The Practitioners- engaging an online audience with Thomas Brooker

Last Sunday we held our very first workshop with The Practitioners. Our local creative collective.

From our first meeting I left inspired by our new collective and excited for this to grow in to a creative community!

With so many ideas ahead of us, we decided to kick things of with a Workshop run by one of our own, Thomas Brooker  a Guildford based photographer and Filmographer. Here are just some of the topics and tips that the group shared when setting up and engaging an online audience! 

Engaging & Maintaining an online audience with Thomas Brooker:

Starting up tips:

  •  Using your own skills and learning new ones to save money. If it is something that you can do your self or learn to do, do it!
  •  Get the best equipment that you can afford and use your skills. When you can, get the best to ensure you have the right tools for the job, once you’ve done it once you rarely need to lay down the big bucks again. 
  • Skill swaps, offer your practice in exchange for others. A great way to tick off those to dos that you can’t necessarily do your self. Eg, I give treated backboards to a food photographer for his shoots. He then does ALL of my photography. No money exchanges hands! We credit each other and promote each other when we can…its great! 
  • Never see an opportunity as wasted if its not exactly what you had in mind for your business. Being flexible shows good use of your practice and personality and will often lead to doors being opened in the direction you hoped for! Win win! 
  • Use free or inexpensive blogs and website platforms to save you money and having to get others to create it for you. (sorry to you web designers out there!!!) Use templates that are the most transformable to ensure it looks unique to you and your brand! 

Some to look up:

Blogger (blog) www.blogger.com/

Tumblr (blog) www.tumblr.com

Format (website) www.format.com

Wix (Website & blog) www.wix.com

Squarespace (Website & blog) www.squarespace.com

Wordpress (web & blog, slightly more complex to use but you will gain a really unique and editable website.) www.wordpress.com

Website:

  • Clean imagery- keep those shots fresh and fancy free. Especially when selling a product, shop images should show exactly what the purchaser is buying. Lots of natural light and keep the colours as true to life as possible.
  • Styling shots are great to create a feeling for your home page and on your social platforms.
  • Keep your home page simple and to the point.
  • Easy to navigate, less is more. We don’t want people getting lost and giving up! 
  • Be personal and approachable. 
  • Include a contact box so viewers can get in touch from your website.
  • Link your website with all your social media platforms, when updates take place everyone sees!
  • Use key words in descriptions and image titles, as this is what google recognises. 
  • Link other websites to your own & encourage others to do the same to yours. 

Example…’ We are super looking forward to The Boileroom’s craft fair next month with Vinatge Guildford!…”  (The links to the website are added within the text.)

Engagement:

Instagram & Twitter:

  • Following people that are similar to your self often puts you in a good position to be seen.
  • Has-tags, Use key words when tagging, using descriptive and explanatory words are also good as well as the obvious  'pot’ ‘ceramic’, include perps colours, words and phases that relate. .
  • Encourage engagement by tagging and mentioning others in your posts (being careful not to over do it and ensure it is relevant…we don't want any grumpy responses) Iv seen lots of great, ‘this is what I'm making today…what about you @bob @bill @percy’ and that seems to get great engagement! Perhaps begin with those  you know (for confidence building), then branch out to others you follow and have a similar background to i.e: other ceramists, embroiders, printers.
  • Get involved with creative feeds, ones that I love on Instagram are @craftsposure @cylcollective @craftcurate. You can have adds on these feeds for a small fee of around £20.00 and they have 20,000+ followers so lots of like minded people seeing you (cheap advertisement) !! You can also apply for features and to join giveaways and sales. 

@cylcollective, is my favourite as they have ‘makers mondays’ and ‘follow fridays’! You introduce your self and nominate others that inspire you. Its a real community feel and great to see new designs and ideas too! It often ends in new followers and post likes!

Twitter has similar things to: ‘handmade hour' is a great one for you makers out there! 

(These are all quite maker focused so if any of you photographers or printers have any that are good then please share!)

-Utilising Pinterest for your business:

  • Create boards that are relevant to your work, ideas, practice, techniques, pallets, inspirations etc. 

For example:

Colour pallet - New Products - Festive Ideas - New this season - Workshop inspo -  &hobbs Vintage -  &hobbs artwork- 

  • Again, like all social platforms repining other images and following similar people will help you gain a following. 
  • Link your Social platforms to one another, On Pinterest link it with your twitter so when you have created or updated boards this then shows on another place where people will be following you.

Thanks to all that came along and heres to the next workshop with our wonderful hosts the Boileroom

I'll be sure to share another tips that come out of our special little collective!