How to Grow your Brand on Instagram

How to Grow your Brand on InstagramAfter receiving one of the kindest shout outs ever in Lisa and Sarah‘s Alt Summit presentation, I thought it’d be fun to share some of my own personal tips with you about how to grow your brand on Instagram!

Since rebranding my blog back in March, I’ve seen a 167% increase in Instagram followers (holy crap, right?!). It’s by far one of my favorite social media platforms because it gives me the freedom to be creative all while allowing me to be personable and connect with others. If you aren’t on it already, or perhaps you’re not that active, I urge you to give it a try! Here are five easy things you can do to grow your brand:

1. Hashtags. I’m not saying you should tag your image with 100 different adjectives, but rather find the hashtag that members of your community use and get involved. If you go to an event, check the specified hashtag and interact with others. Are you a blogger? See what tags other bloggers are using on a regular basis. Don’t just tag your photos with it and be done; take the time to check out what others are posting and engage (comment/like/follow, etc).  Which leads me to my next tip..

2. Be Active. As with all communities, the more you put in, the more you will get back. If you don’t like or engage with others, there’s really no incentive for them to interact with your photos. This also means be active in your posting. I may not hit it all the time, but I at least have a goal to post an image once a day. Since moving to this approach, I’ve noticed an increase in engagement all around.

3. Find the Right Time. Think about your ideal reader/customer and when they are most likely to be on their phones. If you take a really great picture at 2am, that doesn’t mean you have to post it then. Of course this is personal preference (perhaps you like to live in the moment), but I tend to stagger out my images to ensure as many people see them as possible.

4. Use the Explore Section. Now, you might be saying to yourself, whaaat? This feature used to really stink in my opinion, but Instagram has made a few changes recently that I really like. It’s now so much easier to find images you’ll like because the photos are based on likes from other people you already follow. Interacting with new people, especially those you wouldn’t have otherwise known about, is always a great way to grow.

5. Take the Time to Edit & Write a Caption. Of course you’re going to capture that beautiful sunset and hashtag it #nofilter every now and then, but for the most part, your iPhone images will need a little editing. VSCO CAM is hands down my favorite photo editing app as it allows me to adjust basic things like exposure and contrast without it appearing too filtered/edited. I tend to edit my photos the same way each time, which really help build a constancy in how my images appear (great for brand recognition). Captions are a great way to connect with your followers. If you take a picture of paint, don’t just title it “Paint”. Maybe talk about the project you’re working on, or prompt a question about their favorite color or type of paint. Get creative and get people talking!

So that’s it! If you have any more questions, feel free to leave a comment below. It took me almost a year before I took a photo I was really proud of, so if you’re new to it, don’t worry, you will improve! And if you don’t believe me, just head on over to my profile and scroll down a bit :)

10 Tips for New Etsy Sellers

Do I have a treat for you today! Casey from Vitamini Handmade is here to give you insight into running a successful Etsy shop as a new seller. Her work is beyond adorable (and so is her blog!), so if you’re considering selling your goods online, these 10 tips for new sellers are the perfect place to start. So without further ado, take it away Casey!

10 Tips for New Etsy Sellers(Mini Cooper Canvas Tote available for purchase here)

Hi everyone! I’m Casey and I started selling my screen printed gifts and stationery on Etsy in 2008. In the past 6 1/2 years running my shop Vitamini, I’ve shipped my handmade items to countries all over the world and have racked up over 1K sales. I currently run two shops: Vitamini, featuring my mini car themed items, and Vitamodern, featuring my retro-modern designs. Etsy has come a long way since I first started up, but it’s still a wonderful (if not the best) place to sell handmade goods online.

So Long Dachshund Card, vitamodern on Etsy(So Long Dachshund Card available for purchase here)

Starting and setting up shop can be intimidating if you don’t know where to begin. We all know clear, attractive photography can go a long way in helping your listings shine, but besides that there are lots of other things you can do to give your shop a boost, get your items seen, and encourage shoppers to seal the deal and make a purchase! Here are my top 10 tips for successful selling:

1. Use strategic listing titles

Listing titles help your customers find you in the product search, so instead of naming your handmade cutting board “Wood Block No. 5” use descriptive terms in the title instead, like “Walnut Cutting Board 8″ x 10″ Handmade With Reclaimed Lumber”. It may not be very poetic, but it will help you in the product search.

