I taught a class with Meighan O’Toole on Friday night called Social Media for Aritsts and Crafters. A group of nine women from the Boston area gathered at JP Knit & Stitch, a beautiful independent quilt and yarn shop in the city, to talk about social media with us. Over the course of two hours we delved pretty deeply into how to build an online audience for your creative work. Preparing for this workshop forced me to describe how I manage my life online in a real, day-to-day sort of way and I thought I’d share that with you.
All of us are busy. Life is busy. We’re caring for our children or our elderly parents (or both). We’re working other jobs and volunteering. Building a community online for our artwork, whether to launch a business and connect with customers or to develop a hobby and connect with like-minded makers, seems like a great idea, but the thought of spending time on social media can feel overwhelming. There’s so much of it and every channel has its own rules!
If tweeting and pinning and posting to Instagram aren’t already part of your day, how do you begin to fit them in?
My short answer is to develop a weekday routine that’s reasonable and then stick with it. The stick with it part is the most important to growing your presence online. In my experience consistent participation is the key to getting new followers and developing relationships on social media, no matter what site you’re on. A doable routine that doesn’t overwhelm you is key.
Here’s how my weekday in social media runs. One thing I will say is that I’m very dependent on my iPhone to make this work. In my family we share one household computer among all five of us and it’s a desktop computer so I can’t bring it with me upstairs to the studio or into the kitchen while I’m with the kids. My phone is my social media lifeline throughout much of the day.
My weekday social media routine:
6:40-7:00 am I’m showered and dressed and have 20 min. before the kids are up. I sit on the couch with my phone and:
- Open Twitter and respond to @ messages.
- Check my email to see what’s kinds of messages are waiting for me and what’s sold overnight.
- Open Instagram and respond to @ messages.
- Check my Facebook business page and my private Facebook group to see what’s waiting for me.
7:00-10:15 am I’m getting breakfast for everyone, doing dishes, and taking kids to school. Then I go running for an hour.
10:15-10:45 pm I’ve showered again (after my morning run) and am dressed for the work day. I sit at the computer and:
- Respond to all of my emails. Inbox zero at the start of every weekday.
- Tweet the day’s blog post with a link and an image, share it on Facebook and pin it. Now I’ve also begun creating a new graphic to post on Instagram for my blog posts. I learned that here.
- Read through my Twitter stream to see what’s interesting. Click through links to read articles. Retweet several links, adding my own comment, and load up Buffer with more. Add to several conversations. Think about what might be great to share in my newsletter or what might inspire a blog post.
- Open Instagram and look through my stream, commenting on several things. While it’s important to focus on creating great content, buying Instagram likes can be a valuable strategy for boosting visibility and increasing engagement. However, it’s important to use reputable services and prioritize genuine engagement.
- Respond to messages and comments on my Facebook business page and my Facebook group.
10:45-2:30 pm I work. I sew, I draw, I take pictures. I write, I do research, I interview people. Every day is different, but there are always multiple projects going at once. Writing three blog posts and my newsletter each week is non-negotiable. During the school year, I work until 2:30 (with a 12:30 preschool pick-up and 1:00 put the toddler down for a nap break) except on Wednesdays when all my kids are home at noon.
While I’m working I try not to get distracted by social media. I put my phone on mute so I don’t hear any push notifications. Most of the Tweets and Facebook updates from me during this stretch are ones I’ve scheduled using Tweetdeck or Buffer. But…I do share progress updates while I’m working. I work alone and these little progress updates help me keep going!
2:30-7:30 pm I’m picking up kids, serving snacks, emptying backpacks, driving carpools, supervising homework and cooking dinner. I’m sporadically on my phone, responding, reading and sharing, but my kids come first so it’s just fits and spurts. I tend to take photos for Instagram during this time because kids are cute you know!
7:30-8:00 pm You’re gonna laugh, but this half hour is golden. My 3-year-old is in the tub playing with her rubber ducks, and I’m sitting on the bathmat pinning. I didn’t really use Pinterest until six months ago and have built a nice following (6.4K) by pinning 5 nights a week during tubby time.
