{Business Tips} Sometimes it Takes a Village

Image of “Little House” by Wearwolf

I’ve written quite a few interesting topics here on EcoEtsy (if I may say so myself) things like how to Price for Profit, SEO stuff, and I’ve offered quite a few marketing tips and techniques.  In a post title Driving Traffic to Your Shop, I wrote a little blurb on how to use sample boxes to market your business and  I referenced Lisa of Lilfishstudios EcoEtsy blog post “Using Handmade “Sampler” Programs to Advertise Your Business“.

However, I thought we could use a different perspective on the whole sample box deal.

Recently, I became a new Villager in Sampler Village.  Within an hour or so of my joining, my was shop approved, tweeted and facebooked.   As a villager, I immediately gained some pretty great exposure, my fan page gained 15 new fans within minutes of Sampler Village’s social media campaigning and I gained access to a Villager page on the site where I could upload some products and have them listed under one of her categories.  I discovered that Villagers are actually active participants. This one experience raised the bar for my expectation of other sample boxes.

I was curious about the Sampler Village operation, so I set out to find answers. I asked Traci Porczynski, owner & queen of Sampler Village, if she would be so gracious to allow me to interview her. She agreed!

You started Sampler Village in 2009, how long did it take for Sampler Village to really take off?

Sampler Village was a gleam in my eye long before we actually started. I had been in contact with many fellow crafters and etsians for quite some time before we went ahead with Sampler Village. I wanted to make sure that Sampler Village would be a success, it was and still is! Sampler Village was founded on September 29, 2009 and we have been growing in leaps and bounds ever since. We just celebrated our 2nd Anniversary and we are proud of it! We offered our very first sampler boxes in November of 2009, we had 30 boxes for sale and sold out within 2 days. We were on top of the world. Fast forward 2 years, last month, we offered 125 boxes and sold out within 1 week. I would say the last 2 years have been very good to us.

How involved is your family in your businesses?

My family is my support group, always there for me. But it pretty much ends there. I am a perfectionist and I like lovingly packing every single sampler box myself. It takes quite some time, but I LOVE it! You know when you purchase a Sampler Village box, exactly who packed it for you…ME :)

You do a ton of promoting when a new villager signs-up to participate in a box.  Can you share your process when a new villager signs-up to participate in a box?  

When a new Villager (box participate) signs up, they fill out a short sign up form on our website, I am then emailed that I have a new Villager “in waiting”. I will go review the new Villagers information (just be sure they are suitable for Sampler Village) before I activate their Villager Account. At this point, they are Villager and are treated as such, with all the Sampler Village perks! They have their very own Villager page on our website that they can manage, update and add product listing links. Sampler Village promotes every new Villager on our Facebook page (5,500 fans) and our Twitter page (1,800 followers). Sampler Village as a whole is promoted on search engines, blogs, facebook pages, etsy shops, top 100 sites & more!

What media do you find most effective when promoting villagers and the sample boxes?

Facebook, by far, is our main promotion site. With 5,500 fans following our page, we know that promoting their is our best bet in getting Villagers the attention they deserve. When our sampler boxes go on sale, we promote on fb, twitter and our newsletter are our primary forms of notification. The boxes are promoted constantly on all our pages.

Can you share some stats for Sampler Village for the year or the last month?

Facebook: 5,500 total fans  Twitter: 1,831 total fans  Blog: 1,083 followers. Website stats for September..Number of visits 7,024 , number of pages visited 78,716. That means each visitor is visiting an average of 11 pages on our website. So each visitor is basically checking out 10 or more Villagers.

Sampler Village boast 9 sites. How do you juggle managing all the sites? Is it a full-time job?

Yes, Sampler Village is my one and only full time job. Sampler Village is my passion so I do not think of it as a “job”, I just love doing it! We do have lots of fun social sites and sometimes they are hard to keep up with. I definitely focus on facebook as our main social and promotion site. I love interaction with Villagers and Fans so that is the best place to do it. Sampler Village loves doing giveaways, talking handmade and having fun.

In your opinion, what are the benefits to an Etsy Seller who participates in the Sampler Village box?

Benefits are you will getting your samples out for people to experience and enjoy. You will also get traffic to your shop and I you will get you new facebook fans (which we hope turn into customers). Now as with any form of advertising, I am straight forward in saying that I can’t guarantee you sales. I wish I could say that but I can’t. I CAN GUARANTEE you traffic to your shop and new facebook fans. When you sign up I will post on our Facebook page about you with your facebook tag included which will almost immediately get people coming and “liking” your facebook page. In the same post I reference your website or etsy shop, so you will have visitors checking out your shop too.

