DIY craft projects

Are You Joining The Etsy Resolution?

It's already February and the question starts to pop up around those big, bad dreams for yourself that you set in January. Are you on the right path to make those dreams come true? I'm proud to be teaming up with Etsy, the online marketplace for handmade and vintage goods, to help promote the launch of Etsy Resolution, a free four week online bootcamp that just kicked off last week.

The good news is they've extended the enrolment so you can still take part and learn from their stellar line up of mentors who are walking the walk and following their creative biz dreams. The comprehensive - and free - four week online program will give participants access to tried and tested tips, tricks and lessons, direct from the people who know best, walking them through the process of starting an Etsy shop and growing it into a thriving online business. 

I sat down with 2 of their mentors, Jess Van Den and Kristy Tull, to ask them 5 quick questions about what inspired them on their creative path..

 

 

Jess Van Den, Epheriell
Jess Van Den is a self­employed silversmith working under the Epheriell label. She's been making jewellery since 2008, when she opened her Etsy shop to sell her jewellery as a hobby, and turned Epheriell into her full­time occupation in 2010 ­ bringing her husband Nick on board soon after. She specialises in eco sterling silver wedding rings, and works out of her solar­powered home studio in the countryside north of Brisbane.

She's also the founder and editor of Create & Thrive, where people learn how to turn their handmade hobby into a full­time business from those who've done just that.

Five quick questions...

Why is Etsy Resolution a valuable program?
Through taking hundreds of fledging creative entrepreneurs through the process of setting up shop online, I've learnt that the biggest stumbling blocks to getting your business up and running are a lack of time, a lack of direction, and a lack of support.

This course ticks all those boxes! It's not super­ time intensive but the lessons cover the absolute fundamentals that every beginner handmade businessperson needs to get a handle on in order to get their shop up and running. With SO much information floating around out there on the internet, it can be super ­overwhelming, and you can be tempted to give up before you even start because you don't know which way to go. Etsy Resolution narrows it down for you to the most important stuff. Finally, Etsy Resolution includes that all­ important element of support. Not only from me, my fellow mentors and the Etsy team, but ­ even more importantly ­ from your peers. Learning alongside other people who are passionate, creative, and in the same boat as you is invaluable. So often, people starting a handmade business struggle to get support from family and friends ­ so having the friendship and help of other creatives is absolute gold.
Why is the new year a good time to start a small creative business?
We're all bursting with energy and enthusiasm when a new year comes around ­ it's naturally a good time to embark on a new ventures and capitalise on all that momentum! The New Year is a fresh start ­ a time to look at what went well in the previous year ­ and what we wanted to do but didn't. Each year rolling around is a reminder that life is short, and if we have a dream, we should dive in and give it a crack ­ because if we never do, we'll never know what might have been! If you've been dreaming of starting a handmade business, but held back because of fear or lack of knowledge or support, Etsy Resolution is the perfect thing to help you kick­ start your biz in 2016.
Why is Etsy is good place to have a small creative business?
I’ve written about this before but here are a few compelling reasons why you should start – and continue – your business on Etsy.

  • It’s the world’s premier online marketplace
  • It’s the first port of call for many people wanting to buy handmade
  • It’s easy to set up and use, and has excellent ‘behind­the­scenes’ tools – stats etc
  • It’s an excellent ‘training’ ground – to compete on Etsy you have to play a stellar game with fantastic photos, good descriptions, excellent customer service, etc
  • It engenders immediate trust – people know that if they buy on Etsy they are protected if something goes wrong
  • There’s transparent feedback – do a good job and people will see that and buy from you
    What inspires your creative business?
    I'm never quite sure where the inspiration for Epheriell comes from. Sometimes ideas grow out of old designs, sometimes I just draw and see what appears on the page, sometimes I am inspired by a customer who asks for something new! When it comes to Create & Thrive, I'm inspired by both my passion to help other people create a business and lifestyle they love ­ because I know how happy that has made me ­and by my readers and students. I learn so much from them, and their questions, enthusiasm, and gratitude spur me on every day to keep going.
    What advice do you have for those who are hesitant to get started?
    Start now, today! Don't wait until things are 'perfect' ­ because things are never, ever perfect.
    One of my favourite quotes, from Arthur Ashe, is: "Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you ca." Just start. I'll let you in on a secret ­ no­one is watching you yet! Get started, learn, experiment, grow, and as you do, your audience will grow with you. Businesses take time to become profitable ­ they are a marathon, not a sprint ­ so the sooner you start, the sooner your business will grow and gain momentum. Don't let fear or uncertainty hold you back. You will always be afraid (though a little less as time goes on and you gain confidence!) You will always face uncertainty ­ every day in business is an adventure (that's half the fun!). Just step onto the path ­ and take one step at a time towards that mountain of dreams in the distance.

