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Lu & Ed’s 7 Year Envyversary Celebration!

Hip pip hooray! Today marks 7 YEARS since I launched my Storenvy shop. Whoa. I can’t believe how far my little monster shop has come in 7 years. I can’t believe how much Storenvy has evolved in 7 years! When I joined, there was barely 500 stores on the platform, and now there’s hundreds of thousands of Storenvy sellers!

My business has grown so much thanks to all of you – thanks to your support, cheering me on, kind words, orders, referrals, fan photos to keep me trucking when my eyes are crossing from sewing too much. Thank you all. I couldn’t have made it this far without my sweet, awesome, wonderful monster loving fans!  I have made some super amazing friends through the Storenvy community – and I decided to reach out to some of my favorites to together a huge giveaway to thank you all for your constant support & love, and to celebrate 7 years selling on Storenvy! Woohoo!!

Sidenote: This will be one of the LAST giveaways I host this year, so if you want a chance to get your hands on some free Lu & Ed monster merch, make sure to enter and come back daily to earn your daily entries every day this week, too!

Speaking of daily entries, this giveaway has a ton of ways to earn entries, including some that involve Storenvy functions like Watching & Envying items on Storenvy. I’ll post screen shots on how to do that below – but first here’s the prize line up!

Small Semi-Custom Mon-stor – Winner chooses color scheme!

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Zombie Tee from Zom’s – Winner picks size and styleIMG_8277

Winner’s Choice – Four hair bows or one headband from Bow Peeps

Delicate Star Necklace from Wilde DesignsNE038_DelicateSilverStarNecklaceByWildeDesigns_02_original copy

Double Set Kitchen Towels and Hot Pads from We R Crafts

Red Pendant Necklace from Wired Heart17861921_10155103306433898_2011750148484705881_n copy

Spring Headband by It’s a Girl Thing by Trinidadimage1

Art Print from Be You, Not Them17634614_10212738053357146_5386901653328931805_n

Cardinal Field Cards from Pinecone GroveNorthern_20Cardinal_20Card_20Display_original

Rainbow Unicorn Egg from Landon’s Toy Box17888186_10158884377780179_282247373_n

Now, like I said above, you can sign up for Storenvy to earn a good chunk of extra entries, so click over and sign up – the process takes less than one minute if you aren’t already a member, and it is one of the coolest online shopping platforms out there so we def want to make sure you get all signed up. 😉

Here is how to earn the Storenvy centric entries:  Watching a shop. This is like favoriting it so you don’t miss product drops! Here is a photo example – just click the “Watch” button! Then input your Storenvy username on the giveaway widget to complete the entry. (So I can double check the entries when selecting an winner!)

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Entries can also be earned by Envying a product. An Envy is basically “liking” the product. Your Envies will show up on your user profile so you can easily find items you’ve liked to purchase at a later date. They also show in the feed of anyone who follows you, allowing you the opportunity to start trends and become a popular user on Storenvy! Photo example below!

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Super easy peasy! You can also earn entries by sharing products from the stores to social media – you can do one blog post a day with products from each shop, share on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, or even pin some items to Pinterest! Then just post the URL of your share into the giveaway widget for the entry to count!

Here is all the official rules: Contest is open from 12AM EST 4/10 to 11:59PM EST 4/15. Giveaway is open world wide, where allowed, to entrants over the age of 18. International winners must pay shipping prior to their item being shipped. One lucky winner will reap all the prizes, selected at random by Rafflecopter!

Now, let’s get down to winning some stuff! The more entries you earn, the better your chance of winning all of these epic prizes. So click the  link below and start earning your entries!

>>> Click here to enter! <<<

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Where do Mon-stors come from? Tacky jammies!

For today’s magical transformation, I’m sharing this funky leopard print nightgown turned radical and adorable Mon-stor! Yup, I converted this discarded nightie…

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Into this mega adorable Mon-stor toy storage bag! How cute is she?

neat laundry toy storage monster bag for kids handmade in asheville

This month, I have been hard at work turning other textile discards into cute monsters, and I am stoked to be turning my textile recycling efforts into a fun keepsake monster project launching soon, called Memory Monsters!

