Small Business, Big Dreams: A Creative’s Guide to Boosting Your Buzz


Some of us harbour a secret dream of starting a side hustle. One that maybe expands into a main hustle, allowing us to escape the rat race of 9–5 employment to become the masters of our own occupational destiny, dedicating our precious time on Earth to creative pursuits we are passionate about.

But starting a small business can be a scary prospect, especially if you’re a left-brained artiste who has never pictured yourself as a number cruncher thriving in a business school environment. That’s why we’ve put together a series, a crash course if you will, of small business essentials – with special help from our friends at Spoonflower. 

Spoonflower’s Creative Marketplace is filled with the work of artists and creatives, and in return, thousands of entrepreneurs, makers and businesses, big and small, are powered by Spoonflower’s on-demand digital print process – on average, nearly half of their yardage is sold to small business owners! They know their way around business and they love to support and encourage small business owners with their bi-annually endowed Spoonflower Small Business Grant, or with the free distribution of information

In this series tailor-made for those creatives with a dream, we’ll cover everything from building a brand to balancing the books. The subject of today’s final lesson is boosting your buzz – how to stand out as a small business in the busy world of social media. 


“If you’re a small biz owner, you know that no matter your opinion on social media, digital marketing is a crucial component to building a successful, and sustainable, business,” says Nicole Kligerman, Spoonflower’s Content Manager. “But with all the digital platforms and channels available, finding the right digital marketing mix to reach your audience is an important step in building your brand: a perfect (to you) combination of content and cadence for the channels and platforms you want to focus on.

“At Spoonflower, we have an entire team dedicated to marketing incredible designs by indie artists on print-on-demand products. We use a combination of platforms and content types to reach our audience – from social media and email channels to original content delivered through webinars, blog tutorials, partnerships and more. But when you’re a team of one, where do you begin?” 


Katie Kruithof is the owner and designer of Yeah Baby Goods, creating stylish and practical high chair accessories and mealtime essentials. Terrance Williams wears many hats (or should we say headbands?), selling ethically handmade clothing and accessories under Terrance Williams Designs, where he also offers one-on-one small business consultations and virtual makeup workshops. 

To help you focus and find the right digital marketing mix for your biz, we asked these two talented small business makers to share their own best practices for marketing their brands in the age of the internet. Each brand has its own recipe for digital marketing – what will yours be?

READ MORE – Small Business, Big Dreams: A Creative’s Guide to Building a Brand


So, with the whole of the World Wide Web before us, where does one begin?

“Your first step is to create an account for your business and start posting quality content that will give people the information they need when they first discover you – who you are, what you are about, what you sell, what makes you different,” Katie lays out.  

“Instagram, Facebook and TikTok are the three platforms I focus on,” she continues. “Think about your audience and where the customers you most want to reach spend their time scrolling. Instagram is a pretty safe bet; you may want to invest more time on TikTok if your target audience is on the younger side.”

Whichever social media platform you use, lean into creating engaging videos!

“I love TikTok!” agrees Terrance. “You are able to create content that is authentically you and who you are. On Instagram, it’s very much an aesthetic and the best views of your life, but TikTok allows you to be more spontaneous and genuine, and talk about your business and yourself in a more honest way. Whichever social media platform you use, lean into creating engaging videos!”

Once you’ve set up your accounts, the question becomes how often should you be using them. Both Katie and Terrence agree that once a day is a good rule of thumb, though they caution not to let quality get lost in the pursuit of quantity! 

“I like to post daily because I have found the most amount of growth and sales by doing that,” says Terrance. “But it’s truly up to how much you can handle and what makes sense for you. If you’re not going to post consistent quality content every day, then don’t force yourself to do it every day! Maybe every other day works for you or maybe one Reel a week and the rest of the days, pictures work for you.”

“I think it’s better to post quality content less often (making sure to engage in the comments) than post a tonne of lacklustre content,” Katie concurs.

Remember too that there are many websites and widgets online specifically designed to help you on your path to social media mastery.

“If you have a business account on Instagram, the insights section will tell you what time of day your followers are most active. For me, that’s between 3–9pm EST,” shares Katie. 

“I’ll plan and schedule my content in Asana, then create my content in batches on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” Terrance reveals. “Having a schedule and a plan helps the process of creating content not seem as daunting.”


Now comes the moment of truth. You know when to post and where to post, but what do you actually post about? The secret to standing out in a crowd, says Terrence and Katie, is finding your own unique story. 

“Obviously an innovative, unique and beautiful product will naturally stand out,” says Katie. “But beyond the product, you can stand out with your story. When I watch a football game, I typically don’t care at all who wins. But give me a good personal story about one of the players and I will be fully devoted to cheering on their team. Use social media, your website and your promotional materials to tell people a story they’ll want to root for!”

Beyond the product, you can stand out with your story. When I watch a football game, I typically don’t care at all who wins. But give me a good personal story about one of the players and I will be fully devoted to cheering on their team.

