Thursday, 28 April 2016

Top Business Tips by Fiona Pullen....

This week we had a special guest host on #CraftBlogClub, the lovely Fiona Pullen founder of The Sewing Directory and author of Craft a Creative Business. It was such an inspiring chat with lots of top tips from Fiona that I had to share her wisdom....

I started off the chat by asking what her top tip would be to someone wanting to start their creative business?

The key thing that a lot of people skip is to properly research and plan what you want to do, not just jump in.  It's easy for a hobby to turn into a business without business planning taking place.  You make it so much easier on yourself if you plan before you start and know what you are working towards.  I drew up a timeline of what I needed to do when before launch and worked through one task at a time.

How would you go about finding out who your audience are? Or do you decide who to target?
  • The more you can narrow down who will buy your products the easier it is to market. Try asking friends who you think would buy them. Think about what kind of person would buy your product/service (age/sex/budget)
  • You can survey followers/customers to find out more about your audience or research who is most likely to need/want the product you sell. 
  • Your target market will partially depend on your product, also on your price and where you market it.
  • It helps to have a niche as that narrows your audience.  But see if this post helps.

How can I run a business when I work full time?

It takes a lot of commitment when working full time and to set aside hours for a business too. Some people find it best to commit set hours each week eg. every Saturday morning to make sure they make progress.

How far in advance should you promote a new seasonal range, for example Father's Day?

At least 4 months ahead: magazines work around that far ahead plus you need to remind people several times. Even if they don't buy that early you are getting your products into their mind well in advance.

I find it hard to do everything I want creatively as well as the marketing, admin etc. How do you do it all?

You have to be really disciplined and schedule things well to ensure everything is covered. Often you end up having to prioritise when you run out of hours in the week!  Accepting I couldn't do everything was a huge turning point for me and a big drop in stress.

That raises an interesting topic: employees/partners/outsourcing.

Finding the right partner helped, I trusted Julie to carry the site on the way I wanted. We had big chats first to make sure we had the same goals for the business and were in agreement. We spent around 4 months discussing it all before we made that leap.  I wanted someone to get involved as I was, it makes the other person as invested as you, quite literally!  It's very scary as it's hard for either of you to walk away, so you need to be pretty sure about the partnership before committing. It was a leap of faith!
I did a couple blog posts about taking on a partner here.

What social media do you recommend ?
  • Twitter seems to grow fast (follower wise) but I find it gives less clicks.  Perhaps because it's fast paced.
  • You need to think about where your target audience will be spending their time rather than trying all new platforms.
  • I recommend one or two platforms, for most people that is plenty to keep on top of.  Mix promotional posts with non promotional posts.
  • Pinterest works like a search engine so use relevant keywords in board titles & pin descriptions and create lots of niche boards so you can pin your own stuff in more than one place. We tend to work to a 1/10 ratio. 1 of our pins then 9 pins of other people's stuff.
  • Instagram is proving very popular at the moment.  Visual platforms work well for craft products
  • People don't like to feel marketed at all the time. See these social media tips for other things to post about.

Don't be afraid to fail, that is what holds most people back from even starting a business. Even if you have run a business before, take the skills and lessons from one business into the next and keep trying until you find the right business for you.

Thank you Fiona for being a great guest host! I hope I caught everything from our chat.

If you would like more advice on running a creative business, I recommend reading Fiona's book, I wrote a review which you can check out here.  

Want to find out more about Fiona?...
Visit her website
Follow her on Twitter and Pinterest

You can find out more about #CraftBlogClub chats here, we are a friendly bunch and if you would like to meet fellow crafters and bloggers we chat every Tuesday at 7pm (GMT).

fizzi~jayne x

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

DSLR Product Photography Class....

Last week I attended a great product photography class at DSLR Photography Courses. It was a full day and with only 4 of us in the class we received customised tuition. We learnt about shutter speed, aperture and ISO and I'm so happy that I can confidently use my camera on fully manual now! Before I was only able to use it on shutter speed / aperture priority mode but now I know how to use all three functions together.  By understanding all the elements I can control the light and take better photographs.

We practiced lots with our cameras using our own products as well as having some fun with action men....
  • Experimenting with depth of field

  • Focusing on an object in the background

  • Focussing on the object at the front

I also learnt about metering, it turns out the bar in the view finder actually means something! By over exposing a white background it looks white (not a dirty off white which can happen) and under exposing makes a grey or black background actually look like their true colour not a bleached out version.
  • Over exposed

  • various levels of exposure on a dark grey background

  • We had a chance to work with studio lights and controlling shadows with diffusers and reflectors. This image was taken using flash lighting

Furniture made by a fellow class mate
We were also given an introduction to Macro photography.  The detail of a macro lens is amazing and a must especially if you sell jewellery, although the price tag for these lenses is not cheap! Needless to say I will get to grips and make do with my prime lens for now.

If you want to improve your product photography I would recommend a similar course and if you are in the London area check out the courses available at DSLR Photography Courses. I was really impressed with their studio set up and our tutor Katerina was very knowledgeable and inspiring.

I need to practice now and hopefully you will see improvements with my photography in the future.

fizzi~jayne x