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The Ultimate Guide to Microblogging on Social Media

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Let's get real here: Blogging is a HUGE commitment.

In terms of how easy it is to publish stuff, blogging isn't exactly top of the list. It's so much easier to publish content on social media. You can do it from your phone and there's not a lot of steps to go through.

Social media: Grab phone > Tap on the app > Choose a photo > Type a caption > Post!

Blog: Turn on laptop > Log in laptop > Open up browser > Log in blogging platform > Click new post > Type > More typing > Add photo > Format post > Publish!

So if blogging is a bit of a hassle -- why then do some influencers with 500k-1mil followers STILL blog when they already have so many followers on social media? The main reason is SPACE.  

On your blog, you can do so much more to fully express your ideas. There’s no word limit and you can add multiple images. Not to mention, you can format your text too. (All the bolding and italicizing and underlining helps when you want to emphasize points.)

BUT... The fact that there’s so much space is what makes blogging so DAUNTING. There’s so much space to fill up but you don’t feel like you have enough points. 

Is it okay to publish a blog post with just 1-2 paragraphs? I only have one good photo. That’s too short. It’s going to be awkward if I post it. 

You feel worried about the blog layout and design and a million different other things that it seems easier not to blog.

So basically, you have something to say — but blogging is simply TOO MUCH for now. What’s the alternative?  

Something you’ve probably already done before... MICROBLOGGING. 

 

1. “What the heck is microblogging on social media? Explain.”

Microblogging is basically blogging on a micro scale. (“Aina, please try harder.”) 

OK, so if in normal blogging you’d usually write more than two paragraphs, for microblogging, 1-2 paragraphs is the perfect length. 

And BECAUSE you're not aiming for too many words, social media platforms are the perfect space for you to microblog.  

  1. Instagram. 
  2. Facebook. 
  3. Twitter. 
  4. (Or any other social media that I’m not hip enough to know) 

”Then isn’t microblogging like... posting on social media with a long caption or status update or whatever?”

Yes, that’s exactly what it’s like.

”Then why do you have to give it a fancy term like microblogging?”  

The reason why I differentiate between microblogging and posting on social media is how you prioritize the captions.

(Note: When I say captions, I mean any space that you can put text in.) 

When you post on social media like you'd normally do, the focus is on the VISUAL. If you’ve invested time in taking those great photos or filming a cool video, the captions are secondary. (“Like, let the pictures speak for themselves.”)

But with microblogging, the captions are priority. It's what you use to FULLY communicate your thoughts, ideas and beliefs. Photos and videos are great and all, but sometimes the written word communicates better.

For example, you could post a photo of the paint brushes you use for watercolour painting — but you’re going to want to explain why you like ‘em too, right? So basically, when you microblog, you get to explain more.

 

2. "Well, should *I* microblog then?"

If you’re already sharing your ideas, thoughts and experiences on social media — you’re probably already microblogging. 

But microblogging is especially awesome if you’re in these two types of situations: 

(a) You want to start blogging, but it's intimidating, you don't have time or you're not sure what to write.

and/or

(b) You want to start expressing yourself and build a brand, business, reputation, following, etc. 

Because microblogging is on a smaller scale compared to full blogging, it’s way less intimidating. You don’t need to wait until you could write 1000s of words, and even sharing one small idea/thought is enough for a post. 

And along the way, if you’re sharing your stuff consistently on social media by microblogging, you WILL build a reputation, brand, business, etc. 

OK, imagine this. 

You looove watercolour painting, and you microblog consistently on watercolour. You post about techniques, tips and tools and are NOT stingy with the explanations. Your posts are informative and fun. 

Over time, your friends and family will know you as the ‘watercolour girl’. (When it’s your birthday, they buy you painting supplies) 

And when someone they know looks for people who can paint, they’ll recommend you! This is how you get CUSTOMERS.  

Your microblogging posts will allow you to share your journey in learning watercolour -- or any other passion or skill that you have -- with potential customers. They'll eventually trust your skill and want to PAY you to make something for them.

So it's not so impossible to turn 'hobby' into 'business'. That consistent, concentrated effort is the RIGHT effort for you to create a future that you love.

 

3. “What’s wrong with the things I already write for social media?”

OK, what you’re already doing isn’t wrong. But I have to be blunt here: it’s not very effective. 

Writing a vague sentence or two, using long hashtags and an assortment of emojis may be OKAY, but it won’t be AS EFFECTIVE as microblogging.

