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Handbags to Hard Cash - U-Handbag’s Craft Business Success Story


Lisa Lam from U-Handbag.comUK based entrepreneur Lisa Lam runs an eCommerce site selling handbag making supplies, and was my BlogTip-ee for February. I asked Lisa to guest blog about how she started U-Handbag, and especially how she is using her blog to promote her business.

Her hard work is paying off, and blogging is actually allowing her to spend less on PPC campaigns. Lisa shares some GREAT insights on how to succeed in the crafting business, and how to put together a smart online marketing and blogging strategy to increase her revenue and market reach. Give her a warm shout out too, because she’s so darn cool!

My business was born out of what I saw to be gap in the market. It all started from when I was working from home designing and making soft furnishings to sell to local shops and from a weekly craft market. The seeds were sown when I was given a large bagful of fabric off-cuts from a local curtain maker. I decided to turn the off-cuts into bags and I sold the bags so quickly - much faster than anything else. So I just made bags and they kept selling.

A few factors made me make the leap to starting this business;

I had PERSONAL EXPERIENCE of finding it impossible to source the necessary bag making supplies in the UK and I came into contact with many other women who made bags who complained of the exact same thing.

KNOWLEDGE OF PRODUCT I had a very good idea of just what supplies a bag maker at home would need to make her bags (being that very person myself!). I also already a good raft of bag making supply wholesale contacts from being one of their customers.

RESEARCH INTO MARKET I am an avid web surfer (I practically live on my
lap-top) so I knew what the score was on the US craft scene, and trends that do well (such as bag making) in the US almost always trickle down to Europe.
Also, I asked my US suppliers about US craft trends and they all told me that bag making as a trend had been going strong (with no signs of abating) for the last five years. It was only just beginning to take off in the UK (It’s still in its infancy - Yaay!). At the time there was only one more competitor on the web, and they are based in AUS. So I also knew I wouldn’t have an uphill struggle with the amount of competition.

PASSION/ENTHUSIASM I love bag making so much for so many reasons, surely other people will too. I just have to introduce the idea to them and make it easier for the newbies.

UNIQUE SELLING POINTS I’ve been a seasoned online shopper for a long time and along the way I’ve gained very definite ideas of what I’d like from an online store in terms of usability and customer service. So I’ve tried to put those things into practice in the hope that customer and visitors will have a positive experience browsing my store. I think my USPs are:

  • Super fast turn-around; the product descriptions are deliberately personable (it works for Ben & Jerry’s)
  • Tutorials to sell my products - it only costs me a few hours of my time but it gives my customers confidence (and inspiration) to buy
  • I hope to make my customers feel important by showing off their work in galleries, and in turn I use those pics to sell my products.

SUPPORT FROM LOVED ONES My lovely husband knew that I hadn’t ever truly felt fulfilled in my work and he saw that when I talked about my new idea that it got me excited like he’d never seen before. So even though the shop seemed a little too specialist he (and my mum, and sister) encouraged me to go with my gut feeling or risk never feeling truly fulfilled… (Note from Wendy - I’ll ditto this one!!)

Lisa's Yummy Stuff!

Lisa’s Online Marketing and Promotion Strategy

1. Right now I’m seriously getting into using my blog to promote the site.
I’m finding that it’s the greatest place to provide tutorials; show off customer’s bags; and give my customers an insight of the person that they are buying from (to hopefully increase their trust in me). I have the freedom to be more conversational and less business like in my blog which I’m finding that my visitors do appreciate. Filling my blog with useful content has had the benefit of my blog being picked up by other blogs all over the world and this has directed a lot of traffic to my blog (and in turn my site) without me needing to do anything except write. That said, learning about (and linking, linking, linking!!!) the business, blogging, and craft community on the web thru blogging has been an incredibly enriching experience for me. I can’t recommend blogging for your business strongly enough. There is so much support, warmth, and inspiration out there in the blogosphere just waiting for you - all you have to do is join in! If I knew what impact blogging was going to have on my business I would have started it from day one.

2. Google PPC - this is pricey YUK! But I think it’s a necessary evil for online based business. Now that my blog is directing a lot of traffic to my blog I have been able to decrease my spend with Google THANK GOD!!

3. I write tutorials every month for a major UK sewing magazine. I don’t get paid a lot for this but I do receive a stockist’s credit every month in a magazine which has a big circulation.

4. I hunt around for other online stores who’s interests do not hugely clash with mine and swap links with them.

5. I regularly post on craft forums with either pictures of my bags, tutorials, or answering bag making queries. Each time I post on these forums my website url and my blog appears in my signature.

6. I also have my web and blog url in my email signature.

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On February 27th, 2007 at 5:05 am, Lisa Lam said:

Hey Wendy,

Thanks heaps for the big-up in the intro!

Really Love the new template; it’s very fresh and easy on the eye.

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