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Friday, 28 September 2012

Happy birthday say it!

This week I'm celebrating a year of running say it. I can't believe that it's come round so quickly. It's been a fantastic year learning more about crafts I love, spending far too much time figuring out promotion and getting my head around running a business. I have thoroughly enjoyed being my own boss and don't seem to have gone too crazy spending most of my time in the house on my own

It's been a successful year with almost 1500 separate visitors browsing my shop and 10,000 page views of the blog. Thank you so much to everyone who has supported say it during this first year - thank you to my customers, facebook likers, twitter followers, Folksy forum friends and fellow bloggers who have kept me going.

To help celebrate and say thank you to all you wonderful people I will be having a giveaway - check back next week and I'll tell you all about it. Don't miss out on your chance to win some free say it handmade cards.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Folksy Five #9

I've got some more of your favourite Folksy shops today. There were too many nominations for me to pick just five, so I thought I'd spread them over two posts (see the first one here). The title's actually a bit of a lie, as there are only three shops featured today rather than the usual five!

Thank you again to everyone who nominated their favourite shop, and thanks to today's Folksy sellers for taking part. As usual, click on the shop banners to browse these wonderful shops and see all their handmade goodies for sale.

Your name: Tracy

Shop name: Cinnamon Jewellery

Nominated by: Hazel @ Flame Haired Jewellery , Colleen @ Midnight Star Designs and Nana @ Nanfan

Describe the items you make in 3 words: Colourful, rustic, different

How long have you been selling on Folksy: Nearly three years

What’s your top tip for someone selling on Folksy: Be prepared to work at it! Put as much effort into how your shop looks as you do in making your items. Read up on the DSR's and fill in your policies. Write a profile – buyers like to know a bit about who they're buying from. Acknowledge every sale and post promptly. A well presented shop reassures buyers you care. Work on your photos - experiment with backgrounds, read up on how to use your camera to get the best results. List regularly and write good descriptions - what your item is made of, measurements, etc. I could go on but I'll stop there!

What are your 3 favourite items from your shop:

Your name: Armine

Shop name: Picocrafts

Nominated by: Nikki @ Bucket and Spade Designs and Helen @ Helle Belles Cards

Describe the items you make in 3 words: papercrafts, needlecrafts and scented sachets

How long have you been selling on Folksy: One and a half years

What’s your favourite shop to buy supplies from: I have a few favourite online shops that I buy my items from. For scrapbooking materials I love The Craft Emporium because they always have beautiful papers from my favourite designers. And for basic craft items I use Cardcraft because their prices are good and p&p is free.

What are your 3 favourite items from your shop:

Your name: Sam

Shop name: Pants and Paper

Nominated by: Colleen @ Midnight Star Designs and Pauline @ An Occasional Daydream

Describe the items you make in 3 words: Shabby Chic & Unique

How long have you been selling on Folksy: Three and a half years

What advertising do you do that brings the most visitors to your shop: My best promotional tool at the moment is Facebook. I have made a real effort lately to try and spend more time there and it has paid off, with most of my viewings/sales coming via my page. I also use an advertising site, which I use to place an advert on various blogs and other relevant sites mainly at weekends. It is very quick and easy to use and fairly cheap too.

What are your 3 favourite items from your shop:

And as usual I asked them to pick their favourite item from the say it Folksy shop:

Sarajevo postcard chosen by Cinnamon Jewellery
Tinos mini map jotter chosen by Picocrafts
Skiddaw button magnets chosen by Pants and Paper

Monday, 24 September 2012

New birthday card designs

At the beginning of the summer I set myself the target of getting to 20 different birthday cards in my shop by September. And I've actually surpassed my goal and now have 25 birthday designs! I really wanted to have enough different cards for people to choose from, so hopefully there is sufficient variety now for everyone to find one they like :-)

I thought I'd show you some of the newest designs. Click on the pictures to find out more. 

I'm really supposed to be designing Christmas cards, but it feels a little odd in September! I have made a start and we had some friends to stay this weekend who wanted to know why I had a tray of little fimo Christmas trees in the dining room... Must crack on with getting them in the shop this week. I'll hopefully be able to show you lots of lovely Christmas cards soon, for those of you who are super keen and like to start your Christmas shopping early. 

I'm linking up to Handmade Monday - do pop over and take a look at what other crafty peeps have been up to this week. 

