Questions about business, vol I

A few weeks ago, I asked you on Instagram; What if I could answer a business related question for you? And here we are! I’ve picked out a couple of your questions and I will do my best to give you advice from what I know – most of your questions was centered around my own business, but I get a feeling that some of this also applies to a lot of you who also are running a small business or would like to do so!

 

How did you start your business?

As some of you may already know, I started my business as a late-night hobby after I had dropped out of my (second) master’s degree in 2015. Yup, I dropped out twice. I was (and still am) a single mom and back then my daughter was 1 year old. After a couple of months, I started to show my pieces on Instagram and then it slowly grew from there. After I got my first customer, she soon grew into a few more and then a few shops contacted me about having my pieces in their shops on a consignment basis (that means that if they sell a piece, I then get a percentage of the sale and if they do not, I do not get paid). My customers would start to share photos with my pieces in them and people I did not know would also from time to time share some of my photos on their own profile. Back then I decided that I wanted to show up, share and continue to build my small business if the next month was better than the last. I did not have an obvious alternative on how to support me and my daughter, so pretty early on I decided to stick with it, work hard, try to become better and better, learn new skills on the way and build the life I truly wanted. Has it been easy? Hell no! I had no plan B. (Later on, in my journey I tried to make a plan B, but this almost costed me my business and my health and that’s a story for another time.)

All in all – I started my business small, no fancy equipment, no studio other than my dining table and room in a corner in my bedroom for packing supplies ect.

 

How to start marketing yourself?

Here I would have loved to know what business you are in, but if we for the sake this blog post say you are in a creative field like myself, I would say Instagram, Facebook and a newsletter is the way to start. (I found out about the newsletter waaaaay to “late” and today I really wished someone had told me about that earlier!)

EVERYONE starts with an audience of 0! Everyone you see on Instagram now with a huge following started out with absolutely zero people knowing who they were or following them. Everyone embarrassed themselves (me included and I still do it from time to time), and you have to start somewhere. Put out your content and be consistent about it. Even when your audience only consists of your mom and your cat. Decide for yourself that you will post/write/capture something every single day. (Do not send a newsletter every day – you get the drift, right? 😉 )

Then, when you start to post, try and take a bird’s eye view on your own profile: If you were scrolling and found your own profile, would you like find out more about this business? Are there any calls to action? Is it engaging? Do you evoke any feelings in your audience? If any, what are they? To whom are you speaking or writing? Who is your target audience? Try and nail these down as good as you can and then get clear on what your message is.  

 

How did you get 115K followers?

Slowly over the course of 5 years. I remember after the first year I hit the 6K follower mark and I was ecstatic! (I still am, and I sometimes have to pinch myself that so many people find my content good enough that they want to follow along). Then after three years I hit the 50K mark. The growing has always had more fast-paced periods where there would be maybe a thousand new followers in one week for a month and then it will stand still for a longer or shorter period and then there is a growth spurt again. I have found, that the more consistent I stay with my content and the more I engage with my community, the more my profile grows. I love to connect with people, so this has been quite the ride so far!

 

How did you find your customers?

In some way I feel that my customers find me – I have never done any paid advertising and I don’t plan to do so at the moment. I believe it has been word of mouth and then Instagram has played a crucial role. I also know that some of my customers first found my work in one of the shops where it’s carried and then they find me online afterwards. I’m so extremely grateful for this and I LOVE the feedback from my wonderful customers!

 

Do you have a business-related question or anything else you would like to ask me? Comment below or send me a line on Insta and I’ll maybe include it in my next blog post!

 

Xx Caroline

2 comments

  • Hi Caroline, I have really loved reading about you and your story into ceramics. I went to Uni in my 50’s and did a degree in Ceramics after it was my hobby since young. such a difficult time but I persevered. After having 6/7 years of trying to make and sell my work I have had 2 years break ( mother with dementia) I have moved from UK to France recently with husband and I am just setting up a studio in cellar. Thank you for inspiring me to get back to something I was passionate about back then, seeing your beautiful pieces has made me realise that I need to make again for me and not for anyone else. Especially with this lockdown, stay well and safe. P.S. Very helpful advice on social media too!!!

    Melody Sills
  • Great story I love your art !!! 🙏🙌👏👏👏👏

    Angela

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published