Being a part of the maker world has been such an awesome experience so far! I have been able to meet some incredibly talented people literally all over the world. I would have never imagined myself to be having the types of convos and interactions I have been privileged to have over the last six months.
I know how hard and competing the maker business can be. Whether we want to admit it or not. Good photos and catchy sayings “sell”. It’s not a good or bad thing in my opinion. Simply put. It’s the way the world works.
In this series, I will be covering all the beginner basics to setting yourself up online for success. Let me preface this series by saying….YES! it will require time and hard work. BUT! with diligence and perseverance I know you can be successful!
Let’s kick off this series with a closer look at Instagram…
Instagram can be a beautiful thing! It’s taken some time for me to really understand this social media platform. Now, I don’t have a massive following, but I have a decent one with LOTS of engagement.
Just to give you an idea of the growth I have encountered let me give you some stats.
In March of 2017, I was right under 1,000 followers. I had somewhat decent engagement and the likes on my photos weren’t too bad.
Towards the end of March, I began implementing some things I was studying from other folks who had larger accounts. I was also reading tons and tons of articles which held great amounts of information.
Exactly two months later I have gained almost 500 new followers and my engagement on the photos has increased significantly.
***side note; when I am talking about engagement, I am speaking of the comments and likes I am getting on a photo.
What I did was simple and easy enough for even the person who has just 50 followers to begin implementing and see an increase in growth.
These are the 5 things I changed over the last two months:
- Interacting with other accounts
- Shining the light on other maker’s accounts
- Focusing on Brand-related photos and not personal photos
- Taking Better Photos
Now I am going to break these five steps down and explain to you what I did and how I firmly believe these are the reasons I am seeing the results I am!
There is much debate on the internet about the whole hashtag thing. There are some who say they’re useless and others who say you can never have enough. I tend to fall somewhere in the middle.
While I believe you can seriously overdue it. I do think there is a “sweet spot” when it comes to Instagram. Later in the series, I will touch on other Social Media platforms and how I don’t think hashtags are necessary anywhere else.
Now, you might notice there are some accounts who place all of their hashtags into the first comment. Here is why this isn’t a good idea. You always want your tags to be linked into your post. If a person is going to search Instagram via a hashtag, they are going to see the ones which have tags at the bottom of the post.
ALWAYS place your tags in the actual post and not in a comment. Here is an example of how I do mine…
You will notice I have placed 15 tags beneath my actual post. I have found anywhere between 12-20 tags is a perfect amount. You will want to make sure you are creating a tag specific to your brand. Then you will want to include tags which cater to your maker niche.
This piece I showed was a crochet piece so I made sure to include all the tags dealing with crochet. ***make sure you spell your tags correctly
Whenever I do a knitted piece I make sure to do the knit tags. Whenever I am trying to promote my Etsy shop I make sure to do those tags. Really play around with the tags. Instagram is the most rewarding platform for using hashtags so really make them count in your posts!
You will also notice in this particular post that I tagged Lion Brand Yarn. ALWAYS tag the yarn, hook or needle company in your post. You’re never too small of an account not to be featured if the company likes what they see! Try to be sure and do this every single time you can.
INTERACTING WITH OTHER ACCOUNTS AND MAKING IT ABOUT OTHER MAKERS
One of the BEST ways to get your brand out there is to make an effort to interact with other accounts. Even the big ones! I recently made a comment on the Red Heart Yarn account asking a question. They responded! It was very cool and then the next day I posted something using the Red Heart Yarn and they liked the photo!
I have also had some comment interaction with other big makers like Jessica from the MamaInAStitch blog as well as Jessica Carey from the.hook.nook and Ashleigh from Sewrella!
Don’t EVER think you’re too small to interact with those makers at the “top”.
This all being said, don’t forget about the makers who are below you! I have honestly found some incredible makers who were below me in sales and followers and chose to shine the light on their talents and creativity.
There is no reason we can’t support one another in our efforts to take our passion for making and turn it into our careers. We can be more joyful and do it a lot faster if we are supporting one another along the way!
Always try and think of how you can shine the light on others before you try and make it all about yourself. Trust me, it will be well worth it in the end! Plus, you’ll make some really amazing friends along the way.
