I decided to wrote Part II “THE REVENGE” of my original ”How Not to Be Annoying on Instagram” because, since I wrote the last one, I’ve been inundated with messages with examples of the GALL of some people on social media.
I’m not sure why, but some people think that because you are a small business you somehow OWE (yes, I am aware of the number of capitalised words I’ve been using here) them advice or… Something.
The thing is, it’s very easy to come across as tetchy or overly-sensitive when describing some of the irritating messages that small business owners often receive. For example, if you get a message saying “could you show me how to write a listing up on Etsy” or “show me how make that XYZ” you’re effectively asking for someone to show them your business model or to show them – a stranger, using your own time, for free – something you have spent hundreds of hours working out for yourself. It’s not the same as someone asking what hairspray you use, or where you bought that amazing jacket for your kid, it’s bigger than that. Still don’t get it? Maybe this list can help. BAM! This article does contain some swearing, so best to avoid if you dry heave at naughty words.
“Could you kindly tell me how you make that? How much yarn do you use? How did you set up your shop? Where do you buy your equipment, please?”
Could you tell me how to make that? Buy the pattern and you’ll see.
How much yarn did you use? Buy the pattern and you’ll see.
How did you set up your shop? Long nights, low pay and surviving on the preserved blood of my enemies and exes.
Where did you buy your equipment? I carved them out of the bones of my enemies and exes.
Please be aware that the questions above are VERY rarely asked in that way. They are normally a single noun (PATTERN?) or extremely direct question (WHERE DID YOU BUY THAT?) which adds to the irritation. However, even if these are asked in a nice way, I don’t share this stuff with people I am not friends with.
In short, please don’t feel anxious about being cagey about skill and knowledge sharing with total strangers.
“I was wondering if you could give me pointers on how to improve my sales and build my following”.
Innocent question, but don’t be surprised if the person you’re asking doesn’t respond how you’d expect. There are entire careers dedicated to this stuff (hello marketing executives) and often small businesses don’t have a specific model that they follow. To be honest though, even if they did, this is a pretty broad question to ask and something that takes a LOT of answering. Like, it’s a huge ask and something people work at understanding sales tactics for years and might not want to share. It’s personal, involves hard work and years of learning and the person you’re asking most probably had to learn the hard way themselves. If you’re considering asking these type questions to a small business, think about how you could learn yourself rather than expecting free knowledge. It’s actually more fun that way. Learning is FUN.
Regarding how to get followers? Be yourself, offer quality, don’t copy and for GAWD sake don’t bloody buy them.
Okay. Deep breath for this one, because it’s probably the biggest fuckery you can come across on social media right now (apart from bullying, but I’ll be writing about that very soon)! When you are a designer or maker in your chosen craft area it is the same as any other job, right? You perform an action or task and you get paid for it. Let’s compare it to the real world. Some jobs pay better, some pay worse, some don’t pay because they are internships and you are trying to get a foot in the door… Still shit but you know about that when you apply for the job. In some ways, running a small business on your own is harder than a 9-5 job because we have to be ON IT all the time, at weekends, updating social media, all of those things you have to do to stay relevant. It’s exhausting. I digress, but you know what I mean.
So imagine the gumption of people expecting you to do design work and making of things for no money with the only compensation being that funny new thing they call ‘exposure’. Nope, I don’t mean dying of the cold in a flimsy tent in mid-Feb by the side of the M62, but this baffling concept of “you work and I give you emptiness in exchange, that ok hun? xx”.
This is offensive when random people drop into your DMs asking if they can have a free hoodie, weaving, hank of yarn, wax melt or crocheted item for nothing and expect you to be all happy that they’re going to post a blurry photo of it on their rubbish TikTok account, but when bigger names and companies ask people to work for free and create brand new work just so their designs can be added to a blog, subscription box or anything, there lies the problem.
The solution to this is to know your worth. It doesn’t matter if you are freelance, a ‘newbie’, have 100 or 100k followers, it’s all irrelevant. If you work, you need to be getting money or at least something you are happy with in exchange. Sometimes both, please. This can be a company using you as an influencer to market their products and they give you a lot of yarn, an incentive in the form of pattern revenue, etcetera or an agreement you come to with an individual, but there must be an exchange you are satisfied with. I have heard some people say that they’re okay with doing things for free if it means that bigger accounts share their work and help them get ‘out there’. Maybe I’m an idiot, but I have never heard of a designer or small business becoming successful because a random influencer shared a few of their products or put one of their pattterns on a blog for a bit.
Like I said to a friend the other day, exposure doesn’t pay your phone bill, sis.
“It would be great if you could film a quick tutorial on how to work that stitch.”
Is this one to genuinely get annoyed by? I’m not sure, but this is mostly irritating when the person asking is expecting you to do this for them off the cuff, seeing doing something like this as a ‘quick’ thing and hasn’t bothered to do a quick Google about and research for themselves. Personally, I am starting to involve photo tutorials of more complex stitches and techniques in my patterns, and a lot of designers include them in their paid patterns, but to me this type of question screams entitlement.
My goodness Mavis, I could go on and on, but I need to save material for the next one… There will absolutely be a part three of this coming soon, but in the meantime, feel free to message me about all the Instagram things that grind your gears over on my Instagram page @emmaknitty!