“I always say at the end of the day, my headbands are ‘just a headband’,” Terrance asserts. “The reason they go viral, and the reason they are so popular, is because of the way that I talk about them and market them. So they aren’t really ‘just a headband’, they are a ‘Terrance Williams Designs headband’. You’re not just buying a headband, you are buying the Terrance Williams Designs experience. You are buying the Terrance Williams Designs community on social media. You really have to talk about and emphasise your product in a unique way in order to stand out from the crowd.”

Part of this, they say, comes from authenticity and embracing the uniqueness that makes you, you.

READ MORE – Small Business, Big Dreams: A Creative’s Guide to Balancing the Books

“I believe in showing up as myself!” Terrance shares. “I always say, ‘The same me online, is the same me offline!’ I love opening up about my business highs and lows and the things I’m finding difficult. This type of transparency not only helps people get to know me, but it also helps them to get to know my brand because they get to watch my creations come to life in real-time.” 

“A huge part of our social media strategy is letting people see the real family behind the business,” says Katie. “This includes behind-the-scenes business footage and non-business related snippets of me and my family. Even when I post pictures of our products, I try to keep the caption personable so they can tell there’s a real person who genuinely cares posting it.”


Of course, when posting on social media, the lines between personal and professional can get messy and blurred. It’s important to set your own boundaries to your own level of comfort. 

“While I’ll share details about my life, I also won’t give a house tour or sewing room tour,” Terrance says. “To me, that’s essentially giving people the layout and floor plans of your home and is a safety concern.”

I believe in showing up as myself! I always say, ‘The same me online, is the same me offline!’

Katie focuses on the balance of practicalities. “You want to make sure there is always enough product and business-related content on your account that if someone finds their way to you, they can tell in the top ten most recent posts what you sell and why they should be interested.”

When it comes to trends, Katie and Terrance say jump on that bandwagon but make sure you use them in a way that’s relevant to your story. 

“When you hear a certain audio over and over in your feed, or there is a certain type of video that keeps popping up, it’s fun to think creatively about how you could apply that to your business,” says Katie. “If there’s a wave happening on social media, you want to be in on it in the early stages.”

“You really need to lean into video and apply the trends to your niche,” Terrance agrees. “Even if the original trend doesn’t seem to have anything to do with your business or brand, be creative and put your own spin on it to make it fit! It takes some creativity, but it’s important to lean into trends and trending audio.”


The social aspect of social media can’t be overstated – you’re not alone on the internet. With the idea of influencers never far from anyone’s mind online, Terrance and Katie suggest thinking about who you’re working with and why. 

“The term ‘influencer’ can mean a lot of different things these days!” says Katie. “I think it’s always a good idea to have others share about you. When picking who to partner with, look at engagement rather than the number of followers. How many views are their reels getting? How many comments do they get on a post? Also consider the quality of their content. You may be more willing to partner with someone who doesn’t have a large following if it means you get some great pictures or videos.”

READ MORE – Master Stroke: Ikuntji Artists Is Bringing Wearable Art to the World

“If it is in a brand’s budget to work with influencers, and it makes sense for the brand to work with them, it can be really lucrative and beneficial. But you have to do your research,” says Terrance. “Just because someone has one million followers, doesn’t mean those one million followers are engaged and buying the recommendations of that influencer. It’s really important to find influencers and content creators who are actually moving units and influencing people to buy. It’s probably more beneficial for a brand to work with UGC [user-generated content] creators.”

Just because someone has one million followers, doesn’t mean those one million followers are engaged and buying the recommendations of that influencer.

To make it easier to find the content being posted by genuine fans and customers, Terrance suggests creating your own distinctive hashtag for people to use, and then encouraging people to tag you in their posts. “It’s always important to ask a customer first if you can use their image on your social media before just taking it and using it. Consent is really important,” he says.

Katie agrees: “Reposting UGC is a great way to show how much you appreciate the tag. We have done a couple of UGC video competitions where people can post a video within a certain time frame and be entered to win prizes. At the very least, make sure you comment on every post that tags you and let them how much that means to you.”


The power of social media marketing is apparent, but it’s not the only avenue available to you. There are traditional marketing moves like advertising and PR, though these can be a significant investment for a small business. “It all comes down to budget,” says Terrance. “If you’re branching out into paid advertising, I think it’s important to do your research. It can get very expensive very quickly and if you don’t understand how ads work, it can feel like a huge waste of money.”

These social media apps could be gone tomorrow and then you’ve just lost all of your customers.

Terrance’s number one non-social media marketing strategy? An email list! “These social media apps could be gone tomorrow and then you’ve just lost all of your customers,” he says. “But by having an email list and using it effectively, you’ll still be able to reach your customers and grow your brand and your business. Everyone should have a working and informative email list.”

There’s also the oldest trick in the book – word of mouth. 

“I firmly believe that the best advertising and marketing that you can do for branding your business is through authentic customer reviews and videos,” Terrance concludes. “Those can be your most powerful asset because they can make or break someone’s decision to purchase from you.”

Katie agrees that nothing truly beats the power of the interpersonal: “Honestly, the best kind of marketing you can get is word of mouth. People will tell others when they absolutely love a product, but also when they really feel connected and invested in the business itself. People genuinely love helping others and are especially touched when they know they can make a difference for a small or family-run business.”