Welcome to my little corner of the blogosphere to share the ups and downs of starting a craft business, with plenty of tips, mishaps and the odd glass of wine!

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Felt Penny Rug Pattern for my 100th Blog Post!

UPDATE 20.12.15: I've decided to take an unusual step for me and update this post as it's all of a sudden received a lot of traffic, bless the heart of the lady who pinned the link to it :-)

So I thought I would add some pictures of the penny rug that I went on to create and maybe a couple of others.


I knew today was auspicious and I've just discovered this my 100th blog post - so that's a pretty good start! (Can't believe how far I've come since that 1st Blog Post back in 2012!)

I'm working on something completely new for me - a penny rug (candle mat) - for those who haven't come across penny rugs before, they were made popular during the Civil War in America, when women would use scraps of material (clothes, bedspreads, etc) and using pennies (hence the name) and other coins, they would make table decorations, runners, bedspreads, wall hangings, etc with patterns made out of the cloth circles, all sewn together.

These are examples of some of the early penny rugs:

Source: The Savvy Seeker

Source: York Mountain Mercantile Blog

Source: Primatives By The Light of The Moon Blog

These early style penny rugs are very primitive and don't necessarily appeal to that many people nowadays, but the more modern style is very popular in America and is starting to filter over here (the UK) with the increase of hand crafted homewares rising in popularity.

Here are some beautiful examples that I've seen whilst doing some research for creating my own pattern:

Source: Flickr

Source: Pinterest

Source: Etsy

As we're approaching Easter, I thought I'd try an Easter Bunny Rabbit pattern for my first Penny Rug pattern.... here are a couple of work in progress shots:

Please excuse the 'not-great-taken-with-my-phone' pics, but I'm keen to get on with it and try to finish it up today... Hmmmm....!

Hopefully I'll have the pattern ready for my Etsy Shop by the weekend.

UPDATE 20.12.15:

And here are some pics of the finished Easter Bunny Penny Rug:

I was really really pleased with how well this turned out for a first pattern and my Mummy was the recipient of the sample rug and she said she's had lots of lovely comments about it.

There is a link to it in my Etsy Shop and also my Craftsy Shop

If you want to have a look at the other Penny Rug patterns I've created since, they're all in the Etsy shop too.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

And the Winner Is........

Drum Roll please......

Congratulations Carol Massey!

Your very own cuddly rainbow will be winging it's way to you tomorrow.

Thank you so much to everyone who entered - it's been a real pleasure running this giveaway as so many people have entered and left such lovely comments. So I thought I'd organise a little treat especially for those who entered... keep an eye on your inboxes tomorrow!

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Spring Giveaway - Felt Rainbow Plushie Cushion

It's HIGH time I organised another giveaway, I thought to myself last September (and even more so when I made this).... and, erm, it would now appear to be March! Whoops!

Which could make me any of these:

Hehe, only kidding... but I was playing about with the letters and these were the, ah, more polite versions of the silly words I was creating!

Anyway. As I failed miserably last year, I'm giving away one of my newest and most favourite creations to one lucky winner:

It's a cushion, a cuddly toy or a wall hanging, depending on how you want to use it! But it brings smiles to everyone's faces and it could be yours!

It measures 12" (30cm) wide by 10" (25cm) tall (not including the ribbon)

The competition runs from midnight tonight (Sat 15th March) until Midnight on Sunday 23rd March and is open to entrants worldwide (includes free P&P)

To enter, follow the instructions below, but as a hint, you'll need to have a look round the Etsy Shop

To give you an idea of the size - here it is being modeled by my 5 and 3 year old's

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

St Patrick's Day Decorations

I LOVE St Patrick's Day. Not just because I'm married to a 'Plastic Paddy' (for those of you new to the term, it means one who was born outside of Ireland, but to Irish parents and considers the Emerald Isle to be Home with a capital H!) but because I love the colour green and I love any excuse to decorate and be silly. Oh and it's a reason to base some excitable drinking and singing, which is always good in my book!

You may remember last year, I wrote a post introducing some new, limited edition items to my store:

These two are still available in my Etsy Shop until the end of March.

I've not managed to add to the St Patrick's Range this year, but I have created a Lucky Shamrocks tutorial for the lovely folk over at Felt Makes Magazine

There are loads of cool things to make in this quarterly magazine, so it's well worth having a look at!

