Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Head in the sand vs Business Planning



I am a big believer in business planning and setting up systems that allow you to work more strategically. The thing is with so much advice out there, much of which is hard to scale back and relate specifically to your own business and life situation, business owners often become so overwhelmed, that instead of taking steps to improve their business, they stick their head in the sand and carry on as they did yesterday.

Planning can be challenging, exhausting and of course hard to find time for but it really does make the world of difference in a small business.

Many of my clients mention to that they feel overwhelmed when putting their 2013 busines plan together.  Here are a few tips to get you started.

Plan time to plan


It sounds silly but if you set aside time once a week, even if it is only 20 minuets which you dedicate to planning you can begin to see the benefits and hopefully create more space to get planning done.

It is all too easy to get caught up in the day to day of business, family and life; but if you want to create a sustainable, profitable business, planning is critical.

Just start.


At a conference I went to this year entrepreneur and world traveller Chris Guillebeau mentioned he is always asked, “When is the best time to start?” to which he replies;

“Without a doubt it is a year ago – but failing that, start today”

He was referring to blogging; but the same is true for business planning.

Put it to paper


Write it down, it doesn’t count if you think up great plans as you drive home but then never put pen to paper (or fingers to keys). The power of getting thoughts out of your head and onto paper is something I can’t even quite explain.

When I started writing down goals and plans for my business the speed at which I would then achieve them was nothing short of astounding.

Obviously you need to work hard as well; but once you commit something paper the tasks required to achieve those goals becomes much clearer and it is far easier to catch yourself when you veer off course.

Where to you start?


Write down five things you want to achieve in your business in 2013.

It may be a higher number of followers on social media or it might be increased sales. Perhaps it is to create a new product or to launch a collection.

The point is to take sometime out and decide 5 things that you would be proud of if you could tick them off by the end of 2013.

Then under each of these five goals write down 5 actions you can take to move you towards that goal.

When you have some time to come back and review these goals and action steps, think about it in a little more detail.

For each of your five goals commit to taking at least one action towards achieving them in January, write yourself a list of “To Do’s” for January that you know will be moving you towards your larger goals.

Enjoy the holidays and take some time out to consider what you want for your business in 2013 – but what ever you do don’t feel fearful of business planning. It is as fun and exciting as your wildest hopes dreams.

Elle, business and marketing strategist and co-director of Studio Exsto (http://studioexsto.com), is passionate about helping small businesses thrive. Studio Exsto is THE workroom for creatives in business to engage in the design, development and drive of their business. Elle is also founder of the Artful Business Conference (http://artfulbusinessconference.com).

Friday, December 14, 2012

2013: the year of originality

Over the last few weeks I've been thinking about 2013.

I've been working on my winter range for C Percy Designs, reviewing themes for the Handmade Cooperative and I've been thinking about what my wonderful {CHA} readers would like to read about in 2013.

Part of planning for the new year is looking back.  One of our most popular posts on the {CHA} has been the post by Tania from Chicken Inc. where she introduced the Handmade Originally Pledge.

This pledge is as relevant today as it was back in April 2011.

Personally I believe originally, along with craftsmanship and quality, is one of the major draw cards for buyers of Handmade products.  Buyers of handmade are looking to purchase something unique, something original.

Back in 2011 the {CHA} simply stated:
If you are copying someone else’s work, you need to stop it. Dig deep into your own creative spirit and push yourself to move past the seemingly easy answer to copy what works for someone else. Find your own voice. Find your own creativity. Your will feel so much better for it, because when people compliment you on your products, you will know that you genuinely deserve the kudos. Being in this industry is not just about the money. It’s about being creative first and foremost. It’s about following your passion. And if you can make a profit from that, then that is a bonus.

So when you are doing your planning for 2013, I ask you to make originally part of your strategy.

Have you signed the Handmade Originality Pledge?
How has signing the pledge improved your business? 



