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Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Bargain Week

This week I have decided to run a 'bargain week' theme on my Fabulous Online Craft Fairs facebook page.  This means i will be sharing lots of 1p and 99p auction items each day as well as posting info about which pages are holding sales and offers etc.  Just as an extra little bonus for all the page followers I am also sharing some little tips on boosting your income: 

At the minute there are 8 1p and 10 99p auctions listed on the website which are all due to finish shortly, so if you are quick you might just grab a mega bargain:

Bargains are always worth checking out aren't they? So pop over and have a look :) 

Monday, 24 September 2012

Whats New?

As usual the world of Craft Fair Central has been moving at a mighty pace and despite my best intentions of blogging all the news as it happens i just haven't had a chance!! So here is a quick update :)

Site Stats

We now have 104 registered users and 26 active shops on the selling section of the website! Todays total number of items listed is 329 :)

There have been 6 items sold and a whopping 2029 visits to the sellers shop section in the past week!!!!

Whew! How fab is that?

New Features

Over the past few weeks i have been working hard on increasing that magic number of visitors to the site and  have introduced a range of features/events to help do this.  So far this month i have:

Introduced a new monthly 1p auction.  There are some brilliant items listed in this section already and i know there are more to be added as well.  I am sure this will prove extremely popular with buyers and sellers alike!

A few days ago I added a Halloween Themed Fair Section  - there are some spookily fab items listed in there already :) and at the same time i added a Christmas Themed Fair Section as well.  To list in either of these sections is just 10p per item - considering there are pages on Facebook charging £1+ for just a couple of items without any of the added benefits we can offer this is another bargain offer from Craft Fair Central.


As most of you know already i do a lot of promotion of products on the website and this month has been no exception.  I have added most of the listed items to folders on the Fabulous Online Craft Fairs Facebook Page and i continue to add them with their full links so people can buy direct from the page now as well.  I have also started a weekly craft fair on this page every Saturday, and now have just added a themed product share option as well :)

I have opened a couple of new groups on facebook too:

Simply Fabulous Crafts Group which is only for buying and selling items from the website.  I am working on adding all the items to this group at the minute, but everyone can also add their own items of course :)

Fabulous Online Craft Fairs - We Work for Your Business Group which is for members of the website and is aimed at helping each other with issues, ideas and sharing general useful info.  In this group we have started a promotion pool for example where we all help to promote each others businesses :)

I also share all the items to Twitter, Pinterest and now to Flickr when i can squeeze in the time :)

More Exciting Developments

We currently have 2 new Artist Show Case Pages  under development, which should be ready to go live very shortly :)

We also have a new Featured Websites Section  where we are proud to have added our great craft buddies and partners in cyberspace The Handcrafters Emporium!

The Tutorials Section has seen a few new additions (though i do have more to add yet as soon as i can), and we have made a start on adding links to our new Patterns Section as well!

Just a few things have been happening then as you can see LOL!!!!! The website and all the social media groups are growing daily and i am just delighted to be able to see it all blossoming so well! My health continues to be a challenge to me, but being involved in all of this is definitely giving me a new lease of life! What is yet to come is a mystery to me as well as all the members and followers, but no doubt it will be fun :)

Thanks to all of you, for your support, encouragement and indeed with putting up with my creative chaos ;)

Monday, 3 September 2012

Beginners Guide to Facebook Insights

If you have been following this blog recently you will know that i have been using facebook insights to monitor and improve the level and type of activity on my business page.  

As a result i have managed to change my stats from this one which was taken a week ago today:

To this for today: 

To find out how i have improved my page stats you will need to read over the past few posts, todays blog is about learning how to read these stats and understanding what they mean for your page. 

Firstly to access these details simply go to the top of your page where you see the small graph and click on the 'see all' link.  You will then be taken to the overview page and these numbers will be at the top.

I would just like to point out there are many more figures and details that you can access here to provide a fuller picture of what is happening - for today though i am only looking at these basic figures and a few additional ones.  I will be going into these in more depth in a later post.

