Social media has allowed many people to develop a home based business with very little overhead for marketing. In some ways, it is replacing the Tupperware and Avon ladies of the past generation. Now, craftsmen, bakers, etc. offering almost any type of handmade or homemade item can create a business with social media. In the past, a lot of stay at home moms, and even those with jobs, would sell Tupperware or Avon (or whatever) door to door or amongst their friends to make extra money on the side. Some still do this today with those and similar products. But, more and more you see folks with a skill or craft using their talents to make money. This not only allows them to create a business out of something they love doing, but it can often be done on social media, allowing them to branch out past their families and friends, and across the country.
One such gentleman is Jordan of Wright and Rede, a leather craftsman who makes beautiful bracelets, wallets, belts, portfolios and much more. Collyn Floyd recently purchased one of his handmade wallets for her husband and was thrilled with the quality and beauty of the piece. She recommended that I get in touch with Jordan to find out a little bit more about his products, and how he is promoting his new venture into leather making.
I recently had the opportunity to talk to Jordan a little bit about what it is like to start up a new business based on something you love, and how social media can really help get it off the ground.
What social media platforms are you currently using to promote your business?
I’m currently on:
Absolutely, both on the design end and on the business end. I like to use both Pinterest and Instagram as visual libraries. Both platforms function like giant scrapbooks which I then sort into digestible tidbits through Evernote. When I’m struggling with a design, I tend to glean some inspiration by going though all of my old notes. Sometimes the simplest little detail, like the closure on an old rucksack, can lead to a whole new product line. For business concerns I tend to turn towards Facebook and Twitter. I follow a lot of people like Scott Belsky and other established creatives to help discern what direction I want my business to grow. It has really been a boon to be able to access this kind of knowledge. It kind of acts like the “Cabinet of Invisible Counselors” from Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich” but for the modern age. I also use these platforms to track down new opportunities. It was in a reTweet that I first heard about the Cleveland Flea which has been one of my most successful venues to date.
I am growing my business largely through word of mouth. I feel social media can be the ideal way to promote my business this way, as long as I am authentic about it. If I make a new product I’m happy about, I tend to post a picture about it because I’m proud of what I made. Lots of times this ends up as orders in my inbox. I will also use platforms like Instagram or Tumblr to convey a message about the the character or feel of my business. This has led to emails from event coordinators, shops, and collaborators who like my style and want to do some business together.
How long did it take to start getting leads from each social platform?
Three hours after opening my Etsy shop I sold a wallet to a nice gentleman from Denmark. I continue to see weekly sales from Etsy. Instagram and Facebook took a little longer to develop (about three to six months), but I feel like I get more business through these two outlets than anywhere else. I feel like this is because on Facebook and Instagram I’m communicating with fans (or at least followers with a common interest) rather than with shoppers (like I do on Etsy).
Instagram! I’m a very visual person and I truly believe that a picture is worth a thousand words. I make sure to not just focus on my products, but also on myself as a fledgling business. This helps me not only connect with my customers on a deeper level, but also allows for an exchange of experiences with other makers and start-ups.
Have you been featured in any traditional media?
Not yet. I launched my business in the end of November 2012. I am very careful to try to grow my business at a rate that I feel will allow me to maintain the level of quality that I demand in my products. When I am able to scale up my business in a responsible way I will start looking to get my name in the paper. That being said, my products have been seen in Cleveland Magazine and (briefly) on the local news.
Have you been featured on a blog of any sort? If so, could you please include a link to that post?
I didn’t have a traditional website until May of this year. When I launched that I also began a blog about the experience of quitting my day job and starting a business. I am hoping to use this as a platform to interact with fellow bloggers who share similar experiences.
Why do you think social media is a good fit for your business?
The main focus of everything I produce is quality and durability. I can tell this to people all I want and its only a sales pitch. Social media allows people to see under the hood and really get to know me on a deeper level. This way I don’t need a sales pitch. People know me. They know what I’m concerned about. They know what my beliefs are. They know that I’m a craftsman who is going to make something that lasts, because that is the kind of person I am. Then I can stand back and let my products speak for themselves.
How much time do you spend in a week promoting your business on various social media platforms?
I spend one hour every morning. This way a can exercise my Facebook gossip demons at the get go, and hopefully find a little inspiration to help me grind through the day’s schedule. I then usually take a break midday and spend a few moments talking about what I’m making, what events I will be at, or how I hope to develop my business. I try to hit a different platform every day.
Or, are you purely an organic user – you allow social media to do the ‘talking” for you (as it should be to a certain extent) – do you just allow others to post and comment on your work, or do you actively promote?
I try to avoid promoting. I feel like it is really easy to come off as inauthentic. I prefer to interact. I might show a failed design a get a comment about how I could fix it. I frequently get comments like “could you add straps to that?” or “can you fix this vintage bag?” I try to add some advice or help where I can. I never want to post something that is really just a sneaky ad.
How many aspects of your business do you host on social media sites? Do you sell on Facebook? Do you use Etsy? Do you use Facebook purely for promotion or do you list products, etc.
I don’t try to sell directly through Facebook. I feel like people are going to my Facebook page to learn more about me. If they wanted to shop they can check out the store on my website or on my Etsy page. I feel like everything has it’s place and when those start to get mixed up the message can get muddled.
Jordan offers a lot of new insight into using social media, not just to promote his business, but to creatively grow and run his business. If you have any questions about how you can take the ideas Jordan has offered here just leave them in the comments and we will be sure to get back to you.