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I still need to make a few more prototypes from various materials (Tee shirts! Receiving blankets! Sweaters!) before I am ready to launch, plus figure out what sizes of clothing I can feasibly turn into monsters (just in, newborn sized sleepers are too small to cut monsters from!). But be sure to follow along on Facebook or Instagram to check out the prototypes as I post them, and sign up for my newsletter to get an email when they launch, so you can send me your child’s special article of clothing or lovey blanket to be converted into a monster!

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Monster Mash! Easy Peasy Monster Halloween Costumes & Accessories

This year, I had the honor of collaborating with Opposite of Far for a monster themed Halloween photo shoot done by the lovely Qiana K! Opposite of Far launched her Monster Masks, which are fun, colorful, and when paired with basics from Primary.com & monster trick or treat totes or stuffies from my shop – make the cutest simplistic monster costumes ever!

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Aren’t these little monsters the cutest you ever did see?! Hurry to place your monstrously awesome Halloween orders – it’s spooky how soon it will be here!

 

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Making Back to School Monstrously Awesome – Qiana K Photo Shoot!

Just because we’re homeschooling this year, didn’t mean I didn’t get to have fun with back to school photos! I was honored to be able to send some of my monsters to the awesome brand photographer Qiana K to be a part of her Back to School shoot – and boy, I love love love what she did! Here’s a collection of images from the shoot – Qiana made it easy to make back to school monstrously fun, with cute clothing, great fall accessories and fun monster toys to give as back to school gifts from yours truly. 😉

Other brands featured:

Little Nugget KnitsThe Wishing Elephant Bright Eyed Baby  / Greyson & ColeFJ’s Pop ShopPegheads / Sunshine by Channon / Spunky Onion

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Aren’t these images darling?! Those grins! Gah, these little dudes stole my heart!

If you are a maker looking for awesome brand photos, definitely be sure to book a session with Qiana – her work is amazing, she is incredible to work with and her fun style & great attitude is infectious! Coming soon: A gallery of images from my monster mash Halloween collab shoot by Qiana, with Opposite of Far!

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Home schooling as a maker mama – it’s not easy, but I love it.

In years past, back to school was always a little hectic, but as a work from home monster making mom, it made it a little easier to get out the door in the mornings. We had our system – clothes laid out the night before, breakfast items on the counter, lunches packed & in the fridge ready to be grabbed on the way out the door.

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This year, like all other routines & just life in general since our move, is totally different. My son hated the public school he went to here in WNC last winter/spring. Here’s a quick example of just one of DOZENS of examples of my son’s horrendous short time in Haywood County schools last year: during a science discussion, the teacher told the class the Milky Way is NOT a galaxy, galaxies don’t exist. She told them there’s just one universe, and that’s the Milky Way. When my son tried to correct her by telling her, actually the Milky Way is a spiral galaxy, one of at least one hundred billion of potential galaxies in outer space, he was reprimanded and given a silent lunch for “lying” & I received a note about how disrespectful he was. Oh, and first week of school, when I tried to ask for more challenging work for him because he had already learned what they were covering in first grade, she told me right in front of Gauge that he wasn’t as smart as I think he is, even though right before we moved from Missouri he was testing at 8-9th grade level in almost every subject in 4th grade… so it didn’t take much convincing when he asked me if he could be home schooled this year rather than go back to school in this district.

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So, we officially “started” home schooling July 1st. We started in the middle of summer because when the new baby gets here, we’ll be taking a week or two off to bond & adjust as a family. A little over two months “into” home schooling, we are finally starting to find a little balance & normalcy – though with this pregnancy nearing it’s end, it’s been a lot more difficult to balance this new life style, home schooling, running Lu & Ed, and growing a tiny human all at once. But we have found a few things that work really well and for any other maker mamas out there considering home schooling while running their biz,  cheers! You can do it! Here’s what has helped me balance lessons & making monsters!

wake up before the kid(s)

Usually way, way easier said that done. But thanks to baby brewing in my belly, most mornings I am up between 4-5am. It’s rough. And I won’t lie, a lot of times in the past few weeks, I haven’t been able to muster the energy  to get out of bed and do productive things. But some mornings I somehow find the spunk to roll out of bed, brew some coffee, soak up a few minutes of me time while I set intentions for the day, and then get some work done before Gauge wakes up (like right now! 6am & I’m up blogging! Go me!!!). You can read my previous post about making the most of summer mornings as a maker mama here – a lot of it is still applicable as a home schooling mom, too!