Monday, December 10, 2012

Window Shopping: Educator


1. Ipad Sleeve by Monkey and Me, $30.00 
2. Ho Ho Ho cookies by One Sweet Chick, $3.00 
3. Sock Monkey graint paperclip by Snickerdooles, $6.00 
4. Drawstring bag by Shelley Berelli, $12.00 
5. Patchwork Fabric Lanyard by Scrappy'n Happy, $15.00 
6. 250g roasted single origin coffee by Gridlock Coffee, $15.00


This guide was created by Bree from meandmy2guys

Friday, December 7, 2012

Window Shopping: Out of Space


1. Wooden Memory Matching Game by Mollydag Made $24.95 
2. Set of 8 Space Invaders by Bubble Lane handmade Soap $7.00 
3. Solar System Wall decal by Tiges and Weince $59.00 
4. Galaxy racer shorts by King Billy $24.00
5. Starry Starry Night Mobile by Happy as Larry Designs  $44.95 
6. Space Ship Boys Baby Onesie by Lil Birdie $20.00 
7. Felt Monster Mini Toys for Car by babua $35.00 


This guide has been put together by Anna from King Billy

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Window Shopping: Watermelon


1. Pink Rose Print Dress $35.00 by The Poppy Patch
2. Pretty Green Felt Bird by Eme Creations
3. Absinthe Cocktail Ring $21.00 Two Cheeky Monkeys
4. 'Butterfly dreams in pink and green' 5 clips $13.50 by VintageNanna
5. Fluoro Pink Chevron Cushion $89.00 by Ivy & Lil
6. Mineral Eye Shadow - Fuchsia $6.00 by Rhasdala Bath & Body


This Guide was put together by Deb from Two Cheeky Monkeys.
Deb is a Melbourne-based scientist turned jewellery and homewares designer.  She spends her time entertaining her two cheeky monkeys and creating vintage-inspired items from vintage and vintage-styled supplies.



Friday, November 30, 2012

Facebook Notifications: A Page Owner’s Guide


Facebook has made a lot of changes over the last 6 months but none has caused more angst to page owners than the changes they have made to their Edgerank algorithm, which affects what posts people see in their stream.

To combat the outcry from businesses and community groups who don’t like the thought of their fans missing out on important posts, Facebook have introduced notifications for pages.

This works similar to your profile’s “close friends” option, where you receive a little red notification each and every time a close friend posts something.

The tricky part for businesses on Facebook is to get their fans to opt in to receiving notifications from them - not always an easy ask.

There are two main places a fan can sign up for notifications from your page:

1. Via your Page, and
2. Via your Hover Box

The Hover Box is the informational rectangle you see when you hover over the name of a business (or person for that matter).



If someone likes your page from this information box, they have the option of clicking the “Get Notification” option. Similarly, they can do the same thing on your page itself.

Many page owners have taken to their walls, showing their fans how they can keep getting all their posts and asking them to sign up for this new notification option.

The Obvious Problem
While this is a solid strategy, the problem is that a lot of their fans won’t see this post due to the very reason they are posting it – Facebook has limited their organic reach.

One Solution
Due to this, it might be a good strategy to make a one-off spend on promoting the post so it gets maximum reach. Although there’s still no guarantee that all your fans will see it or that if they do, they will do anything about it.

To maximize the impact of this post include an image showing your fans exactly how to sign up for this notification feature. Feel free to use the one below, or create your own.


Respect & Great Content
If you do get your fans to receive notifications when you post, you need to respect this and follow these simple rules:

  • Create a posting schedule and stick to it – this will allow your fans to know when and how often you post
  • Don’t post too often or you will run the risk of annoying your fans with too many notifications (1 to 3 times per day is a recommended maximum)
  • Post high quality content that your fans will find useful
  • Attract only your Ideal Customer as fans 
  • Weed out any fans that aren’t in your niche

Other Ways
Facebook is adding new features all the time, and a few of the more recent ones may help reach all of your fans.