First there is the Total Likes figure - most of us are very familiar with this figure (many to the point of obsession i have to say).  It is the most basic of all the figures and is simply the number of people who are currently following your page.  It is important to know that this figure can go down as well as up, and this is NOT because of a facebook glitch.  It is actually because of people removing their like from your page.  

Obviously if people are removing their like from your page this is an indication there is something going on they don't like - this is not necessarily a bad thing.  This just means your audience (people following your page) is becoming more targeted.  If there are a large number of 'unlikes' however, or a consistent pattern of this you may wish to look at your posting and promoting strategies.  

To help you monitor this you can click on the like tab at the top of your insights page:

On this page you will get more information about the people who have liked your page first - where they are from, male or female etc.  If you scroll down this page you will see another graph which provides details of 'unlikes' as well as where the likes came from: 

Fortunately the level of unlikes on my page is very low (as shown by the green line above), with the highest being just 4 on 31st August (if you move your mouse over the dots on the graph it will give you these details).  If i wanted to look into what might have caused these dislikes i can then go back to the overview page (use the tabs at the top of the page again), scroll down to look at the posts i made on that day and the few days before (remember your followers will only get the notifications from your page when they log in and this might not be everyday).  You will also have to do a bit of guessing about what the problem might have been - did you post a lot of times around that time? did you not post at all? did you 'like' a lot of pages which all showed in your newsfeed? did you post something that might have offended people? A regular pattern of unlikes after you post a certain type of post or after you have done a lot of 'liking' of other pages is probably an indicator this is where the problem lies - remember this is all guess work here, however it does give you something to experiment with - you can try posting a different way etc and monitor what happens to get a clearer picture of what is going on.

The next figure on the stats is friends of fans.  This figure provides you with a potential number of people who could be seeing your page updates via the newsfeed of those having liked your page.  These friends of fans will only see updates however if their friend is talking about your business page or interacting on it.  This is a very important factor to consider when looking at your own page strategy - if you have a lot of 'likes' but a low level of interaction you are missing out on this potential audience AND missing out on the whole marketing potential that facebook provides.  (I will be talking about this again in another blog post as it is a MAJOR part of what people seeking only 'likes' are missing out on).

To understand this potential and make the best use of it you need to understand the next 2 figures - The people talking about this and the weekly total reach.  BOTH of these figures are telling you if you are getting your message out to only the people who have liked your page, or if you are thinking about and achieving really getting your message out there.

The people talking about this figure tells you how many of your direct likers or followers are doing something which helps your message to get to their friends.  This includes: 
  • Liking your Page
  • Liking or commenting on a post of yours or sharing your Page post
  • Answering a question you’ve asked
  • Responding to your event
  • Mentioning your Page
  • Tagging your Page in a photo
  • Checking in or recommending your Place
Whenever someone does any of these things you should see it as them opening a door to their contacts.  This is because each time a follower of your page does one of the above this creates a story that will appear in their newsfeed and can be seen by their friends.  (As long as they haven't opted to hide these messages).

By taking any of the actions details in the list above the people who have liked your page are increasing the last figure - the weekly reach.  It is this last figure which tells you if you are making the best and most efficient use of facebook to market your business.  Basically if you are not paying attention to this figure you may be doing a lot of marketing and sharing etc, BUT you are wasting time and energy because your messages are often basically hitting a brick wall.  They are being halted by the people who have 'liked' your page in one way or another.

So let me go back to my page stats to help see what was going on: 

Last week: 

My page 'likes' went up by 3.31%

The Friends of Fans only went up by 2.95% meaning the people who were liking my page had less than the average number of friends.  If they had equal to average numbers the percentage increase of total likes and friends of fans would very similar.

The number of people talking about my page was up by 52.94% which in itself is actually a decent figure.  When i combine this with the reach figure however of -69.05% this tells me things like the people who have liked my page and talking about it are taking action to prevent my messages getting any access to their friends. 

Lets compare that with this weeks figures:

My total likes have increased by 4.6% - this is with LESS work from me i should say.  In general this is a little bit higher than last weeks number but not hugely so.  If i had the figures from the previous week i would know the exact number of page likes for each week - unfortunately i don't have that figure. 

