Made By Mrs M

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2 Minutes with... Hester van Overbeek

Blogging, Books, Craft, Inspiration, TutorialsKate Marsden

We’re heading to the seaside today to meet craft writer extraordinaire, and fellow concrete lover Hester van Overbeek

Hester photo by James Gardiner.jpg

Hello Hester! Who are you and what do you do?

Hi! I’m Hester, a Dutchie living in the seaside town of Ramsgate, and I like to make things!

I’m a craft and DIY blogger on www.hestershandmadehome.com and write DIY books, books published so far are Furniture Hacks, Crafting with Mason Jars, Making Concrete Pots, Bowls and platters. My latest title Made with Salvaged Wood will be published in October. 

I love using materials I already have lying around so you could say I’m an up-cycler. The tutorials on my website are all interior based and range from small home accessories makes like plant pots and cushions to bigger build like a wardrobe made from old doors and a wood clad bed base. When I moved into my current home I documented the makeover from the tired stuck in the 90’s ex rental to the modern Scandi style homely home it is today. You can find a new video tutorial on my website every week.

Made with Salvaged wood book.jpg

Why do you love what you do?

Whats better then looking at a piece of furniture in your house and think ‘I made that!’

Being your own boss is great as well, sometimes it seems like I work 22 hours a day but on lovely sunny days I can take a long coffee break and walk my dog Kermit on the beach. I’ve always been freelance (my previous career was doing makeup and hair on photo shoots for magazines and ads) so don’t even know what it’s like going into an office very day :)

Ikea dogbed hesters handmade home.jpg

Out of all the different crafts and DIYs you’ve tried, which technique is your favourite?

I’ve tried every craft technique and besides knitting I love them all. There is just something about having to follow a knitting pattern so precisely that I sort of loose all interest. Which is weird as I like following instructions, love a flatpack assembly! ;)

If I have to choose I think wood will be my favourite material followed by fabric and concrete. Wood is so versatile and easy to work with, just make sure you measure twice before you saw. Same goes with fabric, I love using scrap bits of fabric and wood and turn them into new projects.

Concrete was a new material for me when I got commissioned for my Making Concrete book but it fast became a favourite. I’m not very patient so having to wait for the concrete to cure before seeing any results was a bit testing but the end results just give such a lovely industrial vibe to your interior.

kitchen makeover hesters handmade home.jpg

If you could collaborate with anyone (dead or alive!) who would it be?

Oh, that is a tricky one as there are so many possibilities. I’m slightly obsessed with Ikea (think I could easily live in their store) so anything with them would be amazing. How great would an Ikea hack kit be that you can buy with your flatpack!

I’m a magazine addict, a production in one on my fav’s would be absolutely amazing. At the moment I love Cereal, Kinfolk, the Magnolia Journal, Sweet Paul and Living magazine by my all time hero Martha Stewart.

An other collaboration that would be amazing is with a power tool brand, I’m on a mission to get more girls convertible in using power tools. There are some great DIY girls in the USA but over here its still a very male dominated environment (Builders are very surprised I do all the DIY in the house and not my boyfriend) I’m all for gender equality and hate the pink DIY tools and books some brands think we girls need

Coffee cup jar hesters handamde home.jpg

What exciting plans do you have for the next year? 

I do a series on my blog called Meet the Maker in which I interview crafter makers and have a look around their studio or workshop. I haven’t done many video’s for this yet but there are a lot more planned in the next couple of months. 

My new book Made with Salvaged Wood is out in October and can’t wait to see what people think of it, it’s my favourite so far! All project are made from wood you might already have lying around in your shed, from bits you can find in a salvage yard and branched you can find in the forest.

wardrobe build hesters handmade home.jpg

Thank you so much Hester! Read Hester’s blog here and follow her on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest.

 

 

 

2 Minutes with... Natasha Denness

Blogging, Inspiration, Interiors, PhotographyKate Marsden

It’s time for another quick dose of inspiration for you today! Meet the wonderful Natasha of Candy Pop

Hello Natasha! Who are you and what do you do?

Hi Kate! I’m an Oxford-based writer, stylist, photographer, coach and award-winning blogger. My blog (Candy Pop) is a place where you'll find simple ways to inspire your everyday. With a focus on interiors, simple living, creativity and self-care.

When I'm not working, I enjoy spending time with my family, exploring historic properties, pretty gardens and forests, watching old films and having tea and cake with friends. I cherish the simple things in life!

Why do you love what you do?

I love the freedom that a freelance life brings, especially when there's so much variety in the work I do. I also enjoy meeting inspiring people both on and offline. It's a joy to be a part of such a vibrant and creative community.

What’s your top tip for styling up a room for summer?

The one thing that makes a home feel alive and summery is houseplants. They improve air quality and make loveable housemates. And if you don't have a garden (like me!) they enable you to bring a bit of the outdoors in.

If you could collaborate with anyone (dead or alive!) who would it be?

There are almost too many people to list. Probably Matisse when he was creating the gorgeous blue paper cut-outs or Hockney during the 1960s. Then I could spend a little time in the LA sunshine!

What exciting plans do you have for the next year?

I have several creative projects underway and I'm enjoying working with a few coaching clients. It’s an honour to support people on their journeys and I'm looking forward to offering further coaching slots later in the year.

Thank you Natasha!

You can find Natasha’s website here, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

 

2 Minutes with... Lucy Heath

Blogging, Business, Inspiration, Photography, ProductsKate Marsden

Welcome to the first in a new series of mini interviews. I for one know that I have very little spare time nowadays, and I’m sure you do too, but I still want to be inspired! We’re kicking off with the divine Lucy Heath…

Hello Lucy! Who are you and what do you do?

I’m 35 and I live in the countryside in Somerset with my husband, 2 young gorgeous boys and our two westies Mabel and Moose. I juggle a few hats and work as a product photographer as well as writing my blog. I’ve been so lucky to win a few awards for my blog and at the end of last year I launched the Backdrop Store which was a long term dream. I still work as a consultant in the development industry, where I started life as a Land Buyer for the national house builders. Life is hectic but happy!

Why do you love what you do?

Every day feels like a rollercoaster. The ripple effect that is the power of social media means that I never know who might come across my blog or Instagram feed and then drop me an email or message. The best part of it all is that I connect with like minded people who in lots of ways feel like they already know me, just from photographs. I get to work around my children, be there for school pick up and cricket matches and if that means there are more than a few evenings on a laptop well that’s fine by me. I feel so fortunate to have the freedom to balance home and work life. It feels like the best of everything most days.

What inspired you to set up your gorgeous backdrop shop?

The posts I have enjoyed writing the most and the sessions I have loved giving at conferences have always been about empowering the home photographer. Helping people understand the basic principles of photography, sharing hints and tips and encouraging others to fall in love with the hobby of mine that became a career. There never seems to be enough time in the day so my husband said you need to think of a product - that can help people, that you can produce as many as people might want to buy! And the number of tables and surfaces in our house that I have collected over the years was taking over…! I think a background is the base of your composition and styling, whether it’s a still life image or the backdrop to a portrait. It’s not a new concept but I am hoping I bring a new creative side by producing a unique range and collaborating with others to develop new lines. Watch this space. I am pinching myself every day that someone wants to buy one!

If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?

I watch in awe of the American bloggers who have taken their passions and turned them into internationally acclaimed products and design services. My favourites Joy Cho (Oh Joy) and Emily Henderson are a constant source of inspiration and I watch their Instagram Stories religiously because they remind me that being yourself is the best business strategy. What you see is really what you get, they just have smart, focussed heads on their shoulders. My pipe dream would be to collaborate with a worldwide party company to create my own range of party ware. You name it - I’d like to develop it. Crackers, straws, plates, bunting and more - all in my print. I had a wonderful artist paint a pattern for me a year ago and it’s going to sit hidden in a drawer until the right time! Dream big!

What exciting plans do you have for the next year?

I am utterly hopeless at SEO, strategy, scheduling and all the other important things that take a creative online business to the next level. So I am setting myself some goals for the next six months to take me into next year that will help me reach more lovely people who enjoy taking styled photos or could use the backdrops for clients and their work. My launch and learn approach is still very much leading the way but I want to have more structure and ambition. I have several collaborations with incredible artists developing behind the scenes and I want to see if I can expand the product line beyond backdrops to include a tool kit for the home photographer. I feel so lucky that next year just feels full of possibility.