Interest Lists
Facebook has also recently introduced Interest Lists, which allows a person to add a page or person they find interesting.


While this does not show all of a page’s posts, it does show the most recent 2 or 3 posts from any page or person in the list. If they check the list every day, this shouldn’t be a problem, unless a page posts more frequently.

Interest Lists is an interesting feature and is another (limited) way fans can keep track of their favourite pages. Although they will need to click on each list to see the posts, and they may forget to do this even if they do set one up.

Pages Feed
Finally, Facebook have also added what they are calling Pages Feed, which will allow you to see only content from the pages you like.


This does not however affect their main feed at all and will not boost the appearance of page’s posts on their feed, but it does give the user a prompt to check their favour pages.

Have you started asking your fans to get notifications from your page, and have you had much success? 

Russell Allert's passion is to help people achieve their dreams. Baked Social Media's main goal is to help small business owners grow their businesses online using social media.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Window Shopping: For Her


1. Oatmeal Milk Honey Soap, $5.00 by Rose Berry Bay
2. Linen Ruffle Handbag, $49.00 by high tea vintage
3. Bliss Candle Large Soy Rapture Asian Pear and lily, $39.95 by Bliss Candles Australia
4. Picnic Mama Skirt, $55.00 by 1 Ruby Road
5. Sweet Little Birds, $15.00 by Elements 



This guide was put together by Alison from Hand-Made.com.au.

Friday, November 23, 2012

{Promotion} Elocin Designs


Elocin Designs is the creative outlet for mixed media artist Nicole Pomeroy.  Nicole has always had a passion for painting and has dabbled in mixed media.  Her latest collection which is fantasy and fairy tales, will include a mixture of vibrant pieces with positive affirmations and also dark and mysterious pieces with depth to make you think and is made from many vintage elements, dressmaking patterns, lace, buttons, with a smattering of colour washes, paint and pencil drawings.

This artwork is created with a dark moody feel, its a representation of Little Red Riding Hood, with a focus on following your own path and listening to your instincts, even when they may lead us off the path. There is a lot of hidden detail with hand draw elements and intricate painting.
The canvas measures 40x50cm.
$220 +postage

This is a representation of Cinderella and the hopes and dreams she held, that is like all of us; dreaming for things to come and new adventures. 
This canvas measures 20x25cm.
$70 +postage

Our lives are filled with temptation and like that of Snow White, we have the choice to either succumb to that temptation or ignore it. Most times the temptation is too great to ignore. Snow is struggling with the temptation and this is represented with the blue through her face. 
This canvas measures 30x30cm
$100 +postage

To view Nicole's beautiful artwork simply head over to her Facebook page (http://facebook.com/elocin.designs)

This is a paid promotional.  To find out how you too can support the {CHA} and its efforts to assist the handmade industry please go to our Advertise Page.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pinterest Business Accounts


If you haven't already heard Pinterest had launched Business Accounts. Yeah!!

As you know from our series earlier this year about Pinterest, we are ever so slightly addicted to Pinterest.  I have a few boards devoted to my business interestes - C Percy Designs, Handmade Cooperative and the {CHA}.  I can create a new business account for each of these ventures plus keep my personal one.  I'm loving this idea.

This post on Hubspot - Pinterest Finally Rolls Out Business Accounts: How to Set Yours Up Today (Posted by Corey Eridon) tells you all you need to know to convert to or create your Pinterest Business Account.




About the Contributor: 
Christine is a Wife and a Mum of 3.  She is the owner of C Percy Designs and the Editor of The Contemporary Handmade Alliance.  She is also the Editor of the Handmade Cooperative - Australian Handmade 4 Kids and is a little obsessed with all things crochet. 
To find out more about Christine go to her blog or follow her on Facebook.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Do you have an online Support Group?


There’s a phenomenon that occurs in our house ... I wonder if the same thing occurs at yours ?

Whenever I mention craft, blogging, or anything I see on Instagram or Pinterest my partner’s eyes glaze over and I’m quite sure there is a loud brass band playing in her head!

