Yes, It’s True, Card and Gift Network is Seven
Well now Card and Gift Network is seven, it’s time for my annual “blog birthday post”. This is usually when I have a quick moment of reflection and try to share my plans for the coming year. I’m always trying to improve the site in my mind and this seems like a good moment to get those thoughts out of my head. Hopefully writing them down will be a first step to making them happen.
So let’s begin with a little reflection.
Counting this “Card and Gift Network is seven” post, I will have completed 1266 articles for the website. We’ve passed the 3/4 of a million visitors mark and seen the work of hundreds of designers across thousands of greetings cards and gifts.
This year, as always, I’ve been impressed & delighted to see all the new products that have arrived; It never fails to amaze me how the creativity just keeps coming.
2016 hasn’t been the happiest of years thanks to everything going on in the world but when I look at the card & gift industry I see so many people focusing on the positive; celebrating friendship, sharing jokes and generally making people feel good.
That’s not to say that the industry hasn’t been tinged with its own troubles. I’ve once more heard from more designers who are struggling to make it; I’ve even had to say goodbye to a number of card & gift companies that have decided to close their businesses.
Chatting to these designers hurts, they love what they do, they want to continue, but they just don’t see a way. There’s a whole heap of reasons why card & gift businesses struggle; Sometimes it’s a knock on effect of outside forces like the uncertainty around Brexit; sometimes it’s internal problems such as a lack of time, knowledge or budget. The problems of every business are unique, but often it simply comes down to not making enough sales to stay open.
My Aims When I started the Blog
When I started the site back in 2009 we were dealing with the credit crunch. Card & gift businesses were struggling and I believed the online world offered some potential. With the blog I wanted to draw attention to the amazing card & gift businesses I knew and loved. I knew that if more people knew about them, more people would love (and want to buy) their designs.
Now Card and Gift Network is seven, I have seven years of experience to show that this does work. Just a few days ago I was contacted by a customer who wanted to buy £900 worth of one product that was featured on the blog. This happens all the time but it never fails to make me smile.
But over the last year I’ve started to realise we can do better.
Talking to the Card & Gift Network community it’s become clear that card & gift folks need more promotion. But more than that designers and makers also need a better understanding of how to promote themselves. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been asked for advice on some element of online marketing or heard someone say they’re not very good at the marketing stuff.
With this in mind, we come to the next phase of Card & Gift Network.
The Year Ahead Now Card and Gift Network is Seven
For this I have 2 main thoughts:
- With the blog we have a platform for promotion. Let’s expand it so we can promote more.
- Let’s show the folks how to make the most of that platform. No! Let’s show them how to make the most of the whole online world.
Truth is, I’m fed up of seeing good card & gift companies disappear. And I’m really fed up with seeing card & gift companies struggle.
The Long, Long, Long Awaited Directory
Expanding the blog’s platform. Well, that one is in theory easy and has been in the works for a while. My plan is to add a trade directory to the website. This will allow any designer or company to have their own permanent page that is always visible and easy to find; not just a mention in a blog post that is now buried somewhere deep in the 7 years of archives.
Now I did mention it was easy in theory. The practicality of it has been hard. It’s not just having to learn how to build a directory, as I build a directory (not going to lie, that’s been frustrating); it’s also finding the time to build a directory, along with everything else. I am however determined and I am so so so so close. Behind the scenes the directory is almost done and I am pretty sure it will be live on the site early next year.
Working Title: The School
The next area to deal with is showing people how to promote online. Well this improvement has the working title of “the school” (I don’t really know why).
In the past I’ve provided marketing resources, but this is getting a thorough makeover and we’re starting from scratch.
My day job is helping creative businesses to promote and sell online, so now I’m going to bring all that to the Card & Gift Network world.
My idea is to show step-by-step how to promote and sell online. I’m taking 10 years + card and gift industry knowledge and shoving in 8+ years of marketing know how. The result will be lots of helpful bits and bobs on how to get seen more and get more sales.
But better than any run of the mill online marketing / online selling “stuff”, it will all be tailored to the card & gift world. Cutting away all the nonsense stuff that just wouldn’t work in our industry. Focusing on what every card & gift business can and should be doing.
So that’s it really. That’s where my head is for the year ahead. I hope it sounds good to you. If you have any thoughts, ideas, wishes please send me a quick email. This site is for you, so I do want to hear what you think, so please do take a quick minute to tell me … even if it’s just a line of emojis.
Thank you for visiting the site and all your support over the last 7 years. Roll on 2017.