The friends of Fans is up by 4.96% - this means the people liking my page have a higher than average number of friends (because the % is higher than the likes %)  Compare this with last week when they had less than average.

The number of people talking about my page is up by a huge 120.78% - this shows me the strategy i am using is engaging people AND when i read this along with the weekly reach total this shows my message is passing through the doors to get to a wider audience.  

In summary i may have increased the number of 'likes' on my page by roughly the same amount however there are very very different results.  Anyone who does not understand and make use of this information may be working hard on getting more page 'likes' which opens the door to 1 person seeing your message (and maybe more if you are lucky).  By looking at these figures however you KNOW what is happening and you can learn to work smart by making the most of the facebook platform.

I hope this post has made sense to you and has given you some food for thought.  It explains why i said i thought there was a problem with the action of hiking likes strategies (or more specifically there was a problem with the ones I was using).  You will only know if what you are doing is worthwhile or not by examining your own figures.  

As always i love to hear your comments - please do write them in the box below on this blog post so they can be read at a later date :) Do feel free to write questions as well if you need anything clarified and i will do my best to answer them.

If you have found this helpful you might also like to follow this blog by adding your email address in the box (top right side of this page) or by clicking on the follow tab. 

Happy Crafting......and Happy and effective Facebooking too ;) 

Friday, 31 August 2012

So much Better for Productivity

As most of you already know i have very recently changed my approach on facebook - I have spent some time researching the activity of hiking likes via networking pages and learning how to make the most of facebook page insights.  Its taken me a bit of time to do all this but it has proven to be time very well spent :) 

I have now stopped using any of the networking pages that focus on gaining page likes as i found them to be detrimental to my page visibility for several reasons as previously discussed.  I have also stopped visiting other peoples pages just to leave a 'like' with my page tagged.  I found i was spending quite a lot of time each day doing these things and really started to question the use of it when my page activity levels dropped considerably.

I have now changed my strategy completely and i am focussing on my own page and really thinking about what it is i am posting on there.  As you an see the impact on my page stats has been considerable:

I note specifically the huge jump in people talking about this stat - up by a whopping 71% and the reduction in the negative figure on the weekly total reach figure which was -69% on Monday of this week. This figure has gone up and done a bit this week but overall is going in the right direction which is great news :) 

The main difference i have noticed myself is my own levels of productivity and creativity on the page - I am coming up with all sorts of ideas to try and build up interaction on my own page rather than doing something that a) pulls my attention away from my page and onto networking pages, boosting only their page stats and b) has had a detrimental effect on my own stats.

I have been looking only at ways to increase what i would classify as quality interactions - not just people leaving links to their page in the hopes of getting more likes in other words. As a result i have created posts with the highest levels of virality ever on my page (which means other people are sharing my posts and updates) and I am still hitting reasonable engaging users figures on my page - not the highest levels i have to say, however this is without having to spend hours sharing and liking etc myself.  All of this means i have actually managed to do much more craftwise, more planning for my business, and things like organise and clear out my craft room which i have been wanting to do for months.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Some very interesting responses!

Well I have to say there have been some very interesting responses to my past few blog posts Is a Like Enough and An Explanation of the Problem with Hiked 'Likes'.....Its a shame they aren't all on the blog comments but to help facilitate a balanced view i will add a copy of them here (facebook is a public arena so copying the comments on here is allowed). 

These are the comments from The Fabulous Craft Fair Page

and these comments are from a group i belong to:

Personally i find these comments make some very good points and help to raise awareness of things to look out for and some actions that can be taken. I am currently looking into what steps we can take to improve page visibility and reach etc.

Interesting that the stats on my own page have changed over the past few days since i changed my own approach: 

First a reminder of yesterdays stats:

This was taken this morning: 

This was taken this evening:

As you can see the weekly total reach stat has changed dramatically and is very much improved since yesterday.  I have made some major changes in how i am interacting on my page and with other pages as well.  I have also not been involved in any hiking activities whatsoever.  

