I’ll start knitting a new pattern and before I know it, I’m finished. Because I found it easy and didn’t really think about the stages I went through to get there.
But this is what fascinates the audience. As an observer you’re intrigued and interested by the process.
And that’s what we’re talking about today, the behind-the-scenes beauty that comes with being a creator.
When you’re painting, you pick up different paint brushes and choose paints from particular brands for a reason. People want to know that you put thought into those choices. It gives an authenticity and trusting feel to your brand.
If you put thrown pots into a kiln, you know the temperature automatically and you realise how many pots you can put into the kiln each time. You instinctively know how closely they can sit and whether you need to open the door immediately the heating cycle is finished, or whether it needs to sit over night before you venture inside.
Your customers don’t know this, so they’re curious and would like to know more about your methods.
Do you remember what I said in the first post in this series?
You’re not giving away all your secrets. Very few of your viewers will be watching to find out how you choose your yarn for crocheting a blanket so they can copy or emulate your methods.
But a lot will want to know why you chose those yarns for personal reasons, such to discover whether the blanket will wash easily when they buy it, or whether it would be suitable for their Auntie who has a wool allergy.
And if they do want to emulate your ideas, they’re unlikely to copy absolutely everything about your design. Picking the same yarn is basically like going to a shop and picking the same yarn. You just shared the yarn you prefer. Hundreds of other people are buying the same yarn without your input anyway!
As crafters, makers and artists, we need to recognise two things:
Firstly that copiers will copy, whether you create a YouTube video or simply put a painting, crocheted blanket or hand-thrown espresso cup in an Etsy shop.
It’s inevitable, not for everyone, but there are idiots out there and their lack of expertise and creativeness in their field will mean they fail over time. Whereas you will become known for your own style over time and make a living doing what you love, due to your willingness to share your behind-the-scenes knowledge.
And secondly that every one of us is supporting our peers by simply sharing what we do on social media, in shops, on videos and through having a presence in our field.
We’re collaborating and contributing, not dominating our field. While we dominate our own brand we are bound to come across creatives who have followed very similar paths to reach where they are now. And our styles will look very similar. But we’re not copying each other, there are just very few new ideas in this world.
Steve Job’s iPod wasn’t a new idea. It was an extension of what we already had. Portable music devices in the eighties were boomboxes and Sony Walkmans, before that there were portable radios, prior to that we had record players for 45s, 12″ vinyls and 72s! And going back thousands of years we had sticks whittled into pipes and rocks that we banged together to create rhythm. (and we also have our voices!)
You can bet, if you investigate far enough you’ll find a creative who makes an almost freakily similar line of items to yours.
I had a shock once, when I saw a pair of cable mitts on Ravelry, that was so similar to mine I thought it had been copied. And of course I immediately thought “fraud! call the lawyer!”
But there are hundreds, probably thousands of pairs of fingerless mitts patterns to knit up. I just happened to be influenced in a particular way one day to come up with a pattern. So was another designer. I looked at the rest of her collection and found a completely differently diverse set of knits to mine. It was obvious then that we weren’t carbon copies of each other. We had similar but also completely different styles.
Don’t we all love an unboxing on Instagram Stories? The opening of a mystery box, is almost like watching ourselves opening a parcel. And it’s so much more like Christmas because most of the time we don’t know what’s in the box… because we didn’t place the order or pay for it!
This is going to be so easy for you. Whenever you place an order make sure you have a camera set up and charged for when it arrives. If you use you phone (or an iPod Touch like I do!) to film overheads it’s an easy fix to prepare once the postman has been and gone.
The other option is to open the box first to double-check the contents, then film a video going through all the new goodies without the box, or refill to fake-open on camera.
Recognise that a lot of these videos will be for your current audience and may not bring in a lot of new subscribers. That will the case with a majority of your videos, but it’s why your audience stick around and what draws them to know, like and trust you enough to become customers.
While your customers probably don’t want to know if you ripped out a seam three times, then bodged it with an extra layer of fabric to cover the holes invisibly, they do want to see that you’re not perfect.
I could take photos of every stage of knitting when I’m creating a new pattern, but I’m so in my zone of creativity that I usually forget to take photos before I unravel, scribble out the original pattern notes and start over!
But if you do have mishaps that can be recorded, go for it.
I bet you’ve spilled paint on the floor, splashed coffee on your latest watercolour, scratched a camera lens or made a stupid mistake on your drawing that can’t be fixed.
This perspective shows that you put time and effort into what you create and that it sometimes needs to be done two or three times instead of one. This gives your audience the chance to appreciate even more what you do create without flaws.
