How to create a beautiful social media template in Canva

Well!! I must say I didn’t plan to be away from my blog this long; I’ve been incredibly busy with clients (yay!),¬†having holidays at the beach (yay!), planning out my business for this year (just you wait ūüėČ ), and then getting the kids organised to get back into school (phew!). So thanks y’all for sticking with me. I PROMISE I’ll be back to blogging on a regular basis, with lots of great tips for small business, and with particular emphasis on building your brand beautifully, of course.

This year, I’ve got tons of stuff lined up; I’ll be digging into branding, design principles, marketing, and more, and looking at quite specific things such as website layout, customer touchpoints, social media, packaging, and your workspace. Look out 2017!

 

Right now, I’ve got something a bit spesh for you; I’ll be doing a series of tutorials on how to make some really gorgeous things in Canva, that you can easily adapt to your own business.

Canva’s great and I love it for all sorts of reasons, but I hear lots of people getting frustrated with it – on the tech side, not being able to figure out how to do something in particular (yes, it does have limitations, but there’s always ways around everything), and also on the design side, when their graphics end up looking messy and confused and nothing like they imagined. I go into a bit of both and show you how to consistently get good results in this series of tutorials I’m¬†publishing throughout the month, because the tech and the design work hand in hand to produce beautiful things.

Here’s the first. Enjoy.

 

 

How easy was that!?

I hope it also sparked your imagination and you realised just how much you can actually do in Canva with a little practice. It’s great for social media posts, creating ebooks, blog images, posters, invitations, and a whole heap of other things too.

If you’re interested in learning more, I’ve got a MASTERCLASS happening very soon ‚Äď it starts on Thursday, 2nd March. If you’re launching anything anytime soon, I suggest you check it out. Learn next-level Canva skills and create a whole social media campaign from the ground up, with tons of individual attention in a small group setting – find out more here.

See you there!
Julie X

 

THE 10 things to get you flying on Instagram : Part 3

10 things instagram part 3

 

Oh hey! You’re still with us? Welcome to the third post in this series on getting started with Instagram. ūüėÄ

In Part 1, we looked at how to write a great Bio – you only have 150 characters, so what you say¬†needs to be to the point and interesting to¬†potential followers. We also looked at your images – because images are¬†what it’s all about, hey! We investigated¬†what sorts of images should you be posting, how often, and some photography tips to make sure your photos are beautiful. In Part 2, we explored¬†the types of people you¬†might like to follow for inspiration, and how to build up your own following through following others, through hashtags and by connecting it with your other social media. We also looked at sharing other people’s photos (which is a great thing of course – the good stuff should be shared!), and how to do that in an ethical way so that everyone wins.

Today’s post is about engaging with your Instagram community, because (a) it’s¬†social media, and (b) that’s how you build your followers and turn them into loyal, paying customers.

 

 

ENGAGE WITH YOUR COMMUNITY

Like all social media, it’s not all about you. When your followers like your images¬†a lot, they’ll often take the time to write a comment. So be nice to them and say thank you! Let them know they’re appreciated. You need to mention them by their Instagram handle – @theirname – for them to see your reply though.

More engagement creates a sense of community, so think of questions you can ask them, or post something thought-provoking like a great quote. Sparking conversations in this way is good for everyone – you get to know your followers a bit better too.

Hashtags again! As mentioned in Part 2, they’re great to help others to find you in the first place. But they can be used in lots of other ways too – for instance, create a hashtag that your followers can contrbute to. FatMumSlim¬†has the long-running and extremely popular #fmsphotoaday, and she publishes a list of daily photo prompts on her blog. Jess Van Den of CreateAndThrive has recently started the very beautiful #MakerKinMonday¬†–¬†it’s a lovely opportunity to share¬†the work of other artists/makers you admire. Spreading the good stuff around is¬†beneficial for everybody – those makers you admire will be chuffed you love their work so much!

 

ENGAGE WITH CONTESTS

Running a contest or giveaway is a great way of getting exposure for your Instagram account and your business. There are lots of ways you can so this, but the important thing is to make sure everybody is clear on the terms and conditions. These are things such as such as what they have to do to enter, the deadlines, and when the winners will be announced. You can put the basic entry requirements into the slide (use another app capable of adding text to your image, such as PicsArt or MadeWithStudio), and in the text of your post, you can also direct them to your website page that has a full list of terms and conditions.

