marketing on a budget and growing your business


When I first started my clothing line, Random Nicole over a decade ago the internet was hardly a marketing tool for entrepreneurs the way it is now. There were no creative small business conferences like Craftcation. I built my business the old fashioned way and it cost me very little to market it, but the payoff was immense. The internet has become such an integral marketing platform for budding makers, yet we shouldn’t forget the traditional techniques. Below are a two simple ways I was able to connect with new customers and hold onto to current customers with a teeny tiny basically non-existent marketing budget.

We’re also HUGE fans of CreativeLive’s online Craft + Maker Business classes. Some of our favorite marketing classes are: Create Digital Products That Sell While You Sleep with April Bowles-Olin, Pinterest Marketing for Makers & Designers with Megan Auman, Marketing for Crafters: How to Talk About Your Work with Tara Swiger, Marketing for Crafters: Building Your Customer Path with Tara Swiger, Marketing for Crafters: Creating the Right Plan with Tara Swiger. We also love our friend Kari Chapin’s Start a Handmade Business and Build a Successful Creative Blog with April Bowles-Olin. You can check out all of CreativeLive’s Craft + Maker online classes HERE.

We also cover tons of marketing strategies for craft show vendors that will help you make the most of your time and effort at craft shows in our online workshop:

Craft Show Success: Make sales and build your business, confidence + community through selling at craft shows.

I share the tips and tricks I’ve learned from vending at over 300 craft shows and producing over 40 of them. You’ll learn how to: find and apply to the right show, develop your “look” using basic branding, prepare for shows with products, checklists, staff, and a pitch, merchandise and display products for maximum effect, deal with pricing, permits, and taxes + MORE!

Craft Show Success teaches you how to:

  • Find and choose the right craft shows for your brand
  • Determine and achieve your craft show goals
  • Get organized and be prepared before, during and after craft shows
  • Submit a stand-out application with great photos
  • Create cohesive branding for your business
  • Maximize your booth space and create unique on-brand displays
  • Price your goods for profit
  • Navigate licenses and permits
  • Maximize your time at the show
  • Build and solidify relationships with your customers, creative community and show producers

Click below to preview our Craft Show Success online workshop.

-Nicole S.


I created relationships with my customers by truly engaging with them in a genuine manner. I remembered their names and details about them. If you make things that truly reflect you, your things will attract people whose names you actually want to remember. I kept up with them through my email newsletter and through good old-fashioned snail mail. I sent them postcards for upcoming events and creative little handmade cards announcing new products. I always had a notebook on me to gather contact info at craft fairs as well as in my personal life.


I was a constant advertiser for myself. This wasn’t hard since I made clothing. This can be a little trickier if you don’t make wearables. If you make something that isn’t wearable consider making something is, even if it’s just for you. If you make ceramic pots perhaps you can make a small ceramic pin to wear or if you love knitting scarfs but sell paintings (which are hard to wear)… Wear a scarf anyway! This will at least start a conversation:
“I like your scarf.”
“Thank you so much. Actually, I made it.”

Then you can jump in and tell them about your amazing paintings. Then hand them your awesomely designed business card.
If I stepped out of the front door of my house I’d make sure I was wearing at least one thing I’d made. This was always a simple and natural way to start conversations with potential customers as well as get feedback on new designs. I also made sure all my friends had Random Nicole tees and skirts to wear. They became walking billboards for my business. When it was time to clean out my closet, my friend Paige would come over and leave with tons of Random Nicole hand me downs. She was an artist was constantly going to art openings. Since my designs were one of a kind and featured my drawings, the art show crowd fit my demographic. Paige was happy because she got to refresh her wardrobe for free and I was happy with all the new customers Paige referred to me. Tip: I made sure Paige always had my business cards in her purse.
The internet isn’t just a tool to spread the word about your awesomeness. It’s also a free source of business advice from seasoned creatives. Here are a few of my current favorite articles on the business side of making.

-Nicole S.

What’s the best marketing tip you’ve learned?


How to be a success at everything: 9 easy to steal habits of the super successful on Fast Company

5 tips to email big names on Design Sponge

How to grow your Etsy business with newsletters on the Etsy blog

Small business tips: making your little business bigger on Oh My Handmade Goodness

10 ways to be more popular on social media on Rock n Roll Bride

Making multiple revenue streams work for your business on Designing an MBA


  1. Great advice. When I was first starting up my business and people would ask what I did for a living, I’d proudly say “I make jewelry” and the immediate response I would get was “are you wearing any of you work? I’d love to see it”. A few times I was caught without any of my own work to show off. How embarrassing!! Now I make sure to wear my own work daily.

    1. Morgan: Just a suggestion, instead of replying,”I make jewelry.” Why not say, “I design and create jewelry.” I think it sounds more professional, than “make”. Lets people know that you are more creative. I’ve been in the craft biz for decades and have learned it’s important what you say and how you present your product.

      1. hi kathi,
        i agree. it is important to present yourself in a way that reflects your brand. i guess that’s different for everyone. i like the way you say you design + create – that tells people a bit more about your process. thanks for chiming in with tips from a seasoned craft biz owner 🙂

    1. thank aurora! that’s a super clever idea! and i love making buttons–perfect for crafting on the couch with a glass of wine and watching a movie i’ve seen a dozen time but can’t get enough of.

  2. I actually have a comment from the comments above. As a soapmaker, I am always trying to find ways to creatively explain what I do. Design and create is a great idea!

  3. Question: you mention your email newsletter. how do you collect their addresses?

    I sell through etsy and I think (not sure, i should check) that they had a rule about unsolicited emails. should I be doing it anyway?

    1. I suggest collecting email addresses from craft show customers. For Etsy – I would have a link to sign up for my newsletter in my confirmation email to my customers, that way they’re deciding if they want to sign up or not 🙂

  4. This is great info! As a new Etsy-r, I’ve been looking for ways to really engage with my fans & show them I care. Unfortunately Facebook’s restrictions limit this personal engagement a lot, so putting a link to an email signup page is great!

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