Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Grow Your Business with Social Media: Building a Brand

We are delighted to feature our next guest blogger, Chelsea Ling, of Paper*Cakes Finds fame.   If you've enjoyed the last few weeks of the series which touched on capitalizing on Etsy Forums, Facebook and Twitter to build an online network, you will be tickled pink you joined us this week! 

Having achieved brand recognition by fostering an online community of more than 16,000 Twitter follwers, over 4,000 Facebook "fans"and nurturing a 1400-member Flickr group, Chelsea understands the concept of "community building" through social networking.  I knew EtsyMoms would benefit from a one-on-one with her!

1.  I first "met" you on Twitter and was extremely impressed with your successful use of Twitter, Flickr and FB as a way to promote and market your brand. Did you have a plan when you first set out?

I joined twitter in Dec 08, a month after starting my etsy shop. I joined after seeing people chat in the forums about twitter as a promo method. I was looking for any free way to get my shop noticed. At first, I was a bit shy, but soon I opened up. It took me a while to really reveal my "personality" - fearing that I might alienate customers with my sense of humor. 

2. You seem to have a huge appreciation for the principle of "edification", recognizing the talent of others rather than focusing solely on YOU! In return, you have developed a huge, amazingly loyal fanbase. Why has promoting others been so beneficial for you and your business?

First and foremost, I am a fan of handmade. I love nothing more than to search / look at handmade and indie stuff online. I spend lots of time looking at things every day, so I thought that I should start sharing my finds. I started paper*cakes finds as a side project in February 09 and it soon became my sole blogging focus.

I am so happy that people love what I find :) I am extremely passionate about the handmade/indie biz movement and I want to do everything I can to raise awareness of it. I find in life, when you give as much as you can to others, it returns to you tenfold. The same applies to helping others get their work noticed. sharing the work of others does not cut down your own. . What good is a huge following if you can't unite those listening and get them to do something GREAT?! Nothing makes me happier than passing on a lot of traffic or even sales to artisans. 

3. What would you suggest for someone who is experiencing social media overload? Do you ever experience this? Have you been succesful at simplifying your social networking experience?

Hmmm... social media overload... I have no answers for that one! lol :) And yes, I do experience it - boy do I ever! Sometimes I just want to run away from the computer for a few weeks. I just try my very best to stay on top of it and keep things uncluttered, but my internet presence grew beyond me quite a while ago. I have something like 500 unread facebook messages right now, lol. I feel bad that I cannot respond to everything and that I do get behind my monster inboxes at times, but my family comes first. I think (hope) people are understanding of that. The effect on my real life has been... interesting. 

4.  As a mom of 2 small children I'm sure you can relate to a lot of our moms who struggle with getting the most mileage our of their limited online time, how do you manage this?

As a mom, I struggle with time in general, not just online time. I just never seen to have enough - It is the most precious resource. I spend a lot of time online while sitting and feeding my baby these days, and I do most of my blogging at night. I am trying to be better about scheduling posts in advance and scheduling some tweets. I try so hard to not be staring at the computer all day and giving my kids one on one time instead but at times it is a struggle to find the balance. I have no cell phone, but I am hoping to get an iphone in April so I can manage things on the go. 

5. For those wanting to venture into the world of Twitter, FB or Flickr, what would you say to them is most important about content? Would you say that it is important to share personal but not private information in addition to news about their business?

My advice for anyone interested in marketing themselves online through social media is - be yourself, and be patient. It took me a year to build my following to 12,000 people and in the second year I grew to 15,000. Social media is give and take - it is a relationship. Many people do not understand this, and this is why they fail. I converse, I remember people. I am genuinely interested in their stories. Many people make the mistake of just posting links on twitter - while many DO like to look at links, they need to be invested in you somehow to want to click what you share on a regular basis, and you need to make your content valuable to your followers. It is extremely important to bring a little / lot of your SELF to social media. If you are unwilling to do this, you will not succeed. That being said, you don't need to share your entire life - I do share a lot but there is also a lot I keep private. It helps that I just don't give a crap about what people think!

My name is Chelsea and I am a mom of two sweet boys, ages 3 years and 5 months. I live in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island (Canada). I am obsessed with color and crafting and always have been. My formal "job" before I had children was a makeup artist. I am ultimately just a huge internet nerd, who likes painting shit. I like swearing, unicorns, and glitter, and vintage. My husband has told me I am like a dude in a fancy dress. My head is in the clouds. 

Find Chelsea here:

For an indepth article on branding, see EtsyMom BabySwank's guest post on Handemadeology, here!

Are you loving our series so far?  Great!!!  We've extended it one more week!  Join us next Wednesday for a special audio chat with DIY Lifestyle and Culture Expert, Tara Gentile.