I will be continuing to monitor my page stats and activities for a few more days before i share additional information on what changes i have made as i want to make sure the improvement is a consistent one.  

I hope this post has given you some more food for thought - as always i am happy to receive any comments.

Monday, 27 August 2012

An Explanation of the Problem with Hiked 'Likes'

After my rather unexpected discovery of using 'like' ladders and hikes causing a reduction in the reach of my posts on facebook (see Previous Post - Is a Like Enough? for more details) I have been investigating why on earth this should be the case.  I should point out that i am no facebook expert, i have simply spent time looking into how it all works.

On closer inspection i have discovered a few different reasons why this may be the case:

1.  All of the people using 'like' ladders and hike pages are businesses.  Even though they may actually engage in the 'liking' the way they are supposed to - i.e. by returning 'likes' from a personal profile quite a few business people have a separate fb account they use for options such as liking ladders which do not have any connection to their friends or customers.  Many of them on inspection have NO friends associated with their 'liking account'.

This then means that you, if you are using your actual account, are giving these businesses free access to your newsfeed and helping them to gain reach while you are oblivious to the fact that your access to other people is actually halted.

2.  Similarly, as business owners themselves many of the people using ladders have discovered how to use the privacy controls on their own newsfeeds to prevent your updates showing in their newsfeeds.  Again, as above if you are not doing this the balance is completely in their favour.

3.  When your newsfeed is taken up with lots of business updates that your friends are simply not interested in they get fed up looking at it and don't access it anymore.  As far as i can tell the reach statistic is affected by the number of people actually engaging with a newsfeed in some way - commenting, liking etc.  if they stop looking then the level of interaction will go down! 

4.  Although people may join in with the 'like ladders' at the time they may clear these likes again just afterwards - if you have ever watched your like number go down this is probably the reason - it is NOT a fb glitch.  This is perhaps one of the main reasons for your reach to suddenly drop - if people remove the 'like' from your page you will see a drastic reduction in your reach statistics because they have just removed your access to however many friends they have.  

5.  The final reason i have discovered for this drop in activity is because people, once again getting fed up with all the status updates of business pages find out that they can hide pages updates.  Here is a quote from a business strategy page i came across in my investigations: "When you network a lot for your business you can often end up with a newsfeed full of posts by pages and your friends get missed. This usually leads to people hiding the pages and pages not being seen - in effect making tagging lists/ladders/marches pointless".

My conclusion therefore has to be one of questioning this so called 'networking' and asking myself is all that time spent on doing something productive for my business or was the time investigating it time better spent? 

Now you have a better understanding of what is going on you can take appropriate action to ACTUALLY grow your business rather than waste precious time on these activities.  Next time i will look at some of the positive steps you can take to achieve your business goals! 

As always comments are very welcome - using the comment box below will mean they do not get lost and i can respond to them.  

If you don't want to miss out on updates why not sign up for an email subscription using the box at the top right of this post :) 

Is a Like Enough?

Like many other businesses I tend to spend some considerable time on facebook - Its a great place for promoting and networking after all so I would be foolish not to use it.  One thing i have noticed however is the quest to increase the number of 'likes' on business pages.  There are whole groups of people who either spend their days seeking 'likes' or who have set up so called networking pages to allow other people to get more 'likes'.  

So what is this all about? Obviously people liking your business page is a good thing - it means they are happy to connect with you and get your updates appearing in their newsfeed.  So getting page likes is a way to help get your information out to more people right? 

Just in case you don't know how the like button works here is a quick explanation:

Whenever you 'like' a page it opens a gateway so that information about that page appears in your newsfeed.  Friends of yours will then be able to see this as well because they can see your newsfeed. If they see something interesting chances are they will 'like' it and then their friends will be able to see updates as well! And so it goes on, opening gateways to more and more people.

So its no wonder all these networking pages are so busy - everyone wants more likes for their page, and the reason they want it to be from your personal page is so your friends will see it.  The theory is a good one from a business perspective, in reality though does this actually work? 

