If you are a new designer and entrepreneur and have been asking yourself how to get your talents seen in the crafting industry, you have come to the perfect resource! This is an article I have been wanting to write for the last six years and Jessica Carey has given me the opportunity to use her blog to teach this beautiful community how to get started! If you are new here, my name is Jen Evans and I am the chief operating officer of The Hook Nook. I assist not only Jessica in the everyday tasks behind the scenes at The Hook Nook, but I also coordinate all the Makers that are featured in The Hook Nook Life community. In the last 3 years I have worked with over 150 makers for The Hook Nook. If you have been featured here on the blog, I have had the pleasure to work with you and I feel extremely blessed to know you. During the day, I work as a marketing specialist, social media manager, educational assistant, and customer service support. I have the amazing job of working for one of the most prominent crafting manufacturing companies in the United States. It was exciting to be a part of the process that made The Hook Nook one of the 30 brands that American Crafts designs products for.
In the last 15 years working in the craft industry, I have had the tremendous opportunity to be an independent contractor for several craft manufacturers and retail stores as a designer and influencer. When starting out, I wish there was someone that was able to guide and teach me how to make a way as a designer in this industry. The truth is, back then, artists were not willing to share their secrets with anyone because that meant they had an edge. With social media as it is today - algorithms and all, everyone is posting and sharing and everyone is equally struggling to work toward growing their businesses. I believe that the crafting industry has suffered because we haven't united together, lifted each other up, and helped each other grow our businesses as a community.
In this new series of monthly blog posts, I will be sharing my knowledge with you about how you can grow your business as an independent contractor working specifically with manufactures or retailers. To start this series out I will be answering my most asked questions - and sharing some secrets that other influencers won't want you to know!
Q: I want to work with a company, how do I go about doing that?
A: Here are 3 ways an artist can go about connecting with a retailer or manufacturer
- Start using that company's product. If you reach out to a company saying you want to collaborate and you haven't ever used their products on social media, how can the company tell if you are devoted to their brand and mission? Work with companies you are proud of and that you would want to use. Start sharing your projects and tagging the company so that they can see you are legit.
- Do your research and find out who is in charge of their social feeds. Go to their website and see if there are opportunities already listed for ways to collaborate. Sometimes design team calls are posted and this is a great time to enter a call to work with a company! The Hook Nook's Maker Call is coming up very soon, so stay tuned in!
- Email the company. Don't be that person that DM's a company's marketing assistant at their personal Facebook account at 3am PST. Ha! Professionalism stands out.
Q: What will the company ask me first?
A: Before a company considers working with an artist, they will want to see your media kit
Just like if you were to apply for a job, those that come prepared with a resume will be considered. A media kit is an influencer's resume. A media kit needs to have the following: Your brand name, your mission statement, what you specialize in, and your social media stats. Social media stats might be very important to some companies but I know a lot of companies that also look at other aspects. However, if you only have 50 followers on Instagram, and they are all your friends, I recommend working on growing that platform first before sending your kit out to begin collaborations.
If you are not techy and not sure how to create a media kit from scratch, there are templates out there that you can purchase. Here are some great non-affiliated resources. Make sure that your media kit is on brand and is unique to who you are as a designer. What makes you stand out from the crowd? If you have not branded yourself, make sure you work on that before starting your media kit!
Know how to use Photoshop?
Not Techy? Try Canva
Q: What will the company ask me next?
A: The company will want to see your rate sheet
A company will look at your rates and see if they are comparable to your media kit. I get asked a lot, "How much should I charge?" I can't tell you how much you should be charging because each artist depending on their craft, their social media reach, and cost of living is going to be different. However, I can tell you that the dollar amount should be realistic. The company you could be trying to collaborate with may not have a large marketing budget (the crafting industry is not the fashion industry, ha!) When you make your rates consider the following.
- How much do you want to charge an hour? Do you want to earn minimum wage, or more than that? Your rates should reflect that.
- What are your outside costs? Do you have to pay for a photographer? Videographer? Daycare? Transportation to get to a photo shoot?
- Taxes. As an independent contractor you have to pay your own taxes. Make sure that when you finalize your rates that you consider this so taxes will not eat into your profit.
Take a look at the resource links above for rate sheet templates as well! You will want the rate sheet to match your media kit.
Then, most importantly, look at that list and ask yourself if you think that amount is realistic? I have had the opportunity to work as an influencer and work behind the scenes for companies and hire designers. It is shocking at some of the rates that I am sent for a blog post and social media work. The biggest advice I can give you is what is more important when you are first starting out a designer? Do you want to work with the company because you are passionate about their product? Does the company respect you as a designer and your time as a creator? Is this an opportunity that could open other doors for you and your business?
I hope that all of these questions get you thinking about making the first step towards working as a designer in this amazing industry! Jessica and I believe in building this community up. We believe helping you and your business grow will just make this industry stronger. Anne Frank in, The Diary of a Young Girl, shared her inspirational story and said, "The weak fall, but the strong will remain and never go under!" At The Hook Nook, we believe we are strong when we work together.
Join me the last day of every month as I continue this series. However, in February I will have a special post as I share a Yarn Passport hack! I will be sharing with you how to add more pages to your Yarn Passport. You won't want to miss it!