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Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Photographing your handmade items

As I learn about different aspects of making and selling and running a little craft business I like to share what I have discovered. I don't feel I've mastered any of these topics, but I know there must be people who are one or two steps behind me for whom the information will be useful. You can see previous posts on such things as pricing, branding and advertising here.

For my next challenge, I have been attempting to get my head around photography. This has been quite a steep learning curve. When I first started out nearly 18 months ago I put all my time and effort into making the items, then just took a quick photo wherever I happened to be at the time and stuck it up on my Folksy shop. I cringe as I look back and see the photos I was using to 'sell' my items.

The first photos I took of my handmade items

Wooden floors, my desk, stripy rugs and coloured folders all appear in the backgrounds. The photos were often out of focus and dark, and really did not represent my items at their best. It didn't take me long to agree with what I was reading on other blogs and handmade sites - the customer only has a few photos to get a feel for the product as they cannot pick it up and hold it in their hands, therefore these photos are the key to selling your item. I knew I needed to make my photos as good as I could.

So ever since then I've been learning everything I can about what my photos need to look like and how to take them. I am definitely not an expert, but I have picked up some tips that are worth sharing. I think there are three stages to getting good photos:

  1. Setting up the shot
  2. Taking the photo
  3. Editing the image

With the help of some fellow Folksy sellers, I will share with you how you can do the best you can at each of these stages. And without any fancy equipment, expensive cameras or professional training, I hope to encourage you that you can take very good photos that will do your handmade items justice. 

Click on each stage above to read the blog posts. 

My new and improved product photos

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Folksy Five #13

I've decided to continue with the Folksy Five posts this year. I love featuring Folksy sellers that I come across. There are so many fabulous shops on there, I don't think I'll run out of new ones to show you for ages!

Click on the shop banners of these wonderful sellers to head through to their shops and see the full range of goodies they have on offer. Everything is handmade - these are some very talented peeps.

And their chosen items from the say it Folksy shop are:

Rhodes map notebook chosen by Hello Flo
and Little Wren Pottery
Munich music notebook
chosen by Victoria Snape
Larissa wedding anniversary card
chosen by Popsey
Doho beaded bracelet
chosen by Jolly Good Creations

Monday, 21 January 2013

I've been featured

Last week was an exciting one for me as I found out that I'd been featured twice. Firstly, the fantastic card and gift blog published a 'behind the design' interview with me.

You can see the interview here. Check out my new profile shot too - I have to give credit to my dad for this pic. He insisted that he only really does landscape photography and not people, but I think he did a fantastic job. Shame he doesn't live closer otherwise I might employ him to do product photos!

Secondly I have found myself in Craftseller magazine again. I sent some info and pics to them a while ago, but didn't know if they would use it. Then I was flicking through my latest copy and spotted my new profile pic! It's only a small contribution but they've included a few quotes from me so I'm quite excited.

Craftseller article on promotion

Here I am on page 71

And the card they featured is one of my new ones, that's already proving popular. You can find it in my shop here

I'm linking this post up with the 100th Handmade Monday over at Handmade Harbour. Many thanks to Wendy for running this - it's a great way to find new blogs to read so why not pop over and have a look.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Folksy Friday: Winter hats

I've definitely needed my stripey wool hat this week to venture out in the snow, so I thought I'd have a look on Folksy for my favourite hats. Here's a great selection of handmade headwear for all ages to keep you toasty warm this winter.

Owl toddler hat by Slugs on the Refrigerator 
Crochet frog hat by Precious Thoughts
Blue crochet baby hat by Edita's shop
The lazy bobble hat by Dolly Knits
Mouse beanie hat by Little Seed

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

New branding: a sneaky peek

I have been wanting to sit down and think about my branding for a while now, but with the Christmas rush I just didn't have time to do anything but make up orders and take trips to the post office. Thank goodness that January is a quiet month sales-wise. I am enjoying having the time and space to consider what I want for say it and come up with a wish list of things that I'd like to achieve this year.

Top of my list is to refresh my branding. When I designed my current branding I knew very little about how my shop would work out, what I would sell, who my customers were etc. I think I did ok, but 16 months in it definitely needs a spring clean. I don't want a totally different brand, I want it to be recognisable as me so I know that some of the aspects of my brand will need to stay the same, I can't change everything. So I listed out the different parts to figure out which bits to freshen up.