Compare it to texting with a new friend. Are you guys really going to be the kind of friends who would go to jail together if you just send her a few emojis and hashtags every three days?

😝💁💅 #yaaas

 (“Wait. What kind of example is that?”)

Nope! Emojis and hashtags are fun and all, but they're not enough if you want to convey your ideas, experiences, beliefs and opinions. You can't tell a story with just emojis.

Your captions are prime real estate to express yourself and build a brand. Don't just use emojis and hashtags.

For example, let's look at Nina Tailles, one of my Instagram friends who does Instagram styling. What’s the impression you get when you read her Instagram posts?

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(“Instagram expert!”) Yes -- exactly! It's not just about the photos. The captions contribute to the kind of impression you want your followers to have about you.

 

4. “What kind of social media platforms can I microblog on?”

Instagram 

Oh hey that's my micro blog post on Instagram

Oh hey that's my micro blog post on Instagram

Instagram is my favourite social media platform to microblog on. It has the perfect layout for you to show off your photos and write your captions too!

The standard way of microblogging on Instagram is to post a photo with a caption, but you can also go for Instagram Stories if you want. (Just remember to download the Stories when you’re done!)

Facebook (Account or Page) 

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I personally don’t use Facebook (other than for remembering birthdays), but it's definitely a strong platform if you want to use it to build a reputation. 

  • If you’re using your personal Account: You can microblog using status updates or publish a post on the Facebook group that you’re part of. For example, if you’re part of a travel Facebook group, you can post your travel tips directly on the group itself. (This Road to Japan Facebook group is one I've personally referred to!)
  • If you're using your Facebook Page: You can microblog using post a status update as usual or use the 'Write a Note' option for your longer posts. (The Note even looks like a blog post!)

Twitter

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OK, call me crazy -- but I definitely think that Twitter has potential as a microblogging platform. Yes, the 140-character limit makes the micro blog post even more micro, but what I've seen people do is:

  • Use the 'tweet threads' concept: Basically, a series of tweets posted one after another on a particular topic. Each subsequent tweet is a reply to the first tweet, so when you click on the very first tweet, all your subsequent tweets will also be displayed. (This can get technical, so check out this official guide from Twitter on how to create tweet threads!)
  • Post screenshots of text: Most of the examples I see are people writing on a Note app, taking a screenshot of the text, and posting it on Twitter. (Like the example I have above) This way, you're not constrained by the character limit and can explain your thoughts better. You can even go one step further and create nice graphics with text to post!
 

5. “What do I microblog about? “

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Even if you're microblogging, it can be slightly difficult to think up WHAT to microblog about. Like, what is interesting enough to post about?

This is something I've talked about a lot, but I cannot recommend this enough: The most relevant and most interesting kind of content is always HELPFUL content.

Helpful content is about sharing information that helps people (obviously) and makes their lives easier. In any aspect of their lives, be it cooking, exercising, organizing, styling clothes, or whatever that YOU like. Ask yourself: What do I know that could help people?

When you start asking yourself this, you're approaching it from the customer's point of view. (Or follower) This is great because you're still sharing what you love, but you're considering their interests. Followers dig this man.

Here's some super easy and relevant info that you can post:

  • Best tools to use for _____
  • Do’s and Dont’s of _____
  • Comparison between ____ and ____
  • Best practices for ____
  • Common misconception about ____
  • Did you know that ____
  • Mini tutorial on ____
  • What to do if ____

Just insert the related words into the blanks and that's your post idea!

 

6. "Won't it be pretentious if I write about things that I only know a little about? I'm not an expert."

So basically, you don't feel like you're qualified enough to talk about your interest/passion/stuff? ("Yes. I'm not an expert.")

Let me tell you what I think. I think that you don't need...

  • A master's degree, PhD or professional certificate
  • Years and years of experience
  • 100s of customers

...before you can start talking about what you love.

Look, it's not like those things are unnecessary. They're great. But if you don't have them, it doesn't bar you from sharing info based on WHAT YOU KNOW.

Microblogging is about sharing what you already know. It focuses on your personal experience, thoughts and ideas. So it's not about you pretending to know more than you actually do.

OK, let me give you an example. You went on a trip to Morocco last October. You're not really a frequent traveller. Does that mean you can't share YOUR tips on travelling to Morocco....?

