2

Simplify Your Week: Create a Happy Little Content Calendar (free printable)

You know the feeling – waking up, not knowing what to say or do on social media/your blog that day. Putting out less than perfect content on those days and grumbling in groups about how you just are never sure what to post besides product photos or WIP shots.

What if I told you eliminating posting stress was as easy as writing seven things down? It is! And today we’re learning about content calendars and how to use them to your advantage. I actually sat down this morning to create a content calendar for blogging so I can begin to work on posting several days a week again, and that is what inspired this post!

What a content calendar does is create a visual guide of what to post, when. It can be as strict or as flexible as you want. You can schedule specific content for specific days months in advance (especially helpful during holiday sales seasons, craft show seasons, and the like!) or have the same general content calendar that just evolves as seasons change (this is what I do).

To get started creating a happy little content calendar, you need to print out this happy little printable (available in color or black and white). I tried to size it so it can be printed as one large guide to hang in your studio, or in multiples & inserted into planners. I’m just getting into the planner game, so expect a few more fun freebies like this to come your way as I figure out what I need from my planner!

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Once you have your happy little content calendar printed out, it’s time to do the actual nitty gritty work. A good content calendar has a diverse mix of content. If you completed the Dream Client workshop, you have a really good idea of who your social channels should be appealing to & what sort of content they want to see. For an example, my Dream Clients are young, eclectic moms who are eco-concious & passionate about motherhood, that live in the suburbs or city. They like my products because they are sustainably handcrafted, unique and colorful. I carefully reviewed what accounts they may likely follow on social media, and spent a lot of time analyzing the content of my Dream Clients favorite accounts were putting out. I collected screen shots, browsed their websites, and observed how they captioned their posts & interacted with their audience.

Armed with the knowledge from my research, I know my social media feeds need to be:

  • colorful, positive & empowering
  • reflect my brand’s sustainability practices
  • easy to relate to & welcoming for mothers

Using just these bits of knowledge about my Dream Clients & what content appeals to them, I created a list of authentic posts that need to show up in my feed every week (ding! A content calendar!):

  • Photos of me & my children (motherhood is a tribe, so I frequently put myself out there to connect with my audience!)
  • Before & after photos – a lot of my Dream Clients can’t visual what a “textile discard” is so I demonstrate it frequently in posts where I show what the finished products are made from.

Raise your hand if you are, too. 🙌

A post shared by Cody · Creator of Mon-stors! ♻ (@lu_and_ed) on

  • Relatable content – hey mamas, I see you, I hear you, I am one of you. And I’m tired, too.
  • Photos of my products in use – my Dream Clients are selective about what they bring into their lives, so I use photos of my products from my target audience to draw in more of my target audience.
  • Random bursts of color & happy – my Dream Clients love positivity, support & kindness, and so do I! So I make sure to frequently post an uplifting photo & caption.
  • WIPs – my Dream Clients tend to be slow buyers, so hearing about the process & seeing a product from raw materials to half sewn to fully completed really helps showcase the work that goes into each piece & really demonstrates the one of a kind aspect of my products.

I'm not saying you should pick favorites… but if you HAD to pick a favorite… Which would it be?!#bestofstorenvy

A post shared by Cody · Creator of Mon-stors! ♻ (@lu_and_ed) on

  • Finished product photos – because every time someone in your target audience clicks over to your social media accounts, they should be able to see at a glance exactly what it is that you do!

And there you go – a full week worth of content!

Radical honesty: I don’t always post every type of post every day every week – I actually usually don’t post at all on Saturday and Sunday. And you don’t have to either! I use my content calendar as a guideline for what kind of content I should be putting out so that my feed always has a good variety of content, fits what my target audience is looking for and represents who I am & what I do. Having it on paper makes it easier to make sure you don’t stray too far from what your target audience is looking for and keeps your content relevant & visually cohesive.

I’d love to get a peek at your content calendars you come up with after reviewing the Dream Client exercises! Feel free to leave me a comment telling me what you put on your calendar, shoot me a photo of your happy little content calendar all filled out to cody@luanded.com or tag me on Instagram!

 

6

100+ hashtags for handmade businesses, makers and small shops + tag hacks!

Do you ever wish there was just a perfect, ready to use, list of hashtags to pull from for Instagram? Well, now there is! I’ve been researching, experimenting, and perfecting the perfect mix of hashtags for a handmade business for MONTHS. Literally. I started the draft of this post in December of 2016, and have tweaked it constantly, adding & deleting tags constantly as I found which got the best responses, the most engagement, and of course the ones that didn’t end up throttling my posts, reducing visibility or even penalizing my entire account! (Yes! That can happen!!)

