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Monday, 30 July 2012

New Year New Craft #3 - Needle felting

At the beginning of the year I picked four new crafts that I'd like to try this year. I quickly had a go at some button jewellery and fimo modelling. The year's not quite so new any more, but I am still pursuing the other two crafts and have recently bought myself a needle felting kit :-)

It came with a brief page of instructions, that basically said 'stab it lots'. So I did. I tried stabbing wool onto a felt backing and then cut it out to create a heart shape:

Not too bad for a first attempt. Then I tried making a flower:

Somehow it doesn't look quite right and it's quite flimsy. I'm not sure it would last very long if I turned it into a brooch. Perhaps I didn't stab it enough??

Then I had the brilliant idea of including ribbon to try and make a flower:

Disaster! Stabbing the needle through the ribbon just pulled the threads. I almost didn't show you this one as it's so bad it's embarrassing

But I started to get the hang of it and made another flower:

Finally, something I can be proud of saying "I made this". I'm going to turn it into a brooch I think. I shall have to see if I can repeat this success - if I can I'm hoping to have a few little flowers like this in my folksy shop soon (ish!).

I have thoroughly enjoyed my attempts at needle felting so far and hope I get chance to experiment a bit more soon. It's quite therapeutic repeatedly stabbing at something

I'm linking this post into handmade monday again. It's a fab link party where you can find out about what all sorts of crafty people have been making recently. Do pop over and take a look at some of the other blogs that have linked up.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Advertising your handmade items - 10 weeks on

At the end of April I wrote a post about some research I had done on promoting your handmade crafts. You can see the post here. It was a summary of lots of different things you can do to advertise your shop or website, including social media, forums and directories. I was amazed by the number of different ways there are to get your products seen by potential customers.

As promised, I'm back to let you know which of these many ideas have been most successful. For the last 10 weeks I've been monitoring how much traffic each method of promotion has brought to my blog and / or shop.

Here's a summary of the figures:

Folksy shop

Site Average no. of views /week Average time spent on the site
Facebook 14.3 04:48
My blog 10.8 07:06
Other people's blogs
- leaving comments or being featured
3.4 08:48
Folksy Forums 35 03:48
Craft Juice 7.2 06:24
The Crafty Network 1.5 05:03
Handmade Crafts Directory 1 05:42
Heart Handmade 2.4 14:31
Free Ads 0.1 02:56
Stall Holder 0.25 02:16
CraftFest / Creative Connections 2.1 16:30
Made it Flaunt it
- during month of showcase
2.5 00:20


Site Average no. of views /week Average time spent on the site
Facebook 11.2 02:36
Other people's blogs
- leaving comments or being featured
0.8 02:06
Folksy Forums 38.9 01:16
The Crafty Network 0.83 02:01
Heart Handmade 1.1 03:51
UK Craft Blog 1.7 00:30
CraftFest / Creative Connections 3.25 06:19
Blog Rings 4.8 01:40
Link Parties 3.1 04:12

Number one tip for advertising: Use the forums for the selling site you use. As you can see, the Folksy forums bring the most visitors to both my shop and my blog, by quite a long way.

Number two: Get in on the social media action. Facebook comes second for both the shop and the blog. I believe that Twitter and Pinterest are also very good at bringing traffic, but I have only just started using these so I've not included them as it's not a fair comparison.

Number three: Start a blog and update it regularly. My blog gets quite a lot of traffic, and from the numbers above I can see that some of it makes its way across to my shop. These people are already interested in what I do, and tend to spend quite a while browsing my shop.

Number four: Sign up to Craftjuice. It's free promotion and it works.

Number five: Link your blog up to some link parties or blog rings. It generates a bit of extra traffic. I've only used one link party and one blog ring, but if you were to sign up to four or five you could potentially bring in a lot more visitors than the figures above suggest.

Number six: Network. Join other forums. Leave comments on blogs you follow. Interact with people on Facebook and Twitter. Swap blog buttons. Look out for bloggers who do regular features of handmade makers and put yourself forward. As they say, it's often about who you know.