Thank you so much Lucy!

You can find Lucy's website (which contains her blog and her backdrop store) here - she's also on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

 

Stopping Doing ALL the Things - My Actions from Blogtacular

Blogging, Business, Events, InspirationKate Marsden

I came away from last Saturday's Blogtacular feeling a little different to last year. I don't know if it was the timing (with the election - let's not speak about that), the fact it's been a tough few months for my business, or the fact that I didn't manage to go on the photowalk or to the Friday night party this year but I felt a little tired and flat. By Monday morning though (still feeling tired!) I started looking through my notes, photos and goody bag and I can confirm that the event itself definitely wasn't responsible for my deflation.

Once again the opening keynote struck a chord. I'm really bad at saying no (mostly to myself but also to others) and I'm really really good at allowing the work to heap up until it swamps me and I feel totally overwhelmed. Natalie Lue really got me thinking and I'm pretty sure I'm wasting a whole heap of time doing stuff I don't really need to do (I'm even wondering if I should continue to blog three times a week - radical I know!).

She encouraged us to take a step back and look at what we're actually doing - I need to question if this is where I want to be, and if it isn't something has to change. As ever Blogtacular comes at a good time of year when my work tends to slow down a little anyway so this can be a good time to reflect.

And of course there was the old comparison trap - which we're all aware of yet all continue to fall into I'm sure - and I may have to pop up a quote on my wall - "You're seeing the tip not the iceberg"...

Natalie Lue - Image (c) Blogtacular/ Amber-Rose Photography

Natalie Lue - Image (c) Blogtacular/Amber-Rose Photography

I also got to show off my amazing new necklace which was made for me especially for the occassion by Ruth of I Am Acrylic - isn't it amazing?! It features my drawing of the National Theatre complete with polka dots! I had lots and lots of complements and you can be sure to see this one again (in fact I'll probably be wearing it to every event for the foreseeable future!).

So as ever, Blogtacular was a fantastic opportunity to meet and network with other creative bloggers (and non-bloggers) - it was great to catch up with people I hadn't seen for months, and in some cases years, and to meet some people I've known online for years (yes, my "computer friends"!).

After the opening keynote I went to a really good panel session with Alison Perry, Sunita Harley and Emma Gannon - it followed on nicely from Natalie's talk and focused on staying sane online. I defintely took some actions away from this one - social media has been making me pretty stressed recently but it's vital for driving traffic here and elsewhere and for staying in touch with people, so I need to look at how I'm managing this.

Alison Perry, Sunita Harley and Emma Gannon - Image (c) Blogtacular/ Amber-Rose Photography

Alison Perry, Sunita Harley and Emma Gannon - Image (c) Blogtacular/Amber-Rose Photography

After a really tasty lunch (and a look at Lucy Heath's wonderful photo backdrop stall - see below - I'd pre-ordered one which you'll get to see lots of over the coming months!) I headed to the Finding Your Niche session with Cath Dean, the editor of Mollie Makes.

Cath took us through various exercises to help us to identify our niche and while I had done this type of thing before, it was a while ago, and I realised I needed to sit down properly and do it again. I didn't have time in the session to really think about things properly, so got to work on Monday and I'm still working on it. Needless to say quite a few things have changed since I last did this 2-3 years ago...

Cath Dean - Image (c) Blogtacular/ Amber-Rose Photography

Cath Dean - Image (c) Blogtacular/Amber-Rose Photography

Finally it was on to what was probably the highlight of the day for me - Xanthe Berkeley's video workshop. I chickened out of going to this last year as I'm a bit scared of video - both filming it and being in it (OK, mostly being in it!) as it was a toss up between this and the self-doubt session I decided I'd just throw caution to my self-doubt and do the video!

Xanthe Berkeley - Image (c) Blogtacular/ Amber-Rose Photography

Xanthe Berkeley - Image (c) Blogtacular/Amber-Rose Photography

And I'm so glad I did. We had so much fun and I learnt quite a lot in just an hour and a half! Here's my little film...

So now I'm completely addicted and may just start filming EVERYTHING (and really annoying my husband and son!)...

The closing keynote was the rather lovely Emma Gannon (I bought her book and I'm already racing through it - by my standards anyway as I have so little time for reading!). I had that whole "Emma's so young and successful and I'll feel inadequate" thing, but she is so very good at what she does that I forgot all about that. Lots of words of wisdom and again following on so nicely from Natalie's opening keynote, it gave me plenty of food for thought...

 Emma Gannon - Image (c) Blogtacular/ Amber-Rose Photography

 Emma Gannon - Image (c) Blogtacular/Amber-Rose Photography

So onto my actions...

  • Video - I really want to do more of this. So I set up a new YouTube channel the other day and now I need to fill it with stuff! I made a slightly less successful film in Columbia Road Flower Market on Saturday and shoved that up there too (not sure what happened to the format it looks pefect on my phone - still lots to learn!) but anyway - following Natalie Lue's advice again and taking an "imperfect step"! You can see my YouTube channel here - I don't expect anyone to subscribe but if you do it'll make my day!
  • Working on my niche - this is both for the marketing of my products and services, and for this blog - the audiences are similar but not the same so this is going to take some time. I've started though and plan to finish and start putting it into action asap.
  • Create Twitter lists - Emma Gannon recommended making a list with the people who inspire and lift you so you can essentially create a curated feed. As mine's been getting me down so much recently I'm planning to do this. Doesn't mean I won't look at my whole feed but it'll be nice to be able to step back from some of the negativity when I need to.
  • Podcasts - they're up there with books as something I say I don't have time for - but you know I'm sure I do. I've subscribed to Emma's and I'm keeping an eye out for more - let me know if there's one you think I'll like!
  • Identify new blogs to read - I'm guilty of just reading a handful regularly and dipping in and out of others as and when I see an interesting tweet or Instagram post - I'm going to hunt out some which will inspire me - starting with people from Blogtacular...
  • List everything I do - in a typical week and work out what I can stop doing - there must be loads of stuff! I'm feeling completely frazzled at the moment - so I will be going back to think about how often I blog and whether that's too much.
  • No more actions! So one of my actions is to stop writing so many actions! I've attended online webinars and talks and all sorts of events lately and have so many pages/books full of things I HAVE to do - it's too much - hence I'm frazzled. I need to take that step back, stop doing ALL the things and start planning out my time in a more effective and efficient way. It might even mean I get some time off occassionally!

And that's that for my annual dose of creative business fun! I'm interested to know what plans Blogtacular will have for next year - you can find out more about the event on their website.

Studio Makeover?

Blogging, Events, Inspiration, Interiors, Products, Shopping, StudiosKate Marsden

Having shared my studio with you last week, I'm even more concious than ever that it's a bit of a mess (and yes I'm always the one to tell artists that this is a good thing as it demostrates your creativity!). It was actually the ticket holder competition Blogtacular are running with one of my complete faves West Elm (where I've popped up a couple of times - you can see me there again in September!) that really got me wondering what I could do with it. I'm always wandering around the store thinking how lovely their stuff would be in here, but can't justify spending money on making my studio look pretty. However, if there's a giveaway which could enable me to do this... well, I'd be silly not to enter!

This is the look I'm going for:

And here's a reminder of what it's like now (I said it was messy!)...

There are certain things I need to keep in the room for practical reasons, and my choices from the West Elm range reflect this. They have the most beautiful desks, but I currently have a long bench running the full length of the longest wall (and as you can see from the image above I make FULL use of it!). I also have the little plan chest above and a whole wall of storage (behind me in the top picture).

I would however like the room to look a little more cohesive, I hate the beige carpet and could do with yet more table space and at a different height. Here are the items I chose and why:

1. Wire Frame Dining Chair - I'd like to have 2 of these. One by the sewing machine and one by the computer - this would also give me a second comfortable chair for guests. Obviously in the yellow...

2. Large Globe Ceiling Lamp - For no other reason than that I like it - and the little man likes the one I have at the moment and wants it for his room.

3. Box Frame Counter Table Marble - the dimentions of this table are the real selling point - that and the marble top which would be a great photo backdrop! I've seen these in store (and was positioned right next to one at my last pop-up) so I know I love it. It's quite high so would sit over my little plan chest and provide more storage (the plan chest is on wheels so I could still use the top of that if I wanted to as well).

