Business hat on here! Running a handmade business is hard work, we need to stand out in a sea of fellow crafters and we need to sell our lovely wares. The internet is a wonderful tool for this, but in the last year or so I have seen an increasing number of changes to internet marketing that I am struggling to get behind.
In an ideal lovely world, you start a business, make a website and a facebook page, and maybe an instagram. You share your musings, pieces you make, and connect with followers and friends. People stumble upon you organically, maybe by hashtags, or showing up in a friend’s feed. You slowly grow a genuine friendly following, and it gains momentum. This is the strategy I have taken and I have been having a lovely time – I have met some wonderful fellow creatives and customers and made some lovely friends. When people message or comment, I am genuinely pleased and interested to get to know people.
However, we live in an age where anything that can be monetised and profited from is rapidly subsumed. Algorithm changes mean our posts get hidden, in favour of larger (paying) brands and viral clickbait content. Small businesses are pushed towards endless ‘networking’ to get seen, and paid advertising. We are sold courses and apps to grow our following. Some of this is genius stuff, and I am not knocking it for a second – some people really know their stuff and offer great insights. However, there is the lesser quality stuff that drags in its wake. Not a day goes by on instagram where I’m not sent messages offering me ‘30000 fReE f0ll0werS’, being left pointless / inappropriate comments by bots, or follow-for-follows. I can’t visit someone’s site without being greeted instantly by a pop-up box asking me to sign up for a newsletter (but I can’t even see who you are past this damn box!).
These are mostly just met with eye rolls now.
What it has done, is made me realise one of my core business values – being genuine.
When I talk to you, I am genuinely interested. If I like your business post, it’s because I genuinely like it. When I interact with you it is genuine. Obviously I would love people to buy my things, I would love to grow my following and my business. But I don’t want to do that at the expense of ‘me’.
I also think that organic growth and a genuine following is priceless.
Fellow crafters – please be clear – you are welcome to follow whichever path you like. I am not bashing the genius of some folks out there and some of the strategies. Do whatever you want, but do what feels right. Your image and internet identity is a vital part of your brand. Just be aware that when you use that bot or app to grow your insta following, and it’s your account who posts ‘this is brilliant’ on someone’s dead pet post…. you look a bit like a douchebag (yep, I’ve seen this). Personally, I am turned off by follow-for-follow and bot comments, and from the outset it makes me feel like that person is not genuinely interested in engaging with me. I won’t engage in this stuff. I am well aware that my business growth might be slower than others, and this is the risk I take. I am much happier to be able to promise my followers and fellow crafters that you get 100% me.
I would be really interested to know your thoughts – I definitely have my cynical hat on today. Does this make me a marketing luddite? Are you sick of spam? Can I benefit from the internet without selling my soul? Let me know 🙂