Hope you have a wonderful Paddy's Day and...... Enjoy the Craic!

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

5 Mistakes Most Businesses Make Using Facebook

My friend and college over at Uniquely UK, Erika (she who makes divine jewellery!) recently wrote a blog post about Getting Facebook Updates and it prompted me to think about how we use Facebook as small business owners and where we all typically go wrong.

Using Facebook as a promotional tool, a marketing tool is a new concept to a lot of us. Especially those who are used to traditional marketing methods, like advertising, direct marketing (leaflet drops), press releases and sponsored links. All of these cost money and for most small businesses out there, especially newly formed businesses with little or no capital backup, these are simply unattainable.

I recently shared a post whereby the 'payment' for some work was a quarter page advert in the Craftseller Magazine:

This advert would have cost me £250 plus VAT which is far more than I could afford for one month's worth of advertising, even in a great magazine like this.

So we are left with the ever popular 'free advertising' that can be done on social media sites like Facebook.

Here are 5 of the things that most business page owners will do on Facebook, why they're not good and what you can do instead:

1. Liking from a business page

A like from a business page doesn't count towards your total number of likes, as seen here:

Now while this isn't really a problem for the business page doing the 'liking' it will potentially bother the owner of the page you are liking. Whilst it isn't all about the 'likes' counter, it is important to most of us as a reflection of how many people potentially we can reach with our products and how many potential customers we have. You are much more likely to get a visit (and hopefully a 'like') in return if you like the fellow business page from your personal page and leave a comment such as "Just visiting your gorgeous page, love the XXX you make! Simmi from @Grace's Favours xxx"

2. Not posting often enough

In order to keep up interest in your page, you need to be posted content at least once a day in an ideal world. This is easy for some of us, who like me, are practically glued to their computer or smart phone... ahem... but for others, this poses a real time management issue.

Did you know you can schedule posts? It's really easy:

Write your post as normal and then click on the little clock icon in the bottom left hand corner of the box
Choose the date and time you want the post released and click 'Schedule'
Note: UTC means Coordinated Universal Time or as we more often know it, GMT - Greenwich Mean Time.

3. Just posting product links

One thing that puts me off quicker than anything else on any social media platform (twitter, facebook, blogs, etc) is when a business just posts links to it's new products and listings. Nothing else, no behind the screens tidbits, no work in progress photos, no chatty posts to help you get to know the person behind the business, just links to products.

If I come across a business doing this, I unfollow and unlike quickly. As a customer/potential customer you need to feel interested in the business page and engaged with them. The best pages for this are the ones who share a great mix of product photos and links, information about their workspace, or what they find hard to motivate themselves to do for their business or stories about disasters - everyone loves a good disaster - it's happened to us all, but we do like the reassurance that even the most organised, together of business owners don't get it right all the time!

4. Not interacting with networking pages

This is a debatable issue as some people get a lot more out of this practice than others. I have wasted many many hours (more than I care to admit!) on networking pages like UK Mums Who Make or I Run A Small Business trawling through posts, leaving comments with links to my products, posting about new products that I've made, etc BUT.... there are times when it's really worth putting up a post on a networking page. If you have a new product to shout about, especially one which is relevant to an upcoming event like Easter or St Patrick's Day, it can boost your reach enormously to interact with the appropriate networking pages.

If you are a new business, or just new to Facebook, it can definitely be worthwhile checking out some of these networking pages and seeing if your products are of interest to customers (a lot of customers do post on these pages when they're looking for something specific) and if they're sensibly priced, appealingly photographed, etc.

Last year, when I released my St Patrick's Day Cuddly Campervan I posted it to a couple of the different networking sites on Facebook and within 1 week it generated me 7 sales! (luckily I had some already made up!)

5. Paying to promote your page

This is another contentious issue. The 'reach' (the number of people who see your posts) is dropping and Facebook have admitted that this is because they want businesses to pay to 'promote their page' Most small businesses don't feel that this is fair and can't afford to. I was lucky enough to be given some advertising by Facebook and as it wasn't going to cost me anything, I did use it. My 'likes' went through the roof. But, although they were genuine people, they weren't really potential customers as most of them have never interacted with my page and have never made a purchase. This seems like a false economy to me. I would have been really put out if I'd paid for the advertising and got no sales as a result.

I hope this has been of some use to you, but if you do have any questions, please feel free to drop me a comment here or come and pester me on Facebook

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