Friday, 21 September 2012

Folksy Friday: September Weekly listing club

I belong to a group on the Folksy forums called the Weekly listing club. It's a group of Folksy sellers who encourage one another to list new products in their shop each week, and help to promote one another. So for this week's Folksy Friday I thought I would show you some of the wonderful handmade items that members of the group have been making this week. Click on the pictures to find out more about each item.

Russian doll charm bracelet
Beady Daze
Business card holder
An Owl to the Hollow
Yangmei birthday card
Say it
Autumn leaves needle case
Crafty Bags
Fabric notebook cover
CeeCee Gem Designs
Aquamarine and hematite necklace
Beadstorm Jewellery
Colourful chicken coaster
She Is All Art
Robin sun catcher
ARP Glass Designs
Christmas tree decoration
Christmas stocking decorations
Eileen's Craft Studio

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

DART Gallery

A couple of months ago I shared the exciting news that some of my handmade products were being stocked in a gallery in Lancashire. You can read about the excitement of having items for sale in a proper bricks and mortar shop here.

Recently I made the trip over to Darwen to visit the DART Gallery for the first time, and see my work on display. The Gallery is housed in the reception area of Darwen Aldridge Community Academy. There were some lovely displays of artwork and wonderful handmade goodies. It was very exciting to see my notebooks and magnets amongst them, along with the work of some other Folksy sellers that I recognised.

Monday, 17 September 2012

What is success for you?

Have you ever stopped to think about where you want to end up? You've started up a little business, worked really hard at it, seen it growing from strength to strength... But do you know where you're trying to get to? What does success look like for you? Will you ever stop trying to grow your business?

Maybe that's a bit of a controversial thing to say?! Most businesses seem to want to grow and grow and grow - and they won't stop until they've taken over the world. Bigger tends to be seen as better. But in the handmade marketplace, is there a point at which bigger isn't better?

Once you get over a certain number of orders per week, it won't be possible for you to fulfill them all yourself. By necessity, you would need to employ others to help with the business, or you would need to modify your products so that they can be produced faster. But does employing others change the personal identity of your brand? If your brand is you and one of your selling points is the personal contact that customers have with the maker, then this will radically change if you need the help of others to fulfill orders. If you decide to stick with your one man band, what will this mean for the production of your products? Often card makers have to stop making each card by hand, and turn to a print and then hand embellish production line. But is this where you want to go with your business?

At this point you might be thinking, yes, that's what I want. For me to be successful means growing the business beyond what I am capable of on my own. That's great. There seems to be plenty of advice out there on the net about how to achieve this and motivating success stories to keep you going. If this is what you want, don't settle for less.

But I know that success for me is much smaller than this. I didn't set out to take over the world. I wanted to make a little bit of money to add to our family income. I didn't really think about how much, just some more than what we had would be nice. And I knew that I wanted to be able to manage the business on about 20 hours a week. Any more than this and it would start interfering with family life, which I wanted to remain the priority.

Now, I've still got plenty of room to grow within these parameters. At the moment, my 20 hours a week seem to be filled too much with advertising and not enough with fulfilling orders. So I want to continue to grow until I have a steady stream of buyers and need to go to the post office every day rather than every week. But I know that I don't want to grow so much that I have more parcels than I can carry to take to the post office every day!

Can I encourage you to think about your goals and any parameters you want to set for your business. Maybe success is actually getting a few customers - people who actually want to spend their hard earned cash buying your work! Maybe success looks like a busy online shop, with increasing page views. Perhaps you want to get your items stocked in a few shops. Perhaps it needs to be 'certain' shops before you're satisfied (dreaming of Harrods?!). Once you've set some goals that you'd like to achieve, take a step back and think about what your job would look like if you achieved them. Would you have enough orders to make the income you desire? Or would you have too many orders that you'd be stressed out trying to complete?

Allow your dreams to flourish, but prune them occasionally too.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Folksy Five #8

This week's Folksy Five is a little different to normal. Rather than just showing you five of my favourite Folksy shops, I asked for nominations for YOUR favourite Folksy shops. Thank you to everyone who responded to let me know their top sellers, it's been great browsing some new shops I'd not seen before. I hope you like them too. Click on the shop banners to head through to their Folksy shops.

PS. Can anyone tell me how it's September already?!

