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NEWS FROM SUNNY LONDON

THE THORTFUL TIMES

How to Build a Following on Instagram

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Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media platforms right now, and the good news is that visual content can really help you to build your brand! Not only this, but you’ll also be able to connect with your followers (and potential customers!). We’ve asked one of our talented creators Charly Clements for some tips on how to gain followers, after her latest Instagram account @reallifelines grew from zero to 25k followers in just a few months. Read her simple, practical steps to becoming a pro below:

Post Regularly

Posting frequently will help you become a notable voice amongst the white noise, as people are more likely to see your posts. Charly advises posting every day if you can: ‘consistency is key when trying to build a strong following on Instagram. People will become very familiar with your work and it will lower the risk of your followers forgetting why they followed you in the first place.’

 

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Find your Niche

It’s best to establish a general theme which reflects your brand, and make sure that all of your posts reflect this. ‘Find a niche and stick with it,’ says Charly. ‘Experimenting with different content can confuse your audience, so once you’ve found your niche try hard to build on that.‘ This might be a running visual theme, or perhaps more of a personality which is put across through your posts, but either way it needs to be built around a general theme. If your brand is doing well without including lifestyle shots or quotes then don’t get distracted with them! 

Offer Insights

Your Instagram is the perfect place to give followers little insights into the day-to-day of your work. This can really help to pique their interest, and make your brand relatable. Why not get a shot of your (relatively tidy!) workspace, or a design in progress? Just make sure the posts are relevant, interesting and fit with your brand’s personality. If you’re keen to show a less-manicured side to your brand then Instagram Stories are made for you: aligning themselves with the likes of Snapchat, Instagram have created this tool for you to give real, relatable insights into your world, and Instagram often sends users notifications to encourage them to see the videos before they’re gone!

Engagement is key

Engage with your audience – whether that’s through the content of your posts or actively finding people in your niche and commenting on their photos,‘ Charly says. Think about who your posts appeal to, and once you’ve established your target audience then think about what more you can do to make your posts relevant to them. As Charly explains, this might mean creating a post to specifically pique their interest, replying to their comments and feedback, or even finding key followers and commenting on their posts where relevant. ‘Posting content that your audience can relate to will drastically improve the engagement on your posts as well as help build a community.

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Hashtags Increase Views

Hashtags are often used as a fun way to express your personality within a post, but they can actually be used to expose your post to more users. Adding popular hashtags means that people who are looking for this content can easily find your posts, so they’re more likely to discover you this way. Ones such as #makersgonnamake, #independentdesigner and #illustratorsoninstagram are regularly searched by users, so by tagging your posts with these you’ll be putting them in front of a captive audience.

Link to your profile

Charly advises using your bio to link out to your website or a different platform, so that it’s easy for followers to find out more about you and your brand: ‘Instagram is a great way to showcase your work/brand, but don’t put all your eggs in one basket!‘ If you’re looking to use your account to drive sales then regularly linking out to your thortful profile or featuring it in your bio is a great way to make sure potential customers can find you!

Find Charly’s own range of cards here, her Real Life Lines range here, and find her on Instagram here and here.

COMING SOON: Sock Cards!

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We’ve been looking at ways we can give customers an extra reason to buy your thortful cards, and we’ve come up with a quirky little addition: Sock cards! And what better time to launch than Father’s Day?

This will be available as an add-on for all of our cards, giving Father’s Day customers the option to add a lovely Dad-style pair of socks to their card, and send their dad some love with something a little bit different!

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Your designs will still be featured on the front of the card, but it will take on a box-shape format to hold the socks safely inside. Your name will be printed on the spine of the card instead of on the back, and any message that the customer chooses to add will be printed on the inside left of the card box.

We’re really looking forward to setting ourselves apart from the competition this Father’s Day, and with your unique designs, and a clever add-on such as our sock cards, we’ll be giving customers all the more reason to shop with us. And of course, more customers for thortful means more royalties for you guys  🙂

 

Please note: photos are of prototype product. Final product is subject to change – we just wanted to give you an insider insight into what’s coming!

How to: Make Sales Outside of the Big Occasions!

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We all know that having designs for the big occasions is the most hard-and-fast way to ensure that you maximise your sales figures overall, but what about those times when there isn’t a big occasion on the horizon?

First of all it’s best to ensure that you’ve got at least one design for all of the non-seasonal occasion categories – people have babies and get sick all year round!

Next, make sure your Birthday cards are up to scratch. Birthdays are the one occasion which nearly everyone buys for at some point each year, even if it’s only for their nearest and dearest! Making sure your cards are on point for this occasion is key, as this will help to maintain your sales across the quieter periods.