A competition can be as simple as putting up a photo of one of your items and say ‘Like’ the photo to win the item. You ask them to comment on your photo too, and this can also be a great opportunity to get¬†valuable feedback.

If you want to increase your followers, you can say that one of the requirements of entry is for your followers to tag a friend in the comments, and this will increase your organic traffic. If those friends like what they see, they’ll follow you too!

You can ask them to repost one of your images (using one of the many repost apps) and tag you for an entry to win.

You can create a special¬†hashtag, and ask followers to participate using your products in photos or creative situations where your products might be used. They will need to tag you too, so that you can track their entry. For instance, I might ask them to put up a picture of them with¬†one of my bags in an exotic location, and use the special hashtag #tractorgirlonholidays. They would also have to tag me @tractorgirlmakes¬†so that I know they’ve entered.¬†Add extra hashtags to ensure the comp gets outside attention, such as #instagramgiveaway, #giveaway, #contest, and #(YourBrandName). This not only provides better exposure, it’s also great for tracking the spread of the competition.

Importantly, don’t make your hashtags too long or complicated! They can get misspelled and therefore lost, and if they’re too hard to remember, your ¬†followers can¬†just give up and not bother.

Instagram has a few fairly basic, sensible guidelines for running comps as well, so do read them.

 

VIDEO

I must confess I haven’t explored this on Instgram as yet, but I most certainly will in the not too distant future! And here’s why.

At SociallySorted, founder Donna Moritz interviewed a number of people who have made huge gains in their businesses through using social media. LOTS of them said that video and moving images were particularly great, because of their ability to grab attention. The people she spoke to included travel bloggers, chocolate makers, and a zoo. Truly! The short snippet of a brand new baby hippo is a winner.

Instagram allows you up to 15¬†seconds of video – which doesn’t sound like a long time, but it is more than enough to get your message across if you have¬†a mesmerising image and/or use a bit of smart editing. You don’t always have to make new material either – some suggested repurposing some of your old YouTube footage, because your YouTube watchers are not necessarily the same folk as on your Instagram. (Of course, take that one step further, and share your YouTube footage straight to Facebook too!)

If you haven’t got any¬†old YouTubes hanging around (I’m putting my hand up here), what can you take a video¬†of? Same as for your photos of course – show off some of your process! A video of your beautiful workspace! People LOVE¬†seeing behind the scenes. Another fantastic idea is to demo one of your products, or answer some FAQs. (If you’re feeling up to it, when you share¬†your workspace¬†you can¬†even stick yourself in front of the camera and say hi! Your customers will love connecting to a real person.)

Video on Instagram has a couple of great features too. You can scroll through your video on IG and¬†choose a still from the video to be the cover photo, in order to make it more enticing to viewers. If your video is more than 15 seconds long, you can choose which segment to show, and you can also also add any of Instagram’s filters to convey a particular mood.

Another advantage is that it integrates with Facebook (because FB owns IG) so that it plays in-line and people don’t have to click out of Facey to watch.

ALSO in the moving picture category is Flipagram. This allows you to¬†combine a number of images into a flipbook-style slide sequence, and this is great for lots of situations. For instance, you can use it to create a short portfolio of your work. Or, when¬†you’ve got a large number of images from an event (a market, a conference, etc), rather than annoy your followers with a million posts all at once, stick them all into a Flipagram and then do a single post.

 

SCHEDULING AND STATISTICS

When you’re really stuck for time, and/or you just want to get super-organised with your social media, you can schedule all your posts up on Latergramme, and even better you can use it to organise and schedule multiple Instagram accounts if you have them!

Iconosquare¬†is my all-time fave Instagram managing tool. It works on your desktop, so it’s super easy to see your last hour or two of feed, and super super easy to like and comment, so you can engage with the people you follow quite quickly. Better still, it has a fantastic¬†array of statistics for you to explore, showing you what are the best times for you to post, your most popular posts, your growth rate, who’s unfollowed you (this is fab because¬†you can have a think about WHY they’ve unfollowed you and whether you need to lift your game), and heaps more. Best of all, it’s free. (*Although they do have plans to split some of the services off to premium users only later in the year, so get onto them¬†now.)

 

 

Lastly, here’s a couple of great infographics on other ways of engaging your followers –

* Quicksprout РHow to increase your Instagram engagement This has some great tips on the types of images that get the most likes and shares, and has lots of great tips for hashtags too.

* Fast Company – how the most successful brands dominate Instagram – some excellent ways to use Instagram, including showing off customers using your products, and some great statistics on why Instagram is better for business than some other platforms.

