Posts made in March, 2014


Welcome to #MakersWednesday, where we celebrate the moments of creativity we find in every week.

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This week we’re playing with tone-on-tone golds. Such a classic look, and it’ll be great to wear with almost any outfit!

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What have you been making this week? Share it with us on Instagram and Twitter using #MakersWednesday so we can all see!

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Welcome back for another post on community-building for small biz owners using social media. We’ve already covered Instagram, and now it’s time for a Twitter party!

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Let’s just assume, for a moment, that you’ve been living in a cave for a few years and you don’t know what Twitter is. Twitter is a social media site where you can post just about anything you want, as long as you do it in 140 or fewer characters. (For those of us with a tendency to wax philosophical and a background studying English Literature this is, shall we say, a challenge!)

Most often, people post on Twitter to say what they’re doing, what they’re thinking about, or to share things they’ve found around the Web. For a business owner, though, Twitter can be so much more: it can the place to host an endless party to celebrate your business and connect with your customers. (Ever wonder how they came up with Twitter? Read this!)

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As Jess Van Den (@JessVanDen) points out, Twitter is like an endless cocktail party. While that might frighten some of you with more hermit-like tendencies, just think of it as an endless conversation you can digest in small portions and pop in and out of as you please. It’s also an ideal place to have short yet relevant conversations with your target audience and valued customers.

To help you out with building a community in 140 characters or less, let’s go through a few basic Do’s and Don’ts of Twitter, shall we?

DO:

  • Think of Twitter as a way to talk to people in a crowd. You don’t have to speak to the whole group at once. This isn’t about getting ALL of Twitter to like you, but about connecting to a select niche of people who will hang out with you in the corner and talk about the things that you actually like.
  • Use Twitter as a place to share things that your audience (and by audience, we mean the people most likely to shop at your business) cares about. Post links to interesting articles on the Web, photos of your product in action, and even invitations to events that are happening in your local area.
  • Keep it simple: you don’t have to use all the vocabulary you possess, or over-analyze those 140 characters. Twitter is supposed to be about quickly posting, not composing a dissertation.
  • Use Twitter as a way to connect with specific people; if you admire someone’s work, follow them! Feel free to tweet to them (simply write their @Username at the beginning of your post) and tell them you love their handmade jewelry or learned a lot in their latest online post. Just don’t come off like a stalker, or you may find they block you.

DON’T:

  • Use Twitter to broadcast your shop updates, and ONLY your shop updates. Yes, it’s okay to tell your Twitter followers that you’re updating the shop; after all, that’s probably a major reason they’re following you in the first place. But for the love of handmade, please do NOT tweet every. single. item. you list in that update and do NOT use Etsy’s built-in tweet feature without changing it first to make it more personal.
  • Ask other people to re-tweet your posts. This comes off as incredibly cheesy and spam-ish. The only reason to do this is if there’s a missing child alert or something similar; your shop updates are not reason enough to ask for a bunch of RTs (re-tweets). People will re-tweet if they want to; asking them to do it is like asking your friends to pass out your business cards on the commuter train. It’s just icky.
  • Try to keep up with all the posts. It isn’t going to happen. You could spend all day on Twitter, because if you follow enough people then someone will ALWAYS be posting something. Come in, go back out again, have a little chat and get on with your life or soon you won’t have a business to tweet about!

 

Tweeting Tips:

What should you tweet about? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Are you having a sale this weekend? Tweet it up! Tell your followers when, where, and how much they’ll save.
  • Did you just get a new product in stock? Take a photo and tweet it! You can even share your Instagram posts with Twitter for double the coverage in one picture.
  • Find something on @Etsy or a similar site that you swoon over? Tweet a link to it – not only are you helping out the biz of the person you’re tweeting about but you’re also showing your followers that it’s not just your own products you know how to share.
  • Post an opinion poll! Should I make this scarf in red or blue? Would you prefer these earrings with silver or gold? Get instant feedback from your customers in quick, easy-to-read responses!
  • Crowd-source. Looking for a good book to read? Not sure if that movie that just premiered last week is worth all the hype? Ask for suggestions and see what comes in. You never know who you might connect with in this manner that could become a new customer for life.
  • Retweet, but sparingly. Think of re-tweeting as recommending a product to someone in person. If you really love something, talk about it and retweet! If not, don’t just re-tweet everything you come across or you’ll lose credibility.
  • Use #hashtags for your brand and for specific events (see how we do it with our #ThinkCreateReflect posts and #MakersWednesday, or read more about it here from @EdmundSLee).

Are you hanging out on Twitter? How do you use it for your biz? We’d love to hear about it – please share it with us in the comments or tag us @PatternedApp on Twitter!

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Welcome to #ThinkCreateReflect, our weekly time to reflect on a prompt, think about business or create something new for our lives.

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This week, take out those journals and get ready to think big about the concepts of MORE and LESS.

