These seem to be the buzz word of every seller, everywhere. We all want to get the word out we have something to sell and say look at us. You can promote yourself without paying a dime or spamming your friends.
Often we think of free promoting in terms of posting links to items to Twitter or Facebook or any other of the many social networking sites. But really do your followers really want a constant stream of links. You need to be more subtle.
Stealth promoting is promoting your item without being obvious about it. Make it about solving others problems, not pushing your goods. Web pages also gain weight in searches when more sites link back to them (namely your store)
1. Google Images: A picture says a 1000 words, you have have at least a few really good pictures. I've noticed I am getting more and more views coming from Google Images. Artfire labels the photos with your item title so that needs to be descriptive. If your pictures are good people will want to take a look. Ok this one isn't too stealthy but is a different approach to search engines.
2. Forums get involved with some forums or sites where you target audience will be. Even starting with a forum devoted to your craft, can get you started if you aren't sure where else to start. You can show off your work to other crafters and learn from them. Whenever you post a picture, include a link back to that item in your store so people can find it.
3. Forums part 2 : This is when you go to sites where you items are in demand. If you sell wedding goods, stalking some of the many wedding panning sites. There are sites devoted to almost any interest. If there is a place to include your site, do so. Follow the forums, if someone is wondering where to find what you sell, let them know where they can find it (your store) it can help if you just say, I saw that here and don't mention it's your store.
4. Pinterest: Pinterest.com is a different kind of social network. Basically you can pin or bookmark a picture from anywhere on the web to save it to your collection, called boards. These can get seen and shared by followers. The links back to the original site are preserved so if someone likes your item enough, they can find your shop. Again pics are key. Posting different items as well as your own will peak interest and you can also gauge interest by how many likes or repins you get.
5. Blogging: This one always seems to come up. Have a focus to your blog and update it regularly. Link back to your shop as often as possible, Again if you show an item, include a direct link to it, You need to mix it up and keep it from just being a gallery of what you just made. Give people a reason to read. Add news, tutorials, different styles within your specialty.
6. Other links: There are lots of sites to contribute your items, craft ones like CraftGawker , and thousands of others, you need to figure what works for you.
I hear groans - this is a lot of work. Yes it takes time. Time to build up links over time, time to research what people are looking for. So why bother? Bother because it builds links, adds weight and instead of dragging people into your shop, they will look for you.
In my own experience, two links have gotten me more links than I ever would have imaged. One was a link on a small specialized forum for board gamers. I posted a link to some board game pieces I make and two years later I still get incoming views from it. Then was a link on Oddee. They make lists of really odd stuff, stuff why would I add a link there? One day they had a post about unusual cake toppers, my wrestler ones fit right in. Big audience and click still come.
It's not easy, you need a product that people want, good pictures and a little ingenuity and time to really make a difference. But you know, this doesn't have to be all or nothing. Do the ones you like, make twitter and facebook meaningful, not spammy. Any little bit helps