I guess you know by now that my Mom writes books about buying and caring for livestock. A few years ago, she gathered ideas for free and inexpensive ways to publicize your small farm. She asked if I’d like to share them with you, and so I am!
1. Get Farm Gear
Put your farm logo on everything you can. Buy T-shirts, jackets and hats printed or embroidered with your logo and farm name, and wear them everywhere you go. Print custom checks, invoices and other business forms. Print business cards—hand them to everyone you meet and tack to every bulletin board you see
Turn vehicles into rolling billboards by investing in truck and trailer lettering or magnetic farm signs. Include your phone number, email and website address into the design. Print bumper stickers to sell or give away so everyone who follows you or your supporters down the road will be exposed to your URL or your message.
2. Start a Website
Build a website with photos and details of the services your farm offers. Include a blog you update weekly to tell stories or share recipes from your farm. Start an accompanying Facebook page, and link between it and the website.
3. Share Recipes
If you raise food animals, sample dishes made using your homegrown grassfed beef, organic eggs or farmstead cheese whenever and wherever you can, especially at places like fairs and farm expos. This allows people who don’t know about your product to taste it. Along with the samples, distribute recipe sheets with your contact information printed on them.
4. Hit the Road
Put your animals in the public spotlight. You can show them at 4-H events or fairs. Train them to drive or lead parades, and attach farm signs to their carts or panniers. Take a friendly animal to hospitals and nursing homes to visit shut-ins. Read stories featuring your type of livestock to Head Start or kindergarten classes, and take along a living example. Tip off your local newspaper in advance, but above all have fun and gain exposure by making people happy. Everyone wins!
5. Lead Educational Programs
Give talks and demonstrations on your farm, or prepare a program to take to area schools. Sponsor or lead a 4-H livestock project. Volunteer to speak at seminars. Civic groups often need speakers for meetings and events, so let them know you're available.
6. Sponsor an Event
If you raise heritage pigs, sponsor a Kiss a Pig booth at the county fair, and donate proceeds to your favorite charity. Host a trail ride or driving rally culminating with a potluck supper. Organize a spinning, shearing or cheesemaking field day; a training clinic; or a business seminar held at your farm. Think of other out-of-the-box ways you can use your expertise to benefit the community in a fun way!
7. Consult with New Farmers
Offer free, individual consultations to folks interested in raising your type of livestock. Invite them to your farm. Give them good, solid advice without a sales pitch, but show them your stock as part of the visit.
8. Build a Virtual Community
Participate on email lists, online forums and Facebook groups related to your farm passion. Be the first to field questions other members ask. People buy from people they know and respect, and you can advertise on many listservs for free.
9. Create Videos
Shoot good video footage of your animals. Edit it well, add music if you like, and upload it to YouTube and your farm website. Show off your stallion, teach viewers how to yoke Dexter oxen, demonstrate how to make sheep cheese—anything that will make your expertise known. End each video with a short talk about your farm, including contact information. You can also burn videos to a CD or DVM and distribute copies for free or at cost via your website or through your booth at shows, fairs and livestock expos.
If you have a gift for writing, like Mom does, there are a number of outlets you can put that to use. Write an educational column for an area newspaper—call it Goat Talk or Ewe Read it Here or Cattleman's Corner. Write magazine articles for farm and breed periodicals; many are eager to work with new writers. Write for free with one stipulation: Your contributor's byline must include your farm's contact information.
If you want to venture to bigger writing projects, write reports and ebooks about training, breeding or showing the breeds you raise; about their history or bloodlines; or about utilizing their products. Include a page about your farm business. Publish in Kindle format to sell on Amazon or offer as a PDF download via your website.
11. Take Great Photos
If you shoot great photos, let them work for you. Order quality enlargements of your best photos to display at event or markets. Burn photos to a disk, then send them to your breed associations and trade publications, stipulating they can use your photos however they wish, but subjects must be identified and you must be given recognition. Writers and editors often contact organizations seeking publication-quality photos; your photo could end up in Hobby Farms!
Do you have a livestock or wildlife question you want me to answer? Send me your question!
Please keep in mind that I receive a lot of questions, so I won’t always be able to answer each one immediately. In the case of an animal emergency, it’s important to reach out to your veterinarian or extension agent first.
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