Instagram

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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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!

Want even more help optimizing your listings for Etsy SEO?

5 Ways to Kick Start Your Social Media Strategy

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ve heard how important I think it is to be on social media. I also think you need to focus your attention and time on one or two platforms to avoid overwhelm. The questions I get asked a lot are “Which Ones Should I Join?” and “What Should I Post?”

The simplest answer that I can give to that is to say, it depends. I know that seems unhelpful, but stay with me! It really depends on your preferences, your audience, your product, and a myriad of other factors. Some people love Twitter, while others adore Pinterest,  and still others love Facebook.

Below I’ve compiled five things I think are very important to keep in mind when getting started with social media. Let’s dive in!

Social Media Strategy

1. Choose Your Platforms

These are my top picks for places to start out on social media for your biz. These may not work for you, or you may already be on them. But these are the three that I have seen handmade sellers get the most success from.

Pinterest

As handmade sellers, we are visual creatures. Pinterest is sometimes referred to as a social media platform, but it’s really just a visual search engine.

The reason I love it is because it requires minimal input, and gives a lot of results. Someone pins your pin, and two others re-pin it, and then five people re-pin those two pins, and it just keeps growing.

Pretty soon you’ve got a ton of eyes coming to your products and your shop, for very little effort. This is the top site I recommend you start with in your social media strategy.

Instagram

I love Instagram! It’s got the visual of Pinterest, and the community of Facebook all rolled into one easy app. Posting your products and behind the scenes pictures here is so simple, and it’s a great way to connect to your audience.

Plus, you can use the Stories feature to become even more creative in what you share, and how you relate to your followers. It’s easy to create a business profile here, so I recommend you click on over and get started.

Facebook

This is probably the top site for every business to have a presence on. It’s true that most people when researching a company head to Facebook first, before ever venturing onto their website. Having a business profile set up on Facebook is a great way to connect to your audience.

Your content here can be fairly similar to your content on Instagram. (if you have a presence on both platforms) Just make sure you’re formatting it correctly so the links are clickable, and you’re removing any mention of Instagram specific actions. (Check out my stories, click the link in the bio, etc)

*Whatever route you decide to go, make sure you are completely nailing one platform before trying to add another one into the mix.

2. Set S.M.A.R.T Goals

Setting goals is a big thing for me. You don’t know how far you are capable of going if you don’t have a vision of where you want to end up. But they can be a double edged sword. If set improperly or unrealistically, goals can make you very discouraged. That’s why it’s important to set smart goals. They should be:

  • Specific- Get as granular and detailed as possible. An overarching goal of “I want to get 100 followers” is great, but drill down even further if you can. Like “I want to get 50 engaged followers every month”. The difference is setting you in a very specific and focused direction, making it easier to achieve this goal.
  • Measurable– How do you know if you’ve achieved your goal, if there’s no way to measure it?
  • Attainable– This needs to be a realistic goal. Something that you have a chance of completing. Otherwise you will get discouraged and give up because you’ve deemed it as something that’s “impossible”.
  • Relevant– This can’t be overstated. The goal needs to relate somehow to what you’re trying to do. So setting a goal to mow the lawn is great, but how does that get you closer to your 50 engaged followers?
  • Time-bound- Don’t panic! A time clock is only there for you to help you stay on track. No one is going to dock you 50 brownie points for not getting there soon enough. This is just so you can re-evaluate at the end of your time limit and see where you are, and where you might need to tweak your ideas.

3. Check Out Other Accounts

What accounts and creators do you follow on social media? Why do you follow them? What is it about their presence that makes you want to keep seeing their content? Is it their pictures, their personality, their color choices?

If you’re stuck for ideas on what to post, or how to format your own feed, check out your competition. Don’t copy what they’re doing (That’s a no-no!) but do look at what it is about their profile that draws you, and figure out how you can put your own spin on it. Maybe you can format your posts similarly, or use similar wording.  Or maybe they posted a cool behind the scenes photo and you could take a similar photo.  All of these things you can use as inspiration when creating your own social media accounts. (Or sprucing up existing ones!)

4. Optimize Your Profile

Whatever platform you decide to start out on, you need to make sure your profile looks as good as it can possibly be. Your profile in many cases, is the first impression a potential fan will get of your business. If you don’t have a picture, or an “about me” section filled out, the person reading could get turned off, and click somewhere else.

Make sure you have a professional, friendly photo of yourself, a short bio about who you are and why you do what you do, and any other related content filled out. People love to know who you are, they are after all, buying from a handmade seller instead of Walmart, add those personal touches to your profiles and give your audience a sense of who you are. This will help build that know, like, and trust factor.

5. Know Your Audience

Make sure you know who your target audience is. It’s so important to have this as dialed in as you can because when you start posting you want to be talking directly to that person.

If you’re trying to attract everyone by “Not excluding” a certain portion of your audience, then no one is really going to hear your message. It’s going to look messy, unorganized, and like you’re just throwing stuff against the wall hoping it’ll stick. While that’s fine to do a little bit while you’re getting to know your audience, make sure you have at least a general idea of who you’re trying to target when posting on social media.

I hope that these five tips have given you some ideas on how to get started on social media. I know there’s a lot of information here, and my hope is that you will be able to take something away from this article and start applying it to your business.

Let me know in the comments below what you think of these tips for your social media strategy? Did I leave something out? What would you do to get started? Let’s talk about it below.