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create lots of opportunity for independent studies

This will vary based on the age of your child, but for us, after we work together through math, vocabulary words & science, my son has the rest of the day to work on reading, creative writing or studying history/social studies independently (right now we are covering Early American History, from the discovery of America to the Industrial Age, and I let him pick which time period to study in the evenings that week – right now he’s obsessed with the Revolutionary War!), which is usually done through reading historical stories/biographies, work books, or watching documentaries. While he is doing his independent studies, I get in some sewing! If he finishes up daily lessons while I’m still working, or before his dad gets home/dinner time, his options are educational programs, reading, art projects or outside play. This gives me about 4-6 hours a day to dedicate directly to my business. There’s a ton of ways to provide resources for independent study that allows you time to balance your handmade business – from work sheets to iPad apps, nature documentaries to free play with creative toys (Legos, blocks, fort building, marble mazes, obstacle courses, creating Rube Goldberg contraptions) or “recess” outside if you can work from a place where you can supervise your children!

make your creative business a priority

Home schooling while running a creative business from home means your kids are around you 24/7. It can be a little overwhelming at first adjusting to the new schedule and constant contact if in previous years, you’re child went to school outside the home. This is why it’s so important to set boundaries for you, your partner, and your child(ren). I made sure before we started my son knew that just because he was going to be home, didn’t mean he would 1) play video games all day & 2) have my undivided attention all day long, because I do have a business to run. So he knows during independent study time, to work through problems on his own, research & try to find the answers himself & we’ll review materials/lessons the next morning – so there’s no need to bust into my room while I’m sewing eleventy billion times to ask me questions about his current lessons. (Note: providing age appropriate study material with clear directions is essential to making independent study time, and therefore time for mama to make things, a success!)

get creative: utilize activities & classes

As moms, and makers, and creative business owners, we often feel as we have to do it all alone. You don’t! There’s so many amazing resources, both conventional and more creative, to utilize to make home schooling easier & more enjoyable.

Find your tribe. This was hard for me, because we couldn’t afford a co-op this year, but even if it’s just one other home schooling parent you can meet to have coffee with, chat about your day, share lesson time with or swap kids with for a day for a few hours to get some work done, find those people, love them, give them coffee and chocolate, and schedule a bunch of play dates! Finding a few great home schooling buddies (for both my son & I!) has proven to be the greatest home school aid. Taking time for social gatherings is essential for mental health, plus getting out of the house regularly keeps the creative juices flowing.

Consider outside specialized classes & use community resources. Not only does this take a load off of you if say, you aren’t feeling on par with current math or science standards, or your child wants to learn something you have no clue how to teach (like coding, sign language, Spanish or theater), there are many community resources that offer once a week classes for 1-6 hours a day that your child can participate in – which gives you a little more time to invest in your creative business! If you are in the WNC area near me, check out Elevate’s class list – they have a huge list of interests and subjects, from history & science to dance & parkour! Local zoos, museums & nature centers often have programs for home school students as well. And don’t forget to check your local library’s list of activities – most libraries have “after school” clubs for 1-3 hours a day, once a week. Ours has a Lego club that meets every Tuesday from 4-5:30, a Minecraft club, and a few other specialized interests clubs. Not only does specialized classes & community resources like these give your child a chance to socialize & explore new interests, you can bring your laptop & get some computer work done, or bring along your current hand sewing/crocheting/knitting projects to work on, while your kid enjoys their classes/clubs! This winter, my son is taking coding & Spanish classes. 🙂

teach your child(ren) about entrepreneurship

Having your kids home with you while you run a creative business is a great opportunity to teach them about commerce, budgeting, consumer math, graphs & charts, conversion rates, scheduling, money management, ROI (return on investment, AKA measurable data for an action & it’s corresponding reactions, like purchasing an ad on a blog & tracking traffic/sales that it generates to gauge how much value that action garnered) and most importantly – the value in hard work & dedication to making your dreams come true! Involve them in the process. Give them simple, age appropriate tasks to do to help make the functions of your creative business run more smoothly – my son helps me a bit each day with things like stuffing monster bits, pairing fabrics, sewing, cutting things out, packing orders, and doing postal runs. He also has learned a lot about conversion rates, profit/loss charts, income projections, marketing, photography, public relations & more. He’s always been an active part of my business, but this year I’m really showing him more of the functionalities & processes that go into running an ecommerce business & how he can apply those skills to other parts of his life.