What tips can you offer an Etsy Seller regarding product packaging for either a sample box or their own shop? 

Be Fabulous! That is one of favorite words and I use it often. Being fabulous means, make your products EYE CATCHING. With the sampler boxes, you are in there with other samples, so make yours the one the buyer pulls out first. Having your (already fabulous products) packaged perfectly is just icing on the cake!

I’m an Etsy Seller, what tips/techniques can you offer me to help me effectively promote my shop using social media?

Post, Post, Post. Comment, Comment, Comment. Tweet, Tweet, Tweet. Social media is your best form of self promotion. Promoting yourself constantly is important. Having a sale, post, comment, tweet about it. Have a new product, post, comment, tweet about it. You get the idea :) Sampler Village Villagers also get the perk of promoting on the Sampler Village Facebook Page, so just by posting on there you have the potential of reaching out to 5,500 new customers.

What is one thing that you and your family have done to go green?

About a year ago, my husband came home with about 40 CFL lightbulbs. I was thrilled. We went through the entire house changing all the lightbulbs. It is amazing how many lightbulbs you can have in one house, we actually had to go get more. But we just had such a great feeling afterwards. It was definitely worth it!

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Find Traci by one of the following links:

Sampler Village Home
Sampler Village Etsy
Sampler Village Blog
Sampler Village Twitter
Sampler Village Facebook
Sampler Village You Tube
Sampler Village Etsy Team
Sampler Village Blog Team
Sampler Village Twitter Team

About Myra @ HerbanLuxe

Myra is an Etsian with an MBA. The art of business and technology are her two obsessions. She has been writing EcoEtsy Business Tips since 2010. Myra grew up in Puerto Rico with grandparents who were a head of their time and didn't know it - living what we would call today, "a simple green life." Her love of learning and teaching are the key drivers in almost everything she does.

Comments

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  2. Traci is the best!!! When she first contacted me I thought “oh great, now what?” but I have been with her almost the whole time & she is “fabulous”! She is the queen of promotion, anytime I have any little new thing she is right on it!!! Sampler Village has been a blessing to me! YOU GO GIRL!!!

  3. I can tell you, that Traci surprised me, because anytime I’ve had questions, she was there to answer them and help, and seemed quite happy and patient about it. She is really good about promoting the villagers in many ways, and shes always so nice. And if you want to have a little extra promo for your shop, you can add a coupon or a card with the samples you send in, and get that extra exposure. I love being a part of Sampler Village!

  4. Sampler Village has been God sent to me and my business. I was just about to close up shop when Traci ( my business angel) sent me a message via Etsy and asked me to become a part of this village, and boy am I GLAD I DID! I have not only gotten tons of Fans on my Facebook page but because of her VILLAGE I am making wonderful friends with people who enjoy HANDMADE as much as me. I have already decided to be a lifelong Villager!

  5. Traci is so good to her villagers. She always promotes us on her sites and takes excellent care of us. If you are a handmade artisan, you need to be part of Sampler Village, it’s such a great way to get new customers and to make new, like-minded friends in the Village.

  6. If you are an EcoEtsy member and haven’t checked out the SamplerVillage Facebook Page, you really need to stop by and see first hand how interactive Traci is with her fans https://www.facebook.com/SamplerVillage2

  7. Kim Cahoon says:

    Trace was very helpful to me when it came time to purchase my first sample box this month. She assured me I wouldn’t be disappointed, and I wasn’t. I loved the samples, and some of the Villagers totally wowed me with the packaging? I shared all the little girls items with my friend, because I have all boys, and have a huge stack of business cards I will be referring to. I appreciated the exclusive discount codes! :)

  8. Love Traci and Sampler Village! I’m a newer villager and I have a great time and have a great community! We support each other and help each other to all give the sales fairy a kick in the pants. This a great way to show a lot of customers a snippet of what you can do for them and try to draw them in for more sales! Love it!!

  9. Traci and Sampler Village is a great way to promote and have a ton of fun! Even if business may be slow in some months, you know that you get to make all your products for Sampler Village to help get sales and keep you in practice! LOVE IT!

  10. I adore Traci and all the Villagers at Sampler Village! As a new villager myself, I was treated with a warm welcome from day one. I really think Traci is one of the hardest working people I know! I don’t know how she does it all, I swear she seems to be everywhere at once! It is a wonderful community and I am grateful to be part of it!

  11. Nice article..thanks for all of the great info……

  12. Sampler village is amazing and so is the wonderful woman Traci that runs it all.she is the nicest sweetest person i have had the pleasure to get to know and the villagers and wonderful people as well and have the best handmade products out there.