Number seven: If you have time sign up to craft directories and blog directories. These tend to bring quite a bit of traffic to begin with, especially if the latest additions to the directory are at the top, but it trails off over time. It's not going to bring you the most visitors, but who wouldn't say no to an extra one or two for free.

Please note that this research was only done over a 10 week period, and I wasn't consistently putting the same effort into all the above. It's probably fairly obvious, but it looks like you get the rewards where you put the work in. And this wasn't a comprehensive search, so I've probably missed some excellent advertising sites. Please let me know your favourites in the comments!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

5 days left to save money

We all like saving money right?

For just five more days you can get 15% off in the say it shop when you spend more than £5 and quote code FB15%. You just need to follow this blog or like the say it facebook page. Easy.

You get 15% off your entire order, which will be refunded after your purchase (as folksy doesn't actually have a discount code function). Just pop the code in the note to seller box at checkout.

If you've got a wedding coming up this summer, you could use the discount to save on some wedding cards.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Folksy Five #5

I feel like this series of posts is properly established now I've reached #5. I'm really enjoying writing them and showing you my favourite shops on Folksy. And the wonderful thing is that more shops join Folksy every day, so there's even more amazing handmade creations to explore.

Here's this week's top five. Click on the shop banner to head through to the Folksy shop and see more of their lovely items.

Your name: John

Shop name: Reclaimed Time

Describe the items you make in 3 words: Reclaimed, Upcycled, Driftwood

How long have you been selling on Folksy: 18 months

What’s your favourite shop to buy supplies from: The beach, although you can never guarantee what you will find

What are your 3 favourite items from your shop:

Your name: Emma

Shop name: Ritzy Swish

Describe the items you make in 3 words: Textiles Art Gifts

How long have you been selling on Folksy: Since April 2011

What advertising do you do that brings the most visitors to your shop: Twitter, although stumbledupon is good and craftjuice. The folksy forums bring lots of views too.

What are your 3 favourite items from your shop:

Your name: Claire

Shop name: Created and Felted

Describe the items you make in 3 words: Felted, Colourful , Tactile.

How long have you been selling on Folksy: 3 years

Where do you make your items: Anywhere and everywhere. I love to knit outside in the garden (if it ever stops raining!) and of course at craft events when I'm chatting to my lovely customers, or curled up by the fire with an audio book in the background.....

What are your 3 favourite items from your shop:

Your name: Melina

Shop name: Dolly Daydream Designs

Describe the items you make in 3 words: Vintage, sweet and whimsical

How long have you been selling on Folksy: 4 months

On average, how many items do you make in a week: This really depends on how much spare time I have available and whether the old creative juices are flowing! I could sit down and make 2 or 3 cards in one day if I'm feeling inspired but i try to put at least one new item onto my Folksy shop a week to keep it fresh.

What are your 3 favourite items from your shop:

Your name: Lana

Shop name: Wishes on the Wind

How long have you been selling on Folksy: couple of months

Where do you make your items: By the window surrounded by beads and boxes in a very cramped living room!! and sometimes in the bedroom.

What are your 3 favourite items from your shop:

As usual I also asked each seller to pick their favourite item from the say it shop. 

Munich sheet music notebook chosen by
Dolly Daydream Designs and Ritzy Swish
Newry blue new baby card
chosen by Wishes on the Wind
Skiddaw button magnets
chosen by Created and Felted
Rhodes map notebook
chosen by Reclaimed Time

Many thanks to the folksy sellers for taking part. Do pop across and take a look at their shops. They have some fantastic items. I've certainly got my eye on one or two! 

Monday, 23 July 2012

A necklace for me!

It's not often these days that I get chance to make something for myself. Back in the days before I ran a craft business, I used to make loads of jewellery for myself. I loved the fact that I could design exactly what I wanted, choose the beads, and make it up just how I liked it. But since making jewellery to sell I've just not had the time for much crafting for pleasure. (If you turn a hobby into a business, it seems to cease being a hobby...).

