Spotlight ON: GGMadeIt

Spotlight ON: GGMadeIt

Some people just beam and radiate light and love when you are in their presence. In the fiber world, my friend GG is one of them. I asked her our Maker Profile Questions and got her thoughts on the current conversation of diversity and inclusion.

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Say Hello to CoCo Crochet Lee

When I started this blog I had a vision of how it would look and what it would be. In the two years since launching, it has evolved into so much more than I ever could have imagined, truly becoming a resource for inspiration, patterns, information and most of all: a growing community. My heart is so full every time I get a note or message or email from you guys who are helped and encouraged by this blog. One part of the Stitch & Hustle evolution is that I've had the privilege of connecting with so many beautiful human beings. And now, am incredibly honored that one of those people will be sharing her voice with us.

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Say hello to Lee Sartori, known as CoCo Crochet Lee!

Lee is one of my favorite humans. She is kind, creative and has that perfect blend of sass and sweet. When she is not mystifying us all with her Instagram game (her photo skills are ridiculous), she is leading the WIP Wednesday on the Happily Hooked Facebook Page.  And now... she will be sharing inspiration and her voice to our community taking over the Stitch & Hustle Instagram page one week a month! I am so excited about this because she is truly one of the most creative and lovely people and I cannot wait to see what she shares with us all. So follow along on instagram and get to know Lee with these 10 Random Facts below:
 

Hey there! Here are 10 random facts about me:

1. I'm the Assistant Editor of Happily Hooked Magazine - which makes me a tech editor, blogger, writer, designer, and social media guru.

2. I love to crochet, but I also really love knitting!

3. I once crocheted a detailed 3 foot tall pink Eiffel Tower and gave it away.

4. I went to University for Visual Arts and Communications.

5. My dream is to travel the world, I was able to visit Japan a few years ago.

6. I'll be appearing on Annie's PBS Show called Knit and Crochet Now this fall for 5 tv episodes as a crochet expert. I designed all 5 designs for my appearances.

7. My work name 'CoCo Crochet Lee' is because I called my son Conan 'CoCo' when he was a baby.

8. I'm an avid reader, though I wish I had a bit more time to dedicate to my favorite books.

9. I have 3 designs publishing in Salena Baca's new book releasing next year.

10. My designer bffs are @divinedebris, @rohnstrong, @evelynandpeter, @bysincerelypam, @jms.handmade, @144stitches and so many others. My friends keep me motivated 💜.

 

 

A Noble Project

I have followed Amy of Noble Character Crafts since about the week I joined Instagram. I have always been enamored by her use of color and attention to every detail for her afghans. The girl has skills.  I have also gotten to know her a bit over time and found she's also incredibly kind, thoughtful and inspiring.

So when she messaged me to invite me to be part of a big collaboration project, it took me all of about two seconds to respond YES!!  Amy was collecting unique hand knit and hand crochet squares from several makers on Instagram. We were all given free range to make whatever kind of square we want as long as 1) we used machine wash fiber and 2) the color scheme had to be cream and grey. Sounds amazing!

At first I overwhelmed myself with how much artistically I could do in a 7" square. I knit it. I crocheted it. I did a few variations of both. But in the end I took myself back to basics and remembered the simplicity of my very favorite stitch combo isn't really intricate at all. So I took some of my fave washable acrylic from Universal Yarn and made a square that inspired me.


I asked Amy to share with us her inspiration for this incredible project:

Collaboration Squares

Collaboration Squares

At the beginning of 2017 I had seen a project involving a few makers that collaborated together to create a super scarf. One maker made the scarf, another added an embellishment, and each one passed it on to the next adding their own special touch. I was so inspired when I saw that project, that I wanted to be a part of something similar, but even bigger and involving a lot more of the amazingly talented makers I had had the privilege of getting to know on Instagram.

I have always loved creating afghans and seem to always have at least one in the making at all times. Granny square afghans are probably my favorite, so I had the idea to create a masterpiece involving 48 makers and 48 squares, and the vision for the 2017 Collaboration Afghan was born! I asked each maker to send me a 7" square, either knitted or crocheted, in the pattern of his/her choice. We used a neutral color palette of grays and creams to tie everything together, while still showcasing each maker's individual style in his/her design.

Amy piecing together a Masterpiece

It was so hard to choose which makers to invite to be a part of this collaboration with so many gifted knitters and crocheters out there. Our team of contributors varies from those that simply make for the love of creating, to those who rely on their handmade business for a source of income.  Stretching all over the US, Canada, and the U.K., our experiences range from those that have only been stitching for a few years to those that can't remember not stitching. Our various backgrounds, demographics, and personalities couldn't be more different, but this one thing unites us...the love of creating beautiful things with yarn, hooks, and needles. Each of the makers are people that I have been so honored and thankful to get to know, learn from, and collaborate with for this project that strives to put community over competition.