accept that some days, you aren’t going to get it all done

At first I was completely, totally overwhelmed, and between trying to find a good rhythm for lessons & try to find time to sew while dealing with third trimester exhaustion, there was a lot of bad days. For instance, I like to sew first thing in the mornings – Gauge does better with his math first thing in the mornings, and it’s one subject he does need more supervision & guidance on. So I have had to sacrifice my most creative time to do my least favorite thing ever (ugh, math), which sometimes ruined an entire day for me creatively because it just saps my juju; but after a few weeks of this, settling into a new routine of sewing after lunch (while not as creatively charged) is still a routine capable of productivity. It just requires a bit more effort!

I know here in a few weeks when Baby Z gets here, that’s going to throw our entire system out the window and we’ll be starting from scratch again. And that’s okay, because I also know we’ll find our rhythm again (eventually). If you are considering embarking on a home school journey as a maker mama, stay flexible, don’t be afraid of adjusting your schedule time & again, and know that once you find what works for you & your child(ren), it gets easier to balance productivity for your business & lessons for your kids!

Any other maker mamas out there home schooling their kids?

I would love to hear your advice, opinions & thoughts on balancing it all, what works for you, and what concerns you may have about running a creative business while educating your child. Let’s discuss in the comments!

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5 Tips for getting more exposure in the Storenvy Marketplace (or possibly getting featured on their social media accounts!)

A lot of people struggle with leveraging the Storenvy Marketplace. While the dream is being able to just throw some listings up, walk away and make sales, unfortunately, that’s not how selling online works. You have to put in a lot of effort, do a lot of research, network and make connections, and become established as a Marketplace seller to start to really see the benefits of being a part of the Storenvy Marketplace – or any online e-commerce marketplace venue!

But! There are a few things you can do to get more exposure as a Storenvy Marketplace seller, and possibly even get featured on their social media channels! They have over 67,000 Facebook fans, 23,000 Twitter followers & almost 10,000 Instagram followers, so anything you can do to increase the possibility of getting your products selected as an Editor’s Pick or featured by Storenvy should be a priority!

Have amazing, well lit, clutter free product photos.

Have you SEEN their Insta feed?

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Storenvy rocks a highly curated, drool worthy Instagram feed featuring unique items with bright, well lit product photos. There’s no clutter, distracting backgrounds, dark shadows obscuring any details of the products. All of the images singularly focus on the product, they all have excellent lighting and composition and they are all very unique products – however if you visit the shops they are from, you’ll notice the branding from one photo carries over to all the images, providing a very consistent, professional look in their stores. In order to possibly one day see your items hit this line up – you have to deliver photos of ALL of your products that are equal to the quality of images found in their Insta feed. If your product photos don’t meet the aesthetic Storenvy is trying to create, they won’t get featured. Besides good images increasing the likelihood of being featured on their social media channels, they also increase your odds of becoming an Editor’s Pick (meaning your product shows up in every single Storenvy users feed, plus it’s been proven again and again the better your photos, the more likely people are to purchase your products.

Have an active marketplace store

Storenvy loves all of their sellers, but won’t feature shops that don’t have active Marketplace stores on their social media pages, plus you can’t become an Editor’s Pick if you aren’t in the Marketplace – so make sure all of your products are listed for sale in the Storenvy Marketplace! But active doesn’t just mean having listings up, either. The more traffic, Watchers, Envies & sales your Marketplace store is generating, the more likely you are to be featured. So be sure to join the Storenvy Community Group & The Storenvy Collector’s Group I run on Facebook – both will get you active and involved in the Marketplace & increase your odds of getting featured! Also be sure to let people know about your Marketplace side store – pin items from it from time to time, blog about it, let people know they can Envy an item to save it for later if they aren’t ready to purchase. Obviously our goals is to promote our custom Storenvy websites, where sales are free, but the more you work to generate traffic to your Marketplace store the higher your products will appear in search results, which results in more organic traffic as well!

