What's Your Instagram Strategy? | Dear Handmade Life

If you are a creative entrepreneur and you haven't read Dear Handmade Life's blog, then drop everything and go here. Their blog is filled with biz tips and craft projects that are not to be missed. They also have an amazing podcast where they interview other creative biz owners and drink cocktails. Listen to it. Really. It is super fun to listen to while you're on the treadmill or embroidering bad words. 

P.S. Did you know we are a regular monthly contributor on their blog? What? No? Go there.

1. Who are you, what do you do, and how did it all begin?

I’m Nicole Stevenson and along with my business partner/aunt Delilah Snell, I run Dear Handmade Life (DHL). DHL produces Patchwork Show: Modern Makers Festival, a biannual multi-city fair showcasing local emerging artists, crafters and designers alongside artisan food, DIY craft workshops, gourmet food trucks and indie music. In 2012 we founded Craftcation: Business + Makers Conference, featuring industry professionals leading attendees in hands-on food & craft workshops and lectures and panels on creative business. We also share DIY craft projects, tips on creative entrepreneurship, recipes, our adventures and inspiration to make every day awesome on our blog. Since we were kids, Delilah and I always dreamed of starting a business together. Since we’re related, we spent lots of time together when we were young, especially during the holidays. While the rest of our family was watching the Thanksgiving Day Twilight Zone marathon and regretting that second helping of stuffing, we were talking about the coffeehouse we wanted to open when we were older. We never opened up the coffeehouse, but eight years ago when we were finally living in the same city, we started our first business together, Patchwork Show. Delilah’s love of creating culture in her community and my passion for all things handmade led us to start Patchwork Show and a few years later, Craftcation Conference.

 2. Where can we find you on social media?

Facebook: @patchworkshow + @craftcationconference

Twitter: @patchworkshow + @craftcationconference

Instagram: @dearhandmadelife

Pinterest: dearhandmadelife

 3. What is your favorite hashtag?

Honestly, I rarely search for things via hashtags but when I do I usually use our hashtags (#patchworkshow + #craftcation) and I love seeing what attendees from our events are posting.  

 4. Why do you use social media?

I use social media because I have to. I have a love/hate relationship with it. I love it because it allows us to reach a wider audience as well as form connections with our community. I hate it because sometimes it feels like an obligation and it’s easy to get lost in glimpses of other people's lives.

 5. Which tools do you use for creating or posting content?

The best social media tool we use is actually one of our employees! The expansion of social media platforms coincided with growth in our business and we realized that we weren’t able to handle everything on our own. Luckily we had hit a place where we could finally afford a bit of help and we hired Tara from Gardiner Connections to assist us in keeping our Facebook and Twitter pages up to date. Tara’s help has been invaluable and I highly suggest hiring someone to assist with social media if you can afford it and you feel overwhelmed. Learning to let go and hire out for tasks that Delilah and I don’t have to do has been hard at times but it’s essential for us to grow our business. We work closely with Tara to ensure that our content matches our branding. I read over 200 blogs every week and send her links and she schedules them using Hootsuite. Tara monitors our Facebook and Twitter feeds but Delilah and I check in as well. Although Tara handles scheduling most of our content on Facebook and Twitter, the majority of the content comes from Delilah and I and we both monitor the feeds. As far as Instagram goes, Delilah and I share the task. We both love Instagram so it’s been a natural fit for us to take on the posting and commenting on it. We’re not super active on Pinterest and treat it more as our personal place to gather inspiration rather than a place where we’re trying to build a following and connect.

 6. What effect does social media have on your business?

Social media has allowed us to reach a new audience that isn’t local to where our events take place. We still hold onto some of our original ways of promotion that we used in the pre-social media days like sending postcards to vendors and hand-delivering posters and cards to local businesses to promote Patchwork Show as well as reaching out to independent businesses to spread the word about Craftcation. However, without social media I know we wouldn’t be able to connect with so many people.

 7. How do you measure success on social media?

I try not to put too much stock into traditional ways of measuring of measuring social media success, like how many followers we have or how many likes or comments we get. BUT it always makes me happy to see that lots of people have a positive reaction to something we post. In the end, if we make true connections and build relationships with our audience, it makes us happy.

 8. What aspect of social media do you find most challenging?

I feel like there’s so much information to digest and I just don’t have the time to take it all in. So much of this content is awesome and I wish I had enough hours in a day to look at every single thing that people are posting but I don’t. It’s been hard to let go of the notion that if I don’t see everything that people I follow are posting I’m missing something essential. BUT the truth is that if I dedicated the amount of time it would take to keep up with everything, I wouldn’t have time to run my business or for my friends and family. I’ve had to learn how to let go and be comfortable doing what I can.

 9. What makes you follow another brand back?

I follow a brand or person back if I think we have something to gain from each other. Meeting people on social media is kind of like being introduced to someone at a party. The host says, “This is so and so and they do blankety-blank.” If that first sentence intrigues me, I’ll try to strike up a conversation with the person. The same thing happens on social media. I’ll read someone’s profile and a few of their recent posts and if my interest is sparked, I’ll follow them. 

 10. Which brands have social media you admire?

Since Instagram is my favorite social media, I’ll focus my answer on it. I love checking out what our Patchwork vendors and Craftcation presenters are up to. Some of the Instagram feeds I look forward to are: @thecraftedlife, @entropies, @bust_magazine, @herohandmadegoods, @ccerruti and my absolute favorite is my friends Todd’s feed (he’s an absolutely amazing photographer living in Los Angeles) @toddler777.

 11. Any advice for other brands just getting started on social media?

Think of social media as an essential part of your business. Schedule time into your workweek to create content and interact with your audience. As much as some of us would like to pretend that our businesses can get by without social media, for most of us, this isn’t the case. Don’t feel the need to post constantly if you don’t have inspiring content. It’s about quality not quantity. Your social media pages need genuine care attention to grow. Don’t focus on the numbers, focus on creating great pages that you would want to go to.