Thankfully, I know exactly where to go where my triumphs, concerns and questions  will be celebrated, mulled over and answered.

It’s a secret online group full of fabulous women.

We gather on a daily basis in between running a business, keeping a household clean, our families fed and being crafty in our own ways. It’s informal, positive and did I mention secret?

I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am to these women. Whenever I need help, advice, a kick up the butt or a pat on the back they are who I turn to.

Usually before I tell my partner my grand plans, I have asked these women first.

The advice and reassurance is invaluable. When gathered together for good, women truly can be an incredible force can’t they?

Of course, nothing beats a coffee with a friend in person, but in between times, catching up online can be just as good.

Do you have a network of lovely people that you can turn to ... any time of the day or night?

Further Reading: How to create a Facebook Group


Contributor
Dee Wild is passionate about all things handmade. Deanne is coordinator of the Make Craft Your Business Course and Volunteer Coordinator of Made ‘n Thornbury Craft Market. When not sewing, blogging or trawling through opshops, Deanne can be found enjoying Melbourne’s dynamic handmade and craft market scene. Or drinking red wine whilst eating great food or taking photos of red wine and great food. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Community :: Craft Swaps

Craft Swaps are a great way to get to know other handmade businesses and to be part of a community.
Some of the divine creations made as part of the {CHA} 2012 Craft Swap. From Left to Right:
[Row 1] SummerSkye, Beccasauras
[Row 2] Pretty Pickings Designs, Little Toot Creations, Ladybugs and Daisychains

The {CHA} hosted its annual Craft Swap in the middle back in July/August this year.  Our annual craft swap is all about gathering together the Australian handmade community so they can get their "warm and fuzzy handmade love on!".

This year we had 43 businesses signed up to our craft swap and from the responses I received many new friendships were formed.  My craft swap partner, Skye from SummerSkye, made me a lovely crochet hook holder in my favourite colour.  I've now filled it with my ornate bamboo crochet hooks and I've displayed it in my lounge room.

My Crochet Hook Hoop by SummerSkye

On Facebook the other day I asked if anyone has been part of a swap and what they got out of it.

Bree mentioned that she had been part of a few fabric swaps and was part of Once Upon a Quilt  mini quilt swaps.
"I like getting fabric that I wouldn't perhaps buy for myself. I did make some lasting connections. It is a good way I found when just starting out to connect with others"

Christine Cohrs from Once Upon a Quilt also mentioned that she
"too have made lasting connections all over world and love it"


and Christina Lowry mentioned that she too has been part in a few swaps now.
"Doll quilt, brooch, apron, cushion. It's fun, especially when it is all kept secret and you get to blog-stalk you partner and come up with something they would like. It's lovely getting a surprise in the mail box. But very disappointing if your partner doesn't put much effort in or gets it entirely wrong!
"

We would love to hear if you have been part of an organised craft swap.  Was it a good experience?  Were you able to make some great connections by being part of one? 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

{Cheeky Pickle} Supporting each other in the handmade community

 


My story... 


When I first started my business it was out of necessity rather than love. When our second child was born, we couldn’t afford childcare (still can’t!!), my husband worked long hours and being from the U.K, we had zero family support. So me going out and getting a “normal” job was not a good move. Going back to my Textile Design roots seemed like a great plan, I could work from home and be there for my children.   I had a general idea as to what I wanted to do, but had nobody to bounce ideas off. I was a bit nervous about announcing to the world that I was starting a business for fear of failure, which at that point in time was rather huge. So I plodded on. I had no idea about the business side, so tended to hide my head in the sand with regards to that side of things and carried on creating pretty little pictures that I thought might sell and help us make some much needed extra income. It was a very lonely, frustrating and rather unconstructive period.  

Support from markets stallholders... 


