How to Build a Community (& Increase Sales!) With a Facebook Group

You probably belong to at least one Facebook group, right? They’re a great gathering place for people to discuss and engage with each other over a shared topic. There’s a Facebook group for everything these days it seems.

There’s political groups, mom groups, yardsale groups, crafters groups, business groups, and the list goes on and on.

But have you ever thought about starting a Facebook group specifically for your business? If you haven’t, then you really should consider it. This could be a great component to your social media strategy.

This can be a great way to connect with your audience, grow your brand, extend your community and in the long run, help increase your sales!

They do take a lot of time and attention and aren’t for the faint of heart, but if set up and managed correctly, can be so worth it!

How to Build a Community (& Increase Sales!) With a Facebook Group-Handmade Journey.com

Why should I start a Facebook group when I already have a business page?

Facebook groups are different from your business page, in one key area. They promote interaction and engagement with other members, not just with you!

Obviously, you want to show up and post and chat with your members as often as possible, but promoting a sense of community is what a Facebook group’s ultimate goal is.

Here are a few angles you can take when starting your own group.

1. Exclusive VIP Treatment. Everyone loves feeling like they are part of an exclusive crowd. Starting a Facebook group specifically for customers that have bought from you in the past, or are part of your email list could be a great place to start.

When you run a sale or come out with a new product, share it in your Facebook group first and stress that they’re getting first dibs on that new product.

2. Current Happenings in Your Niche–Using your Facebook group to discuss the latest news, updates, and changes in your niche is another great way to utilize your group.

You could make your Facebook group a place to discuss the latest trends in jewelry with the customers who have bought your earrings. Or how about a mom’s group to discuss their toddlers’ antics for customers who have bought your baby hair bows? The possibilities in this area are truly endless!

3. Communicate With Brand Ambassadors–If you are a business that has a few brand ambassadors, and want a place to gather your team together, this would be the perfect place to do that!

Your brand reps can come together and collaborate on ideas, social media hashtags, or just to simply talk about your awesome products with each other. This would also be a great place to have some loyal fans available for product testing if you needed a warm test audience.

Okay, I’m ready to start a group, but how do I get people to join?

The biggest struggle we face when starting a new Facebook group is how to let people know it’s there. You can’t have an active, engaged community if you only have two members.

Ideas on how to grow your group could include:

  • Add an invitation to join your Facebook group in your email signature. Just add a link at the bottom and a call to action.
  • On all your pages where you’re linking to Facebook (Your Etsy store, Website, etc) add the link to join your Facebook group instead of directing people to your business page.
  • Link your business page and your Facebook group, and use the CTA (Call to Action) button on your business page to send people to your group.
  • Make a fun Facebook cover photo that highlights your brand and encourages people to come to check out your group.
  • Join other Facebook groups that allow self-promotions and use these groups to bring people to yours. (Be very careful to read the rules of these groups to make sure that this is something that’s allowed!)

I’ve got some people in my group, now what?

Another challenge faced by Facebook group owners is how to get your members to engage with each other. This can be tricky because no one likes to be the first to comment on a post.

Some fun ideas you could use to get the ball rolling could be:

  • Use polls/challenges/contests to get your members engaged and excited. Consider giving away a shop credit, or an E-Gift card as prizes to the winners. (everyone loves Target!)
  • Ask fun questions and require replies to be a GIF or picture, people love answering questions in quirky unique ways.
  • Make sure you’re commenting and posting the most so that people can get to know you and feel more comfortable participating.
  • Give everyone an opportunity to share wins, making sure to encourage and celebrate with them!

The unfortunate truth is that a regular post on your business page is a fleeting thing. We can post something today and only a handful of our fans or customers will see it, thanks to algorithms and time of day.

And then a few days later you can post an update, and an entirely new group of people will see the update without ever having seen the first post.

There’s a real disconnect from one post to the next. Within a Facebook group, however, this isn’t as much of an issue. This fact makes it easier to connect with other people, and have real connections form between you and your audience.

