Starting an online business isn’t easy.
You are excited about your idea, you invest all your time, effort and money into it and most of the times you end up few months after hearing crickets.
I’ve been seeing many of my own attempts growing slowly.
My products disappearing from the Etsy results, my Instagram with barely likes…
As entrepreneur and creative I’ve started several businesses: from handmade products such as handmade soaps, clutches, kimonos or pencil cases to my graphic & web design studio & the cherry of my cake: Lovers Love Loving.
Lovers Love Loving is my custom wedding stationery design studio, which I launched back in 2015, when I was living in Ibiza.
The idea came naturally, talking with a friend who recently moved to the island too and was looking for opportunities as photographer.
We thought that joining our forces would be a good idea and since the island itself is a top destination for beach weddings, we got excited with the idea!
Thanks to a previous call I had with Mei to get clarity on my Instagram and handmade business at the time and the great course she had to crack the Instagram game, I told my friend: I know what we need to do.
Analysing our ideal clients
The first step was to conceptualise our branding. And as a graphic designer I can tell you that your branding is much more than your logo.
A branding means a cohesive look but also a strong concept.
You need to reflect your brand values in everything you publish, you need to use the same tone in all your publications, you need to be clear in your goals and the actions you want your audience to take in order to accomplish your goals… And you need of course to know your clients better than they know themselves.
And that’s what we did!
Honestly, we were so excited about the idea that we created our full branding in just an afternoon.
We knew there were many couples getting married in Ibiza, but we couldn’t focus on all of them.
One of the things I’ve learnt on my long entrepreneur business is that the more you focus your niche, the better.
So we decided to go for those couples who were not locals, the ones who were choosing Ibiza as destination for their wedding.
That meant that many of our clients were from outside Spain, mostly from UK.
When you know where your clients live, you get clear what language you need to write on to connect with them.
We also investigated which magazines they write when they got engaged, which blogs and influencers they follow, which style they like…
If you want to know in depth all the information we analysed about our ideal clients, I’ve prepared a workbook with everything explained in detail.
You can download it for free here: https://www.heartmade.es/workbook-ideal-butterfly-profile/
Once we had a clear picture of our ideal clients, I started applying all what I learnt from Mei.
Her Instagram course was a game changer for me and I created a system to grow our account as fast as possible.
The process went like this:
1) Posting a lot:
I decided that the best strategy to start was to post 3 times a day, different kind of publications, and see how people were reacting to them.
I knew it was crucial to continue studying our ideal clients, specially during the first months, and Instagram data was perfect for it.
At that time there were not analytics inside the tool but there were other platforms where you could check the statistics of your account, and that’s what I used!
2) Using the right hashtags:
Another thing I learnt from Mei was to investigate and discover the right hashtags for each publication.
We shared inspirational images, photographies from my colleague, designs made by me, behind the scenes pictures to show how we worked, quotes, tutorials…
So I made a long list of hashtags for each kind of publication, because each category was different.
All those categories came up from our ideal client study, so if you want to do the same with your business don’t miss up the opportunity to download my workbook for free here: https://www.heartmade.es/workbook-ideal-butterfly-profile/
3) Interacting with couples:
We’ve all been there: We are excited about our brand and we post everything from our heart, but when it comes to results it seems we are invisible.
This is because the hard truth is that we are really invisible in this big sea of online entrepreneurship.
What I knew for sure was that couples will not find us naturally at the beginning, so we manually searched for them and interacted in their profiles to attract their attention.
The key was that our profile was perfect for them: full of ideas, inspiration and posting almost all day.
So when they visited our profile they felt in love and they followed us.
It was all working well because we took the time to study their needs and taste and we posted everything specially for them.
4) Interacting with influencers:
Another great factor to grow our Instagram followers from 0 to 1000 in just few months was the work we did with influencers.
But let me be clear with one thing here.
I’m not talking about sending products or asking to famous bloggers to share our products in exchange of a fee or a free good.
I’m not a fan of sending free samples to every single person who asks for it in exchange to free publicity.
As I said: It’s all about studying your ideal clients, and from there you will know exactly which brands are great to work with and which ones are worth investing in publicity.
We payed some publicity in vendors lists, but when it comes to Instagram and blogs we got all the features for free.
To attract their attention what I did was following them, commenting and interacting in their publications, reposting my favourite ones, using hashtags they follow and hashtags to be featured…
Side note: Yes, there are hashtags specially to be featured! There are several IG accounts that select some images every week and repost them in their feed.
And if you want to be discovered by new potential clients for free, this is a great technique.
But again! Don’t try to be featured in any account! Just because it has a big audience it doesn’t mean it’s full of potential clients for you.
I once got featured in a cactus themed instagram with one of my watercolor paintings, but I did not got great results from it because their audience is interested in cactus and my account isn’t focused on that.
Finally, I want to share with you the steps I took to get featured in 6 blogs from our niche during the first months.
This is one of the most exciting things that can happen to your brand, and at the same time is much more beneficial than being featured in a huge Instagram account.
The previous months before launching Lovers Love Loving I had been studying how to get featured on the media with my handmade products.
And since I got great success from that, I decided to follow the same strategy with our new wedding business.
Again, I focused on what my audience was interested on. I wanted to be featured in the magazines and blogs that my clients read, not everywhere.
So after researching and selecting the best candidates, I made a list of them and we decided to create content specially for them.
We were starting and I could create as many designs as I wish just as sample, but my colleague could not take photographies of “imaginary weddings”.
That’s why in our case worked great to do styled shootings. We contacted other vendors from the island and we did a shooting every two weeks.
We conceptualised the theme, thinking about our ideal clients but also about the current trends to be attractive to the influencers we wanted to pitch.
With all the pictures and my experience contacting the media, we got 6 features in huge blogs in just 6 months!
The great thing about being featured in blogs is that the results keep coming because the post is always live.
The day of the feature you get tons of visits because they publish it in their blog, they share it in social media and sometimes even in their newsletters.
But then after the high peak of the feature day, people keeps finding their post and keeps clicking and visiting your website.
And there are many other great results from being featured in the media:
Of course, when people are willing to hire someone, if they find you mentioned by an influencer they trust, this will make them trust you too.
Also, getting links from big websites to your own domain is great in terms of SEO. When you start you can work hard on using the correct words on your blog posts but you are still too small for Google.
When websites with high authority (this is how Google names the websites with a huge following, great SEO, many visits, many content, etc…) link to your website, this tells Google that you are related to their content and that you are a little bit less smaller that it seems :)
Just as recap, note that all the strategies we followed during the first months were always focused on our ideal clients.
During the first months we got bookings thanks to all that hard work we did, and even though my friend decided to continue on her own and I moved out of Ibiza, I still get contacts today from couples who are getting married in Ibiza and want to work with me.
If you feel your brand is stuck or you are just starting and don’t know how to grow fast, remember that the key is to know your ideal clients better than they know themselves.
With this information, you can create anything and be sure they will love it, because you will be creating specially for them!
Claudia Orengo is the watercolor artist & graphic designer behind Heartmade.es and Loversloveloving.com. Heartmade focuses on helping other online entrepreneurs attract their ideal clients with memorable branding and web designs. Lovers Love Loving is a custom wedding stationery studio based in Barcelona but serving worldwide.