I started wondering about this when I began getting involved in all these ladders and hike those like type activities and being one for paying attention to what happened i noticed that the activity on my business page actually went down: 

As you can see the number of 'likes' has gone up, the number of friends of fans has gone up and the number of people talking about it have all gone up - the weekly total reach however has decreased by a whopping 69%!!!

Why is this important? 

As shown here the weekly total reach is the number of people who have seen any content associated with my page - so LESS people are seeing anything i post!!!! 

To see the impact of any actions you take on facebook you should check your stats before your campaign then check it daily to see the impact it has (click on your insights button at the top of your page to see the stats).  You can also see the type of posts that are actually engaging people with your page.

For the next week i am going to concentrate on my posts and avoid the ladders and hike pages and see what happens to my stats then - I will of course share my findings with you all for that as well :) 

Why not join me in checking your stats and see what happens? if you want to add details of your stats for today in the comments on this blog (not on facebook cos they will get lost!) and we can all check what happens daily for the next week :) It will be an interesting experiment! 

Don't forget you can now subscribe to this blog by email - just add your address in the box at the top right of this post :) 

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Time for some Shopping :)

One of the best things about having a craft website is being able to admire all the fab products that other people have made and listed - I have such a big list of wants already LOL!

So far there are 12 shops which have been created on the site and lots of individual listings too - almost 200 items are listed for sale which is just brilliant to see :)

There are 5 featured shops as you can see from the pic above! After having a look through their listings over the past few days i think i have come up with some favourites which i thought i would share :)

The Craftee Panther has a great range of keyring and handbag charms, all of which are very unique.  I love the seasons handbag charms with their multi coloured themes which relate to the 4 seasons of summer, spring, autumn and winter.  Typical for me as an earth sign my favourite of the 4 has to be the Silver Plated Bag Charm 'Autumn'  .  I just love the colours on this charm and already have a handbag that it would suit :)

Novelty Party Chocolates has just a few items added so far, but they are all chocolate so i can't possibly decide on a favourite........LOL!

That said it is impossible to see the White Chocolate Wedding Dress without admiring the detail on this and imagining it as a perfect wedding favour :)

It matches perfectly with the White Chocolate Tuxedo of course to make the full set :)

Funky Junk Crafts is my own shop so i don't need to pick a favourite from that one hahahaha!

Jellypoppy on the other hand has lots of amazing products to choose from......Described as  "Home of Flannellymooz, Forget-Me-Bags, Me-Keys and other gifts guaranteed to raise a smile". it just makes me smile before i even get to look at the products :).  When i look and see fairies, dreams necklaces, charms and wishes i just get lost in a whole other world! I have already bought some items from Jellypoppy as i just couldn't resist the Smelly Noseys which i got personalised in my favourite purple and orange combination and a bag tag with Live, Love Laugh also in my infamous colour combo :)

Friesian Crafts is the last of the featured shops on the site so far, and there is only 1 item listed in this shop at the minute....... The Mobile Phone Jack is also hard to resist with the cutest little owls on it as you can see :) - I know Friesian Crafts products rather well already i have to admit, and am the proud owner of one of her brilliant polymer clay keyrings :) No doubt she will be adding more products very soon which i will also want to buy hahaha! 

Well that is my little shopping trip done for today - There will be many more, I assure you :) I have the rest of the shops and the individual listings to check out yet and i won't be able to resist for long!! I hope you enjoyed accompanying me on my wee shopping trip round the site this evening - i hope you will invite me to yours :) 

Why Choose Craft Fair Central?

There are many craft websites out there, many of which are well established, so why would you choose Craft Fair Central?

There are many reasons to choose our website, but the main one is because it really is a central resource for craft lovers, artists and organisers alike.  It has various sections all of which are detailed below:

Craft Fair Calendar

The Craft Fair Calendar is how the website began.  I noticed there was a lack of a comprehensive list of local craft fair events for those interested in either displaying their own products at fairs, or for those wishing to attend them.  There is information all over the place but it is not always freely available.  Some are only for crafters to access, some charge to view them, some are for publicising certain events only etc etc.  The Craft Fair Central Calendar however is freely available to everyone looking for this information, is easy to add your own events to and, as the name suggests is provided in a calendar format for ease of use.