Kristy Tull, Fox & Ramona
Fox & Ramona is a Melbourne based homewares brand offering hand crafted concrete products. The business started as a creative outlet for maker and mum­of­one Kristy Tull who initially made resin and polymer jewellery before falling in love with concrete as a medium. Tapping into a “a serious love of accessories, interior design, homewares, art and fashion” and a background in the architectural industry, Kristy has grown her creative business into her full time occupation.

Five quick questions...

Why is Etsy Resolution a valuable program?
It’s a great opportunity to learn the ins and outs of Etsy directly from sellers who are making a successful career from their craft.
Why is the new year a good time to start a small creative business?
Any time is a good time to start a creative business if you ask me!
Why is Etsy is good place to have a small creative business?
Etsy has such a large audience, it’s a great platform for global exposure of your small business.
What inspires your creative business?
I’m inspired by artwork, fashion and other designers and makers. I love seeing other small businesses be successful ­ it inspires me to work harder and think outside the box.
What advice do you have for those who are hesitant to get started?
What are you waiting for? One more day that you wait, is another day of online sales missed. You won’t regret opening your shop on Etsy, but you will regret NOT opening it.

Get started on the next creative chapter in your life by joining the Etsy Resolution here.

Introducing 'Merry Making' by Taylor + cloth

By Kate Taylor

I have recently launched my first ever Ebook! I feel really proud and happy with the outcome, especially as I didn’t know what I was doing when I started. I guess like most things in my life, I learn through doing. It’s not necessarily the most time or cost effective way of doing things, but no matter how I try to change I end up diving in head first and just starting. Its how I started my business Taylor + cloth and it’s definitely how I went about creating my first Ebook ‘Merry Making’.

That’s not to say there was no planning involved… there was a lot of planning. It just means that once I had decided to start, I did! That very same day in fact. And I’m not talking about diving in with zero knowledge about my chosen topic which was 'Christmas Craft’ either. Im passionate about DIY and craft and was confident that the craft projects I had come up with were fun and easy to make and would be well received by my audience. But how do you go about making an Ebook, collating all of your ideas into the one place and arranging them in a way and format that you can then sell digitally? Well let me share with you how I went about it.

Pick your topic:

Obviously this will be something you are passionate and knowledgeable about. I love craft, and Christmas is my favourite time of year by far and while I already have a craft blog where I post DIY’s for free, I felt that I had enough ideas to package up together and sell for a small fee.   

Plan ahead:

I’m a list writer! I have a book where I write down all my creative ideas. This is where I made a list of all the craft and DIY projects I wanted to include in my Ebook. Not a lot of detail, just enough information and sketches to jog my memory about any given idea.

Set a launch date:

This was easy for me… I had to have it ready within 3 months for an early November launch or it would become redundant until the following Christmas. Even with my launch date set I was about a week and a half late… Better a little late than never though. Setting the launch date means you have a deadline to work towards and it allows you divide up your time, plot your milestones of when things like photography and content need to be finished, generally keeping you on track.

How do you want your Ebook to look:

As this was my first Ebook, I looked for other craft books and ebooks where I liked their use of colour, layout or graphics, or the style of photography they used. This helped me plan my layout and saved me a lot of time later on.

Where are you going to sell your Ebook:

Is your Ebook mainly text or is it picture based? This will help you decide what format your end product will be. I chose to make a PDF, downloadable ebook, mainly because I wanted to sell it directly from my website, not through Amazon or Kindle and as it is a craft/DIY Ebook the images are key to understanding how to make the projects.

What software are you going to make your Ebook on:

I chose to make my Ebook on Apple Pages. Why? I have access to it and I find it pretty intuitive to use. There are other options like Illustrator or Word, but I felt most confident that I could create what I wanted using Pages so I went with it. I was after an uncomplicated program where I could drag and drop images into place, resize them easily, set up text and heading styles and reorder the document easily. It’s also really easy to export your document to a PDF from Pages and you can choose the quality of your output, which means you don’t need to worry too much about the size of your images and the overall document until the end.

Set up your document styles:

Now you need to set up your heading and paragraph styles. I’m glad I did this first as it gave me a sense of it all coming together even though all the content wasn’t in there yet. It also gives you a really good idea about how the final product will look and for me, formatting as I go takes so much pain away at the end when you are scrambling to meet your deadline. Of course if you decide to use a graphic designer you just need to get your content in and they will take care of the rest. But I’m a bit controlling and I was time poor so I did it myself.

