instagram stories - the ultimate guide for craft entrepreneurs

Instagram Stories: The Ultimate Guide For Craft Entrepreneurs

Instagram stories are now rivalling, if not surpassing, the main image feed in Instagram in terms of the best way to reach your audience. If you're not regularly posting an Instagram story, you are significantly reducing your opportunity to get noticed on Instagram. 

Put simply they are a great opportunity to for your Instagram followers to be reminded of you and your business. 

You should be posting at least one instagram story every day. But as a craft entrepreneur what are the best type of instagram stories to post and when should you post them? All will be revealed below...

Mini Case Study:

Lauren runs That little Outfit who make handmade clothes for children. She noticed a 'massive increase' in the engagement with her Instagram account when she started doing stories on a regular basis. This has led to more traffic to her website and more sales. 

She says "I think people like seeing behind the scenes and putting a face to the brand"

Lauren went on to say her most popular stories have been "ones where people can vote or ask questions, even if totally unrelated to my business. For example there was a huge increase in engagement on my account after I posted a story about a grammar bugbear I have, and asked people to share theirs. It created a buzz and got people talking and sharing, bringing more traffic to my account"

Video Tutorial:


The basics of instagram stories

The main feed in Instagram is all about quality images to give as professional a look as possible for your business. Instagram stories on the other hand is much more informal. It's all about behind the scenes at your business, and showing off you and your team's personalities. 

The key thing is that Instagram stories only last for 24 hours. So think about them as a daily mini-documentary on your business. 

You can use Instagram stories to sell, and to directly promote your products. But remember the 80/20 rule here: 80% of your instagram stories should be non-salesy, and only 20% should be sales/overtly promotional messages.  

Creating an instagram story 

Use the Instagram Smartphone App. From the main feed page create a story by swiping right or hitting the camera symbol in the top left of the screen. If you have not already done so, give permission for Instagram Stories to use your camera and microphone. 

Then there's several options for creating a story that are displayed across the bottom of the screen. 

Normal - Tap the circle button in the centre at the bottom to take a photo. Hold it down if you want to make a video. 

Type - this allows you to simply type a message and use it as a story. It's the easiest, but probably the most boring way to create an Instagram Story.

Live  - Live mode means you are filming and broadcasting on Instagram now. You have the opportunity to include the results in your Instagram Story for 24 hours. This is really handy because your followers will be notified that you're broadcasting live, as well as potentially seeing your video in your stories. So it's a method which is at least twice as likely to get viewed as anything else. 

Boomerang – you film and record a GIF that loops for up to three seconds

Superzoom – Creates a short looping video that zooms in really close on your chosen subject and lets you add a soundtrack to add drama. This is a fun way to make an announcement on stories

Rewind – Create a video that plays in reverse

Hands-Free – takes a 15-second video without you having to keep your finger on the circle button

Filters - On most of the methods above you can hit a smiley face icon to activate all sorts of crazy animations that can, for example turn your face into a rabbit, or get a cartoon cloud to rain on you. 

A story video created using the Boomerang Function

A story video using the timelapse technique 

Decorating your Story

Once you've created your image or video you can accentuate it with several things that are represented by icons across the top of the screen

Text - which allows you type in text to overlay your video or photo. The key thing to remember here is that people normally view stories for a matter of seconds. So keep the number of words to 5 or less.

Draw - which allows you type in text to overlay your video or photo. The key thing to remember here is that people normally view stories for a matter of seconds. So keep the number of words to 5 or less.

Stickers - which gives you the chance to add all sorts of extras onto your story such as your location, the time, the temperature, or more interestingly to conduct a poll or get people to ask you questions - more of which below.

Posting Your Instagram Story 

Once you've created your photo or video you can post it instantly by pressing the Your Story button at the bottom of the screen. Most of the time this is option you'll take.

Alternatively, you can pick 'Next' which sends you to a screen where you have the option to send the post to particular people or add it to your facebook page.

Ideas for Non-Promotional Instagram Stories (should be 80% of your posts)

Share Polls - By adding the poll sticker onto a photo or video you can give your audience the chance to answer a question of your choice by clicking on one of two options of your choice. This is great for involving your audience in decision making in your business (e.g. which colour to use in a new design). 

