Saturday, August 20, 2011

Social Media 102

Social Marketing 102: How to be Interesting without Getting Overwhelmed from I Heart Art: Portland on Vimeo.

I just spent this morning watching this video from a workshop called "Social Media 102: How to be interesting without getting overwhelmed" hosted by I Heart Art PDX and taught by Diane Gilelland of Crafty Pod.

The video is 2 hours long, so I hope you have some spare time, but it will probably be worth it for you if you are looking to take your business and your marketing to the next level. There are a couple of things I took away from this:

1. Do what works for you (and your customers). Don't do everything just because people say you are "supposed to." The thing about social media is that it is about you. It's a very personal thing and people will see right through you if you kind of hate using twitter, but do it anyway. Basically, no half-assing it (pardon the swear) because it will probably do you more harm than good.

2. Social Media Marketing works because you get involved in a community. It is a form of permission marketing. People have to choose to listen to you and once they have chosen you, you must keep them involved! Someone asked a question about getting readers to their blog but it came out that they don't typically comment on other blogs. This made me think of the Theory of Reciprocity. Basically, you are more likely to do something nice for someone who has done something nice for you and vice versa. If you want people to comment on your blog, tweet to you, retweet your tweets, become your friend on facebook (and in real life) you should probably do the same for them.

Over the past few months, I have personally found twitter to be my new best friend. I get the most feedback and the most blog views from twitter. Facebook fans tend to be more loyal, I think, but they also tend to be absent most of the time. Plus, Facebook seems to be making some changes that makes it even harder to reach new people (anybody notice that you can't suggest to friends anymore?). Twitter just seems more social to me... but that's my two cents. Do what works for you.

Finally, I'm so intrigued by this that I would really like to talk to be IRL (in real life) about this stuff! If you are in the Portland or Seattle area (or anywhere in between) and want to meet up for an hour to chat about business stuff and grab coffee, please let me know! You can send me an email at britta.folden[at] I would love to take what I learn from these conversations and share it here on my blog!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Future of Work is Now


I like this idea of no lines between work and play. As opposed to the image of "well-rounded" as a pie divided into different slices or categories, we should probably be using a venn diagram.

As risky and as scary as it may sound to live a life where you seem to have so many things on your plate and without the security of a job with regular benefits and vacation time, it seems to me that this way of life actually has potential for building a more solid foundation and for making us all happier and better connected. In this way, we rely on each other. There are no boundaries! We should always be looking for ways to collaborate and help each other in the world. And think of the potential! If we continually move along to where we can contribute our best effort, the actual output and quality of our work over a lifetime will be much greater than if we spend our life finding ways to fill our time at a 40 hour a week job.

So, does this scare anyone? Living your life project to project is a risky thing! It probably should scare you. And maybe that isn't such a bad thing. Most likely, living on the edge of failure will actually propel you to work harder to succeed. What risks have you taken lately?

Monday, August 8, 2011


I kind of can't believe it's Monday. I got caught up making some new things for my shop and pretty much forgot to leave the house this weekend, for the most part.

Do you ever do this? It's funny to be home in front of a sewing machine on a Saturday night, but when I'm in the mood to make something I have to do it!

I'm about to hit the road now. See you soon Seattle!

Friday, August 5, 2011


"Nobody said it was easy... but, no one ever said it would be this hard." - Coldplay

Sometimes, I get tired of hearing quotes about how simple life is when you find a way to do what you love for a living...

Really? Really?

I'm just saying, I think sometimes those statements can be misleading. If you want to be successful, you have to work hard. Is there any way around that? It might be more interesting if you can make a career at something you love, but it sure ain't easy.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Adding Value

How do you increase sales? Is it by getting your message in front of more people through advertising? Maybe. Is it by offering sales and discounts? Sometimes.

Those strategies can work, but they both have a few problems.

Advertising: If you can manage to find a good website or magazine to advertise in that reaches your target market, it will probably be very expensive. And how many people actually pay attention to advertising? We see tons of ads every day (even if you don't watch TV)... how many do you remember? How often do you see an ad and decide to click on it or remember it later?

Discounts: A discount offered for a short period can cause those potential customers who are busy sitting on the fence to finally make a purchase and maybe you end up getting some good business out of it. But what happens when the sale ends? My guess is that you've just sold to a sector of people who just want a deal and they'll probably wait until your next deal to come back again.

So, what else is there to do?

What about adding value? This strategy will grab people's attention, push those fence sitters off balance and possibly help your company's image overall. There are many ways you can add value.

Increase the quality of your product. Use your creativity and change something about your product so that it actually increases in value. For instance, I offered an upgrade to a wool backing on a quilt for one lucky customer once. I got an order right away. This can come in the form of a giveaway or a limited edition of your typical product. This also provides a great excuse to share something new on your blog or through a email newsletter.

Give your customer a good experience. If you offer a service, maybe you can find a way to keep them up to date on your progress. If you sell a product online, maybe you should think about your packaging. I once ordered a camera lens from Photojojo and in the package they included a tiny green toy dinosaur. It was so random but also it made me smile. Make sure your customers get that good feeling when they think of your company.

Support other small businesses. This month, over at Queen B Quilts, I'm offering my customers a free cupcake with every order. Not only will this hopefully (fingers crossed) increase sales, but it's just fun and it gives me the opportunity to support another small business simultaneously.

What strategies have you used that have shown results?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Forget Perfection

James Victore Live at AIGA SF from Hillman Curtis on Vimeo.

There is something I just love about James Victore's persona. He has a sense of clarity of thought to every word he says that I really admire. I also like that he takes risks and isn't afraid to poke fun at the idiosyncrasies of the creative process.

He touches on the idea of "perfection" as being, basically, a waste of time as well as being uninteresting.

This is one of my favorite topics and also one of my biggest personal pet peeves. As you might notice over there right above that picture of me is the quote from Chris Campbell: "the only way to train for a startup is by starting." And Victore says this in his lecture, perfection will keep you from starting new projects. I have also previously posted about an inspirational blog from Seth Godin about the fact that many of us entrepreneurs feel compelled to start our own businesses. Compelled.

For me personally, there really is no choice in the matter. I have to start things. I have to create. I love thinking about the future. I love facing challenging circumstances. I know that this is the path I have to take if I want to gain major fulfillment in my life.

Still, there is a desire for perfection. Or, maybe if you flip it around, it's actually a fear of failure and rejection. I love Victore's rebellious attitude about this, because I think that's what we all need sometimes. I dare you to spend a day thinking only radically positive thoughts about your work and taking some time to explore the weird ideas you might come up with throughout the day instead of pushing them aside, possibly forgetting about them completely.

Seems to me that starting a business is a mix of gut instinct, experimentation and commitment. When you have a good idea, go with it. Develop it. Push it to it's outer most limits. Get out of your comfort zone.

I love hearing people I admire, those who are out there achieving their goals, talk about how scary it is. About how they actually feel a little bit sick to their stomaches all of the time... and how that's when they know they're doing the right thing. It is such a great reminder in those times when you have some goal you really want but the risks seem high, that you must keep going.

And, again, forget about perfection. If you really want something, go for it. There will always be reasons to hold off until tomorrow, so just take a step in the right direction now. Yes, now.