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What's an Influencer Anyway?

By Sara Thompto

"Influencer" might be a trendy term but it's one of the oldest tricks in the book to help promote a business.

Essentially, influencers are simply people who help promote your business by word of mouth, most often through social media. Although it’s handy to have someone with lots of followers promote your business, you don't need someone who is internet famous to help promote your products to make big strides in sales.

You can be your own influencer and help influence friends and family to shop locally with the handmade community with just a few posts every now and then, no lecturing or brow beating needed.

Being Your Own Influencer

If you don’t have social media accounts for your business you are missing out on the easiest and most effective forms of advertisement imaginable.

However, taking that one step further… if you haven't posted about your business on your personal pages you’re also missing out. In fact, if you haven’t posted on your personal pages in a while (or ever) - go do it right now.

Seriously, stop reading and go post something! It doesn’t have to be some perfectly formed post, the important thing is to start now and keep up the routine.

Sometimes, as makers, we shy away from showing people what we do because it makes us vulnerable to the opinion of others. Not just any opinions, but the opinions of those that we’re closest to.

Yes, there is vulnerability in making these posts, but there is no need to feel awkward about self promotion. I can guarantee you, the majority of people you’re friends with on social media will admire your skill. Even if you’re just learning, people love to see what you’re passionate about. When people see you working on a skill, no matter what it looks like to begin with, they will admire your efforts.

If you make them feel like they are part of your adventure, it will also make them want to support you!

Just by posting about your business and your products you’re bringing friends and family into your world. If you let them know how much it means to you, they will want to encourage you to continue. If that encouragement comes in the form of buying something from your shop, or sharing your work with their other friends - all the better. It might also inspire them to pick up their own form of art!

You don’t need to come right out and say “Please buy my work!” Instead, try posting something that shows your excitement over what you’re creating. Posting photos of your work with captions like “I can’t believe I’ve been doing this for a year/5 years/10 years already!” or “Trying something new today” and then post a link to your shop. It’s a very low risk way to possibly make a sale or two.

Posting process shots is another way to engage people in your work and show how much effort you put into your craft. It’s also exciting to see how something starts vs the finished product.

If your craft is particularly relevant (ie: with COVID-19 being so prevalent right now, masks are a huge buy!) you can write something more cheeky and sales-y. Using masks as an example you could write something like, “If you need a mask anyway, why not support someone you know? Check out the cute patterns you can find in my shop!”

Chances are, the people in your life will want to support you in your endeavor and you'll garner a few sales (and hopefully some new buzz) just from those in your close circle of friends.

Being an Influencer for Others

Perhaps the easiest - and most fun - way to be an influencer for the handmade community is to help spread the joy brought to you by other makers!

A few weeks ago, I bought a toy for my cat from one of my favorite shops, TacoCat Creations. After opening the package I immediately posted cute photos of my cat playing with the toy and a video as well. The next day I saw a comment from my wife’s aunt saying “I just went to TacoCat and ordered a toy for our cat!” She had never heard of TacoCat Creations before I posted that oh-so-cute photo of my critter and tagged TacoCat in the post.

It didn’t take much of anything for me to post the photo and to tag the company in my post, yet it garnered a sale for them!

It can be more obvious where you’re posting specifically about the product. For instance, I was really feeling these earrings one day and captioned the photo below with, “These cute earrings from ASTALI jewelry make my heart happy!” (Because come on! They're amazing).

You can also tag the company in a passive way as well. Meaning, if you’re posting a photo from your long bike ride and your water bottle is in the photo, and it happens to have some stickers on the bottle that you purchased from a handmade maker friend, then tag their company in the post! The post isn’t about their company specifically, you didn’t take the photo to showcase the work, but if people catch sight of your water bottle and NEED to know where that sticker came from, they now have an easy way forward to purchase that sticker.

The same can be said for photos taken within your home or anywhere you have handmade items displayed. A simple tag helps keep the name of a business floating around and in people’s minds so the next time they’re looking for a cute hand towel for their kitchen or a new art print to spruce up their home office, they’ll know where to go.

Whether promoting your own business or helping a friend out - being an influencer for the handmade community is an easy way to help promote shopping locally without brow beating the idea into those in your life.

Try it out! It just might help you gain a few sales you’re missing out on.

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