If you’re a product based business, chances are you’re already on Instagram (if you aren’t yet, you should be!). Being a predominantly visual platform, Instagram is a vital business tool for those of us who are makers and creatives.
So you’ve made some beautiful things and you’re ready to take the photos and share them with the world... But what do you actually SAY?
Ultimately you want people to buy your work, but you need to write something other than “I made a thing, go buy it” for every post.
I’m going to let you in on four super-secret golden rules of using Instagram as a maker.
Know Your Value
I am constantly amazed by how many creators undervalue their own work. It’s like because we are so well acquainted with the creative process, we think it’s not that impressive.
Let me tell you … not everyone can do what you find easy or simple. To them, it’s mind-blowing!
Real Life Example: I can’t sew to save my life. Not even when a button comes off a shirt (although maybe that’s just laziness…). I am constantly AMAZED by sewing!
But people who sew always undervalue it, “Oh, it only took me a few hours!”, “It’s just an old pattern I’ve had forever.”
NO! The correct response is, “YES, it IS amazing! I’m amazing! Everyone should want to buy these because they are so cool!”
YOU must believe that your work is valuable. How will you convince anyone else if you aren’t sure of its value yourself? You need to know HOW and WHY your work is adding value to your followers.
Does it improve their quality of life? Encourage them? Make them laugh? Satisfy a need or make something easier?
Does having real art in a home make guests feel more comfortable? Do hand lettered cards have a more personal, heartfelt touch? Really think about WHY people should buy from you. This will become the basis of a lot of your posts on Instagram!
Always Add Value
Simple, right? You might be encouraging them, bringing some peace to their day, educating them about your process, or giving them a sneaky peek at your works in progress… all of those things add value. Your people will follow you because you add value, and because they like you as a person.It’s that personal touch that makes them more likely to appreciate your work and buy from you!
N.B. Adding value does not mean constantly offering sales… which is a topic I could write a whole other blog post on. Just remember, you can add value without cheapening your work.
Show Your Value
Anyone else noticing a theme here? When you know your value and you’re sharing it… you also need to be constantly showing your potential clients the value. Like I said earlier, Instagram is a visual platform. A picture is literally worth a thousand words.
Make the effort to take good photos of your work – show your audience pictures of your products in use. People also LOVE seeing behind-the-scenes photos and videos. Once they know how your thing is made (including the techniques and time!), they can better appreciate the value of it.
Tell Them Your Value
Unless you tell them, people won’t know that the thing you’re selling took you three days to paint, or that you carved the stamp yourself, or that you create your own sewing patterns. TELL PEOPLE about how much work you put into your creations! Explain how you source the best materials from around the world, or that you searched wide and far for environmentally friendly paper… whatever it is, tell them.
Then tell them again. And again. And again.
I guarantee you, they’ll forget. You need to keep reminding your followers of who you are and what you do.
Now you’re thinking, “That’s great, I have a list of ambiguous ‘feel good’ ideals but no practical application.”
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!
To get your started, here is a list of 20 things makers + creators can talk about on Instagram. Try going through and checking each one off in the next month… double up on the ones you notice people go crazy for!
- Lessons learned: Talk about a mistake you’ve made and what you learned from it! Example: discovering that you can’t paint on that paper because your beautiful artwork bleeds and takes forever to fix in photoshop (true story).
- What your day looks like: People are inherently nosey… tell them what you’ve been getting up to! Did you work your normal job then come home and work on your side hustle? Did you hit pause in the middle of the day and go visit friends?
- Secrets to success: Share your secrets to success! Do you organize your studio a certain way? Have a special tool? Don’t be shy, let others benefit from it!
- Behind the scenes: There are SO many ways to do this. Post pictures or videos of your works in progress… If your workspace doesn’t look nice enough for your Instagram feed (like mine), just put it in insta-stories! You can even take photos of your setup for taking photos.
- Your favorite things: Tell them about some of your favorite things! For instance, I collect postcards, stationery, and washi tape… Share the things you love and find out what theirs are! It doubles as sneaky market research.
- Grand tour: Give people a tour of your workspace. Whether you have a tidy, dedicated studio space or a messy desk in the corner of your dining room… be real about where and how you work.
- What inspires you: Share anything and everything that inspires you. Maybe you saw a pretty cushion at Anthropologie and it inspired your latest color scheme, or are you feeling the creative spark because it’s a rainy day. We all have weird things that put us in the mood to create!
- Encourage everyone: We all need a little encouragement every now and then. Do a post all about encouraging your followers today. Let them know they are valued, no matter what they are going through.
- Quote stuff: If you found some words that you LOVE, why not let other people enjoy them? Take a video of you writing it, or make a quick graphic in Canva to post. Easy as.
- Take a vote: Ask your followers to vote on a new design, color scheme, or anything else that makes sense for your work. They’ll feel involved and personally invested in what you’re making!
- Creative process: Talk about your creative process. Do you sketch first, do everything freehand, trawl the internet for free patterns, plan your ideas, or just let it happen? Explain how you make something from beginning to end, as though you’re talking to someone who has NO IDEA (because they probably don’t!).
- Share the love: Spread some insta-love by drawing attention to your favorite fellow makers on Instagram. You’re hooking your followers up with an awesome new addition to their feeds, and the other person may return the favor one day!
- Be honest about the lows: Without being too gloomy, be honest about your lows. Maybe you’re feeling off today, or you’re sick, or there’s some big stuff going on in your life. You’re human. Be real with your followers – they’ll respond to your authenticity… There are too many people only presenting a “happy social media version” of their lives, and being real will set your apart!
- Celebrate the wins: Don’t hide your successes! Did you hit a new follower milestone, get a bunch of orders, or broker an awesome new collaboration? Don’t keep quiet about it! Share the great stuff that’s happening so we can all pop a mini-champagne for you.
- Teasers: Give a sneak peek of things to come, so you can start building buzz early! Better yet, ask people to GUESS what you’re going to do. We all love a good mystery.
- Ask them questions: This is SO underused on Instagram. When was the last time you asked your followers a direct question? It could be anything from how their day was to what their favorite flavor of ice cream is (mine is coffee, by the way).
- In real life: Get photos of customers using your stuff and share them. People love to see what your items look like in real life (and not just super styled Instagram photos).
- Zoom in: Take a video of your creations, zoom into the little details. Hold it up and turn it around, let them see every little part of it… just like they would if they could pick it up and look at it in a store.
- New work: This should be obvious, but when you put new work up for sale, you should always, ALWAYS, tell your Instagram peeps about it! People don’t always check your online store for new work. You have GOT to tell them about it!
- Epic fails: Did you totally mess up a thing you were making? Own it, have a laugh at yourself, and let other people in on it. You’re not infallible, and neither are they. You can bond over your stuff ups!
Now you’ve got a long list of things to talk about on Instagram, there’s no excuse for being tongue tied when you write your next caption!
Remember, your work has value. Know it. Use it. Show it. Shout it!