4. and 5. White Rim Lacquer Trays - I fell in love with these last year - I'd actually like to use them to display my work in at events as well as at the studio, as they look so good with my notebooks, fabrics, pretty much everything in! I'd like a rectangular one (or two!) and a round one.

6. Margo Selby Zigag Stripe Kilim Rug - to cover up my nasty carpet. I can take this up when I'm doing anything messy then hide the stains with it afterwards...

7. Papier-Mache Round Mirror - The mirror I have at the moment was left behind by the previous owners of the house and it's a bit sad to say the least. I do need one in here though as it's a small room and it helps to make it feel a little bigger.

Fingers crossed for the competition! But if nothing else I now have some new ideas!

Last Year's Blogtacular Actions - How Did I Do?

Blogging, Events, LondonKate Marsden

Before starting this post I went back and read my epically long post about last June's Blogtacular - how this can be very nearly a year ago is beyond me. It's been quite the year for most of us, on all sorts of levels...

Anyway, before I head back off to Blogtacular next week (yes the end of next week - squeee!), I wanted to revisit those actions I set myself and see if I actually managed to do any of them. I've yet to decide what exactly I'm aiming to take away from the event this year, but with the most amazing sounding line up (and so many sessions I'm keen to do) I'm sure to have a plan before the 10th...

So, back to last year's actions. Here they are, and how I got on:

1. I think that part of my ideas drought/current funk comes from feeling like a bit of a fraud (Lisa Congdon spoke about not feeling like a "real artist" and getting over this) - so I'm planning to have a proper clear out/reorganise of my studio - get rid of the stuff that doesn't feel like me any more, re-do my inspiration wall... hoping this will help (I should also get a blog post or two out of it!!).

I think it worked! I did have a big studio clear out (and have done this again more recently - I also have a computer in here now, and so work in here most of the time, which is helping too - see my post from last week). I'm also throwing myself in the deep end a lot more, and saying I can do stuff. I've discovered that people describe me in all sorts of ways (designer, blogger, artist) and I quite like all of these hats - I think the more you do something (and do it reasonably well) the less of a fraud you feel. I'm sure the old imposter syndrome thing will never really go away but it's progress!

2. From the ideas workshop - taking the post ideas I already have that don't work very well and looking at them in a different way - maybe it's not the idea that doesn't work, but the format - how many formats are there? I need to brainstorm ideas in a different way - I drew a little chart in my notebook after Kirsty's session and I'm going to go back to this.

And this has absolutely worked - quite a turnaround in the types of post which are popular. I have had an ideas drought when it comes to tutorials though and haven't posted one for months. Perhaps I'll feel a little more inspired once I've chatted to folks next week.

3. I'm going to make a proper effort to come up with some more properly collaborative blog posts - if you have any idea for something we could do together and want to get the ball rolling let me know!

Managed a couple but then life got in the way. I'm going to treat this as an ongoing action - once again, if you're reading this and fancy working together on something, give me a shout!

4. I'm going to make more effort to keep and write in my many notebooks....

Hmmm, well my current one is full so that's a start?!

5. I've been working really hard on my Instagram account but I'm going to make more effort to keep it consistent to increase followers and engagement - I've already started limiting myself to 2-3 filters (and A Color Story - not Instagram's own!).

I still don't have a huge number of followers, but my account is so much better. I think long and hard about what I post and what order I post in. My 365 project is proving fairly popular and it lends a consistency to my gallery. I also make a concerted effort to post plenty of pictures of my work so people know what I do. I've been posting images which don't fit in my grid on my other account Sundays in Suburbia.

6. I'm going to use my other blog (Sundays in Suburbia) to really work on improving my writing - as that's the one where I go for the full stream of consciousness thing...

And this one is on hiatus. I kept going with it until October and then found I was so busy what with this blog, Just A Card and actual paid work, I had to drop something. The first few months of the year are a lot quieter, but I've been completely stuck for ideas. It's still up there though and I plan to go back to it.

7. I'm going to stop being scared of talking to people. Almost everyone I spoke to - speakers or not - knew who I was when I introduced myself. I need to stop being silly. Also need to stop worrying that people think I'm some silly kind of a fangirl (apologies to Lisa Congdon if I came across like that - hope I didn't - will stop worrying about it now!).

A big one. I've gone out and done so many things that have terrified me in the last year that it makes me exhausted just thinking about it. I've also been applying for lots more stuff (so have been welcomed back to the endless stream of rejections too!). I've been recognised in the street (yes - that was really wierd), and people come to events just to see little old me all the time. Oh and people do usually know who I am (this community isn't that huge after all). So I've started being braver and will carry on! I mean, what's the worst thing that can happen?

All in all I think that's a success. I often find that I get quite stuck working on my own all the time, and events like Blogtacular help to shake me out of my rut and give me some completely new ideas to try. Even if I only take one tiny little gem from each session I attend it's well worth it.

If you fancy joining us next week, you can get a ticket here.

2017 Goals...

Blogging, Events, Business, InspirationKate Marsden

I know.... 2 whole weeks after EVERYONE else sets their 2017 goals, I've finally got around to setting and writing about mine!

Once again, not resolutions but aims, and I'm pretty flexible. All sorts of interesting and unexpected things popped up last year and that's a very good thing.

So here we go...

1. Rebrand

This is coming very very soon - watch this space! Nothing too radical but a freshen up and a new logo.

2. Scary Stuff

I need to apply for more things that scare me. I'm frequently put off applying when I think I don't stand a chance - I need to do it anyway (how to cope with the inevitable rejection at point 3 below!).

3. Learn More

I've joined The Design Trust Business Club (as well as buying the planner shown above) - they have MASSES of brilliant webinars and I plan to work through a lot of them (one of which is on dealing with rejection - see what I did there?!).

I've also signed up to Makelight and I've just started the Beautify Your Instagram course as I type this - hopefully my images will start to look better and my Instagram will look a little more cohesive.

I'm looking out for some good face to face training opportunities too.

4. A Word

I've never gone for this whole "word of the year" thing, but thought I might have a stab at it this year - firstly because one word sprang to mind immediately (and covers lots of aspects of my life, not just my business) and because I feel a need to be kept on course this year and stop going off on quite so many tangents (although see unexpected things above - I do like to contradict myself!). So this year's word is "Grow" - equally applies to my plans for the garden...

5. Stick My Head in a Book

Related to 3 above, I need to do more reading - I'm thinking business books but inspiring stuff (nothing dry that I'll be bored of in 5 minutes, I have very little time to read so it has to fire me up a bit). I'm going to finish reading In the Company of Women from cover to cover and I got Sue Perkins' book just before Christmas. Let me know if you have anything else to recommend.

6. Pressing

Press, press, press.... Every year this is on the list. Every year I manage to get more. And so it continues! I'm currently thinking up some more creative ways to drum up media interest.

7. The Dreaded Website

I've been in denial for months about the fact that I struggle to get sales on my website - planning a strategy to improve this, although I must accept that Etsy is hard to beat.

8. Selling Myself

Not literally, but I need to think more seriously about alternative income streams, which leads me nicely onto...

9. Work it!

More workshops. I really enjoy teaching and I'd like to do more (I have one planned for a week on Saturday - come join me!).

10. Getting Friendly...

I'm still really keen to collaborate. More blog collaborations would be fab but I'd REALLY like to do a product collaboration. No ideas as such at the moment, but it's only January so that's OK.

11. Building

The mailing list... Yes an annual aim and a constant battle. I feel as though I've followed all the advice out there but it's still growing at a painfully slow rate and not really generating anything (as far as I can tell). So I'm aiming to improve my newsletter and get more people to sign up for it. You can join the list here if you fancy giving me some feedback!

12. Killing Time

Or not - I use Pinterest to kill time (and I have SO MUCH spare time to kill...), very occasionally plan a bit of decorating and that's it. Apparently some people actually manage to drive sales and traffic from it *cough*. So I need to spend some time tackling the mess that is my Pinterest. Once again, feedback welcome - here it is at the moment.

And that's that. Seems like rather a lot now it's written down. I will of course update you on progress later in the year....

Do you have any big plans for 2017 or are you sticking to the little (read more manageable and actually achievable!) stuff?

