Welcome to the fourth interview in my Creative Boss Instagram Interview series - and it's a very, very good one! We are taking it back to the people who make all our creative fibre arts possible - the yarn producers.
Wool days is a very special Australia-based yarn brand that took the knitting world by storm when they launched last year. I was incredibly thrilled that Megan - the warm, loving soul who runs Wool days with her partner - agreed to this Instagram interview because I LOVED how they used Instagram (@wooldays) as a channel to connect with the knitting community long before their launch.
Megan has tons of great insights into how to use your Instagram while staying true to yourself, how to not go crazy when you're writing good copy - and not having internet reception that often!
Without further ado, here's Megan:
Hello love! Tell us a little bit about yourself :)
My name is Megan and I live on 20 lush acres along the Great Dividing Range in Victoria, Australia, with my man and about 500 fruit & nut trees. Our property backs onto the Wombat State Forest (so all my bushwalking dreams are fulfilled just over my back fence), on either side are small scale sheep and alpaca farms and the rolling hills to the front are potato lands (which has quickly become my favourite food - baked with coconut oil and rosemary please!).
There is a fairytale like clearing nestled in our mini forest of gorgeously giant gum trees where we'll build our dream house - an eco-tastic, bath in the bedroom, open plan, fire warmed kind of thing. Very exciting. I've done my fair share of travelling, have a background in civil engineering and my favourite thing to do is go on unscripted camping adventures. Also, I love wool. Good wool. And making things with good wool. Useful and beautiful things like beanies and jumpers for camping adventures.
When and why did you start your Instagram feed?
In April last year my handsome blue eyed man and I launched Wool days, because we love good wool that much! I think there are a few non-negotiables when starting a business, one of those being finding your people. We started our Instagram account to help us do just that. Currently it's our only social media channel (unless you count Ravelry as social media - when it's clearly so much more - we're on there too!).
When I looked at your feed while preparing the interview I almost fell off my chair when I saw that you managed to grow your account to 10k followers with only 144 posts.
How did you achieve such a strong growth in such a short time and amount of posts?
I've been asked this question so often, and my immediate and honest response is "I don't know!". People always seem disappointed by my answer, I guess they were hoping for some magic tips on how to make lots of friends online. But my response started bothering even me after a while - why did / do people resonate with our (new, out of nowhere) account?
I think something that played a big role is that I didn't know what I was doing really, so I had no option other than to just be me. Surprisingly, from the very first post, I felt like I'd found what I was looking for - my people. So I always write to my people. Inclusive in a 'let me share my world with you bit by bit and let me share yours' kind of way.
I think it also helped that we have a unique story in such a warm and welcoming community. This allowed me to confidently reach out, once we'd gained some traction, to some of my local wool loving heroes and run a couple of yarn giveaways to help create awareness of our story. I am eternally grateful to those in this space who believed in us right from the start and shared that enthusiasm through their comments and posts.
Also, as some of my friends like to say we 'live in the bush' so don't have good reception on a regular basis. This means I need to be considerate about when I post and because of that I started to feel out when our people are in the space and try and post / hang out there at the same time. So awareness, honesty and probably unique and engaging imagery played a role in our growth. I think.
I was so impressed how you used Instagram in the lead up to launching your yarn brand Wool days. I imagine it must have been quite an exhausting time - getting ready to launch the yarn while at the same time taking care of your Instagram.
Based on that experience, what are your top tips on how to use your Instagram for a product launch?
This business is just the 2 of us, and because we poured everything we had into sourcing and spinning the best possible wool, we had no money to outsource / get help with the business side of things. So we had to make the most of the incredibly limited resources we had at our disposal. The main one being time. This is the same story for most new businesses. And I believe the biggest thing at this stage is organisation. I say this with the benefit of hindsight. Because while we thought we were organised, business babies are incredibly demanding and constantly throwing the unexpected at you!
One thing we did have was our brand imagery. So that, mixed up with regular snaps, meant not always having to think about pausing to capture a moment. And to compliment our brand imagery, I made time to think about how we wanted to introduce Wool days to the world. What were the important bits, the exciting bits, the personal bits? I kept a journal. Mostly to get a brain full of Wool days out of my head before I went to sleep, otherwise I'd be dreaming in Trello boards. And completely unintentionally that's where I got some of my copy from (writing 'copy', aka my thoughts, is something I really struggle with. Finding the right words to match my feelings, then putting those words together in sentences feels like I'm trying to build a gingerbread house with jelly instead of solid, sticky icing - case in point with this sentence!).
When I wasn't worried about 'copy' and was just brain-to-paper with no that's-not-the-right-word filter, I wrote pages and pages of mostly fluff and nonsense, but also some usable things too! And that was helpful, having snippets of open and 'sounds like me' copy to work with.
I think an Instagram launch phase is about sharing the why of the brand and getting to know (& becoming friends with) your people, rather than the what - I don't think Instagram is always the right place for that when you're new. But that's just me!
So to sum up my ramblings - even if things still feel out of control, be as organised as you can be, consider who your people are and talk directly to them, have some brand imagery on hand so you can introduce your business with cohesion, and following from that consider the introduction itself (what's the first, second, third ... interaction you want people to have?) and write things down when you think of them, if you're a jelly-gingerbread- house copy writer like me so when you capture a moment that shares the same feelings you're good to go!
Oh and don't try to 'beat the system'. Honesty, uniqueness and engagement are exactly what those sneaky bots are looking for - and they can spot fakeness at the speed of light.
Now - a few months after the launch - how important is Instagram for your business? Do you get a lot of sales through it or is it mainly a way to get your brand out there in the knitting world?
I think of Instagram as the space I tell all my wool loving friends about my days running Wool days (and the days when I'm not, too!), so it's where all the fun and important and special bits go. And that inevitably leads to conversations and from there interest. For some, this then leads to curiosity about our products, realising that can't go on without having some of our wool in their lives and so a sale.
My focus in this space is connections and conversations, but as I said, it is also our only social media platform, along with Ravelry, at the moments, so it's where the majority of our customers those first few months found us.
And because I’m always curious how other creatives manage their time: How much time do you spend per day on Instagram and how do you structure it so that you don’t go completely bonkers?
Because of the whole bush thing, I can only spend a limited amount of time on Instagram. Not as much as I'd like to have all the conversations I want to have there, but I can see how you could easily loose hours in those little squares, so it's a good things too I guess! On a good day I'd say 30 minutes. And this structure is enforced by the law of the jungle (bush) around here, so I don't have any tips for that sorry!
Are there any tools you’re using to manage your account?
No, but I keep asking the tech fairy to set me up so. So far she has not. Must make time. It's such a good space to engage, but managing an account for your business could be a much more efficient process. And there are definitely some fantastic tools, and what I'm more interested in - systems, out there. Just can't recommend any yet!
And last, but not least - what are your top three tips when it comes to engaging with your Instagram tribe?
1. Be honest
2. Be a lovely host of your little space
3. Use your own (unique) imager
Bonus question: What are your current three favorite IG accounts?
Bonus for the bonus:
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions, Megan! I am most definitely going to start looking at my journal to take copy from there from now on. Make sure you check out the Wool days website (they have some exciting new things coming this year!!) and their beautiful Instagram feed @wooldays.