There are several Calendars available including one for Northern Ireland, one for Southern Ireland, and most recently added is one for England.

Work Shops Calendar

The Calendar feature has recently been extended to provide information on when and where craft related workshops are being held.  Again this website allows for addition of your own workshop details.

Craft Artists Showcase

The Craft Artists Showcase section allows for specific craft artists work to be presented on a personalised page or pages.  It is like having a mini website to display and sell your own products on.  Of course many craft artists have their own websites but find they don't get a lot of visitors to these.  Craft Fair Central has already got a regular 800 - 1000 visitors every week.

The showcase is the perfect solution for those who wish to have an online presence without having to pay for website design or have an understanding of how to get included in search engine results.  It is also a less time consuming option than adding items to the Worldwide Auction Section yourself.  It gives the additional benefit of being featured on a popular craft website where people interested in crafts already visit.

Worldwide Auction and Shops 

This section does what it says on the tin - it is an auction and selling area for people all over the world to use. This area allows for products to be added by the sellers using an auction, buy it now or shop listing.  This means the seller can choose which option suits their own business best, including having a fully integrated build your own personalised shop feature such as Funky Junk Crafts has done.

The benefits of listing here include:

It is in the format of the highly popular site Ebay but is limited to craft products only.
There are a large variety of items available to buy which encourages those interested in craft products to visit.
There are items available to purchase which are not available elsewhere.
It provides the opportunity to sell handmade products without having to attend craft fairs.
Items listed here are frequently promoted (at least 3 times per week) on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to approx 2000 people all interested in craft products.

Directory of Crafters

In addition to the craft artists shops and pages being available to view, the Directory of Crafters allows for links to be included to facebook pages and websites of many different artists as well.  This is also a very useful tool for organisers of craft fairs and workshops.


Another very recent addition to the website is the Tutorials section.  This will prove to be a useful resource for anyone interested in learning how to .... as many new tutorials get added.

This section also provides the opportunity for artists using the site to have another form of contact with those interested in crafts.

Charity Product Sales

Many crafters like to support charities, and Craft Fair Central will continue to promote this activity via the Charity Product Sales Page.  There is currently a listing here for fundraising on behalf of Tinylife, Northern Ireland's premature and vulnerable baby charity.  I expect this will become a very popular section with more listings being added very shortly.

Business Development

As many craft artists tend to know quite a lot about making products and struggle at times with the Business Development side of things, this new section will be made available to members who pay for access and one to one support with their business.


Last but not least, this blog is also available via the website, giving access to all sorts of useful information.

Craft Fair Central, despite being so new, has already developed considerably into a one stop resource and selling site for craft artists throughout Ireland.  Content continues to be added on an almost daily basis and associations in crafting circles continue to develop as well.  The website continues to go from strength to strength and even more plans are underway already.  Watch this space as they say.......and i hope you enjoy using the site :)

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

The Amazing 1p auctions has started!

Today I have started a new campaign on Fabulous Online Craft Fairs which is proving popular already! It is the Amazing 1p Auctions Campaign ...........

What can you get for 1p?
On Fabulous Online Craft Fairs it will be lots :) 

Todays Amazing 1p Auction has just started - check out what it is by clicking HERE :) 

I will be adding more 1p auction items each day for the next 2 weeks!!!!! Bargains will be grabbed i'm sure! Its not to be missed because you just never know what will be added ;) 

Happy Bidding :D 

Monday, 20 August 2012

Are you a Shy Suzie?

When it comes down to it all craft artists have to show their products to people to be able to sell them.  I have been talking to quite a few crafters recently and when i told them that i find it difficult to promote my own products, yet would happily shout from the rooftops about other peoples makes, I was relieved to find i'm not alone in this.  Some people of course just happily show and talk about their products at the drop of a hat - me? even when people ask to see mine i still get embarrassed and shy about showing them.  I'm a Shy Suzie for sure!