N.B. the sticker pre-fills the answers as 'yes' and 'no'. But you can edit these by clicking on them. 

Ask Questions - By adding the questions sticker you can set any question you want to your audience and get them to type an answer. This is great for getting feedback on your products. Alternatively you can use this feature to do Q+A sessions through stories. So if your followers like to learn about the techniques you use you can give them an opportunity to ask questions about it and then answer those questions in a further story. 

This should also an opportunity to ask things that aren't directly to do with your brand, but are things that you think your audience might be interested in. For example think about the hobbies that your ideal client would have and ask a question about that. 

Tour Of Your Workspace - Part of turning a follower into a fan is letting them into your world. An obvious way to do this is to show off where you work. If you've got a workshop or studio, ideally this would be in video form so you can give people an authentic view into who you are and how you work.   

Share Your Location - If you're in an interesting place that you think your followers would enjoy seeing for themselves or finding out more about, take a photo or video and use the location sticker to 'tag' your location. If you give your followers a sense of your environment and the places you visit they will become more interested in you and more inclined to buy from you.

Share Instagram Live Videos - 'Going live' can be really good at an event, or for recording your thoughts on something interesting that's happening right now

Taking a Break - If you know you're going to be off Instagram for a while, it can be nice to let your followers know via an Instagram story.

Show an image from your personal life - If you are a one-man band or have the same partner in your personal life as in your professional life, you may want to share the odd image from your personal life. It's great for your followers to make a connection to the person behind the brand. However - make sure it's something that aligns with your brand values. So if you make products with an ethical slant, maybe don't post a picture of your latest McDonalds binge or gas-guzzling car! 

Behind The Scenes Of Making Your Products - this should be a staple of your stories. Take photos or videos whilst you are creating your products and regularly upload them to stories. Your followers will be fascinated to see the creative process in action. A great way to do this is via a timelapse video. 

Documenting Milestones - whether it's making your first online sale, reaching 1000 instagram followers, or celebrating your first year as a business, make sure you document and celebrate your business landmarks. Your followers will want to celebrate with you and these 'growth signals' will act as positive reinforcements that you are a brand to trust and buy from.  

Great Feedback - If you ever get a positive review screenshot it or take a photo of it and use it as a story - possibly using the drawing feature to highlight the particularly positive bits! 

Shout Out to Another User - If you know of other accounts that you think your followers would like to know about then it's a good idea to mention them via stories. Two ways to do this are by using the text function and just writing '@' followed by their account name (along with your message of course) or you can screenshot their profile or an image from their website and use the 'mention' sticker to tag the account you want to promote. 

Unboxing Your Products - If you create beautiful packaging for your products then why not show off how your product will arrive and be presented in an 'unboxing video'. This is a great way of showing that you're a real brand that cares about its customers.

Posting/Mailing Your Products - Showing an image of you packaging up or delivering your products helps to give a sense that you are a trustworthy company that is going to deliver what you promise. 

Using the Poll sticker to get your followers involved in decisions and for feedback

Using the questions sticker to ask your audience a question 

Using the text function on stories to announce you're taking a break

A simple video showing a work in progress

Using the the pen, text and stickers functions to decorate a screengrab announcing a milestone. 

A photo from personal life marked up with the text function 

A photo marked up with text showing that orders are being delivered. 

A poll that doesn't immediately relate to the user's brand, but will engage their followers as it's something they're interested in. 

A shoutout to another user 

Ideas for Promotional Instagram Stories (should be 20% of your posts)

Promote A Product - showcase your latest product and let your followers know how they can find it. An good way to do that is to have a a mention sticker on the post featuring your own account name and write 'link in bio' on the story, and finally change the link in your bio to point to the product on your website. 

Promote A Piece of Content - tell people about your latest blog or video and where they can find that. If you've uploaded any videos to IGTV you can add a link directly from stories

Promote A Giveaway Or Contest - If you're running a competition in your feed make sure you promote it via stories and tell people where to find it 

A simple photo marked up with the text function to highlight a new product NB - this post would have been better if they'd included a mention sticker with their own account name to make it obvious where to see more

Using the the pen, text and stickers functions to decorate a photo announcing a contest. 

A photo of a new blog post marked up with text, informing the viewer where they can read it. 

Discover how one craft entrepreneur followed some simple instructions & transformed her business.