My initial dream at that time was to sell at markets, which I eventually did. The first few markets I did were horrendous on all sorts of levels, but the general feel I got from the other stallholders was one of suspicion. I certainly didn’t come across many friendly and supportive faces back then.  The turning point for me was when I did a market featuring children’s, handmade goods. All of a sudden I was surrounded by gorgeous, lovely, kind and very supportive ladies. All wanting to give me advice, answer my burning, business questions, pass on their e mail addresses and then the biggie......introduce me to the land of social media and networking. Somewhere I could share my ideas with like minded people and get some much needed advice!! It was all there, in one place, everything I’d been dreaming of.....facebook!  

Hello Facebook...  


Once on Facebook, everything changed, but it took a very long time. When I first stepped nervously in to the land of FB, I felt awkward and very much like the new girl. Everyone seemed more confident and knowledgeable than I. Their businesses looked sleek, well branded, had fabulous photography and wonderful products. They all seemed to know each other and I must admit, it seemed a little bit, dare I say it, “cliquey” back then.   The big pages with the big numbers stuck together and didn’t seem to acknowledge the newbie’s in town. But I suppose this is normal. You have to gain the respect of others and this encourages you to up your game.   

Gaining self confidence and making friends on FB... 


As the months went on, I gradually moved away from stalking the bigger pages, trying to nudge my way into their clique and accepted it was never meant to be. I slowly started to get to know some of the other page owners.  I was making my own friends who were likeminded, struggling with the first steps of running a handmade businesses. We were chatting more, supporting and encouraging each other. It felt great to finally meet people like me! I, personally think it is really important to form strong bonds/friendships in business. At the end of the day it’s just another aspect of networking, which can only be a positive thing.  

Moving on... 


I think the Facebook of then has moved on. Facebook within the handmade community is now a vibrant, friendly place. We welcome new pages with open arms and are there to help out and answer questions. But mainly we are there to support and encourage each other. I know that my business, for sure, would not have lasted as long as it has if it were not for my handmade friends, especially my pals on Facebook.

Source: The Writing Bureau
Jo from The Writing Bureau wholeheartedly agrees with me “Since leaving Art College I've always said the biggest thing I've missed is the lack of conversation with other creative’s. Yet, just reading your post I've just realised that I don't say that anymore! It's not because I'm suddenly surrounded by artists and designers in my real world (I assure you I'm not...I'm a stay at home mum who only moved to this area a couple of years ago) it's because over the past 12 months I've made lots of online friends through twitter and facebook who I go to for advice and to bounce ideas off and I've never had a real life conversation with any of them. Yet I do feel really supported through these social networking sites” 
Source: roslyn mitchell desings


Rosolyn Mitchell designs adds this “The support I've had is fantastic, whether it has been other designers sending people to my page or being there when I've needed advice. I've made lots of new friends, some of whom I've met & don't live too far away & others who are 'down south'” 

Nicola from Enoch and Plonk agrees “It's the spirit of community I love, which is so lacking in other areas of our lives.” 

So why is it so important to support each other? 


Look, we are all pretty much in the same boat aren’t we? Most of us are young mums, trying to juggle being creative and running a business from home. Our daily task list can involve creating/designing/making, thinking up fabulous, new ideas, marketing, promoting, tax, visual merchandising, blogging, photographing products, websites, e mailing customers, markets, orders, deadlines, children, housework and walking the bloody dog!!! Phew...I would also say that the majority of us (who haven’t given up) do it alone, without any support and that can be extremely lonely and frustrating, if not downright depressing.  

Nipping (o.k. it’s never truly a nip is it? Usually more like a lengthy browse) on to FB for me, seeing how others are running their business, chatting, exchanging ideas and resources is a massive part of my day. When I make “virtual” contact with my business FB friends, it’s like having a shoulder to lean on and after chatting with them, I feel so much more confident in the business decisions I make. 

Finally, an idea for you... 


