by Morgan Jones Johnston,
Rugged and Fancy
The Basics of Selling and Social
Morgan Jones Johnston is a rock and roll wife, mama, indigo-and-paint-slinging veteran, prop stylist and yoga teacher with an obsession for holistic wellness. She has a healthy Pinterest addiction and a good-lookin’ Instagram. Find her on Snapchat at ruggedandfancy. Morgan is profoundly grateful that Rugged and Fancy gives her an opportunity to connect with people, and believes that we all want connection, to know we aren't alone in the world and to know that we are loved and that we are love.
Selling your products online opens up a whole new world to your business, and connects you to a global audience. Members of this audience will become your customers, patrons, friends and great champions for your brand. Whether or not you’re already familiar with retail and running a business, there are some unique benefits and challenges to taking it online.
Getting Started: Find your people
The world of online selling is a proverbial oyster, but you’ve got to make sure you’ve got the shell, the meat and the pearl! That is to say, you’ve got to know who your brand is, who your ideal customer is and why your product matters to them…and you need to be able to present it in captivating ways on the web.
There are three aspects you must invest your efforts in as you grow your online business:
- Cultivating relationships
- Creating captivating content
- Mintaining quality business practices
Relationships are the most important aspect here. If you don’t invest some time in establishing, growing and maintaining them, you’re missing out on a unique opportunity to create real relationships and super supporters of what you do. (We dive even further into this in Chapter 7.)
Word of mouth is a powerful thing, and it can grow your online sales exponentially. A well-known jewelry designer found my work late one night on Instagram by going down the hashtag rabbit hole. She commented on several of my photos, and I wrote her back. We began talking and had some real engagement. In the past three months she has become a true collector of my work, ordering several pieces and commissioning some original work as well. She has sent several of her friends my way, and we recently spoke on the phone. When she first heard my voice she said, "Morgan, it feels like I'm talking to an old friend."
That, ladies and gentlemen, is what you’re aiming for. Be personable. Call people by their name. Always say thank you. Be regular in your engagement. Know your customer. The people who are most successful in sales, business and in life are the people who care about the person on the other end.
Social media platforms are a great way to reach people, and are a huge asset to building your community and directing people to your point of sale. Social media is the way I began to grow my brand recognition and my relationships. Pick two to three platforms that you can genuinely invest in and commit wholeheartedly to their success.
Additionally, don’t stress yourself out about the numbers of follows and likes you get! Think about what vibe you’re going for, what you want your channels to look like and who is going to pick up on them. The amazingly unique benefit to social media is that it gives us an opportunity to engage with visuals. We are a visual culture by nature, and we process an image in a matter of seconds. Someone may stumble across your content and immediately be hooked. Post intentionally, without sacrificing authenticity. That’s a tall order, right? This may be intuitive for some and more difficult for others, so here are a few key tips to help keep you on track:
Think big picture. Do your social media grids, boards and posts align visually with your brand’s identity? Can you see the relationship between your feed’s vibe and your store?
Take interesting photos that are good quality. Get a good app; I love VSCO and Afterlight for editing. Don’t rapid-fire post, but don’t go days without posting either. Find the right cadence that works best for your audience.
Always have a direct link to your store. You need to give people a way that they can reach you and your product! Be sure to post a variety of things, not just product related content. That can kill relationships because it makes people feel like there’s not a person on the other end. You’re the real deal.
Make that money, honey, but don't forget relationships will sustain you! And hey, if you suck at social media and content creation, take a workshop or try to find someone to join your team on this end. It’s worth it. 90% of my sales are a direct result of my social media efforts. Skillshare is a great place to find people who can help move your business forward.
Manage your time
Finally, don’t forget that quality business practices create return customers. It can feel a little bit like you’re juggling so many things: growing your online presence while fulfilling and maintaining orders, restocking, creating and launching new product (and more). That’s accurate. You do have a ton on your plate, and you’ve got to maintain balance. This is why you need a solid schedule of your time, along with a healthy dose of discipline!
One great way to manage time: get the perfect daybook. I personally use iCal and my trusty old Moleskine day planner. Nowadays I perfectly block out time to create and time to do business, but I used to be terrible at it. I have an artist’s temperament, so I’m prone to doing things with spontaneity, moving when inspired and putting off tasks in favor of slinging paint. But that lifestyle isn’t gonna fly if you have customers to help! At the heart of all of this, you’re running a business. Be a savvy businessperson and do the work and planning.
To sum it up
Developing relationships is crucial to your success. Create content that people will engage with, and then maintain those relationships over time. This is a surefire way to nab repeat customers who will spread the word about your business.
Social media is one of the best ways to get your name out there. Create a social presence that reflects your brand, features eye-catching photography and engages customers. And, like I said above, be sure to maintain relationships with the people you meet!
You won’t get anywhere without a solid time management plan. Create a calendar, buy a planner, set a million reminders in your phone: whatever it takes to keep you on track. Starting a business is a big time investment, but one that’s totally worth it!