  • Your total flight time was around 15 hours. ("I guess I could write about what to do during the flight.")
  • You went there during winter. ("Maybe I can write about my packing list.")
  • You tried a lot of Moroccon food. ("Oh yes. That's easy enough to write.")

See? Even if you could only help a few people with the tips -- it would be worth it. And trust me, you know more than you think you do.

 

7. "How do I start planning what to microblog?"

OK, so one of my favourite strategies for planning content is to use THEMES. Once you've chosen a theme, all your posts for that particular week or month should revolve around the theme.

For example, if you're an aspiring fashion designer, your theme for November could be on 'Jackets & Blazers'. All your posts in November would be about jackets and blazers...

  • Week 1 : How to choose the best jacket for your body type
  • Week 2 : Tips on accessorizing your jacket
  • Week 3 : The difference between a jacket and a blazer
  • Week 4 : 5 different types of jackets

So when people view your profile, they'll definitely go -- Oooooooh. Interesting.

 

8. “Any tips for a new microblogger?”

> It’s OK if your post isn’t super funny or witty — be genuine!

One of the things I've heard most often is this: "I'm not a good writer. I'm not funny or witty enough."

I don't call this having low self-esteem. I call this having a misconception. You're under no obligation to make people laugh. Crack jokes if you want too, but comedy is definitely NOT a required skill.

As long as you're genuine, your writing is good. Over time, you'll see that you're able to write more naturally and effortlessly. Even the jokes will come naturally!

> Be specific with the information you share.

If you want to be helpful, you can't be stingy with the details. If you're talking about tools or brands you use -- tell your followers the exact name. If you're posting a mini tutorial -- your steps need to be clear. Get what I mean? Say no no to vague captions.

> Focus on communicating one small point at a time.

Since microblogging is sharing on a smaller scale, you don't have to worry about fitting ALLLL your points into one post. For example, if you have 5 tips on how to do X, you can post one tip at a time. (One tip for each post)

This so that you can explain each tip more, AND, you get ideas for more posts too!

> Treat your microblogging platform like a mini portfolio.

One of the things people have told me is that setting up a blog/website for their art/skill/interest/passion feels like too much, too soon. Like they're going overboard with the whole thing.

I totally get that. When I first started sharing my first passion (hand-lettering), I only posted on Instagram and Facebook. I didn't set up a blog or website for it.

So the microblogging platform you choose is perfect as a 'mini portfolio' because it feels more casual. You'll also be able to reach more followers and potential customers too because of the existing audience on social media.

> It's going to feel awkward before it feels natural.

Are you scared of being vulnerable on social media? I know I am. It's not easy to share what you love with acquaintances and strangers because it's like you're showing them a part of the 'real' you.

There's so many times I've decided not to post something because...

  • ...Oh man that sounds too obnoxious. I don't want to be annoying.
  • ...What if someone comments mean things about this?
  • ...Maybe I should post this later when the time is right.

I can't offer you any new advice for this one. It's simply something that all of us will have to work through. That feeling of awkwardness and posting-while-cringing will be extreme at first, but it'll eventually feel more natural.

Push through the awkwardness because microblogging is worth it. You'll feel like you're building something concrete for your future.

> Rotate between 2-3 topics for best results.

If you want to build a reputation, brand, business on FOOD, you have to be microblogging about FOOD. Not other topics. If you have a FASHION-related goal, you need to talk about FASHION.

That's why it's important for you to stick to 2-3 chosen topics rather than random topics. Those random topics may be fine on their own, but they don't contribute to the overall impression that your followers and potential customers will have of you.

For example, if you've chosen styling and flatlays as your topics and are consistent about posting on those topics, your followers will see you as someone who's specialized in styling and flatlays. (Rather than someone who just posts random stuff)

 

9. “What tools do I need to start microblogging?” 

You can start microblogging without any of the free tools I’m gonna mention below — but they definitely help you microblog in a more consistent way.

1st tool: Schedule your micro blog posts in advance using Later

Most of the time, microblogging is like an on-the-go thing. You do it when the idea pops up. It’s instantaneous.

But if you’re looking to be more consistent with your posting AND make the process of typing your posts easier, you can try scheduling apps like Later.

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Later is a social media management platform. So what you essentially do is write your captions in advance and schedule them together with your photos to be posted whenever you want. For example, I could write 4 posts and schedule them to be posted every Monday at 12 pm. And I'll be done for the month!