Below, you will find hashtags sorted into groups. There’s a various amount of tags in each group, and several are repeated in different groups. Repeated tags are great for use on basically any post about handmade businesses! Then there are some that are highly targeted for specific types of posts,  from WIP images to finished products to selfies & more! I set it up this way so you can copy & paste directly from this list into your IG posts, then add your own curated tags specific to your medium – for instance, I usually throw in tags like #monstertoys, #toystorage or #instagramkids for my Mon-stor posts. If you make jewelry, you will want to put in specific tags – #handmadejewelry #datenight #wedding #bridetobe #prom and so on! For drawing or painting or art makers, you will want to use specific tags like #prismacolor #penandink #drawing #watercolor and on and on. These little tag packets just help you get started!

WIP photos

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WIP (work in progress shots) are a great way to share your story as a maker. Humans are drawn to the process, and seeing products being made creates a connection between consumers and your product.

#handmade #handcrafted #creativedaily #wip #workinprogress #makersgonnamake #makersmovememnt #mycreativebiz #creativedaily #creativelifehappylife #abmcrafty #handsandheart #handsandhustle #cylcollective #calledtobecreative #artistoninstagram #abmcrafty #madebyhand #whatimade #goalgetter #cantstopwontstop #craftbuzz #handmadelove #craftstagram #makingart #doitfortheprocess #makearteveryday #creativeliving #creativelife #artsandcrafts

Product photos

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Show off your work! These tags are highly curated and many put your product photos in the sights of top handmade publications, feeds & influencers!

#handmade #handcrafted #makersgonnamake #makersmovement #mycreativebiz #handmadebyme #whatimade #creatorslane #handmadeisbetter #craftsposure #creativelifehappylife #helloimhandmade #supporthandmade #makersvillage #thehandmadeparade #makersofinstagram #abmcrafty #craftaholic #communityovercompetition #creativepreneur #creativedaily #handsandheart #handsandhustle #cylcollective #handmadewithlove

Selfies

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People love to know the person behind the process, so every once in a while, throw up a selfie and tell people something personal! Bonus points if you wiggle a handmade product into the pic, or wear jewelry/clothing from another maker and tag them in the photo.

#me #makersgonnamake #makersmovement #communityovercompetition #creativedaily #creativelifehappylife #abmcrafty #abmhappylife #selfie #behindthescenes #handsandheart #handsandhustle #goalgetter #goaldigger #meetthemaker #mycreativebiz #livecolorfully #mycreativebiz #makersofinstagram #ladyboss #girlboss #shescrafty #womanownedbusiness #womanpreneur #mompreneur #craftybitch #craftygirl #girlbossmoment

Sale posts

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Whether you are posting a discount sale, stating products are up for grabs, your new line dropped or that you just restocked, these tags will get your products out there and get people interacting with your posts!

#handmade #handcrafted #makersgonnamake #makersmovement #creativelifehappylife #abmcrafty #handmadeisbetter #makersofinstagram #shopsmall #supportlocal #golocal #buyhandmade #supporthandmade #shopsmallbusiness #womanownedbusiness  #creativedaily #handmadewithlove #ilovehandmade #handmadeshop #handmadeisbest #buzzfeed #huffpost #craftsposure #makersvillage #creatorslane #favehandmade #thehandmadeparade

Now for the fun ones – TAG HACKS! These hacks help you get more connections, engagement, and opportunities while also increasing engagement, but require a little work on your part to actually find the tags best suited for use for your medium/brand/products/audience.

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Publications

Do you know a publication, popular Instagram account, blog or magazine you want to see your stuff – and maybe share it? Find out if they have specific tags for reposts, or a tag for their brand, and USE IT. Search your niche, find the best publishers, follow them, use their tags. For instance, I use #punkymoms #momdotme #momazine #buzzfeedparents #huffpostparents & so on to reach publishers who are considered experts to my target audience.

Local tags

It’s important to post tags that are geographical – this opens you up to a LOT of opportunities, from magazine features, award nominations & invites to craft events, to making local maker friends, growing your local audience and securing sales to people who love to shop local.

Use tags relevant to your city, to your state, and your region. Use the nearest large city to you if your area does not have a lot of tags – I live about 20 minutes West of Asheville, but it’s the nearest large city, so that is the tag I use! For example, I use #madeinasheville #madeinnc or #madeinwnc. I also use popular local tags when I do events, like #828isgreat #asheville #AVL #ashevilleNC #wnc #smokymountains #ashevillefolk #ashevillemoms. Pop on Insta, browse the tags and find ones that seem to be trendy. If there isn’t a #madein*yournearestbigcity* tag – make one! Use it on every post – it will catch on!

