If you are like me, a shy artist who doesn't like to solicit strangers, then promoting your Etsy shop could be quite a problem. So why don't we combine a fun social activity with some soft-core promotion.
Postcrossing is an Internet social networking site that allows people to exchange postcards with total strangers from all around the world. It's free (well, you have to buy postcards to send), it's fun and it's absolutely innocent. You can check out my profile and see how many cards I have already sent and relieved. You can join the community and use it to do a little non-offensive promo of your business while receiving cards from exotic countries.
First of all you need to make your own postcards. This card should not be a piece of completely blunt self-promotion, because this is not what Postcrossing is for. Your postcard has to delicately inform people about your shop, while serving the main duty: be a tiny cultural ambassador of your town and your country abroad. Postcrossing people like to receive cards with city views, country maps, cards that tell about life in your country and your town. So be creative and try to incorporate your advertising into a scenic view, photo of a historic sight or on a hand-drawn fun map.
You product placement should look natural, spontaneous. Nobody likes to receive an ad instead of a postcard. Let's say you crochet cute little animals. Using this method, you can place one of your creation in front of a great city view or a picture of a famous building or a monument and add a nice little greeting. It's even easier if you are a photographer or a graphic artist. Be creative, but not pushy. Can you make an embroidery, showing your town famous railway station?..
If you are in the US or Canada, you can order your cards at Staples Copy and Print Center or find a better deal locally. Don't forget to include a link to your shop into your Postcrossing profile and put it on the backside of your card. And don't overdo the promo: if your addressee specifies what kind of card they want to get (some people do), hold the promo and send the card that they want. Remember, that your reputation in the community is utmost important if you want to keep this thing going.
Here is my Aleutie shop promo card that I am sending via Postcrossing:
This illustration is not just a typical artwork of mine, but it also a great representation of the city of Montreal. Montreal is famous for it's fashionable crowd, parties and night life. On the background you can see city's skyline with it's tallest buildings - pointy-roofed 1000 de La Gauchetière and Place Ville-Marie with a rotating light beacon, illuminating the sky. This is exactly what I write on the card, and I never say "Please visit my Etsy shop" - that will be really inappropriate. If the person get interested - they will check out your link.