Karen Thomas -A crafting spoonies guardian angel.

Its been just under 5 years since I was a diagnosed spoonie and its been a really hard slog. My physical degeneration has been hard but its the mental health that has hit me the most. I’m not ashamed to admit that I had times where I wanted an end. Crafting was a light, I saw a way to matter, to help my family but still my mind was low. I’d lost so many friends because I couldn’t face going out. I was happy to sit inside, in my PJs and watch the world go by. It wasn’t fun.

But then it changed ….. Just over a year ago I saw an advert for a new selling platform; Conscious Crafties. I’d already had 8 months of selling on Etsy but this advert said it was just for Spoonies and their carers. Didn’t see the harm in trying another selling place so I joined the waiting list. Not long after, I was invited to open my own shop there by this woman with the biggest smile on a profile picture and this cute little white dog. As I said, I’d already been selling on Etsy so I expected the same thing, open a shop and get on with it…….. How wrong was I?! 

Karen, this bubbly and happy lady guided me step by step through opening my store and then added me to the social group on Facebook. Suddenly my world went from this little house and my final few friends to a whole group of more people who wanted to help me succeed. Tips were flying all over the place, people cheered for you when you made a sale and at the head of it all was Karen. 

What you’re probably not aware of is that Karen does all this off her own back while fighting her body each and every day. She goes out of her way to help others, going without at times because she’s such a giving person she simply wants to help everyone. She has her own family, a supportive partner and that cute little white dog – her support dog Teddy who tells her when she’s pushed herself too far. Conscious Crafties was started as a memorial to her friend Sam who tragically died from her illness and Karen fights to raise awareness of her own and the other Spoonies illnesses as well as giving them a place to be part of society again, to feel helpful again and to have this HUGE online family who are there at any time of the day for anything you need (and it doesn’t need to be craft related).

Now let me guess…. You want to be part of this loving family? Well that’s easy! Pop to http://www.ConsciousCrafties.com and register for your own shop.

Not a spoonie or a carer but still want to help? You can raise funds for Conscious Crafties through easy fundraising too! 

I can’t wait for you to become part of the family and meet Karen – my online guardian angel.

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Are two separate shops better than one?

Evening all!
Just a quick one from me tonight before bed.
Crafty Miller, as I’m sure you’ve all noticed, is a shop quite a bit different to the normal crochet shops you come across on Etsy or Folksy (or my favourite Conscious Crafties) I have traditional items such as blankets and teddies and then we have the ……… stranger things such as boobs and cat bums! For a long time I’ve been trying to decide whether these two different types of crochet can survive side by side.
Would someone coming to find a crochet blanket be happy to buy one from someone who was also selling boobies? I’ve put this question to the lovely members of the Etsy UK Sellers Facebook Group and a lot of people have said it would indeed put them off.

Crafty Miller has always been Bright, Bold and Beautifully Bonkers Crochet but maybe they cannot all fit together? So I put it to you……. does Crafty Miller need a Bonkers Shop and a Traditional Shop?
Let me know your thoughts

Take care
Jenny

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Hello everyone! ✋

Its been a while since I wrote a blog and that’s because I’ve been super busy which, obviously, is brilliant! Being this busy has also made me reevaluate how I work. I’ve created a few things that help me keep up to date with what I need to do as well as the smartest way to do it and I thought I’d do a quick blog post to share them with you so you can see if they can help your business too. 

The first thing I made was a front page for orders. When an order is placed I print it off then attach my front page which picks up the important information for me to see at a glance. 

I then sort them in the order of when they need posting. I also created a “to make this week” sheet so I can see quickly, how long I’ve got to make new orders. Then, so not to stress, I only keep hold of the order forms for those due this week.

I have also found myself listening to podcasts which have made me work better and I am currently in the process of making a daily task sheet, when its finished I shall give you a glimpse but for now the most important thing I’ve learnt is to care for yourself as well as your business.

You can’t pour from an empty cup.

Take care of yourself first.

Enjoy your work!

Jenny

http://www.craftymillerjm.etsy.com

Writing Descriptions to Sell Your Crafts

Hello all 😀
I know, I know, I’ve been away for a while but life and business got busy so I had to take a step back from the blog. I’ve hit a quiet moment so now I can join in again.
Today’s post is about writing descriptions for your gorgeous creations. I’ve been working hard on making my descriptions sell my items based on something I was told once that has stuck with me

Write a description as if there are no photographs

So here we go; my descriptions now have a few main categories that  I try and fill to the best of my ability while still allowing my craziness to come on through. I always have this to hand when i’m putting a new item up for sale.

