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IG Live with Joanne Hawker, founder of March Meet The Maker

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Find out more about our IG Live with Joanne Hawker, who founded the #MarchMeetTheMaker hashtag challenge.

Pedddle founder Nicki interviewed Joanne Hawker in a lovely IGTV Live chat. Joanne is a designer, maker and small business owner who creates cards, bags, prints and accessories, and founded March Meet the Maker.

Find out more about exactly what #MarchMeetTheMaker is and how it helps businesses and makers – whether big, small or anything in between! Everyone is welcome to join in…

What is #MarchMeetTheMaker – and March Meet the Maker?

#MarchMeetTheMaker a ‘hashtag challenge’ over on Instagram. I set prompts for every day of March, which people then create a post around.

You can find further info about the March Meet the Maker movement on our website – click here to check it out.

Where did the concept of March Meet The Maker come from, and were you surprised at how it’s grown?

March Meet The Maker came along in January 2016! I was feeling a bit deflated with Instagram and didn’t really know what to post – which is the same for me EVERY January! I looked around to see if I could find a challenge to do to offer prompts and post ideas, and there weren’t any, so I decided to make one to help get myself back on track.

Never in my wildest of dreams did I think it would get as big as it has today! I just thought it would be me and a couple friends taking part and it still amazes me now!

What are the highlights of running it and why is it such a great challenge to get involved in?

I get to chat to so many incredible makers and find out about so many different types of business. I really love a good nosey. What may seem ‘normal’ and ‘boring’ to one maker who does it all the time, is really interesting to those looking in behind the scenes!

It’s great for small businesses to get involved in because it gives you:

  • Something to post about! There’s fresh ideas for every day of March, so you never run out of something to create a post about.
  • It helps you to look at your business from different angles; some you may not have thought about before now.
  • It helps you to reach a wide audience and connect with new people.
  • It also helps engagement – you can search for the hashtag itself and easily find other makers who’ve used the hashtag. It’s a great way of connecting with the creative community further.
  • It gives you an excuse to talk about yourself and tell your story! 

The hashtag started as #MarchMeetTheMaker but we’ve seen #MarchMeetTheMaker2021 too. Can you tell us more about that?

Usually the hashtag is #MarchMeetTheMaker, but this year I’ve started using #MarchMeetTheMaker2021 as well as the original hashtag with no date. It’s simply because the no dated one moves so fast and a lot of people have been using it who don’t take part in the challenge. There’s no right or wrong one to use, but I’ll be using both! There’s no harm in showing up in two different tags!

What is your favourite day of the challenge and why?

My favourite day is always day one! Usually it’s because I’m so nervous the night before and then I start to see posts appear, from those in Australia (because they get to Day 1 first!), and then I realise that people are actually going to take part and it’s going to be okay and I can stop worrying!

I really love the Day 1 energy when everyone really starts getting into the swing of it and saying they’re taking part – it’s a fab atmosphere and a great talking point.

Where and when do the ideas come for your prompts?

The ideas for the prompts usually start coming to me around the Christmas break and at the start of January, as I’m starting to think about the year ahead.

I usually scrawl them all down on a piece of paper and keep adding to them until there is quite the list! Then I go to the community and ask for their input, to make sure I’m barking up the right tree and so that they have a chance to add anything they feel is really important to talk about too.

Most ideas come to me when I’m not really thinking about the challenge. I guess my brain just works its magic in the background!

How do you see Instagram? Is it a positive platform overall, and how do you manage your interaction with it? 

I think it can be positive if you don’t allow yourself to get too sucked in. Personally, I have set limits on my phone for social media. The apps automatically grey out once I’ve reached an hour and a half online. If there are days when I have to be online for a set amount of time, such as during a launch for something, and then I just ignore the limits!

If I’m having a day where nothing is going right and I’m doubting everything I do, then I try my best to stay away from social media altogether. Otherwise, I’d just end up in a comparison spiral and that isn’t good for anyone!

I think you’ve got to know your limits and know when it’s best to step away. Monitoring the time you actually spend online helps you focus on what you need to do for your business an not fall into the trap of mindless scrolling too. Even if you just set a timer on your phone to give yourself say 20 or 30 minutes to comment/like/share and cultivate engagement that way, it stops you falling into the trap! @joannehawker

You have such a lot on your plate! Do you have any tips on how to not let overwhelm seep in?

If you’re having a bad day, step away! That’s a motto to live by.

Set up social media limits on your phone (these are built in already for iPhone but I’m not sure about Android!), use a timer – whatever you need to stop you getting drawn in!

If there are accounts you follow that seem to pull your mood down, either because you start comparing yourself to them or for other reasons, unfollow them. Or, if you feel like you can’t unfollow them for various reasons, mute them! They won’t get notified – only you will know, and it will stop you seeing their content.

Try to remember that not everything you see on Instagram is the whole truth. Think of it as the fancy glossy magazine of our lives. We tend to edit out the worst bits, the tears and tantrums, mistakes and regrets, and only post about the good things. We’re all guilty of it!

Just remind yourself that it’s the happiest snapshot of somebody’s day, and you’re only seeing the best, most fun bits.

The Maker Directory is new for this year – can you tell us more about that addition? 

Yes! I’m very happy about this addition! I wanted to do something similar last year but the idea came to me too late! If people don’t already know, the Maker Directory is a list of makers featured over on the March Meet The Maker website. The directory has 9 different categories to cover lots of different crafts. In each category there are 9 makers! 

The idea was to create a space on the website where people could go to find new people to follow, buy from and support, rather than just scrolling through the hashtag! This year is the pilot year, so if it all goes well (future me will know if it went smoothly!) with updating the listings, then I may make some of the categories larger for next year!

The website gets a lot of traffic so it seemed like a nice way to try and share some of that and help put people in front of those who already appreciate and value handmade businesses.

What is your vision for March Meet the Maker, moving forward?

Just to keep it going!! I really hope people continue to take part and look forward to taking part. It’s such a lovely way to get the creative community talking and interacting, meeting other makers and showcasing so many creative businesses across the world.

Watch the Live chat here:

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