Get sorted for the next big occasion, even if it’s still a way off. You should aim to have your cards uploaded around 2 months prior to an occasion date (earlier for Christmas!). Getting them up early means you’ll make more sales in that initial period before the collection grows, and have a better chance of allowing your designs to gain popularity.

Think about buying seasons for occasions such as Wedding and Anniversary. Whilst cards for these occasions are bought all year round, there is a marked increase in demand from May – October every year, as the summer months bring more weddings (and by default, more anniversaries!). Make sure you’re prepared well in advance by getting your designs uploaded by April at the latest, adding to your collection or refreshing some old designs by using the ‘Update’ button to change a small element on the artwork.

Another thing to try, particularly with Birthday designs, is tapping into trends in order to increase sales by targeting specific customers. By using your designs to play upon a popular theme (think Game Of Thrones, Star Wars or Gin), you’re more likely to catch a customer’s eye, and this will give your perennial designs more chance of being chosen and help to boost those sales. In addition, if you’ve had a good seller for a seasonal occasion, is there a way you could adapt this design or concept for a Birthday or Love card? This can be a great way to create cards around themes which you know customers are already interested in.

Finally, you can also use a slight lull in sales to spring clean your profile, to push out the older designs which don’t sell, and ensure you’re ready for the next occasion. This is the perfect time to make any changes, as you’ll be able to assess your profile with the experience of the previous occasion, and get it all prepped and primed in time for the next! Use this handy guide to find out our top tips for doing this.

 

 

Blog for us!

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Are you a budding blogger? Have you got some useful tips for your fellow creators?

We want to feature more great content on our blog, for you and now BY you too! We’re putting a call out for guest blog articles to feature, so if you’ve got an idea which you think is relevant for your fellow creators then get in touch now!

So what’s in it for you? Well, the chance to have your voice heard amongst the community for starters, and help your peers learn from your own experience. There’s also the opportunity to have your writing published on an independent website, which is great for your portfolio! In addition, we’ll link through to your cards, so it will likely generate extra hits for your profile too 🙂

Just email us at blogs@thortful.com, and when contacting us just let us know what you want to write about, or send through a sample of your piece. All entries will be considered, but those which are most relevant and engaging are more likely to be chosen for a feature!

We can’t wait to hear all of your great ideas!

 

 

How to get a press feature for your cards

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If you’re a creative type then you’ll know the power that comes with having people notice your work. Press features are a great way to get your designs in front of customers who are pre-disposed to like them and be keen to buy, as well as making your brand look great and spreading the word about your thortful designs! Here we’ve asked our resident PR expert Louise Rowlands to come up with her top tips on securing some coverage:

Choose wisely

Identify which local press titles would suit your card designs. Who is your target market? What do they read? How are your cards perfect for them? Once you’ve worked this out, find out who you need to be speaking to and put your designs in front of the right people! Who writes/sources stories or features at your key titles? It’s likely to be a reporter if it’s a news story or an editorial or features assistant if it’s a product feature. Do your research and find out what they’re looking for, and how you can connect with this. Work out where you’re most likely to get a feature too (as a story, or a product feature in the ‘shopping’ pages?) and how you can target your cards towards this.

How are your cards current?

How does your card design (or range) relate to the current zeitgeist? Is it for an upcoming occasion? Does it tap into what is on-trend? Journalists want to write about things which are relevant for their audience!

What’s your angle?

The first thing to ask yourself is what makes your design(s) (or you!) stand out, what makes it/them different from all of the other cards out there? Journalists are looking for a hook, so not just a product but a story behind it too. What inspired your design(s)? How have you made your brand unique or successful, how have you changed your own life or that of others? Being a creative person with some good card designs is simply not enough of an angle to be feature-worthy!

Have a presence

Having a thortful profile is not enough – you need to be easy to find across social media, and ideally have a website where you express some personality, and make your brand 3D. Journalists want to be able to search for you and find a real, authentic person or brand! Make sure you have your ‘story’ or USP featured somewhere, and incorporate a basic reference in your bio line if possible. This will not only ensure that your brand has a clear message, but also help to pique people’s interest when they read about you on your profile or the back of your cards!

Twitter is key

Twitter is a great tool for this task! Find out what journo’s are after by searching #journorequest, follow key journalists and publications you’re interested in and engage with them where appropriate to build a relationship. If you see an opportunity, tweet them!