And since you can do this on your computer, say bye-bye to accidentally deleting your captions when you’ve already typed a long one. Oooh boy. That happened to me more than a few times and the rage was indescribable. LOL.

I personally prefer Later, but you can also check out Buffer and Hootsuite to see if you prefer their interfaces. 

2nd tool: Design graphics for your micro blog post using Canva

Canva is a web-based design tool. Which means that you don’t need any fancy software to start designing. You only need a browser (not Internet Explorer please). And yep, it’s free.

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What are these? I call these your micro blog graphics. They're the images you post along with your captions for your microblog posts.

You can make square graphics for Instagram, horizontal rectangle ones for Facebook and Twitter, or vertical rectangle ones for your Instagram stories like the ones I have above.

These graphics are awesome because...

  1. You don’t have to wait until you have the right/related photo before you can write about a particular topic. Just design a graphic with your topic as the title! So they sorta act as your writing prompts too.
  2. When your followers view your profile, they’ll immediately see that your account is a ‘helpful’ account! Which means that if they’re interested in your topic, they’ll definitely going to hit the Follow button.  
  3. The graphics can be branded according to what you want your brand to be. Based on the three graphic examples I made above, which one fits YOUR vision best? You can then design MORE graphics like it to give your profile a consistent branded look. Looks way more professional.

(“Aina, I’m not a graphic designer.”)

Well, you don’t have to be a graphic designer because 1) Canva is really easy to use, even for non-designers and 2) these graphics are super easy to make. They’re basically text on a coloured background and not some complicated design.

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See? 

You can brand your graphics by choosing the colours and fonts you like. As long as you keep your colours and fonts consistent (as in, don’t use wildly different colours and font combos each time), your graphics will be perfect. I havea blog post on branding basics you can read to get started.

(“Is it important to make the graphics every single time? Like for Facebook, I don’t have to post a photo along with the status update.”)

Oh yeah, the graphics are not mandatory. You can definitely microblog without ‘em. BUT, they do make your micro blog post look more professional. The graphics instantly differentiate your posts as helpful content (which people are interested in) and personal content (which people may not always be interested in). 

("What if I already have related photos to go with my captions?")

If you have real photos to go with your captions, prioritize those! It's OK to mix real photos and graphics together on your feed.

10. "If I microblog, does that mean that I don't have to do full-sized blogging?"

Microblogging is awesome, but it has its disadvantages.

  1. You'll be microblogging on crowded social media platforms. This means that your posts are side-by-side with other people's posts. Your followers could easily be distracted from reading your posts. It's hard to stand out from the crowd.
  2. Your posts are at the mercy of the social media platforms. When Instagram changed its algorithm and started displaying posts differently -- there's been a lot of upset. Because unless your followers have a habit of interacting with your posts, they'd probably never see your posts on their feed.
  3. You can't brand everything on your social media profiles. Because there's limited space, not everything is open to customization. Which means that you won't be able to express yourself fully in certain parts -- like the 'Bio' or 'Description'!

So the disadvantages of microblogging are the advantages of blogging. On your blog, there's only you. Your posts are displayed however you want them to be. And you can brand your blog like it's your HQ.

But despite that, I still recommend microblogging! Because it takes time to feel comfortable in expressing yourself, your microblog is the perfect space to practice in. And once you want to enjoy what blogging can offer, you can set up a blog. No worries.

("But when I decide to have a blog, what do I do with the content on my microblog?")

All your microblog posts will be useful again when your blog is set up. You can COMPILE your microblog posts into one big blog post, or EXPAND a microblog post into a regular blog post. (I have a tutorial on how to convert your Instagram posts into blog posts!)

 

11. "How do I find the time to microblog?"

Because each microblog post isn't too long, you can try to squeeze in some writing time in these situations:

  • While waiting for your food in restaurants.
  • While waiting for your train.
  • In the train -- if you have both hands free.
  • While you're stuck in a traffic jam and the cars aren't moving at all. (Safety first!)
  • Right before bed.

At most, you need 5 minutes for each post! Keep the content short and sweet so that you can post more regularly.

What also helps is if you could plan what you want to write AND make your graphics in advance. For example, if you're planning to post on M-W-F, you could make graphics for all 3 posts the previous Sunday. This way, you can just grab the photo, type the caption and post!

I usually keep the graphics I've made on my phone on Google Photos and Pushbullet.

