Friday, 15 August 2014

Wesite Building for Goblins (and bemused felt makers)

Hey Mel, where have you been? Oh hey random voice in my head, I'm so glad you asked me, I've been busy building a website. So you lucky folks will get some lovely posts about my experience doing just that over the next couple of weeks.

There are things in this life at which I consider my self good, baking, felt making, eating cake, and then there are things which I consider myself not good at. Right at the top of the list is webdesign! HTML what? SEO who? So when I set out to make a website I had a look around and sought out advice.

In the great forest of advice I found Kim Lawler's site and the advice she gives is great, straight forward and delivered in a conversational tone. Her post on 10 Questions to ask yourself before a website redesign was incredibly useful as a starting point. I used her questions to brainstorm and it helped me create a wishlist of what I'd want in my perfect website if budget, time, skill and attention span were unlimited and from this wishlist I built a massive mind map (which is the only way I can really do adminy tasks) with everything I wanted my website to have.

I then started thinking about hosting and where I wanted my website to be, Feltmeupdesigns.com became available so I grabbed it like a greedy kid with a sticky lollipop. I briefly flirted with the idea of a wordpress site because they look soooooooo good when done properly... but lets face it with a budget of virtually nuffin and an attention span of a... wait what was that... well, I wasn't going to go down that path without doing some serious research and honestly... ooo look some buttons!

 I chose Yola because they were already hosting my existing website and I kinda like the drag and drop widgets and reasonably goblin proof and intuitive system they have. The big friendly buttons appeal to me too. I upgraded my package from Bronze to Silver so I could use more templates, get some support if needed and add a shop and my own custom URL (URL who?) Then there was another decision to be made about the shop it's self, there were lots of options open to me, I went with Ecwid because Yola has a partnership with them and you can just drop a shop widget on to a page.

Ecwid isn't intuitive or easy to use, it has these big friendly buttons and looks like it should be but try sorting out your shipping without reading 3 tutorials, an instruction manual and a lot of screaming and you're lost, or I was. My advice here is breathe and reboot, you find yourself on the verge of chucking your computer out the window step away... I did... I had a glass of wine and got talked down of the ledge by a pal, got a good nights sleep and came back to scream at it again the next day... I'm still not there but I'm closer and by the time the website goes live I will be there. (if the goblins ever stop sitting on the keyboard)

Sunday, 13 July 2014

And the winners are...

Wowser!

This competition had an overwhelming response with over 400 entries... you've knocked my socks off people!

The winners are:

1st Prize - £26 voucher for my shop

Gail Bennett... who wants a Bempton the Puffin!

2nd Prize - £18 voucher for my shop
Shelly who wants a turquoise and white bird to match the wedding cake toppers I made 5 years ago!

If you didn't win there is no need to be sad, as a consolation I am offering a 20% discount couponcode at my etsy store enter code HAPPYBDAYMEL  On checkout in the coupon code box to redeem, code runs till the end of July so you have lots of time to bag a bargain!

The coupon code also works on my Inkmeup shop (minimum purchase of £5 please do not use on the sale items thanks!) and on The Snob Goblin shop too

Sunday, 6 July 2014

July Birthday Giveaway (Closed)

Thanks everyone who entered :D

Hooray!!! It's my birthday!!!

And as is traditional, like the generous hearted soul I am, it's birthday giveaway time!

This year I'm doing things a bit differently so instead of me choosing what to giveaway I shall be giving 2 lucky winners a voucher each plus whatever goodies I can rustle up from my bag of randomness. The prizes are as follows

First Prize £26 Voucher for my shop and a goody bag of randomness... You could buy a big owl, a robin, a blue tit with this or use it as credit for a wedding cake topper... whatever, it's your credit!

2nd Prize £18 Voucher  and some little goodies from my bag of randomness, this will let you buy any mini bird including puffins, kingfishers, chickens or you can use it as credit for something bigger.

Your voucher doesn't count towards postage as I'll post the winners stuff for free, make sense? Yep? Good?

So how do I get my grubby little paws on this wonderful stuff you ask? Well calm down, I'll tell you! As always there are lots of ways to enter.

1. Comment on this blog post telling me what you'd spend your voucher on from my Etsy shop
2. Go to my facebook page and find the picture you see here and comment, like and share (you don't have to share but I'll love you for ever if you do!
3. Tweet The following "Win a @feltmeupdesigns Birdie at http://feltmeupdesigns.blogspot.co.uk/ #melsbirthdaycomp" and then leave a comment to let me know you have done so.

Got it? Great!

Winners will be picked by random number generator on Saturday the 12th of July.

Good Luck!

Monday, 19 May 2014

Edgar Allan Crow... Beating Burnout part 2

As Part of my plan to beat burn out I decided to do, make, or draw something every week which isn't related to my business, last week I was naughty and skipped class because I was just way too worn out so I decided to use sunday for my making/playing day (after I did my accounts and answered my emails and made some wedding birds)
A pal had brought this gorgeous book, The Artful Bird by Abigail Patner Glassenberg to class previously and I kind of had to buy it! I chose the crow as my first project... probably a bit ambitious really as I haven't really sewn properly for 12 years but I decided to just dive in. The first obstacle I came across was the pattern pieces, they are printed in the book without seam allowance so I struggled adding it on, especially to some of the more complex small pieces, I haven't used a pattern since GCSE so it was a struggle for me.


