Create & Thrive : Sunday Reading {Week 44, 2013}

C&T Recommended Reading Week 44

Happy Sunday!

I’m about to head down to the local markets with Nick to pick up the veggies for the week, but first, here’s this week’s round-up of posts that I think you’ll enjoy.

 Here are my fave reads from the week:

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Why Sunday? Well, Sunday is not only the end of the week, it’s also the day where many of us have the most free time to catch up on news and other informational goodness without having to rush off to work. Think of this as your weekly Sunday paper… especially for creative, inquisitive, & entrepreneurial souls.

Remember, you’re welcome to share your fave reads of the week in the comments, too.

10 Quick Social Media Marketing Tips

10 quick social media marketing tips

I’ve been using social media (predominately Twitter & Facebook – and more recently Instagram & Pinterest) since 2008 to grow my business.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that without social media, there is no way I would have been able to make the leap from hobby to business, and now be living my dream of working for myself full-time from home.

Social media has allowed me to spend time – not money – marketing and building my business.

For those of us who are going it alone, saving money wherever we can is vital. We don’t have big advertising budgets. Heck, we might not have any advertising budget at all.

But you can’t create a successful business using a ‘build it and they will come’ mentality. You have to market it. You have to get the word out. Repeatedly. Daily. With gusto!

Today, I want to share 10 quick tips on how to successfully use social media to market your creative online business. These are tried-and-true steps that have worked for me, and many other people.

 

1. Start with one and enjoy it

There are so many different social media out there. It’s easy to get overwhelmed if you’re just starting out. Don’t try to do it all at once! Sign up to a number of different social media sites and try them out, and then focus on the one you enjoy the most to begin with. You can spend time building your community on the other ones down the track.

 

2. Be consistent

The point of social media is to build trust and relationships with your customers. Keeping that in mind, they’re going to get to know you a lot better if you’re a constant presence. For example, when my online friends think about buying some silver jewellery, I want them to think of me! We like buying from friends, and social media allows us to build friendships all over the world. But the internet is a fickle place, where you’re soon forgotten if you don’t stay in the game.

 

3. You can share your products… but in moderation

When they’re just starting out, a lot of people make the mistake of *just* sharing their products. I can tell you now, no-one is going to pay any attention, because no-one likes being ‘sold to’. Of course you can share your work, but it should be a small proportion of what you talk about. Be a real person, not a spam-bot.

 

4. Share other people’s work

One of the most wonderful things about the craft community is the support we give each other. Help your fellow crafters out! Share their work on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest… It’s a great way to build relationships with people, we’re all appreciative when someone shows an interest in our work. Can you see the common thread here? Yep, it’s all about the relationships.

 

5. Limit yourself

It is very, very easy to get sucked into the social media vortex. If you know you have work to do, but you keep getting distracted, use a timer and limit yourself. Or, set aside time twice a day to catch up. Don’t let it get in the way of doing your actual work!

 

6. Set up a schedule

This pairs up with number 5 – if you’re busy, spend a bit of time up-front to plan out your week, and the things you’d like to share on social media. That little bit of time spent planning will ensure you don’t forget to share important things with your followers.

 

7. Use Buffer

Another thing we sometimes tend to do is ‘flood’ our followers. We find ourselves with either a spare chunk of time, or we suddenly realise we need to share that new sale, and the giveaway on our blog, and a guest post… and we send it all out at once.

A good way to avoid doing this is to write down a schedule, as above, or use an app like Buffer. This allows you to plug in all of your tweets at once (or Facebook or G+ posts), while you think of them, and it does the job of sending them out throughout the day (and night, don’t forget, online business is a 24-hour world!) for you!

 

8. Don’t limit yourself to your niche

Don’t hesitate to build connections to people outside of your niche! Sure, for some of us, other crafters are our target market, but I’d reckon that for most of us our target market is much broader than that. The broader your network, the more chances you have to connect with people who will love (and want to buy) what we make.

 

9. Be yourself

The days of impersonal business are behind us – especially in the crafty scene. Let your personality shine through – don’t be afraid to talk about your life as well as your work. People want to connect with other people, not brands.

 

10. Have fun!

Social media is just that – a way for us to connect and be sociable! If you, like me, work from home, it can get a bit isolating.

 

Social media is a tool for business, sure, but it’s also a way for us to make friends, connect with colleagues, and just have a bit of fun!

While keeping in mind that everything you say reflects on your business, don’t be afraid to relax and enjoy connecting with other people. Your sanity will thank you.

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Still struggling to get started with social media?

Make sure you’re subscribed to our updates to find out when our NEW ebook

The Create & Thrive Quickstart Guide to Social Media

launches in November.

C&T Q&A – Wholesale? Consignment? Help! {VIDEO}

should you sell your craft via wholesale or consignment - and how do you go about it

Hey there Thrivers!

I’ve got a video for you today, answering a lovely reader’s question about wholesale versus consignment.

Have you ever wondered if you should be selling your work on consignment, or only via wholesale?

Or do you wonder just how on earth you go about getting your stuff in shops at all?

In this video, I give you the 6 steps to follow in order to get your work in the right shops – whether via wholesale OR consignment.

I also explain when you should go with consignment – or when you should stick to wholesale.

If you’ve gotten your work into shops, I’d LOVE to hear your tips below in the comments!

I’d also love to hear if consignment has worked well for your business – and if so, why?


 

Want to sell to retail shops, boutiques, and gallery shops, but don’t know where to start? Join us for Wholesale Know-How. This eCourse will take you – step-by-step – through everything you need to know and do to get your work into retail spaces.