A Facebook group can, and definitely should be, a place where all different kinds of people come together to spend time sharing thoughts and ideas. People are joining Facebook groups because they’re a safe place to have real interactions and share parts of their lives.

By starting a Facebook group for your business, and making sure to engage with your members, you can promote your brand in a completely non-salesy fashion.

And hopefully, you’ll have a little fun while you’re at it!

If you would like to join a community of other like-minded handmade sellers in a Facebook group setting, I’d love for you to join us in the Handmade Journey Academy Facebook group!

This is a place where we answer questions, share wins, troubleshoot problems and have a lot of fun! All while we’re crushing our business goals. How cool is that?

What’s your take on starting a Facebook group for your business? Is it something you think would be a good fit?

Why or why not? Let’s talk about it below.

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An Etsy Seller’s Guide to Instagram Stories

Okay since you’ve probably read this blog article, (or this one), you have now realized that I love Instagram. It’s my guilty pleasure honestly. And I think my favorite part is Instagram Stories. 

Tell me if you can relate to this? You start by innocently clicking on a photo of a cute dog. Before you know it you’ve tapped through 30 people’s Instagram Stories, watched 5 ads, swiped up to see the new Taylor Swift video (anyone else? Just me? Okay…) and you’re not sure where the last 20 minutes of your life went. Once you’re on the conveyor belt, it’s hard to get off.

What if I told you that you can leverage this same kind of power with your audience simply by tapping into Instagram Stories? 

An Etsy Seller's Guide to Instagram stories-Handmde Journey.com

Instagram Stories are All About Being Relateable

Instagram stories are different from a regular post. An Instagram story is a quick 15-second video or photo clip that appears for 24 hours and then disappears. They are becoming more and more popular and they are so much fun! You access Instagram stories by clicking on your profile picture in the top left-hand corner of your feed. 

One of the main goals of social media as a handmade seller is to connect with your audience. People are starting to get tired of the perfectly staged photo and are looking for something they can relate to. Que Instagram Stories! This is a great way to bring your audience behind the curtain and show them the person that’s running the handmade business. 

That can be a difficult task for some of us to be that vulnerable and showcase something that real. And it’s made even harder by the fact that sometimes you draw a complete blank on ideas of what to post. But once you get rolling and get the hang of it, Instagram stories are so much fun. This is a great way to show the real-life, here and now. The relatable human being that is behind all the perfectly staged, wonderfully lit, awesome product photos in your Etsy shop! Here are just a few ideas to get you started. 

1. Use it to Humanize Your Brand

Are you trying to get some work done, but the tiny humans that you live with are terrorizing the place? Snap a quick pic and put it on Instagram stories Use these kinds of pictures sparingly though).

Do you have a fur baby companion keeping you company on the way to a post office drop off? What about a house that needs a deep cleaning and a pile of laundry as tall as your toddler that needs doing?

All of these things humanize you and are things that your audience can relate to. The more they can relate, the higher the chances of them continuing to follow you. 

2. Interact with Your Audience

This is a great idea for your Instagram stories because there are so many fun little tools that Instagram has added in. There’s a ton of great poll templates, questions, reaction sliders, and so many more fun stickers and emojis just waiting for you.

Create a poll and ask what the weather is like where someone is. Or you could ask about an upcoming TV show or movie that you’re excited to see and have people give you feedback. Give people a glimpse of your real life, and more to the point, use Instagram stories to get to know your audience as well. 

3. Make an Exciting Announcement

Are you running a sale, hosting a giveaway, or have something else exciting to talk about? Instagram stories is a great place to post this information. Sometimes a post won’t get seen until much later, and if you have a time-sensitive piece of information it may not get seen until it’s too late. Posting in your stories feed is a great way to make announcements and reach more of your audience. 

4. Get to Know Your Audience with Story Templates

Another great way to use Instagram stories is with some pre-made templates. Story Templates are well-designed images with graphics and text, including spaces left purposefully blank to be filled in by the user.

