Recently I attended the Crafty Fox Talk on Blogging, Social Media and Events. The Crafty Fox Talks are an amazing series of events programmed by Crafty Fox Market as a great way for crafters, creatives and designer-makers to come together, share their learning, meet other people and hear from some amazing inspirational people in the business.
I’ve been eyeing up these events for a while but it’s through being given tickets by Sinead, founder of Crafty Fox, as part of my Mollie Makes Handmade Awards prize that means I can cross this off my to-do list (although I’ll definitely be going again…and then probably again… and again… just leave my name on a seat!)
This event felt particularly relevant as it was all about blogging and social media. Sometimes I get quite anxious about craft events because I’m not a ‘maker’ as such – I come from an events and workshop perspective, so my aims (and training background!) tends to be slightly different to, say, someone who designs and makes fabulous glittery accessories like clutch purses shaped like eyes and wants to sell them (all real amazing things – check out Luna On The Moon to see her fab work). However blogging, social media and events feels like a topic made for me! As a twitterer, facebooker, instagrammer and fairly new to pinterest pinner I’m in awe really of how social media has enabled us to connect in a whole new way and from a business perspective it’s made a monumental difference in how you can tell your story. but enough about me – the night was all about hearing from others and learning from their wealth of experience.
Tilly Walnes (Tilly and the Buttons)
Tilly is a DIY dressmaker and runs the fantastic sewing blog, ‘Tilly and the Buttons‘. She’s all about creating user-friendly guides to making your own clothes and you may recognise her from the first series of BBC2’s Great British Sewing Bee. Tilly also teachers and instagrams about sewing and kittens!
Jo Robinson (HAM)
Jo grew up on a farm (her surname was ham and they did have pigs!). She trained as a fine artist at The Ruskin School of Drawing and then worked at a London design agency. She launched HAM with a pop-up shop in Carnaby Street and since then the range has gone from strength to strength. Jo is an absolute fountain of knowledge when it comes to branding and how to tell your brand story through public facing channels and events including social media!
Zoe Arch (Crafty Candy)
Zoe is the founder of Craft Candy – a website and app that features workshops, classes, events and markets in the creative industries. Zoe herself is a lover of trying new skills and spreads this enthusiams through her promotion of events across the UK. She also blogs and is a bit of a pinterest queen.
All of the speakers gave amazing accounts of their own journeys into creating their businesses and turning a hobby into a career and they reflected an amazing range of approaches. Jo (HAM) came from a marketing background and was passionate about creating a strong brand value for her lifestyle and homeware line. Every decision is launched and returns to her brand and so visually it’s quite stunning and very recognisable. Zoe has a background that I really related to – an endless energy in trying out new skills, techniques, activities and a love of socialising and bringing these passions together. Tilly is completely passionate about sewing, which she only began later than life (a very inspiring piece of knowledge to encourage any ‘late bloomers’ to follow their ambitions and try those new skills – you never know – you could have a talent just waiting to come out!). Tilly felt there was a need for more accessible patterns and sewing tutorials – the older traditional sewing books being really confusing for someone starting out, as well as wanting to create modern garments that she’d love to wear. She began sharing her creations so she could join the wider sewing community and have a good reason to ‘geek out’ (her words!) on sewing chat.
I took away so much learning and the talk sparked so much thinking on my part that if I try and capture it all here this blog post is going to end up far far too long so here are the top tips I took away:
- Go niche. Whatever it is you do (events, making, blogging) make sure you have a really clear idea of what that covers. This will help guide you on content and attract a stronger more loyal group of followers who know what they’re getting when they come to you. It could still be sewing and kittens, or food and making but give yourself a parameter to work within. This will also help you find your tribe – a term Tilly used which I think absolutely captured the essence of all blogging and online interaction – it’s much easier to grow and develop surrounded by like-minded people who you can chat about knitting, paper craft, interiors, fashion or recipes all day and all night without either of you getting bored.
- Be Consistent. Give yourself a realistic target for how often you’ll be blogging and stick to it: choose a day of the week that you post on and your readers will know when to come back and check out your blog for new content. It’s easy to post, post, post when you’re feeling inspired (I did this a lot when I first started because I was just so deliriously happy to have things to say) but there’s not much point putting something out there if it just gets missed. I tend to work on a few posts at a time, or do lots of blogging when I have time and energy and then schedule them on mondays and thursdays so that when I’m busier (or on holiday) I can still have posts published regularly and my blog can still be offering new content for readers.
- Be Sociable. Treat others how you’d like to be treated – simple as really. Read other blogs, comment if you like something, say a great big hello to the bloggers you think are brilliant. Blogging is sociable, it makes you part of this incredible online community of people who love lots of the things you love – make the most of it. And if that doesn’t spell it out imagine going for a drink with your best friend and only speaking to her when she asks you a direct question… and then imagine your answers are along the line of ‘thanks for dropping by – have you seen this thing I did’… soon you would be drinking alone. Don’t be a lonely drinker.
- Brand. Think about your brand and what your brand values are (oooh jargon alert – don’t be put off, I’m about to explain). If you had to describe what you do in 1 sentence what would you say, if you had to describe the aesthetic or personality of that what would it be, if you had to describe the three things that were most important to what you do and how it comes across what would you pick (these are your brand values)? That is your brand – cherish it, love it, use it as a handy tool to check that it matches to whatever you’re putting out into the world.
So for Crafternoon Cabaret Club we have:
What is it? A monthly saturday afternoon event for adults where you can make crafts and watch cabaret in a social and fun setting aka my perfect saturday afternoon!
Aesthetic/personality: Sociable, bright, open to all, fun, loud, silly, experimental, creative
Brand Values: Everyone can craft and have a brilliant time doing it! Which means: Everyone should be able to create a finished item, the cabaret should enhance the craft experience and fun of the day, experimentation and having a great experience is more important than perfect finished products.
- Be Visual. Zoe from Craft Candy has done a huge amount of research into what works in terms of the various social media platforms and she was lovely enough to share her tips. One of the statistics that really struck me was “44% consumers are likely to engage with a visual post more than any other type of post” so take pictures, make your blogs visual, add beautiful images that capture the essence of your product, tutorial, event and get them on pinterest/instagram/twitter. Give the people what they want!
I can’t recommend these events enough. They’re a fantastic way to gain knowledge, refresh your thinking and meet lots of other lovely creative people. Here are a few of my highlights from the evening: