Being in shows and attending events as a part of the crafting community is about building personal relationships. Meeting both your fellow crafters and your customers and developing connections with them is easy when you’re face to face. Our mutual excitement about what we’re doing and making can be contagious, but what about connecting with people online? Over the past few weeks, I’ve talked about developing an online presence. Pinterest is a great way to share your interests and inspirations. Facebook, Flickr, DeviantArt, your website or your blog are great ways to share what you’ve made or are making. Etsy or BigCartel are excellent ways to sell your work online. With all these people and sites out there, how do you get people to pay attention? How can you make your one, small voice heard in this sea of people clamoring for attention? I won’t pretend that I’m an expert on this, but looking at the people that I pay attention to, this is what they have in common: They tell stories, they are passionate about what they have to say, they post regularly.
We get to know each other through the stories we tell, not the facts we know. I see this all the time in real life when I’m talking to my friends and family. A story about a friend who slipped on wet tile and got hurt just means more to me than knowing that slips are the second most frequent accidents leading to personal injury. So why should it work any differently online? Stories don’t have to be a short novel on your blog about growing up in a small farming community in rural Missouri or anything. They can be as simple as a status update or tweet about something from your day, like this:
“I decided to take a nap this afternoon, and now I’m paying for it as I do invoicing and some design work and a blog post…That’s what I get. :)”
Or even like this:
Abby learned why it’s not a good idea to ride her Captain America Bounce Ball at the top of the stairs this morning. After I got her cleaned up and calmed down, she said “That wasn’t fun at all…”
Sort of an understatement, I think.
The important thing is to keep these things short, and to give the people who follow you an idea of who you are. Feeling like we know each other is what allows us to connect. Observations followed by questions that encourage conversation are also great ways to draw your audience into the ongoing story. When I ask questions I’m usually not looking for facts, I can Google those. What I am looking for is a conversation, a continuation of the story. I really enjoy reading blogs about peoples daily lives, their families, and the things they make together, like my friend Ben and his family.
Brave Tart, one of the blogs I read said this about blogging: “people don’t blog about hobbies. People blog about their life”. I wouldn’t write blog posts if I wasn’t passionate about things. I like to talk about the things I’m interested in, and I hope that comes across. How do I choose what things to talk about though? I’ve had a life-long love affair with Star Wars. Often conversations will turn to the merits of having a good blaster at your side, but I realize that not everyone I meet knows or even cares about it. One of my friends told me that it’s “…a movie about robots walking in the desert.” That’s all she remembers about it. So while it’s okay to mention Star Wars because it’s a big part of who I am and a part of my story, I have to remember that this is an indie-craft blog. I choose my topics based on what I think the community wants to hear about: business, networking, what other community members are up to, projects, and how I feel like that relates to the world.
Finally, post regularly. I’m not talking about obnoxious “hey look at me!” posts, begging for more followers or just announcing that you have a fresh blog post or that you’re going to be at such-and-such show. Those do have their place (how are new readers even going to know that you have a blog otherwise?), but it’s hard for people to care about that stuff if they don’t like you. I know I like to hear about my friends triumphs, and I feel heartbroken for them when things don’t go right. Our blogs, status updates, tweets, instagram photos and comments provide a lasting chronicle of who we are, and are an important part of consistent branding. They are what makes people care about us, and that is a big part of the added value of handmade over factory produced.
What are some of your favorite blogs? Have you found that you’re interested in reading about things that you never expected? What’s the average airspeed of an unladen swallow? Leave us a comment, we’d love to add you to our story!