Here are a couple of examples of what I’m talking about: 

You can post one in your Instagram stories, filled out, and then post a blank one that your audience can screenshot, fill out, and post in theirs. (Making sure to tag you of course!) This is a great way to interact with your fans, as well as letting them get to know you a little better. 

Here’s a little Instagram Stories template I made for you to use for free!

Instagram Stories Template-Handmade Journey.com

5. Live Video

I can hear the groans from here. I know that Live video is scary and sometimes more than us introverts can manage but hear me out. Doing a live video in your Instagram stories can be used for so many different things! Here are a few ideas: 

  • Behind the scene, sneak peeks
  • Product launches and new products
  • Giveaways
  • Live Q&A’s

However you chose to use your Instagram stories, just make sure you’re being authentic. Be you, showcase your real-life and people will respond to that. Interact with your audience in some way, and you’ll be amazed at how many loyal fans, (and sometimes friends) you will build.

What are your thoughts on Instagram stories? Have you tried using this feature yet? Let’s talk about it in the comments!

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3 Essentials for Engaging Instagram Captions

Let’s say you’ve read this blog article and you’ve figured out a strategy for what to post on Instagram. You’re fired up because you’ve got great content, you’ve got some topics to post about, and you’re a scheduling machine getting those posts ready to go. But what do you write about in your Instagram captions?

You sit down in front of your computer and go to write out the caption, and just stare blankly. You can’t seem to find any words to caption your photo, and worse yet, the things you do come up with don’t sound like you at all! 

Has this happened to you before? I’m going to assume that since you’re reading this article, this has happened at least once before. I know that sometimes I get stuck for the right words to describe my photos, so I wanted to share my top three tips for what to use in that Instagram caption! 

3 Essentials for Engaging Instagram Captions-Handmade Journey

What Do I Put in My Instagram Captions?

 

1. Write the Way You Talk

Write conversationally. This basically means that you need to take everything you ever learned in your high school English class, and toss it out the window. I don’t mean basic grammar and punctuation, but as far as being very formal in your delivery of an idea, scrap it! 

You’re going to want to write the way you speak. Write as though you’re talking to a friend. That person is right there in front of you, and you’re having a conversation. Do you get formal in your speech, or are you more relaxed and casual? That’s what you want to bring to your Instagram captions.

**Remember, your audience is buying from a small business because they are searching for a connection. They want to feel like they know you and know your story. So speak to them in a way that showcases your authentic self.**

 

2. Why So Serious? 

Instagram as a whole is very lighthearted. They are fun, carefree, and playful! (Emojis anyone?) When you’re writing your Instagram captions, try to merge what you’re saying and your brand into the overall theme and brand that Instagram is known for. 

Be lighthearted in your speech. Use emojis wherever you can for that jovial playful spirit. People are coming to Instagram to unwind and relax. Don’t get too serious on them all the time. 

Obviously, if your brand is a more subdued serious tone, then you’ll not want to go too overboard with this, but definitely throw in a couple of posts occasionally that are more geared towards the lighthearted theme of the platform. 

 

3. Direct Their Attention

Even though you’re not trying to sell to them in your posts, your Instagram caption should always include a call to action. Directing their attention to a blog post, or to your other social media platforms is a good idea to get them to interact with you and your brand outside of that one post. 

On the posts that you are promoting a product, you can direct the reader to the link to your shop, or you can send them to your blog after you’ve written an awesome new article. 

But one of the best ways to get those followers to engage with you is to simply ask a question to get them thinking. Ask something thought-provoking, or invite them to share a story with you that relates the topic you’ve just written about.

Whatever you do, make sure that you’re sharing a call to action in most of your Instagram captions to promote that engagement. 

 

*Bonus Tip* When in doubt, be brief. There’s nothing worse than a long-winded caption that makes your eyelids droop! When in doubt about your caption, the briefer the better! 

 

It’s really not too hard to come up with a great Instagram caption if you just break it down into a few chunks. Make sure you’re writing the way you’d speak to a friend, don’t take yourself so seriously, and remember a call to action. If you make sure to include these three elements in every post, you will be on the right path! 