After starting the Cheeky Chats earlier this year (FB forum, open to anyone, where we held discussions about handmade and all things business) I realised just how much I and other businesses needed that daily support. Rather selfishly, I decided to create my own small group and invited a few of the most dedicated “Cheeky Chatters” to join me. The ones who came to every Cheeky Chat session, showed the most interest in what I was trying to achieve and chatted the loudest basically!  

Not knowing how it would work, but having a gut feeling that it WOULD work, I put together a group of seven ladies, including myself.  At first we chatted via e mail, but then one of them suggested setting up a closed FB group. This is a secret group that you can set up very easily and it is totally up to you who you invite along to join you. 

Life saver... 


All I can say is that for me this little group of women have been a huge boost to my business and my sanity. I have also met seven of the most lovely, supportive ladies I know. We have gotten to know each other very well and if we have an idea that we are unsure of, or a question that we want to ask, we just ask the group. Someone usually knows the answer and if they don’t, they are there with kind words of encouragement. Our only rule from the start was to be 100% honest with each other. It works and it’s brilliant. 

Why don’t you do the same? I love the idea of these little support groups popping up all over the place. Think of a few pages you admire and who you have become friendly with recently and then form a group, it’s really very, very easy.  

An elephant never forgets... 


 And now that my business has grown and I am a bit bigger than I once was? Well, I am a bit like an elephant and I will never forget those rather unsupportive people I met in the early days. “Think on” as my Gran always used to say. 



About the Contributor: 
Owner of Cheeky Pickle, Ali is a Textile Designer, originally from the U.K. She comes with a BA (hons) in Mixed Media Textile Design and has an established background in the Textile industry. She loves mixing simple, bold designs with an eclectic mix of mediums, creating unique and texturally exciting Art pieces. Ali finds her inspiration from simple, natural and organic shapes and textures, that can be seen in nature. To find out more about Ali go to her blog cheekypickle.blogspot.com.au or follow her on Facebook.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Community and why do you need to be in one



com·mu·ni·ty/kəˈmyo͞onitē/
Noun:   
1. A group of people living together in one place, esp. one practicing common ownership: "a community of nuns".
2. All the people living in a particular area or place: "local communities".

Okay so let me start off with a confession, I'm a community junky.  I like to be and feel involved in something.  I get energised by interacting with people, be it online or in the real world.  Sure I like my alone time, like Greta Garbo in the movie Grand Hotel "I want to be alone", but I find not being part of something isolating and depressing.

On the other hand my darling husband is perfectly happy being on his own.  He enjoys his own company and does not get his batteries recharged by communicating or interacting with others.  This doesn't mean that he doesn't see the benefits of being in a community or that he's not part of any, he just chooses not to be in as many me.  Where I will be helping out at school or volunteering at the local museum or  chatting with friends on Facebook, my husband finds community within Nerd forums and Coco heads gatherings in Sydney.

So why do I think community is important?

Apart from the fact that I get energised by them, I think being part of a community is important because in the right community you can get Support, Affirmation  Feedback, you can bounce ideas, have a vent tap into the brains trust and network.

Support and Affirmation
A community is a great way to find the support from like minded people is fantastic.  We all need a cheer squad and we all need to be part of someone else's cheer squad.  There are many benefits to receiving supporting and supporting others.

Feedback
Feedback is vital to the growth of your business.  Honest feedback from your community can turn your new creation from just another pretty dress to a "OMG I have to have it" dress!  As a community member it is also important to give honest constructive feedback.  Nanny use to say "If you have nothing nice to say, then don't say it" but if someone has asked for your advice and you see something that needs improving than say it but say it nicely.

Bounce ideas
Have you ever had an idea and part of your brains said "thats fantastic" and the other half says "thats crap"?  By having a place to safely bounce your ideas off one or more people you can turn an idea into product.  By bouncing ideas off others you can receive their feedback, consider their advice, which could lead to an affirmation of your idea or you could take on board what has been said and tweak your initial concept.