Audience Capturing

Like I said above, you will want to fill in your posts with tags specifically curated for your audience. This also requires some homework on your part. As a toy maker, I use tags like #igkids #instagramkids #momlife #motherhood #childhoodunplugged #letthembelittle #creativeplay #sensoryplay #learningthroughplay #igbaby #instababy #nurseryinspo #kidsroom #playroom & so on. So you need to identify you target audience & then search through hashtags relevant to them. As you can see from my tags, if jewelry was your medium, you wouldn’t just post #jewelry – you would use tags like #datenight #girlsnightout #wedding #gettinghitched #bride #momofthebride #anniversary #ootd #wwiw – stuff people who will be wearing jewelry to, tags for fashion posts, events people buy jewelry for. Once you identify you target audience, you can find them on social media, browse the hashtags they use, see which ones are applicable to your products, and start integrating them and A/B testing them on posts!

Daily Themes

#meetthemakermonday #makermonday #wipwednesday #throwbackthursday (great for sharing your progress as a maker!) #friyay #flashbackfriday #followfriday #smallbusinesssaturday

Platform/Group Tags

Don’t forget platform centric tags! I sell on Storenvy, so I use #storenvy #storenvyseller & such. For Etsy sellers, there is a MILLION hashtags! Same for Shopify or other selling platforms. Do some digging, find which tags are popular and apply them applicable posts about your shop! Do the same for any communities you are in that have exclusive hashtags for interaction, exposure & feature opportunities, too!

Whew! Grab some tags and get practicing! I am always evolving, switching it up & changing what tags I use – you should too! Try a bunch of these out, and let me know what your results are! Remember, Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags. I recommend putting them in the second comment so as to not look spammy, plus they get buried as people come in commenting, so they are pretty much hidden from sight after 3 comments. Have fun!

 

2

Save with a snap!

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I thought long and hard about what sort of campaign I wanted to run this year to grow Lu & Ed. I knew I wanted it to be organic and authentic. I don’t like icky marketing campaigns where I feel like I am pushing pushing pushing products in everyone’s face. I don’t think anyone else likes those marketing campaigns, either.  I didn’t want to use a program to buy followers or pay to shove ads in everyone’s faces on social media. I didn’t want to pay a blogger to say they liked my products. I wanted something real.

I decided to create a campaign to connect with my customers, find out why Lu & Ed fans love their monsters, and have my products and previous customers speak for my brand & organically spread the word about it – a campaign that is perfectly authentic, raw and real. A campaign ran by real parents, aunts & uncles & grandparents  who have actually adopted a Mon-stor, Wall Monster or stuffie, a sensory blanket or library bag or any other product from me, while rewarding them for lending their voices & giving me their honest reviews.

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In an effort to drive authentic growth for my little monster making biz with this customer-led campaign, I’m asking my monster loving friends (you guys!) to help me out. If you have ever ordered from Lu & Ed, I’m asking you to simply post a photo explaining why you love your monster product to your personal Facebook or Instagram account. To reward everyone who takes the time spread the monster love, I’ll be distributing sweet, sweet 30% (the highest discount I EVER offer) off exclusive coupon codes, good for any single product in my shop, to everyone who creates a qualifying post! (details on qualifying posts below)

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To get your exclusive code, simply:

  1. Snap a well lit photo that shows off your monster product in use (extra virtual hugs from me if your kiddos are feeding their Mon-stors toys or playing with their stuffies in the photos!)
  2. Write a caption explaining why you love your monster(s). Posts must start with “We love our monster(s) from luanded.com because…” (In order to qualify for the discount, posts must have my URL luanded.com and not just my brand name, Lu & Ed. This makes it easier for people who aren’t familiar with my monsters to find them! Yay!)
  3. Once your post is up, screen shot it and email me a copy of the post to cody@luanded.com – easy peasy! I would say tag me, but private Facebook or Instagram accounts prevent me from being able to see tags or posts, so this is the most effective way to verify qualifying posts. You can still tag my page or Instagram account in your photo if you like, but in order to qualify for your exclusive 30% off code you must put the intro sentence “We love our monsters from luanded.com because…” AND email me a screen shot.

That’s it! Snap a photo, caption it with “We love our monsters from luanded.com because…”,  email me, receive exclusive coupon code! Super easy, huh?

