This week has been all about hash tags for me. I find my instagram account is getting plenty of likes but they aren’t translating to Etsy views, let alone sales. That is because alot of my likers are fellow makers. I am of course very grateful to have any likes at all, and approval from other makers is always welcome. I would however be happy to get a few more likes from people or organisations with an interior design angle as I think this is the market most likely to be interested. So I have ‘done a google’ (Grandmas House reference: anyone else remember that excellent BBC2 comedy). I found a blog by Brabantia which listed 19 of the best interior design hashtags. I have taken screen shots of what other makers of cushions use hashtagwise and I have been seaching google and buying platforms imagining I am after a brighter sofa. What would I type in if I wanted to buy my cushions. It’s quite tough to switch your think around like that,but worth a try.
So far my likes have remained roughly consistent but I have been picking up followers at a rate of knots, about ten in the last two days and Etsy is seeing more views. I know this probably seems little to propel with wizz-bang accounts but it’s progress for me.
I have also started selling on Folksy too. I find it much easier to list items, especially having longer tags, you can be more inventive with your descriptions. However, no sales there either. The higher price point is certainly putting off the kind of buyers I am able to attract at the moment, however I cannot drop the prices by too much and still call myself a business. The solution is to try and attract different buyers, and that requires a bit more work on my part. The Handmade Fair will hopefully push my profile up, along with a few other projects I have in mind.
As ever the battle is to find the time to do all this, do my day job, look after my family and lose some damn weight. It can’t be impossible though, busier people than me have managed it. And if someone can do it, it must be possible, if it’s possible, then I can do it.
Hopefully in few years I’ll look back on the days when getting 11 views on Etsy and no sales felt like a success and smile to myself as I am packing up yet another big order for posting.
I mentioned in the last blog that I have a mind which is constantly trying to apply logic to this world and failing. I hope with this near constant disappointment by trying to get my life as organised as possible. So I’m a bit surprised that I haven’t done a business plan before. It’s practically on page one of my well thumbed copy of The Handmade Marketplace, my bible and touchstone on my way to becoming a successful small business.
I worked through The Prince’s Trust workbook (which got a mention last time) and do you know what I found? I have been seriously under charging for my cushions.
In my previous calculations I’d rounded up here, down there, not included Etsy fees, zips, etc, and finally plumped on a price for my cushions that I think people wouldn’t mind paying, rather than what they should be prepared to pay for a quality product.
Doing a business plan made me realised that realistically I was making only £3.00 on each cushion, which was quickly swallowed up if the postage went over what I charged, or if the buyer wanted to return the item.
So now I have to be brave and put my prices up. I will sit at my computer screen and wait for the cries of horror from my followers, but they will hopefully not come. It comes at the right time. I am going to close my Etsy shop for a few weeks to give me a chance to build up stock for The Handmade Fair which I’m attending in September, and when I return there will be new prices and a new business head on my shoulders.
Over the last few days I have been forced to take a break from my day job, my knitting machine and the childcare. I have had to sit in a room with nothing to do but read and write. Have you guessed what I’ve been up to yet (the title is of course a big hint)? That’s right, jury service, ( I of course won’t mention the case or what went on the deliberation room).
At first it seemed like the most awkward thing that could have happened. I’ve done it before but not recently enough to be excused, I’m in charge of childcare so I had to find cover and because you have no idea how long it will go on, for it it has to be cover you can cancel or extend as you need to (basically my Mum, my Mum is a star and she genuinely enjoys spending time with a snotty toddler).
If my husband, who hasn’t done it before, had been called he would have been interested, it wouldn’t effected the childcare set up, and it would have improved his commute considerably for a few weeks. Still I can feel my logical, over organising mind searching for order in a situation which is beyond my control. I shall strive for grace to accept the things I cannot change (blimey a bit of my Catholic upbringing floating to the surface there).
So I have decided to spend my time writing a business plan. What? I hear you cry, you should be concentrating on court cases and such like. I assure you I will not be doodling my USP instead of paying attention in court. But there is a lot of sitting around to be done and so I feel must use it constructively if I can. Is this a trait common to most crafters? I suspect it is.
I have downloaded a guide and a work sheet from The Prince’s Trust website. Which I find is a great source of inspiration and advice for small businesses in the UK. The website is aimed at young people but a lot of its advice applies across age groups.I’ll let you know, in the next post, how I get on.
I have also been concentrating on improving my photos with a plan to apply for Not On The High Street before the end of the year. Here are some of the results.
I have a project in mind. I am going to try and make all my family socks for Christmas.
When thinking about this I start to evaluate my family. How related am I to In-laws? Do I count my cousins but not my friends. All of a sudden I find myself being quite ruthless.
This is because I started one pair of sock in January and what with everything else I am up to, and the fact I am a slow knitter, I finished it the second one in at the end of February. At this rate I will only manage 6 pairs in the year, so I have to be quite harsh, Husband, Daughter, Mum, Dad, Sister, and possibly Brother. I say possibly brother because he has big feet, but my daughter is only little so if I have time for both of those, they should balance out.
Apart from my little girl and her tall uncle, everyone will be getting roughly the same sized because we all have fairly uniformly sized feet in our family, which is a bonus.
I am now on to my second pair, the first sock is at the ‘looks a bit like a weird sea monster’ stage. The yarn is ‘Man of steel’ by the very talented The Yarn Tree.
The pattern is the basic socks pattern from Knitty Gritty : The Next Steps. This is a great book along with its counter part I used it to teach me to knit, and going back to again I still find things I’d love to have a go at.
Sometimes things just fall into place, and you get the inescapable idea that the universe is trying to tell you something.
I had a fairly clear idea of what I’d call my baby, we had a girl’s name and a boy’s name ready, but we kept an open mind too, I’ve heard babies don’t always suit what you’d like to call them, and this is exactly what happened after my Tiny Trouble Maker was born. At some point in the hazy days after she was born my husband looked at her, and asked “Alice?”, and after a thorough check for any silly permutations or acronyms, Alice she became.
This slotted in nicely at Christmas. I had been looking at those beautiful and over the top editions of Alice in Wonderland and musing to my Dad that it would be nice to get one for Alice and write in it for her. Dad went very quiet and changed the subject which seemed odd to me as Dad will usually egg me on to spending if it’s on books. It turns out he had an unbound copy of the original Alice manuscript up in the loft dated 1979 from his time working in the print trade. He had it bound and gave it to Alice as her first Christmas present. it is a thing of beauty.
It was here I found out the story was originally called “Alice Underground.”
Then I happened to catch a very interesting radio programme called “The Story of Alice” on Radio 4 which was all about what happened to the manuscript after Lewis Carroll’s death. And finally into my inbox drops an email from Etsy announcing a competition ‘Redesigning Alice’ all to do with Alice Underground to celebrate the 150th anniversary of this work. Now I know I’ll not get anywhere with this competition, the standard will no doubt be very very high but I feel a bit like the universe is telling me I should at least try.