Anyway, I was away last week and whilst I took some work with me the nature of being away from my desk/crafting space meant that I couldn't just carry on as normal. So I had some free time (quite a treat) and I finally got round to making myself a necklace with some beads a friend bought me last year. I've known what I wanted to do with the beads for ages, and was so excited to get the time to make them up into a necklace.

What do you think? I'm really pleased with how the spiral chain turned out. It's a peyote stitch (just in case there are any interested beaders reading this!) but adding two beads rather than one on the second row. I love wearing things I've made. I shall be wearing this often (but not today as I am wearing green and it just wouldn't go!).

I've linked this post into handmade monday. Why not hop over there and find out what other creative peeps have been making this week.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Folksy Friday - numbers

I like numbers. I'm not quite sure how I ended up a self-employed arty person after double maths A-level and a science degree... But it seems that folksy folk can make numbers arty. Here are some of my favourite numbers on folksy - everything handmade and available to buy, just click the pictures for more info.

Black and white vintage table numbers
Shabby chic table numbers
Maple and Green
Boys personalised age birthday card
Clarkie Designs
Table numbers with rope bottom
Shinta Shop
Decorative freestanding table number
Love Letters by Debbie Dilly
Table numbers
Shey's Paper Creations
Berry stripe table number
Samantha Geen Designs
Kiddies age birthday card
Any Occasion

What's in a name?

Quite a few people have mentioned that they like the fact I give each item a name. It's one of the things I've done from the very beginning. I knew I needed a way of keeping track of stock and that each item I made would need a reference number/name. It's partly so I can list stock and easily find what I'm looking for, and partly so that customers can ask for an item without having to say "the blue one with the little flower, no, not the one with the red writing, the one that's got the purple ribbon at the bottom...". I like numbers, but referring to my designs as Ref00453 didn't really excite me.

So, inspired by IKEA, I chose to use names instead of numbers. I thought about using actual names, but that's been a little over done, so instead I randomly chose a geography theme. I started naming items after cities. I tried to pick a city that sounded right and matched the design. At Christmas I started using Islands because I thought I was being clever (Santa Isabel, Santa Ines etc.!). Then came the lakes collection of jewellery. I wanted to have a range of necklaces and bracelets that were a little more stylish and upmarket, compared to my usual casual style. So they were named after lakes to give them a different identity (I know, I've not done massively well at adding pieces to this collection - there will be some more soon I promise!). Cities, islands, lakes... then mountains! I introduced a range of magnets and went with the alliteration. Mountains of magnets. I haven't quite made mountains of them, but there was a large pile at one point... Being clever again, I named my map notebooks 'Rhodes'. That made me smile for days! And subsequent map related items have followed on by being named after other Greek islands (as I couldn't think of any more map related names, this was the next best option for a theme). And similarly, the music notebook was named 'Munich' (nothing clever this time) and all designs made using recycled vintage sheet music are now German. Apart from the recent music birthday card, which is called 'Chlef' in another vague attempt at being clever...

I've got over 100 products on my stock list now. Phew, that's a lot of naming! But don't worry, there's still plenty of scope for future names. I haven't used any rivers yet. Or countries. And I could always branch out into forests.

PS. I mentioned ages ago that I have some exciting new notebooks coming soon. They are coming, honest.

PPS. I know I totally need to get on with the follow up post about advertising. See the original post here. I have started working on the numbers, so I'm hoping that I'll soon be able to share with you what's been successful and what's been a waste of time

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Versatile Blogger Award

I've won a blogging award! I'm so thrilled to know that people like reading my posts :-) I've actually been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award (VBA) three times now, but I've not had chance to blog about it.

The Rules

1. Add the award to your blog.

2. Thank the blogger(s) who gave it to you.

3. Mention 7 random things about yourself.
4. List the rules.
5. Award to 15 bloggers.
6. Inform each of those 15 by leaving a comment on their blog.