Vent
Lets face it we all need to vent at times, even if its just about Australia Post raising their prices again. The importance of being part of a supportive community becomes very apparent when you work by yourself and things aren't going so well or those thought gremlins won't shut the hell up!  The ability to simply vent about an issue that is bothering you can help you get things into perspective, nut though the real issues and enable you to move forward.  We all know that old saying about a problem shared is a problem halved.

Brians Trust
In my experience the communities I have found myself in have been full of brilliant, funny and wise people.  I've been able to ask questions, seek advice, learn something new, receive a great tip etc.  By being part of a community of creative peeps like yourself you can find the answers to questions that Google can't provide.

Networking
Communities are also great for networking.  Some people may think this is a dirty word but networking isn't just for wankers in suits who hand out business cards. Its about making connections, forming relationships with complementary businesses.  Networking can open doors to new stockists, invitations to other communities, new suppliers, potential buyers and the list goes on.

Are you in a supportive community?  What do you get out of being in it? We would love to hear your answer, leave a comment below.



About the Contributor: 
Christine is a Wife and a Mum of 3.  She is the owner of C Percy Designs and the Editor of The Contemporary Handmade Alliance.  She is also the Editor of the Handmade Cooperative - Australian Handmade 4 Kids and is a little obsessed with all things crochet. 

To find out more about Christine go to her blog or follow her on Facebook.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Handmade Community: Help the Smiths Auction



The Handmade Community is one of the nicest communities I've ever been part of.  This year the {CHA} has supported a number of handmade initiatives that have raised money to benefit others.  Recently I became aware of yet another amazing act of kindness, this time in the form of a special Auction - HELP the Smiths.  

Nic and Sam from Sugar Plum Tree are hosting this AUCTION next month to help their friend and a very special WAHM Katie and her young family.  Katie is a Professional Photographer and and one half of the Multiplied magazine team.  



Katie's husband Michael has been diagnosed with a debilitating condition called Essential Tremor and a related syndrome, Cervical Dystonia, which causes his entire right side of his body including his head and hand to constantly tremor- affecting his speech, ability to drive and work.

I asked Nic and Sam this week why they are hosting this auction 

"The past 6 months Michael hasn't been able to work, and with no known cure and no success so far in receiving disability payments, the financial burden on the family is enormous and the future remains uncertain for them.   
Katie is just a beautiful, selfless person- one of those people who always do nice things for others without expecting anything back in return- so now it's her turn for some good karma to return her way"
If you would like donate an item to this auction please send an email to helpthesmiths@live.com.au 

NB: The {CHA} will be taking part in this wonderful auction.  We have donated a Sponsorship Package with includes the sponsorship of this blog for a month, a Promotional blog post and inclusion in our weekly newsletter (RRP $50).

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Bum dance time! I'm going to ProBlogger Virtually

Call me sad but I'm totally excited about attending the ProBlogger Conference Virtually.

Could I possibly be a bigger nerd than I thought? 

I must admit I was a little bummed that I couldn't join my gal pal Jeanie from Inspired Wish as well as new friend Elle from The Creative Business Co at the ProBlogger Event in Melbourne.

I really wanted to go but with a young family this wasn't in my budget nor did I think it fair to get on a plane and leave hubby to wrangle the kids by himself for the second month in a row.

Afternoon tea at the Artful Biz Con
Admittedly I've seen people discuss "virtually" attending a conference and I felt it would be a waste of time but after being part of the Artful Business Conference last month and seeing the attention placed on the Virtual Members (though they did miss out on the macaroons at afternoon tea) I have put my hesitations aside and this morning I purchased my Virtual Pass.

I'm so excited about being part of this event from the comfort of my own home and to have the pleasure of hearing all the amazing speakers pass on their wisdom.

You can purchase your Virtual Pass from here.

Leave a comment below to let me know if you are attending this event too.


