What Is #HandmadeChat?

This post explains how #HandmadeChat works, and how participating regularly will help your business grow. The mission of #HandmadeChat is to educate, train and inspire creative and artisan entrepreneurs to become profitable business owners. We cover fundamental business principles from the perspective of people who sell handmade products like soaps, cosmetics, artisan perfumes, aromatherapy products; and also candles, jewelry, and artisan baked goods like cakes, cookies, cupcakes, and chocolates.

HandmadeChat logo

#Handmade works kind of like a talk show on Twitter. Every Wednesday from 8-9pm NY time (5-6pm LA time), we gather on Twitter to discuss a particular topic of interest to the handmade business community. Sometimes we have guests. Other times, we share around a particular topic of interest to artisan entrepreneurs. At the end of each #HandmadeChat, you will be armed with new ideas, new contacts, and most importantly, new actions you can take to drive your business forward. Now, I'm going to tell you how #HandmadeChat on Twitter works.

If you're brand new to Twitter, first watch my video How To Set Up Your Twitter Profile, and read How To Make Useful Connections On Twitter.

How #HandmadeChat Works

Along with my expert guest and/or co-host, I spark discussion on Twitter by posing questions to our guest, and our guest replies. The real fun starts when you join the discussion by posting your own on-topic questions, ideas and experiences.

The best way to describe it is like a MasterMind on Twitter, and everyone learns new things. Additionally, your confidence as a small business owner grows as you meet people and create collaborative and business opportunities so everyone can be more successful.

Using TweetChat or TweetGrid (see below), the #HandmadeChat hashtag is appended to the end of each Tweet. Here's an example. This makes it easy for everyone to follow the discussion as it happens. it also makes it easy for everyone to find the discussion later — just go to Twitter and search for #HandmadeChat. Here's how the search results look.

How To Participate Using TweetChat

If you are new to Twitter or to Twitter Chats, it's best to use TweetChat, a third party application, until you get used to Twitter chats.

Joining #HandmadeChat is super easy, using TweetChat. Just do this:

– Log onto TweetChat
– Click Login in the upper right to log into Twitter using your Twitter username and password
– Click “Authorize App” to return to TweetChat
– Type in “handmadechat” (without the quotes) in the space at the top

This will take you to the chat where you’ll see real time conversations of everyone participating during #HandmadeChat.

Here's how TweetChat looks – click the image to enlarge.

You’ll probably see some of your friends, and when you do, you can use the icons on the screen to Reply, Retweet, Favorite and Follow them! To start chatting, just type your chat in the text window. The number to the right counts down how many characters you have left before you reach 140. The #handmadechat hash tag will be automatically added to your Tweets, and will be searchable on Twitter (which is indexed by Google), as you can see here. You can even click “pause” to pause the chat in case it’s going too fast for you.

To start chatting, just type your chat in the text window. The number to the right counts down how many characters you have left before you reach 140. The #handmadechat hash tag will be automatically added to your Tweets, and will be searchable on Twitter (which is indexed by Google).

How To Participate using TweetGrid

Joining #HandmadeChat via TweetGrid, a third party application, is recommended if you are very familiar with how Twitter works. (If you are a newbie, use TweetChat. To join via TweetGrid, do this:

– Go to our pre-prepared TweetGrid Link (it's different each week, and we announce it before each chat via @HandmadeChat on Twitter), login using using the link in the upper left, using your Twitter combination, and you’ll see the 3 columns
– Remember to LOG IN! You cannot Tweet until you log in!
– The left column is everyone using the #HandmadeChat hash tag
– The middle column are Tweets by me and my co-host
– In the right column, type in @ your Twitter username, and it will now display the Tweets of people talking directly to you during #HandmadeChat

Here's how TweetGrid looks – click the image to enlarge.

You’ll notice above your username is a #hashtag box, which should say #HandmadeChat. If it does not, add it so the Tweets you send during the chat will include the hashtag. Just like with TweetChat, you’ll enjoy real time conversations of everyone participating during #HandmadeChat.

To start chatting, just type your chat in the text window. The number to the right counts down how many characters you have left before you reach 140. The #handmadechat hash tag will be automatically added to your Tweets, and will be searchable on Twitter (which is indexed by Google).

When you're logged into Tweetgrid, to see the icons that make it easy to participate, hover over the Tweet you want to reply to, and use the symbols to respond. The symbols are:

– Press the left blue arrow Reply
– Press the next blue arrow to ReTweet
– Press the star to favorite a Tweet (so you can find it later)
– Press the speech bubble to send the person a Direct Message (this only works if the person is following you)
– Press the magnifying glass to enlarge the Tweet (this will open a new browser tab displaying the Tweet and all conversation attached to it — a handy feature when you want to see what everyone said about a particular comment)
– Press the envelope icon to email the Tweet

– Press stop in top left #handmadechat column to pause the flow of tweets, but don't forget to hit start to start the flow again
– Press the + sign there to slow flow of tweets to every 10 seconds, rather than real time to slow things down a bit.

How I Prepare For #HandmadeChat

Along with my assistant and other Indie Team Members, each week, I post a series of Tweets about our guest and the topic for the week. You can follow these Tweets on HandmadeChat.

Here are some additional terms you need to know about to get started:

The hashtag symbol (#) is placed in front of any term you want people to be able to click on and see what other people are saying on Twitter about that topic. Examples #cosmetics, #handmade #fitness

TwitterChat speed can be pretty quick, so don't panic if you see bunches of Tweets flying by. On TweetChat, you can press Pause or Refresh Speed to control catch your breath and create a pace that's right for you.

Near the end of the chat, we'll ask you to post your best promotional Tweet to share a bit about your business and the products or services you have to offer. Please refrain from posting promotional Tweets until this request is made. We sometimes have drawing for prizes at the end too. That's always fun!

At the end of the chat, we share the guest and topic for the upcoming week.

After the chat, take a few moments to follow people you met on the chat. Send people you really want to follow up with a Twitter direct message (if you are mutually following) to let them know you enjoyed meeting them. This is a great way to reach out to follow up and create new and mutually beneficial opportunities.

Twitter has hiccups from time to time, either due to the volume of people using it or just because of an Internet or Twitter maintenance issue. Most delays are momentary, and we just keep rolling. If any delay compromises the chat for minutes at at time, we will suspend and reschedule the chat. Stay tuned to HandmadeChat for updates if this happens.

Watch @IndieAssist, @IndieBusiness (my Twitter handle) and @HandmadeChat for updates throughout the week, and to see if any breaking news or Internet outage issues have forced us to make a scheduling change.

You can also join #HandmadeChat on FaceBook and/or at our social networking site.

See You On HandmadeChat!!

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About Donna Maria Coles Johnson

Donna Maria is an author, podcaster, attorney, and the founder and CEO of the Indie Business Network, providing affordable product liability insurance and mentoring. Donna Maria teaches Makers and Creative Entrepreneurs how to use technology and community to build a profitable, sustainable business.