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Thursday, 26 February 2015

Behind the scenes - February

If you missed the first behind the scenes post last month you can see what I got up to in January here. February has been similarly quiet for sales, as expected for this time of year. It's still busier than last year though and I love it when I can see progress each year. I've been using the extra time to continue building up a stock of notebooks ready for personalising, which will mean I can handle more orders when the shop gets busier as part of the making is already done.

I enjoy not having quite so many orders to do as it also gives me time to be creative and design new products which is one of my favourite parts of my job. Afterall, it's really why I started running say it, as I liked making cards and stationery. There's a new wedding card in the shop made from a gorgeous copper vinyl. It's personalised with the couple's names as this seems to be a really popular option for wedding cards.

Of course, to get a new card in the shop involves far more than just creating a design and making up a sample. I have to think about the numbers and work out if the design will be profitable, taking into account the time it takes to make and the cost of the materials. And I spend a while drafting a product description, thinking hard about the key words customers will use when searching for the item. Then I have to take a million photos and go through them all hoping to find 3-5 that are usable, usually after more than a little editing. Taking photos is probably my least favourite part of running say it. I know a lot of creative peeps really enjoy it, but it drives me up the wall! It seems to take forever and there's never enough light to get them nice and bright. This month I built myself a new backdrop and started to play around with how to get more light onto the object without casting shadows. You can see my new photography set up here (it really is very basic!).

I've started working on a few more new designs too. I try to add at least one new product or range of products to my shop each month, to keep it looking fresh. But I know that in the busy months when I have loads of orders to get to the post office I won't have time to sit down and play around with new designs. So my plan is to make several new products now and get them ready for the shop, but hold off listing so that I still have something new to show later in the year. There are a couple of sneak previews below though!

And finally, I've been doing some shopping! One of the trickiest parts of running say it is ensuring I have the right levels of stock of all my supplies. I don't want to order loads of one particular thing and waste money on it if I never use it all up. But equally, I don't want to run out of crucial supplies when I have orders waiting to be made. One thing I always keep an eye out for is vintage maps and atlases suitable for making into map notebooks. I found a couple of really nice ones on Ebay this month so was excited about that. And I bought some slightly more boring supplies too, like glue and thread.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Improving my product photography

Each year I like to have one area of my business to focus on improving. I'm very aware that there is loads that could be done to make my little business better, but if I try to do them all at once it becomes so overwhelming and time consuming. Since I spend most of my working time making up orders (as this is what brings the pennies in afterall) I only have a couple of hours a month that I can use for making improvements. Now that I've got my business up and running and (hopefully) looking pretty professional there's no rush to improve everything at once. So I like to pick one main area at the start of the year that I'll invest time in.

This year it's my product photography. I keep all my photos pretty plain and easy, with a standard white background. A couple of years ago when I last looked at my product photos I put a lot of effort into making sure the backgrounds really were nice and bright white, rather than greyish or blueish depending on the light. However, I did this mainly by editing the photos after taking them. It seemed to be taking a disproportionately long time to get good product photos, so I thought it was about time to think about how I could improve the original shot so that it needed less editing.

After quite a lot of reading I felt that I could change two things relatively easily: the background and lighting. So I've built myself a new white backdrop that I can simply place my products onto.

It's just a piece of very thick cardboard stuck at right angles, with a large sheet of white card attached at the top. Nothing fancy here!

But it's great and making a huge difference so far. It's portable, so I can move it around the house depending on where the light is. And it's large enough that I can get a good shot of my product wholly within the white backdrop. So no more editing out joins in the card or the bits round the edges where the background wasn't quite big enough. Here it is all set up with my mini tripod.

Next up I need to work on the lighting. I've partly solved it by being able to move the set up to the lightest part of the house depending on the time of day. But each time I need to take some product photos I'm going to have a little play and see what else I can do.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Personalised copper wedding card

Two of my favourite trends at the moment are script fonts and copper. So I've combined them both in my latest design! This gorgeous personalised wedding card is now available from the say it shop.

I've been playing around with this idea for a while but simply printing the words was too plain and I wanted to give it a touch of luxury. Then I found some shiny metallic vinyl and put my silhouette portrait to work cutting it out and I love the result.

This card is for my cousin who's getting married this summer. I love being able to send personalised cards that are so much more special than ones you can buy on the high street. If you know a happy couple who'll be tying the knot soon why not take a look at my range of personalised wedding cards

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Handmade favourites: gifts for film fanatics

My wonderful brother and his girlfriend bought us a Chromecast for Christmas. I am one of the least techie people ever and couldn't even make it work without him coming to visit to set it up, but now that I know how to use it I'm loving it. And it's opened up a whole world of tv and film, accessible right from my living room. No more needing to order DVDs and wait for them to arrive.

So we've been watching quite a few films recently and have a long wishlist of things to watch. It's the perfect time of year for snuggling up under a blanket with a large bowl of popcorn. Today's handmade favourites was inspired by my renewed love of films. Everything is handmade in the UK and available to buy online (links below).

Starwars film poster by Archive Film Posters
Printable popcorn boxes by Vanilla Retro
Film quote art print by 17th and Oak
Narnia retro travel poster by Teacup Piranha
Film buff mug by The Pot Bank

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