Today's blog is going to look at the Shy Suzie method of promotion (or non-promotion) and hopefully provide a few simple tips for getting your products seen by others.

Shy Suzie

I could talk about being a Shy Suzie all day! I have always been shy about myself, my products and my abilities in general and find social interaction difficult with people i don't know, and sometimes with people i do know as well! Ironically however i put myself into situations pretty frequently where i have to overcome these feelings of panic and discomfort.  I will talk more about how i do that later, for now i want to look at the impact of being a Shy Suzie on having a craft business:

The impact can be so huge it stops you even attempting to make anything to start with.  If you do not even attempt to make anything however you are extremely unlikely to even contemplate having a craft business, making this both the most crippling and least problematic (from a craft business perspective) all at the same time.  I believe it is only once you get to the point that you do have some confidence in your own products that having a business at all comes into the equation, or maybe it is sheer need to either a) bring in some money to finance your crafting or b) do something with all the items you have made.

Regardless of how or why you have got to the point where you want to sell your products one thing is clear - if you do not tell anyone about your work or show anyone what you have done you will never ever sell anything!! Most of us know that and so we TRY to get our products out there somehow.  The problems a Shy Suzie can have though are much more complex than just getting products seen.  Here are a few examples:

A Shy Suzie may have some or all of the following difficulties:

  • Finding out about craft fairs to sell at - if you do not tell others about your crafts you will not be in the loop for information.
  • When you go to a fair you maybe don't find many people stopping at your table - if you 'hide' behind your crafts, do not talk to people, focus on whatever is on your mobile phone screen or only talk to other stall holders you might as well have a shop closed sign hanging in front of your table.
  • Pricing problems - This is a huge area for craft artists and one most people stumble with at some point.  For now i will just say if you do not value your own products then others will not value them either.  Many people make the mistake of under-pricing because they are shy about their own work - this can lead to a whole host of problems which i will talk about in another post as this is such an important area.
  • Workload issues - you can find the feast or famine cycle coming into play more often because of random spurts of promotion or being scared to turn down work in case you never get any more.
  • Reputation - for many reasons a Shy Suzie can get a poor reputation - not valuing own work, not being able to manage the workload and finding difficulty with finishing and delivering products are the main ones.
  • Investment - Both money and time investments can be affected when you don't really believe in your own products, again setting up a cycle of difficulty.
  • Uniqueness - So many people who do not believe in their own products have difficulty in creativity and end up copying other peoples work.  It is one thing to seek inspiration and another thing entirely to replicate.

These are just some of the problems that can all stem from being shy about your work - some huge hurdles there aren't there? Ultimately the Shy Suzie will struggle so much with the business of crafting that they will get caught in a failure cycle - by this i mean they create an environment in which it is difficult to sell or maintain a business and so the belief that they are not good at what they do becomes more and more reinforced. 

There are however some very simple things that you can do if you are shy about promoting your work:

  • THE simplest and most effective method of over coming this problem is not to do it.  If you truly cannot promote your own work then the best way around this is to get someone else to do it for you.  This could be a friend, a family member or indeed an agent of some kind.  It does not need to be complicated or involve marketing skills BUT it does need to be someone who genuinely believes in your work.  Word of mouth is always the most effective promotion tool there is.  

  • Compare your work with similar products to gauge the price you are charging.  DO NOT get involved in the pricing war myth which suggests if you offer cheaper products you will sell more. 

  • Invest some time and effort into gaining honest feedback if you can - conduct market research activities even on a small scale with friends who will be honest and DO NOT base your assumptions on sales figures as these can be affected by many different things.

  • Take a course or workshop - this can be in business skills if you wish but often a workshop related to the products you make will increase your confidence and skills in making them, making promotion a lot easier than trying to learn complicated marketing strategies.

There are many more things you can do of course but these options provide a useful starting point.  Remember if you are a Shy Suzie this doesn't need to lead you down the vicious cycle of difficulty - it is about looking at methods of promotion that you can work with.  

I hope you have found this post helpful - feel free to leave me a comment :)    

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

What have you done today to boost your business?

