Last month I launched the latest #CraftBlogClub challenge which, for a change, was a blogging one. The topic is "Firsts", all the details can be found over here but the topic was left quite open for us to interpret how we choose. The topic got me thinking about my first craft fair (but I write a lot about craft fairs and I thought you might fancy a change), my first time hosting #CraftBlogClub, my first crochet project (but I've already blogged about that here), If I had taken pictures of the very first cards I made you could have had a laugh at them. In the end I decided I would share something different with you, nothing crafty or business related but about my first race!
Race For Life 2006
I started to run back in 2002 when I started my first proper job after university. I've never been sporty but I needed to lose the excess weight gained from cheap pints and late night takeaways! My colleague had started running and signed up for the Race for Life and encouraged me to do the same. Race for Life happens every year across the UK and it started as a 5km which you can walk, run or jog, there are now various distances you can take part in. I don't have any pics from that day back in June 2003 but I remember I really enjoyed it, well, I must have done as I went on to run 3 more! I have gone on since to run 10km and even the Great South Run which is 10 miles. Over the years I have raised money for various charities - Cancer Research UK, The Alzheimer's Society, Bloodwise and The Stroke Association.
Bupa London 10km 2010
Bupa London 10km 2011
Bupa London 10k 2015
Great South Run, Portsmouth. 2012
After running 10 miles, I fell out of love with running for a while. I think the pain in my knees and the rest of my body had something to do with that! After a 2 year break I joined a running club as I was starting to miss it but I needed some motivation. Since joining the club I have taken part in another 10km and I have another one booked for January 2016 plus I take part in the local ParkRun when I have a free Saturday. I intend to apply for the Great North Run when the ballot opens for next year, I may not get in but if I do, it will be a challenge! The Great North Run has been on my bucket list even before I became a runner. I went to university in Newcastle and for some bizarre reason the love I have for the city makes me want to run 13.1 miles?! I think it is also because I can't believe I would be able to do it, but I strongly believe that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. I'm by no means a skinny girl, I jiggle (a lot) when I run, but the accomplishment I felt after completing my first race has kept me running and entering more races. I hope it shows that anyone can run, really they can! If you can put one foot in front of the other you can run, it doesn't matter how slow you are or if you have to walk part of the distance, it is still further than sitting on the sofa. What I love about running is it takes me out of my comfort zone, into the fresh air and gives me some me time. Although my first love will always be craft I have had some of my best ideas whilst running so it is an important part of my routine. I hope you have enjoyed this post and the embarrassing photos! Did you join in with this challenge? I can't wait to read your post, please link your blog post below and don't forget to mention #CraftBlogClub and link back to this blog in your post. As we have often chatted about how we don't make enough time to comment on blogs, it would be great if you check out everyone's posts and comment on at least one of them. I hope you will join me in our Twitter chat on 3rd November at 7pm (GMT) where we will be chatting about our firsts and sharing our posts.
Before I sign off my fellow co-host, Katie, has launched our Secret Santa challenge! It's probably one of my favourites, I love making gifts and receiving happy mail. If you would like to join in please visit Katie's blog here where you will find the details of how to sign up which you will need to do by 8pm on 5th November 2015.
One of the great things about the Royston Craft Fair are the friendships I've made with the other stall holders and the support we give each other. We meet up once a month to chat about selling our crafts, sharing advice and tips. I was asked to lead October's chat on pricing, which is a difficult subject for many crafters and artists so I thought I would share it with you all on here....
