Nearly 170,000 fans and 21 million YouTube video views are numbers usually reserved for major corporations or famous musicians with millions of advertising dollars at their disposal. Sarah Takacs, the driving force behind SoCraftastic is neither. She is, however, widely known for her fun and personable “how-to” instructional craft videos on YouTube. With an incredibly loyal fan base and plans to form partnerships for future growth, it’s safe to say that Sarah is here to stay as she brings a fresh take on crafts to a whole new generation of crafts people. Here, TCR asks for her secrets to internet stardom in the crafts world..
TCR – What inspired you to launch an arts and crafts business?
Sarah: I’ve been doing arts and crafts my entire life. I really never pictured myself in any other career but arts and crafts. I knew from a young age that it would make me happy so I wanted to find a way to make that possible—and make a living at it. Also, growing up I always wanted to entertain people. I used to watch “I Love Lucy” with my grandmother and found myself inspired to entertain people and make them laugh. When I discovered YouTube, I realized that this was the perfect venue for me to combine my hobby of entertaining and my passion for arts and crafts. Through my YouTube videos, people can get to know me and also learn a new hobby. The funny thing is that many people have told me that they don’t do a single craft that they watch me do on my videos. They watch my videos for entertainment. I guess kind of like when I watch cooking shows on Food Network…they’re fun to watch, but I never actually make the recipes!
TCR – You have built quite a social media empire with SoCraftastic. Talk a little bit about the various social media platforms you use to promote yourself and the SoCraftastic brand.
Sarah: YouTube is where I, by far, have the most followers. I feel like the YouTube channel gets me followers on all my social media networks that I wouldn’t otherwise have. Of course, I have Facebook and Twitter fan pages, and those are my main social media channels. I also use Instagram. I love Instagram! If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a photo sharing application for SmartPhones. I try to post at least one photo every day. When I do, I always put in links to my YouTube channel that I embed onto the Instagram photos. This is a great way to get more fans on your social media pages. Right now, I have over 7,000 followers on Instagram.
There are a lot of artists on Instagram promoting their work and their shops. It’s a great way to show people what you’re working on—even as you’re working on it. To set up an Instagram account, all you need to do is have a SmartPhone and download the Instagram application. Then, you can quickly make an account and start adding pictures. The best way to get views of your photos is by adding hash tags that make them searchable for any Instagram user. You can have up to 30 hash tags per picture.
TCR – When interacting with fans on various social media platforms, do you find it best to be personable, or do you try to remain completely professional?
Sarah: I try to always remain as personable with people as possible. I always try to remain myself and interact with them as I would if we were face-to-face. I don’t worry too much about sounding overly professional because I know that’s not what fans are seeing from me on my YouTube channel. I think they watch me because they like my personality. Sometimes I’ll do things on Facebook or Instagram (like put up pictures of my lunch) just as a way of connecting with my fans and making them feel like they are a part of my daily life.
TCR – With nearly 170,000 subscribers to your YouTube channels, you seem to have figured out how to use this medium very effectively. What would be your best advice to fellow professional craft artists on how to use YouTube to promote themselves and their brand?
Sarah: My first tip for gaining video views and channel subscribers is that you want a channel that features videos that all fit into the same category. For example, I also have a fashion channel with about 8,000 subscribers. In it I talk about outfit and make-up tips. I have special clothing shopping hauls and general tips on how to create your personal style. That channel is really there for me to talk personally to my fans and tell them more about my day-to-day life. But, I never inter-mix my craft videos with my fashion videos. I think that’s key.
Second, you want to post about one video a week. This frequency increases your YouTube search results and potential views and subscribers.
Third, when you post a video about making a certain craft, find a similar video that is very popular and post your video as a video response. I did this a lot when I was first starting out. Your video response shows as a thumbnail image above the video’s “comments” section—provided that the video creator accepts it. Some YouTube channel owners have video responses set up to automatic acceptance. Others have their accounts set up where they have to screen your video response and approve it before it gets posted. I have mine set up where I have to approve video responses to my videos. I want to actually watch the videos before they show in my video response feed.
Another way that I’ve earned more views is by having giveaways. When I have a giveaway, I’ll say in my videos that you have to be subscribed to my channel to win. I’ve given away clay charms, done special Christmas giveaways, even doodles that I make on my videos are fun giveaways. I just recently did a giveaway celebrating my 200th video on the SoCraftastic channel. So milestone giveaways are a great idea to keep people subscribing and watching your videos. As for picking winners, typically I randomly select one of the comments on a given video and then message them privately to get their personal information for prize fulfillment.
TCR – What kinds of revenue streams do you generate from your social media platforms, especially YouTube?
Sarah: Because of the popularity of my videos, I haven’t been able to keep up with the demand for my handmade products! Whenever I release a new instructional video, I’ll typically get so many orders for the item that I’m making in the video, that there is no way for me to fulfill them on my own.
I am also bringing in a surprising amount of income from YouTube advertising. A rotation of three ads get placed in the beginning of every one of my videos. I collect 68% of whatever amount Google makes off the ad. It’s really a great way to make additional revenue for any craftsperson. All it takes is one big video. My most popular video has over 1.5 million views. I put that video up two years ago and it has contributed to about a fifth of my total revenue from advertising.
TCR – What advice would you have for craftspeople on how to more effectively utilize the power of social media to promote their brand?
Sarah: First, if you haven’t already, consider investing in a Smartphone. My iPhone has helped me a lot in managing my various social media platforms. When I’m busy or when I can’t be on a computer I can still get work done.
If you can only spend 10 hours a week on one social media platform, I would suggest starting with Instagram. It’s a great way to get your products in front of the most people as quickly as possible. But in my mind, YouTube is by far the most powerful way to promote yourself and your brand. It’s just a matter of taking the time to do it properly. Most importantly, it’s about letting your personality come through to your fans and potential customers. I think that is what I owe most of my success to.
“Always be true to yourself and let your fans and customers see the personality behind your product.”