Its funny the number of craft artists who believe they either don't run a business or it runs itself.  Don't get me wrong - most people do various 'things' to help get sales and orders such as attending craft fairs, uploading products onto selling sites, posting lots of photos of their makes on facebook - all that kind of thing! But is this what it means now to run a business?

Is this the crafting triangle for business?

Funny, when I asked the what have you done today question on my facebook page earlier today the most common answers were ....... uploading products onto selling sites, networking by liking facebook pages, sharing products online and sorting out displays/items for craft fair stalls.  Of course all of these things are important to do or no-one would be doing them - we cannot sell products that are not displayed in some way! We are also a rather sociable lot us crafters and so it not only makes sense for us to network but we enjoy it too ;)

At some point however i personally think it is important to stop what i am doing and really think about it.  By that i mean think about it as a business person - every single thing i do has some impact on my business, because by doing anything at all i am either giving time to my business or i am not. During the time given to my business i want to make sure i am doing something worthwhile so its important for me to really consider carefully how to spend my time each and every day.  Do i spend hours on facebook? yes i do! Do i spend hours taking photos and uploading products to my online shop? yes i do! Do i spend hours searching for craft fairs and other potential outlets? Yes i do! So after all these hours are spent when exactly do i make my products? Honestly? some days i just don't get round to it and i wonder what on earth i have been doing all day! Sound Familiar? If so its time to take a little walk down Strategy St and Marketing Ave......

In an attempt to make better use of my own time, and hopefully help a few of you focus on the 'right' kind of activities I have now added a business resources section to Craft Fair Central which i will be updating and adding to on a regular (hopefully weekly) basis.  I have completed training in concepts such as business planning, book keeping, forecasting, market research and of course marketing so i'm not just going to be pulling this information out of the air.  I have also sat on various business development groups and been involved in business planning and implementation in several of my jobs so now i just need to do it for myself and get my knowledge working for me (and you!).

I hope this new website section will prove extremely valuable to you and you will also enjoy following my own attempts at implementing them in this blog.

As much as i would love to be able to offer all this information completely free of charge i simply can't afford to spend a lot of my time on this when i could be making products or promoting my own items (Do you see what i did there???).  I will be offering a paid membership option to anyone who would like to get access to the information and am planning to also offer a further service of business coaching - Yes i am qualified in coaching as well!

I will keep the costs as low as i can as i simply don't like to exclude anyone from being able to benefit, and i will provide more information on these options shortly - i need to do some calculating LOL!

Until then, Happy Crafting!!

Progress So Far

Well it has been exactly 2 weeks since my last post, and the website Craft Fair Central has gone from strength to strength.  I have made a considerable amount of additions to it, and the site is no longer 'just' a craft fair calendar.  I have huge visions for the website and i am glad to say they are starting to come together :)

The main changes i have introduced include the addition of some extra calendars - there are now individual craft fair calendars for Northern Ireland, Southern Ireland and England.  The dates added to these are building up slowly but it is certainly starting to be 'the' place to go to check when fairs are happening :) I have started to get messages from people saying they were told I was the person to contact about fair dates! Hopefully this will soon change to the website is the place to check these :)

I have also added a workshops and classes calendar - Again this has started to be used and i have seen other people directing people there to add their classes which i was delighted to see!

To increase the amount of resources on the site I have now added a tutorials section too - i have a few people submitting tutorials to be included now as well - i love the fact i can help to promote people i am in contact with on this section.  I will add some found tutorials as well as there are some really great ones out there :)

The selling section of the website is also growing now on a daily basis - we now have over 150 items listed for sale and 58 registered users.  There have been a few sales made on the site as well which is probably due to the amount of visitors we are getting:

The average number of visitors is sitting at around 100+ per day - i am so pleased to have this level of traffic already!! Of course i have been doing A LOT of promoting which does have something to do with it ;) 

We are getting people from all over the world as well:

All in all the site is well on target for where i want it to be.  I am working hard on it but i am enjoying seeing it grow into something useful for others.  Hopefully it is also turning into something that will become a viable business venture for me.