I am so honored Amy invited me to be part of this project. I Loved seeing all the posts on Instagram as various squares were created and Amy would often share when they would arrive. See all the Collaboration Afghan posts here. The finished blanket is more magical than I could have imagined. A true work of art and One Of A Kind. And you can enter to win it here.

Photo Hacks Too: Lighting & Instagram Live

I have gotten a lot of messages since my knit date with my gal Megan from Peppermint Pine shop about the table top tripod set in my crochet bag that we used for her Instagram Live video. So I thought this would be a great time do an update on my Photo Hacks post. Yup this post has affiliate links. I get credit if you buy these items. Let's dive in!

Checking the light meter setting up for pics

First let's talk lighting. Natural light is your friend. It is correct, easy to edit and gives you accurate coloring. Oh.. and it is FREE! But let's be honest, it is not always available. For me, I have one perfect area in my house that has amazing light. But for only 2 hours a day. When the sun shifts or if there is cloud cover then my photo plans are tanked. And while you can do a lot in post with apps and edit, it is extremely helpful to have some options.

I have an advantage having been a Production Manager & concert lighting technician and my husband still working in the field. So I get some cool toys I admit. But still, you don't need insider trading for badass lighting hacks. Here are a few I am fond of and use myself. Just remember this one thing: simulating natural light is not actual natural light. When you can, use natural light. Always. ALWAYS.

I bought this light kit on amazon because it has a great storage case and lots of options. There are LOTS of light kits so buy what is best for you but one thing is that no matter what light kit you get... BUY NATURAL BULBS.

The next thing is a bounce card. This will help you get more length of time out of that perfectly lit area of your home or studio. Basically, a bounce card is going to reflect light into a shadowy area. You don't need to be a photography pro to use one and in fact, this will illuminate your products in ways beyond imagination.

Next up: that table top kit from my knit date. It is what I call my secret weapon because no matter where I am I can always get the right angle. The right perspective and even the right distance. These will be your secret weapon too.

And for the products themselves, these are my MUST HAVES that live in my little crochet on the go kit and I use them for almost anything. Just not website product shots lol. Perfect for on the floor when I need that right angle. On the table. For Facetime so I can knit and converse at once. Yup... these are the ones you saw in the IG Stories with Megan and for less than $20 I got all I needed.

First up is my Jellyfish Mount. I love this thing. It holds my phone, my husband's phone (he has an iPhone +) and is so versatile and small and portable.

Now for my table top tripod. There are tons on the market. But let's be honest - this has a specific function. It is not for primary product shoots. I want something that is portable, lightweight and frankly can fit in my needle and hook case to go where I go. I also don't want to break the bank. I also didn't want something so flimsy that I would spend even more money replacing it. I did some solid research and this was where I landed and I love it!

There are lots of products on the market and everyone will always have their preferences. I can only tell you that I have in fact spent some money and time and found these to be the best, and for less than $20 it is worth a shot!

So get out there, get in the light and get your pics.

Be Inspired By PurlBKnit

One of my favorite artisans I follow on Instagram is Brandi Harper of Purl B Knit. Maybe it is because she reminds me of my NYC roots that comes through in her work; maybe it is her awesome attitude or creative genes. Maybe it is her whimsical cheer that comes through each post. Whatever it is, I do not mind admitting I am a HUGE fan.

Well she shared this the other day and I was like YES!!!!!! So I thought I would share it with the community (with permission of course).

Thank you Brandi. Yes.. stay true. Stay on your hustle. Water your flowers. Let the dead leaves fall off. be on YOUR journey!!!!!! 

Insta Updates: Tips & What's New

Wow Instagram has come on strong with the latest round of updates. Let's take a look at a few of them and how you can use them to up your social media game. 

First Up: Stories. Now, I'm going to skip over how much this is like Snapchat because that topic is covered all over the web. I want to focus on why I think it's awesome and you should too. 

Instagram Stories goes out right into the bar of all your current followers. So it is enhancing and growing that relationship. That's awesome!  Isn't the whole point of connection on social to actually BE social and grow relationships? Heck yeah!

If you don't want to scroll through the whole bar of stories and end up in a never ending time suck of social media eye candy, you can simply go to someone's profile directly. If the circle around their avi is lit up with color, then you know they have shared a new story. To see it, simply hold down their avi. This keeps you free from all the stories of people you follow rolling into the next like a slide show and you just see that person's story.

