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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Saturday Spotlight - Day 69 Use What You've Got

Today is the first day of our school holidays. Two weeks with my girls! I'm really looking forward to spending some time with them - plenty planned in terms of projects at home!

And here's some inspiration from this week's Round Tuit:

First of all, some Halloween ideas. It's only a few weeks away now and definitely time to start crafting up a Halloween storm!




Plus - some great sewing projects!




Have a lovely weekend everyone !


Friday, September 19, 2014

Selling your creations - 30 Lessons in Blogging



If you make things, then an obvious income source for you is to sell your creations.  You can do this through your blog, or use your blog to promote your shop or market stall.

This is a topic I'm not so hot on. Selling isn't my strong point but is definitely something I should work on. I have tried selling both at markets and online, with a little success. So I'll share what I have learned.



Online markets and sales

The biggest and best known online market place is Etsy.
Here in Australia we have our own version - Madeit
DaWanda is another online marketplace. Their office is based in Germany.


You can also choose to sell things on your own blog or website and use something like e-junkie. I signed up for that when I was selling some tutorials for a while. For a flat $5 I could list up to 10 items and sell unlimited numbers of them.  It is a great service that allows you to add 'buy now' and 'add to cart' buttons to your site, takes care of the payments for you, and as I was selling PDF tutorials, it was all set up automatically so when someone bought a tutorial, it would automatically be made available for download to them when they had paid. It was very easy to use and I'd definitely recommend them and use them again myself.


My own selling experiences

I started out making and selling things a few years ago. The first things I made were baby play mats - with applique pictures on and lots of different textured fabrics:

I mostly made them for friends as gifts when they had new babies - but via word of mouth sold quite a few.
A little later I started selling things on a market stall with a friend.  I managed to cover my costs but not much more - I looked forward to market day as a chance to catch up with my friend more than anything!
I love making things, but setting up the market stall to look nice and sitting back was my extent of selling! Not very pro-active.

I've had both an etsy and a madeit shop but not sold anything through them. Again I set them up but never promoted them.

I also had a few tutorials up for sale for a while - but never sold many of them, and eventually changed them to free tutorials, adding them to my 100+ Free Sewing Tutorials here on the blog.

Earlier this year I helped my girls set up their own Junior Madeit shop selling upcycled denim inspirational bag tags.

 They've had a few sales - already more successful than me!! I promoted their shop on my blog. I find it easier to promote other people's sales than my own!!

I do currently have a madeit shop of my own which has a few items in, but haven't yet got around to promoting it or really working on it.



My plan

I'm slowly building up a stock of handmade items for sale, and I plan to take some time to revamp my shop or open one on Etsy - but only when I feel I have time to dedicate to it.

As with everything else I've learned with blogging and working online, 

the key is to learn and be persistent and consistent with your actions.

So this is a post that I will return to later in the year once I've spent time learning about selling my creations on line and promoting my shop!

I'm also working on a detailed tutorial / ebook  just now that I hope to release for sale soon. I'm working hard to make it real value for money and something that I myself would buy.  I'm going to research and learn about selling before it gets released, so hopefully after that I'll be able to share more useful information about selling your own creations!


How about you?

Do you sell your own creations - either through your blog or another market place?
How do you promote your sales?

Pattern Testers anyone? Day 68 - Use What You've Got



I've been working hard on a project/tutorial/e-book idea that's been in my head for a couple of years now. My current use what you've got challenge has given me the final push to get it done!


I'm now at the exciting stage of being happy with my pattern/tutorial. Now I just want to see if there's anyone out there who would like to test the pattern/tutorial for me before it gets published.

This is my biggest ever sewing project/tutorial and is going to be one that I'll put up for sale so I want to make sure of everything!

So - if you are a sewer - and would like to test out my new pattern/tutorial - it involves upcycling a pair of jeans, and is a kind of bag. That's as much as I'm giving away so far.

Please let me know if you're interested. Either leave a comment here with your contact details, or email me direct :

jillinamillion@y7mail.com

Thank you!!!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Partnerships and Projects with other Bloggers - 30 Lessons in Blogging



One way to get greater exposure for your blog - and create new blog friendships is to work with other bloggers on joint projects.
I've done this a few times with varying success and lots of learning!