 

What do you struggle with the most when coming up with an Instagram caption? Share with me in the comments! 

Do you want to see Instagram captions in real time? Come check out my Instagram account here:

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How to Keep an Engaged Audience on Instagram

I hear these questions a lot these days; “How do I keep an engaged audience on Instagram?” or, “What do I post on Social Media?” or my favorite, “I keep posting pictures of my products, but I’m not getting any engagement!”

Do any of these statements sound like you?

When I first started on Instagram with my handmade business, I was in love. I made a plan to post my products 2-3 times a week and showcase different items and price ranges. How could this go wrong? I got my first few posts up and sat back to watch the thousands of followers I was sure would be interested just flock to my profile. 

It was a lesson learned after the first few posts garnered no engagement that maybe I was going about this the wrong way. Maybe posting nothing but my products wasn’t a way to get people engaged with my profile, so I changed my focus.

I stopped trying to sell to people on Instagram, and instead, I focused on connecting with them. 

How to keep an engaged audience on Instagram-Handmade Journey

Keeping an Engaged Audience on Instagram Means Stop Selling!

Let’s start with what you like to look at, and engage with on Instagram. When you open your app, are you going there with your wallet out thinking about making a purchase? Chances are you’re just going to unwind, relax and scroll through some entertaining or pretty pictures. 

That’s what your audience is doing too! They’re not thinking about buying something, they’re looking to be entertained. They are trying to connect with people, and build relationships with brands, companies and you! The real day-to-day down in the mud with your dogs and kids you!

It’s a known fact that people have to be exposed to your brand at least seven times before they’re ready to make a purchase. So why not use those times to show who you are, and why they should trust you enough to purchase your product or service? 

Any of the following ideas would make great things to talk about on your Instagram profile

1. Behind the Scenes, Everyone loves to go behind the scenes and get a real relatable view of what is going on in your world. Show them a package that you’re sending to the post office that day, or maybe you have a tiny human who needs to take a nap so you can get some work done. How to Keep an Engaged Audience on Instagram--Handmade Journey Show them the real parts of your life, and let them feel like they’ve been brought behind the proverbial curtain and granted exclusive access.

2. Your Why -Share your reason for your handmade business. Talk about your kids, your other half, or maybe you just don’t want to work for someone else anymore. Share these with your fans and create a conversation. 

3. Your Daily Routine– What is life like for a handmade seller? Maybe people don’t understand that you’re packaging orders while you’re at a soccer game with your kiddos. A ”day in the life” kind of post would be something really cool to share. 

4. Reviews from Customers-This can help build the know-like-and-trust factor that you’re always striving for. Post a couple of customer reviews and showcase how other people are in love with your products. 

5. Ask the Audience Give your audience a chance to be part of your creative process. Maybe you’re coming up with a new product and you can’t decide between two different fabrics. Post a picture with both of them and ask your audience to pick which one they like the best. 

6. Provide a Tip or Trick-Everyone loves a good life hack! Did you discover something that made your life easier? Share it with your fans! 

7. Inspiring Quotes or Funny Meme-There is no faster way to build an engaged audience on Instagram than to share a funny quote or a meme. People love a good chuckle! 

8. Talk About What You’re Reading or Watching– Did you just finish a great book? Or maybe you’re binge-watching a great new series on Netflix. Share these things for a quick way to build your engaged audience on Instagram! 

9. Mention Your Favorite Tools– Don’t reveal all the trade secrets, but if you just came across a new glue gun that doesn’t burn like the devil, the people have a right to know! 

10. Post a Reminder to Join Your Email List – Do you have a cool opt-in freebie? Maybe your fans don’t know about this. Let them know about it in a post.

11. Admit to Something That Didn’t Work or is Embarrassing-  You’re a relatable person, and people have embarrassing experiences! Showcasing how something went wrong, and how you fixed it, is a great way to build an engaged audience on Instagram. 

12. Show Your Product in Action A great way to build that know-like-trust factor is to showcase your product in use. 

13. Make a Hyperlapse Video of you Working- Maybe it’s not that interesting to you, but to others your creative process is amazing. I know I love watching hyper-lapse videos of people painting pictures, or doing lettering. They’re fascinating! 

