Tim's Pen Fan Group

Our good friend Tim Cullen has a unique approach to his social media. Over the years he has built a close group of customers in an open messaging group on Facebook who he communicates with daily, brining them in on what it is to be a maker. he writes about this experience and why it works for him.

Tim's Pen Fan Group

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve ordered or commissioned something with great excitement, only to be let down. The thought of getting a masterpiece only to receive another item to hide away in a drawer somewhere so you don’t have to be reminded of the wasted  time and money is something I don’t to ever want my customers to experience. 

For that reason, I decided when I started to make and sell my work, I wanted to be more transparent and more accessible to the people who commissioned my work. I felt it a great responsibility that if I was going to take their money, I owed it to them to give them the very best I could. 

During the time I started to sell my pieces, social media and blogging was just becoming the norm and I saw it as a way to connect with my customers. At the very start, I got the idea to start message group on a well known social media site and invited everyone on my commissions list to join if they wanted. At first I thought it was just a fun way to connect with people and way to let them be a part of the creative journey. 

On the message group I decided I was going to let people see the real me and show them what goes on in the daily life of a craftsman. I had no problem showing them I was human and made lots of mistakes. I also shared the new techniques and methods I was going to incorporate into my work.  They were always the first to know when I was about to go start down a scary path or dive into another rabbit hole. 

The message group sort of took on a life of its own because the members were able to give opinions and talk about their experiences with my work or even vent as long as it was constructive and on topic. As time went on the group became much more important to me because many of the members are highly educated collectors and users and they had no problem educating me on the what they knew, which was a great insight to me. 

It’s been well over 10 years since I started the message group and my life has changed so much since then. I have many of my very first members that were with me in the beginning and a lot of new ones as well. I love updating the group daily with the goings on, from a trip to the the post office to getting ready to finally cut into the rarest material I have, is just a day in the life of a maker.  I share pics, video clips and new design features on daily basis as well as the occasional blunder and mistake. It’s always great when a member receives their piece and they say its much better than the pictures I posted to the group. 

I realize having a active message group may not be right for everyone and many makers want to be left alone in solitude to create and then deliver. I am sure that works for them and that is how its been done for centuries. However having the message group has really worked, that  being said about 80% of my pieces are purchased by return customers. I believe people feel a closer relationship to their piece when they are able to see it evolve and want to have that experience again. 

Communicating via email and phone is great but its not open and its not as transparent. I think not only do the people want to see their piece come to life but they also want to share it with others who are like minded. The benefit of this process has the ability to stir up future design ideas. 

The message group consists of all walks of life with people from all over the world. Everyone in the group is fully accepted and the group only exists and remains for one reason. In the end the message group has truly helped me grow my business successfully. The feedback has been invaluable and most importantly I am grateful for the friendships I have forged over the years. Bringing people together is never a bad thing and creating a sense of community however big or small is what its really all about. 

I love We Are Makers for this very same reason, they have chosen to bring makers and those seeking the very best made products together. Along the way they have forged many great relationships and have created a great community. 

Tim Cullen
Maker of Hooligan Georgia writing instruments 
Canton, Georgia, USA. 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Hooligangapen
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hooligan_georgia
Website: hooligan-georgia.com