Thursday, 28 January 2016

Craft Business Book Review

Today, I'd like to give a little rundown of some of my books I have read recently which may be invaluable if you are running your own small craft business. You may have already read some but if not they are all worth checking out:

1. Grow Your Handmade Business by Kari Chapin

Kari Chapin is author of The Handmade Marketplace which I have heard lots of good things about, however, it was geared up to 'starting' a business so I didn't think that was very relevant. Instead I decided to give this one a go. The downside to this is that the author is American so some of the information is a bit vague, it also tried to cram a lot into one small book so it can feel a bit overwhelming. On the positive side, it is laid out fairly simply and the text is broken down into bite-sized chunks, there are no picture but a few graphics so it makes it less stuffy than some business books. The actual content is very professional and is a really good oversight into the internal workings of a successful small business. Personally, I would rate it 4/10 for inspiration but 7/10 for content and 6/10 for ease of use.

2. The Crafter's Guide to Taking Great Photos by Heidi Adnum

Most crafter's will say that getting good photos is one of the things they struggle with the most and I'll agree! I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see what tips this book had. It is a very attractive book, broken up into easy sections and with lots of great photos (of course). It runs through everything from start to finish and it doesn't assume that you have a super fancy camera or equipment set up. There are chapters for each catagory within the craft industry so you can find inspiration straight away but it is work looking at other catagories too to gain a real insight. The only negative about this book is the text is a little small in some places so if your eyesight isn;t the best, I'd dig out the reading glasses. Overall I would rate it 9/10 for content and 7/10 for ease of use. This would be a great investment for your business!

3. How to Style your Brand by Fiona Humberstone

Everyone I have spoken to about this book have fallen completely in love with it. It really is very beautiful and inspiring. Fiona Humberstone is a brand stylish, basically she makes your business look amazing. Branding is not just about a pretty logo, it is so much more and this book takes you on a process to discover exactly what your brand is. It is very interactive and you can follow the prompts throughout the book and learn so much. Obviously the photography is amazing too and the content is superb. I highly recommend this for any small business, even if you think your branding is complete.
Rated 9/10 for inspiration, 8/10 for ease of use and 8/10 for content.

4. Online Marketing for your Craft Business by Hilary Pullen

Out of the 4 books, this is probably my least favourite. Content-wise it is very good but I found it a bit stuffy to read and the red and green text was a bit offensive on the eyes. I think the information could have been laid out in a more appealing way as it does go quite in depth and gives some really vital information in the world of online marketing. The only issue I see is that is may become outdated quite soon as the online world moves so quick so I would suggest getting the most recent edition of it if possible. I rate it 8/10 for content but only 4/10 for ease of use.

I hope these reviews have been useful to you and your business, please remember they are only my opinions and everyone is different. The best thing to do is visit your local bookshop and have a browse, it is much easier to get a feel for a book as you flick through the pages. However, I will say that books are one of the best investments to your business as knowledge is invaluable. 

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Planning for Craft Fairs

I know it is January and Christmas seems like a lifetime away but it is never too early to start prepping for Craft Fairs. There are a great variety of fairs nowadays and some can be a great way to gain local exposure for your business. In the run up to the festive season you will see a lot of gift fairs advertised but what about the rest of the year? Have you considered Summer fairs, School fairs, monthly or local farmers markets? Do you products lend themselves to Wedding 'fayres' or other niche fairs and exhibitions to suit your small business? Here is a run down of some of our top tips:

1. PLAN YOUR YEAR IN ADVANCE - get out your yearly calendar and realistically plan how many fairs you have time to do in the year. Take a look at previous years sales to find your quieter months and then have a look for any local fairs you might be able to fit in at those times. Avoid booking too many in November if you know that online sales are going to be busy and cause more stress. Most of the popular fairs are booked up many months in advance so if there are still tables available a few days before it might not be worthwhile.

2. RESEARCH THE VENUE - Before agreeing to a table do your research. Check if there is likely to be any passing footfall such as on a busy high street or shopping centre. Has the venue done any marketing or promoting of the event? Are there any other activities going on at the same time as the craft fair that may attract people through the door. If you can visit an event at the venue beforehand to get a feel for the place it can be really helpful too.