Saturday, September 29, 2012

{Promotion} Handmade Cooperative - Australian Handmade 4 Kids

As seen in *Bespoke* Zine Issue 7
The Handmade Cooperative is a Shopping Blog that was formed in March 2010 by Dianne Fisher of Little Fish Creations.  Dianne wished to gather together like minded small handmade businesses together so that they could assit each other to feature and promote their work, whilst promoting other cooperative members at the same time.  Christine Percy of C Percy Designs took over the running of the HCH4K in 2011 and has continued on with Dianne's vision.

Each week the HCH4K puts together a shopping guide based on a theme.  Fortnightly we put together Shopping Guides that include items from our members and on the alternative week one of our members curates a selection of 6 items based on a theme of their choosing, we call this the Sensational Six. The member chooses items either made by our members or other Australian handmade businesses.  Both guides aim to highlight the diverse range of products the handmade community makes.


The HCH4K is not just a blog, its a community of creative poeple.  We have a facebook group where we encouage our members ask questions, show off new products, promotes sales, give virtual Hi5s, provide feedback, give advice and form friendships.  We also band together to share the costs of advertising in print magazines such as Bespoke, Multiplied magazine and soon you will see our advertisment in the print issue of Tickle the Imagination.

As you can see there are a number of benefits to being a member of the HCH4K
•    Promotion of your handmade business in our shopping guides
•    Your logo and a permanent link to your online storefront
•    Inclusion in our online forum where you can meet your fellow members, ask questions, seek assistance etc
•    Connecting with other handmade business
•    Opportunities to promote new products, sales, achievements etc to wider audience.
•    Affordable advertising opportunities
•    Improved SEO for your online business through backlinks from the HCH4K webiste

In September each year the HCH4K hosts its annum membership drive.  If you would like to apply to join the HCH4K we invite you to go to our membership page and complete our application process.  But you need to hurry, our membership drive concludes at Midnight 30th September.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Blogging scares the crap out of me



Okay I'll let you in on a secret - blogging scares the crap out of me.


I've been blogging for over 3 years now.  I started my first blog - C Percy Designs - after reading about how handy they are for your business within the DUST forum.  I then took over the reigns at the Handmade Cooperative in early 2011 and as you know, this year I took over the running of this thought provoking blog.  

Thats right I have 3 blogs, I post on average 3 to 5 times a week and they all scare me.

Why?


… because I'm a terrible speller and my grammar sucks.  

As a child I was diagnosed with a Auditory Processing Disorder and I was always well behind the reading level of my peers.  After a few years of private tuition I was able to catch up but there are still gaps.  I remember one lovely Special Ed teacher who told my Mum that I was working my hardest and to lower her expectations as she believed I wouldn't sit the HSC and it would be best for me to focus on getting into a trade.

I wonder if this teacher was simply projecting her own fears onto me. I did complete the HSC (with a good mark I should add) and I went onto further education which includes TAFE, the Mountbatten Internship Programme in New York and the completion of a Bachelor of Business. Even thought I have proven this teacher wrong many times, I still have the Thought Gremlins running though my mind telling me I shouldn't be doing this, that I can't do this, that I'm making a fool of myself.

I must admit what takes most people a few minutes to write, takes me 3-4 drafts.  I worry about blog posts - "Does it sound right?",  "Is that the correct spelling?",  "I wonder if they'll understand what I mean?", "do I sound stupid" etc. 

So why do I blog?  Why do I torture myself?


Good question.  I guess its because I like to challenge myself.  I like to face my fears.


I've been challenging myself all my life.  Facing my fears has always made me stronger and allowed me to dream big.  I'm not saying its been easy because that would be a lie, but conquering my fears has made me the strong person I am today.



So is your fear of blogging holding you back? 



About the Contributor: 
Christine is a Wife and a Mum of 3.  She is the owner of C Percy Designs and the Editor of The Contemporary Handmade Alliance.  She is also the Editor of the Handmade Cooperative - Australian Handmade 4 Kids and is a little obsessed with all things crochet. 

To find out more about Christine go to her blog or follow her on Facebook.