I also love the message option. When viewing your story, people have the option to message you in response to your story just as you can message those whose stories you view. This is such a great opportunity to connect and develop relationships. In the few days since Stories launched on Instagram, I've both sent and received messages and already made new connections! That's a social media WIN!

The privacy options are basic but good.. Separate from your feed, you can decide who sees your stories and who can respond. That's a great option for those with personal accounts who may want to limit interactions as opposed to those with a business or brand account. 

Another great feature is the option to see how many views your stories have gotten and who is viewing them. This is helpful to know what your audience is connecting with and who you can reach out and connect with as well.

Next Up: I want to talk about the option to make your account a "Business Account". This is cool because it allows you to add a "contact" button which also frees up space in the limited Profile area where many business accounts put contact detail. It allows for a very clean professional look.

Another awesome feature of switching to a business account is it gives you native Instagram analytics. Best times to post, how your posts are doing and a starting point to build an effective campaign. This is essentially all you need to know to grow your account.

Even so, I'm still not 100% sold on this new option and here's why: Instagram is owned by Facebook. Yes, it's an entirely separate platform but we cannot ignore this relationship. I have to wonder if by siphoning out which accounts are business versus personal, if this isn't paving the way for a long term objective of Pay To Play for those businesses like Facebook has become for Pages. 

Another cool little update is Drafts.  This is awesome because I hate it when I've done some "edits" getting ready to post and then for whatever reason step away but don't want to lose all that work. Now, when I back out it allows me to create a draft. This is also helpful if I've got some down time (it happens like twice a month, but hey) because I can create some posts and keep them as a "draft". This way when I'm super busy but want to post I can pull up a draft and keep my presence while not taking up too much time.

I am pretty excited for these updates and think they are a great opportunity to grow on Social! What do you think about the updates?

Win A Free Craftsy Class!

I am so excited to announce that Stitch & Hustle has teamed up with Craftsy to give away a free online class from their huge library of courses.

Craftsy has classes on everything to starting a new craft like quilting or crocheting or more advanced classes for those more experienced. There are even photography classes if you want to up your game presenting your products.

Each class is taught by an expert instructor and the best part (my favorite part) is there are NO class times! That’s right, you heard me: NO CLASS TIMES! Simply sign on at your convenience. No DVD’s or data to download and take up gig space on your device. If you have an internet connection you can sign on and attend your class from anywhere.

Your class will not expire as long as you have your Craftsy account. You can retake, or refresh yourself with your class at any time.

I mean come on! That’s a pretty sweet way to learn something new or keep progressing in the craft you already love.  Read more about Craftsy Classes here or check out all the classes they offer here.

Enter below.

Got ‘Gram-Game? An Instagram Primer For Artisans & Small Biz

Let’s take a deep dive into Instagram as part of the Stitch & Hustle Social Media Series. If you are not using Instagram yet, I implore you to see if it is a good platform for your brand. I have a feeling it will be.

I love Instagram – in fact it is my favorite of all the platforms.  It is an incredible tool to grow you business, connect with other businesses and customers.  I break it down here into 3 segments: Posts, Community, and Metrics.

Since it all starts with what you post, let’s talk about that first.

I think of Instagram as the advanced Social Media version of the pre-school game Show & Tell. You have two opportunities to tell your brand story when you post on Instagram: in the photo and in the text.  A great Instagram post is more than just a pretty picture. It connects and tells a story.

You can also think of Instagram posts as mini blog posts. That way you are always trying to connect with every post and share with intent & purpose. And remember – every post is a representation of your brand.

First up: The Photo

Knitwear designer Ozetta Takes Us Into Her Cozy Studio On Her Instagram

Knitwear designer Ozetta Takes Us Into Her Cozy Studio On Her Instagram

The photo is the draw. It is the eye candy. It is what makes Instagram Instagram. Your images should give a cohesive theme and brand message. You can focus on reflecting the brand lifestyle, inspirations,  as well as just the product itself.  Give a glimpse to your behind the scenes or process. SHOW your brand message.

If you are starting out or have a personal small brand this still matters. For example a friend of mine was asking how to up her IG game for her home chef account. I say – go beyond the finished meal and glossy pics.  As a healthy home chef show ingredients in their natural setting. Show markets and shopping carts. Show the process. Show the meal prep. Instagram allows video: show us your knife skills and dice something! There are so many ways to mix things up in a single image that reflects your brand and community.

Building your Instagram brand profile for personal account or your business requires a cohesive and consistent message in all your posts.