Linky Parties

Many of the linky parties that are around are hosted by several different bloggers at the same time across all of their blogs. This means the linky is exposed to all the readers of all the blogs - and you can see this reflected in the number of links.  I have had people ask me if I'd like to have co-hosts for my own 
Round Tuit linky party but I'm happy to just keep that as my own.
To work with others may get more links to your party, but not necessarily more visits to your blog. People are linking up through different blogs - then visiting the links. There is little incentive for them to visit the other linky hosts.  I don't see this as being a way to bring more traffic to your blog.



Special Occasions

A couple of years ago I joined with 4 other bloggers to run a Christmas series.  We had a Christmas linky party ongoing for 4 weeks and every day a different project was highlighted on one of our blogs. All the hosts also featured each other on their blogs - and linked to each other to showcase all the features.
This worked well as we all did different things and at different times so each day was a different blog to focus on and send all the traffic to.  It did take a lot of organising for who would be posting what on which days, but if you get a good group of people who are reliable and communicate well, this can be a great way to team up with others.


Creating Success Around the World

This was a project I set up a few years ago that ran for a long time but never really took off.  I love the fact that bloggers are found all over the world and we are all connected by our interests and crafts.  I wanted to highlight this by having a weekly linky party hosted by one blogger on each continent. The idea was that each week we would feature a different blogger and what they made, showing a map too of where in the world they were. Then other creative blogs from around the world could link up and we'd all discover new worldwide blogs and friends.
There were some wonderful bloggers joined me in hosting over the couple of years this ran, and we did succeed in showcasing lots of bloggers and crafters from around the world.
In the end it was more work than it was worth.
It was sometimes hard to find people to feature each week, organise them to answer some questions and send some pictures, and to get it all done on a schedule.
Then there was co-ordinating with all the other hosts to send them the post too and schedule the times in different zones around the world.
If you're interested - I have a page here with links to some of the features we ran.



What I've learned

Partnerships with other bloggers can be both fun and beneficial to your blogs, but you have to remember these key points

  • All bloggers involved need to communicate well and be reliable in terms of sending info and posts through in good time, and publishing posts on time.

  • If your aim is increased traffic, then there needs to be an incentive to visit the other hosts' blogs. For example take turns posting things and link to the other blogs - or each host can post a follow on post from the other - part 1, 2. 3... etc.

  • You need to have a purpose to working together - a special occasion or season perhaps.

  • Be aware of time differences - blogs can be found all over the world, and for you Tuesday morning, might be Wednesday night for someone else!




How about you?

Have you ever worked with other bloggers?
What have you found worked or didn't work?

Willpower! - Day 67, Use What You've Got

In this 100 day challenge I've set myself to 'Use What I've Got" I've decided that I need to start using my willpower more.


This year I've really been pushing myself to keep exercising lots and have felt fitter and healthier than ever.  I'm running faster and stronger than ever before and earlier this year I dropped a few kilos too which was a nice by product of all my hard work.  


A winter cold

However - over the past couple of months I was sick, then had a lingering irritating cough and blocked sinuses which meant I cut back on my exercise lots - and ate a lot more comfort food.  The weight has crept back and my fitness levels have dropped.


All better now!

Yesterday I went for a run and for the first time in weeks I didn't cough once during it. I pushed hard and was exhausted at the end but it felt good.

I have a half marathon that I'm training for coming up in just over 7 weeks time, so I've decided it's time to get back into some full on training and being a bit more careful with what I eat.



My weakness

I may have a strong will when it comes to pushing myself to exercise - run and workout. But when it comes to food, I'm not so strong.

Working from home - I can grab a snack so easily whenever I want - and frequently do throughout the day!


I also love to bake - and we almost always have home-baked cakes and cookies in the house.  I'm also guilty of licking the bowls out after I've mixed the cakes and taste-tasting the cookies etc when they come out of the oven.

So - here's where my willpower comes in.

I need to stop all the unnecessary snacking - especially when I bake.

Yesterday and today I baked cakes and managed to rinse the bowls and put them in the dishwasher without even a tiny taste of the cake or cookie mixture first.

I'm trying very hard to snack on better things, like some fresh pineapple.


And drinking plenty of water - often spiced up with some lemon ice-cubes.


