The Definite Guide to Instagram Marketing for Knife Makers
Are you selling and marketing custom knives and small knife series on Instagram? Then you probably have some questions: How do you boost engagement? How do you research and use hashtags effectively? How can you write a bio that doesn’t suck?
At the same time, you’re also facing some unique challenges: Hand-made knives are luxury goods. How do you position your products in a way that people pay your price—and pay it happily?
Other people think of knives primarily as weapons, and Instagram has very strict rules around that. For example, you can’t run ads? Difficult. how do you position yourself to address many problems are
So, that’s the goal:
A hands-on guide for knife makers to social media marketing on Instagram.
Let’s put the fun back in Instagram and build your business at the same time.
Identifying your business niche
First things first. Who loves your knives as if they’re grandma’s cookies? What kind of person will look at what you make and fall in love?
That question you have to tackle first. Because no matter how beautiful your knives are, and what hashtags you use:
Success will elude you if you aren’t clear about who will ravingly LOVE your knives.
Read this article about how to approach this topic.
Content Rule #1: Be Active & Post Regularly
When you have an idea whom you’re making knives for then it’s time to start producing content for these people.
Let’s start with content rule #1:
Don’t go AWOL. Don’t ghost your audience.
Stay top of mind by posting regularly.
Posting regularly is not just for your audience. Instagram likes regular content producers, too. Posting regularly is the foundation for your content strategy.
Strategies for Makers on Instagram
And you might have guessed it: posting pretty pictures when you feel like it, where you happen to dump them—that’s not going to cut it.
You need a strategy.
How can you setup your Instagram so that you appeal to knife buyers and still can post messy, spontaneous workshop stuff? That’s what a Instagram strategy is for: it tells you what goes where.
To make it easier for you, we’re describing a few approaches below. It’s not meant to be a definite list—there are many approaches out there, so mix and match as you think makes sense for you.
For Part-time Makers: Developing your Brand
If you’re a hobbyist or only make knives part-time, then you likely don’t have enough output for a strategy such as Showroom/Workshop below.
In this case, your main focus should be to develop your brand:
- Following Instagram Content Rule #1, you’ll post regularly to stay top of mind.
- You’ll hone your unique style, so people start recognizing you.
- Finally, you work on your Instagram skills, learn when to post, what hashtags to use, etc.
More about this strategy soon! DM us if you want to discuss early. 🙂
For Full-time Smiths: Showroom posts vs Workshop stories
The idea is simple: Reserve the pretty pics for your post feed, keeping your Instagram wall nice and clean. Dump the rest in the stories: the making, the cat pictures, all the nitty, gritty of daily knife making.
We think this strategy uses posts and stories at their best, which is why this strategy is our favorite—for full-time makers. (If you’re a part-time maker, you might want to consider he Developing your Brand strategy first.)
Want to know how to apply this strategy? Read about the Showroom/Workshop content strategy here.
For Instagram Fanatics: Shop vs Forge Accounts
Here you completely separate the making from the selling: One account for each.
On the Shop account, every knife you post is up for grabs, on the Forge account you share what’s going on in the Workshop.
This strategy has one major advantage: redundancy. Read more about the Shop vs Forge accounts strategy in this blog post.
Publishing Posts, Stories and Videos
Here we’ll add our favorite posts.
Ideas for Instagram posts and stories
Running short of ideas on what to post? Have a look at the following list with post types:
- Beauty shots. What you see mostly: well-taken pictures of finished knives, showing off the product.
- Progress shots. The quenched steel, the polished grind. Pictures of the knife being made. Very common.
- Detail features. Are you proud of the inlaid gemstone? The brass pommel? The silver flutes? Take a few close-ups, and explain what made this bit extra interesting or difficult to make.
- Fix it. Did you run into a problem and had to improvise? Maybe your drill wandered a tiny bit and you had to fill the excess? Share how you did it.
- Guides for other makers. Share a guide for one of the steps in your work.
- Meet the maker. Say hello to the community. Post a portrait and talk about who you are and why you’re making knives.
