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Show Your Work - Austin Kleon



I came across a lovely book called 'Show Your Work' aimed at artists and designers about 'getting your work discovered' whilst browsing on Pinterest and just had to share some of the pages the author has shared - they really jumped out at me, I guess it's the white on black, it makes a message seem ultra clear!  No wonder this is a best selling book!

The author Austin Kleon, has created 10 important points to follow in order to get your work noticed - with the big idea of the book being that work is about process, not product. Through sharing your processes you can gain huge interest in your work, a following which grows exponentially and which you can use for "fellowship, feedback or patronage" as Austin says.



I picked a few of my favourite images out from his Pinterest board and I also just ordered the book myself (a little splurge!) - I'll let you know more once I've had a read (It should be delivered tomorrow!)  I'm hoping it will compliment a lot of my own theories on getting discovered and selling crafts online but I'm always open to learning new concepts and ideas and it looks like a nice book to have on my shelf (I also ordered his other book which looks equally interesting!)




Pizza Slice?

See more here!

Follow Austin Kleon's board Show Your Work! Blogger Kit on Pinterest.



The Cover Story! - Marketing Your Craft Business


The Cover Story!

How do you like the cover of my book?!  "Online Marketing for your Craft Business"

It's so exciting to see the finished cover up on Amazon! I really love it - I think it stands out, there are so many craft business books to choose from, mine is focused on online marketing, I'm not an accountant so I can't help you with your spread sheets I'm afraid, but I am a digital marketing strategist and community manager, so I have written about what I know works when it comes to getting your business noticed online!

A big thanks to the lovely designer Jodie Lystor at F+W Media who seemed to create a cover I love effortlessly! (although I know a lot of hard work went into it really Jo!)

I wanted the cover to appeal to creative people and craft sellers and I wanted it to look both striking, serious and just a little pretty, but not twee! Jo has done a great job to get all of these ideas working together. 

I also  really wanted it to be unique and memorable. When you are trying to get a product noticed it's important to research the competition and package your product in a way that sets it apart.  If someone is browsing I hope they will remember the pretty flowers and distinctive, curvy title text.  When they are ready to come back and buy and this image pops up, hopefully that snap of recognition will really help!  

I was convinced it should be a dark background so it stood out from other books about selling crafts online. I love inspiring quotes on blackboards and interesting fonts (see my pinterest board Craft and Creative Quotes for proof!) and in a small way it also helps get across the educational aspect of the book and the flowers... well every business needs to grow! (maybe I'm clutching at straws here, ha ha!).


 I hope you like my book cover design too!  Please spread the word on Pinterest and any and all of your social networks!  I'll be sharing a post soon with details of all of the 'experts' who have shared tips in the book!

If you would like to see more details have a look over on Amazon for all the info - Online Marketing for Your Craft Business: How to get your handmade products discovered, shared and sold on the internet

Competition, create a cushion design and win £500 of vouchers from Barker and Stonehouse


Do you have a flare for surface and interior design?

Barker and Stonehouse have a competition to win £500 of vouchers to spend on their website - all you have to do is create a design for a cushion. You can paint, draw or design using a computer programme - it's so easy as effectively you are just decorating a blank square in whichever way you like - the perfect competition for creatives!  Please let any friends that may be interested know by sharing the link.

I'm just about to move house - £500 of vouchers for home wares and furniture (it's a lovely site) would be very handy... shame I can't enter as I'll be judging this competition with a number of other craft and design bloggers!
Love these fun abstract face cushions from the site.


The closing date is 31st July, so you need to get cracking with your designs - all the vital details are over on the Barker and Stonehouse website.

HOW TO ENTER THE COMPETITION!

1. Go to the Barker and Stonehouse competition page

2. Download the template

3. Create your unique design draw, paint or design!

4. Upload it the website, either scan or photograph your design or simply upload the file if you have used photoshop, or picmonkey etc.

5. Complete the form and mention you heard about the competition from me when asked :)

I can't wait to see your designs!

The full Terms and Conditions can be found on the Barker and Stonehouse site.


Growing Your Business - An interview with Lisa Forde



I'm really pleased to share this interview with Lisa Forde of The Card Gallery - she's made a great success of her two online businesses and has some fantastic advice.