* TWMG РA fab infographic on how to create an optimal feed .

 

 

SPAM¬†( ūüôĀ and other nasties)

As with all other SM, there are spammers. Spammers are yukky. Don’t be one of them. And if you see it report it.
You can delete comments on your own posts, report abuse, and block  spammers.

Keep Instagram nice for everyone!

*

OK, that’s it for this¬†three part post. Hope it’s helped you make your Instagram experience¬†just that bit more beautiful! As always, if you’ve got any questions about anything, just let me know in the comments below, and I WILL find you an answer!¬†

And you can connect with me on Instagram over at @tractorgirlmakes. See you there ūüėÄ ūüėÄ ūüėÄ

Julie X

Making Blogger pretty: adding social media icons (and other tricks)

chulabird pattern

{background pattern Autumn Swirl by Chulabird, here}

 

If you have any kind of a blog that is connected to your business in some way, you absolutely need to include links to your social media accounts. Using social media icons is the most popular and the most obvious way to do this. It’s best if they’re somewhere towards the top of your blog page – whether they’re above your header or below, or over on your sidebar is really up to you and how you want your blog to look.

If you want to add in some buttons for your social media, you‚Äôll first have to have some appropriate icon images for the social media you need ‚Äď either purchase some, or make them yourself.

There are lots of free ones – just google “free social media icons” and look through the images until you find some you like (always check the licence conditions!) – and you can always alter colours and other effects. Of course you can always create your own too.

OR, here I’ve included a zip file of the 5 most popular icons – Google+, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – as .png files. They’re black ¬†on transparent backgrounds, but you can easily change the colour using Photoshop or Picmonkey. They’re all 64 pixels square – a bit larger means they’re¬†easier to work with if you intend changing colours etc, but I would recommend you resize them to something a bit smaller if you’re putting them on your blog – somewhere between¬†30 – 50 pixels wide is good.

 

the lot

Download the icons here.

 

There are a couple of reasons I prefer to use .png files rather than .jpegs. Although .jpg files are compressed so that they’re quicker to load, the compression also means that they lose clarity, and sometimes they¬†can end up looking quite blurry. Another reason for¬†a transparent background is that if your blog has a coloured background, your icons can sit there happily without an ugly white square around them.

OK. So now those images need to be hosted somewhere (i.e. they need a URL where Blogger can find them), and if you’ve bought some webhosting, there’s no problem – just load up the files. But if you don‚Äôt have your own webhosting, ¬†I found a great work-around tutorial on YouTube showing you¬†how to add them directly to Blogger so you can use them on your site. (The full video is here).

In the video, Emily of¬†BlogaholicDesigns.etsy.com¬†suggests simply creating a new post, which is named something to remind you that it is not public, such as “DO NOT PUBLISH OR DELETE”. In that post, click on the HTML tab (circled in red below), as this gives you control over the spacing of the images. Then¬†load up your images, by clicking on the picture icon (also circled in red). Then click on Compose, so that you can align the images (probably centred is best).

Save it (don’t Publish!). Click back into HTML, then copy the code that appears – it should look a bit like the image below. Highlight all that code to select it, and then Ctrl C to copy it onto your clipboard.

 

how to blogger - sm icons

 

Next, close that window so that you’re back on the main Dashboard. Go into Layout (circled in red below), and click on any box labelled “Add a gadget” in the area that you want it – usually best at the top of the sidebar, or above your menu.

 

how to blogger - sm icons 2

 

The pop-up window will give you a bunch of different types of ‘gadgets’¬†you can add in – click on “HTML/Javascript”, and paste all the code into the Content box. Your screen should look a bit like the one below. Save, and you’re done!

 

how to blogger - sm icons 3

 

Happy blogging!

 *

Do you have any burning questions about Blogger? Any specific problems? Anything in particular you’d like to change on your blog but don’t know how? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll find you an answer!!

Or, are you proud of your blog? Share your link, so the¬†world can see ūüôā

 

Julie x

 

Small biz how-to : Startup? Getting yourself out there

motherlovingvintage - vintage toy cash register

{vintage toy cash register via MotherLovingVintage on Etsy}

 

Small biz how-to :
Are you starting up? Getting yourself out there

If you’ve got a burning idea to make something fabulous, that’s fantastic! All you have to do is assemble the materials and tools, and make it. Voila!

