As I have touched on already in past posts and with people I meet in everyday life, I am new to social media. That reason is quite simply that I abhor the social media craze and how it has stitched itself into the fabric of our everyday lives. When I first started traveling the world back around 2002 I tried to get into the early days of social media but I never really could get the hang of it, or find a personal use for it. The longest I ever lasted on any social media was with Couchsurfing.org from around 2006 until 2014 and even in those final years I knew its time was over as well as my enjoyment in it. At least that forged some of the closest friendships I have to date and found me countless hundreds of places to sleep on my trips!
Fast forward to now as a small business owner and being married to someone who does content architecture for a living I realised there was no way I could hold out any longer. I did have one stipulation though. Besides the new professional website that we had designed I was only going to sign up for one social media account. Instagram was the clear winner not because I had any real love for the platform, in fact, I had very honestly never used it once until a few months ago. No, we signed up for the account because it was the most used platform for sharing photos, and we were after a photo dumping ground so we would not clutter up our main website.
It took me a few weeks and a lot of training from my wife on how to figure out Instagram. As I said, I had never used the platform before and besides seeing the stupid hashtag phenomenon in pop culture, I was oblivious on how to use it effectively for our business. My wife found me a plethora of great articles from her peers in the profession and after a few months I like to think I am getting better at it. The other downfall is that we do not own a nice camera, and we don’t own cell phones! Luckily my close friends lent me their camera for a few months as the website was being created which enabled me to get some lovely pictures to display, but we are once more back to our cheap tablets for the pictures which is a shame. Foggy Mountain Forge may have to bite the bullet and invest in a decent camera sometime soon!
The big thing that first caught my attention with Instagram as a user was that the photos from there are not used in the google rankings so I have been opened up to a new world of photos and videos in which to get ideas and inspiration from! This is the one massive thing I am enjoying about using the platform. Sadly, this is about the only thing I have so far found to enjoy about it.
One of my biggest annoyances with the platform is the gimmicks that come with it that people feel they have to get embroiled in. The daily contest for free prizes, the reposts in order to get in on the free prizes because nothing is really free, the you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours, the zillions of selfies of people in underwear giving kissy faces, the ask me anything on the story feed. Ugh, the story feed. No wonder there are so many cold calling spammers on Instagram offering to do everything include babysitting grandma in order to get you to follow them. Like Facebook the entire platform is basically just a voyeurs wet dream full of people offering up their every day lives in order to get likes and attention. I mean, I knew all of that was going to be the case when I joined, but the one thing that I didn’t realise was that maintaining an Instagram account is a lot of bloody work! With 10-15 posts and stories each week combined with looking at some of my followers and liking pictures from the feeds, I am putting in at least an hour a day on the platform, often more.
The blacksmith community on Instagram is very diverse in culture and location, but so far in my experience it is a lot of the same thing. Knives and axes, bottle openers, hammers, more hammers, a few more knives, and of course a few more hammers in for good measure. While I respect the hell out of everyone in this craft and their specific fields of expertise, I was truly expecting to find a lot more actual art whether it be functional or not! A lot of the most popular people that I see from the blacksmithing profession don’t even post a lot of new content, just the same 4-5 products over and over on top of some clever marketing with their contests and so on. I get it, I was a marketing major myself, I guess I was just hoping for more from an artistic community. Maybe I have just not found enough of it yet?
I am finding a hell of a lot of talented blacksmiths from Russia which has been great. Some amazing work from a lot of people there and it has been brilliant to see their work as it is so original and unique to much of what I have seen elsewhere. There are of course some other amazing artists I have seen and even struck up private chats with all around the world as well. I have been in touch with some blacksmiths from all around the world and it is fun to talk about projects, share tips and enjoy the trade together and even though a few have stood out as class acts so far, I want to share my personal favourite so far with whom I follow.
Darron Laessig is a ridiculously talented artist who so far seems to be flying under the radar. His art is more unique than anything else I’ve seen from a North American metal artist and he has been a hell of a nice guy to chat with. He has definitely inspired us to start making masks like he is and we hope to get the time to start doing so. When I messaged him and told him this, he did not get pissy with us for wanting to rip off his vision, he told us good luck and that he couldn’t wait to see what we come up. This has not been the case with a few other artists with whom we try to recreate their work in our own way! So if you are on Instagram and his creepy style tickles your fancy like it does ours, be sure to follow him. He also just started selling on etsy and his prices are very, very reasonable for the work he is doing and the time involved! Kudos Darron.
Anyways, I guess I better start thinking about what I’m going to be posting tomorrow. No wonder people like my wife are in such high demand in today’s society, online media is a lot of work! I mean I get it, it helps gain exposure and has already got us a few extra sales and people coming to our shop.
So I guess… you win Instagram?