It’s a time for celebration! We’ve just passed our 1,000th order and a quarter million hits to our Etsy site. Champagne, all around! As a project that started in a basement, what we sell in our Etsy store has been a long evolution and proof that a bootstrapped business really can grow from nothing. We’d still be a hobby project instead of a full-scale business operation if it hadn’t been for the roving eye of the online community.

We’ve been lucky with our projects – the internet has done most of the work for us in getting our name out there. When fans find us, they tend to post us to their blogs, their Twitter accounts, their Tumblrs, their Pinterest boards, and spread the word about us. Reddit has gotten ahold of us in the past, and we’ve made the front pages of Kotaku, Geeks Are Sexy, and CNet on several occasions, without having to do anything to get the recognition. We get an overwhelmingly high level of support from our visitors and customers, and oftentimes a lot of die-hard fans will let us in on just how much they love our stuff  – we’ve had people emailing us photos of their Neverending Story tattoos, or requesting help with decor for their weddings, or telling us how Twilight Zone or HP Lovecraft have changed their lives. Etsy has been our first experience with seeing our creations go viral, and getting thousands of people visiting our pages and telling their friends about us. It’s been an excellent reminder of the many ways in which communities can form, and the things they can form around.

A big advantage to having an online-only storefront is that sales can occur at any time. When we’re on vacation, or while we’re sleeping, the orders can keep coming in. Consequently, we have to focus a lot less on how to get our name out there or attract attention, and instead focus on how to make things better. We’ve always been able to cross our fingers and assume that if we make something awesome, people will discover us on their own.

One of the issues faced with having a purely online presence is getting people to look you up again, though. We’ve had 250,000 people visit our page, and a lot of messages and correspondence, but we didn’t have a mailing list or a newsletter until recently, and our social media updates have always been sparse. Getting the word out about our products can be tricky – it’s serendipity that leads a lot of people to find us in the first place. Retention is that key word though. People have to like us enough to follow us directly, or we have to have some compelling reason to bring them back – worthwhile news, new products, and the like. It’s a work in progress, as we try to convert page hits into people interested in seeing what geeks can accomplish when we put our minds to it. It’s a big internet, and you have to be a pretty big deal to steal the attention of people, even long enough to read a blog post *wink wink*.

We’ve got a lot of projects in the works that we’re really excited about, and we want to share our enthusiasm with the world and get other people excited about our projects as well, to help spark  new ideas and creativity. We’re geeks to the core. We love what we do, and we’re looking for ways to engage people on our projects. We can certainly do more to tell people about what we’re working on, via our blog and social media. Many of the sites we’ve been popular on are sites that showcase or highlight finished products though, and that’s often the end result of what we do, not the middle phase while it’s in progress. What are some ways that have worked for you to foster communication with people who visit your site? I’d love to get some feedback and thoughts on ways we can become more visible!