There’s no rest for the wicked! I’ve been back from a writer’s retreat at The Watermill in Tuscany for a week, the washing is all done, and the cupboards filled again. I’ve had a day childminding Daisy, been to my writing group and have a plan for my first book. Despite heading off to university in September, I am hoping to write this book over the summer. I am looking to write about my journey as The Woolly Pedlar, giving tips along the way on how to get to grips with social media. ‘You’ll only ever be like a farmer’s wife making jam’ was the comment thrown at me by a family member when I first mooted the idea of making a business from recycled knitwear. Light the touch paper and stand back! Having lost my teaching job through ill health, I was not going to sit around feeling sorry for myself. I built up The Woolly Pedlar from one pair of armwarmers in 2011 to be a successful business and an international brand. I couldn’t have done this without the use of social media and would love to share the knowledge and skills I gained in this area. As a creative entrepreneur, I feel I can relate to other creative folk, talking their language, without using a lot of technical computer jargon. I do not however profess to be an ICT expert!
Just this week, my husband had a client visit him (he’s an accountant) who spoke of how she’d love to be able to share what she makes on social media, but does not know where to start or how to do it, and it simply terrifies her. I think a book that is easy to read, interspersed with funny stories and anecdotes about my time as the Woolly Pedlar, might just go down a treat.
I’ve been toying with an idea for the title, and have been discussing this over on Facebook, both on my Sue Reed Writes page, and The Woolly Pedlar page. At the moment I’m favouring: ‘Tales from the Woolly Garret: Getting to Grips with Social Media’. I think that then leaves room for other volumes. Maybe, a book of short stories?
I’ve written so much over the past seven years over on The Woolly Pedlar website, (and you can hop over there and catch up on these on the blog page there), but I was heartbroken that some of the stories would disappear if I shut the website down. I want my story about how Jeremy Corbyn bought one of my woolly wraps and then was hounded by the press to be seen; I want my experiences selling my woolly wares at festivals and Christmas fairs to be written down ; I want to write about all the comments given by the general public; I want to tell all the funny stories from my Women’s Institute talks and other outings.
I would also like to develop this theme and offer courses and tutorials on using social media. I’ll be meeting with Cool Terry from TWDA next week to discuss how we can put out tutorials on the internet. Despite being of the mature variety, I learnt how use social media to my advantage. It’s never too late to learn, and using social media does not need to be daunting or overly time consuming, but it is crucial if you want to show your creations to a world-wide audience and sell your work.
If you would like to hear more, or have a suggestion for the book title, then do get in touch.
So, Facebook is changing. Mark Zuckerberg has said that the changes happening to Facebook in 2018 will be the biggest that have ever happened in Facebook. I’ve been on a webinar, and listened to videos and podcasts, and this is how I see it happening, and what I plan to do about it as a business page.
Soon there will be two news feeds – one for friends, families and ads, and another for business pages and groups in a new ‘explore’ feed. This means that it will be harder for you to find my posts and engage with them. As a business it will be harder to get my message and products across to you.
So, as a small business, I want to make sure that my posts reach people and appear high up in the new explore feed.
Facebook loves videos, especially ‘live’ videos, but what it does not like are videos from other channels such a You Tube. By all means, make a video and load it up to You Tube, but don’t go sharing that on your Facebook business page. Instead, be brave and do a Facebook Live video!
I am going to put my big girls’ pants on, on Sunday 28th at 3pm and do a Facebook Live post from the woolly garret. I’ve found an old painting easel to balance my ipad on, and will even hunt out some lippy. I want to show folk some of the sale stock, and will be running a free giveaway of two cashmere cowls. I’m planning on using Facebook Live as a visual newsletter, and plan to do regular Facebook Lives. Do come and join in!
Facebook wants you to stay on Facebook, so keep links to outside websites and blogs to a minimum – I write a newsletter through Mailchimp and blog on the website, and will be encouraging folk to sign up for that even more now, so they can get all the news in their in boxes rather than relying on the fickle friend that Facebook is.
Another top tip is to make your Facebook posts interesting, timely and relevant to your audience. My followers love to see photos of the beautiful Northumberland countryside, and hear about how things are growing in the garden, as well as seeing news about what I’ve been making. I am very much an ethical business, and so will be inviting discussions on various ethical topics such as reducing plastic in packaging, recycling and reducing waste. It’s about so much more than just selling products!
You can help by doing several things:
- Select to ‘get notifications’ from The Woolly Pedlar
- Comment on posts that are interesting to you – the more folk engage with posts, the more Facebook will share them.
- Sign up to my newsletter and blog using the sign up form on the homepage of this website
- Join in with the Facebook Live events over on The Woolly Pedlar page – the first one being Sunday 28th at 3pm.
Thanks for reading and hope to see you on Sunday 🙂
Continuing my four part series on using social media for a small business, this week I’m asking the question, are you on Instagram? If not, here are a few pointers for getting up and running with what is becoming one of the fastest growing social media platforms.
As I’ve said before, for this fifty something year old, using social media to promote my upcycling business has been a steep learning curve, but a most enjoyable one. Instagram has become another string to my bow, and works very differently to Facebook or Twitter.
Research is showing that the photo-sharing app is one of the most effective brand-building tools available today. It is not surprisingly is a popular choice for other designers and professions, and is in fact increasingly important for every kind of business.
