Well, like everything in your business, it depends on your plan and where you'd like your business to be in 12 months' time but generally, it's probably more than you think , especially in the beginning and it can be costly both in terms of time and money. There are no rules when it comes to the magic number but the more your brand is known, understood and trusted, the easier and less expensive it can be. Of course this also depends on your growth plans - if you're planning to expand your products, ranges, collections etc. then even a well known brand will require some heavy lifting in those early days to get recognised in new fields. Many creative entrepreneurs find that they spend at least 50% of their working time promoting their store - creating images, posting, writing blogs, networking etc. In fact, the amount of effort needed to promote your brand and products can be a bit of surprise when starting out (and not a pleasant one if you started your business thinking you were going to spend 90% of your time designing and creating).
The single biggest mistake I see from shop owners who have stores in online markets such as Etsy, eBay, Folksy etc. is that they believe that all they need to do is set up their shop, fill it with beautiful pictures and great descriptions and customers will find them. I'm not saying it's impossible, but it's unlikely. You need to think of those stores as merely a shop front and it's up to you to get people in front of it.
There are several ways you can do this and I would honestly advise you to have a go at every option available to you until you find what works for you and your shop. Let me tell you why. As much as digital marketers and sales guru's tell you they know the one fool proof way they can get you sales online, they don't. No-one does. No-one really gets how the intricate Facebook algorithms work (and anyway, they constantly change), and SEO (search engine optimisation) is dynamic and ever changing. What works for one person/brand might not work for another. There are basic rules to follow, of course there are, but trial and error is the only way you'll truly find your niche.
- Promote within the online store. I've seen this work and I've also heard many stories where it hasn't. Most promotions mean they put you on the top of the home page or add your store to "new" or "recommended" section. Try it with a couple of different items and check to see what works. Set a daily limit (going beyond $2/£1 a day is rarely worth it).
- Boost your Facebook posts/promote your page. This is the most effective way to increase "likers" to your page and then move them into your online shop. THE most important thing here is to be consistent. You should be posting 2/3 times a day and ensure your posts are in keeping with your brand. Ensure you have created a "call to action" on our page and added your shop link.
- Network. Even if you only sell online, always have business cards with you and hand them out when people show interest in your business and ALWAYS have them available if you sell at markets or fairs. Join forums, groups and pages that relate to creative entrepreneurship and join in. No-one likes a hard sell but often getting known on these pages as an "expert" leads to repeat sales.
- Blog or Guest Blog. Often a blogger will be grateful for the offer of a guest blogger for a week, or start one of your own. Alternate your content between useful, generous (give something away - e.g. a trade secret or a valued supplier), entertaining, engaging and of course, promotional. It's ok to talk about your latest offerings, especially if your readers have already heard about your inspiration for the piece, your challenges in putting it together and your pride in completing it.
Remember that different things can work for different people/brands. Go onto any crafting forum and you'll see contradictory advice of what works and what doesn't. If it works for you, ignore the naysayers and instead offer advice of how you manage to make it work for you. Remember to keep exploring though - there are new platforms on the market constantly (or new functionalities added to existing ones) and trends move around so don't become complacent or lazy. Above all, keep consistent with your output and don't give up!