Your name: Jo

Shop name: JoSara 

Nominated by: Clare @ Jumbleberries

Describe the items you make in 3 words: Mosaics, Colour, Pattern

How long have you been selling on Folksy: A year and a half

What’s your top tip for someone selling on Folksy: Try and take the best photographs of your items that you possibly can. I do a weekly blog showcasing themed items from Folksy, so I am used to trawling through pages of pics from a search. Quite a lot of the time I will find the perfect thing for the theme, but the photo is either cropped weirdly, or it’s got a fussy background, or it’s out of focus, which puts me off using it. Your item photo is the first thing a customer will see of your shop on a page of other search results, so it needs to grab their attention and entice them in to find out more. If dull light is a problem, make a small investment in a photo tent and a couple of daylight lamps to brighten the items up. If it’s difficult to get a clean, bright background, try, which will magically transform the background for you. Another tip is to make use of the Macro facility on your camera. You don’t need a flashy camera to get great close ups, just find out how to change the camera setting to Macro (the tulip flower icon) and you’ll have pin sharp images. And if there’s too much background in the photo, try cropping the image so the item is the main focus. If you don’t have any basic software (you usually get some free software on CD with most digital cameras), you can always Google ‘cropping photos’ and you’ll find loads of free sites that you can upload your pic to. Lastly, make sure to use all 5 photo spaces in your Folksy listing to show the whole of the item (on all sides if it’s got a pattern, or detail that you can’t see in one go), show close ups on any important details (try using some arty camera angles to get some interesting close ups), and you could put the item into context, too, i.e. if it’s a bracelet, show it on a real arm. Imagine you are your customer. What would you look at on your item? What would you want to have a closer look at? You have to be the eyes and hands of your customer via your pictures.

What are your 3 favourite items from your shop:

Your name: Nicole

Shop name: Hollybird Beads

Nominated by: Emma @ Ritzy Swish

Describe the items you make in 3 words: Delicate, intricate & sparkly!

How long have you been selling on Folksy: 2 years, I started selling my work in the Summer of 2010

What’s your favourite shop to buy supplies from: I try to buy most of my beads from UK suppliers, but there is one shop, based in France, called Perles & Co, which does a fab range of gorgeous Swarovski crystals including the more unusual colours that I just can't resist buying from.

What are your 3 favourite items from your shop:

Your name: Hazel

Shop name: Flame Haired Jewellery Designs

Nominated by: Teresa @ Creative Treasures and Christine @ Raven's Stained Glass

Describe the items you make in 3 words: Classical and Decadent Jewellery

How long have you been selling on Folksy: Since March 2010

How do you decide what to make next: I don't decide as such, the ideas come to me (sometimes in the middle of the night, unfortunately!), but I'll most likely make a charm bracelet first in the colour scheme that inspires me at the time (charm bracelets are my absolute favourite thing to make), then either matching items, or similar items in another colour scheme follow.

What are your 3 favourite items from your shop:


Your name: Janice

Shop name: Wellydog

Nominated by: Natalie @ NOfkant's Curios

Describe the items you make in 3 words: Art

How long have you been selling on Folksy: It must be coming up for 3 years but I started selling tiaras and jewellery, I have been wellydog gallery selling art for nearly 2 years

How do you decide what to make next: I am always inspired by my surroundings so wherever I am I take photos and these quite often lead onto work. It's always an instinctual thing for me, whatever feels right is, what I paint next

What are your 3 favourite items from your shop:

Your name: Jools

Shop name: Art by Jools Yasities

Nominated by: Tracy @ Cinnamon Jewellery

Describe the items you make in 3 words: Paintings, lino prints

How long have you been selling on Folksy: Approx. 18 months

How do you decide what to make next: I work mainly on two threads of art; lino prints and paintings. Both of these come from my initial drawing and photography of anything and everything that inspires me. I always have a sketchbook full of ideas and a notebook of things I think of as I go along, so my work is an ongoing development of whatever I am particularly loving at the time. It’s frequently quite difficult to choose just one piece of work to start, and I regularly have half a dozen or so on the go at once. I’d say it’s a bit of a prize draw as to what I pluck from my imagination on any given day.

What are your 3 favourite items from your shop:

And their favourite items from the say it shop are:

Ottawa personalised notebook
chosen by Hollybird Beads
Sarajevo postcard chosen by Flame Haired Jewellery and JoSara
Rhodes map notebook
chosen by Wellydog
Munich sheet music notebook chosen by Jools Yasities

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