 

Phew! I've covered the most regular questions I've received about microblogging, but if you have other questions, let me know! I honestly feel that microblogging is something that anyone can do if they want to build a reputation, brand or business. It's more low-effort compared full-sized blogging, especially if you're just starting to get comfortable with sharing. Keep it casual, short and fun and you'll be a natural before you know it!

BTW, are you considering microblogging over full-sized blogging? Why?

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Become A Motivator, Write A Motivational Blog Post

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Your readers are not happy. At least, not completely happy. There’s some area in their life that they wish they could be better at, and it’s making them feel…

  1. Discouraged. Like the struggle that they’re having is pointless and they should just give up.
  2. Insecure. Like they are so much worse than everybody else.
  3. Weak. Like they’re overall a terrible person for not being able to do this one thing.
  4. Alone. Like they’re the only one who has the problem and everyone else is fine.

They feel all of the above and more.

BUT, what if your blog could be that positive voice inside their head? What if you could create a space where they could feel heard and understood?

It’s good to have a blog that provides solutions to other people’s problems. It’s BEST to have a blog that provides solutions with empathy.

Your readers and potential customers deserve your empathy and sympathy. They don’t just have a problem, they FEEL that problem. Their feelings are affected even if they can’t find the words to express it.

If you created your product/service to solve a problem -- which I think you did -- you KNOW how your readers feel.

You can put yourself in your readers' shoes and answer this question: How would I feel if I had the same problem?

Let me give you an example.

Your brand provides cleaning services.

Your readers may be this person: A lady who feels like a horrible mother because her house isn’t 100% clean 100% of the time.

What could she be feeling?

  1. Discouraged. Why bother cleaning anything at all when her house is going to get messy and dirty endlessly?
  2. Insecure. Other people’s homes are clean and tidy, like in the magazines.
  3. Weak. She’s a bad mother because she lets her children grow up in a messy home.
  4. Alone. She can’t admit the fact that she’s struggling to anyone because she feels like she'd be judged. Other people can't relate because they have nice clean homes.
 

How will writing a motivational blog post benefit ME?

You don't write motivational blog posts because you want to manipulate readers' feelings into buying your product/service. You don't write motivational blog posts because you want to mention at the end, "Buy my product/service!".

That's COMPLETELY not the point.

The point of writing motivational posts is to create a safe space for your readers. A place where they KNOW they can come for solutions without feeling totally inadequate.

It's like if you had to choose between asking about a problem from...

  1. Someone who's nice and understanding and makes you smile, OR...
  2. Someone who bites your head off for asking in the first place...

Which person would you choose? Everything boils down to the easy answer.

When you create this nice and safe space for your readers, they'll remember your brand as a GOOD brand. A brand that totally understands and cares about their customers.

So eventhough you won't mention your product/service at the end of the blog post, the effect is the same -- Your readers will trust you. And you'll feel good about helping them too.

 

What you just read above is an excerpt from my latest e-guide to blogging titled Blog for Profit. It's designed to help you write SEVEN different types of blog post that will convince potential customers to buy from you. I'm so excited to be working on it and can't wait to share it with you.

If you'd like to get a notification when it's ready, sign up below with your email! I'll give you a heads up. :)

Holler at you when the Blog for Profit is ready?

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For The Peeps Who Feel Like They've Been Wasting Too Much Time

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I started this year with good intentions. 2017 is my year! I'm gonna make it my best year yet. I'm gonna write all my goals nicely on a piece of paper, paste it on the wall and ACE THEM.

It's now August, the 8th month of the year, and I'm nowhere near achieving my goals.

And I feel depressed. With just 4 months left, I don't think 2017 will be my year. You know?

It's funny how a year used to feel forever to me, back in high school. Now that I'm working, it's SCARY how many days and months pass by without me really fully waking up.

And despite not wanting to, I've been living only for the weekends.

When you live only for the weekends, you keep wishing for time to pass faster during the week. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday... You feel like you want to skip them all.

I hate feeling like that. I hate feeling like I could only feel good or happy 8 days in a month.

And I also hate myself for not using my time to build something great for my future, you know? I know I'm supposed to DO more, but all I could manage is distract myself with entertainment. Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, streaming movies online... It's like my head is filled with other people's stories but I'm not writing MY story.

So that's why if you're struggling like me, I wanted to drop by and say it's OK.

It's OK to be disappointed and angry at yourself for squandering your limited time. You expected more of yourself.

It's OK to look back and feel ashamed at how you've been spending your time. You ruined your carefully made plans.