3. REMEMBER ALL THE VITALS - Mock up your table at least a few nights before and imagine everything that might happen during the day. Make a list of all the items to remember and pack everything in an orderly way to save time on the morning. Using a trolley bag or suitcase can be really helpful for transporting, much easier than carrying boxes. The basic list of things may include; stock, display props, tablecloth (large enough to cover the front of the table too so you can hide boxes underneath) additional lighting if required, business cards, float, receipt book, card machine, carrier bags, note /log book and pen for jotting down sales and finally snacks and refreshments as you don't want to spend all your profits on cups of tea!

4. DEFINE YOUR AREA - When you practise laying out your table try various options to see what works best. When you are happy with the layout, remove 20% of the items you have put on display then see how it looks. We have a tendency to over-clutter and it can be really unsightly and off-putting to customers. It either makes the table look untidy or confused. Remember you can take additional stock with you and replenish when necessary. Your items should be displayed in zones by either theme or product depending on what you sell, there should be clear signs and prices for everything and business cards or flyers should be prominent. I've always found bargain baskets or seconds baskets are great for attracting people to your stall and having a rummage, you should still be selective about what you include in your seconds basket as those items are still reflective of your brand and your business.

5. EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED - be prepared for things to go wrong, you may find you have a different size or shape of table to what you were told. Bring warm clothing as it may be draughty (if in an old hall or if you are placed near a door) Bring tools for repairing simple items or stationery for making additional signage for your table that you may have forgotten. Get to know the other stall holders as you may need to be leave your stall for a drink or a bathroom break at some point and they might be able to keep an eye on your stock for you. Don't leave anything valuable unattended.

6. CUSTOMER SERVICE IS KEY - make the right impression to passing customers. Try to dress professionally and avoid sitting down/ hiding when customers are near your table. Smile and greet everyone and if they stop to look at something, offer some insight into the item. Try to be relaxed and not too keen as that can put browsers off. Sometimes engaging in conversation can persuade people to purchase rather than walk away.

7. GO THE EXTRA MILE - leave a lasting impression on your customers by going the extra mile. It may make all the difference if that customers remembers your business and comes back in the future or recommends you to their friends. Ideas may include offering a gift wrapping service, a loyalty scheme or freebies with their purchase when they spend over a certain amount.

I hope this list will be useful to those of you starting out selling face to face, it can be a real mix of ups and downs and you will find some fairs are better than others. The best approach to have is to see it as exposure for your business and any sales you make on the day are a bonus, plus there is usually a great cake stall to take advantage of too!

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Welcome to 2016

Hello and Happy New Year, I know we are already on the 17th January but it is never too late!

The Guild of Keepsake Artists took a break in the run up to Christmas, this was due to a number of reasons. Firstly, the Guild is helped to run by a number of volunteers who all run their own keepsake businesses and as you should be aware the months leading up to Christmas are generally the busiest, and I think 2015 was one of the best yet! We were underprepared for the lack of time we would have to update the blog and website but hopefully some plans we are putting into place this year will mean we can support our members in 2016 and beyond. Secondly, and really crucially you have probably noticed that organic reach through Facebook is at an all time low as they make changes to the way users see posts from pages. We have a number of tips we can share with you (in anther blog post) but it has affected us so badly that we felt it was time for a change and we would rather communicate through the tried and tested method of blog posts and the newsletters.

So, where are we now? There is a still a long way to go until we establish the blog but we have been planning away in the background. The first change you might have noticed is our new branding, we are lucky to have a graphic designer on the team and so we decided that a new year needed a fresh look, it is not too dissimilar to previous so you should still recognise us though! Our key values are still the same too, we aim to provide advice, support, networking and community and they will be playing a big part in our plans for the year.

As mentioned earlier in the post, we will be using this blog as our main communication channel to  share news, hints and tips on business and networking as well as getting to know our members. Please remember to bookmark the blog and look out on our social media channels where we will be posting links to our latest posts just for you.

We would appreciate any members contacting us at any time to tell us about their latest news or products and we are more than happy to share and promote those for you, just send us an email

Keep those eyes peeled for new and exciting content coming soon!