What is #marchmeetthemaker?
We talk to Joanne Hawker – the designer who created the hashtag
Have you seen tons of posts popping up on your Instagram feed with the hashtag #MarchMeetTheMaker? This brilliant hashtag was created by designer and maker Joanne Hawker in 2016 and took off in a HUGE way. With just over a week until the Meet the Maker challenge for March 2018 kicks off, there are already over 104k posts on the hashtag! We caught up with inventor of the tag to learn how it works, why she started it, how she hopes it can bring makers across the world together and what you can gain by joining in…
The idea behind #MarchMeetTheMaker is to show the side that people don’t usually get to see… to show that we’re not all faceless brands. We’re just normal people creating beautiful things by hand.
Hi Joanne! For anyone who doesn’t already know, can you explain what #MarchMeetTheMaker is?
#MarchMeetTheMaker is an Instagram challenge that takes place throughout the whole of March. I set a theme for each day (these are released in advance so people can plan ahead) and then designer makers create a post about themselves and their business based on that theme. They then post it on Instagram with the hashtag #MarchMeetTheMaker and that’s it! It’s really easy to take part in.
What was the concept behind it?
The idea behind #MarchMeetTheMaker is to simply tell your small business story. It’s all about showing and telling people what you do, why you do it, and where you create it etc. We’re showing the side that people don’t usually get to see. The aim is to show to that we’re not all faceless brands. We’re just normal people creating beautiful things by hand. Sometimes it’s just nice to put a smiley face to a company. A lot of us sell online, so that means that our customers and followers don’t always get to see the process, hard work and effort that goes on behind the scenes, so I think it’s only a positive thing to show this.
Once you had the idea, what did you do? Did you research hashtags and dive straight in or did you build-up to the launch?
Once I had the idea I do what I always do. Run it past my two best small business friends who I speak to constantly. We talked about it for ages and they really encouraged me to do it (sometimes I need a massive push to do anything out of my comfort zone!). So, I started by writing a massive list of topics that I could potentially cover and then popped over to Instagram to see what other creatives were posting about to see if I had missed anything that might be helpful. Next, I narrowed down that list, put it into my #MarchMeetMeetTheMaker graphic and jumped straight in by releasing the list of themes. To build up to the big day, I posted graphics with phrases like ‘24 hours to go’ to try and build up some excitement. I was incredibly nervous, as I’d never done anything like this before so I had no idea how it was going to be received! Luckily, I had a great group of friends who took part and helped to spread the word. It was a no brainer to do it again this year. I had so much fun it just had to come back again!
Did you have any inkling when you started it how popular it would be?
Not a clue! I was absolutely blown away by the response it got. Some wonderful participants even sent me gifts in the post! I am incredibly grateful to everyone that took the time to join in and make it the success it is. I would have been happy if I had around 50 people join in so you can just imagine how happy I was when it took off. I had no idea that by the end of the challenge in 2016 there would be 24,700 posts tagged with #MarchMeetTheMaker! And now there are over 100,000 posts on the hashtag. Crazy!
You’ve made a free planner too. Do you think it helps to be super organised when you have your own creative business and what are your top tips for organising your time?
Most definitely! To tell you the truth, I often forget about social media and then it’s like “AHHHH! What do I post today?”, followed by a mad scramble to find something instaworthy to post. So planning most definitely helps not only with this challenge but for everything else too. Someone kindly gifted me a weekly planner pad for Christmas and this sits in front of my laptop, ready to help me plan my week. I’m very good at thinking “Oh I’ll do that later” and then never do it. So it’s very handy to be able to quickly write it down on this pad so that it doesn’t get forgotten about. It’s very easy to forget what you’re supposed to be doing with so many distractions around! It’s so much more than useful I thought it would be and I manage to get so much more done. On top of that, I have a large wall planner where I can write down important dates for things that I have coming up so I don’t forget about those too. It’s also handy for seeing how close I’m getting to key gifting occasions like, for example, Mother’s day and Father’s Day.
My top tip for organising time is to not give yourself an unrealistic amount of stuff to do. Otherwise you just end up getting overwhelmed and annoyed at yourself for not doing it all. That doesn’t help anyone. Write a list of things you want to do and split them out over a week. For example, each day my morning is reserved for orders only. Nothing else. They have their own dedicated time slot. Then that frees up afternoons for product development, sprucing up my shop, admin or any other important tasks I need to do. I then slot any other little things like ordering stock around these. I find having a clear plan helps me work much more efficiently and you get the satisfaction of crossing things off your daily list!
What do you think are the best things designers and makers can get from joining in?
Perhaps the best thing to come out of this challenge is the huge sense of community that it brings. It brings designers and makers of all disciplines from around the world together. It creates friendships and sense of belonging. It can be difficult running your business from home, which, at times can be lonely and isolated. You end up finding new people to follow and new followers find you. You talk to people or groups that you may not have otherwise found. The event brings in a great deal of support and seeing people compliment and encourage each other through this is a brilliant thing to see. It’s also a great chance to put yourself and your work in front of a very large group of people.
To tell you the truth, I often forget about social media and then it’s like “AHHHH! What do I post today?” So planning most definitely helps not only with this challenge but for everything else too.
Are you hatching any other exciting plans? Will there be a #marchmeetthemaker 2019?
There will most definitely be another #MarchMeetTheMaker! I just love seeing the creative community come together.
Perhaps the best thing to come out of this challenge is the huge sense of community that it brings. It brings designers and makers of all disciplines from around the world together. It creates friendships and sense of belonging.
What if people can’t commit to posting on #marchmeetthemaker every day? Can they still join in with the challenge? Is it ok to drop in and out?
Absolutely, you can pop in and out as it suits you. No one is tied in to do the whole thing if they don’t want to. Just take from it what you like!
A lot of us sell online, so that means that our customers and followers don’t always get to see the process, hard work and effort that goes on behind the scenes
And finally, what would you say to makers nervous about showing their faces?
There’s no need to be nervous! There are so many lovely people doing the challenge and everyone is in the same boat. We’re all a happy, friendly, supportive bunch and will welcome you with open arms! It’s never too late to join in and skip anything that you don’t feel comfortable sharing.