Advert
When someone searches for something on Google they display the first few words of your listing – This is your first point of sale so make it worth it. You need to explain what your item is, who its for and why your buyer should choose yours above all others.

Special Offers

Do you have any special offers; Free Postage? Buy one get one free? Anything? Write them here.

Design

Here’s where you explain what your item is but don’t go giving away any state secrets. You give them enough to know how it’s made without letting them think its easy to make themselves (remember you don’t want the DIYers). In this category there are subcategories I use;

  • Design – How’d you make it? I’m a crocheter so can only explain what I mean using crochet terms but hopefully you’ll be able to understand how to change it for your category. In here I explain if it’s created using amigurumi or the stitches used but I don’t give away the pattern.
  • Measurements – In this area you need to either be EXACT or make sure you add approximate to it (remember people can claim your item is not as described and demand a refund). You need to give height, width and depth.
  • Ingredients – *again i’m talking like a crocheter* I state the name of the wool, along with the type (double-knit, aran, cotton thread) and the make up of it, such as 100% acrylic. Also any other items used such as toy stuffing, eyes, buttons etc.
  • Variations – Is there anything your buyer can change to customise the item? Things like; size, colours, fastenings, adding a name – anything you don’t mind adjusting (On Etsy you can use the variations sections to ensure the customer has made choices, stops delays with processing – but you only have 2).
  • Safety – For anything with play value (even if you wouldn’t have thought it’s for children) must be CE Tested and you need to state that it’s been done. Anything with play value can not be stated “not for children” this, does not get you out of CE Testing. There is more information on CE Testing Here
  • Washing Instructions – Can your item be washed? How? – This may make the difference for a sale as some people do not like “dry clean only” etc so should they recieve an item stating this you may be forced to take a return which would not have been needed had the buyer had this information first.
  • How long does it take to make? – If your items, like mine, are made to order then people need to know how far in advance of the occassion they should order. Here’s a peek on how I write this section which I have named CREATION TIME.

The coasters take a few hours to make each one. Your order aims to be processed within a week (subject to back orders). When your order is placed, a message is sent to you detailing the date they will be posted on, if you need it sooner there are rush order slots available — https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/280500166/uk-rush-order-add-on-priority-listing

Do you offer Rush Order Slots? Don’t know what I mean? It’s worth considering.

This listing is an ADD-ON only and can be used as a way to cause your item to be upgraded to NEXT DAY DELIVERY as well as asking me to work longer hours to ensure your item is posted out within a week.

Following on from the Design subsections my next one is
Gift Ideas

Here you are trying to give your customer a reason for buying this item so you need to tell them WHO your item is for – dad, mum, daughters, sons, teachers etc and WHEN your item is for – birthday, anniversary, christening, housewarming, homecoming.
This is also the place where I tell anyone about other items that are similar, I call it THE REST OF THE RANGE. I also mention any special bulk buy offers here.

Post & Packaging

Consider how you pack your items – tell your customer. Do you offer gift wrap? (I do), can you post directly to the recipient? (I do – MAKE SURE YOU GET THE NEW ADDRESS IN WRITING TO PROVE YOU POSTED CORRECTLY). All these are worth mentioning here.
How do you post your items? Mine are Royal Mail Second Class – signed for on anything over £10.

Finally it’s a good idea to add a link to any overall policies you have such as refunds.

 

So there we have it, it’s a bit more updated than the original one as i’ve had nearly a year of practice 😀 Have fun listing yours and I wish you many sales in the future.

Jenny xx
http://www.craftymiller.co.uk

 

 

Taking Advantage of Twitter

As a crafter you know that you can only sell what people see, so how do you spread your name and get people to see your wares?.
Social Media is a great way to do this but which platforms?

There’s plenty more too, use the ones that suit you and your business. For this blog I’ll be focussing on Twitter but check back and there will be more (as I get used to using them myself).