Pricing top tips.... There are 3 factors which are critical to pricing calculations 1. Costs Don’t forget to include all of your costs: •Materials •Tools used. These will need to be replaced or upgraded at some point. •Rent •Services, including electricity, gas, phone and other bills •Travel •Products used in giveaways •Website costs •Stationery & marketing materials i.e. business cards, printer cartridges •Fees, i.e. PayPal, Etsy, Craft Fair charges •Packaging •Waste. This includes supplies used and items produced that are not suitable for sale. Some costs are easy to calculate whereas others will need to be split over all your products and taken into account. One way to do this is to calculate your overhead cost per month and then split the results across the average number of products you expect to sell per month. I personally add a percentage to my cost. 2. Don’t forget your time! You need to know how long it takes to make each product and how much you expect to be paid per hour. You can include this in your price or break down your costs and charge your time separately for a bespoke piece. 3. Profit As a business you need to make a profit in order to grow and continue running as a business, so add a profit margin. There is no set figure to which to work this out. Deciding upon your profits is a balance between what you want to achieve and what you can realistically charge. An example of a formula for calculating a price For a retail price if you are only selling to the customer = Costs + time + profit (+VAT if applicable) If you are selling wholesale the retail price is calculated = (Costs + time + profit) *2 (or 2.4 if you need to apply VAT) Selling wholesale may not be possible at first. It might be that, in time, as your sales and production volumes increase, your costs per unit fall, creating a bigger profit margin which then allows you to sell to retail. Only use this formula as a guide. Do not rely on it as if it is not the right price, especially if it’s the lowest possible price. You also need to take into account the following.... Know your Competition Research what others on Folksy/ Etsy/ NOTHS sell similar items for and noting the advantages they offer the customer. It’s not just about price but the value you give to your customer. Know Your Target Market What you are willing and able to pay for a product may differ vastly from your target market’s budget. By knowing your customer you will be more confident in setting a price based on what they are willing to pay. Independent creative businesses have an edge over bigger, impersonal companies. Your prices should reflect that specialness, value, personal connection and craftsmanship. What if I am too expensive? • Pitch to a more expensive market. • Change your product to add value. People are prepared to pay a little extra for something unique. • Source cheaper supplies and/or buy in bulk. • Invest in tools or use a different technique to speed up production. Experiment Your handmade products are unique and require a unique price so you do not have to follow a formula. Test your price, assess what people have been paying in your online shop, test prices at craft fairs and try to see how your work is perceived at that price and whether it sells. If your work doesn’t sell, people don’t see its value as being in line with its price. I have heard from other crafters who have sold more of their product after increasing their prices, due to the perception of the quality of the product. For many people 'cheap' equals rubbish. Is that how you want your business to be perceived? Once people get used to a set price they are generally unhappy if prices increase. As a result, it is better to start at a higher price and lower your prices. I hope you have found this useful and if you have any further tips on how to price your products please leave a comment.
I read an interesting article in the Independent by Andrew Dewson at the weekend, Amazon Vs Etsy.
Amazon who like to sell everything and have their fingers in every retail pie, have now started competing in the handmade marketplace. Handmade at Amazon was launched recently and has already got 5000 artisan vendors in 60 countries. Should Etsy be concerned? The article was by a US columnist so there was no mention of Folksy. Just in case you do not know about Folksy, they are a handmade market place for British designers and makers. I chose to sell with them from day one as they are based in Britain and support small creative businesses like myself. I started selling with Etsy about a year later having seen their sellers' success stories and the supportive network of makers.
In my view, Etsy have become too corporate, now listed on the US stock market having to answer to investors and seeking profits.
Etsy is moving away from their roots, since 2013 there has been an agreement to allow the sale of factory made items, as Andrew Dewson says, "Nothing says "handmade" quite like something that was knocked out by a robot". They also made changes to their practices to reduce corporation tax by moving more revenue through Etsy Ireland and they have also changed how Etsy Ireland is registered, so that the company doesn't have to publicly disclose its basic financial information. That move could cause Etsy to lose its B Corporation certification which is given to companies who aim to solve social and environmental problems. There is no disguising that Amazon is a large commercial organisation that have had unfavourable press about their procedures and tax avoidance in the UK. However, from May this year the online retailer has started booking its sales through the UK, meaning their profits will be taxed by the HMRC. In September this year, Etsy launched Etsy Manufacturing, a service in the U.S. and Canada that matches sellers to small manufacturers. This does allow small creative businesses to grow. If you are a handmade business that makes everything you can only achieve so much so this approach will support the growth of small businesses. However, this decision has resulted in a fierce PR backlash over what looks like a move away from Etsy's artisan roots. Whereas Amazon will only accept handmade goods and you have to apply to be a seller, it has almost taken on the business model of Etsy when it began.