 

Looking Back on 2016 - Part 1

Blogging, Business, Craft, Events, Photography, Sewing, Sketchbook, Textiles, TutorialsKate Marsden

I think most of us will agree that 2016 can't come to an end quickly enough. I have however been putting together my annual roundups and have found masses and masses of positive things which have come out of this year, evidenced here by some of my favourite (and most popular) posts. Have a little look, reminisce if you're featured (!!) and pop back next week for more positive stuff from this year...

1. Getting Personal

One For the Makers (16 March) was a slightly scary post to write but the love I received (and the number of people who read it) more than made up for my nervousness, A little reality check...

2. Sharing Sketchbooks

Yep - the things I found in the shed (at my parent's house) - 24 February - this one was very popular - stuff I was coming up with in the 90s...

3. Just A Card

In the spring I joined the Just A Card team and I talked about it in my post of 13 April...

4. Getting Personal (again)

A newfound fear of sharing my work - Sharing Work and Feeling the Fear (21 October)...

5. Guest Tutorials

The most popular of which was this lovely one by Kelly Cheesley - Patchwork Table Cover Tutorial (29 August)...

6. And more guest posts...

A really popular post on marketing you business using social media from Emma Donovan - Marketing Your Small Business with Social Media (25 April)...

7. Sewing Bee!!!

I caught the dressmaking bug, yet again... Sewing Bee-itis (23 May)...

8. Photogrpahy

I shared the evolution of my product photography in January and lots of people wanted to see my mistakes!! Product Photography Progress (27 January)...

9. Blogtacular!

I actually took some actions this time and thought about my post! Taking Actions from Blogtacular (27 June).

10. Blogtacular (again!)

Sorry, but the photowalk was so much fun (and one of my most popular posts which is still getting lots of views) so I had to include that too! Blogtacular - The Photowalk (22 June).

See! Lots of good stuff! Keep an eye out for plenty more positive things next week...

Instagram Stories

Photography, Blogging, CraftKate Marsden

Now I'm not exactly known as an early adopter.... I tend to wait to see how other people get on with something new before I give it a try. I'd already decided that I'm far too long in the tooth for Snapchat (I know many of you will disagree with this but hey...) but when Instagram launched Stories I thought this might be the one for me as I'm already on and familiar with it...

I set myself the challenge of popping a video on there, but didn't know what to do a video about. I hate being filmed (photos are generally OK but filming is a no no - especially if I'm taking too!), so I procrastinated a bit then decided not to bother. 

Then on the photowalk at the beginning of the month the lovely Laura (check out her Instagram here) gave me a little Stories crash course (including the revelation that I don't have to post video - shock!) and I decided to give it a go there and then. The prefect opportunity as I'd been taking a whole heap of photos but didn't want to fill my Instagram feed with them all.

Laura suggested that I might want to show work in progress and the like too so since then I've shown my drawing process for my Arts Tower print and then (the most viewed so far) the making of a custom brooch order...

This one was the perfect use of Stories for me as the images weren't what I would consider to be good enough for my Instagram feed but it's the sort of thing people like to see. Thinking I might do more of this like a day in the life. The only problem is that the Stories only hang around for a few hours (although some people would say that's a good thing. You can see the whole of my brooch making story below.

So far I've just been looking at some of the stories from people I already follow on Instagram - if you're using it do let me know and I can check yours out - also if you have any recommendations for accounts you think I'll like and that will inspire me to do more please say!

In the meantime I'll leave you with the Fairfield Halls brooches (as I mentioned a custom order so please don't get too excited! You can get prints here or National Theatre brooches here!) and I'll start planning some more little posts of my own...

Things to Make and Do - The Blogtacular Goodie Bag

Blogging, Craft, Events, Products, SewingKate Marsden

"Better late than never" I hear you cry (or possibly, "what ANOTHER Blogtacular post?!"). This is the last of my three posts about Blogtacular and I've taken my time getting to it. The first is about the Photowalk and the second, a more in-depth post about the day itself and the actions I've taken away.

Now the icing on the cake that is Blogtacular has to be the goodie bag. As if I needed proof that I've been knackered and stressed since the conference (not because of it I hasten to add!), I only had a proper look at it's contents at the weekend, yes shame on me. Here are a few of my favourite bits...

What I really love are the number of things to make and do! I obviously haven't made or done any of them yet, though I hope to find time over the summer. I'm going to work my way around this image about in a vaguely clockwise fashion:

  • Sun Jellies bag - I last had one of these in about 1984. It was black. I had matching sandals too. I love it and I'm really pleased I got the pink one!
  • Annie Sloan Chalk paint - a lovely dark teal colour this year - need to think of a good project for this.
  • Glitter triangle necklace by Too Cute to Quit - wore this yesterday and it's rather fab.
  • Tilly & The Buttons Bettine pattern - so happy to get one of Tilly's patterns which I don't already own - it's also highly unlikely that I would've made the jumpsuit if I'd got that one (lovely as it is - I'm not really a jumpsuit person).
  • Pineapple stencil from Happy Scatter.
  • Home Tag from Home by Kirsty.
  • We Make Collective kit - I've written about We Make Collective before - I love that they provide the stuff, but leave what you make with it to your imagination - I'm definitely going to make something with this mini embroidery kit.
  • DIY Lightning Bolt Brooch Kit from The Make Arcade - a blue glittery lightening bolt? Yep, I'll be making this one too. 
  • Makers Gonna Make print from Claireabellemakes.
  • Temporary Tattoos (with bunnies on!!) from Hello Harriet - for my holiday perhaps...
  • Origami Notepaper Set by Lollipop Designs - the little man helped me with the photo above and spotted this straight away so I think I'll be making them with him somehow!
  • Hip Hip Hooray sticker - part of a mini Noisemakers' Club pack (you can read about Noisemakers Club here - I'm already a bit of a fan).

There were lots of other thinks besides, so really quite a treat! This little lot all came in a fab tote designed by Hello Dodo and DesignosaurYEAH - I'd take a photo of mine, but I've already used it so much it needs a wash! So here's Mollie Makes photo of them all lined up in a row...

Image (c)  Mollie Makes

Image (c) Mollie Makes

And that's it for another year.... Now off to do some gluing and sticking and sewing and whatnot...

Taking Actions from Blogtacular

Blogging, EventsKate Marsden

I've always been pretty good at absorbing the feeling and energy of a moment or event, letting it generally inspire me and give me a lift, but not really DOING anything with it. When I discussed buying my ticket to a second Blogtacular, Mr M (perhaps quite rightly) questioned me on what I'd actually get from it - something actionable/measurable (just having a fab time and making new friends isn't enough it seems), so I did think quite hard (for 48 hours or so!) before taking the plunge. 

If you've seen my Instagram, Twitter or last week's post about the photowalk, you'll already know that I had a brilliant time. Once again my takeaways are probably a little loose and random, but I thought I'd use this opportunity to share what I got up to on the day of the conference and set myself some actions.

Arriving at the venue on the Saturday morning I was greeted by lots of familiar, friendly faces which was fab - even if several people didn't recognise me with my new hair! We mingled, chatted, and consumed masses of tea (it was fairly early for a Saturday...) before heading in to the opening keynote - Lisa Congdon.

I've been a fan of Lisa and her work since I first discovered her - I think on Twitter - when I was on maternity leave (yes the little man is now 6). One of the reasons I've always found Lisa so inspiring is the fact that she started her art career in her 30s. Yes I studied fashion and textiles straight out of school, but I ended up spending 15 years working in the City (literally a stone's throw from the Blogtacular venue - which was odd - the last time I was there was for a meeting), so in a sense I've come to this world late too.

Lisa Congdon -  Image (c) Mollie Makes

Lisa Congdon - Image (c) Mollie Makes

Lisa spoke about her career, introduced us to the vulnerability hangover (I think most of us could associate with this - I honestly feel that I've had one for over a week (maybe that's where the headache came from!) - but every time I try or do something new, or stick my neck out at all, I have this). Essentially this occurs when you've done something big - like public speaking, or in Lisa's recent case, letting a film crew follow her around and film her life for two days - and then regret it and assume everyone must think you're crazy/a freak/actually no good at anything. Anyone who really knows me will know this is me to a "T"!!

She also spoke about overwork and creative burnout - which I can relate to a little at the moment too. However I'm at such a different point in my career to her - I really feel that I can't afford to say no or take a break at all - I'm not exactly overwhelmed with opportunities as she has been, but it still very much struck a chord.

