As I write my weekly column for The Lingerie Addict, I'm thrilled every time I get to feature one of our Oxford Conference of Corsetry alumni. Seeing the modern generation of corsetieres graduate from enthusiastic dabblers to passionate entrepreneurs is pretty exciting. As you transition from a Facebook fanpage to a professional website, here are a few things to keep in mind. (I'm leaving the design stuff pretty out of this installment - with Alison on board, I don't think I could do the topic much justice!)
I know it's a lot of work to launch a website. It's important to remember that a website will continually be in a state of evolution. You can't wait until it's "done" or "just right," because there'll always be something to change, update, improve. Figure out what the minimum of content you need is and start with that. Too much information will just confuse your clients anyway. That said, here are some tips, focusing on things that are often forgotten in creating a site.
- Location, location, location - I shouldn't have to hunt through a bio, about me, contact page, Facebook page, and Etsy store looking for your location only to eventually track it down on your Model Mayhem page. Make your location easy to find. You don't have to spotlight it on your front page unless you feel an innate connection to your home base, but it should be in either your about me or contact page, if not both. In a craft industry, clients like to support not only artists, but local artists. Plus, corsetry is an intimate experience and nothing can beat an in-person consultation and fitting.
- The second thing I look for is the date your brand was established. I realize that's a fuzzy line - is it when you made your first corset or made your first sale? For me, I chose the year I named my line, Pop Antique. Either way, let people know. It's always the most shocking to me when legacy brands (those established 15, 20, 25 or more years ago) don't include their launch year. Even if you just launched, that's okay! That means you're "up-and-coming," maybe even a new corsetry prodigy. It's often the brands that I see seemingly come out of nowhere that excite me the most with a fresh perspective. Re-branding is a good way to reinvigorate interest, but remember to make a clean switch to your new name and marketing strategy, and do mention your former name in your company history.
- Have some pricing guidelines clearly posted. An Etsy store may be easy and affordable to set up, but from what I hear, it's not the best sales tool these days. At least, not at this price point! A professional website is a must, and most of them make it easy to integrate a shopping card/web-store. I use, and LOVE, Squarespace. It's affordable and easy to set up. When an Etsy store is barren, it's sometimes hard to gauge whether the person is on hiatus or inattentive, and there's no way (as a client) to gauge your interest in that person's style and price point. Even if you're stuck on using Etsy for actual sales, or only do bespoke and therefore have few standard prices, try to have some basic pricing guidelines easily available on the website. You could put this on a page called, "Pricing," or, "Investment," something that will feel intuitive when seen in a menu. Don't confuse your portfolio with your pricing information. Clients easily fixate on specifics and will have a hard time understanding what parts of a concept are standard.
With all that said... I do have one design tip. When in doubt, simpler is better. Go with clean, easy to read formatting and fonts.
Now that you've got your website spruced up, don't forget to submit to the new Alumni Directory!