This one is for the creatives

Instagram and going to market

This one is for the small business owners or for anyone wanting to-market and social media advice… I’m no expert but I’m well up for sharing any advice that may help even just a few people. I spoke a bit about this at a recent “Gather” event with some lovely creatives, so I’m going to just briefly go through some of the essentials.

FIRST OF ALL, MY JOURNEY:

A lot of you know my creative journey and how I got to be where I am today from doing something totally different but I’ll just explain it in a nutshell for those of you that don’t (skip down to the next paragraph/main blog post if you already know!). I really believe hearing someones journey can inspire your own, it shows what kind of story we all had before we became 'creatives' and anybody can follow a dream.

When I was 18 I had NO idea this is where I’d be in life (I'm now 25 FYI). I was having a gap year and then off to study medicine at Cardiff University (so, naturally, assumed I’d have a life as a Doctor ahead of me) but I always had a creative niggle and studied and loved art at school. But at the time and come A level results day, science won. I didn’t stay long at Cardiff and knew it was wrong for me–possibly before even going- but came back home not really having a set path ahead of me either. I tried a few other routes and jobs too but in the end decided to give it all or nothing, and so “Made by Leah” was born 3 years ago. (Fun fact, I used to create cards for my family and friends and always used to write 'made by Leah' on the back of each one, so my business name was always going to be that! My parents had their garage converted for me and I booked into lots of local markets and fairs and (very naively, having no mortgage or bills or anything to lose at the time was the best way) I went for it. Full time. Crazy. Fast-forward 3 years and I’m still here, I’m still made by Leah and I have learnt a lot along the way too.

In those three years I’ve done LOADS. As well as getting engaged, married, buying a house and a dog, I’ve built my business and social media presence and feel settled in a job and industry that I absolutely adore. It’s easy to think you’re just going with the flow until you look back and realise how many people you could encourage and help by just sharing a few tips from along the way, so here goes. I’ll start with going “TO MARKET” and then I’ll give you a few instagram tips and tricks to get you cracking.

TOP TIPS FOR HEADING TO MARKET:

  • DON’T STRESS. Enjoy it. I LOVE the markets I do now and have narrowed them down to the ones that work best for me, so I love every single one I do.
  • There’s no market directory so, for me, it came down to finding them with word of mouth and asking other creative small businesses which had worked best for them. I now do select them each year to know which ones are really great. So ask other people and try them out!
  • Know your timings and display beforehand so you aren’t rushed or unprepared for the day! Draw it, practice it, and be prepped for it!
  • Write a to do list beforehand so you don’t miss ANYTHING on the day. Yep I’m talking water, snacks, money, bags, STOCK!
  • Keep a ‘market’ stock pile and a ‘website’ stock pile so you can keep more organised with what you’ve got available to sell. I know it can get messy having everything all in the same boat so keep your market selling as a separate thing in itself and your life will remain easy!

Enough about markets and a little about instagram. I started 2019 with around 1 thousand instagram followers. I now have almost 13 thousand. This isn’t too crazy when you look at accounts with huge followings, but with instagram being renowned for being so tough to grow nowadays I’m pleased with mine!

What works well for me on instagram for my business:

  • Building friendships/communities with other businesses and working together to promote each other’s work on your social medias. Shouting about your creative friends, getting involved with people that are just lovely. Everyone sharing posts and love for other small businesses makes a world of difference.
  • Mix up your content. Don’t sell sell sell all the time. You want people to buy your stuff but they won’t if they get bored of only ever hearing about it! Post about yourself and what you’re up to, there’s a real person behind all the perfect product photos!
  • Always be you. Don’t change for instagram or put your ‘business face’ on, be you, it makes your business unique. If you love things, post about them. If posting at 7am is convenient for you, post then. If you’re heading out to get some chips from Maccies (always guilty), then take everyone with you. People are following you for you, show them.
  • Make posts relevant to other people and not specific people or yourself. Posts people love and can relate to mean posts people share. Nothing worse than reading someone’s instagram post and having no idea what joke they’re talking about or who they’re tagging.
  • Do the odd giveaway and promotion every now and again. It won’t break the bank (well, make sure it doesn’t) and opens up so much more exposure with people tagging friends and new followers. Collab with that community/other creative I mentioned for a giveaway too, that will be amazing.
  • USE STORIES. Chat if you have the confidence to. Show your face, tell people about your day. Stories are a great way to go behind the scenes in a normal day. It might feel so boring to you but it’s so different to everyone else’s day that it’s lovely to show.

I’m sure it’s not a ‘one size fits all’ approach to instagram but those are my key tips to get you building a successful page. Any more specific questions just let me know!

Take care as always my lovelies and thanks for reading,

Leah x