8:00-9:30 pm I work again. My husband is often on the computer in the evening and I’m mostly sewing. Before I turn everything off for the night around 10:00 pm (I leave my phone downstairs when I go up to bed), I go back through and respond to any @ mentions or messages.
And that’s my weekday on social media.
A few things to keep in mind here. First, I work at night (and on the weekends) because I have little kids. In order to get my work done I have to work when I have free moments, no matter when those moments happen. If being a stay-at-home mom wasn’t my other full-time job, I would definitely set a limit and not work at night and on the weekends. Some day that will be the case, but not today.
Second, I love every aspect of my work, including social media. I love to read what’s going on in the sewing and tech world. I like to observe how people behave, to notice what questions they’re asking. I love to write and sew and design new things. This is my favorite job ever. It’s intense, but incredibly fun and this is how I fit it all in.
I find this really interesting and useful to read. After keeping a successful blog for a number of years I stopped blogging for a long time. It was the usual – a busy job plus I had three little boys who kept me busy pretty much night and day. But I missed the blogging and I missed the crafts and fiber community that I had been part of. Recently, after finishing a big work project, I decided to give it another go and revive my blog. Simultaneously (although the two are not linked) I decided to finally give Twitter a chance. I had signed up about a year ago because everyone at work did, but had never really posted or read anything much. Since then I’ve found similar routines to yours – I find little niches in my busy day when I am on Twitter, and I have specific posting days (such as the Simple Things Sunday challenge that I have started participating in) for the blog which help me with a more structured approach to writing and posting, and keep me motivated. So far it’s working and I am hopeful that it might continue that way – it’s all about finding a routine that works for you rather than waiting for copious amounts of free time to dedicate to each social media aspect.
Structure is so key, right? Knowing what’s coming up on the blog can really help make it less stressful. You’re much more likely to keep going if you can think ahead a little bit and get some posts planned out. Developing relationships through blog comments or comments on social media is also pretty motivating. It’s an ongoing conversation and you want to continue to be a part of it!
Emily Wall says
Thanks for sharing your routine Abby, it is really interesting and enlightening to see how this might work if I was able to stay at home. Even though I have less time I would like to try to implement a social media routine as well – probably in the post-bedtime time.
Yes, I think you can definitely implement a routine, even if it’s short and just after hours. And I don’t think it’s necessary to be on every platform. If you have very limited time, focus on two that really find fun and then do them consistently.
My first usual thought is “While I nap, Abby gets this ___ done!” and my second is “How does she keep reading my mind?”. Thanks again for answering my unvoiced question of how you manage to get so much done in a day. I don’t have half your load yet I don’t get half the amount done. Thanks for keeping me inspired to find ways to make it happen.
Let me just say that I do have unproductive or low-motivation days. I try to keep going and having a to-do list is helpful when I really don’t feel enthusiastic. Most of the time, though, I’m pretty excited to get to work.
That’s a seriously impressive Pinterest following in 6 months! Sometimes I wish I’d created a separate Pinterest account for my blog! I am really picky about what I pin because I still consider them my personal boards/reference spot as opposed to a networking tool….but now I feel like it’s too much work to have two accounts. Same thing for Instagram! Wish they were easier to operate 2 accounts on both sites.
I use my Pinterest boards as both personal and professional inspiration and I think that’s totally okay. It shows another part of you. I have a friend who designs amigurumi patterns, for example, and she has a lovely style board for her personal clothing style. I wouldn’t ever get to see what kind of jewelry or blouses she’d pick out if it wasn’t for that board!
Thanks for this as I am new to blogging and sometimes struggle with how to make it all work with social media. It is great to see how you manage your day as it is easy to end up doing all the social media and then having no time left to design and create. It really is a juggling act but one that you have managed to master. You are a real inspiration.
That’s so nice, Heather. You’re right that it’s a day-to-day juggling act and I certainly have times when things fall through the cracks. Prioritizing is important. Email is my number one priority. If someone emails me, I do feel I should email them back promptly, even if I can’t get to anything else.