Pitching to the journalist

Before you call or email a journalist it’s a great idea to create a 200 word pitch. Journalists are very busy and don’t have much time so make your title attention grabbing, then breakdown the story and angle for the journalist, and always finish an email with clear contact details. Journalists hate big picture files cluttering up their inboxes too, so it’s a good idea to include any cards or designs in a Dropbox link.

If it’s a struggle to get your cards featured directly, think about other options too: why not try offering a couple of your designs for photoshoot props – even if it’s only in the background you can still get a credit and/or link to your profile. And if you’re lucky enough to get a press feature? Make sure to let us know too, so that we can share where possible.

Louise Rowlands is an independent PR consultant: expert on all things PR, Social and Marketing. Find her on Twitter @Loulou300

Mother’s Day Sharing images

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We’re back with some handy sharing images for you to drop your card designs into and share away! Right-click or ctrl + click to download them, then use the programme of your choice to slot your own designs in. Make sure to link through to your profile when you share!

See below for ideas on how to caption them:

Make sure your mum knows how much you love her with one of my Mother’s Day designs from @thortful!

Give Mum a token of your appreciation with my card from @thortful 

Ralph Waldo Emerson got it right when he said that ‘men are what their mothers made them’! Show Mum some love with my card from @thortful

Mother’s Day is coming soon! Make sure Mum isn’t disappointed: get this design @thortful

They say home is where your Mum is! Remember to send her a card this Mother’s Day: get this one from my @thortful profile

 

Just right-click or cmd + click to save!

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Your Yearly Upload Schedule

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Just right-click or cmd + click to save!

 

Get organised and get ahead!

We’ve put together a handy little calendar to keep you on track. Check when you need to be uploading your occasion designs in order to stay ahead of the crowd, and make sure that your cards are right there in front of customers when they start searching.

We’ve given you the key dates to start uploading for each of the main seasonal occasions and the cut-off for having them ready to go.

And pssst…! Those early uploads are MUCH more likely to get chosen for a press feature too 🙂

 

COMING SOON: Chocolate Cards!

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We’ve got a delicious new addition for your thortful cards on the way! Soon, customers will be able to add a premium 100g bar of chocolate from luxury choccy brand Chocolate and Love to their card, for those times when they want to add a little extra love to their card.

Organic and fairly traded, we’re going to be offering a variety of flavours to begin with: Mint, Orange and the original tasty Panama.

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Your designs will be formatted in a similar way to the Keepsake Cards, with a 5mm strip of your design printed onto the spine of the card, and any message printed on the left-hand side of the inside.

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We hope this will give thortful customers all the more reason to buy your cards, setting us apart from other retailers and adding to the thortful ethos without taking away from your great designs. All in all it will mean more sales for you, and more of those precious royalties! 🙂

 

 

Don’t bin them! 10 inventive ways to upcycle this year’s Christmas cards.

With the end of the festive season upon us, it’s time for the decorations to come down & be packed away for another year. But what do you do with all the Christmas cards that have been lovingly sent to you? Here at thortful we don’t want to see them in a landfill, so we’ve come up with our top ten tips for recycling them:

1. Gift tags – One of the best tricks of the trade: simply cut your old cards into a shape of your choice, grab a hole punch and add some string or ribbon!|

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2. Postcards – Use the card front as a postcard to send to your loved ones next year (just be sure it’s not going back to the same person!)

3. Magnets – Get the kids involved! You can cut your cards into small shapes and use stick-on magnets to create the perfect fridge decorations for next Christmas.

4. Bookmarks – One of the simplest and quickest transformations for your old cards: cut a long strip and punch a hole in one end to add a bookmark tassle. You might want to include a homemade bookmark with any books you give away next Christmas to add a more personal touch to your gift!

5. Coasters – Grab a pair of scissors and some laminate film to create your Christmas coasters. You can even stick two together to give your coasters a double-sided twist!

6. Decorations – Pretty cut-outs, a hole-punch, and some string or ribbon is all you need to make beautiful hanging decorations for the tree next year!

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7. Christmas planner – The front of your Christmas card will make the perfect cover for next year’s planner. All you need is a few sheets of paper, a hole punch, and some ribbon to secure together at the top. Once complete, you’ll be able to fill the pages with your Christmas shopping and to-do lists!

8. Place cards – The perfect way to set the table for next year’s Christmas dinner.

9. Bunting – Cut your cards into triangles and fold each top over a piece of string or ribbon, securing with glue. By hanging this in the house, you’ll be setting the perfect scene for the festive season.

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10. Wreath – With a little bit of patience and artistic flair, you can create your very own wreath to decorate the interior of your home. After cutting your cards and securing in a circular shape with glue, simply punch a hole and add some ribbon to hang on your doors!