Social media for small business: Tips from a successful Nelson entrepreneur

Kerry Pagdin of Wayward Citizen gives us the inside scoop on social media promotion

Kerry Pagdin holding up one of her feather prints

Kerry Pagdin uses social media to share her art with the world. — Photo courtesy Kerry Pagdin

Kerry Pagdin is the artist behind Wayward Citizen, an impressive printmaking brand in Nelson, B.C., creating captivating designs based on a natural aesthetic. Pagdin has a knack for social media, with her company’s Instagram account garnering more than 80,000 followers. In fact, this is the primary means she uses to promote her business (along with her shop on Etsy).

We asked Pagdin to share some of the secrets to her success:

- Photo courtesy Wayward Citizen

How do you use social media to get the word out about your business?

I use Instagram to share all aspects of my printmaking practise, from photos of my home studio to process images, to shots of completed work framed and staged so that potential buyers can envision what my work will look like in their homes. I find that when people understand the time, effort and process that goes into creating one of my prints, they have a stronger appreciation for the work.

Where do you find inspiration for new posts?

When it comes to social media, I am not a planner. For me, the whole process is very intuitive and spontaneous. I post what I feel like sharing on any given day.

Sometimes that means quickly snapping photos before I head out the door to do farm chores, and sometimes it means not posting anything at all. If I’m feeling chatty, I roll with it, and if I’m not, I don’t.

Every year I participate in #MarchmeettheMaker, which offers daily prompts. I find it inspiring and thought provoking, and it often encourages me to consider content that I might not have arrived at on my own. Of course, being the spontaneous social media person that I am, I always dive into March Meet the Maker wildly unprepared. This approach might not work for everyone, but I find that it keeps my responses fresh and genuine. Social media has a tendency toward highly curated content, and sometimes I enjoy pulling back the curtain. We are real people behind these accounts and small businesses after all.

- Photo courtesy Wayward Citizen

How has a large social media following helped with sales?

My Instagram account is the only way that I share and promote my work. I don’t pay for advertising on Instagram, or anywhere else. I use the platform to direct people to my Etsy shop, and to inform people about upcoming markets or workshops. While a large following isn’t guaranteed to convert to sales, my business wouldn’t be where it is without Instagram. I’m very grateful for the support and exposure I receive through this platform.

What platforms do you find most useful as an entrepreneur?

I use Instagram and Etsy exclusively to promote and sell my linocut prints. While I may diversify, for the time being these two platforms are all that I want to manage, and they work very well for me.

- Photo courtesy Wayward Citizen

Did you have to overcome any challenges or a learning curve when it came to social media promotion?

When I started my Instagram feed in May of 2018, I had no idea what I was doing; the learning curve was steep. I hadn’t given any thought to the aesthetic I wanted to create, how to brand myself, or what exactly I wanted to post. I did know that I wanted to share my art, but the rest was trial and error. My first posts were poorly lit photographs of random images; it took time, experimenting and practise to develop my personal style, and to become a better photographer.

I was a reluctant social media adopter. The biggest challenge I faced was making the initial leap and putting my work out there. I am glad that I did. Apart from being a space to share my art with a global audience, Instagram has proved rewarding in ways that I did not anticipate. There is a wonderful printmaking community on Instagram; we support one another, share one another’s work, and many of us have become dear friends. Promoting my business and selling work is certainly one of my objectives on Instagram, but being part of a positive and supportive community has made this platform far more meaningful and enriching.  

Danielle Cameron

Danielle Cameron is a writer and web editor for several publications and has been practising as a Certified Herbal Practitioner since 2005. View all of Danielle Cameron’s articles

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