Outline text first:

I outlined all of my text first, breaking it into headings and subheadings in Pages. I set up my table of contents and based on my previous research of other craft books, laid out the individual pages and the content I wanted to provide on each project page. This was also really helpful as I could instantly see how much needed to be done. If I had a few spare minutes I could sit down at my computer and easily write the intro, or the thank you page. I found it much easier to jump around and fill in content rather than trying to write my Ebook from start to finish. In which case I don’t think it ever would have been completed.

Content:

Ok so while all this was going on I was also making the craft projects themselves, this was also a way of testing all of the ideas and so I could photograph the finished product for each of the projects. As I made each of the projects I also filled in all the ‘How to:’ content for each craft project.

Plan your photographs:

While I outlined the text I also decided on the general layout of my photographs even though I hadn’t taken them yet. I worked out how many images I needed total…. I knew I need a hero image for each heading as well as for each individual craft project, plus some extras to help with the ‘How to’ explanations. I also needed a cover image and a few extras that were crafty without being specific to a project necessarily. This amount of planning also meant that when it came to the photoshoot I was able to brief the photographer really well, saving us some time as we knew exactly what images we needed.

Proof read:

It goes without saying really… but just a quick reminder. Oh and get someone else to proofread it too. I gave mine to four different people to proofread, they all came back with different typos and ideas about how to make my Ebook easier to read and understand. I was grateful for the feedback.

How are you going to promote your Ebook once it’s finished:

This is probably the toughest part, you have finished your Ebook…. now what? My advice, don’t wait until you are finished. Start promoting it on your socials earlier rather than later. And work out who you will approach to help you with promoting your amazing Ebook; other bloggers, people in your field, magazines, local papers. Don’t be shy, give them all a free copy and pitch them your product.

It’s a lot of work, but I had so much fun making my Ebook ‘Merry Making’ and within a week of launching I was already planning my next Ebook. (insert husband rolling eyes here) It might seem daunting but if you break it down into manageable parts, you can do it. Just remember, plan and be kind to yourself.

Kate Taylor is the creative force behind Taylor + cloth, an online store where she is able to combine her passion for design and handmade homewares to her heart's content. She is passionate about all things craft and DIY and is happiest when she is creating and crafting with her 3 children or holidaying somewhere exotic with her husband. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook.

Tips For Product Makers

By Erin Aldersea

What maker doesn’t dream about seeing their product up in lights in a beautiful magazine layout? 

When I launched my own product range on Etsy all I dreamed of was seeing one featured in a Real Living spread! I became a little obsessed. I researched the editors to contact and tried a few different tactics to get my products in their hands and along the way I even had a little success.

I got a lovely email from a past client the other day asking for some tips and tricks to get her product featured in magazines. Although there's no exact formula to guarantee success I've put together a few tips to help makers get their products in front of the right people.

 - First things first, come up with a list of magazines you'd love to see your product in and find the best person to contact. This could be an Editor, Stylist or Staff Writer. Get digging as you want to find the direct email address for this person if you can, it may take some intense Google-ing or buying the latest copy of the magazine to find that email but it will make all the difference if you can get straight into their inbox rather than go through an assistant.

 - Write a media release about your product, including information about yourself and             your business. Send the media release as an attachment to a personalised email - make sure     this email is as personal as possible. For example, find the name of the editor/writer/stylist and mention a little of what you loved about their latest issue. Keep the email brief and to the point as these guys don't have a lot of time and get hundreds of requests every month.

 - Also attach 2-3 low res images of your products - send 1 deep etched and 1-2 beautiful in situ    shots so they can get an idea if they want to use the product as part of a photoshoot.

Extra tip: It really is worth investing in some magazine-worthy images to show off your products, I did this last year and it's really paid off.

 - Let the magazine know you can supply the product for them to use in a shoot/giveaway/their personal use easily and that you can also send through high res images for print purposes.

 - Include links to your website and social media so they can see you have a loyal following and you're a legitimate maker!

 - Make sure the subject line in your email is really catchy and not too spammy.

 - As a follow up, send a sample of your product - make sure this is beautifully packaged with a copy of the media release and a nice personalised hand written letter as an intro. This has worked for me in the past!

 - Don’t forget to look into blogs you can target as well as magazines - everyone's hungry for new content and amazing new products to feature.

All the best with getting your beautiful products out there into the world makers.