 Make a list of three things you want MORE of in your business, and three things you’d like to have LESS of. Under each thing, make a few notes about how you might move toward that goal of more or less, even in a very small way. (For instance, if you want more time to create, try getting up 10 minutes earlier every morning or cutting your lunch break short by 10 minutes in order to spend 10 solid minutes in creative pursuits. If you want less stress, maybe find a way to delegate a stressful task or let go of a product line that brings in more stress than profit.)

Share something from your MORE and LESS lists with us on Twitter or Instagram, using the hashtag #ThinkCreateReflect so we can all have MORE sharing and LESS solitude!

 

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It’s Flu season, and that means germs! Time to protect yourself, but if you’re like me you probably hate the smell and ickiness of commercial hand sanitizers. Lucky for us, it’s pretty easy to make your own since the main ingredient in most is rubbing alcohol.

For this week’s #MakersWednesday, we’re going to DIY some germ prevention!

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How to make your own hand sanitizer:

1. Mix 1 part rubbing alcohol with 1 part witch hazel

2. Add a few drops of jojoba oil and vanilla fragrance. (Make sure you use a fragrance or essential oil that is skin safe!)

That’s it – this recipe is easy peasy, yummy and clean!

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Do you have any DIY solutions for everyday problems! Whip up a batch and share it on Twitter or Instagram with the tag #MakersWednesday so we can DIY, too!

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One of the best ways to give your biz a boost is to create a community around it. There are so many ways to do this, and of course some will work better for your business than others. But the overall theme is this: if you build it, they will come. Make your business into the center of a community of like-minded customers and they will visit again and again.

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Keeping this in mind, we’re going to explore ways to build a community in your business with a series of posts. Today we’re talking Instagram, a photo-sharing app near to my heart (and to the heart of my business).

Quick and Dirty Facts about Instagram:

– This app is free, but you will have to have some sort of device other than a laptop in order to use it (a smart phone or tablet).
– Instagram is very simple: take a photo, share it with your followers. You can take a photo with your device’s camera directly from the app or grab one from your gallery of saved photos any time.
– Similar to Twitter, on Instagram you will follow people (and then you’ll see everything they post) and people will follow you (and they will see anything you post).
– Also like Twitter, hashtags are a useful tool in Instagram, and they are searchable within the app.

Is Instagram for you? Let’s see:
– Do you make and sell a product that is visually appealing (if you have an Etsy shop, chances are the answer is “yes” to this one)?
– Would your customers be interested to see the design process behind your creations?
– Would your customers be interested to see behind-the-scenes into your work space?
– Would your customers be interested to know about what inspires you in your life and work?
– Would you like to share a little bit with your customers about the person behind the business (aka what you do when you’re NOT working)?
– Do you regularly post photos on your blog or web site that you would like to share with a larger audience?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, Instagram might be worth a try! Put it to work for your business and see how it helps you connect with your customers in a snappy fashion (snapshot pun totally intended).

Tips for using Instagram for Business:
– Post a photo of your product in the process of making it, to show the creative process and get your customers excited about buying that product once it hits your shelves.
– Post photos that provide a sort of “virtual tour” of your working space – this works equally well if you have an open brick-and-mortar business or if you work strictly by yourself out of your home. Show off your space and the creative touches you’ve added to it so that your customers feel like they’re visiting you in person.
– Snap a picture of your latest product (whether you made it yourself or you own a shop and a new product just came in) and share it along with a link or an address where people can come and find it.
– If you have employees, take photos of them (with their permission of course!) as they work in order to put a face with the business.
– If you sell supplies, ask customers to send you links to photos they have made with those supplies (dresses they’ve sewn from the fabric you sell or hats they’ve made with your yarn) and post those photos (again, with permission!) on Instagram.
– Use hashtags! You can search for popular hashtags on Instagram and use those in your posts to draw in new fans and friends. Come up with your own tags, too, and use them as a way to unite your community and make it easy for customers to find each others’ posts (like we do here at Patterned with #MakersWednesday and #ThinkCreateReflect). Even just encouraging your customers to tag the name of your business in their relevant posts will help to spread the word! (example: “I made this crochet hat for myself because I was inspired by #MakersWednesday from #PatternedApp!”)
– Post a photo of your products every time you update your shop or have a sale. Add text to the photos or use the caption space below to direct people to your shop to find the items.
– Post photos of your pets. This is pretty much an unstated requirement for using Instagram and plus your customers will likely enjoy seeing that you’re an animal lover.
– Use your business name as your Instagram name if you only own one business or want to use it primarily for business purposes, or set up an account that lets you display photos from all of your business and life activities for cross-promotional purposes.

(For more tips on using Instagram, check out this useful post from Lisa Jacobs or this one from Tara Swiger!)

So, have we convinced you to build an Instagram community for your business? Tell us all about it in the comments below, whether you have just started on Instagram or you’ve been using it for years!

Then come on over to Instagram and connect with us –
Jess: @StoriedYarns (Hopefully you like yarn, because she posts about it a LOT. Also quilts, her pets, and sometimes her children.)

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