The Creative Community and Why I Love It (Plus 4 Tips for You) / by Melody

I created an Instagram account for my blog + Etsy shop a few months ago and didn't really expect it to go anywhere. This was around the time I was gearing up to move back to NH, and trying to pour more of myself into my handmade stuff. It was okay - I didn't really get the whole hashtag thing or the follow thing. A few people followed me and I followed a few people, and I got spammy comments on my photos (hashtag 'VinesBeLike', anyone? What even is that?). I followed Etsy, I followed my favorite bloggers and makers (A Beautiful Mess, Design*Sponge, One Sheepish Girl), and I tried to post photos of my products. Eh. 

Then things started changing. I began getting almost tangible waves of inspiration, new ideas, new DIY projects, product ideas, blog post ideas, etc., and I started really getting into it. I posted pictures of my items and works-in-progress, started scheduling and posting more blog posts, and listed SO many more items in my shop than I thought possible in that amount of time (like, 40 in 2 months! Yes, that's a lot.). And I started to build a following on Instagram, and making friends. I even got a follow from Etsy! Yes, I geeked a little.
What really struck me is the creative community. People really care about each other. Sure, there are makers who steal ideas and try to pass them off as their own, and other unpleasant customers, but for the most part all I have seen are really supportive individuals who want to help others do what they love. Whether they're super successful bloggers who make a ton of money off their websites and 1500 sales a week, or small indie designers who list a new item every month and post gorgeous lifestyle photos, they all seem to pull together and promote each other. And I love it. That's the way it should be for artists and makers. 
I think I want to include a few tips for how to connect with other makers or creatives - the ones that work for me, that is. Here goes!
1. Comment and connect. Go on blogs you admire or that pertain to your interests, and if you like what you see/read, leave a comment that contributes! If the post includes questions specifically for readers, be a pal and contribute in a positive way instead of being a 'ghost reader' (new term that I just made up for readers who don't engage). This pays off, believe me - people like reading comments, and I usually get a positive response and maybe even a visit back to my own site. To me, a blog is a community, not a newspaper. It's supposed to be a place where the author reaches out to the readers in their field of interest, and everyone can contribute or learn something. 
2. Feature or write about fellow creatives. If you want to make someone's day, or at least show them you like their stuff and want to help out, feature them or write about them! Linking back and forth between other blogs and shops helps to build community and relationships. I started doing my Moody Mondays feature, and the people featured were really appreciative! This is a great way to get noticed and to show you're paying attention. Also a great way to share with your readers what you like and where your style is, and just how awesome handmade can be. 
3. Write helpful posts, tips, or how-tos. Okay, the thing is, I don't have a ton of blog traffic or regular readers. So probably I don't need to be writing tips or how-tos or any of those. But I really enjoy writing them, and I think I have something to offer the crafting or blogging world, so I'm going to write them anyway! I love when people share tips, tricks, their experiences, things that worked for them, and other helpful pieces. It makes me feel like they really care about their readers who are in the same niche and want to help. 
4. Try transparency. Let people in a little bit. I'm not a fan of sharing your entire personal life on the internet (also I don't think it's altogether safe), but I do think that adding an element of transparency to your posts and comments is a good thing. Show people you're human and you struggle with the same things they do (cabin fever, no motivation, mistakes, etc.) Share some of your personal journey or the deeper stuff. People appreciate when you open up a little bit instead of writing in a plastic, bright, cheery "everything is awesome" tone all the time. I'm guilty of that for sure. I've never been one for posting deep thoughts on this particular blog, but I decided to start including more honest posts. You can read the most recent one here - My Handmade Business: From The Heart. It was inspired by other bloggers and business owners who opened up and got honest, and I loved writing it. Give it a try!
I hope these tips were helpful. This was a pretty long post that I didn't mean to go so far, but I'm glad it did. It feels good to write more words. Enjoy!