FOCUS ON BRAND-RELATED PHOTOS AND NOT PERSONAL PHOTOS
I know as a mom you want to share the oh-so-adorable shot of your little one! But, when it comes to building your brand, it’s better if your little one is included in a product shot rather than by themselves.
Again, while we are creatives, we do have to treat this like a business. Simply put, the big, successful brands make it all about the product. There is, however, a time and place for sharing those “behind the scenes”, “real-life” photos.
In fact, when it comes to Instagram, placing a few candid moments in your Instastories is a great solution!
This way, you aren’t jumbling your portfolio with a mix of life and brand shots. With the Instastory option, people can choose whether or not they want to check out that feature. By doing this you aren’t confusing your followers and potential customer base by a mixture of brand and life photos. They will always know what they can expect from you as a maker!
This builds trust and trust transfers into buyers.
TAKING BETTER PHOTOS
I heard a professional photographer say one time, “If the photo is grainy, dark and requires tons of editing. Then you do not need to take that photo right now.”
While this may seem harsh, it’s so true!
Photos can be the “make it or break it” of a maker business. Here’s what I will tell you from personal experience. You DO NOT need a $$$ camera to be great at photos. Here is what you do need…
- a window with decent light
- solid color backdrop (preferably contrasting to the item you’re photographing)
- a basic knowledge of how to operate your smartphone
- a general understanding of the editing features on Instagram
I literally take every single one of my photos with an iPhone 6s camera. All of them! I have scoured YouTube for tutorials on how to take great photos with an iPhone. It has made an incredible difference!
Here are the general rules I follow to help curate a great, eye-catching picture.
I like to use a solid white surface. I have an old coffee table I spray painted matte white. I use this 90% of the time to take my photos. If my table is unavailable then I will use a large white canvas or I will place items on my mannequin.
I have painted my walls a light, heather gray and this give my items a chance to really stand out.
For my brand, I love the use of color. This reason is why I have opted for solid, lightly colored background. Now, if you’re working with more neutral tones than outdoor, natural backdrops would be best. There’s nothing more appealing to the eye than when you see a neutral presented in an outdoor setting.
I have tried to model my photos after what I see big brands like Anthro, Pottery Barn and the like do. They tend to use lots of solids to help their colorful products pop. While I would NEVER equate my “baby brand” to being on the same level as those big brands. Watching what they are doing always gives me a goal to shoot for!
It’s been awesome to see my photos hit up into 200+ likes since implementing these tips.
Play around with photos. Try different angles, colors, backdrops, windows and times of day you are shooting. Now, if you work during the day and you miss those peak hours for getting great photos, set aside one day in the week where you can conduct a photo shoot. This will give you enough photos to choose from for the coming week on Instagram. You will want to post AT LEAST once a day! I recommend between 2-5 posts over the course of the entire day, but in the beginning, if you can consistently post one a day that’s great!
When it comes to using the filters on Instagram, I opt not to do this. Here’s why.
The filters will cause an inconsistency in your photos. It is better to edit the photo with the brightness and contrast setting.
Typically when I take a photo, I will head into the editor and bring up my brightness. Once I feel like the picture is at the perfect level I will then slowly increase the contrast. I want to make the color pop without making it look unrealistic.
This is especially important if you are trying to photograph actual products. You don’t want to over doctor your photo and make the item look completely different than how it is in real life. Keep that in mind when you’re looking to improve your photos.
So now that you have all of this info what should you do?
ACTION STEPS TO TAKE THIS NEXT WEEK:
- Add at least 12 tags to every photo you post this week (keep the tags in the post)
- Make a comment on at least one other maker account per day (be genuine)
- Take bright, eye-catching photos (it’s all about that natural light)
- Make at least one post every day (consistency builds trust)
- Tag as many large brands as you can in your photos (your one maker in a sea of makers; do whatever it takes to get their attention)
Be sure to subscribe to my email list. Every Wednesday I will be sharing more beginner tips to help you grow your brand new maker business online!
Are you interested in getting more one on one time with me for your business? If so, I am offering coaching services to brand new makers starting in June of 2017. I will take on a few clients each month and give you one on one teaching for how to grow your brand, establish your tribe and build your passion into a full-time income earning career!
Please fill out the form below and I will contact you with all the details and pricing!