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CraftBoom’s! Most popular posts of all time (well, the last 8 months anyway)

Thanks to everyone who has popped in for a read/subscribed/linked to/commented on CraftBoom! Your response to this blog has been wonderful :) I’ve been rooting around in the CraftBoom! stats and I thought it would be useful to put the most popular CraftBoom! posts all together in one place. So here you go:

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I couldn’t think of suitable pic to go with this post so I thought this one would do as a close 2nd . Yummy :)

Tips on how to submit articles to Craft Magazines

One of the most effective ways to get exposure for your craft business/book/brand etc. is to submit articles to magazines. The number of folks who will get to read your article could be potentially HUGE depending on the circulation numbers of the magazine.

When you consider how much it costs to get ad in the magazine for a lineage/a credit card sized, a quarter/half/whole page (a whole page runs into 100s upon 100s) getting yourself a half page/two page/even three pages in a magazine for nothing or even a payment is absolutely amazing!

This all might sound like really daunting stuff, but believe me there’s nothing to be scared off. Craft magazines are always on the hunt for interesting craft tid-bits to fill their pages. I know for a fact that loads of craft magazines would LOVE to hear from the likes of you crafty people (many of which are far more talented in their field than I am). When people like you and me approach magazines with well written articles we are actually making their lives easier. I should know; I’ve been writing every month for a UK craft magazine for almost 2 years. It honestly isn’t that difficult and if the editor says “no”, it’s not the end of the world is it? Just try somewhere else, refine your article/s and try again or perhaps cut your teeth on a more local level magazine.

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I write for Sewing World Magazine – see the bag on the bottom right-hand corner? That’s my bag! :)

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Tips on how to submit articles

  1. Be well versed with the magazine that you want to submit to. Read a good few issues so you understand the flavour of the magazine. What sort of articles do they already feature? What appears to be the target age range of the magazine? Could you submit an article that is in keeping with their other articles or can you provide something fitting, but different?
  2. Find out what the submission guidelines are for articles. These are often found within the magazine itself or on the magazine website.
  3. Bear in mind magazines typically work months in advance. My deadline for article submission for Sep 08 was 2nd June 08 for example. In line with this, magazines typically like to be seasonal i.e Valentines issues, Easter, Xmas etc. etc. So it’s important to find out what the deadline dates are for submitting your articles.
  4. Write a friendly, polite, and to-the-point email to the magazine submissions editor with your article suggestion/proposal. Be succinct, but give enough information about your article idea to give the subs editor a clear picture (they are busy folks!)

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Suggestions for articles

  1. Tutorials - this is my specialty. I offered to write one bag making tutorial for a UK sewing magazine for free. I was able to show them past examples of bag tutorials on my blog. The tutorial was popular, my mum was really proud, and now I am the resident bag lady of the magazine :) How about making a tutorial (of any kind) for something pretty and simple (magazines tend to prefer simple) and posting it on your blog? That way you can show the subs editor the link.
  2. Product reviews - do you have an item that sells well? How about offering one or two of those items to the magazine to give away as freebies to their readers in return for a a little magazine piece about your shop?
  3. Craft events – do you run craft fairs, charity events, community projects? If so let the magazines/local newspapers know about it!
  4. Tips, advice, stories, - if you think about it we are are all walking wells of knowledge and experience. Are you expert in something that would fit in a craft magazine? Could your experience and skill be useful to others? You bet it could!

See also: How to appear in the big Craft Websites.

Win a custom designed website for your Craft Business!!!!!!!

Oh Boy! This is one heck of a juicy prize. When Ed (the owner of Art Flock) generously offered this prize I had to pick my jaw up off the ground and read his email 3 times over!

Yep, believe your eyes folks; ArtFlock and CraftBoom! have teamed up to bring you a mega draw in which a Craft Business Website is up for grabs!