Ever Wondered How to Pitch Blogs? Here’s How I Do It…

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Beautiful interior photographs by Twig Hutchison

{Editor’s Note – I have had Megan working with me for a few years now, and she’s pitched umpteen blogs for me – she knows her stuff! Do what she does and you’ll be well on your way to getting your work out there in the blogosphere! Jess}

One of my favorite ways to get press and market my creative business is to pitch blogs.

Now is the time to start polishing your pitching procedure so that you’re ready in October to share your holiday gift items with bloggers.  So today I thought I’d share my process with you to give you an idea of how easy it is!  Personally, I pitch one blog a day every other month to make sure my business is constantly getting the attention of customers.

Whether you’re pitching a guest post or a product, the steps are the same.

I start my pitching process by finding a blog!  I do a simple Google search (using the ‘blog’ setting to refine my look) for the topic I’m pitching.  If I’m looking to share my embroidery patterns, I search ’embroidery,’ ‘sewing,’ ‘crafting,’ etc.  I will also look through the blogs I’m already following and reading because I’ve probably commented a few times and built up a repertoire with them.

Then I have to decide if that blog is a good fit.  How do you know if a blog is a good fit?  I look for:

  • commenting readers
  • nice pictures
  • featured products or guest posts in the previous posts
  • regular updates
  • similar aesthetic to my business
  • they have the same target market (it’s not worth my time to pitch to a blog whose readers will not like my work)

If I feel the blog is a good fit, I will next look at the about page to get a better sense of the blogger.  Do I have anything in common with them I can mention in the pitch?  Is there a milestone they just celebrated that I can congratulate them on?  Most importantly, when I write my pitch, I want to make sure that I get across the point that I am helping them by giving them content.

This is what most makers are afraid of.

They feel that they are bothering bloggers.  But guess what?  The blogger’s job is to write up and share amazing content with their readers.  By sharing your work with them, you’re saving them time and energy!  You’re making their life easier!  Plus, you’re sending your readers and fans to their site as well because goodness knows if you get featured, you’re going to share it on social media.

So in your pitch, you want to send them a low-res image of your work along with a link back to your shop.  You want to explain why your work will make their readers happy.  Remember, it’s not about how this blogger can help you but how you can help the blogger and their readers.  Keep your pitch short and sweet.  Bloggers are busy and, like all of us, we tend to glaze over long emails.

Now it’s your turn!

Start small.  Pitch one blog a week.  See what happens.  Oh, and remember that October and November is the time to pitch bloggers for inclusion in their holiday gift guides and present posts.  If you wait until December, it’s far too late.

Bonus points: Look through the blogger’s list of links or sponsors.  You’re likely to find many more great blogs to pitch in there that fit your target market.

 

Success Stories ~ Hania of Moose Design

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Hania of Moose Design

Since I can barely sew in a straight line well enough to hem my pants, when I find a maker who creates handbags that look like they belong in a museum, I’m instantly enthralled and want to chat them up.  That’s exactly how I found Hania, the entrepreneur behind Moose Design.  She’s based in Poland and sews the most amazing handbags characterized by minimalist style and originality.  I think you’ll really enjoy her interview today.

Can you take us on the journey of your creative career path so far?

As a child I loved to sew, embroider, and draw porterty. Creation always gives me a lot of fun. That’s way I decided to become an architect. I graduated architectural studies and started to work in an architectural office. Unfortunately, in that profession creation was only a small part of the whole process…too small for me. After a few years working in architecture offices, I decided to change something in my life. I quit work and I started designing handbags.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome so far in your business?

When I decided to change my life and run my own company making bags, I needed to become a boss of my own company instead of simply being a worker doing jobs requested by someone else. I think that has been the biggest challenge for me so far.

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Felt Bag with Leather Handles – Fox Bag

What has been the biggest ‘fist-pump’/successful moment for you so far?

It was when I started to cooperate with foreign companies (e.g. from Belgium, UK, Germany, etc.). At the beginning I planned a small business selling bags only in Poland, but it turned out that there were a lot of requests from abroad for my bags and with that I’m really happy.

Are there things you yearn to achieve, but haven’t yet found the time for?

Of course there are lot of ideas in my head I wish I had time for but there are so many things to do right now that I need to take care of. I’m planning now to hire my first employee. It will be a big step for me.

Are there times when your creativity and inspiration seem to disappear? How do you handle that?

I like running. It helps me rest and clear my mind. Then when I’m tired after a long run, before I fall asleep a new ideas comes to my mind easily.

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White Cotton Tote Handbag – Seal Handbag

How do you balance your work with the rest of your life ~ what does a typical day in your life look like?

I wake up, go out of my bedroom, turn left into the next door and I’m already at work 🙂 My home is also my workshop. It cuts both ways. I can walk in sweats all day but as I don’t have to rush to work, I have big problems to wake up and get started.

I’m a seamstress, designer and manager in one person that’s way my day is a bit crazy and chaotic. I answer on e-mails, order materials and of course sew and design handbags.

What has been the best marketing move you’ve ever made for your own business?

I believe the decision that I made to cooperate with a professional and talented photographer was a really good idea and had a big influence on my business. I believe that a great photo is needed to attract the attention of customers and sell an item.  (Megan here – I think you can agree with me that Hania’s photographs are absolutely breathtaking!)

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Gray Cotton Tote Handbag – Bear Bag

What is one piece of advice you’d like to give fellow makers about running a successful creative business?

You work needs to be your passion; you do not need anything else.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

I hope to develop my business, have a big workshop, and cooperate with shops from all over the world.

You can find more of Hania’s work online at:

Her website: www.moose-design.eu
Her Etsy Shop: www.etsy.com/shop/MOOSEdesignBAGS
Her facebook fanpage: www.facebook.com/MOOSEdesignBAGS

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