A healthy weight

I'm not overweight but I'm right at the top end of the scale of what is healthy for my height.   I've never been overly concerned about my weight - preferring to concentrate on feeling fit and healthy. Exercising regularly and trying to eat well.
However I am a little over what I usually weigh and can feel my clothes are a bit tight!

I'm also aware that losing a few kilos would make running a bit easier for my body - and faster too, so that's an added incentive to work that willpower when it comes to food from now on!



So there - I've put it out there.
I weigh 69kg now, but should be much closer to 60kg than 70kg!  

I need to learn to cut smaller pieces of cake!!

What's your weakness?
Do you have a willpower? Do you use it much?


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Newsletters and subscriber lists - 30 Lessons In Blogging



Once you have an established blog, a newsletter is a great way to engage your readers.  People come to read your blog in lots of different ways. Some subscribe by email, others follow on Bloglovin', some just follow on social media and go through the links of posts you share. Then there are others who are content to receive a regular newsletter - be it weekly, monthly or however regularly you wish to send it.

I started my newsletter about 3 years ago using Mailchimp. This newsletter service is free if you have less than 2000 subscribers and you can send up to 12000 emails a month, which easily allows for a weekly letter.

There are other newsletter services you can use some are free, others you pay for, but since this is the only one I've used and am very happy with it - it's the only one I can comment on.


Set up

I found Mailchimp very easy to set up my account and the sign up forms etc.  I have my newsletter sign up in the sidebar of my blog with this image:

I've chosen to offer 3 free tutorials only to my subscribers as an incentive to sign up!
Mail chimp has clear instructions for you to set up this sign up form, and subsequent forms for confirmation and final receipt of any free gifts you may offer on sign up. I just had to set this up once and it just runs by itself now.



How often to send a newsletter?

Up until the end of last year when I took a step back from blogging, I would send a newsletter out every week on Monday morning as my weekly linky party started. 

I used one of the templates available on Mailchimp to set up a newsletter that had a similar look to my blog. Pictures, with links to the previous week's posts and a chatty intro each week.

Then when I took a step back, I didn't send any newsletters at all for several weeks.

Once I was back into the swing of blogging and finding my direction again, I started up my newsletters once more but now they only go out monthly.

Weekly or monthly doesn't seem to make any real difference so far as I can see from my stats. Taking a break hasn't seemed to really effect things either!


Check the figures

For each newsletter you send out, you can check on your mailchimp dashboard how many people opened the mail and which links they clicked on. 

For me - on average about 30% of my subscribers open my newsletters and around 10% click on the links.  Mailchimp tells me this is about average for my blog topic!

You can compare each newsletter you send to see what people are interested in and what they're not.  The subject of the newsletter can make a difference too!  I generally keep mine much the same - something like "What's new at Creating My Way To Success". But occasionally - just to grab interest "New Free Tutorial!" or something that highlights a great post or a special event can be good too.


Unsubscribers

More or less every newsletter I send up results in a few unsubscribes. I always feel a little twinge of sadness but I know not everyone actually wants the newsletter and some just sign up for the free gift.  You have to learn to not worry about those who unsubscribe and focus on keeping those who actually read your newsletters happy!  


A way to sell

A loyal newsletter subscriber list is a great thing to have if you sell your creations, e-books or tutorials.  

It's a good idea to offer people who subscribe to your newsletters a free gift that is similar to the things you sell. That way it's like a free sample of your work, and if they like it, they are more likely to buy more.


How about you?

Do you have a newsletter for your blog?
Are there any services other than Mailchimp that you can recommend?
Do you subscribe to any newsletters yourself? and if so, what do you like or dislike about them?


How to make a Fabric Headband - Day 66, Use What You've Got



Here's another of the tutorials I made for my girls to learn to sew.  This one is for making a Fabric Headband or Hairband, whichever you like to call it!
They have a fabric yo-yo added to them for a little decoration. The fabric yo-yo tutorial is here.



Again it's designed to be followed by kids so they can try to sew something all by themselves without an adult needing to help (so long as you're happy with them using your machine unassisted!).

You can download the free PDF tutorial here.


I'll be linking this post to many of the fabulous linky parties whose pretty buttons can be found on the bottom of this page and whose direct links can be found on my linky party page.
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