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I am so stoked about this campaign and cannot wait to see what you guys come up with! ♥

Got questions, thoughts, ideas on how to make this customer-led campaign even better? Leave me a comment or shoot me an email! 🙂

 

 

2

Getting to Know Your Dream Clients

This is part two in a five part series about identifying your target audience. Read the first post here.

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This exercise is all about exploring, getting to know and getting ready to approach your dream clients. This may not necessarily be the  people currently purchasing from you, but rather the people you dream of buying & using your products and telling their social media following about you!  This doesn’t mean in any way you are kicking current buyers to the curb, which a common concern about people learning to identify their dream clients – that’s not what is happening at all! It just means that you are working hard to expand & grow your audience organically and bring in additional clients who will help you spread the word about your business in an authentic way. So try to remove any considerations about your current clientele from your mind and focus only on your dream clients, who should be the most popular and influential peeople you could dream of buying your products!. Once you wrap up this series, you should have a clear vision in your head about your dream client is and how to approach them, so take your time and really consider your answers!
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Download this printable here
How to use this worksheet:
Again, it is not designed to analyze your current customers but to help you identify & define your target audience. These are the most popular & influential people you can think of that you would want to buy & showcase your products on social media.


Parts 1-3 help you identify their style and how your brand & products fits into their life by helping you determine where they live, how your products fit into that space, and why they would like your stuff to begin with. No matter what you make, your dream client has to want to bring it into their home, or they won’t bring it into their home. It’s as simple as that. So by identifying where & how they live, how they decorate & use their space and how your products fit into it, you have a better chance at staging photos & writing copy for listings as well as your social media posts so they speak to your dream client and drive sales.

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Parts 4-6 help you define your dream client’s interests and spending habits, as well as what sort of marketing tactics they are attracted to. Understanding your dream clients interests and consumption habits help you understand how they respond to marketing from larger industries & how your products fit into their consumption habits. This knowledge helps you analyze your own social media and marketing habits and alter them to appeal to your dream clients better.

Parts 7-9 help you to understand what type of content your dream client likes on social media. This is SO important – knowing what type of content your audience enjoys, actively pursues & shares is the keystone to how your social media campaigns should be administered, from photo styling to product modeling to how you talk about your products – recognizing the type of content your dream clients actually consume and respond to will help you create a killer social media campaign!

Try to think of at least four people to put on this worksheet that your target audience follows. It can be celebrities, indie brands, bloggers – anyone you look up to & think your dream client would too. Determine why they would follow those four people. Is it because they are all funny? Inspiring? Spiritual? Are they all kids clothing designers & parenting lifestyle bloggers? Are they all trendy moms? Photographers? What is it about these people your dream client loves? And of course – does your dream client share content from these people? If so, why? What type of content? And most importantly – are you curating the type of social media campaign that your dream clients would follow? Are you creating content they would share with their audience?

Harnessing this knowledge is the key to understanding what sort of content your dream client is looking for & how you can produce similar content that is unique to your brand. Explore the people you think your dream client would follow. Look at this objectively – do not try to find similarities between the people your dream clients follow and you. Look for the differences. Learn from them. Look at how they style their images & present themselves & their brands, if they are businesses.

Defining your dream client’s interests is so important to understanding how to approach them. Next, we’ll use the info gathered from this worksheet to help learn where to find our Dream clients online! 

Let’s talk in the comments: what did you learn about your Dream Clients today?

14

Why I’m Not Asking Instagram Followers to Turn On Post Notifications

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If you’re a maker or follow a few makers on Instagram, your feed is probably completely overwhelmed with “TURN ON POST NOTIFICATIONS!” posts that are going viral because Instagram is updating their algorithm and instead of a chronological feed, it’s updated to a curated feed, similar to Facebook’s.

First up, this is not a bad thing. Basically, it means paid posts are shown at the top of the feed. Which is cool, if you or whoever follows you like the content they can click on it. If not, they can do what I do when I see a sponsored post I have no interest in – scroll right past it! Also cool, because when paid posts are available to everyone, you know you will have eyes on your ads!

Then, the most interacted with photos will show up next in your feed – cool! These photos are getting a lot of interaction, which must mean they are interesting! If not? Scroll on past them!

Then, I’m sure they will use image detection and show you the beautiful but less interacted with photos next, because their goal is to create a wonderful curated feed with great content for you – woohoo! (This is a good thing and one you can use to your advantage if you use IG to market, more on that in a moment!) These photos are most likely bright, well lit, clutter free, staged images that IG predicts are worthy of more likes because well, they look awesome, and that’s what a visual based feed relies on!