I came out of the session feeling quite fired up and ready to start the day - without making any of us speak, I think Lisa really helped to break the ice. Here I am below getting my book signed by Lisa - I also got to spend quite a bit more time chatting with her later and suspect I may now be a bigger fan than ever!

Lisa Congdon and the back of my neck -  Image (c) Mollie Makes

Lisa Congdon and the back of my neck - Image (c) Mollie Makes

Next up, attempting to solve my ideas drought...

Kirsty Smith spent years coming up with ideas for TV shows for the BBC, Channel 4, ITV, Channel 5 and Sky and she led a workshop on Developing Content Ideas. 

Kirsty Smith -  Image (c) Mollie Makes

Kirsty Smith - Image (c) Mollie Makes

I have to say that when Kirsty told us to share an idea with the person next to us, I was somewhat stumped as my idea drought is currently quite severe, but I liked her process. My recent survey told me that some of the types of post I write are even less popular than the stats would suggest, and I was planning on binning them altogether, but Kirsty's session has led to a rethink (see my actions at the end of this post).

I also particularly warmed to Kirsty and her presentation style - she reminded me of someone I used to work with, but in a good way!

Next was lunch - and the food was good... I ate too much, and bought too many books I don't need... I bought Zeena Shah's new colouring book as a present for my parents for taking the little man for the day, and they loved it so much they tell me they won't be colouring it in!

Zeena Shah -  Image (c) Mollie Makes

First up after lunch, I finally met Sara Tasker when I joined her Phoneography workshop. Sara is a master of Instagram (if you don't already follow her @me_and_orla go and do it now - most people do though it seems!). Sara took us through some basics of using your iPhone, set us a little styling challenge, and provided a very useful Q&A at the end. I also got to sit next to, and catch up with, Lucy Heath who I haven't seen for years - the lucky folks who got to the props first got to play with her new photo backdrops - I'm quite excited to get hold of some of these when they're available to buy later in the summer.

Sara Tasker -  Image (c) Mollie Makes
Martha Love 's hands, my feet, and our little styling attempt!

Martha Love's hands, my feet, and our little styling attempt!

After a short break, we moved on to the next session - I chose to join Laura Jane Williams for her Writing Workshop. Had a feeling this might be a bit scary (I've been to writing workshops before - they often involve reading too...), but it was fine (for me at least, I didn't read!).

Laura Jane Williams -  Image (c) Mollie Makes

Laura Jane Williams - Image (c) Mollie Makes

Laura was really funny and engaging, and gave us plenty of useful tips - the main exercise involved one of my favourite things - cutting your writing down. I used to do this a lot at work, and I still do for certain things (including blog posts, if you'll believe it!). So she challenged us to write a passage, cut it down, then cut it down again... We then had to share with a neighbour and feedback to one another. Oh and yes, a number of people did read them out to the room, but not me!

One last break, then it was time for the closing keynote - already! Enid Hwang was the sixth employee at Pinterest (there are now 1,000s) and she took us through the story of the company's success - which was by no means immediate. Again, funny, engaging and inspiring - she left the room on a bit of a high!

Enid Hwang -  Image (c) Mollie Makes

Then the wonderful Kat Molesworth (centre in yellow in the first image in this post) closed the conference. I have to say a huge thanks to Kat and her team - apart from the obvious (creating Blogtacular in the first place) the event is just so well run and organised - everyone's so happy and approachable and helpful, even when busy. It really is the best thing to be a part of.

Finally, the goodie bags...

Designed this year by the fab Designosaur and Hello Dodo - don't they look fab?! This post is already getting pretty epic though so I'll share the contents (which were equally brilliant) another day.

Now for those actions... here we go:

1. I think that part of my ideas drought/current funk comes from feeling like a bit of a fraud (Lisa Congdon spoke about not feeling like a "real artist" and getting over this) - so I'm planning to have a proper clear out/reorganise of my studio - get rid of the stuff that doesn't feel like me any more, re-do my inspiration wall... hoping this will help (I should also get a blog post or two out of it!!).

2. From the ideas workshop - taking the post ideas I already have that don't work very well and looking at them in a different way - maybe it's not the idea that doesn't work, but the format - how many formats are there? I need to brainstorm ideas in a different way - I drew a little chart in my notebook after Kirsty's session and I'm going to go back to this.

3. I'm going to make a proper effort to come up with some more properly collaborative blog posts - if you have any idea for something we could do together and want to get the ball rolling let me know!

4. I'm going to make more effort to keep and write in my many notebooks....

5. I've been working really hard on my Instagram account but I'm going to make more effort to keep it consistent to increase followers and engagement - I've already started limiting myself to 2-3 filters (and A Color Story - not Instagram's own!).

6. I'm going to use my other blog (Sunday's in Suburbia) to really work on improving my writing - as that's the one where I go for the full stream of consciousness thing...

7. I'm going to stop being scared of talking to people. Almost everyone I spoke to - speakers or not - knew who I was when I introduced myself. I need to stop being silly. Also need to stop worrying that people think I'm some silly kind of a fangirl (apologies to Lisa Congdon if I came across like that - hope I didn't - will stop worrying about it now!).

Anyway, I think that's it, but I'm sure I'll come up with more.

Thanks again to Kat and the team but also everyone I spent time with on Friday and Saturday - you all made my weekend/week./month with your enthusiasm. friendliness and just general fabness (I invented another new word!). Now I really think I need that lie down...

Blogtacular - The Photowalk

Blogging, Events, London, PhotographyKate Marsden

Last weekend I went to the completely fab Blogtacular! I'm still digesting everything from the main event on Saturday (and there will be another post) but on Friday afternoon I headed off to Shoreditch with a lovely group of ladies for one of the photowalks. This year there were 2 - one in the East and one in the West, plus a video walk - far too scary an idea for me - maybe next year...

I had a complete outfit change at the last minute due to predicted thunder storms, which didn't materialise - but still managed to get some colour in! For those who were asking, my dress was from the beautiful Germana of Gira e Rigira La Moda - it's super comfy and having got soaked to the skin a couple of weeks ago in it, I knew it'd dry quickly if necessary!!

So the whole point of a photowalk is to take lots of photos you might not otherwise, go to some different places, and chat with lots of lovely people. I took well over 100 but here are some edited highlights.

Pop back in a few days for my main post about Blogtacular itself!

The Survey Results are in...

Blogging, Business, ProductsKate Marsden

A survey is always (at least when you get responses!) enlightening. In my case it usually makes me feel a little better about my work, and gives me new ideas at the same time. I do always ask for feedback but you don't tend to get a lot of detail over on Etsy, so it's nice to be able to ask a few more questions once in a while.

A huge thank you to everyone who took the time to complete my survey last month. The questions covered my designs, this site, and my blog. Here's a little summary of the results...

The majority of people who visit madebymrsm.co.uk do not do so to shop. They come to read this blog or to find out more about me and my work. This rings true as I've found driving traffic to the shop to be even trickier than I'd expected.

The reasons given for not shopping here were that people had bought elsewhere (Etsy or face to face at an event). People feel confident shopping on Etsy as it's a big site, which I understand.

When it comes to the blog, the favourite types of post (in order) are:

  • Day in the Life
  • Studio Tours
  • Posts about my work/designs/new products
  • Tutorials
  • Business Advice (often guest posts).

Only one respondent hadn't ever read the blog. A few things such as exhibition and book reviews really weren't of interest at all, so this has helped me to plan my future content better.

When I asked how I could improve the shop element of my site, most people struggled to come up with anything - although one suggestion was that I use too many props - what do you think? There was also the suggestion that I'll always struggle here as people want to buy from bigger sites.

The most popular products for those who responded were my bestsellers - so no real surprise there - travelcard wallets, fat quarters and notebooks. No real interest at all in cushions or lampshades though which is interesting.

I then asked what people want, but I don't do - lots of requests for more fabric designs (they're coming, don't worry!), plus bags, purses and additional homewares, such as tea towels.

The majority think my prices are just right but some thought they're too expensive. At the moment I source all materials (and any items I don't make myself) within the UK, and this is really important to me. There are many things I can't afford to wholesale as a result of this. I do need to look into reducing costs at some point, but at the moment the only viable option appears to be the Far East and that's not in the plan...