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For art and craft sellers ArtFlock is a very important alternative to Etsy that is seriously worth considering and here are just a few reasons why:

  • FREE to join
  • No listing fees
  • Upload all of your work, not just what’s for sale (great for building portfolios and for commissions)
  • Import your blog to your ArtFlock account for greater exposure
  • List real world locations that sell your work like galleries, shops etc.
  • Commission rates from just 3.5%
  • Create your own flock of followers that love your work

You get all of the above AND you can have YOUR OWN WEBSITE. Have you ever wished you could have your own website AS WELL as your craft shop. Have you ever wished that your craft shop could more truly reflect your own individuality and craft, but you don’t know where to start with the web design, the shopping cart and payment system? Well with ArtFlock you can have all of that flexibility and more with their Website Publisher tool.

The Website Publisher tool from ArtFlock.com gives you:

  • Your own website at your own domain name
  • Easy to use
  • Commission us to design your theme or pick from our free range of themes
  • One click publish of everything you have on ArtFlock to your own personal website
  • Update and change the look of your site as often as you like
  • Sell work from your own site while still being part of a larger community of buyers
  • Don’t risk loosing potential buyers by sending them to SomeArtWebsite.com/YourWork when you can send your customers to YourWebsite.com-
  • Free to use version (text ad supported or ad free version for $19.99 / €14.99 / £9.99 per month)
  • Test drive your own website with the preview tool by signing up for free here
  • See an example site (try playing with the different theme options at the top of the page) here, and also here.

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In my opinion ArtFlock looks very well run, professional, and attractive (which is essential as art and craft are so visually driven). Having your own attractive looking website will give you a professional edge and increased exposure. Also being able direct customers to your own website is so important because that way customers will not get lost/confused/distracted in a sea of other vendors.

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Draw Details (please read carefully)

OK, so now you know about some of the amazing features that ArtFlock has to offer; here is what is up for grabs for 1 very very lucky winner in our draw:

  • Custom designed theme for their ArtFlock.com website worth $600. Ed will personally work with the winner to design the website to their liking (wowser, that’s worth it’s weight alone!)
  • 1 year’s free domain name worth $14.99 (they don’t need to renew in the future if they no longer want the site / domain)

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To enter all you have to do is comment on THIS PARTICULAR POST by:

  1. Telling with us what sort of features you would like your own Craft Business website to have.

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Contest Official-ness :

  1. I’ll randomly draw the winners in 3 weeks time – 2nd July and announce the winner the following day-ish. Good luck!
  2. Winner must have a free ArtFlock.com account in order to upload their work, statement, blog etc. to their free site. Sign up for FREE here.
  3. Winner will use the free version of the Website Publisher with the option of upgrading to the ad free version.
  4. Sorry I can’t notify winners, so please keep an eye for the winner announcement. This is made easier for you if you subscribe to this blog so you don’t have to keep checking back, although it’s always great to have you pop-in for a read :0)
  5. Sorry I can’t reply to contest/draw comments, but I do love reading every single one :)

Ways to streamline your social media (how to take the daily hassle out of your SM)

This brill post was written by Marrianne Williams of Smelly Chicks Online. Thanks Marr for all of your research and this really helpful post (I’ve now gotten myself some of those Firefox add-ons). As a thank you I’ll be sending you one of these shiny badges to pop on your site:

If you have any craft business advice or experiences you’d like to share with us here on CraftBoom! please get in touch. You’d be doing a great service to us business crafters and in recognition of your hard work you’ll get a link to your site/blog and the CraftBoom! badge above for you to display on in your shop/site :)

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Ways to Streamline your Social Media - Flickr, Facebook and Twitter – Oh My!

In Lisa’s article: Meeting people inside and outside of your computer to make friends or market yourself, she wrote about using social media to network with other crafty people in order to share ideas, critique your products, and beat the loneliness that comes with running a home based business. Social media is indeed a great way to accomplish this but it can also be a very time consuming endeavor. Lisa asked me to write an article on tools that helps to consolidate and streamline tasks and software required to participate regularly in social networks.

Instant Messaging Tools

Trillian
I have several instant messaging accounts that I use nearly every day. I have a group of friends and family on Yahoo and another group on Google Talk. In addition to those, I have co-workers that are using AOL and s

ome are using MSN. All of this makes for a very messy desktop which is why for the past few years I have been using Trillian.

