As colder weather draws near, I find this particular home based business to be very timely. Comfy Crochet, owned and operated by Jennifer Jackson who makes beautiful crochet items such as cozy hats, warm scarves, headbands and many custom items.
When I asked Jennifer to share some of her experience with promoting and running her business on social media, she was happy to provide a lot of great insights on how social media can really boost a home based business into something you can help support a family with, and have a great time making money doing something you love.
1. What social media platforms are you currently using to promote your business?(Etsy, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, etc.)
I am currently active on Facebook, Pinterest and Etsy. Facebook is my main site and after that it would have to be Etsy. I find Facebook easier to be myself and have leniency to do more of what I want to do with my business.
2. A. Do you feel that these platforms have increased your business’ scope?
Facebook is actually where I started my business. I had a few friends/family asking me to crochet some pieces and they urged me to sell some of my things. I didn’t really have the desire or time (with three small children and one adult niece at home) to figure out consignment shops or renting booth spaces so I decided to just start a fan page with a few items I had available. The word of mouth and the ability to reach far beyond my neighborhood boosted me further than I ever could have imagined.
B. Do you feel as though you are getting more jobs due to using social media to promote your business?
Absolutely! The people that I get visiting my sites and seeing my things via social media is incredible! I was blessed enough last year to be able to send some of my work to Australia, Canada, Puerto Rico and even Hawaii. I would have most likely not gotten those orders had it not been for Facebook and Etsy!
C. How long did it take to start getting leads from each social platform?
For me, Facebook was pretty immediate. Word of mouth from happy friends sent others to my site. They were able to see what I could do and order from me directly. The first two years were slow but steady increases and this year(my third year with a Facebook Fan Page) the business has exploded. I have people regularly messaging me to tell me they found me while browsing and from good things they have heard from friends.
Etsy has been much slower for me. It has some wonderful advantages that I don’t have through Facebook, though. It requires buyers to pay before the items are made and I don’t have that “requirement” through Facebook. It is also very easy to search for very specific items through Etsy, so many people are directed right to you.
However, Etsy has a very large amount of competition. There are so many amazing crafters on there and you can get lost in the mix.
3. If you are using more than Facebook, which platform do you feel has the greatest reach for your business?
Etsy and Pinterest equally have great reaches. It allows others to see what their friends are viewing and it creates a buzz. I love how quickly one thing can reach hundreds of people in a very short amount of time.
4. Have you been featured in any traditional media? (newpaper, radio, etc.)
No, but I would love the opportunity for that to happen one day!
5. Have you been featured on a blog of any sort? If so, do you have a link to that post?
No, this is my first and I feel extremely fortunate to have the opportunity.
6.Why do you think social media is a good fit for your business?
Social Media is perfect for me. It allows me to work on my time and it allows me to have contact with each and every one of my customers. I prefer to have custom orders and see people get EXACTLY what they want and this allows me that chance. I am a small work at home mom who wanted to be able to focus on my family while still doing something that I love and social media allows me to share what I love with so many more people.
7.How much time do you spend in a week promoting your business on various social media platforms?
I do not spend a lot of time promoting my business online. I let my work sell itself. I post items online almost daily for buyers to see their completed pieces but that only takes a few minutes of my time.
8.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?
Posting and commenting helps sell many of my pieces. Others can share my items with friends and that is a lot of the “leg work”. The buzz created simply from this is great! It allows me more time to work on orders.
9. 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.
90% of my business is conducted online. I sell straight from my Facebook page and Etsy and Pinterest allow me to share my photos with others. Facebook just within the last year added a private messaging feature for Fan pages and that has helped a lot. People can now privately chat with me to get answers to questions or get me their invoicing information so that they can pay via PayPal. The other 10% of my business is done at local craft fairs. I love the ability to get out in my community and show my work, but the ease of social media is truly what made Comfy Crochet a success and took my crocheting from hobby to a small business that I love!
Not everyone is able to turn a much loved hobby into a business, but when you are able to make it happen, it is really fulfilling. Social media has played such an important role in not just allowing so many people to create a living for themselves as craftsmen, but it has become almost a movement. For a while there, people were losing sight of homemade items. Sewing, crocheting and knitting, leatherwork, and so on were almost becoming lost arts. Now that people have a way to market their wares without traveling or constantly doing fairs and trade shows, a lot of these pieces are finding their way into our homes. If you have ever spent an afternoon drooling over a beautiful, handknit sweater or a gorgeous handcrafted, leather wallet, then you know what I am talking about. As a nation, we don’t have time to do these things ourselves anymore, but the appreciation for handcrafted items is returning in large part because we once again have access to them. And, to a certain extent, and please forgive me….but these things are COOL. These are not your grandma’s sweaters and caps, y’all. These are current, trendy and sought after items. If you haven’t spent any time trolling Etsy, Pinterest or Facebook for handmade items, start looking. You will be amazed at what you find. You may even find yourself inspired to create….you never know, you may even stumble upon your own home based business and make it big!