I asked the old "What would incentivise you to shop?" question and the responses were either "Nothing, if I want to buy at any given time I just will", or the offer of an exclusive product/design or percentage discount.

Finally, I tested the water for a name change. I've been thinking for quite a while that Made By Mrs M doesn't seem quite right, but I'm often stopped in my tracks for some reason or another and I'm really glad I asked this question. It was a resounding no - leave it as it is. I don't know if this is because the people who responded know my business and are familiar with it, but either way I'm going to hold fire. If you didn't respond to the survey but have a view on this, I'd love to hear it.

Thanks again to everyone who took part - it's given me some food for thought and will help me make decisions for the rest of this year and beyond. If you have any other thoughts to add, please do!

 

Going Back to Blogtacular!

Blogging, Events, WorkshopsKate Marsden

Blogtacular 2016 is only 3 weeks away! I'm so excited!

Last year was my first, and several people have asked me why I'm going back, so I thought this would be a good time to have a think about that - what I want to get from this year's conference, and consider whether I really did get the things I'd hoped to out of last year's...

With  Kimberly of Wardrobe Conversations  at Blogtacular 2015 - image (c) Mollie Makes

With Kimberly of Wardrobe Conversations at Blogtacular 2015 - image (c) Mollie Makes

So what (other than chopping all my hair off) has changed since last June? Well, I no longer write one blog. Back in August I quietly, and tentatively, started my new personal blog Sundays in Suburbia. Part of the charm of my weekly, Sunday ramblings over there is that I don't have many readers and I feel I can waffle on to my heart's content... I have had some good engagement from the readers I have though and I've recently re-branded it to make it look pretty. Then last month I took up the (voluntary) role of blogger for the Just A Card campaign. So, from a blog perspective, things have changed quite a bit!

I've gone from a couple of hundred Instagram followers to a couple of thousand - but there's still masses of room for improvement there (especially with my second account). Twitter continues to trundle on in the way that it does...

So, what did I think I'd got out of last year's conference when I got home. and what did I plan to do? A quick recap:

Photography - taking that thing off auto

I went on a course - I'm not practicing enough though and take far too many photos with my phone (but it's so good!). I'm aiming to spend some time practicing again before the conference so I can get better images this year.

Styling

The Betty Magazine styling session last year was fab. That and the Instagram panel really got me thinking and I've been working hard on my styling for my shop and my Instagram feeds. I think it's getting better all the time.

Generally making my blog/website look better

Never satisfied here... I moved my site from Wordpress to Squarespace a few months ago and I know it looks a lot better than it did a year ago, but I do constantly feel the need to tweak. Oh, and some of my old posts didn't migrate that well and I really need to go through and tidy all of them.... Of course now I've got my new look Sundays in Suburbia I'm no longer satisfied with this as I think that looks better. They're different sites for different purposes though so I'll try and remember that!

Meeting People

This is arguably the most important thing of all. Meeting people I already knew but hadn't seen for ages. Meeting lots and lots of people I knew online but had never actually met. This year I'm determined to be well and not sound like Joan Rivers on a bad day (I'd had laryngitis) and make the most of this opportunity! Also determined not to be star struck by the more famous bloggers and to actually go and talk to them. It always shocks me that quite a lot of people know who I am - once I realise that, as an introvert, I'm a lot happier!

Anyway, the meeting of people has led to lots of work and opportunities over the past year so that definitely paid off.

So, what am I looking forward to this year? I'm hoping to pick up useful tips and inspiration for all 3 of the blogs I now write, but in particular I'm excited about:

Lisa Congdon's opening keynote - I'm going to finish reading her book first!

Phone photography and visual storytelling with Sarah Tasker of Me and Orla - I'd aimed to attend one of her workshops recently and couldn't, so hoping this will make up for it.

I'm hoping to get a place on a photowalk this year (fingers crossed).

Laura Jane Williams' writing masterclass promises to be really good.

I've been suffering from a little blogger's block recently so I'm also hoping to get to Kirsty Smith's content development workshop (although I did discover that just being there last year left me with weeks' worth of ideas!).

Oh and of course seeing everyone and having a good natter!

Are you going to Blogtacular this year? If you are please say hello - I'm a tad shy even though people think I'm not!  If you haven't bought your ticket yet there's still time (although the ticket prices go up on Monday so get in quick before they do).

 

20 Top Social Media Marketing Tips

Blogging, BusinessKate Marsden

GUEST POST FROM EMMA DONOVAN OF PEAS-IN-A-POD - Read Part 1 (Marketing your Small Business with Social Media) here.

Image - Kate Marsden, Made By Mrs M

Image - Kate Marsden, Made By Mrs M

So, back to generating good content and developing the art of selling what you do without being too shouty…  Here are some of my top 20 tips which will work across all of your platforms and will help you to define some sort of social media strategy:

1.     Be on brand. Whatever you post, your ‘voice’ needs to be as on brand as your images.  Be consistent too-once you find your voice stick with it across all platforms. You will lose your audience if you seem like someone with multiple personalities.

2.     Don’t be too salesy.  I’ve unfollowed so many accounts who post multiple times throughout the day saying things like ‘Buy my great pug-dog design cushion’  or ‘Look at this new design’ – anything that is too assertive or ‘me me me’ is a no-no. It just comes across as a bit rude and could rub your audience up the wrong way.

3.     Look at the bigger picture.  If your business is inspired by wildlife or you make products for newborn babies, or being produced in Kent is a vital part of your business then make sure you have something to say.  Be an authority or expert in your field; provide regular weekly posts on indie businesses in Kent, or the best wildlife images you’ve seen that week, or support a charity or cause close to the heart of your brand, if of course, it works well with your business and brand objectives. awarenessdays.co.uk or feedly.com will help, as will twitter’s ‘moments’.

4.     Play the long game. Don’t post about the cost of your products. The whole point of social media is that it drives traffic to a place where your audience can find out more about your work and craft, fall in love and then shop and keep shopping! You want the followers you’ve built up to stay interested and to be repeat customers, not just a one hit wonder. Treat them like they’re part of your business; tweet or post messages asking for feedback on something they’ve bought, advice on your latest work or a new product you’re working on.  If your followers feel they’ve given some form of investment they’ll be more inclined to stick with you.

5.     Plan ahead.  Creating a content calendar will help your business have a consistent style across all your social media platforms and will keep you on track, allowing you time to plan strategically.  You can also add in when particular seasons, holidays or trends fall, when the national awareness days are that suit your business or product and generally the opportunity to be proactive instead of reactive which can sometimes be the case with social media.

6.     Be useful. If you’re selling commissions or products for weddings or Father’s Day start posting tweets about products particular to this as part of a lead up campaign – you can mark these out on your content calendar. Starting with 8 weeks in advance right up until the day before.  If you sell and dispatch your products from an on-line shop, keep your audience up to date with last posting dates.  This will drive traffic especially leading up to the key gifting times eg Christmas and Valentines. 

7.     Curate. If you’re busy or have writer’s block and really can’t think of anything to post, curate other good material. Follow blogs or subscribe to websites that have good content that fits your brand sensibilities. 

8.     Be shareable. Don’t make your audience work to share your content, make it as easy as possible. If you’ve had some great professional shots taken of your products don’t post the highest res versions, compress them for web applications so they don’t take too long to load in someone’s feed.

9.     Be natural. Both with your images and your voice – be bright, sunny and positive. Never moan or bitch, no matter how tempting it is.  You are your brand ambassador.  Dull images and dull posts = unfollows.

10.  Reign in the exclamation points and emoji’s. They are fun, but use your words more. If your brand is bubbly and cheerful, there are other ways to convey this. Before you post, re-read your caption and get rid of excessive exclamation points and check all spelling and grammar.

11.  Dust off your thesaurus and use words that are included in your business description and that represent your brand. Brainstorm a list of words that express your brand and use them repeatedly.

12.  Be amusing or super cute. People like to be entertained so make sure you offer entertainment as well as beautiful things for them to buy or things to do.  If you have a pet or animal mascot to exploit and it fits your brand then by all means give it ago.

Image - Emma Donovan, Peas-in-a-Pod

Image - Emma Donovan, Peas-in-a-Pod

13.     Create your own trends / hashtags and search to see which ones have the biggest following.  Instagram is great for this – use this intelligence to help you further on twitter too. Plan your weekly content campaign with hashtag themed days of the week or month or join other twitter chats using hashtags. Twubs.com is great for sourcing hashtags.