2. Use all of your tags

Each of the 13 tags is a different way for your customer to find you. Use them all!

3. Use all of your photos

Your customer might move on if she can’t see the back of that beautiful quilt you just stitched by hand. Use all of your product photos to show every angle of your product.

Just Married Mini Cooper Card-- Vitamini on Etsy(Just Married Mini Cooper Card available for purchase here)

4. Write clear, informative product descriptions

Use clear and to the point terms when describing your products. Include materials, dimensions, and any custom options.

5. Fill out your policies

Your shoppers should know how long it will take to receive their purchase and what they should do if it arrives damaged. Fill out all of your shop policies so you’re clear on shipping methods, times, your return policy, and lead times on custom products.

6. Don’t list items all at once

There’s a carousel of newly-listed items at the bottom of the Etsy Front Page. Spread out your new listings so they don’t make their appearance all at once.

7. Make treasuries

Treasuries get featured on the Etsy front page, so make treasuries whenever you have a chance. Have fun selecting products to fit a unique theme based on trends, seasons, colors, anything, really. Send everyone you include in the treasury a Conversation letting them know so they can help spread the word and add views, likes, and comments. Maybe yours will be featured!

Retro Succulent Card, Vitamodern on Etsy(Retro Succulent Card available for purchase here)

8. Join teams

Teams are a great way to connect with other like-minded sellers. Find a team that fits your product niche or one that’s local to your area. Team members make great support systems!

9. Be active

Comment on articles, add shops and products to your favorites, add people to your circle, and send thank you conversations to your customers. The more active you are, the more people have a chance to connect with you. Don’t get lost in the shuffle.

10. Tell your story

People love handmade products because they’re made by real people with interesting backgrounds and experiences. Use your shop profile to tell everyone who you are, how you got started, and why you love what you make.

If you’re looking for more tips and tricks, there’s a wealth of information in the Etsy Seller Handbook . Don’t forget to search and ask questions in the Forums if you’re looking for something specific!

Have any tips to add or questions for Casey? We’d love to hear your response in the comments!



The Crafted Life on Etsy

The Crafted Life Etsy ShopA few weeks ago, I started a new column called The Crafted Business. After all the positive chats about getting started and taking risks, I decided to take the leap for myself. That’s right, The Crafted Life is now on Etsy (click here to see the shop)! I’m so excited, and a bit nervous, to share with you what I’ve been working on.

Now, the inventory is a bit low at this point, but I’ll be adding to it over the course of the next two weeks. In the meantime, I’d like to offer you free shipping– just use the code ‘HOORAY‘ at checkout.

The Crafted Life Etsy Shop

The Crafted Life Etsy ShopIf you have an Etsy shop, I’d love to see what you’re making. Feel free to leave a link in the comments below!


Let’s Chat: Getting Started

A Pair & A Spare print (image by a pair & a spare)

Thanks to some encouraging words from my friend Rachael, I opened a Society6 shop last week to sell some of my prints. Photography is a newer hobby of mine, I’ve even been able to do some freelancing this year, but it got me thinking about starting a shop for the other items I make.

I’ve dabbled on Etsy before, but I wasn’t serious about what I was doing or what I was selling. I was perfectly happy when my shop got a favorite or two, but at the end of the day, there was a disconnect between me and the product.

Here are some basic tips that I learned the first time around:

1. Find something to make that you don’t hate making. Sure, there might be a market for the item you’re selling, but are you going to be motivated to make that item and ship it out on time? Chances are you’ll put it off until the last minute.

2. Set goals and track them. I used to list items without purpose which put me at a loss with my inventory and overall budget. Being aware of every detail will help you actually turn a profit and get you closer to a full time creative job.

3. Don’t undervalue your work. Pricing an item you make is hard, there’s no doubt about that! You can compare yourself to what others are charging to compete OR you can try this helpful formula.

Of course it’s scary to put work you’re passionate about out there, but if it’s something want to do, I say take the risk. Don’t let the fear of getting started hold you back from something that could be really great!


PS Feel free to share your shop in the comments as well as any tips that you have!  Also, I’m thinking about making ‘The Crafted Business’ a reoccurring column and would love to hear what you think!