It's OK to be sad and envious when you look at other people's achievements. You feel left behind and insignificant where you're at now.

Wanna know why it's OK to feel all these negative emotions?

Because they're already there. Acknowledge them. Feel them. All the things you do to distract yourself are because you didn't want to feel these emotions.

If you don't confront these emotions, they're going to pile up. You'll feel heavier and gloomier until you lose hope.

Here's the thing, friend. You may not be able to achieve your goals this year. You may not be able to transform your life completely by the end of 2017. Life can't be compressed into a 2-hour movie. But keep your dreams alive.

It's easier to give up than to keep having all these negative emotions. If you gave up, you'd never have to feel disappointed in yourself again. But your dreams are worth it, aren't they?

The journey is worth it, right?

Baby steps. Baby steps.

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3 Ways to Turn Your Hobby Into A Business

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Do you have a hobby and you go, wouldn’t it be nice to make money from this so that I don’t have to work my dayjob anymore?

I’ve read so many stories about successful entrepreneurs who said that they started out ‘for fun’ and it eventually snowballed into a five-figure, six-figure business.

And of course, that got me all inspired to start my own business. In fact, my first business did start from a hobby (hand-lettering), but as far as I know, I’m not a millionaire. (Yet.)

All jokes aside though, today’s newsletter is about figuring out how to JUMP into a business that’s based on something you love doing. I’ve got three ways you can approach this!

 

1) Help other people to get into the same hobby.

One of my aunts love quilling. At first I was like, quilling as in making quills? What the heck IS quilling??

Turns out quilling is the art of rolling paper and putting them together to make decorative designs.

She bought a quilling ‘starter kit’ from another ‘quiller’ (not sure if that’s what they’re called) that has a few tools and strips of coloured paper.

Which is pretty neat! My aunt could learn from Youtube videos, but getting the tools themselves wasn’t so easy. It was great that she didn’t have to hunt down the tools herself before she could get started.

So let's say that your hobby is something that requires tools or special components. Why not sell those tools that could help other people who would also want to get into the hobby?

You can:

  1. Make the tools or components yourself.
  2. Put together your own 'starter kit’ filled with recommended brands so that people could start out with quality stuff.
  3. Import hard-to-get stuff and resell them.
 
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2) Teach people the basics of the hobby.

If your hobby is the kind of hobby that requires a level of skill, you can also teach people that skill so that people can enjoy the hobby more.

For example, painting. If you can teach people how to paint basic flower shapes, they're going to enjoy painting a whole lot more!

Case in point: me. I don’t know anything about watercolour painting. So every time after a ‘painting session’, I end up feeling totally gloomy because the end result is complete crap.

Nobody enjoys an activity where they totally suck at it. LOL.

So what can you do is maybe plan a class or workshop where people can actually accomplish something small but concrete. You don’t have to turn them into Picassos.

Just give them the confidence to start that hobby!

 

3) Apply your hobby in another context.

Your hobby in itself may not be something that you can make money from. For example, if you like origami, people might not line up just to buy your paper cranes.

But if you can apply your hobby into another context or situation, there’s money-making potential!

Using the origami example, you can make origami flower bouquets that can be used to decorate all the guest tables at a kenduri. So in a way, you’re personalizing your origami hobby to fit the market.

 

Anyway, I'm not saying ALL hobbies can be turned into a business. There's probably a small percentage of hobbies that aren’t aligned with any kind of market.

BUT, unless you have a really unique, totally niche, what-the-heck-is-that hobby, you could definitely explore how you can turn something you already love doing into a business. Who knows, maybe you could eventually do it full-time. :)

What’s your hobby and how do you think it can be turned into a business? Let me know by commenting!

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What I Learned from Japan About Branding: Japanese People & Wrapping Paper.

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I was in Tokyo for 9 days for a holiday with my family. It was GLORIOUS. But when I got back to the office, I had 41 missed calls. ( Well, that’s not too bad, considering.)

Anyway, my observation from shopping around Tokyo? Japanese people really, REALLY like wrapping paper.

When I bought knick knacks and souvenirs from several stores, the store assistants would always insist on wrapping each thing INDIVIDUALLY with wrapping paper. Refer to photo below for a sample:

Japan_branding_wrapping_paper.JPG

When my mum bought cute pouches for her sisters, the shop owner asked, “Present?” And then proceeded to putting each pouch in a plastic sleeve, put ribbons and ‘Made in Japan’ stickers on each of them.