On Twitter, unlike Facebook, you are limited on what you can write, by 140 characters. With that in mind, think of short phrases describing what you’re trying to sell. The 140 characters also includes photographs which equal 24 characters.
Here’s a quick example:

includes this beautiful . Just £5 on

So based on this tweet, I’ve told people that I’m having a special offer (#fiverfriday) on my #bunny and that it is purchased through the link above on Conscious Crafties (@consciouscrafty). You may also note that I’ve put a hashtag of #craftbuzz at the end, more on this further down. I also added a photo so people could see what I was I was trying to sell. USE YOUR PHOTOS!! People are less likely to click on a link if they don’t know where it leads.

Bunny.jpg

Keep things, short and sweet with as many hashtags (the #) as possible for people to reach your item. When someone searches twitter they’re searching the hashtags, so for you to be found when someone searches #handmade you need to have #handmade in your tweet/other tweets.
If someone likes your item they will pop through your link and buy it OR they will retweet your post. When someone retweets your item, it means that it begins to show your tweet in their feed, and all their followers see it too.
It’s like when you hand out flyers, not only are you trying to show that person what you do, but also anyone else they come into contact with.

Another good way to get your items seen is to take part in networking hours on Twitter. This is where, during advertised times you can post your items and the people who run the networking profile which retweet your message to their followers.
Here’s a list of known networking hours, feel free to message me if you know anymore that you’d like added to the list.

Monday to Friday
‪#‎uklatehour‬ = 9 – 10
‪#‎bizhour‬ = 2 – 3
‪#‎b2bhour‬ = 2 – 4
‪#‎womaninbiz‬ = 6 – 7
‪#‎ukbusinesslunch‬ = 12 – 1

Monday
‪#‎enterprisehour‬ = 8 – 9
‪#‎northwesthour‬ = 3 – 4
‪#‎gifthour‬ = 8 – 9
‪#‎creativehour‬ ‪#‎ccc‬ = 7:30 – 8:30
‪#‎mondaymarathon‬ = all day
‪#‎lincshour‬ = 8 – 9
‪#‎bayhour‬ = 8 – 9
‪#‎horsehour‬ = 8 – 9

Tuesday
‪#‎chesterhour‬ = 8 – 9
‪#‎treasurytuesday‬ = all day (For Etsy Treasuries only)
‪#‎dartmoorhour‬ = 8 – 9

Wednesday
#northwesthour = 8 – 9
‪#‎wrexhamhour‬ = 8 – 9
‪#‎britcrafthour‬ = 9 – 10
‪#‎devonhour‬ = 8 – 9
‪#‎nwpukhour‬ = 8 – 9

Thursday
‪#‎ukbusinesshour‬ = 8 – 9
‪#‎sunderlandhour‬ = 8 – 9
‪#‎etsyuksellers‬ = 8 – 9 (etsy only)
‪#‎eastangliahour‬ = 8 – 9
‪#‎southwesthour‬ = 8 – 9
‪#‎leedshour‬ = 8 – 9
‪#‎kirkleeshour‬ = 8 – 9
‪#‎wirralhour‬ = 8 – 9

Friday
#northwesthour = 9 – 10
#fridayfaveathon = all day

Saturday
#merseyhour = 1 – 2

Sunday
#crafthour = 7 – 8
#handmadehour = 8 – 9
#englandhour = 9 – 10
#spooniecrafts = all day (conscious crafties only)
#waleshour = 8 – 9
#equinehour = 8 – 9
#brumhour = 8 – 9
#sundayhour = 8 – 9
#holmfirthhour = 8 – 9
#eastdevonhour = 8 – 9

I know, I know it’s a huge list, how are you meant to keep up with all these networking hours? You might not be in as life happens. I use http://www.hootsuite.com and schedule the tweets (and Facebook Posts) for when I’m busy. You write what you want to post and then schedule what time you would like them to go live.

So what happens if you want to share things but it’s outside of the special hours? Well here’s a list of handy hashtags to use whenever;

  • #Tweeturbiz
  • #etsyuksellers
  • #mylocaltweets
  • #britishcrafters
  • #chestertweets
  • #northwalestweets
  • #shareourshop
  • #craftpromote
  • #womeninbiz
  • #epiconetsy
  • #etsymntt
  • #giftideas
  • #THLx
  • #tweeturbiz
  • #tweeturpromo
  • #tweeturbizuk
  • #ukbiz

So there’s your tips and tricks. If you have some you’d like added to the blog, let me know in the comments below.

