Husband-and-wife team Melissa Tolar and Jonathan Ballak make planters, pottery and quilts by hand in their small Los Angeles workshop, A Question of Eagles. They hand-carve every patterned planter—the process that goes into each object is incredibly intricate. It’s amazing that they have time for Instagram at all, but they’ve used limited hours and resources to build one of the most beautiful feeds we know. So, we asked them…when you’ve got less than an hour each day for social media, how do you make the most of it?

west elm - How to Make Great Social Media with Limited Time & Money

Limit Your Time Spent on Social Media

Don’t spend more than one hour on social media each day! It’s easy to get swept away looking at beautiful, inspiring feeds, but with so much to do running a small business, we really try to limit our time on Instagram. We check it in the morning (when we reply to comments from the day before) and late afternoon, when we usually post.

Take Great Photos

Sharing images of the work is our main way to let people know what we’re doing, so Instagram has been our go-to social media channel. The most important thing to focus on is excellent photography. No matter what social media channel you use now, or in the future, great photography will make your feed stand out.

Prioritize Consistency & Cohesion Over Likes

We don’t get hung up on likes, and try to create a cohesive feed that reflects who we are as a brand. It’s very important for someone to be able to glance at our feed for just a second and be able to get a sense of our style and what we make. We’ve made so many great contacts through Instagram, and we’d like to think it’s because we strive to have a clean, professional-looking feed.

Engage With Your Email List

We’ve been working on developing our email list, and this year we’re really going to focus on that effort. With social media always changing, it’s important to have a way to reach people that’s under your control. By developing an interesting monthly newsletter, we can continue to connect with people outside of social media.

Share The Story Of Your Craft With Video

Video has been amazing for showing our process! We hand-make all of our hand-carved planters in the studio. Sharing a behind-the-scenes glimpse of that process highlights the craftsmanship that goes into each piece. Sometimes a still image just can’t capture the same type of storytelling. We’ll definitely be sharing more videos this year. 

Accept That The Only Thing Constant Is Change

Nothing is guaranteed in social media. For example, Instagram just changed the way images are displaying in their feed. For small businesses, it can be easy to get lost among accounts with many more followers and likes. Control what you can: your product, photography and email list are yours. Although social media offers some amazing resources, we have to remember that businesses managed to succeed in the past without it!

Thanks, Melissa and Jonathan! To learn more, visit aquestionofeagles.com or shop their planters at west elm.

Send Us Your Burning Questions

Are you a maker, designer or small business owner? What do you want to know about building your brand? Email your inquiries with the subject line ‘Maker Question’ to blog@westelm.com.

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Christy Cooke

September 26, 2016

Trying to start a food truck. Any advice??

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