Sounds pretty excessive and wasteful in a way, doesn’t it? It’s like the Japanese are using MORE plastic, MORE paper for the packaging than what is absolutely necessary.

Also, when they were wrapping my stuff, I was like “Ummm are you done?” I wanted to leave but it took a while for them to finish. But then I thought: Maybe it’s not excessive.

Maybe they’re on to something here.

Here are my thoughts:

 

1) Some products deserve that special treatment.

I was buying things like pretty handkerchiefs, keychains and stuff, not groceries. So it kinda makes sense for them to be wrapped. They’re not "every day" products.

It’s like, some things deserve to be wrapped, some are fine in plastic bags. Yaknow?

Since souvenirs have that extra sentimental value + cost relatively more, it makes sense that the shops would take an extra step to make them look more special.

This would definitely work for you if you’re selling something that’s also ‘special’. Like a handmade item, something that’s made with love or something that you want to make more premium.

I think it's a great investment to make for your brand. Anyway, if you go with wrapping paper like the Japanese, you’ll do fine with:

  1. Thin paper in your brand colours / patterns. Choose something like tissue paper rather than anything thicker. Makes it easier to wrap around your product.
  2. A small sticker / tape to secure the wrapping. It can also be in your brand colours / patterns.
 

2) How you present your product reflects on your brand.

Wrapping paper is not just wrapping paper. The packaging is not pointless ruffles.

When the shop assistants wrapped my stuff, the act of wrapping itself represented the values of ‘Made in Japan’. Craftsmanship, quality and pride.

It’s as if Japanese people have this nation-wide conspiracy to make people fall completely in love with Japanese brands, and not just the products. And it worked! (I bought a lot of knick knacks.)

It’s like when my grandma takes out her nice cups and plates when we have guests over. She would NEVER serve guests with our everyday plates, even if logically her cooking will taste the same.

The whole principle behind it is that how you present your creation (or product) reflects on your brand itself. If you present it beautifully, people can appreciate the product AND the brand.

But if you ignore the presentation aspect, people may appreciate the quality of the product, but they may not fall in love with the brand.

It really depends on how you want people to perceive your brand. What kind of values do you want to present? See if you can infuse those values into the whole buying process from A to Z.

 

3) The experience doesn’t end when the customer hands over the money.

Logically, wrapping the products or putting them in nice packaging AFTER the customer has bought them isn’t necessary. The customer has already paid. Put the stuff in a plastic bag and say bye-bye. The customer will enjoy the product any way.

And if you asked me: Hey, do you want wrapping? It’ll add an extra 50 sen and 3 minutes. I’ll be like nah, it’s fine. Not necessary.

Most customers won’t say yes to something that adds cost and time to their purchase. We always want a good deal. We don’t want to spend more on things that we don’t think is necessary.

But when I got back home, it honestly felt so nice to unwrap the souvenirs. It felt special, AGAIN. I already know what’s inside the wrapping paper, but it felt special all the same.

There’s nothing wrong with a plastic bag of course. I’m not even someone who cares if her presents are wrapped or not. But unwrapping my things made me happy!

My point is: you may need to make that nice unwrapping experience ‘obligatory’ for your customers. Make the act of unwrapping or opening the packaging of your product a great experience. As if they’re opening a present for themselves.

This isn’t an excuse to charge high prices just because of nice packaging. But if your ‘unwrapping’ or opening the packaging will create a legit experience that customers will enjoy, go ahead!

Here’s some ideas for your wrapping/packaging:

  • Scented tissue paper wrapping.
  • Nice solid box.
  • A note for the customer.
  • A cute sticker.

These are just my ideas, so feel free to brainstorm according to your brand’s personality!

Over time, your customers will begin to think that your brand and products = special. It’s like when you go to a really fancy restaurant. The food may be really good, but it’s the decor, ambience and the way waiters treat you that make the meal extra special. And whenever you want to feel special again, you go to that fancy restaurant.

 

At first, I thought that my things were wrapped and packed so nicely because I was clearly a tourist buying souvenirs. But I saw that other Japanese customers also got the same treatment. So I guess it’s their culture.

I don’t think that as Malaysian brands are doing anything wrong. But there’s something to learn from Japanese people and their wrapping paper, for sure. 😊

Do you think wrapping products is a worthy investment for a brand? Let me know by commenting!

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