I know that many crafts people and designers dream of turning a hobby business into a successful full time job. In this interview Lisa shares advice on how she took a small business and transformed it, becoming a leading supplier of custom invitations and cards. If any of you are considering starting a handmade business, selling craft online, take on-board this great advice from Lisa - Be brave and start making some serious business decisions!

1. First things first – can you tell us all a bit about yourself?

Hi there, my name is Lisa, I’m 39, am married with 2 small children and live in Bridgnorth, Shropshire. I’m supported by a fantastic husband and team of staff, without them, my business would not be where it is today. Like most people who run their own business and have children, I spend most of my day dashing around but I wouldn’t have it any other way!


2. And the inspiration for starting The Card Gallery – where did that come from?

I’d always wanted to set up my own business for as long as I can remember, but never knew what business to open! After my husband and I got married we went travelling for a year and were on the look-out for potential ideas as we travelled. After returning home, we realised how obsessed British people were with sending cards, whether it be for birthdays, as a thank you, or for weddings....and from there the idea of a card related business grew...and grew. Making cards was never a hobby of mine, it was always a business idea, so I always viewed it as a commercial venture.

3. What would you say was the most difficult part about starting up your own business?  (I think it’s fair to say that a lot of crafting startups are hampered by a few key problems, and it’d be really interesting to know what they were for you, and how you overcame them…)

I’d previously worked for large corporate companies, across a mixture of vocations before starting The Card Gallery so thought I had a good base to build on. I found there were 2 main difficulties, 1) Where to begin and 2) I had to learn about, and carry out, every single area of business, including the areas I’d avoided such as Finance.

I booked myself in for a part-time course run by our local Business Link which was free of charge and offered lots of invaluable advice on all the aspects you need to learn about in the early stages of setting up a business – I was amazed at the wealth of information and help/grants/support offered to new business – if you’re setting up I’d definitely recommend finding out what’s available to you.

Networking was also key to helping me learn what to do and perhaps more importantly what not to do – I asked lots of advice of other new start ups and had some friends who ran their own businesses – whilst they operated in different markets the theory of what we were all doing was the same.



4. If you could go right back to the beginning and offer yourself any one single piece of advice, what would it be?

To be braver! There were several decisions that I spent too long on, when the ability to move fast was one of my biggest advantages compared with many of my competitors. I was always too worried about the financial cost of my decisions even though I’d thought it through, done a business plan and thought it through some more….I dithered too much!

5. Can you talk us through the process of upscaling? How did you go from a small startup to a leading supplier of custom invitations and cards?

I quickly realised that our success and growth was dependent on the success of 2 key factors, 1) how much we could sell and 2) how much we could dispatch in any given day. If we couldn’t sell enough or couldn’t dispatch orders fast enough then we wouldn’t survive.

If we were to upscale, I had to employ staff as otherwise the business would be too reliant on me (and with a plan to start a family this wasn’t going to be viable). Employing others meant I could step away from the ‘doing’ of the business and allowed me to work out the areas where we could upscale.

We went into new markets, growing our range from weddings to include baby and occasions. We also penetrated the wedding market to a greater extent by improving our online and magazine visibility as we found after testing various selling channels that these worked best for us.

6. Speaking of upscaling, what would you say was the most important thing to remember when trying to grow a business?

Try to grow your business a little at a time so you can keep up with the challenges you may face as a result of that growth. If you expand too quickly and your customers’ service suffers, you may be faced with bad reviews which are difficult to undo.

Also consider how big or how profitable you want to be. My aim isn’t to become the biggest, but instead to be as profitable as possible. A bigger turnover can mean more headaches and not necessarily more profits.

7. I think one of the most difficult aspects of marketing handcrafted wares is identifying the correct price point, could you talk to us about how this process works for you?

That’s very true. No one appreciates the time and attention to detail that is required to create handcrafted products so pricing is a difficult issue. We keep a very careful eye on the competition so as to ensure our price is competitive (but often not cheaper) than others and strive to aim best value for money. We believe in the product and the service we offer, and that the cheapest option isn’t always the best.

8. Could you talk to us about identifying designs with commercial appeal as well? Is there a specific formula that you have when it comes to choosing which pieces you’re going to focus on?

Neutral designs/colours are often the designs which work best commercially as they appeal to the widest audience. If a design is very specific to a theme or colour, then it’s likely to only sell in small volumes. That said, we find that offering a range of designs to suit all tastes is the best method, so even if a customer doesn’t like one design, there are lots of others that they will like.