On a technical side; You can use almost any camera really. There are so many apps and filters that sometimes your phone is your best option. Plus, it’s always handy. For specific product display or branding purposes, you may want to consider a DSLR or even hiring or collaborating with a photographer. But again, getting started with your phone is all you need.

If you want to take a quick course on turning your phone into your camera, I suggest one on Craftsy or this one on CraftU. But nothing beats playing around with it and learning hands on, learning when the best time of day gives you the best lighting for your product, etc. No matter what filters or tools you use, nothing can “fix” a badly lit photo so these are important things to know.

Mud and Yarn Takes Us behind the Scenes on Her Instagram to See her Process and Even Inside her Kiln

Mud and Yarn Takes Us behind the Scenes on Her Instagram to See her Process and Even Inside her Kiln

A couple of apps I personally love are Camera+, VSCO, & PicStitch. Each has various features that allow me to manipulate the photo to tell the story I want. Be careful with filters though. They are not all right for your brand image even though they work for others. You can also control the intensity of the filter with a simple click. So play around with filters and apps to find what works best for you.

Stay away from collages. While you want to show all the awesome uses and variations of your product, the truth is that they are distracting and do not convey a clear story or brand message.

One photo. One story. Minus the rare exception, that is my Instagram rule of thumb.

And have fun! It’s true this is work and you have a marketing purpose but having fun is just as important. It comes through in the image (I firmly believe this). So be creative. Play around with various angles of your product and in various locations and settings for your product. It is a social media platform not a catalogue shoot!

Next up: The Text

While yes, the photo should tell a story – your text should enhance that story. Go deeper to connect with your community. Maybe talk about your process. Or share personal detail about the day. Whatever you choose to share it should be with intent to connect with your community and stay within your brand message.

The text is a great place to offer something to your community. As we have talked about is the intent of this blog, our hustle should be to help others succeed and to be of service. No reason not to do that with your Instagram. Offer a tip. Offer insight to a design. 

Whatever your brand message, this is a great opportunity to start a conversation with your community. I try to leave my posts with a question, invitation to comment or call to action. Invite the community to engage.

Back to the home chef example; this could be where she talks about the difference between one ingredient over another.  Or offer the community a quick time saving tip to be more efficient. Maybe ask the community what their favorite herb or ingredient is then in the next post refer back to that favorite. Talk about the recipe and why you love it (which gives a glimpse to you). Make it about more than just the picture.

I am strongly against lengthy text every time. Mix it up. Keep the audience interested. Again, this is another opportunity to connect. Don’t miss out.

Another important aspect of text is hashtags. I could do a whole spiel on hashtag etiquette but I will refrain. Just know that within the main post 2-5 relevant hashtags should be the max. If you want to add another round of relevant hashtags you can do so in a comment. Use tags that your audience will seek out so they can find you.  Think like a customer!

So now you have a great image and interesting post. Posting it is only the first step. Now we get into your community.

Crochet & Knitwear Artisan Crochet Gallery Lets Us Experience Her beautiful Surroundings and Inspiration on Her Instagram Account

Crochet & Knitwear Artisan Crochet Gallery Lets Us Experience Her beautiful Surroundings and Inspiration on Her Instagram Account

Social Media platforms call them “followers” or “fans” but I call people part of your community. Interaction & engagement goes both ways and, as you know from the purpose of this blog, I am a firm believer in giving more than you take.

When new people follow you, check out their page. If it is interesting or appealing to you, follow back. Read their posts. Comment and start a conversation. Make that effort to reach out. It could be as simple as a “like” or happy face. Whatever your method, connect. Find accounts that are aligned with your brand. Interact and comment.  Don’t wait for people to come to you. Go to them!

When people comment on your post thank them. An unanswered comment is akin to saying “I don’t care what you say” and WE DO CARE what our community says. So BE social. Respond. Interact. Too often we think Social Media is about putting it out there. It’s not. It is SOCIAL Media. Read my detailed post on that topic here.

Which takes me to my next point on community: Listen!!!  The importance of listening to what your community is talking about cannot be understated . What interests them? What problems can you help them solve? What are they talking about matters because it is your opportunity to connect.

So now you’ve posted and listened and built community. But how do you know if it’s working?

Like any Social Media or Marketing effort, you need to have an intentional plan & strategy going in. You want to grow. You want to increase followers and ultimately generate brand loyalty and sales.  Develop a plan that works for you to achieve those goals. Then Track. Track more. Track, shift and grow.

Obviously if you see an uptick in likes, comments and “followers” you will know you are on to something. But I suggest you develop KPI’s that will help you meet your goals and know where to spend your time and resources and get an overview of what posts are hitting the mark. I personally use Iconosquare and you can try it free for 30 days.