HAPPY TWEETING

Listing on Conscious Crafties

If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know about Conscious Crafties if not, have a quick read here: https://wordpress.com/post/craftymillerjm.wordpress.com/139

So you’ve been accepted into the Conscious Crafties Family and want to list an item for sale but wait….. what information should you include in your description? Well some details are obvious, others you may not have thought about. Don’t worry, I’m here to help.
So what people like about buying handmade is that they’re buying from a friendly person who has a passion for these things, rather than a corporation who is paying pittance for someone on a line to bang out 100 of them a day. So tell them, give a little insight into what made you make what you did and maybe a little part of how, they also want to know design information such as measurements, what can be varied on their order as well as a few more little nuggets of info. Getting a little lost? okay, well let’s use an example then.

Let’s look at my dinosaurs, just because – https://www.consciouscrafties.com/handmade-gifts/complete-collection-of-4-dinosaurs-any-colours/

I always open with a quick couple of sentences giving a general overview:

ROAR!! Four dinosaurs are better than one so hurry and grab this offer before it becomes extinct! Choosing all of the range of dinosaurs at once saves you ££s. Available in a mixture of colours and CE Safe too. The dinos are a brilliant gift for your children as kids young and old will enjoy tearing down cities and giving rides to their favourite superhero or toy.

This immediately tells people they’re getting a bargain. It also tells them that the dinosaurs can be customised and are safe for children. I also tend to include who the item would be for here. This is also what comes up in Google if your item appears in a google search, so you need it to be as eye-catching as possible.
Once you’ve done this lets move onto the next section; DESIGN

They are all crocheted using Stylecraft Special DK wool and then stuffed using CE safe toy stuffing (not too tight, just enough to make them squeezable) before being given 2 beautiful CE tested Safety eyes.

This is where you explain your processes, but remember people will not understand technical terms so ensure you use laymens terms if possible but don’t give the game away, you don’t want people to devalue your work by believing they could make it themselves easily.
Right, next; MEASUREMENTS

MEASUREMENTS
Brontosaurus – – Measuring 26cms from his nose to the end of his long tail and 10cms from floor to top of his body.
Stegasaurus – – Measures 17cms from nose to the end of his tail and 10cms from floor to top of his spikes.
Triceratops – – Measures 16cms from his horn to the end of his tail and 8cms from floor to the top of his horn.
Tyrannosaurus Rex – – Measures 20cm tall and 15cm wide.
Please note these measurements are approximate as different lots of the wool can differ in thickness causing slight difference in sizes

This is arguably the most important aspect of your listing. You need to be as accurate as you can, if you cannot be completely exact then you must say so, perhaps add approx at the end, or as I have, write a disclaimer.

VARIATIONS AVAILABLE
– Colour – PLEASE STATE WHAT COLOUR YOUR WOULD LIKE EACH OF YOUR DINOSAURS TO BE (e.g. Brontosaurus – Red and Blue… etc)

Is there any part of your item that the customer can change? Here’s a few examples of things they might be able to change depending on your item/type of items etc, they’re all available from the CC Site.
Border
Charm
Clasp
Fastening
Finish
Length
Pattern
Texture
Colour
Fabric
Letter/Initial
Name
Personalise
Ring size
Size
Shoe Size
Theme
There is also a choice of “Special Request” for any others that they can change.

SAFETY – Is there safety issues you need to ensure is followed? Or do your items require you to put them through tests/hold certificates to prove you have done everything you needed to legally sell it. (ie: Toys need CE Testing more info here)

SAFETY
The dinosaurs have been CE tested and passed, giving extra reassurance to parents that their little ones won’t get hurt by their beautiful new friends.
CE TESTED SAFE

Does your item include lots of things? Make sure you include everything that comes with it.

INCLUDES
*Birth Certificate with a beautiful poem. (Please see single listings for details of each poem)
*4 Dinosaurs, in your colours.

Okay, so remember when I said people want to know about you? Here’s the best place to do it. I call it INSPIRATION. What made you want to make this item? Did you think of it, or someone else?

INSPIRATION
I was asked to make three dinosaurs and once they were finished I realised I had enjoyed them so much and wanted to make more. So I added them to my regular makes along with my own design of T-rex.

Customers want to know how long before they can expect your lovely item to arrive at their door, there is also a separate area for you to include the days but I felt it was nice to include a little more too. I named it CRAFTING TIME.