Erin’s a writer, traveler, maker, coffee-lover, curiosity-follower and social media coach from Melbourne, Australia. At The Hiatus Collective Erin writes for freedom-seekers with a glimpse into her life, business and travels. For more tips and inspiration head to Erin’s Instagram , blog  +  Pinterest.

Free DIY Printable Poster // Live Well

Welcome to week #2 of our April collective celebration of self-care. This week Emma Kate Co and I are focusing on living well...

I don’t tend to believe in coincidences. I believe that our experiences, the people that come into and out of our lives and the path we following are part of a bigger plan. When Emma and I first started to talk about our plans for what our April #bloglovefest theme was going to be, it amazed me the signs that began to spring up everywhere, again cementing in my mind the need to spread the message of self-care far and wide.

Everywhere I looked, articles began to pop up or conversations were steered in the direction of energy, self-love, the glorification of busyness, the unrealistic expectations we put on ourselves and others and the need to slow down in order to recharge and refuel.  The idea of living well is not about incorporating meditation into your daily ritual or only eating organic, it’s about creating your own definition of wellness. It’s living a life each day that matters and brings happiness to you and those around you. It’s about running that successful business but watching your energy supplies, having that extra glass of wine without guilt, watching a movie without stressing about doing the dishes, taking a walk to enjoy the sunshine. Live well, by your own definition, without guilt.

 We are only giving so many hours in a day and your energy is a precious commodity, one that as women we give freely and frequently. When it comes to focusing some of that energy on yourself, feelings of guilt, indulgence and selfishness begin to surface. Do you agree? We’re in this together and the pay off is less stress, anxiety, restfulness and the ability to give more of yourself. Get involved and share this week's 'Live Well' poster or these special images via social media using our #bloglovefest hashtag. Simply right click images below to save or click on the link below to download your 'Live Well' printable in our April #bloglovefest series:

DOWNLOAD Today LIVE WELL Poster

Live Well Instagram
Live Well Instagram

Visiting Blog Society for the first time? Well a big hello to you - and here's hoping you have a kick-ass, self-care April! If you're interested in more fun content, free advice and a beautiful community of global creatives, then join our tribe here.

Free DIY Printable // Today I Choose Joy Poster

I have been waiting to write this post for weeks, the words have literally been pouring out in preparation for this announcement. I am thrilled to be teaming up with Emma Kate Codrington to launch a new #bloglovefest initiative for the month of April: A Collective Celebration of Self-care.

Over the next 4 weeks we’re going to be releasing a series of self-care printables designed to help you keep calm, collected and focused on the all important and timely topic of self-care.  Before I tell you how you an get involved, l’d like to share where the idea for this month’s movement stemmed from…I have a feeling many of you will relate.

There was a moment earlier this year when, nearing 2am, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and barely recognised the reflection staring back at me. I had been working furiously for hours on a project that I was passionate about, had an early morning meeting that I needed to be prepped for, had just rewritten a 3 page to-do list and while normally these things help me feel organised and collected the feeling that overcame me that night was not just one of exhaustion, it was of complete energy void. My inspiration and energy tank was complete wiped out. There was nothing there. As I dragged myself to bed that night (and the next, and the next) that feeling of being replenished never seemed to come. It began to have an impact on my health, weight, relationship and overall feeling of well-being. I had put so much on my plate, wanted to achieve so much, had so many ideas and was perpetually in a state of dizzying busyness that I completely lost sense of myself. When it came to my blog and business future I felt flat, zapped and joyless.

So I decided to do something about it.

At the same time, Emma happened to reach out and together we felt that if we were feeling this theme of burnout then others would be too so we wanted to create a community focused initiative that would help individuals take care of themselves better, finally.

So this morning I’m excited to release our first printable post – Today I Choose Joy – a simple yet powerful intention and an incredible first step for self-care. Our emotions can run our day if we aren't careful, remembering always that we have the power to choose how we feel and how we spend our energy. We may not be able to control what happens around us but we certainly can control our reactions and today, rather than feeling (go ahead and insert your own emotional adjective!) go ahead and choose joy. I hope you’ll join me in sharing your own stories below and that you’ll come along for the self-care ride this April.

Get involved and share the poster or these special images via social media using our #bloglovefest hashtag. Simply right click images below to save or click on the link below to download your first printable in our April #bloglovefest series:

DOWNLOAD Today I Choose Joy Poster

Visiting Blog Society for the first time? Well a big hello to you - and here's hoping you have a kick-ass, self-care April! If you're interested in more fun content, free advice and a beautiful community of global creatives, then join our tribe here.

April-Blog-Love-Fest.jpg