14. Share a Blast from The Past- These are always fun to see! Whether it’s a celebrity, or just you from high school, nostalgia is a powerful tool. 

15. Hold a Hashtag Contest This one could be really fun! Post a picture of a new product, or a Pinterest fail of your own and have a contest to see who can come up with the funniest hashtag. The winner could win a shop credit, or a featured spot on your profile. 

 

These are just a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing. The thing to remember with keeping an engaged audience on Instagram is to try not to be too pushy. Remind them of your business casually, and use the rest of the time to just be real. 

Connect with them, show them your real self, and watch how quickly you gain a ton of loyal fans who might turn into repeat customers. 

Drop a comment below and tell me which of these ideas above were your favorite? Or maybe you have your own great idea about something to post? Leave it in a comment below and share it with everyone! 

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3 Must-Haves for Your Instagram Profile

Do you love Instagram as much as I do? It’s such a fun place to scroll through and unwind after a busy day. I know I love to go look through the Instagram profiles (and mostly IG stories if I’m being honest!) of all the amazing people I follow. I love reading about their lives and seeing the new products they have out.

If you’re a handmade seller, you probably are already on Instagram for your business. If you’re like I was when I started, you’re probably struggling to get your Instagram profile seen. You are posting consistently, but you’re not getting very much engagement. Does this sound like you?

Well, in this article I’ve got some essential things that I think you need to have in your Instagram profile to get the engagement that you want in order for potential customers to click through and see your content.

3 Must-Haves for your Instagram Profile--Handmade Journey

How to Get Your Instagram Profile Seen

#1. Clear, Descriptive Bio

Your bio is the first thing that people see when they look at your Instagram profile. People are coming here to check you out and figure out if you’re someone they feel like following. Something about your posts brought them to your profile. Whether it’s to find out more by clicking on a link, to see what you make, or just curiosity.

Optimize your Instagram Profile

This is your chance to make a good first impression. So make sure you have a friendly smiling picture of yourself, and a clear description of your product or service. Use a couple of good hashtags in your description as well. This will make it easier for people to find your profile when they’re searching hashtags.

#2. Hashtags

Hashtags are the lifeblood of your Instagram profile. This is what Instagram algorithms are using to help people find a specific post or topic. A well-researched hashtag can mean the difference between your post being seen by thousands, or dozens.

You can use up to thirty hashtags per post. Whether to use all of them is very controversial, however, I think you should go ahead and add as many relevant hashtags that you can find for your product and niche.

Search for hashtags that are relevant to your brand, your product, and your post. You can either add them into the post caption or below that in the first comment. (I prefer the first comment, it looks less spammy!)

#3. Call to Action

As human beings, we don’t necessarily do something unless we’re told to do it. A call to action simply means you’re asking someone to do something. So this can be as simple as asking a question or directing them to a blog article.

Having a call to action in your Instagram profile is a great way for people to see more of your brand and to connect with you in other ways than through Instagram itself. You can put a link to your Etsy shop, your blog, your standalone website, or have them sign up for your email list.

Whichever path is right for your business, make sure that the call to action is short, makes sense, and sets you up to connect with that customer outside of your Instagram profile.

**Bonus Tip: Make sure your posts are consistent in color, and style. Using different fonts for your quote posts can be fun, but take away from the overall look and feel you’re trying to build for your brand. Use the same colors, fonts, and tone in all your posts to build an overarching cohesive brand on your Instagram profile.

Optimize your Instagram Profile

Having your profile optimized for visitors is really easy when you break it down. I know it can seem overwhelming, but just take it one tiny step at a time. Start with filling in your description. Make it short and clear about who you are and what you do. Then move on to hashtags and a call to action, and you’ll set yourself up for visitors in no time.

Do you need an example of an Instagram profile that has been optimized? I’d love to have you check out the Handmade Journey Instagram page to see what I’m talking about!

Just click here to head straight over there!

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