The next obstacle was the darts for the legs (do I just sew the darts, as indicated? what about the seam allowance) but after that it was pretty much plain sailing... altogether my crow took about 7-8 hours if you include the time to bake the beak which is made from polymer clay. I imagine a more experienced sewer would be faster... or if I made a few more I might be faster too.

All in all I enjoyed making my crow, he's a little wobbly and his beak is crooked  and there are lots of places where I have used sneaky tricks and embroidered bits to hide my mistakes and bad sewing. The instructions are concise and pretty easy to follow but you need a reasonable experience with sewing, I wouldn't recommend this book to a novice.

Edgar Allen Crow is lovely tho, I'm very fond of his crooked everything. I went with bead eyes and changed the wings as I didn't like the way they were in the book and added a little embroidery so he didn't look so very black, he's now gracing our living room, perched next to the Plague doctor's mask we have on display and looking very at home there!


I very much enjoyed losing myself in a project that didn't come entirely from my noggin and I have a feeling that artful bird making is addictive!




Tuesday, 13 May 2014

The Minis are Coming!

 I've been getting lots of requests for mini versions of my best selling birdies recently... being an affable kind of a gal I am happy to oblige! 
 
 Very soon mini versions of tufted titmouse, kingfisher, magpie, great tit and blue tit will be available in my etsy, folksy and Not On The High street shops.

 My personal faves are the titmouse and the blue tit... although I am kind of loving how very annoyed the kingfisher is looking... I wouldn't mess with him!



Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Why You Really Need to Update Your Etsy Photos

and by you I mean me!
Over Christmas my trusty old camera decided to develop a fault and die in spectacular fashion... I didn't despair I cried YAY! It meant I could finally justify buying a shiny new camera for my business... so I did! I was a little scared of it at first... It made weird noises and had twisty bits that my old camera never had. So I bought a digital field guide and dug out my Crafter's guide to taking great photos because if there is one piece of advice I can give you after all my years selling online it's know your camera!

I then realised that all my old photos taken with my old camera were pretty shoddy in comparison to my shiny new one... I groaned as I realised that this meant I had to re take all my pictures so they matched.

But that's no bad thing!

You can see from these images how they've changed, old pics are on the left, new on the right as you look at the screen.
 We crafty types have our best sellers, those things that we've been making for years that kind of just tick over and we don't really have to do too much to promote them but if you think about it these are the things we need to make sure have the best pictures. Over time your style might change as well, you might not realise but increment by increment things end up not quite looking like the picture you originally took.
My owls were my first and best seller and the design hasn't changed much but the style has evolved a little. They're a bit fatter now, a bit cuter... and I'm better at needle felting so they are a touch more refined and solid too. The light in their eyes (the bit that makes them cute and adds life) has moved which alters their mood a bit.
And lets face it... when I first started out I had no idea what I was doing so those pictures I thought were AMAZING when I first took them are a little shabby in comparison to wonder camera's shot quality.
If you aren't sure if things have changed then go to your etsy shop and look way way back to your first sales... aren't those pictures looking a little tired now? Try putting them side by side with a recently made product. Get a pal to look at your shop and see what they think. Join an etsy team and get some opinions, check out those handy blog posts about photography on etsy, folksy and the web in general... your photos are essentially your shop window... so make the most of them!

So I have 130 feltmeupdesigns listings and 90 inkmeup things to rephotograph... it's going to be a tough job but I reckon its worth it!


























































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Monday, 28 April 2014

Beating Burnout

Ok... yep... so it's been a while and I promised things were changing or moving and I was going to make decisions about stuff... Well I haven't!

There are times, for us self employed lot, where things get a little overwhelming and things just drag you down... It's called burnout. I was reading this Etsy blog here about beating burnout and it got me thinking... I am indeed suffering from burnout and have lost the ability to make decisions and act on the ones that I have made. I've been writing plans, following them for a few days the abandoning stuff at the tiniest set back... worst thing is I am aware that I'm doing it but feel powerless to do anything about it.

So what am I going to do?

Well I am formulating a plan. What kind of plan? I hear you ask... Is it a cunning one? Why yes friends it is a cunning one, it involves stepping back a little and taking a bit more time for myself... which for me is kinda hard. To start things off I've joined an art class, I find being around creative people is inspiring in itself and I'm using the time in this class to finish off projects started long ago and work thru ideas that I have had bouncing around my noggin for ages.

Also I am opening a new shop for said projects to go in, our flat's kind of full of stuff so I can't keep them all it's going to be called "The Snob Goblin" and be centered around the more fantastical and arty side of my work. (I've added a couple of pics here so you can see what I'm up to) I want to keep them separate from Feltmeup and Inkmeup as they are so different and I don't want them to feel like work right now.

The idea is that all this stuff will help me find myself... ok it's corny but until now I kind of snorted at people who said they were off to find themselves but I have kind of lost my identity a bit and with that a bit of my passion for what I do. Once I feel a bit more me I shall start making proper business plans and hopefully see them through.

If you have any tips for beating burnout then please post them here in comments. I'd love to hear how you cope with it.

x
mel
Goboline and Boris, 2 snob goblins