Tag #storenvy & @storenvy in all your posts

Make sure to use the #storenvy hashtag and tag @Storenvy in all your Insta and Facebook posts. This gives them an easy way to find your posts & discover your goods! Plus it groups your posts with other #storenvy posts, so people browsing for Storenvy shops to buy from can find you!

Make sure your Storenvy URL is in your bio or linked on your fan page

Obviously, if Storenvy is going to feature goods from a seller, they want link backs to benefit them. So make sure your Insta bio links to your Storenvy shop, not your Etsy or blog URL, and the same goes for Facebook. As an aside, NOT linking to their Storenvy shop is the main reason a lot of people AREN’T making sales on Storenvy. If you want people to find you on Storenvy, you gotta make sure that you are directing them there. Having the links on your social pages direct to Storenvy will also increase inbound traffic, which boosts your listings in search results. Yay!

Encourage people to shop the Storenvy marketplace

Do you know why Etsy is so successful? Because everyone just says “I got it on Etsy” or “have you tried looking for it on Etsy?” So, it stands to reason, the more people talk about Storenvy, the more sales sellers will generate through the Marketplace.

But also replying to posts on Instagram or Facebook & tagging @Storenvy will show them you’re an avid supporter, which is a lot more likely to put you on their radar than anything else. See a post where someone is talking about selling online? Suggest @Storenvy. Tell them why you love it. When someone asks where to shop for something? Suggest @Storenvy. Put up a post about why you love Storenvy & why people should sell/shop there. Wear your support for the platform on your sleeve and encourage others to as well! It will help the Marketplace thrive, increase organic traffic for all shops, plus let Storenvy know “Hey, guys, I love you. You are doing a great thing here, and I’m happy to be a part of it.” Active community members are more likely to get noticed than silent sellers – so be active and an advocate!

These are just a few of the tips I have for increasing your presence on Storenvy & also increasing your odds of getting featured on their social media channels – I hope you find these tips helpful!

Do you have a specific question about selling on Storenvy? Feel free to leave a comment & I’ll do my best to get a post up with an answer. ♥

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3 things your social media campaign should be doing for your followers

It’s crazy to think I’m in my 7th year as a maker! I’ve devoted a lot of those 7 years to market analysis, social media experimentation & researching different methods of campaign building. While I can tell you what works for the accounts I manage (did you know I offer social media consulting/management? Sure do! Feel free to email me at cody@luanded.com for more info!), I’m also a huge consumer, and work to connect makers with consumers. Given my experience in the maker movement, I always try to wrap up my knowledge into some info packed blog posts to help other maker mamas get their footing & give them things to experiment with on their own journeys.

When you are running a successful social media campaign, it should be capable of doing these three things almost effortlessly, all of which result in higher sales conversions and consistent audience growth in my experience, as well as more opportunities for exposure, both locally and globally. Implementing some of the simple posting tricks below into your campaign is a definite way to increase interactions & pave your path to becoming established as a maker, which looks a little different for everyone.

So grab your favorite drink, curl up & evaluate your social media campaign – can it do all three of these things?

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Painting a clear picture of what exactly it is that you do

This is the one I deem the most important, and while it seems like a no brainer, there has been a huge shift in how makers present their products, thanks to the brand rep movement. It makes it harder to distinguish artisans from wholesalers. So when I say your social media account needs to paint a clear picture of exactly  what it is that you do, I don’t mean “I make monsters, so I should have a picture of monsters on my account and say I make monsters.” I mean, you should be showing very clearly how involved you are in the processes of your business. From sourcing materials to product creation to packing orders. This can be done many ways, from regularly posting WIP (works in progress) Insta posts to a blog post showing the steps of your process for products from time to time. It’s important to integrate those behind the scenes photos; while having a stylized feed of modeled product shots is great, it can alienate you from those grass roots connections that could lead to many, many sales & opportunities – from features in blogs, magazines, and other publications to vending and wholesale opportunities – even opportunities like being nominated as Best Indie Crafter of your region.