14.     Be generous. Giveaways, discounts, vouchers and competitions are all good currency on social media and in return you’ll often get many more shares, retweets, regrams and followers. Schedule them into your content calendar and team up with fellow businesses for a collective giveaway. It’s also good practice if you have old stock or some samples to get rid of.

15.     Get blogging.  Whether you have your own blog or not, know who the key bloggers are and target bloggers who may fit into your target audience. The mum and dad blogging community is huge, as is the health and interior design communities.  If your product can appeal to blogs and bloggers, add them to your press lists, google+ circles or twitter lists.  Even if you don’t want to create your own blog, be part of the blogger community – shout out to them for collaborations, features or guest edits.

16.     Be press ready.  If you’ve got products that suit specific gifting occasions, have created something brand new, won an award or are attending an event make sure you have a press release for all occasions and send this out to your targeted press contacts.  Connect on social media and find out when their latest deadlines are,  you’re more likely to get a feature if most of the work is done.  At other times plan way ahead for the gifting / fashion seasons – think summer for winter and winter for summer.

17.     Recommend and refer – whether you sell on Etsy, notonthehighstreet, in shops and pop-ups, at craft fairs and trade shows, you’ll be part of a collective group of makers / producers / small business owners.  A whole is greater than the sum of its parts so look at teaming up and shouting about what you’re all each up to every week.  Make it part of your content plan and always pay it forward.

18.     Move your images.  There are plenty of ways to create little videos and vlogs about you and your work.  Timelapse apps, especially hyperlapse for Instagram are good fun for creating maker tutorials and will help you generate different types of content.  Create videos of you putting the finishing touches to a piece of work or a day in your studio or even beautifully packaging your orders… Social media videos are so watchable and if you spend a bit of time and create something that is well lit, looks aesthetically pleasing and teaches your audience something then you’re on to a winner.

19.     Be personal.  Don’t just be a faceless post-er – show your quirks, passions and frustrations as you grow your business.  It shows your audience that there’s a real person behind the products and that by investing in and supporting your brand, they’re helping you sustain a life for you, your family, pet gerbil or to buy enough hula hoops to get through the week.

20.     Remember that what you do is special.  Although you may mix in circles where many of your friends are doing similar things to you, there are many more people out there not doing it, and not possessing any creativity, or desire to run their own business but loving it all the same and wanting to buy into a brand that has a soul.  Tap into their day dreams and be somebody’s inspiration.

Find out more about Emma here...

Peas-in-a-Pod
Gifts & Greetings for fun-loving folk
www.peasinapod.org.uk
Twitter @peasinapod1
facebook.com/PeasIAPod
Instagram.com/emma_the_pea
Pinterest.com/PeasIAPod
Linkedin/EmmaDonovan

 

Marketing your Small Business with Social Media

Blogging, BusinessKate Marsden

GUEST POST FROM EMMA DONOVAN OF PEAS-IN-A-POD

As an indie maker and small start-up, driving sales and finding new ways of keeping up with the momentum is as much of a full time job as designing and making your products.  I certainly find that this side of my business takes up ALOT of my time, in some ways, far too much and it is for the most part tiring, frustrating and at times seemingly fruitless.  Social Media is both your arch nemesis and best bud, but whether you like it or not, if you want to earn money from your creations and promote your beloved brand (the one you’ve lovingly nurtured and ripped your heart out to create) without selling the heirlooms and busting the local cashpoint, you have to partake.  The bad news – it’ll suck a lot of seconds out of your day. The good news: for the most part, it’s free, and you can literally see the ROI grow before your very eyes.

Image - Kate Marsden, Made By Mrs M

Image - Kate Marsden, Made By Mrs M

I’ve worked in marketing for the last ten years whilst starting up Peas-in-a-Pod gifts and greetings (since 2012) and continue to combine both alongside motherhood and occasional freelance jobs.  Using social media has become a way of life for me, and managing multiple accounts across different platforms has really given me an insight into the do’s and don’ts of running your accounts.  As part of a Guest Blog Series for Made By Mrs M I’ll be sharing my tips and advice on successfully using social media to promote your creative business.

So Social Media.  Why, why, why?  For us creative business owners you don’t really have the choice.  Put your personal feelings aside and shake hands because social media has to be your friend if you need to self-promote on a shoestring.

·       It’s free. As always an important factor when starting your own business. You can quickly set up profiles on any of the big social media platforms without paying any fee.  Invest your time not your money, especially at the beginning.

·       It builds networks. It takes WoM to another level – as artists and small businesses we rely a lot on networking, and word of mouth to help spread the word about our products, craft and commissions.  With a bit of time, knowhow and effort you can quickly establish multiple networks of advocates who will help promote you and your work.

·       It complements and enhances your existing marketing activity and enables you to segment and target your audience allowing bespoke and more meaningful engagement. Look at Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Iconosquare as well as Facebook and Twitter’s own analytics tools.

·       It can be tracked, analysed and monitored – you can use it intelligently and devise cross communication strategies and promotions.

·       There’s a lot of help, advice and tips out there to help get you started and by seeing what your social media communities and competitors are doing you can quickly learn.

·       Everyone is doing it – so you need to be seen.  It’s good for your business credibility and gives buyers/customers/retailers the inside scoop on what your brand is about.  If you think about it, it’s kind of like the innards of your sketchbooks – a place to showcase your ‘behind the scenes’, what makes you tick, your inspiration and work in progress; ultimately it’s a place to show the heart of your brand.

Image - Emma Donovan, Peas-in-a-Pod

Image - Emma Donovan, Peas-in-a-Pod

If you’ve been using social media for a while, you’ll know how rewarding and addictive it can be, but also how that at times it can be really difficult to keep up the momentum and to create regular inspirational content specific to the particular platforms you are using.  It can be tempting to do a ‘one size fits all’ and cross-post to your facebook, twitter and instagram but I would be cautious of this.  You’re likely to be followed across all of your platforms by many of your followers and it’s therefore good to shake up your content. 

COME BACK NEXT MONDAY FOR 20 TOP TIPS FOR SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING - YOU DON'T WANT TO MISS IT!

Find out more about Emma here...

Peas-in-a-Pod
Gifts & Greetings for fun-loving folk
www.peasinapod.org.uk
Twitter @peasinapod1
facebook.com/PeasIAPod
Instagram.com/emma_the_pea
Pinterest.com/PeasIAPod
Linkedin/EmmaDonovan

 

Blogtacular - The bag of treats!

Events, London, Review, Bloggingmadebymrsm
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As promised, here's a second Blogtacular post to share some of my favourite bits from the amazing goodie bag. I started looking through it on the train home and couldn't quite believe how much fab stuff it contained.

As I mentioned in my last post, I have a new love - Betty Magazine - I was very happy to find a copy in the bag. Shown here with "bloggers gonna blog" print by The Lovely Drawer and "well done" banner from Planes Workshop.

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The bag contained a sample pot of Annie Sloane Chalk Paint (which I'd never used before and I'm fairly sure I'm going to have to next time we decorate) - I painted the board in the image above with it (Number 31 - Scandinavian Pink). Thank You post card and winged heart clothes patch from Jennie Maizels, Malted Milk card from Nikki McWilliams, feather temporary tattoos from The Hambledon, fabric pieces (part of a larger set) from Trouve Vintage and feather greetings card from Betty Etiquette.

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And of course the bag itself! A jammy dodger by Nikki McWilliams - who also added a little make your own biscuit bunting set...

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First thing last Monday I cracked out the Life Planner from Lollipop Designs (and it's so much better than using my plain notebook when it comes to getting organised!) - we were given a three month sample - the full version will be available to buy in the autumn via the Blogtacular website.

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The bag also contained a copy of Mollie Makes (one which I've actually had twice before - present for Mum then!) but it was the one which contained my favourite stripy washi tape and all these lovely treats as the free gift.

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I squealed slightly when I saw an And Smile brooch - one I like and don't already own as well!

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More from Mollie Makes - yes, I do already own Woodland Friends, and a little wash bag from Anorak.

There were lots of other bits too - it just kept on coming! And now I walk around the streets of South London wearing my bag (and brooch) with pride!