Trillian is free to download and easy to install. The program offers simultaneous access to five chat clients: Yahoo Messenger, MSN Messenger, ICQ, mIRC, and AIM. You can import your passwords, buddy lists, and client preferences into the Trillian interface to communicate with all your IM accounts using one desktop program. I’ve been very pleased with it’s performance for last few years but have grown out of it for a few reasons. First, it does not yet support Google Talk, which I have recently started using. Second, it is a desktop client specific to my computer which leaves me helpless if I am on someone else’s. Surprisingly enough, this has been an issue several times over the past months. However, if Trillian adds Google Talk to their line-up, I will surely use the program again regularly.

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Meebo
Now that my beloved Trillian is less than perfect for me, I use Meebo, a web-based instant message system that works on any computer. From my Meebo account, I have access to AIM, Yahoo!, MSN, Google Talk, ICQ, and Jabber all in one spot just as I did with Trillian. It’s nearly perfect for me. In fact, the only complaint I have is that it’s a little slow to update at times. It’s rare that it’s an issue for me, but it can present a problem from time to time. On the flip side, I can hop on any computer with an internet connection and have complete access to all of my IM contacts.

Browsers

Flock
Flock is a Mozilla-based browser that functions a lot like Firefox which made it easy to use from the get-go. However, Flock’s additional built-in features makes it very different than Firefox. Flock integrates with a long list of online social networks including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and more. A simple click on the friends icon will display what your friends are up to all in one place.

Flock’s media stream panel displays photos and video at the top of the browser, allowing you to view a friend’s photos from Flickr, from Facebook and any other account you might use frequently. Flock also includes a photo uploader complete with basic editing tools like crop and rotate, as well as basic settings like description, viewing privileges and tags.

Flock also has a blog feature that allows you to create and post to your blog directly from the browser window. The web clipboard feature lets you save text, images, web pagesand integrates with the blog tool to make writing those blog posts so much easier.

Flock has many other features for you to utilize. In fact, you might find that there is a bit of a learning curve associated with it. Luckily, the Flock crew have made easy to follow videos to steer you through the process. You can find them on their website. I’ve found a Flock user generated tutorial video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crB8CcYBnBQ

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Firefox
While Flock is great, you don’t have to leave Firefox to have a great social networking experience. Independent developers have been hard at work creating add-ons to assist you. If you do a search in the Firefox add-on database, you can find downloads for almost any social media account you are looking to streamline in conjunction with Firefox. The following add-ons are my personal favorites:

Boost for Facebook: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/3120
TwitterFox: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/5081
Uploadr for Flickr: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/3923
Social Bookmarking: Sharaholic: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/5457

Google Notebook: http://www.google.com/notebook/
While not technically a Firefox Add-on, Google Notebook integrates well with Firefox and works much like Flock’s Clipboard feature. I can’t live without it.

There are many applications designed to help streamline your social networking efforts and still more are being created all the time. I’ve only touched on those that I’ve found to work well for me. If you’re using something different, leave a comment and share them with us!

Crafting Heroes Interview with Alicia Paulson of Posie gets Cozy: crafter and author!

Woo Hoo! Here is another fabulous Crafting Heroes Interview hot off the press. I am really loving these interviews. Like you, I am finding them so inspiring and full of great advice on how to run my own business. For those of you who don’t yet know, I asked the lovely readers of my other blog to vote for their favourite Crafting Heroes and LOADS of them responded, it was great! There are more wonderful Crafting Heroes interviews in the pipeline and this one is no exception…

This time the I’m interviewing the lovely Alicia Paulson. Lots of you will already be regular visitors of Posie gets Cozy; her truly cosy corner of the blogosphere where you ‘ll find luscious photography, thoughtful and sensitive observations, yummy recipes and hand craft. In our interview Alicia shares with us her experiences of starting up and running her Craft Business.