Whether we like it or not both Amazon and Etsy are businesses that need to make a profit to grow and in order to survive businesses have to change to compete. For handmade businesses the growth of these selling platforms will mean a large customer base, improved technology and advertising that a seller can take advantage of. Amazon already has a customer base 10 times the size of Etsy, but what are the costs for a seller like me with Handmade of Amazon?.... Handmade Amazon fees are 12% for every sale and after 1 August 2016 there will be $39.99 monthly fee. You would have to sell a lot to make a profit from selling through Amazon which would mean you need to make a lot to sell and if like me you make everything yourself, it may not be possible to make enough to make a profit.
Whereas Etsy fees are a £0.13 listing fee plus 3.5% transaction fee and 4% + £0.20 payment processing fee.
Folksy's fees are £0.15 +VAT listing fee plus 6% + VAT sales commission fee or you can become a Folksy plus seller for £45 (inc VAT) per year which is great for sellers who list more frequently and/or have a lot of stock as there are no listing fees. The commission fee is the same at 6% +VAT.
It's not just Amazon's costs handmade businesses should look into. I came across a blog post by a seller who has already closed her Amazon shop. It makes interesting reading especially the small print she highlights that states they have the right to exploit you and own the copyright of your designs, I don't like the sound of that! You can read her views here.
It's an interesting time for the handmade marketplaces with artists and crafters starting new ventures all the time. More are choosing to buy from small creative businesses with other organisations popping up ready to support handmade sellers with services such as selling and marketing. I am interested to see what happens with Handmade at Amazon and what the future holds for Etsy and Folksy.
For my business I plan to focus my efforts with Folksy, whereas the jury is still out on my future with Etsy. I'll wait to see what happens with Handmade at Amazon but I can't justify their costs for my business yet and I definitely don't want Amazon to replicate my work and exploit my business and products.
I would love to hear your thoughts on the growing industry of handmade and Amazon entering this market. If you already sell with Handmade at Amazon I would love to hear about your experiences.
Last week was my first fizzi~fun~friday and I had a lot of fun! There was something indulgent about crafting just for the enjoyment instead of thinking about a deadline or a purpose. Although I love that I get to craft for a living it was fun to have a day just to play! I went into the craft den without planning what I was going to do. I wanted to see where my mood took me and it took me to my Gelli Plate....
I used my stencils and acrylic paint with my Gelli plate. I wrote a post introducing the Gelli plate last year and you can see the technique I use here.
My recent heat embossing post inspired me to incorporate this technique using a butterfly stamp and clear embossing powder. I stamped the butterflies and heat embossed them on to the card before using the Gelli plate, this meant the embossed images act as a resist and show through.
I was now getting giddy with excitement and couldn't stop myself from adding pearlescent texture paste over the top through a spotty stencil. At first I realised I had got carried away but this image does show off the colour of the copper, metallic acrylic paint I used.
Although I think I like it now.
My next attempt worked better.
I embossed the flowers with clear embossing powder again and used different stencils. This time I also spritzed the paint on the Gelli plate with water which gave it a watercolour effect. Once I had done a few prints I started to look around the craft den for inspiration and the Lino starter kit from the Handmade Fair was looking at me, perfect!
As I was so keen to get cutting, I cheated a little and stamped the image of the butterfly instead of drawing it. The butterfly was part of a set I also bought from the Handmade Fair so it was a good excuse to also use my new stamps.
I mainly used the stamp to help me with the outline and used the different nibs to cut my own design on the wings.
The background is a print from the Gelli Plate.
I hope you enjoyed my first fizzi~fun~friday. I don't know how I'm going to choose from my list for my next fizzi~fun~friday, decisions, decisions....