Guest Post from Owen Birkby of Handmade Hour
We were chuffed to bits when Kate from Just A Card asked us to help them with a blog post; we were particularly delighted to hear they wanted to write one all about the wonderful world of #HandmadeHour!
Back on 5th April, we dedicated a #HandmadeHour to the Just A Card campaign, and all the pictures you see accompanying this post appeared with the #HandmadeHour hashtag during that session.
Who we are…
To introduce myself, I am Owen, to my friends I’m known as ‘Big O’ to others I’m Mr #HandmadeHour. I’m really just a loving son, husband and dad who wants to try and help as many as possible realise their dreams.
I set up #HandmadeHour in March 2013; it seemed like the right thing to do at the time. I wasn’t exactly sure the direction we would go in, but I knew it would eventually be a fantastic platform for all the hard working small independent businesses out there. Having a background in social media, and a keen interest in handmade and craft due to my wife’s business over at @NeverlandKC, I was determined to use Twitter as a platform so all these businesses could promote themselves to the world.
Although #HandmadeHour was born in March 2013, our first official session wasn’t until June the same year. I was initially in two minds about it (I shouldn’t have been) and I spent a good 2-3 months getting word out about #HandmadeHour. I remember the first ever #HandmadeHour as though it was yesterday. We had around 300 tweets altogether, and I was as high as a kite afterwards, it was well and truly awesome! #HandmadeHour has gone from strength to strength since then, we had to extend the Wednesday session to 2 hours (yep, we think we’ve found you that extra hour in the day that you need).We introduced a second #HandmadeHour on a Sunday, and a shorter session on a Friday from 12.30-1pm which we named #HHLunch.
Why take part…
#HandmadeHour regularly trends in the UK top 10; we’ve been the number 1 trending topic on several occasions. We’ve gone from 300 tweets and retweets in an hour to around 5000-7000 in the 2 hours. Our hashtags are seen by around 70 million people every week, and have been known to reach 119 million people in just one week alone! It is humbling that people give up their own free time to join in with our sessions.
#HandmadeHour continues to grow in size. We love to meet new people and we’re constantly blown away by the talents on display. It’s great to see small independent handmade, craft and artistic businesses thriving throughout the world. The energy is contagious and it’s always an exciting moment when we see that businesses have found customers and made sales through one of the sessions.
So then we did this…
We always wanted to do more, and so we tossed around the idea of Handmade Nation. Handmade Nation will be launching in all its glory at the end of Spring 2017. We cannot give the game away, but we’re very excited to show you what we’ve been doing behind the scenes. Our dream is to have one place where all the wonderful businesses out there can log in to just one system, sell in their own shop, do all their accounts, schedule and interact with social media, and basically do everything all in one place!
Supporting the campaign…
The Just A Card campaign struck a chord with us straight away - the message was plain and simple, we all have a responsibility to support each other, to support all the wonderful independent shops, galleries and Designer/Makers out there. We bought into the campaign, and we’re delighted to support them in any way we can whether giving them a shout out on Twitter, mentioning them in our newsletter or tweeting people like mad in the build up to a Just A Card Thunderclap moment. In many ways #HandmadeHour and the Just A Card campaign are very similar, with the ultimate goal of supporting as many small independent businesses as we can.
Top tips for Twitter hours…
We’re regularly asked about Twitter etiquette, and for any tips we have in joining in with a networking session on Twitter. In all honesty we’d love to retweet more than we do, but Twitter place strict limits on tweets and retweets so we do have to play by the rules and not get too carried away! Here are a few of our tips, there are lots of Twitter chats and networking sessions out there and you have to find the right balance for you:
· Master the art of photography, and take the best photograph you can with the best equipment you can afford. Without a doubt, we are immediately drawn in by a well-taken photograph.
· Be yourself… tell us about who you are, we love to hear your story, to see that your business is run by a nice, warm hearted human being.
· Be creative. We can spot the odd scheduled post and they all look the same, so try and change your wording, it’ll give your business a bit of originality and we love a bit of that!
· #Hashtags… #dont #use #too #many… all too often we see people trying to cram those hashtags in. We understand why but you really don’t need to, and you’ll probably be more successful if you cut them down a bit. If you’re taking part in #HandmadeHour then use our hashtag and maybe something that describes your product, e.g. #handmade #pottery. This also gives you more characters to play with.
· Have fun and join in! The more you tweet the more chance you have to promote your products with everyone who’s watching. Don’t just tweet your own pieces but also promote and chat with other people. There are some seriously talented people out there and we all love a virtual pat on the back every now and again.
· All you need to do is ask. If you have a question then please do ask us. It’s best to get us outside of the networking sessions and we’re knocking around most of the time so we will get back to you. We’re also there outside of the networking sessions to help to promote you so please think of us and tag us in a couple of tweets every day; we’re regularly tweeting from Monday to Sunday.
We hope that our tips have given you a little food for thought.
In our opinion, #HandmadeHour is the most talented hour in the world, you can join us on Twitter every Wednesday between 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm and on a Sunday between 8pm and 9pm, we’d absolutely love to see you there!