I hope you enjoy her interview :)

Here’s Alicia! Alicia lives in Portland Oregon with husband Andy, 2 cats, and a cute woofer called Clover Meadow
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CraftBoom!: How long have you been in craft business?
Alicia: I started Posie in 2000, and have been doing it full-time ever since.

CraftBoom!: Where/how do you sell your items, and do you work from home?
Alicia: I sell my handmade items exclusively through my web shop (rosylittlethings.com). I do sell my crochet patterns wholesale to a few yarn stores in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Australia, but I’ve never had time to properly market those. And yes, I have a studio in my home and I make everything there.


One of Alica’s crochet patterns; the Snowbunny Hat. Too cute!


CraftBoom!: What made/inspired you to go into craft business, and what were you doing before?

Alicia: Before I started Posie, I went to graduate school in creative writing and was working as a book editor when I was in a serious pedestrian/auto accident and needed several surgeries over many months to repair my foot. I spent most of the next year in bed, recovering from surgery and learning to walk again. Through it all I continued to work part-time as an editor, but my injury left me permanently disabled, and my life had changed dramatically. I knew that I wanted to find work that would accommodate my new reality by giving me, among other things, flexibility, as well as a sense of control again. So Posie was a direct result of my efforts to recover from that terrible time. It was my silver lining, and it still is that. I never forget that.

CraftBoom!: How did you finance the start-up of your business?

Alicia: My husband was changing careers at that time, as well, and I don’t really remember how we did it. That time is kind of a blur. We didn’t think of it as “financing”; I think we just thought we were living, and doing whatever it took to get by until he was out of school, and until I was able to contribute financially to the household. Mostly we just felt we were regaining control of our lives, and doing whatever we had to do to make that happen. That’s always felt more important than the money. The money we’ve sort of . . . slapped together, however we could.

Absolutely darling Country Girl Clothespin Doll making kits.

CraftBoom!: How do you decide what you are going to sell?
Alicia: My products have always evolved out of whatever I am making for myself, whatever I am crazy about at the time. It seems to work in only that way for me — in order to make a thing, I have to love it, and so my work is almost always inspired by something personal. The inspiration behind something is a huge part of that something, for me. Some memory or experience will inspire me and I’ll get an idea of how to manifest that inspiration, and the two — the inspiration and the literal translation of it into craft — sort of push each other forward until the craft takes on its own life. I’m always very excited to see what the “thing” is going to turn out to be. That feeling of not-knowing exactly what it’s going to be motivates me consistently. When someone else likes what I’ve made, I’m always so pleasantly surprised, since I’m almost always just trying to please myself, and translate something personal.

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Alicia’s newest bag; the Tanglewood. Yum yum! A future kit perhaps?

CraftBoom!: When did you realise that your craft business had real potential?
Alicia: Oh goodness. I don’t really think that way. As I said, I started my business entirely because my life demanded it, not because I thought I had a good idea. I have plenty of days where I wish I was getting a real paycheck, believe me, but they are fewer and farther between. For the most part, I am just doing what I love, and hoping for the best. I don’t think I can really do anything else, so I just keep my fingers crossed! When I started Posie, it was just a coincidence that a crafting renaissance was happening concurrent with my own personal changes — I had no idea, for the most part, that there was a new crafty movement taking place out there in the big world. So that was a happy concurrence, and the timing of things has proven to be a great asset. But I would have done it anyway. Making things is part of my genetic make-up. Everyone in my family does this, and has done for as long as I can remember. There was never a time in my family when someone wasn’t selling something mailorder, starting a new side gig, selling homemade cakes, or designing business cards. It’s sort of just what the Leronemos do.

CraftBoom!: What things do you do to market your business?

Alicia: To be honest, the only thing I try to do is do good work, and take good photos, and stay on top of the day to day maintenance of my web sites. I’ve been very lucky to have received some really generous editorial coverage, and when editors call I try, as much as I can, to respond quickly and efficiently. But mostly I just try to be exactly who I am, and do the best work I can, and know that the work is what matters, and if it’s good, the interest will follow. I truly believe that. The work is the most important thing. If you can be confident in what you’re offering, then I think the marketing kind of takes care of itself. I just try to put the best quality work I can do out into the world, and I’m grateful any time anytime pays it some attention. I can’t stand it when things don’t live up to their hype. My goal is to always deliver more than anyone expects.