1. You can now see the fab versatile blogger button further down on the left hand side, proudly displayed. (If you don't have a clue what I'm going on about, click the green VBA button to find out more).

2. Thank you very much to Fiona from Inkyprints, Nana Louise from Nanfan Jewellery and Linda from The Crafty Network. I'm honored that you all chose my little blog as one of your favourites.

3. Hmm, lets have a think. Here we go:

  • I've only flown abroad twice that I can remember (my parents tell me I also flew to Majorca, but I was too small to remember!). 
  • I prefer chocolate to crisps. In fact, I prefer chocolate to most things...! 
  • I have just started needle felting. The fluff makes a nice change to paper. 
  • I love vegetables.
  • When I was younger I wanted to be a writer. 
  • I hate gardening. We have some pretty amazing weeds in our garden! 
  • I use an incredible amount of double sided tape - another 450m has just arrived, but it won't last me long. 

4. See above.

5. Here are some of my favourite blogs. Do take a look at them, and leave a comment to say hi. 

6. All commented. I hope they appreciate

Thanks again to those who nominated me. Thanks to the above 15 bloggers who provide me with interesting and stimulating reading material. And thanks to everyone who's following the blog - it's a huge encouragement. I shall endeavor to continue writing posts that people like to read :-)

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Folksy Five #4

I must say a huge thank you to everyone who has taken part in Folksy Five so far, including those sellers featured today. I'm really enjoying finding out a little bit about some of my favourite shops on Folksy and being able to share them with you. This week I'd like to introduce you to....

Your name: Janet Allinson

Shop name: Millicent

Describe the items you make in 3 words: Quirky, unique, loveable

How long have you been selling on Folksy: 2 years and 7 months

What materials or resources do you use most of: Vintage Buttons

What are your 3 favourite items from your shop:

Your name: Hannah

Shop name: The Lemon Pony

Describe the items you make in 3 words: Fun practical gifts

How long have you been selling on Folksy: Approx 6 months

Where do you make your items: At home in my spare room which I have taken over as my sewing room.

What are your 3 favourite items from your shop:

Your name: Claire Gent

Shop name: Claire Gent

Describe the items you make in 3 words: Painted aluminium cuffs

How long have you been selling on Folksy: 7 months

Where do you make your items: Half in the dining room and half in my tiny workshop at the back of the house!

What are your 3 favourite items from your shop:

Your name: Suzanne Lake

Shop name: Suzanne Lake – made from my heart (I used to be “Handmade from the Heart" – but changed it last year as people kept asking me at fairs if I actually make all of this stuff? Lol)

Describe the items you make in 3 words: rustic, wooden home decorations and gifts (oopps that's too many words!)

How long have you been selling on Folksy: I think 3 or 4 years

On average, how many items do you make in a week: It varies some weeks I go crazy and make tonnes – about 30-50 items. And then other weeks it can just be a few. I love creating new things and love making bespoke items for customers the most. As that's when something usually surprises you.

What are your 3 favourite items from your shop:

Suzanne says this about her heart gift cards (third pic above): I’m not really a card person, but I like to give gifts to special people in my life, and ultimately cards end up in the bin or a drawer where as if you give one of these, the receiver has something to remember you by hanging around their house. I give them to friends for thanks when watering my plants whilst I’m away, A little extra something for that someone special at Christmas when you don’t want to get a gift but “something”...on and on...they really are my fav thing to make.

Your name: Mark B

Shop name: Winter Smoke

Describe the items you make in 3 words: Cute, fun animals

How long have you been selling on Folksy: Just under 1 month

Where do you make your items: At my desk, surrounded by stacks of books, with a lovely view out the window of the countryside

What are your 3 favourite items from your shop:

And I asked all five sellers to choose their favourite item from the say it shop:

Huron blue beaded necklace chosen by
Suzanne Lake
Munich vintage sheet music
notebook chosen by Millicent
Rhodes map notebook chosen by Winter Smoke
Skiddaw button magnets chosen by The Lemon Pony
Phoenix mini notelets chosen by Claire Gent
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