmed the above and not read it all, you’re probably half as tired as I am trying to figure out how to promote HaldeCraft.
OMG y’all, I’m so tired. All I want to do is sit in my studio and listen to the birds outside and trip over my dogs while I’m making art.
PS. The irony of Jetpack automagically posting about this post on both Facebook and Insta (and Tumblr, and Mastodon) is not lost on me. How early on Sunday is too early to start drinking? Asking for a friend who is a small maker/artist with a twitchy eye.