However, if you’ve got a burning idea that you want to make something fabulous to sell and make money from, well that’s a different matter. You really need to get yourself out there, in the big, wide, scary world. Not only that, you have to get yourself in front of the right people.

These days, it’s super easy to start up a small biz because there are so many avenues you can use, especially online. However, because it’s so easy, that means there are LOTS of others scrambling for attention too.

 

So how do you stand out from the crowd?

 

It’s important that you have a clear idea of who your ideal customer is likely to be. Male? Female? Age group? Likes and dislikes? Are they a lot like you, or not? Single? Married? Family? If you understand your customer, then you’ll be more likely to understand where they hang out online, and then you can spend your time wisely in the right places. Because really, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on advertising (although paid advertising definitely has its uses); there are plenty of free, or very cheap options for small businesses just starting out.

It’s also very important to remember that your branding¬†needs to match what you are actually selling. A site selling expensive women’s clothing has to create an atmosphere that looks luxurious, and will look quite different to one selling kid’s toys.

Where do you want to sell? There are plenty of online venues Рfor artists/designers/makers of course there is ebay, Etsy, SaatchiOnline and Madeit, and there are many, many more. Some you need to pay for, but come with extra benefits like their advertising and promotion, and some like the Australian owned site  quicksales.com.au offer a basic version which is completely free. It definitely is worth doing your research to find out what each of them offers, and work out which style of venue is the best for you and your work.

 

Having an online venue does not guarantee you will get any customers.

 

They have to find you first! So you have to help them do that. First of all, grab yourself a Facebook page. If you’re already on Facebook, it’s a total cinch to set one up. Go to the little starry cog-thing on the top right, then click on “create page”, and follow the prompts. When you’ve got it set up, including links to your biz, you can share pics of new work, get feedback on it, share pics and ideas from other stuff that’s inspiring you, and more! The idea is to connect with your customers, and make them feel like you’re a real person who cares about who they are and what they want.

You’ll need a great picture of your work to use as the page header, and another smaller image for your profile picture. ¬†Creative agency¬†IYBI did a new header for me recently, using a combination of pics of my work. You can find it on tractorgirl’s Facebook page here ¬†– it’s very fun with all the colours, don’t you think?

Twitter is another way to find your ‘tribe. Again, it’s very easy to set up; choose a username that suits your biz, and importantly, include a link to your website in your profile. I know if you’re not familiar with it, it might seem a bit disjointed and weird, but once you get the hang of it and connect with a few people, it’s a heap of fun – it really comes down to just joining in the conversation. Look at other people’s profiles, and follow those that you think would fit with your tribe. Of course, I follow folk who are interested in art, craft and design… and I don’t follow folk who are sports mad, because it’s just not my thing.

Don’t spam your followers with a whole bunch of links to your site or shop, just chat! I probably only throw in one or two links to my shop or blog per day; the rest is chatting… ¬†(and yes I’m over 28,000 tweets – I chat A LOT.) When you talk with other folk, you build up relationships with them, and sooner or later, you’ll find that those people will check out your profile and follow the link to your site. I know, because that’s what I do! I’ve discovered several great artist/makers that way. They’ll probably also tweet about your work if they see something they like.

Pinterest is another very fun social media tool that can be used to drive traffic to your site. I love it because it’s so visual of course! Dannielle Cresp has written a short guide to using Pinterest over here, as well as a fabulous little e-book to growing your Pinterest followers here.

Instagram is a photo-sharing site, and another very popular way of sharing what you and your small biz are doing and making. I don’t use it myself (one’s gotta draw the line somewhere, lol!) but many of my friends swear by it, and love the instant feedback on their images.

 

I’ve really only scratched the surface here of ideas you might use for your small biz, and just focused on social media for this post. There’s so much more to talk about, but I might just save that for another post (soon, I promise)! (You can find all my social media links at the top right of the screen in the green circles – go on, I’d love to connect with you!)

PLEASE realise that not everything will work for you. Your business is unique to you; you have your own personality and set of circumstances which impacts on how your business will run. AND you will not have time to do everything. In suggesting all these avenues to you, the idea is for you to try a variety of things, and find what works best for you.

And lastly, don’t expect it to happen overnight. Running a small biz takes consistent effort over a substantial length of time. Perhaps years. But that’s OK, isn’t it? Of course! You’re in it for the long haul.

 

You can do it!! 

 

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Disclaimer : tractorgirl partnered with quicksales on this post. But rest assured I only ever share things I believe in, and think that will be genuinely useful for you!