I recently shared a story on Instagram about the struggle of balancing real and relatable posts vs sharing promotional things about my business, a business which I believe God gave me. The response from Instagrammers was a resounding "Yes! Me too." So I thought this topic of discussion would be something to delve deeper into. Read on!
Having a business is more achievable now than ever in this social media, internet-connected world. Had I been an adult 30 years ago, there's no way I would ever have had the gumption to start a company of my own. I would never have seen my talents as valid. In this way, the Internet and social media are amazing!
Millions of people's livelihoods are now related to their blog, their YouTube channel, their Etsy/Ebay/Amazon business, etc. Whatever kind of business you can imagine doing, you can now theoretically reach millions of people with it through the Internet.
The vast majority of creative businesses start out as a hobby. We find something we like that we're good at and then for some reason we decide to open an Etsy shop or an online store and sell those things. When I originally started hand lettering, I created an Instagram account (@KrystalWhitten), to practice my skills and to share God's truth in the process. I enjoyed the creative process, trying out new supplies, and learning new techniques. It was a hobby that filled my need to create and my downtime.
But I have an entrepreneur-ish spirit, so the idea for an online business came quickly. And once I made the switch and went down that road, I began to realize that 95% of running a company is not the creative fun stuff. It's about marketing and sales – things I'm highly uncomfortable with. Sound familiar? We didn't know what we didn't know.
What's your reason for starting your business? This talk of finding your "why" is extremely popular right now. My original "why" was to create art that would share scripture truth and to encourage people to "Paper your walls with God's Word" through my art prints. I still maintain that passion today. But sometimes the original purpose gets lost when you need to make money to sustain yourself... So the pressure to make sales builds and you message goes from "here's this awesome thing I created for you to enjoy" to "buy my product!"
Your "why" doesn't have to be directly spiritual - maybe you create jewelry, soap, or clothes to make women feel beautiful and worthy. Maybe you have a coaching business to inspire people to live their days to the fullest and stop wasting time.
For a believer, all these things can be done to the glory of God.
When you do something in the name of Jesus, you glorify Him. What does it mean to glorify? It's a verb, an action, something you actively do: to give praise, to exalt, to revere, to adore, to worship.
We glorify God with our very lives. So whatever you're doing, whether you're washing dishes, or changing diapers, or editing spreadsheets, or crafting your product, do it to the glory of God. This is our ultimate "why."
So let's go back to our original question: How do we maintain this authentic sharing of our craft/talents while also earning a living? This is easier in the beginning stages of your business when it's still partly a hobby but your friends are buying things from you and telling their friends about it. But if you choose to grow a sustainable company, eventually you'll feel more and more of this tension.
I struggle with this on a daily basis. My stationery and gifts line goes in a cycle that looks like this: Brainstorming > Creating > Administrating > Marketing. I spend 95% of my time in the administrating and marketing. That's not creative and fun to share!
What does your business cycle look like?
So how do we glorify God in business without glorifying ourselves? How do we share personal, authentic content without being overly promotional? Spoiler alert: I don't have any magical solutions, but here are a few suggestions of things I try to keep in mind:
1. Share helpful, interesting content - Don't just post a picture with an emoji for the caption. Share something about yourself, your process, behind-the-scenes of your business, etc. Share tips on how to use your product. Be thoughtful and encouraging. They need a reason to stick around that benefits or interests them.
2. Follow a "3 and 1" pattern - After you've created 3 quality content posts, allow yourself 1 promotional post. Remember, nobody sees 100% of what you put out there, so you hope they see more than just the promotional posts.
3. Pick a Promotional Day of the week - You might decide that the weekends are "off" days or family days and you won't post anything promotional. Research shows that Mondays are actually high online shopping days, so you could schedule promotional posts for Mondays instead.
3. Interact with your followers - It's good practice to answer their questions, tell them thank you, and address them by name. Remember there's a real person on the other side of that screen, not just a potential customer. Ask a question in your caption and look for ways to get them to engage. This will build trust and connection between you and them. We're not Amazon here – we can be more personal.
4. Be a servant - One thing I learned early on is find ways to serve your audience. Give some things away for free and invite them in. You'll have to determine what works for your business and what to share, but find ways to invest in your audience. It creates goodwill and loyal fans.
Most importantly, remember that doing business and making money is not bad. God gave you your talents and your craft, whatever that may be. To not use them would be wrong. So dedicate your talents and business to the Lord. Ask him often for guidance and wisdom and creativity. Stay honest. And don't be ashamed or afraid to tell people why they should buy what you're offering!
Tell me: How do you handle this tension in your business? Are you comfortable sharing personal things about yourself, or do you try to avoid that?
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With love and lettering,