Hello! This week brings the start of one of our new regular features, #TechTuesdays. Do you wish you were better at using your web platforms? Want to find ways to make it easier to run things online? How about new places to show off your work, cool apps to help you out and that little bit of extra technical know-how to make you stand out online? Keep checking back at 6pm on Tuesdays for new inside information, and drop us a line for any techie tutorials you’d like to see too!
Is Facebook Still a Key to Success?
You may have noticed a fair bit of anecdotal evidence lately that Facebook ‘reach’ (the number of people who are able to see posts from your page) has been reducing dramatically lately. If you have ever paid to ‘boost’ a post, you may also have noticed yourself that your own reach seems to decrease for weeks afterwards. Your likers also now have to actively tell Facebook that they want to see posts from your page in order to get all your updates. Oh, and if you don’t post for a week or so, your reach dips naturally anyway until you up your game again.
So, is Facebook still a viable way to build your small business and your customer base? Or are other networks better for getting your face and your work seen? And what are some of those alternatives out there on the web?
Twitter is good for getting your personality out there and interacting with other people. There are also some great # nights such as #handmadehour hosted by much bigger twitter profiles specifically to help you get exposure to new potential customers. Twitter has also recently introduced a shop function, where customers can click ‘buy’ right on your tweet! However, your word count is limited, and the best handmade content on Twitter tends to be shared from other sources
Instagram is fast becoming a major platform for showcasing your work and linking back to your shop for your customers. The App’s focus on sharing beautiful pictures, and the sheer volume of examples for you to learn from, is brilliant for curating gorgeous collections of your pieces as a virtual, interactive “lookbook” of everything you can do. They’ve also nailed the hashtag game, pulling people to your content and encouraging them to search for more. The downsides? You can’t link directly to your shop from your posts, interaction with your customers is more restricted and your text updates are only visible when someone actually clicks on your image to see the description.
Pinterest is a bit of a one-stop shop for all things creative. Originally meant to be a virtual pinboard across all content genres; it’s become famous as the home of recipes and DIY tutorials. But Pinterest could still be a great place for you to show off what you can do. Finished works are more likely to spawn copycats here – but insights into your process, how to make some of your smaller pieces, links back to your blog posts and sharing work you love can all help get your name out into the ether and pull people back to look at the beautiful things you make.
Etsy (and Folksy in the UK) is arguably the main marketplace to sell your work if it is handmade. Commission based, they promote sellers who are active and include lots of “stock” in their online shops, while user-curated “treasuries” showcase the best the sites have to offer. Visitors come to browse, already in the mindset that they might be buying something, specifically looking for the handmade and unusual. Making use of their shop updates feature – combined with a well-managed social media presence, will allow people to get to know you and your design process and become fans as well as customers.
Not on the High Street
Shop-by-application, NOTHS is a managed selling site with handpicked makers and designers for a classier edge all around. Buyers are here to pay that little bit more for something truly special, and just being here will give your shop a boost. However – you need to be prepared to up your game on everything from your photography to your packaging, and, like Etsy, NOTHS is best coupled with a strong social media presence to make the most of your gorgeous shop.
I couldn’t write a feature on ways to market yourself without including blogging! Blog sites are usually free and easily customisable, and a great place to showcase your work. The downside – if you are not a natural writer, you may find it hard to keep the traffic circulating to your page and you will need a schedule to make sure there is frequent new content for your readers. However – pair a regular blog update with ongoing conversations with your customers, and you may be onto a winner!
Some people’s first instinct is to set up a custom website. Personally, I think reserving your Domain name for later is a good idea, but an actual website may not be your best port of call initially. With online marketplaces and social media, people are already on those platforms for their own reasons and, as well as people looking for you and the type of work you do, you will also benefit from ‘passing’ traffic. Custom websites, on the other hand, rely on people searching for you or your work specifically if your work is original; or your site will be competing with many others if you make something more generic. And, while this is OK on a free social network, with a website you are often paying for your presence so need to make the most of it. Great for building yourself a professional home on the web, but best when you are a little more established.
So, with all these other options out there, why consider Facebook? For me, their all round approach is still a stand-out feature in the online world. Business pages where you can share photos, text and live video; the ability to run polls and talk to your followers; their messaging function and your ability to still keep your own personal page all managed through one account.
They’ve also been smart, recognising that they are just one in a range of social networks your business will be using – the game changer has been the addition of a “Shop” button – on top of the many plugins you can use to connect with other social networks – giving you unparalleled ability to connect with your fans and customers.
Then, you have Facebook’s primary purpose – building yourself a social network of friends, family and peers to champion and support your work, while groups allow you to meet other makers and develop your craft.
And reach? Well, it may have reduced, but there are still many ways to get great engagement with your posts and reach a huge audience on this massive platform. It’s all about creating great content, and really talking to your followers – something that I’m gradually getting better at with the amazing help of the lovely Lady Lock. For yourself, why not practice some longer ‘getting to know you’ posts in our Lock In Facebook Group and get feedback from our friends in the arts community here:
Last but not least, let’s not forget that it’s also important to know how to do all those little technical things that will really show off your professionalism as well as your creativity, no matter what platform you use – but that’s a post for another Tech Tuesday 😉 In the meantime – what little techie things would you love to know how to do?
Tech Tuesdays are brought to you by Stephanie of Beyond Paper Stars, who in her day job is a Digital Learning Developer, film editor, website administrator, and trainee graphic designer obsessed with all things technical. Especially if it means she gets her hands on a 360degree camera, in a space she’s designed and painted, and can let people loose in it in a virtual reality headset 😉 You can find her art here: