Let's start with social networking. That is pretty much the backbone of my online fiber business. Here is what I recommend you do if you haven't done so already. This is a broad overview and many of these topics we will go into detail about in the following weeks. So if you're overwhelmed, just take it one piece at a time and work thru it. Many of these things you only have to setup once, so once it's done it's done.
Join Facebook. You can create a personal account and link it to a business page, but if you want more privacy just create a business page without a personal account. Here is my business page on Facebook so you can see what it looks like. People can choose to become "fans" of your page, and this is a great place to post your shop updates & news and upcoming sales and new items in your shop.
Speaking of Facebook - make sure you join the following groups to network and meet other fiber artists:
Fiber Artists & Yarn Spinners
Fiber Artists Marketplace
Raw Wool for Sale
I update Facebook once a day. It's part of my work routine. Sometimes I'll post something I'm working on, other times I'll share a shop or a website that I've found helpful. Sometimes I'll ask a question, or take a poll.
I don't use Twitter very often, but I do have it synced with Facebook to automatically update whenever I post something on my business page on Facebook. That way people on Twitter can follow me and see what I'm up do, but I never have to login or post things twice.
There are a lot of other social networks out there, but I don't think they have the audience that Facebook & Twitter have. Plus - we're talking about networking with knitters and spinners and crocheters - and most of us are so busy with our hands making pretty things we don't have the time or energy to join every social network option on the internet. So that wraps up the social networking aspect.
One network that is very popular in the knitting/crochet/weaving community is Ravelry. Setup an account on there and join a couple groups that interest you. There are communities for everything, from yarns to wheels and contests and giveaways. Start a group for your own fiber business on Ravelry (here is mine) and update it when you have a shop update, sale, or news.
I know people who spend huge amounts of time on Ravelry. I want to caution you - it's very easy to "waste time" on social networking. Where you sit down to do a shop update and 4 hours later you are still on Facebook or Ravelry. It takes a lot of self discipline to keep yourself from losing precious hours getting into discussions online that can take up a lot of your time and energy.
If you have any questions or comments about this post, please comment!