- You at work in the shop. You smashing steel. You holding the glowing metal bar. Lots of cool pictures to be taken.
- Your machines, your shop. Talk about why you love (or hate) your hammer, anvil, grinder, plucker, quench sink.
- Your life. No one is only about hammering steel. Who are you aside from the maker? What made you happy today?
- Throwback posts. Your first knife. The cracked blade a year ago. Memories from the last knife show.
Hashtags: Research, Tools & Banned Hashtags
Hashtags help you get your posts in front of people that don’t follow you—they are one of the ways to break out of your follower bubble.
How do you find good hashtags?
When looking for hashtags, there are various ways to do it. Here are a couple of them:
- Hashtag flipper: tap on a hashtag in a post that you like. Go to the top posts of that hashtag, and look at which hashtags they have been using.
- Look at which hashtags other successful knife makers are using. (They’re not “theirs”, you can use them. 🙂 )
- Use a tool. (See below.)
Until recently, Instagram had a “Related hashtags” feature that would, for a given hashtag, show you other popular hashtags in that space. Apparently, it’s been removed, but many guides still recommend it.
When it comes to hashtags, you have to do your own experiments to find out what works for you. Beware of absolute truths and other poorly researched rules because a lot of hashtag advice is just hearsay and guesswork.
Free and Paid Hashtag Research Tools
Hashtag generators and such tools make it easy to go from one keyword to many related hashtags. DisplayPurposes.com is a useful such tool, check it out. Read about this tool, and about our other favorite hashtag research tools over here.
When researching hashtags you should take the time to make sure none of them are “banned”. Instagram outlaws hashtags when posts using those tags often violate its community guidelines.
What does it mean that a hashtag is banned? I mean, you can still type it, right? Yes, you can. But if you use hashtags that are banned, then your post will receive much less attention, and so may your account for a while. Some folks call that “shadow-banned”.
It's in your best interest to avoid banned hashtags.
How do you know if a hashtag is banned? How can you check—how often do you need to? Read more about banned hashtags.
Links on Instagram
Links are generally not clickable on Instagram. That makes it extra hard to share a link to your latest Youtube, for example. But, there are things you can do to get around this—a bit. Read more about the Instagram Link Problem — and how to solve it!
Boost your Followers with a Giveaway (GAW)
Knife Giveaways are a quick way to boost your follower count. Also known as GAWs, the idea is simple:
You randomly select a GAW participant to receive one of your knives for free. And in return they follow you and spread the GAW.
The important thing to realize is this:
A GAW is a trade: you give a knife—you get followers.
A Giveaway is a marketing tool. When using it, you are responsible to make sure that you get a knife’s worth of followers.
When should you use a Giveaway?
- Not with less than 500 followers—unless you are willing to put in the work. See below.
- Use it sparingly, ideally for a special milestone. Reaching 500 or 1k followers is a popular one, but be bold, stand out—use a different milestone.
- Make the GAW match your target audience (see business niche). Don’t give away a chef’s knife if your business is about making knives for hunters.
Read more about GAWs as a marketing tool for knife makers.
The Giveaway Post
Here are a few important yardstick rules to follow:
- Be obvious. Put it there in bold letters: this is a Giveaway! Come, participate!
- State the rules: How can you participate? When is the drawing? Who pays shipping?
- Instagram rules state you must be explicit in that your sweepstakes is not endorsed by IG.
- Don’t forget hashtags:
#knifegiveawayat a minimum.
If you need more details on how to prepare a Giveaway Post, we’ve got a guide for you. 🙂
So prepared, it’s time to launch your giveaway.
Launching your Giveaway
When the times comes to launch your giveaway, here’s one thing to remember:
As with any marketing effort, you get what you pay for. And in this instance: what you pay for in hours spent.
Few makers can just post their GAW and return at the drawing to see it boost their
More likely than not you gotta do the work of promoting your GAW:
- Run stories.
- DM folks you know might be interested.
- Ask people to spread the word.
- Thank those who do!
Read more about launching your GAW successfully.