Sarah @ Berry Barn Designs says
Oh, I wish I had taken that class, Abby! Your routine sounds a lot like mine – in between packing lunches and baths and picking up toys : ) It’s been hard for me to warm up to having so many social media platforms, but I am seeing the payoff from the expansion.
Sarah, I love keeping up with you through Pinterest. You pin darling stuff that I would totally miss otherwise! Whenever I see your pins in my stream I get so excited. Expressing your aesthetic through social media that way can really connect you with people.
Brigit Dermott says
Having a routine is a great strategy for not feeling overwhelmed with social media. I tend to participate at random and I am sure I am not being as effective as I could be. I am amazed by your productivity–inspiring as always!
Thanks so much, Brigit! I do think a routine of some kind is helpful, although I will definitely admit to participating at random sometimes and discovering great things that way, too.
Polly Monica says
Thanks for the tips and examples of how you fit social media into a life well-lived! I’ve got the blogging, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest down pat… but Twitter is a new adventure. Was not sure how to use it…thank you for clearing up so much!!
I love Twitter, but I know it’s kinda hard to grasp at first. I hope you’ll enjoy spending some time there.
Domenica Tootell says
Thanks for sharing this. I find social media overwhelming. I’m very sporadic when it comes to incidental posting to social media, but I always post my blog updates. I need to add the incidental type social media interaction to my daily routine. I have poor self discipline when it comes to stopping with the scrolling through news feeds and that’s why I try to avoid it I think. Maybe I need a social media timer……
Anyway, thanks again. It’s great having that peek into the life of someone who has built a successful online business.
Love the idea of a social media timer!
Abby, I’ve just started following you and have enjoyed your blog even though I make jewelry and don’t sew (at least yet – smile). Like your breakdown of your routine. I find my solace in my art work but travel extensively for business so time in the studio is precious. I’ll use the ideas in your post to work out a schedule that I can use even though I don’t get a lot of time. Getting creative about creating is my mission now. How to set up projects that are mobile and that I can travel with and getting a social media routine in place while away will keep me thinking for a while. Thanks Abby.
That sounds like a great plan, Maria. I’ve recently started to do some handwork that is more portable than my machine sewn softies. And I think you can really interact a lot from a mobile phone and still connect with crafty friends via Twitter and Instagram (and Facebook) from the road.
Regarding Pinterest (which I am addicted to), how did you get such a great following on your business page?
I have a personal pinterest page and a business page, which I just set up this past week. I am not sure of the best way to get people to follow me or repin my pins on the business page. My personal page (boards?) has a great following, but when I set it up, my facebook friends automatically came along with me. I signed up for my personal pinterest page through facebook. With the business page, I couldn’t sign up through facebook because the email and password are tied to my personal page. So, I had to sign up with my business email and new password. Therefore, all my facebook followers didn’t come with me. I understand I am probably being impatient, but I’m not seeing a lot of action. It’s sad, actually. My personal boards get a lot of repins, comments, etc.
I only have one account. When I started it was a personal account. Then I shifted it to be a business account which just meant that I could now see analytics, which aren’t available otherwise. Do you have boards on your personal Pinterest account that would be somehow inappropriate for your customers to see? Even if they’re off topic (a fashion board for a paper crafter, for example, or a board about soup), they still express your personality and help customers to get to know you better. Unless they’re totally not appropriate (in which case I’d delete them anyway), I think I would abandon the business board and just go into Pinterest settings and change your personal account to a business account. Build from there.
kat scanlan says
What blows me away is that you can get so much done on social media in twenty minutes at the start of your day!! Really? I have more friends online than in person, now that I’m old, and there is no way I can pay attention to everything and everyone in a mere half hour of the day. And there are days when I find things that are so interesting and worthy of reading that I am either bookmarking or emailing myself with them to peruse later. I’ve come to the conclusion that you are a dynamo. (And you are much younger than I – things do slow down as you age, in many cases.) You are an inspiration, for sure, and it’s wonderful to have you and your expertise here. Thank you for that.