This year has brought a lot of changes. The biggest one is that the teaching industry is down. Not just a little bit down. Way down. I still love to teach. I still offer classes and will always love to teach. But the opportunities are not as prevalent.
In the wake of the vacuum, I’ve been home more. There’s a cute local store called Threadbenders, in Michigan City, IN that I’m very fond of. I’ve started doing their social media campaign.
Why social media? When was the last thing you looked up in the phone book? It is so much easier to go online and find what you need to know now. I think my last phone book landed in the bushes, but that doesn’t matter because I don’t use one any more.
But there’ s a whole other level of this. This is how it works.
My god daughter called me up and said, “I need your help on a sewing project.” I said, “What are you looking at?” She said, “Pull up my Pinterest page.” Out popped a great project for fairy wings. We both clicked on to the picture to find ourselves at the how-to blog that had a list of instructions. Then we clicked the supply list for the stabilizer they had used it took us to the web page of a store that carried the stabilizer that really made that project work. The rest was a talk about logistics and color. Three clicks on the Internet had given us all the information we really needed. She ordered her fabric. I could talk her through and she was off to sew.
Let’s wind back ten years ago. Ten years ago, we would have gotten together over a pot of tea, looked up a book that had some projects like that, gone to the store to see if there was a stabilizer and some fabric that might have worked. Maybe gone to three other stores if we didn’t find what we needed. Not only is that in slow steps over several days. It’s a system that was hit or miss by definition. And it’s impossible at a distance. I wonder how we got anything done.
We know that the younger generations depend heavily on the internet. Older sewers may have their doubts and fears. But these kids are right. The truth is that the internet advantage is massive. It gives us global and endless instant access to sources, experts. ideas, and information.
So the information we would have searched days or months for, is right there, on the screen within the time it takes to type the question. No searching for days. No need for a blind-end road trip to find what you need. No wonder people under thirty don’t really keep phone books or directories.
What does that mean to those of us who are quilters looking for ideas, projects, fabrics, and tools and communities? That there is a much easier way to look. And it’s so much easier that it’s really worth the trouble to learn how.
What does that mean to those who serve quilters? The quilters are looking for easiest ways to find you. If you want them to join you, you must be there to be found. They may stumble across your store or guild in their travels. But they’ll look for you first on the internet. If you’re not there, they’ll find someone who is.
How many stores have time to do this? If you’re running a store, your time is taken up running the store. Most stores say they will, set it up, and fall down. It’s just too much to do. It helps to have someone who’s able to set up up and keep it rolling who knows what quilters do, what they need, what they want, and what entertains them.
It’s been a hoot. Peg Cullen West owns the store and is and great quilt person. She’s staffed her store with very expert and passionate quilters. She’s opened her doors to quilters of all kinds and hosts the Michana Modern Quilt Guild. She has a long arm available either to rent or to have her quilt for you. And she has a secret weapon.: Henry.
I’ve loved photoshopping this store and branding it in unforgettable ways. They now have an integrated Pinterest, Facebook, and Blog and what I’m really doing is simply showing them off. I write their blog, find entertaining projects and bits of humor and show them as a great shop and great quilting community which they are.
One media pathway isn’t really enough. You don’t want them to find you once. You want them to find you everywhere they look. You want to build not only name recognition, but a presence they remember. The social media world divides into several kinds of sites that provide different kinds of exposure. No one path will attract everyone. But a skillful weaving of those paths can create an excellent way to you or to the person or store that can help you. Being out there in a brick and mortar store provides a small local presence. Being on the internet in a skillful blending of media puts you at everyone’s fingertips. It serves individuals, groups and stores alike, in ways can be fashioned to work for your circumstances to bring you to the people you need, and the people who need you.
So I’m looking for 3 to 4 more store to do this for. I can’t really do it for more than that. I intend to be choosy, because you really need to care about a store to do it well.
I’m still delighted to come teach. But I’m changing as the world changes, and I’m really delighting in supporting and growing a small local business I believe in.
There’s a series of articles I’ve written on social media at Quilting Hub. Quilting Hub is a media information center that’s wonderfully expansive and community responsive. It’s a great place to find all things quilty.
Art is not always your art. Sometimes it’s artfully living. Sometimes it’s showcasing someone else’s artful living. It’s all a creative effort towards joy.
And I’m looking for a few good stores. If you have, or know of a small store that might be interested, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org