CRAFTING TIME
Each item is made lovingly to order. For a set of dinos this can take around a week to complete although please remember items are made in the order they are received. If time is of the essence please let me know when placing the order by adding “QUICK TURNAROUND” to the notes. If there may be a delay I shall ensure to keep you updated.

Finally I give some information about posting and packaging.

ALL ITEMS ARE POSTED ON THE FRIDAY FOLLOWING COMPLETION (unless otherwise requested).
Packaging – When posted, your dinosaurs are wrapped in tissue paper to keep them warm before being tied with a lovely bow.
**NEW** The Dinosaurs now also come with their very own birth certificate and back story. If you are gifting this there will be a blank space to write the name your child gives their dinosaur, alternatively they can be typed on to the certificate over here at Crafty Miller.
They come with washing and safety instructions as standard.
*Gift Wrap also available* https://www.consciouscrafties.com/handmade-gifts/gift-wrap-available-add/

So hopefully this has been helpful, look out for more posts in the future.

Conscious Crafties

As those of you who follow my blog know, I have many conditions which hinder my ability for a normal life. For those who have got here as a one off, here’s my story. https://craftymillerjm.wordpress.com/2016/01/16/meet-crafty-miller/

Those with a chronic illness often fall into deep depression as you feel your body giving up on you. Having something to accomplish can help fight this black dog and for me it was crafting, every new item I finished gave my heart a surge. Eventually I realised I was not going to be able to work as I couldn’t predict how I would feel, or how my mobility would be day-to-day, I had to rely on benefits from the Government. However, this Government seems intent on attacking the benefits from those who need it, so I needed a way to make money while still protecting my health.

While trying to get advice from other crafters I found people who weren’t supportive of a newbie, demanding I change my prices as I was too cheap and ruining it for them, the “real” businesses. It was heart-breaking.

Then I found Conscious Crafties! Here’s some info on it –

About Conscious Crafties

Conscious Crafties is a handmade craft buying and selling community for creative people living with chronic illness, disability or caring for those affected. It’s built by a Spoonie for Spoonies.

How was the idea born?

Sam De La Querra, Gastroparesis and POTS warrior
My Beautiful Friend Sam

Hi there, I’m Karen and after becoming sick in 2011 almost overnight, I found my way to various support networks. I noticed that many of us turn to crafts to help distract from our illnesses and to feel useful again. Seeing so much untapped talent, the idea was born to create a community for everyone to showcase their work, in one place and give people a way of creating their own business. It was also a way for me to feel useful again, by using my skills to help others. Conscious Crafties is about empowering us all to be successful through our crafts, tell our stories and meet new like minded friends who understand our struggles. I’m also hoping it plays a key part in changing the way disabled/sick people are viewed by the world. We can still contribute and are incredibly talented!! Conscious Crafties has been built in honour of Sam, my beautiful friend I met through sickness and our love of crafts. Her strong fight with Gastroparethis and POTS sadly ended in Oct 14. Heartbroken, I knew then, after years of thinking about it, the idea for us all to sell our crafts within a supportive community needed to be launched, so it could help people now and give them hope for the future.

Stories are told:

As most of us feel unheard, each ‘Craftie’ gets to tell their story on the site to help spread awareness of our (sometimes invisible) illnesses. Stories appear in the ‘Meet the Crafties‘ page and also posted on Facebook and Twitter. We’ve gained a massive following on Facebook in such a short space of time (thank you everyone!) so our stories are seen by thousands. Our crafts are regularly shared through social networks and many of our Crafties have appeared in various online newsletters, all helping to increase sales whilst raising awareness. Every new Craftie also gets invited to our ‘Crafties Community’, a fun place to share crafts, selling tips and form close bonds with friends who understand our struggles.​

How to get involved

There is no joining fee or subscription, it’s free to list and when your item sells a small percentage is taken to keep the site running.
https://www.consciouscrafties.com/

I applied to join, there’s a waiting list as they’re so popular! 😀 Just after Christmas, I was allowed to join and I swear, it’s been the best I ever did. The support from the community is immense and Karen, who runs Conscious Crafties, is BEYOND helpful, going out of her way to help you list, to the best of your abilities.
Just look how good my shop looks thanks to her – https://www.consciouscrafties.com/Crafties/crafty-miller/

So if you’re a Spoonie, or support a Spoonie that needs to feel accomplishments, PLEASE, take the support that’s out there and come join the community.