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How to Make Instagram Work for the Maker

Well it’s getting close to Christmas and I’m looking over my goals for the year wondering what can I actually get done so I can tick it off the list.

Become part of our instagram community and follow Creatively Belle

Become part of our instagram community and follow us

As is so often the case the year takes a different direction than is initially planned and some projects, goals, dreams just get left behind. For me it turned into a family year but that’s fine, it needed to be that and I’m really thankful for having the freedom to be able to pivot in that direction. But now the pressure is off with the family, as well as for the catch up making for Christmas fairs and markets and I can see what else I can resolve for the year.

Tackling the Daunting Goals

The tricky bit is the outstanding goals and projects are the ones that I find a bit daunting. I wanted to get moving with instagram early this year, recognising that I should have been on it ages ago but  is the case with some many micro business owners there’s always so much that should be done and finding the balance with time and effort is challenging.

Starting the Year with Instagram

So I started the year with some instragram training, I got reading “Instagram Power” by Jason Miles and made loads of notes. I figured out that my initial idea that a planned and informed approach was spot on, including:

  • I do need to be clear about the look and feel.
  • Have a really strong bio.
  • Create a plan for my images.
  • Figure out a schedule that I can keep – really important for this one for any micro creative business owner who is making their products as well as everything that’s involved in selling them etc etc etc.
  • Make the images needed for the structural elements of the account.
  • Interconnect my instagram profile with my other social media profiles

What I Want Creatively Belle to Be on Instagram

I’ve been learning form my friends and Jason is that a really important part of making instagram work for a creative business is to be really clear about who you are, what lights you up and makes you tick as a maker and a business. As much as you might be totally passionate and biased about what you create, it can’t be all about that.

So I want the Creatively Belle Instagram page to be about:

The creative instagram pages that are inspiring me are from Genschi (yes, I have some of her beautiful earrings, just love them!), the always beautiful MaeandPearl, Arthur Avenue by Natasha Dwyer, and Gemma Garrett at the Crafty Wench.

Getting Branding Sorted

This all got me thinking about my branding and whether it needed refreshing. Thus another project took form. From that I did redo my logo, had a great brainwave about my catch phrase/slogan, redid my product cards for my porcelain work as well as my freshwater pearls and artisan glass jewellery designs plus a new business card.

This lead onto pack redesign research and flowed into reviewing my strategies for my other online profiles on Twitter and Facebook.

Giving Up on Microsoft and Changing over to Mac

During all this time I registered an instagram page and then was suddenly overwhelmed with the work involved to make it look the part. I was moving over to a Mac from my old PC because I hit the tipping point with all the Microsoft forced restarts for software updates, especially after taking something like 20+ minutes to startup in the first place in the mornings. The learning curve for a Mac was accepted but it took time, effort and focus away from instagram.

Thankfully now I can use the Mac reasonably well and now that I’m not so dependant on the workhorse PC and have accepted it’s Microsoft limitations I find it much easier to work with too. Phew.

By the time all of this technology changeup, redesigning the branding and research was underway the family issues came up to dominate the year and left me scrambling to catch up on my porcelain jewellery making while instagram was left behind.

Being Regular with Twitter and Facebook

What did make it through was a more regular and consistent approach to Twitter and Facebook. I have also come to accept that the power of both is diminishing. I find Twitter really easy to work with, I always have and I’ve built quite a decent following on it for @she_inspires, my online women’s magazine but the visual impact of instagram is what appeals to my customers.

Facebook is Pay for Play

As for Facebook, I have also accepted now that it is a pay for play platform and all about their owners, not about a small creative business owner in Sydney building a loyal following who have a passion for the handmade. Yes, it is useful to be on Facebook because people expect you to be there, but it doesn’t give any SEO love to your website links, it only shows your posts to about 5% or less of your followers and it wants money to show anything to anyone.

It is so much easier to think about the care and effort needed by a time poor maker to make Facebook work as a communications channel when you accept it for what it is! So I confess, I did initially buy into the Facebook marketing smooth talk, yes I know, very naive, but I’m happier about it now I’m over that.

Instagram Could Be as Restrictive as Facebook

So do I think instagram will be any better than Facebook, especially as it’s owned by Facebook? Well actually no, I don’t. I’m not going into it with any high hopes of creative community building. I would absolutely love it if turns out that way. But that would also mean I need to be very dedicated to keeping up with instagram changes, get my approach right always,  set it up and run it in the perfect way my community of creativity lovers need. And I simply don’t feel confident about it.

I feel scared that I’ll get it all wrong and tick people off. I’ll spend a chunk of time and effort on trying to make it work and just be disappointed again, and to be frank, disappointment in wasted time, care, effort and passion as a micro creative business owner is exhausting!

Revealing my Fears for Disappointment

Now I know going into a project with any real levels of fear or hesitation is a recipe for disaster. I know I need to have a good strong positive attitude towards this project.

I do want instagram to be what it isn’t, I want to be able to put links in the posts, I want to be able to work on it from my Mac rather than only on my phone, I want to be able to easily share my friends content with their links and tags – their business pages – and I want to be able to have a healthy mixture of live and scheduled posts. Those four things are really important to me and have been part of the brake on my efforts to get on there.

Accepting Disappointing Limitations

Just as I’ve had to with Facebook’s disappointing limitations, I’ve had to come to accept instagram’s smallnesses.

What’s started changing my point of view is seeing how friends of mine are successfully using instagram for their businesses, to build relationships with their followers.

I’ve got it that social media platforms aren’t about making a sustainable living, they are meant to be communication channels – ways of giving followers, supporters, treasured customers and collaborators ways to connect with you and vice versa. And that’s really important, especially when it works.

Learning how to make this happen with instagram is the path I’m on.

But I’m daunted by the idea of getting it right, of making the images, writing the copy and working up the pictures with their hashtags. I’m feeling overwhelmed and procrastinating. Hmmm.

Yes, I know the thought that I can always outsource this and pay someone else to do the work but the reality for someone like myself is that you start by learning what’s involved yourself and getting it happening. I don’t have the hundreds of dollars needed for someone else to do it all while giving them a heap of direction, it’s that simple. So it is down to me. When I grow my income to be able to afford external help then they will start on projects that generate money for the business. At the right tipping point money can be spent on non-income generating work (yep, the same old dilemma all micro business owners face).

Sharing My Creative Business Journey

I think my fear and hesitation about this project is rather clear in this frank and open blog about starting on instagram.

The thing is, I wouldn’t have been able to make my living from my creative business for the last 15 years if I shied away from what spooked me. I have to be brave in all manner of big and little things. And that means simply doing them. Why bother with all this over thinking? Well I’m actually writing about it all because I want to share what’s really involved for an artisan to make her living from her creativity (and afford to live in Sydney). It’s bloody hard sometimes, it isn’t about working when you want to, making whatever you want and living some fantasy life. (Thankfully I never thought it was!) It is about going out of your comfort zones by getting things done, including looking at what is holding you back and finding a way through.

It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect

Ok, so I better go figure out what I need to do and get cracking, I’m not going to get it perfectly right to start with anyway! I’ll have to refine it in a month or two, rewrite the blurb, change the structural images and be better organised with regularly posting! May as well just jump in and do the best I can here and now! I’d much rather be sitting back on Christmas day, sipping a delicious glass of red wine (or two) congratulating myself on being brave, getting things done and setting myself up for a bumper year ahead than worrying about it.

Want to see what I’ve done? Click here for the Creatively Belle Instagram page.

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