A lovely embroidered tea cloth like this should make doing the dishes slightly more bearable. Make your own with this fab Dishcloth Tutorial.


CraftBoom!: What things do you know now that you wish you knew from the beginning?
Alicia: Gosh, I don’t even know. Everything is so organic, I can’t separate my not-great self-employment experiences from the lessons they’ve brought into my life, however painful at the time — and some have been really painful! Though I’ve made a thousand mistakes, I can’t see how any of it could’ve happened any other way. I think self-employment is all about learning by doing — to a large extent it’s an exercise in volleying at the net. But at the end of each game, or set, or match you really do feel like you’ve earned your knowledge. If anything, I wish that I had not invested in a brick-and-mortar store. It was never my passion, and it definitely set me back financially in a way that has taken a while to recover from. So I learned that, if you’re going to do it, you have to love it. If you feel like you might not love the day-to-day, prosaic details of whatever it is you think you’re going to try, you probably won’t, and . . . well, I try to see into the future in that way now. One of the benefits of self-employment is getting to have control over these things, the way you might not when you are working for someone else. So what I don’t make financially, I try to make up for in sheer enjoyment. If I’m not enjoying myself, then it’s sort of miserable, and who needs that.

Beautifully embroidered head scarf.


CraftBoom!: What do you love most about running your own craft business, and what do you like least?
Alicia: Well, I love being able to truly turn my ideas for products into a fairly immediate reality. I think that is very cool. Because my business is so small, it is incredibly flexible — I have a capricious nature, so being able to change things up all the time really suits my character. That said, I’m trying to get a bit of a longer life out of the really good ideas — doing finished products, as well as patterns, and kits — something for everyone, all born of the same basic idea, since developing an idea well takes a significant commitment. You want to get some mileage out of it. And if it’s good, it will hold up to the deconstruction, I think.

What I like least is trying to juggle everything myself, all the time. I hate being the only one who knows what’s going on. If I have a problem, or if there is a something stressful or complicated, I really miss being part of a team that can work together to get something solved — or at the very least, offer commiseration! I wind up telling my husband EVERYTHING, and luckily he is a great listener. But generally, he isn’t available until the end of the day, and sometimes I really miss just having someone THERE to talk to, in the moment. Working alone can be lonely sometimes. Generally, being the loner I am, I love it, but some days — agggh. I just have to get out.

Here is Alicia’s up and coming book Stitched in Time (available Nov 08)


CraftBoom!: What advice would you give to newbies who want to start their own craft business?
Alicia: What seem true to me now are really cliches: Follow your heart. Stay true to your own vision. Observe the Golden Rule. Trust your instincts, no matter what “advice” anyone is giving you. Go slow and stay steady. Don’t worry what other people are doing. Do your work with sincerity and passion, and know that the experience of doing it is its own reward. When the money’s not there, make sure you are getting paid in happiness.

CraftBoom!: Are you satisfied with the income that your craft business brings?
Alicia: Well . . . alas . . . some days, it’s all just payment in happiness, baby.

CraftBoom!: What are your plans for future growth?
Alicia: I’d like to do more books and more patterns and kits. I’m always conflicted about taking things to the next level with bigger production, or licensing — I don’t know if that is the right thing for me, but it may be a possibility. When I have time I love to play with fabric designs, so that’s sort of a dream of mine, to do a fabric line. But mostly, in 2008, I want to have a balanced life: good friends, good food, good books, good work, and some extra time for doing nothing much. That’s my idea of success. You need a year like that every once in a while, and 2008 is mine for that, I think. . . .

Aw!! Hello woofer! What gorgeous eyes you have and the crochet ripple blanket is rather nice too.

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Thank you so much for your thoughtful interview Alicia. Keep up the good work with your gorgeous craft, I hope you continue to love what you do, and I hope your upcoming book is a great success and the first of many. Best of luck with everything you do. :)