Brady and Amber are possibly the most genuine couple of all time. Their About page reads, "If it's funny or artful, he did it. If it's smart or detailed, she did it." Every social media expert in the universe will tell you to share your story. This is incredibly hard to do without being the most annoying person of all time. Serious Creatures totally nails it through the content they share on their blog, Facebook, and Instagram. Their content is expertly repurposed for each channel. As you scroll through their various feeds, you get a sense of who they are. You will even start to find yourself rooting for them. I know I do.
1. Who are you, what do you do, and how did it all begin?
I’m Brady, and my wife, Amber, and I have an illustration shop called Serious Creatures. Beyond selling products derived from my artwork, we also try to inspire and encourage imagination in everything we do.
We started the business during a difficult time in our lives when we needed more creativity in our lives and desired a shared hobby that would bring us together. I was working in Oman (near Saudi Arabia) teaching English to university students, and between the culture strain and the monotony of the desert landscape, our days were on the joyless side.
Things were particularly difficult for Amber. Even after overcoming the depression she suffered in the first few years, there weren’t many opportunities for her there. After people started asking how to buy various drawings I’d been working on, she suggested putting her business degree to work by starting an illustration business together. I thought she was a little crazy, but figured starting a business was cheaper than therapy or relocating. And Serious Creatures was born.
We have since moved from Oman to Beirut, Lebanon to work with a home for abused and abandoned kids called Home of Hope. We both work at the home in addition to running Serious Creatures, and Serious Creatures helps fund our work there. It is a wild time, but incredibly fulfilling in so many ways.
2. Where can we find you on social media?
3. What is your favorite hashtag?
In all honesty, I still don’t understand the use of hashtags all that well. So I tend to be partial to the ones I created: #SCdrawover, #SCkiddrawover, and #thoughtdrop. I also like the community art project tags like #ArtDropDay and #FreeArtFriday, and #Artistworkout.
4. Why do you use social media?
In the beginning, we really didn’t get how to use social media for business. So we basically decided to try it out as a way for people to find out about our company. It soon became so much more than that as we found we were making "e-friends" and having fun with it, which surprised both of us.
5. Which tools do you use for creating or posting content?
We use the native Facebook Planner and Latergramme.
6. What effect does social media have on your business?
It gives us a way to connect with our fans to get to know them. It is also gives us a great avenue to give away free stuff and to build relationships with people who like our stuff. I love commenting back and forth and becoming "e-friends" with people all over the world.
7. How do you measure success on social media?
For us the best success would be that someone enjoys us. Occasionally someone has told me that they look forward to my Instagrams or one of our SM projects like the thought drops or draw overs. When I hear that I really feel like we are doing our job: making people happy.
8. What aspect of social media do you find most challenging?
Constantly creating fresh content. We post every day, and I have a hard time filling the queue fast enough without using the same vibe over and over again. I find Facebook challenging, too. Our page grows much slower on Facebook than Instagram and I get frustrated by that.
9. What makes you follow another brand back?
If a page/feed gives me some sort of value I follow them back. Value can be interpreted in a couple ways, but for me it means a feed that regularly gives me something beautiful, funny, or interesting to look at or read.
10. Which brands have social media you admire?
Because I’m an illustrator I follow a lot of other artists that are doing great stuff on instagram like: @mrjaymyers, @concorexhappiness2x, @nothinghappenedtoday, digitalbobert (Bobby Chiu of Imaginism), and @stefanbucher344 (of Daily Monsters).
I also admire some other people/brands in the industry like: @annariflebond (Rifle paper), @freepeople, @anthropologie, and @spoonflower
11. Any advice for other brands just getting started on social media?
First, think of yourself more as a person than as a shop or brand. Create the kind of feed you like to read. Make it fun; make it beautiful. People don't come to social media to be sold to, they come to make friends, and be entertained, so make friends and show people stuff you think is cool.
Also, focus on just one channel at a time. For me, Instagram was the easiest to understand and focus on first. I already loved IG and felt like I understood what it was about. So I started there. Only after I got that to a place where it was easy and I had a rhythm to it did I move on to the next channel.
Lastly, aim to make friends, not fans. Your new friends will certainly be fans in the sense that they like what you do. But “fans” makes me think of people who adore an artist and the artist sits on the stage and just receives their praise (or purchases). I don't think that’s the way to go. Make friends with the people who like your work. They’ll be fans anyway but it’s a lot more fun in the meantime. Creating can be a lonely business, after all.
One way I make friends is by giving A LOT. Give, give, give. This is where my #SCdrawovers and #SCkiddrawovers came from. I have made a lot of friends with the draw over projects, but it has taken me a lot of time. Each one takes a few hours that I do not get paid for, but I hope that in making a unique gesture like that I can make a real connection with someone and that is always good for my business.
I also try to comment well. I try to respond to almost every comment, but more than that I spend an allotted amount of time commenting on other’s pages. Everyone likes a "like" but we love a comment. So I go flipping through the people who have liked or commented on my page and I go to their page and leave thoughtful comments. The "great shot" or "nice pic" is better than nothing, but if you tell someone something like "Beautiful shot. I love the ’S' curve composition and the mood of the lightning,” that’s a lot more personal. Adding a question like "Where was this?" or "How did you do this?” is even better. It gives them an opportunity to respond, and encourages a conversation. Conversations are often the beginning of friendships.
As my wife says, "When you meet someone new, bring cookies, not a sales pitch." If you show up with cookies often enough, people will naturally be interested in you and are more likely to support your business simply because they like you. Which is exactly how friends are, right?