Below those images I’m sure you will find the least interacted with, darker, grainy cell phone images with no captions. You know the ones – I bet these are the ones that are usually skipped past  because the majority of Insta-users are eye-hungry for brightly colored, staged images of flowers spread out like mandalas or some other amazing & beautifully styled image with fun captions that give people something to talk about.

And THAT is why Instagram is using it’s data from MILLIONS of users to curate feeds to show images you are actually more likely to interact with at the top – and pushing less interesting stuff (all those brands you followed for giveaways? People who you followed for a follow back? Caption-less, blurry photos of cats?) to the bottom.

So why I am I not asking people to turn on post notifications?

Because then my account becomes a nuisance. So does the 3286318972101 other accounts asking people to turn on post notifications. Imagine if you were to turn on notifications for 100 Instagram accounts, and they all post once a day. That’s 100 notifications going off on your phone at all hours of the day. Users become inundated with notifications, begin unfollowing the accounts they signed up for notifications from, but mostly – then my posts would just be lost in the mix with hundreds of other Instagram notifications. Not only will they get notifications when someone likes or comments on their photos, or when someone replies to a comment they left on a post, but then they will also get another hundred notifications a day from all the accounts asking them to sign up for post notifications…

So instead of being lost in a curated sea, of photos yours posts become buried in notifications. That doesn’t really help, does it?

So how can you combat this?

There’s a few easy ways to keep your feed lookin’ sexy & interesting!

  • Unfollow anyone you don’t actually interact with regularly. Scroll through your list of people you follow, visit their account and scroll through. Does their account still resonate with you? Nope? Then unfollow them. Like what you are seeing? Follow the next step and…..
  • Like & comment on posts that catch your eye! The new algorithm is based entirely on curating stuff it thinks you will like so actually like posts you like so you see more of what you actually want to see in your feed! I see this algorithm change from Instagram as a big push to actually make users interact with one another. SOCIAL social media. What a crazy concept! But one I’m totally behind! So instead of just posting your latest products to Instagram, actually take some time to interact with the people you follow, like and comment on their posts. Not only does this keep them in your feed but it organically builds and maintains your audience.

How can you get seen on Instagram with the new algorithm?

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Paid posts will eventually be an option for everyone, but for your every day posts to get seen, here is some tips based on what I’ve learned about curated feeds over the years to make sure your posts are seen by your audience:

  • Only post beautiful, well lit, clutter free images. As Instagram moves to a curated feed, high quality photos will no longer be an option – they will be a requirement. Stop using your cell phone, break out your real camera. Curate beautiful, relevant photos. Edit them for brightness and to make colors pop. I’m not saying my feed is killer or anything, but since I moved and have access to better lighting, my interaction and followers went way up! The more consistent your growth on social media is plus a consistent amount of interaction (likes, comments) means your posts will appear higher in the new IG algorithm! So focus as much time & energy as you can into creating stunning images.
  • Always have some sort of call to action. Give people something to talk about – or they won’t! Post photos with multiple options and ask them what their favorite item is. Ask them for help naming your latest product. Ask them what’s for dinner. Just get people talking! Again: the more people interacting with your photos, the higher they will appear in the algorithm.
  • Dedicate a small amount of time daily to interacting with your followers + people you follow as well as new potential audience members! Click the “followers” button you profile – visit several accounts, like photos, leave meaningful comments. Repeat for people you follow. Repeat again by searching a hashtag relevant to your account (make jewelry? Try the #wwiw tag or #ootd. Make toys? Try #momlife or #clickinmoms, etc). This is important because it reinforces your current audience & reminds them to check out your account, it keeps people you follow & enjoy in your feed while introducing yourself to them in case they hadn’t checked out your account because you’ve been a silent follower, and lastly, it drives new interactions & followers!

How can you make sure you don’t lose your audience with all these crazy changes coming to Instagram (or any other platform)?

Social media users freak out when they feel like they are losing control of their audience on social media – but here is the thing: They were never in control of it. You do not own your audience on social media, the platform is solely in control of what is shown to it’s users. Getting mad or worrying about is a waste of time. The best way to prevent loss of audience due to changes in algorithms or sometimes even the loss of a platform entirely is to focus on building an interesting, engaging email list. If you haven’t started yet, do it now! The majority of new clients & 86% of all sales in my shop come from my email list! This is the best way to ensure you have access to your audience at all times. Building an email list is still something I am working on myself, and I’m just feeling like I’ve got a good idea of where  I want to go with it. Once I feel confident in my emailing abilities, I’ll have some posts to share on how I grow my mailing list & increase open rates!

Armed with this information, how are you feeling about the changes to Instagram?

Share your thoughts, concerns and game plan to get noticed in the new feed in the comments!