You must have dealt with some fairly difficult clients before, particularly through your custom design work, any hints or tips for dealing with situations like this?

We’ve been extremely lucky and have worked with very few Bridezilla’s during the past 10 years! We keep communication as open as possible through phone and email (we find it’s always much more effective to talk to a customer who’s experiencing difficulties than communicating via email) and we send samples of artwork so the customer can be sure of what they’re going to receive. We also keep all artwork for several years and keep samples of bespoke orders for when customers come back to reorder more products.

9. To round up on a slightly more positive note; what would you say the most enjoyable moment in your journey has been?


There have been lots of highlights along the way, but the proudest one is probably the fact that we celebrated our 10th birthday last week, it was a sense of achievement and relief that we’d made it so far...I wish everyone starting or growing their own business lots of luck and happiness...Lisa x

Sprouting Seed Faces...

Sprouting Seed Faces from Kelsey Pike on Etsy

You know that person who seems to have everything and is really hard to buy for - I can guarantee you that they don't have a seed pack of sprouting faces... 100% guaranteed unique gift!!! I think they're a bit creepy...





Online Marketing for your Craft Business - Win a £25 Etsy Gift Card!



Etsy on the Tellybox! Brilliant advert, keep an eye out for it :)

Details on how to win a £25 voucher at the end of the post!

Isn't it fab to see a handmade market place being advertised on the TV - spreading the word about buying (and selling) craft and supporting designers in the UK - every new visitor to Etsy is a potential new customer and craft fan!  I find once people get the bug of buying unique gifts from designers they start to realise how mundane and samey a lot of the stuff available in chain stores can be!

Etsy School for Business at Kirstie's Handmade Fair




I'm excited to be hosting a 30 minute session at the Etsy Business School at Kirstie Allsops Handmade Fair at 12.30 on September 21st at Hampton Court.  They have masses of sessions from experts with essential tips for selling craft online. 

I'll be discussing social media and content marketing and should have a few copies of my new book "Online Marketing for your Craft Business" to show off with too if they are delivered on time!

A few of my friends and contributors of top tips to the book are also on Kirstie's amazing panel of experts - Jamie Mr X Stitch, Lauren aka Deadly Knitshade and Tilly Walnes (all crafty experts at blogging and social media) - plus the Mollie Makes team are sponsoring and Lara Watson the Editor has also added a few networking tips to my new book!

Details here if you want to book a session or enquire etc - Etsy Business School

I think creative people are predisposed to be experts at content marketing and social media!



My new book is fairly self explanatory from the title I hope! - here's a brief snippet from the details over on Amazon where it is available for pre order already (although we still haven't finished designing the cover yet, so ignore that for the time being!)

"This book  is not a basics book telling you to be chatty and sociable (like you didn’t know already that being friendly was important!) It is full of practical tips to improve your online networking skills and save you precious time, teaching you everything you need to know about online marketing, and how to set realistic measurable goals which will have a genuine positive impact on sales and brand awareness. It will show you how blogging and social media can connect you not just to customers but importantly to industry influencers and publishers who will share and champion your products"

I also wanted to share a lovely review from my online friend and Etsy Expert Tim Adam who writes at the huge blog Handmadeology - he's had a draft copy already!

"I know what it takes first hand to market your crafts online and Hilary's book is one of the most detailed marketing books out there for creative business owners... If you are looking for a marketing guide to help your craft business thrive, then you need to pick up Hilary's book." Timothy Adam, Handmadeology
oops it says £20 but it's actually £25!!!


Win a £25 Etsy Gift Voucher!

Did you skip straight to the end for the competition?  It's ok I'll forgive you, we're all busy!

To win the £25 Etsy gift card please let me know in a comment below what you feel the hardest aspect a designer has to face when selling crafts online (you don't have to be a craft seller to enter by the way, would just love your feedback on this issue)

PLUS!
If you share the post on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest and tag with @craftbloguk so I can find them I will also give you extra entries for each (one per network) But you must add a quick comment too!

Entry closes Sunday 29th June 2014 at midnight!



You aren't just buying a thing!


I don't know who wrote this but I think it is brilliant!  Don't ever undervalue the passion, hard work and time that your crafts take!

It fits perfectly with a post I wrote last year - Value Your Work - Pricing Your Handmade Products 

(If you know the author of this little piece of text please let me know, I would love to credit them!)


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