Over the course of your first 30 days of posting with purpose as described above, you should be able to clearly see what resonates with your community and attracts new followers. That is what you build on to grow and ultimately generate sales.

Instagram should be fun but it is also work. So get to work and have some fun!
And don't forget to follow Stitch & Hustle on Instagram & join the community!

 


 

 

 

Social Media: Not All Platforms Are Equal

Social Media has become a necessary tool for success. It is a gateway to the world for small independent business. It is a way to not only grow customers but also grow within the artisan or small business community. You can connect with service providers, fellow artists for collaborations, people who inspire you and so many others. The opportunity to connect is endless. But where do you start?

I think that many of the nuances available for social media to be a tool for success are missed because as a whole it is overwhelming. I get that.

In the Stitch & Hustle Social Media Series we will explore social media and how to make it work FOR you! How you can use social media to grow your brand and yourself.

The first step is to realize that not all social media platforms are created equal. This is an extremely vital factor in social media success. The term “social media” is broad. To truly be successful you need to look at each platform as it’s own branch of social media and plan a strategy for each independently.

Of course, you can be lazy and lump them all together but you will be missing opportunities for success if you are not tailoring your approach and message for each platform.

Customers are smart. They know when they are being bombarded or your content is just posted without specific intent. Want an example?

If I post on Instagram, then hit the “share” to Facebook, Tumblr & Twitter option, the EXACT same piece of content is being posted to all four audiences. This has a few negative effects but here are the big ones:

  1. People who see your content, the SAME content, on multiple channels may start to ignore you or even unfollow you. They do not need to be bombarded with the same content every place they go.
     
  2. There is a good chance your content isn’t relevant in all places. (we will dive into relevancy later in the series). Twitter is real time. It moves fast. Facebook algorithm gives you more opportunities to be seen based on what is relevant to your audience. Currently Instagram is chronological but they too are switching to an algorithm based on audience activity. So your same piece of content is not relevant everywhere! That is ESSENTIAL to understand.

Yes, people do this. Yes I do this on occasion. But it should be done at minimum if at all and not with everything you share. For me, I do it when I know I have content relevant on multiple platforms. I may edit the post and tailor the language for each platform as well.

Where you share your content is just as important as whom you are aiming your content at and whom you are targeting. They are intertwined.

For this post, I will just look at what I call the big 3: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.

Of course there are basic generalizations about each platform. But to develop a strategy for success, it is important to drill down further into each one and what they offer. You may in fact find some platforms aren’t for you at all. So drilling down into each platform is important to help you know where to focus and where to spend both time and money.

Statistics change often so you can only go by the best information available and then implement best practices. One statistic that seems to be consistent is age. Facebook audience is generally older users. Twitter & IG have a younger base. Why does this matter?

Well – if you put emoji everywhere (like I do) that may not go over as well on Facebook. Or while you can get away with a quick one liner or sarcastic quip on Twitter, that probably won’t get the same response on Facebook. Knowing your audience and platform will help you tailor your campaign and ultimately reach more of the RIGHT people. And more of the RIGHT people is the ball game. Not just more people.

Another big difference is that while Twitter operates primarily in a world of anonymity, Facebook and IG are platforms where people get a bit more personal. It may be via people you actually “know” in person, or people who share like interests and are in shared groups.

Twitter and IG are more “global” communities where as you will likely find Facebook audiences to be closer to home. It is also important to keep this in mind in the content you are creating to share. What plays well to your local audience may not hit the mark globally. This goes back to what I said earlier about sharing the same content everywhere may yield fewer results.

It is important to factor all of this and more when creating your campaigns. For example, if you do not ship worldwide, Facebook may be where you place more focus. And vice versa – if you are intentionally trying to grow globally you may focus more on IG and Twitter.

But the bottom line is that the better you can know your audience and understand the platform they use, the better chance you have for a successful campaign.

Where to begin?

Start by listening. Go to your Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook pages and see what your audience is interested in. See what they are talking about. Learn their concerns and what they like. Is it the same on all platforms?

Any successful campaign starts with listening. And the best way to understand how to best use each platform is to listen to your audience who is already there. Talk to them, Comment on their posts, interact. Get to know your audience. You may even find that your audience or target audience isn't where you thought they would be! Drill down to all platforms.

You will find they are different on each platform and then you have started the journey to successful social media.

We will dive into each platform over this series and tips and tools for each as well as general social media best practices. If you have specific questions please use the contact form to ask. We will get it covered for you. And share below in comments what platforms you use, what your favorite Social Media Platform is and why. Would love to get to know what you are all using.