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Do You Have A Crafty Kid?

The urge to create can run in families! My nephew made me this adorable penguin key chain (he knows how much I love penguins!). He has started mentioning that he wants to sell his crafts… but I’m holding off on pursuing that until I see if this is a passing fad or something that he is truly interested in.

For those of you with children in your life: Are your kids crafty? Do they help you make your crafts? Do they sell the items they make?

And feel free to link to pictures of what your children make!

CraftBoom: I’m New Here & I’d LOVE Your Help!

Hello all you fellow crafters our there!

I am so THRILLED to have joined the Sparkplugging team and in particular, become the contributor of the Craftboom blog. Some may wonder who I am or what might make me an “expert” in the area of craft business. While I don’t consider myself an expert by all means, I have learned some things over the years while marketing both off and online that I would love to share with you through this blog. So I first would like to let you know a little more about my crafting background, and then I’d love to hear more about YOU!

I have always enjoyed crafting. Always. What a great creative outlet it has given me over the years. Then 3 years ago, my sister started the website, www.YouCanMakeThis.com.

I’ve been with her since day 1 on this site and what started out with just over a dozen ebooks and a handful of authors, has now grown to carrying over 800 ebooks and patterns from over 200 women authors. It has been a tremendous amount of work, but there is just nothing like being in business for yourself and helping other moms out there create and contribute in their artistic endeavors as well.

Then just one year ago this summer, we opened up a brand-new site geared towards those who love to machine embroider. The debut of www.SWAKembroidery.com was just thrilling and I am currently the site manager there.


l LOVE machine embroidery, and if someone gave me a chance to talk about it, I honestly could go on for hours about why I enjoy it so much!

And finally we are getting ready to launch a 3rd site, specifically for all those who love to quilt! Coming April of this year, www.YouCanQuiltThis.com will make its debut. Exciting times!

Have I mentioned that I also have my own blog at www.JesseKateDesigns.blogspot.com? This is where I share a more personal side behind my e-patterns and designs. I also love to share fun ideas of things to do with your children and for your homes.

Phew! So life is busy! But I can’t think of anything more enjoyable than raising 4 wonderful children and loving what I do for my business. I am truly looking forward to getting to know all of you better and helping you find ways to succeed in your craft businesses. It’s a big world out there and the internet makes that big world even more accessible to you and what you have to offer! I’ll share what I know, find out more about what I don’t know, and together we are going to give it all we’ve got!

So go ahead and let me know who you are! Make a comment down below to let me know you’re here! I’ve also put together a VERY BRIEF survey that I would invite you to take a few minutes today to fill out. There are only 5 questions, and by answering these, I know it will really help guide me to write about what you want to learn more of. Click HERE to go directly to the survey. It’s fast. It’s easy. Promise.

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!

How we started our Fun Craft Business by Claire of Miso Funky.

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Miso site

Miso shop

Miso blog

Claire says” As a new reader to Craft Boom, I’m finding it very entertaining and learning a lot – thanks! I saw your post about looking for business owners to get in touch, so I thought I’d tell you about how we got started and see if you could use it :)

Back in 2005, me and my best friend Jo were stuck at our boring office jobs, bemoaning the fact that we were bored. It was coming up for winter and we decided to learn to knit again, having learned and forgotten when were both at school as kids. We started wearing our creations and friends and family immediately started asking us to make things for them, and so our business began! We named ourselves Miso Funky, as an homage to our love of all things
Japanese and of course to our funky stylings :)

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I just love this: it’s so daft!

Pretty soon we wanted to learn more new skills, so we branched out into making jewellery and sewing. We are very much “have a go” type gals, so we’ve enjoyed self-learning lots of new skills like embroidery and decoupage. Pretty soon, we’d worked up quite a large product range and opened our online shop (http//shop.misofunky.com) with the help of our friend Marceline from Asking For Trouble (www.askingfortrouble.org/crafts).

We’ve learned a lot over the past year or so about getting and retaining customers – we’ve ran promotions at different times of year, offered discounts to groups and worked with local press to try and gain as much exposure as possible. One of the main things we did to gain exposure was to start our own regular alternative handmade market (“this is very clever, and it helps other crafters” – CraftBoom!) . We’d been looking around for a local craft fair or market to sell our stuff at and found nothing, so we did the only sensible thing – started our own! Through that, we discovered that there are actually a lot of people in our town (Glasgow, Scotland) who are on the same wavelength as us and many of our new crafty colleagues and ourselves formed the Glasgow branch of the Craft Mafia earlier this year to further our promotion of the idea of handmade over high street and support each other.

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Characters like Hamish are dotted around the site. This gives the site a lot of warmth and fun personality, which is a great selling point.

Balancing time between work, crafting and family is difficult, and we are both very lucky to have supportive other halves who don’t mind driving us to venues in the early morning! The most frustrating part for both of us is that we still have to work at our day jobs, but as business is booming,
hopefully not for too much longer!

Our main tip is to just take the plunge and give it a go – it’s definitely worked out for us. But be prepared to put a lot of hard work in to promoting yourself, even on places like Myspace, Facebook, etc. People start to take notice once they have seen your name pop up in a few different places and will click through and on to your website. For us, without our website, we’d be lost and we’re very lucky to have a friend who knows what they are doing there! It’s definitely worth investing in a good web design as your site is what is representing to you to your biggest market – the entire internet!

Thanks!

