“57 Mistakes you are making on Instagram” “How to increase your Pinterest following and your sales by 900% in the next 3 days” “100 ways you aren’t living up to your business potential”. Does this sound familiar? Ok, maybe these are exaggerations, but after surfacing from scuba diving through all of the social media how-to’s, I feel like I am doing it all wrong. But wait, I’m not complaining about information overload, in fact, just the opposite.
At the risk of sounding like Granny Handmaker, I have been thinking about how creative entrepreneurship has changed over the past decade and a half. Etsy and social media didn’t exist, nor did all of the creative business experts and coaches that there are today. I relied on other hand makers, who weren’t always so willing to share their sources, made lots of cold calls to boutiques for consignment, and participated in small craft markets in and around my city. Handmade business was acknowledged as little more than a hobby. All of these things have changed for the better.
First, fellow creatives are easy to find. There are conferences, local and online groups filled with creative entrepreneurs. You can reach out at any hour of the day for feedback, advice or just to vent to other creative business owners. This is another perk of social media, especially for introverts. You can connect and get to know someone long before you ever meet in person.
Second, you can choose to sell online, in shops and markets, or both. Gone are the days of driving around and popping into possible boutiques to see if it would be a good fit for your wares, or spending every weekend day sitting at a craft show booth, and realizing too late that you have set up shop to sell handmade necklaces to a group of women, who don’t wear jewelry, because of their religious beliefs. (Yes, this actually happened to me). Today, we can easily vet shops, and craft markets, or you can focus your time on growing an online presence.
Third, you do not have to rely on your own instinct to implement marketing. If you aren’t a social media savant yourself, which many creatives are not, you can take the advice of people who understand marketing for handmade businesses. The beauty of all of this social media expertise floating around is that it isn’t one size fits all. Not all strategies will work for your specific type of business or your ideal customer.
After all, we are all trying to create something that is our own style, and social media strategists are no different. They understand that you need to stand out in a competitive market, as do they. And, yeah, social media can be maddening, but it is an integral part of being successful in business today, so thank the gods for social media experts.
The moral of the story is that trends are always changing, and as creative entrepreneurs, it’s part of our job to take part in these trends. If it’s something that you don’t understand, or don’t want to devote time to figuring out, hire an expert. As creative business owners, people hire us all the time to make the things they cannot. So, why wouldn’t we do the same and support small business? This is such a fun time to be a handmade business owner, enjoy the ride!
Erin “Wren” Duncan is the owner and handmaker behind wrenbirdarts. She is a former bookseller, barista, grantwriter, event planner, and real estate agent with a Master’s in Social Work. Erin is known for her sometimes cheeky, hand embroidered hankies. Her work has been featured on Buzzfeed, HuffPost, Glamour Magazine, and in several local and international print magazines. Erin lives in Seattle, where you’ll find her walking around exploring farmers markets, the local craft beer scene, and scoping out local businesses. You can follow her on social media @wrenbirdarts.