Name - definitely not changing this. I did think about it as I'm never going to do well in the search engines for 'say it'. But it's my name and I'm keeping it.
Font - I like my fonts, so I'm keeping these too.
Colour - blue's ok, but I'd like to combine it with something a bit more fun.
Logo - the speech bubble with little pictures inside works well so I'm keeping the idea, but it needs updating to reflect a more professional image.
Background - the crazy flowery background has to go! Something light coloured and plain seems to be in fashion at the moment. 

I'm still playing around to see how my ideas look as shop banners, avatars, business cards etc. However, I can share with you a sneaky peek of what's currently on my drawing board:

I'd love to hear what you think. Am I on the right lines? Or is this worse than what I've currently got? Hate the orange? Please let me know

Friday, 11 January 2013

Folksy Friday: A little bit of colour

For my first Folksy Friday post of 2013 I thought I'd look for some nice colourful items to cheer us all up as we continue the uphill struggle of getting back into the routine of work after the Christmas break. And with a fresh new design for the new year too. I hope you like it:-)

The links are below the images. Please do click through and see what else these lovely people have for sale in their Folksy shops.

Bright handmade bowl by Lesley McShea Ceramics
Felt wool brooch by That Fuzzy Feeling
Bright blue pearl bracelets by Sharon Perry Designs
Lavender scented yellow octopus by The Old Bobbin Mill
Orange mother of pearl bracelet by Nanfan Jewellery
Colourful little elephants purse by Girl of the Sixties 

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

This year I'd like to...

I love thinking about what I'd like to try or learn in the coming year. Last year I chose four new crafts, and managed three and a half.

I enjoyed adding buttons into my jewellery making.

I absolutely loved needle felting and will certainly be doing more this year. So far I've kept it as a hobby, but this year I have some plans to incorporate it into a new range for my shop.

My attempts at polymer clay bead making didn't go so well and I have huge respect for the makers who have mastered this craft. But I did discover that you can make some great card toppers from fimo. I've got some new cutters to try out soon, so look out for a few new designs.

The new craft that I half tried was book binding. I've learnt quite a lot and perfected the technique for making notebooks with a ribbon spine. But this is definitely a craft to carry over into this year. My notebooks were my most popular products last year, so I shall be expanding my skills and bringing some new styles to the shop.

I'd also like to learn more about colour. I found a great introductory game to colour from Method of Action which really opened my eyes. I previously had never thought about how colours were formed or related to one another. This is something I'd like to discover more about and hopefully use to improve my designs.

A must on my to do list this year is improving my product photos. I'm pretty pleased with some of my new style images on white backgrounds, but I still have a long way to go before I'm happy with the overall look of the photos in my shop. Santa very kindly brought me a new camera for Christmas, so there's nothing stopping me now!

And finally, I'd like to have a go at stamping/printing my own images. So many stamps are copyrighted and have restricted use, and I'm not massively keen on using other people's designs because I want my products to be truly mine. I'll let you know how I get on!

Monday, 7 January 2013

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to you all. I hope you laughed lots and ate too much this Christmas time. I had a fantastic time with family and three weeks off work was definitely a much needed break. I learnt to play Rummykub, finally watched the end of the Sound of Music, made truffles, discovered that Ace Venturer Pet Detective is the answer to everything, raced my wind up ladybird against a cricket and a set of false teeth, ate a lot of sausage rolls, and spent far too many hours in the car.

And now I'm back. I've waded through my emails, tidied up and reopened my Folksy shop, and caught up with the blogs I follow. I have so much planned for this year and I can't wait to get crafting again.

I thought I'd start 2013 by sharing with you some of my favourite craft blogs, sites and events that made last year such a great one.

tips, tricks and general thriftyness

a fab blog full of DIYs, recipes and craft related adventures
a fun and fresh lifestyle blog

the most amazing online craft fair

craft business advice, tutorials and a Monday blog link up

a beautiful community of crafters sharing advice and encouragement

practical advice for handmade businesses

a great blog providing networking and promotion opportunities for crafters

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