See my other Blogtacular post here.

Stay in touch - join the mailing list!

Blogtacular!

Blogging, Events, London, Reviewmadebymrsm

Where to begin? I had such a wonderful time at Blogtacular on Saturday and I'm still trying to digest it all! The event was a fantastic opportunity to meet lots of people I've know for ages online, and lots of completely new people too, as well as hearing from fantastic speakers and getting to try some hands on workshops. All too much! Anyway, here's a little rundown of my day - please note that all images marked with (MM) are shared with permission of Mollie Makes magazine (photographer Piers MacDonald), the rest are my own.

Blogtacular 2015 Official Photos by Piers MacDonald. Thanks Mollie Makes (700)
Blogtacular 2015 Official Photos by Piers MacDonald. Thanks Mollie Makes (700)

(MM)

So, we all converged on the rather grand venue of the Royal Institution in London's Mayfair - the perfect venue with an amazing lecture theatre and lots of lovely spaces for us to take over. I didn't enter the ballot for the pre-conference photo walk (7am start - eek!) so arrived in time to catch up with a few people I knew before things kicked off.

Blogtacular 2015 Official Photos by Piers MacDonald. Thanks Mollie Makes (5)
Blogtacular 2015 Official Photos by Piers MacDonald. Thanks Mollie Makes (5)
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Above - Laura Howard of Bugs and Fishes and Eleanor Maw of ELM Rocks.

Our opening keynote was from the rather wonderful and inspiring Grace Bonney of Design Sponge...

Blogtacular 2015 Official Photos by Piers MacDonald. Thanks Mollie Makes (231)
Blogtacular 2015 Official Photos by Piers MacDonald. Thanks Mollie Makes (231)

(MM)

She got us off to a very good start, speaking about embracing fear - I think all of us with small businesses (whether we blog or not) appreciated this - although I'm not quite ready to sign up to do a radio show as a way of facing mine!

I then moved on to a talk from photographer Marte Marie Forsberg. She spoke about the unconventional journey she took to get to where she is today.

Blogtacular 2015 Official Photos by Piers MacDonald. Thanks Mollie Makes (283)
Blogtacular 2015 Official Photos by Piers MacDonald. Thanks Mollie Makes (283)

(MM)

And then it was lunchtime, and a chance to grab a sandwich, look at the various stalls, chat to lots more people and have a play with my new camera (which I still haven't really got to grips with!). Straight after lunch I joined a photography workshop run by Kat Molesworth - a chance to play with the camera!

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Now this was really good fun (even if I was using my camera on auto - and the whole group found out about it!) - another great example of the photos not turning out as good as I thought they were when I got them onto the computer, but there were a few nice ones! Last year I downloaded the Blogtacular Unmanual (a guide to switching that auto off and using your DSLR properly) - actually reading this has now been added to my list, especially as I now have the new DSLR!

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The lovely Anna Simmonds of Crafting Fingers.

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Next up was a panel discussion about Instagram. Now some of you may have noticed that I'm becoming increasingly keen on Instagram so this was a really good one for me.

Blogtacular 2015 Official Photos by Piers MacDonald. Thanks Mollie Makes (522)
Blogtacular 2015 Official Photos by Piers MacDonald. Thanks Mollie Makes (522)

(MM)

Back to the lecture theatre, the panel included Grace Bonney, Alison Sadler, Leona Thrift-ola and Benjamin Hole. I came away feeling that I really need to improve my Instagram feed - so do pop over and join me there and watch the transformation (or my attempt at one at least!!).

A quick break and then off to the final workshop - styling with Betty Magazine.

Blogtacular 2015 Official Photos by Piers MacDonald. Thanks Mollie Makes (568)
Blogtacular 2015 Official Photos by Piers MacDonald. Thanks Mollie Makes (568)

(MM)

So another chance to get the camera out and to have a play with lots of lovely things! I was rather excited to find a copy of Betty in my goodie bag at the end of the day - I'd always thought I'd love it but had never actually bought a copy - I think I might now be hooked... Anyway they set us a challenge to style a selection of items 3 ways and it was so much fun.

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I teamed up with Eleanor, Kimberley of Wardrobe Conversations and Rachel Tripp of Corner by Corner.

Blogtacular 2015 Official Photos by Piers MacDonald. Thanks Mollie Makes (614)
Blogtacular 2015 Official Photos by Piers MacDonald. Thanks Mollie Makes (614)

(MM) - I'm looking very serious here!

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Then a mad rush to finish and get back into the lecture theatre for the closing keynote from Anthony Peters.

Blogtacular 2015 Official Photos by Piers MacDonald. Thanks Mollie Makes (639)
Blogtacular 2015 Official Photos by Piers MacDonald. Thanks Mollie Makes (639)

(MM)

Anthony spoke about the making of his documentary Make You Look - a discussion on creativity in the digital age. The film looks amazing - you can see a trailer here.

And that was it! Kat and Kat said farewell, we had a group photo and then headed off to grab those goodie bags...

Blogtacular 2015 Official Photos by Piers MacDonald. Thanks Mollie Makes (691)
Blogtacular 2015 Official Photos by Piers MacDonald. Thanks Mollie Makes (691)

(MM)

Now the goodie bags were so amazing that they deserve a post of their own (which you can read here), so I won't bore you with the contents here - but you can take a look at the bags themselves which were by Nikki McWilliams...

Blogtacular 2015 Official Photos by Piers MacDonald. Thanks Mollie Makes (709)
Blogtacular 2015 Official Photos by Piers MacDonald. Thanks Mollie Makes (709)

(MM)

Thank you so much to Kat and Kat for putting on such a wonderful event, and to all the speakers and everyone I met on the day (and who didn't recoil at my horribly croaky voice!). I'm already planning an early bird ticket purchase for next year (I bought mine in September last year so keep an eye on the Blogtacular site for details if you'd like to join us next time).

Blog Every Day in May

Bloggingmadebymrsm

OK, I'm aware that today is 4 May, and that I didn't blog over the weekend, but bear with me.... I've been toying with the idea of increasing the number of posts I write for a while - I enjoy putting this little blog together and I usually have far more ideas than slots for posts. I'm not sure whether I'd like to go up to 4 or 5 posts per week (I currently write 3) - I don't know if I really have the time, or if my readers want to hear from me so often! So, when I heard that the lovely Elizabeth of Rosalilium was running her Blog Every Day in May (or #BEDM) challenge again this year I decided to try and take part.

I'm cheating somewhat as I will be taking the weekends off, but this is a good chance to test out a 5 day per week schedule for one month and decide if I (and you) like it, or whether I should just stick with Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Elizabeth has set some prompts for the topics of our posts, but as I already had a lot planned I'll just be taking some inspiration from them here and there. Today I'm covering what I should've done on Friday of last week - introducing the challenge and introducing me! Long term readers probably already know me reasonably well, so here are 10 things you might not know...

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1. I love my garden (it's my main hobby - if you don't count dressmaking and quilting etc which many people consider to be work!).

2. My other real passions are art (which you've probably already realised) and music. Before the little man came along we were out at gigs all the time. At the last count I'd seen 100+ bands live. My favourite event is the Reading Festival (I've been 4 times!) and the next band we're going to see are the Foo Fighters.

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3. When I was 17 my Saturday job was at Clarks shoes and I was a trained fitter.

4. I know how to cut hair.

5. I've long had an obsession with Virginia Woolf (since I was a teenager).

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6. I love period dramas and musicals.

7. I've travelled to lots of places (mostly pre-little man) - my favourite cities are Sydney, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Beijing, New York, Paris, Reykjavik, Venice, Berlin, Stockholm, oh and my beloved home town of London!

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8. I can only speak English - my language skills are embarrassingly bad. I have a few words of French and German but would really like to learn Spanish as we visit Spain every year.

9. I once ran a half marathon - I also used to go to the gym 5+ times a week. I don't really get any exercise other than walking nowadays though, and would really like to start running and swimming again.

10. I struggle to function without an adequate supply of cake.

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Why not share 10 things we might not know about you below? Or even better, if you have a blog you could join in with the challenge - it's not too late! Follow the link here or click on the badge in the sidebar. Follow the hashtag #BEDM on Twitter to see what everyone else is blogging about this month!

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Blog-Every-Day-in-May-With-Rosalilium

I'll be back tomorrow with one of my regular posts...