A couple of months ago I was experimenting with a knitted border technique and decided to rip out five inches of a baby blanket, even though I’d spent hours on it. I had the forethought to set up the camera, unravel the fabric while it was sitting on my dining room table, and shared the result on Facebook. It was well received and I’m pleased I took the time to share that process.
You can do this kind of thing too. If you recognise when things are going wrong in the moment you’ll be able to assess whether or not the mistakes are camera-worthy.
These don’t have to be filmed in the moment of disaster, but if you’re so inclined then do those videos too, for a Stories video on any platform, or to save up for a blooper reel once every six months.
Most creators have a working space, and you’re not going to be any different. That might be a dedicated studio is like an artist’s office. You have everything you need, right at your fingertips and you’re set for many hours of what feels like gloriously abundant play, once you get going.
Over the years I’ve also set myself up with studio space in different parts of the house. When I was sewing a lot and hadn’t thought to set up the spare room as my studio (as it is now) I had a work space on the dining room table.
I had a setup for when I was sewing and a storage system for when I wasn’t. My husband and I could easily move around it and there wasn’t a hassle with using the table for other things, thanks to setting up a ‘holding station’ too!
One year I was organised with a bag of watercolours, brushes and paper to go in the garden and paint three days a week. Everything went back in a drawer once I was finished, but the tools were easily accessible to refill the bag and move into the garden whenever I wanted.
I could have easily shared that routine on a video and talked about how the simplicity of it made it easier to say ‘yes’ to painting rather than put it off. Over the months and years, if I’d continued with that routine I know it would have changed and that would have meant I’d have more opportunities to update that video with my viewers.
With these you’re not just sharing your experience. You’re sharing part of what customers will buy into once they buy into your brand. The jewellery example shows the quality of findings that go into the items they buy. It also show the care you put into selecting each item for each finished piece.
The painting example lets them buy into the inspiration you feel every time you sit down to paint. Maybe you’re sitting by a window that’s over-looking a wildflower meadow, or a forest with wild deer and rabbits. That’s what they’ll see as a reason to purchase.
Maybe they’d thought that your signature collection of watercolours depicting rabbits had been taken from Pinterest images, but now they see how you’re watching them and being inspired in real life. That will make a big difference to some customers, not all, but it could nail the sale and more income.
Oh. My. Goodness!
Doesn’t that sound boring?!
But you know what? It can be an absolute dream of a video. As a viewer we don’t have to do anything but watch an amazing reality show. (without the need to pick sides or have one person winning after eight weeks!)
Right at our fingertips is the inside scoop from one of our favourite YouTubers…. Yes please!
If you open your studio for tours, for workshops or crafting afternoons you can film a few snippets with the participants permission and get on-the-spot testimonials and feedback. (they’re going to say how much they love you, because they’re on camera!)
When you attend fairs and conferences as an exhibitor show how much energy and time it takes to set up your table or stand, and chat with customers on camera. Show how by the end of the weekend that you’re running out of stock and how many boxes are going back in the car empty!
You can extend this with a week earlier showing how much you have to prepare beforehand.
When you go out to a craft fair, conference, or exhibition as a visitor take your camera with you and get to know the stall holders, exhibitors, speakers and visitors.
Yes, some people won’t want you to film with them, but your audience also want to know your perspective so moving around, showing which parts of the event impressed or inspired you most, will be enough.
(Be aware that if you go to a high-end gallery like the Tate London, you’ll not be allowed to film or take photos. In that case, sitting in the cafeteria discussing what you’ve seen, or showing the postcards or guide book that you’ve bought, will be equally as enticing.)
You can add time-lapse video of you walking around and vlog-bites when you’re eating lunch. Film synopses of workshops or keynotes and end-of-day reminiscences on the train home, or in your hotel room. Mix it up and your audience will love that you’ve taken them with you, even if they can’t make it out to these events themselves.
As with so many of these video ideas that I’ve been sharing with you, these are obvious steps for you. But they’re also interesting steps and sharing them gives a whole other side of the experience of being a customer to your audience.
In next week’s blogpost, we’re going to look at your creator’s wisdom. Yes, I do believe it’s in there! And we’ll add some extra wondrous ‘wisdomous’ sparkle to your videos.
Hope to see you there.
And if you’d like some support when brainstorming, come join me for a Blog-Busting Brainstorm. I have an uncanny knack for coming up with long lists of anything. We’ll meet for an hour and fill your content calendar for at least 6 months.