Ignite Your Image with Instagram

by Kelly Rand

Courtesy of Handmade Business

Vanessa Lauria creates handwoven accessories and scarves under the name Pidge Pidge. She's been in business for ten years and said, "My goal is to make beautiful one-of-a-kind art that you can wear."

Lauria's Instagram (@hellopidgepidge) is a carefully curated exploration of her weavings, inspiration, dye experiments, and anything fiber related. Each image is beautiful, the lighting is just so, and her scarves look high-end, yet inviting. Her feed is an accurate depiction of her design aesthetic with product shots highlighting that these works of art are for sale. All of Lauria's photographs deliberately refer to her hand-weaving business--but it didn't start out that way.

Why Instagram is ideal for handmade

A swarm of unmounted "Itsy Insects" by Horrible Adorables keep an eye on the studio.

Instagram is a social media app (application) that allows users the ability to easily share photographs. It's become the go-to app for those seeking a visual way to share their lives and businesses. In fact, it's the visual nature of Instagram that attracts many of its 400 million users who share over 80 million photos each and every day on the app.

Because of the visual nature of the app, artists and makers are naturally drawn to the platform. Instagram is used in many different ways, but it has become an important social media tool for artists and crafters as a way to help build their brand, raise their profile, and make sales.

When Lauria started using Instagram, her feed was a way to share images with her friends--not potential customers. She'd see a beautiful color in a jacket or reflected in nature and snap and share the photograph on her feed. Lauria soon realized there was a larger opportunity on the platform, and so she became more discriminating in what she posted to the app.

"I quickly found I could connect with other people, especially other weavers, when I focused more on the business aspect of my photography," she said.

So, Lauria elected to post fewer images of her cat and of her breakfast. "[I started] focusing more on behind-the-scenes [shots] at my loom or where I was getting my inspiration [from]," she said. "For example, if I was going to show a beautiful sunset, I was also going to show a photo of a scarf I made that was inspired by the colors of that sunset."

Consistency builds recognition

Jordan Elise Perme creates soft sculptures of self-described "whimsical creatures," along with her husband, Chris Lees, as Horrible Adorables. Think of faux-taxidermy of fantastical, made-up animals that hang on a wall or sit on a shelf. They're brightly colored, often with horns, and are covered in wool felt scales.

Perme followed a similar trajectory with her Instagram account (@horrible_adorables), starting out with a private account and only sharing photographs with friends. Then one day, she decided to make it a public account and make it the face of Horrible Adorables. "I was shocked to see how fast it grew. Within the first week, I had half as many followers as I had on Facebook, and I realized it was a really special thing," she said.

In the beginning, the Horrible Adorables account also had too many cat photos with too many filters. Today, it's a more consciously curated feed. It's bright, vivid, and gives a wonderful look at the "behind-the-scenes" of what it takes to make a Horrible Adorable. "I want everything to be very colorful and vibrant and happy," Perme said. "I want every photo to have this consistent thread going through it."
Jordan Elise Perme and Chris Lees of Horrible Adorables

Jordan Elise Perme and Chris Lees of Horrible Adorables.

Put your best foot forward--always

Creating a more uniform and curated feed has helped both Lauria and Perme raise their profiles. They already had a clear aesthetic to their respective work, but they realized Instagram was a tool to use to increase their brand and showcase their strong aesthetic and stellar work on a professional level.

Lauria explained this by saying she only wants to show her most professional self, and she put it in terms of selling at a craft fair. "Every conversation I'm going to have with someone at a craft show is going to be related to my work, knowing that the impression they're getting of me and my business is what I'm going to show them. So I'm not going to show them anything that is less than professional or what they're not interested in," she said.

That mentality is what keeps Lauria's feed full of gorgeous photographs of her weaving and artistic inspiration--and to keep up these appearances she spends a lot of time crafting the look and feel of her best professional self.

Be willing to invest your time

"I put a lot of time into curating my photos," she explained. Not only does Lauria carefully choose which photos to post, but she also photographs her images, carefully edits them, and takes her time writing and thinking about her photo captions. "I don't want to inundate anyone with overly sales-y 'Buy this! Buy this!' captions," she said. She also uses an app called Later to keep track of her photos and captions, and she uses analytics software to figure out the most appropriate times to post her photos.

Lauria also rigorously balances the content of her images, rotating between categories such as her dye experiments, knitting or fibers, or product shots making sure she doesn't post five of the same category in a row. It's a lot of work to make Pidge Pidge look professional and well-branded.

Perme also puts in a lot of time and effort into her photographs for Instagram. She takes photos with her digital camera instead of her phone, uploads images, edits them in image-editing software, and then uploads them to Instagram. She rarely uses Instagram filters saying, "I typically don't use the filters anymore because I have a very strong look that I want for my page." The whole process can take about 30 minutes to post one photo, and she strives to post at least one photo per day.

Putting in so much time and effort into the platform is hard work, and both artists have a goal of gaining more followers. "The larger the audience I have and the more connections I make, the more opportunities I have for sales," Lauria explained. Having a consistent Instagram feed with carefully chosen photographs, captions, and hashtags have been crucial in fulfilling this goal.

Jordan Perme works to choose a color palette for a

Jordan Perme works to choose a color palette for a "Shrewdipede."

Work in progress in the Horrible Adorables studio

Work in progress in the Horrible Adorables studio.


Both Lauria and Perme use hashtags, a way to tag photos with common words other users might use and search for, in the Instagram app. Each artist encourages their followers to post under their respective personal hashtag. For Lauria, its #pidgepidgeinthewild and for Perme, it's #horribleadorables. They use these specific hashtags as a way to invite community participation and to help elevate their brand.

Aside from making sales from her Instagram posts, Lauria says she's found a community there. "When you are an artist, I feel like you have to share with the world. [Instagram] gives you a venue where you can share with people in Australia. You get instant feedback. You can start a dialogue or conversation over the comments with people getting enthused about weaving, fiber, and color," she said. "It's really rewarding being able to connect with people."

Perme agrees, saying, "The artist community is fantastic and everyone is super supportive. I've made a lot of friends off of it, which I didn't know would be possible."