Embroidery Business Strategies:
Starting a business can be a daunting task. Anybody who’s ever started a business knows how difficult it can be to get that first client. Then you realize: You can run out of clients. A scary but very realistic prospect. You need to be constantly marketing yourself, constantly tossing out that net, especially in the beginning. Maybe you’re in this position—you’ve got a steady trickle of work, but you feel you’ve exhausted all your options. The good news is: You probably haven’t. I’ll walk you through 12 ways to get more clients for your embroidery business below.
1. Get on Social Media:
This may be a bit of a no-brainer at this point. Social media is ubiquitous in our everyday lives pretty much no matter who you are.
The art of embroidery is extremely well-suited to social media. It’s a visual art, so you can take pictures and post them as fast as you can sew. People will also be interested in what sorts of equipment you use, your workspace, and the story of who’s behind the craft.
Here’s the Thing:
In this day and age, selling a product can fall a bit short—selling a story, personality, relatability, however, is an infinitely effective way of attracting and retaining clients. Along these lines…
2. Connect with Niches and Fandoms:
The age of Netflix has bought us more shows than we could ever hope to binge. Along with those shows, it has brought fan communities. Discourse, fanart, theories, entire cultures built up around shows that people consume.
No doubt you too have fallen the Netflix rabbit hole at one point or another. Related to using social media is connecting with a fandom. Especially those that you like or follow.
If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, there are plenty of house crests or the iron throne that you could embroider onto a patch. Maybe you’re more into Stranger Things or something else.
Make something related to a show or book you like, share it around, and see what happens. People love other peoples’ passion for their favorite media. There may be a commission or two on the other side!
3. Stream on Twitch:
So far we’ve been talking about digital exposure—I promise I’ll get to more traditional methods in a second here. Twitch is a platform where people Livestream themselves playing videogames. But there are also craftspeople garnering audiences in the thousands of views.
If you’re able to grow your social media following and bring them to Twitch, you’ll be able to interact with them in a much more direct way—answering questions, talking about your process, plans, and more. The digital era is all about exposure.
Many people make a full-time living on Twitch. Down the road, you may find it a handy supplement to your income. It takes little more than just turning on a camera while you sew (something you were already going to do anyway).
4. Work with Influencers:
Many Instagram influencers will promote your product if you send them a sample, or for a modest fee. This method varies on how many followers the influencer has, and every influencer is different.
Find an influencer that is into fashion, handcrafting, homemade clothes, or something similar. Have them promote your embroidery—combine this with a fandom they’re a part of for extra points!
5. Tell Your Friends:
Turning away from the digital now, this is probably a no-brainer. Your friends, family, and immediate network are the people you talk to most and will be a strong pillar of support for your business.
It can be difficult to let your friends know. It takes vulnerability. The best way to do it is just to mention it—don’t try to aggressively sell them your embroidery.
With time, maybe someone in your circle will run into a situation where they need your embroidery. Or maybe they’ll run into someone else who needs it and refer you. And on that note…
6. Make Business Cards:
They’re immensely helpful in having people remember you. I’ve seen some cool business cards for embroiderers where the card itself was embroidered with a design. There’s more room for creativity here than you might think!
7. Bring Your Business Cards to “Networking Events”:
If you’re like me, the words “networking events” make you want to never leave your house again. A bunch of people in suits pretending they’re super-duper impressive? No thank you!
Instead, think about knitting clubs. Sewing clubs. The local library. Think of places in your local area where people interested in your services might go or congregate. Many coffee shops and community centers have community boards where people can post flyers to advertise events or services. Maybe a local college.
Just find as many public areas as you can and put your business cards there. If you attend social functions, introduce yourself with your business card. Make it as easy as possible for people to find you.
8. Have a Referral Program:
Referral programs come in all shapes and sizes, so there’s some room for creativity here. But no matter how you do it, they can be immensely useful marketing tools. Effectively, they cut out the middleman—if your clients are doing your marketing for you, that’s less time you have to spend marketing and more you can spend embroidering and filling orders.
This works especially well combined with the digital marketing avenues mentioned earlier. But it’s also a powerful in-person method as well. People trust their friends. I know I have bought a product or service in the past from a friend’s recommendation alone. If you reward your clients for spreading the word (with discounts and such), they’ll be happy to do it.
9. Wear Your Products:
This is more on the subtle end, but just wear your stuff. If someone compliments your shirt/patch/bag etc, that’s a great conversation starter. It also shows others you have enough confidence in your brand and skills to wear your stuff.
Bonus points if people already look up to you for having good taste. Granted, this method is quite passive and probably won’t get you, clients, directly. But it does do a small but important thing: Integrates your brand into your life—being a small business owner is, in part, about living and breathing your business.
10. Reach Out to Other Local Businesses:
So many businesses out there small and large use shirts for their team. So many businesses have cheaply made, low quality shirts. They want your embroidery. They just don’t know it yet. Embroidery on a shirt gives the shirt a sense of class and the sense that real-time and skill went into making it. They exude professionalism, and that’s something that almost every business wants.
Local grocery stores or co-ops are a great starting point. If at all possible, get in touch with businesses that you personally frequent. If they know you already, it will be much more natural to chat about your services.
11. Make Samples:
You can take it a step further. When you reach out to local businesses, present them with something they can hold and appreciate. The shirt for the local grocer? Put it in their hands. For free. If you show them the difference your embroidery would make in real life, that’s much more powerful than an idea or pitch. Give them samples. Make them realize how your embroidery would undeniably increase their professionalism.
12. Don’t Stop at Businesses:
There are plenty of organizations out there that aren’t businesses that you can reach out to. Sports leagues are great. In my city, we have a popular summer ultimate frisbee league. Everybody who signs up gets a shirt. Think marathons, half-marathons, ski races, charity walks. Local bands or choirs or artists.
The opportunities are there, I promise. I hope this list has given you some inspiration or ideas for new leads. Embroidery as a field is only going to grow in the future, so go out there and grab your piece of the pie!