For a quick example: Back when I ran the Daft Crafts blog, I did hundreds of product & maker features- but if the social media accounts were just stylized images, I was uncertain if the products were actually handmade. So those makers were never featured, because I didn’t have the time to individually contact every person with a product that caught my eye to verify they were made from raw materials and not purchased wholesale & were just being resold (which is another concern with highly styled feeds, but that’s a post for another day), and so some makers missed out on the opportunity of being featured on my blog with over 10K page views a month. There are literally thousands of blogs like Daft Crafts out there – and odds are, if their editors can’t distinguish if your products are handmade very quickly upon glancing at your site or social media campaign, they won’t be selecting your wares for features any time soon. Transparency is crucial to success in the maker movement.

So post those WIP photos! Show off your work space! Snap a shot of you out in the wild, sourcing materials!  Get someone to take pictures of you working that screen press or sewing machine! Hire a professional for a shoot if you want the images just right – but you need at least one behind the scenes image a week to be cropping up in your feeds to show consumers & publicists alike that your products are indeed made from hands and heart.

Not only do publishers love it, but consumers do, too! As a consumer, I personally don’t purchase from a shop if I can’t tell if their products are actually handmade and not drop shipped or purchased wholesale, and have had several discussions about this barrier between consumers & makers. Transparency completely eliminates this concern for consumers and handmade advocates.

From the maker standpoint, it’s very important for me to share my business processes. For every behind the scenes photo I post, I gain numerous new followers that day as well as see an influx in the likes and comments on photos both before and after the work in progress photo, as well as an increase in sales. I think it’s because it intrigues the audience – a lovely shot of something being made! What IS THAT?! So they click over to learn more. And isn’t the goal of social media that, to effortlessly create content that intrigues people about it to become a follower, then potentially a buyer, without having to give away product or spend time trying to make a sale? Showing the process of creation drives a genuine connection between you & your products, streamlining audience growth & widening your sales funnel.

I do want to address that I know it’s hard to let go of the Instagram mentality – that everything has to look the exact same, all your images should be similar – but really, you can build your branding into the process shots. It’s all about styling images, using key elements in your photos & having consistent lighting in your images. Baby Jives does an incredible job of maintaining her branding and stylized images even in WIP shots, as does Honey & The Hive, who also does a great job of sharing her family life and interests without straying from her brand, making her feel very authentic and personable.

Igniting conversations

I’m not saying every post should be some eloquently crafted conversation starter – but at least one a week should be.

With both Facebook & Instagram’s algorithms, posts with more authentic comments & likes (i.e., you aren’t link dropping or using comment pod groups)  pushes your posts and account higher in the algorithm and gives you better visibility. Both services have ways to detect inauthentic comments – ones that come from a link, for instance, or if 50 people are all commenting on each other’s accounts, it’s apparent to the algorithm these are not authentic comments. The algorithms are set to measure comments from followers or people who find you through hashtags, and tracks how many people who scroll past your photo/posts in such ways actually stop to interact with it. Those authentic likes and comments are what you want.

So at least once a week, create something great to talk about. It doesn’t have to be deep, or meaningful, every time – but it does have to be something worth talking about, or people won’t. Simple as that. I have a post here with ten Facebook statuses to get people talking – use it for a jumping off point and go from there!

Fostering community

And once you get people excited about your social media campaign & get them talking, keep them talking. Reply to their comments, ask questions, tag people who can relate to their reply – make them feel valued, like their words matter. Because they do – they spent valuable seconds of their life, time they can’t get back, investing in your business. They matter. So show appreciation!

Audience members who feel valued & appreciated are more likely to purchase & be a repeat buyer. Even if it’s as simple as saying “Thank you! How was your weekend?” when they say your latest photo is awesome on Instagram. Invest in your audience. Make them feel connected. They will only leave so many comments without reply or acknowledgement before they click that unlike/unfollow button.

Basically…

You want your social media campaign to feel like a place where people gather excitedly, happily, like an open studio night. Your social media campaign should be able to show people who you are, what you do, start conversations with them and keep those conversations going. Makers need to be as transparent as possible about their processes, to open themselves up to even more opportunities – maybe that’s their city’s indie craft niche, for instance, which can lead to newspaper or television features which leads to dozens of other opportunities, or maybe an invite to an exclusive maker’s group that is teeming with knowledge and support channels. There are so many benefits to sharing your processes with the world!

Embrace the maker movement & wear it proudly! Show the world the person, processes and personality behind the products, and you’ll feel a shift in how your audience responds to your content.

How important do you think these three things are to social media campaigns?