Claire :)

Thanks for that Claire! Some great start-up tips there. You have a great ‘just do it’ attitude (I couldn’t run a whole craft market!) and it’s wonderful to see that you are having so much fun with what you do. I really like the way that you put so much emphasis on fun in your site; it suits your products very well. I wish you all the best of luck with your shop.

If you’d like some groovy exposure for your site and you have some Craft Business wisdom that you could share with us, click here for more details ;)

Being a Full-time Mother & Craft-Lover by Akhila

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One of Akhila’s yummy bags.  See more of her designs here. 

Shop: here.

Blog: blog

Akhila says “Hi Lisa, Thanks for inviting me and others to – hopefully – share some inspiration to other craft lovers in similar situation as me. This is my contribution;

Having always loved to create things, I was thrilled when the inspiration and need to do so came back about a year ago. I say came back because since our first son was born in June -04 and our second son just 15 months later, I found myself in kind of a daze from sleepless nights and no – absolute NO time for myself.

But as the energy slowly started to come back so did also the need to create – and by “accident” I made my first handbag. I so loved it, so I started to browse the internet for bag-making material and stumbled over U-Handbag. What a dream to find that I could actually get what ever needed to make professionally looking bags.

From that I started to play with the idea that maybe I could combine my love for sewing and hopefully slowly starting to build some source of income around my family.

I decided to give it a try and set up my very own web-site which I launched just a few months ago. After shopping around I finally went ahead and signed up with MrSite, which gave me the opportunity to build my own web-site and give me control to change it, add products etc whenever and wherever I want. I don’t want to pretend I build my site on a lunch-break as the adverts say (maybe because I don’t have any lunch-breaks as a mum) but I have managed to set up my site by myself, and I feel quite pleased about that,

As I keep coming back to the lack of time I have as a full-time mum, I here want to share my “strategy” to get any work done:

  • I try to get the necessary house work done before putting the kids to bed, so I don’t need to waste any of my valuable time with those boring tasks when the house is quiet.
  • After having read the good-night story and tucked the boys in, I do give myself some time to sit down and collapse – sorry I mean re-charge my batteries (as I tend to be quite tired this time of the evening).
  • And then set a time – for me normally 8pm to start “work”. This gives me at least 2 hours with my passion.

I also do give myself some evenings “off” as well without feeling guilty for not doing anything. (CraftBoom: very good idea too!)

Good luck all you crafty mothers and fathers out there.

Akhila”
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Thanks for that Akhila! What great tips! Mums are already wonderful at multi-tasking, but it’s great to have an insight as to how you (as a maker of really lovely bags) manages her time as a busy Mum.  Best of luck with your shop.

If you’d like some groovy exposure for your site and you have some Craft Business wisdom that you could share with us, click here for more details ;)

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Setting Up Your Craft Business Website For FREE by Jacquie

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Very charming mouse print by Jacquie Ramsden

Shop: here.

Blog: blog.ramsdendesigns.com

Website: RamsdenDesigns

Often when starting your craft business there isn’t a lot of money or knowledge about website applications floating around to set up your website. Luckily it is possible to set up your own website with very little knowledge and money.
Here are some things to consider when starting your own website and ways to lessen the cost.

  1. Web hosting: there are a multitude of companies offering to host your website for free, just Google “free website hosting”. Even your ISP (Internet Service Provider) will generally offer free website space. They often offer free website builders, templates and will upload your files onto the net as well. The down side is these websites are often loaded with advertising and promotional material and you don’t get your own domain name, it will often be yourname.webhost.com.
  2. Getting your own domain can cost as much as $100 a year (these usually come with a domain name and web hosting) but it is a good investment. Now you can have your own domain name (such as www.yourbusiness.com) which makes it easy for buyers to find you and remember your web address. With web hosting you’ll get a website editor and applications to upload your files on to the web.
  3. If your website host has a site editor that is not your cup of tea then thankfully the next step is not Macromedia Dreamweaver or another pricy site editor. There are free editors available to you such as KompoZer, Nvu and Trellian. These are comprehensive, easy to use applications that make creating your own websites easy. Free Merchant will even let you set up your own e-commerce site.
  4. Many of these site editors allow you to upload your web ready files on the net but if you’ve found one you like and it doesn’t allow FTP (File Transfer Protocol) then, yes you guessed it, you can get one of those for free too. I use Core FTP and once you get the hang of it, it’s incredibly easy to use, simply connect, find your html or image on your computer and send it over. And there you have it, a website up and running.
  5. But what about images? They can make or lose you sales. What you need is a free easy to use image editor. One of the best known image editors is Gimp, a free image authoring application, however there others out there so shop around and find one you like.
  6. Feeling a little uncreative? Can make a knitted tea cosy but couldn’t design a website to save your life? Easy, simply download a free web template and add your own text and images. There are literally thousands of templates out there so Google “free web templates” and let the creative energies flow.
  7. And don’t forget to set up your own blog and let us know how you’re going, WordPress and Blogger are great free blogs.
  8. I hope this list helps you set up and save money in your burgeoning craft business. Don’t just take my recommendations for free applications also. Go out and search for the applications that will truly suite your needs. And before you know it, your craft business will be up and running.

Good luck!
by Jacquie Ramsden

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Thanks for that Jacquie! What great money saving tips! Thanks for detailing the issue involved in setting up a website and listing the freebie options, (definitely handy!) Best of luck with your shop.

If you’d like some groovy exposure for your site and you have some Craft Business wisdom that you could share with us, click here for more details ;)

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