Whilst Instagram can be viewed on a laptop or pc, it is primarily an app for the smartphone. The Instagram app can be downloaded for free from the Apple store or Google play, and is very easy to use.
Once downloaded, you will be prompted to fill out your profile. Your username should match those already in use on other social media profiles. Write a short 150 character bio and include a link to your website.
Your profile picture can be your company’s logo or a photo of you, and again, it is useful to keep this consistent over all social media so that your brand is instantly recognisable. This is a job that I need to do as my profile pics are not all the same! I often wonder of it’s better to use a photo of me, an instantly recognisable product such as my sweatercoats, or my logo? I think I’ll change them all to my logo this week, after all it’s a great design!
Stick to a theme. I live and work in rural Northumberland making one off handmade, upcycled products. This therefore is what I want to show folk. I do not include photos of my dinner, holiday snaps, family or other aspects of my life, but I do show photos of behind the scenes, where I live and work, what has inspired me in nature as well as photos of new products. I think it’s a good idea to develop an image of you and your brand that is not just about what you make, but rather how it is made, and the personality behind the business.
You then need to add a caption. This is a chance to expand on your image, and link it back to your business. Use hashtags to help followers find your posts that are relevant to the photo, but use these at the end of the caption, and not jumbled up in the text. I frequently use the following hashtags: #upcycled #ecofashion #wool #recycled. You can put a couple of hashtags in your profile too.
On Instagram, you should be maintaining a regular posting schedule, but you don’t want to bombard your followers with too many posts. I generally post something once or twice a day, usually in the morning and again in the late afternoon to catch everyone returning home from work.
Don’t forget to crosspost your Instagram posts with other social media platforms. The app allows you to post images directly to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and Foursquare. However, I do find that as the different social media platforms work in very different ways, I do tend to construct posts differently depending on where they are destined for. I crosspost direct to Twitter and Tumblr from Instagram, but not to Facebook. That just a matter of preference.
I’ll leave you now with this photo of a poncho sent by a lady in Tennessee USA who followed me on Instagram, then put an order in for a bespoke rasta poncho after seeing posting of my upcycled woolly ponchos. It’s proof that using social media for business really is worth the while!
If you’d like to follow me on Instagram I’m woollypedlar
Following on from last week’s post, about the Highs and Lows of Using Facebook as a Small Business, I thought I’d write this week about the ‘Power of Twitter’. I love Twitter, and it has helped me link up with some awesome people and has provided many business opportunities.
It was through Twitter I met Gavin Forster. (It was in fact through Northeasthour on Twitter, but more of that later.) Gavin has a photography business, Gavin Forster Photography and was looking for designs to photograph to jazz up his website. He had seen a tweet of mine showing my brightly coloured, upcycled, woolly creations and thought my work was just what he was looking for. Gavin picked a suitcase full of my sweatercoats and jumpers and took them off on a photoshoot with one of his models. I was delighted, as I got some absolutely stunning photos, many of which I still use today, and Gavin was delighted too as he got a lots of very funky shots.
The black and white sweatercoat above is one of his shots, as are these two and all three remain firm favourites of mine.
Only last week, I came across Chris, who has a workshop called Quercs down in Skipton where he makes upcycled furniture using reclaimed timber. Chris had tweeted about his gallery opening, and his hunt for fellow upcyclers to exhibit there. I’m happy to say that through the power of Twitter, Chris and I started talking and last week I sent down a big box of bedspreads, throws and cushions to Skipton. Chris’ furniture and my bedspreads go beautifully together. Quercs is now added to the list of stockists of my upcycled woolly wares, thanks to the power of Twitter.
One of the most unusual commissions to date has to the the coffin cosy I was asked to make for Divine Departures, a funeral parlour in Gateshead.(Unfortunately no longer in business). Divine Departures were after a covering for their cardboard caskets that fitted with the ecofriendly nature, and found me through #Northeasthour.
Northeasthour, is an hour dedicated to north east businesses and is hosted by Helen Armstrong on Twitter, every Monday from 8-9pm and on Tuesdays from 1-2pm. The idea being that is you tweet anything with the hashtag #northeasthour then this can be easily spotted and retweeted or commented on by others joining in with the hour. There are many different ‘hours’ over on Twitter, far too many to join in with them all, but living in the north-east, I’ve found #northeasthour to be a tremendously supportive community. I’ve even had my carpets cleaned by a guy who I found through #northeasthour.
It was through the power of Twitter that ITV got in touch. They has seen my work and were looking for a small business to interview for a broadcast about the election and how it was affecting businesses in the northeast. I was picked as I was a small business that appeared to be doing well. It was a fantastic opportunity to talk about my work, and the crew spent a lot of time with me, filming at home, and in Hexham at The Farmer’s Market.
The list of contacts made and friendships forged could go on. In just 140 characters, Twitter invites you to tweet. Hashtags are used to help people find tweets. So for example, I tweeted about my latest sweatercoat today. I tweeted ‘This latest sweatercoat has a stonking great hood! #ecofashion’. I then included the link to my website and this photograph. A great opportunity to show what I’ve just made, and the #ecofashion hashtag means those searching for tweets on the subject will hopefully find mine! It really is as simple as that.
If you have something to tell the world, I really would suggest you give Twitter a go.
If you want to follow me on Twitter, I’m @Woollypedlar.
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