Create a Tribe of Followers by Being Different

Being different is tough, especially at first. Selling something unusual, that won’t appeal to as broad an audience as a bronze-toned owl necklace might, is a challenge to get off the ground. But, I’m here to tell you, when you DO get your unique products found by the people who love them, they will be fiercely loyal to both you, and what you are selling.

It’s like the marketing geniuses say: If you try to appeal to everyone you’ll end up appealing to no one.

Say you are a photographer, and you want to start selling your pictures on Etsy. You might take a look around, and quickly see that a lot of sparkly pictures of carnival rides sell well, and are sold by several of the photographers within the marketplace. You now have two choices: try to compete with these already established sellers by selling very similar items to theirs, or, sell something completely different. Monty Python style.

What if: you took some inspiration from these sellers (such as carnival rides) but put your own spin on it? For example, scary images of carnival rides completed with splattered blood and frightening clowns would appeal to the horror-loving crowd. Or, stylized, pastel-colored renditions of these rides could work well for children’s nurseries. See what I did there? I just carved out two possible niche markets that a photographer could be aiming for, rather than the very general definition of anyone who shops on the internet.

Not everyone thinks my eye rings are cool – and that’s a GOOD thing!

When you establish a niche market by selling something unique and different, you will be able to more effectively target your desired audience with the appropriate marketing. You will be able to identify where they hangout online, what they “like” on Facebook, and which local events they might be attending. Since you are making items that your target market is more likely to LOVE, they will also be more likely to become loyal followers of you and help spread the word. By merely selling something unique, your tribe of initial customers will help do a lot of your promotion for you. Who, after all, doesn’t want to be first to tell the world about an awesome new product they just bought?

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19 thoughts on “Create a Tribe of Followers by Being Different

  1. Heather Everson Design February 4, 2013 at 7:16 am Reply

    Very good post! Many people believe if they make “what sells” then they’ll get more sales and it’s just not true most of the time since all you’re doing is adding to an already flooded market. I find that making my own unique touches and adding my own flair to my nature inspired jewelry helps give me an edge in a crowded market. There may be a lot of owl necklaces out there but there’s only ONE of my unique design (well unless someone copies me but that’s a different matter)! This way I can still create what I love without becoming a sell out, because that’s just not cool.

    • MegansBeadedDesigns February 4, 2013 at 8:34 am Reply

      Great points Heather. And your jewelry is very unique. The moment I see one of your pieces, I recognize it as Heather’s jewelry. :-)

  2. Sarah (Saturday Sequins) February 4, 2013 at 12:27 pm Reply

    Personally? I love your eyeball ring!

    You make some excellent points here. It’s not about making work that everyone will like — it’s about finding people who like the work you already do!

    Even if it wasn’t… it would be so boring to make things just because they sell. There’s a reason “trend” has the word “end” in it. ;)

    Erika of Redhead Writing did an awesome TED Talk all about being unpopular. I think you’ll love it. Here’s the link! http://blog.tedx.com/post/35340979468/be-unpopular-erika-napoletano

  3. Catherine February 4, 2013 at 2:21 pm Reply

    Hi Megan! Really nice post!! Well said!! It takes a lot of strength and persistence to “be unpopular”.

    Catherine

  4. Cindy February 5, 2013 at 4:42 am Reply

    Excellent information! Thanks for sharing!

    Cindy
    Pinebranchdesigns.esty.com

  5. sueswordfitlyspoken February 5, 2013 at 5:57 am Reply

    Great tips, Megan. I made the mistake when first in the crafts business to take note of what was being offered at the fairs, not recognizing that just because they were they didn’t mean they were popular nor necessarily being bought, which is the whole point, isn’t it?

    • MegansBeadedDesigns February 5, 2013 at 8:48 am Reply

      Exactly Sue. Now I’m happy to say that I get people at craft fairs who say, “Yay! She’s here. She’s the one who makes beautiful beadwork.” Aka: I’m known for my unique work! :-)

  6. mamasamess February 6, 2013 at 5:33 am Reply

    This is so true! We definitely don’t appeal to everyone (my husband and I) and it’s easy to get frustrated. Thanks for your words to help put it back in perspective! BTW…I love the eye rings!

  7. Carla February 6, 2013 at 11:13 am Reply

    Thank you, Megan!
    My entire life I have been one to go my own way, do my own thing, and when I stopped to look up or turned around, there were people watching me and following me. (“She’s a silent leader” my teachers told Mom~silent, yes. leader? not a word introverts like to hear ~ more of a loner, truth be told). Being “out of the flock” in thinking, or ways of doing, can bring about some pretty hurtful emotions from comments, names, criticisms. Being able to rise above all that takes character strength and perseverance, to say the least. Individuality is something to be cherished, to be embraced… oh, how many times my children heard “It would be a pretty boring world if everyone looked the same and did the same as you.” They have grown into fine, young adults, with a strong mind of their own =)
    Keep up the fabulous posts ~ you rock Girl!!

    • MegansBeadedDesigns February 7, 2013 at 8:26 am Reply

      time after time its been proven that the “outsiders” of their younger days end up being the more successful of the bunch once we grow older. Partially, the reason could be that we aren’t concerned with pleasing the crowd, so we stand out, and our work reflects such.

  8. kiihele February 6, 2013 at 3:39 pm Reply

    Very good post, Megan. I think the first rule should be you must LOVE what you are doing! Otherwise, it’s just work. I mostly make traditional
    items so there isn’t much leeway for creativity, but I choose beautiful colors, I make them better than most, I give excellent customer service and I put my mana into each one.

    • MegansBeadedDesigns February 7, 2013 at 8:27 am Reply

      Sounds like you’re running a great business! Keep up the good work!

  9. UniqueNique February 7, 2013 at 6:19 am Reply

    Well said – following the crowd may seem like the way to go but being different counts whether it is a little or a lot and if you only do what others do then boredom sets in art and experimentation are one and the same – do what you love and enjoy and others will in turn feel that when they see your pieces.

  10. Terah February 16, 2013 at 12:29 am Reply

    Great thoughts to keep in mind. I thinks it’s important to create what inspires you, and you would love to have yourself & others of like mind will feel the same way!!!

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