That was a bit harsh! Advice to craftspeople

judge Judy

I like responding to comments  but sometimes I get a bit carried away

Here is a round-up of this year’s crop


” Your website is so eerie, everyone seems to have left, just one or two overlooked products have stayed behind. It’s partly the design, which is über clinical, but there is no trace of warmth, or a human being anywhere. Most new makers are over chatty but you are totally absent.”


 “I would like you to rethink your About the Artist. Without meaning to it is carries a sad little parade: cancer, stroke, death, caring for elderly parents. This is not the place for that, I want to believe in you as a craftswoman, passionate and knowledgable about your work”


“I looked at your website and it needs to be sharpened. At the moment it is a bit like holding a slippery fish. It is hard to be quite sure what you are offering.”


“O Blank, I think you might have defeated me. You are so muddled! You have even driven me to use an exclamation mark .”


 “Don’t sell wholesale at all. You can’t afford to. If you don’t make a sensible profit DO NOT SELL. All you are doing is enabling that business to take your profit. I thought slavery was dead but clearly not, its ideals are alive and kicking in your bit of London.”


“I think you are suffering from Potter’s Syndrome, something I’ve come across before. The patient is so deeply in love with the creative process and that moment when the kiln door is opened and his children emerge, that everything else is relegated. Potters pot to pot, not to make money and that is disastrous.”


“You seem to have spawned the most gigantic tarantula which has sprawled all over the web, links to you seem to mean links to another of your websites, it’s all so hopeless and baffling.” (arachnophobes thank me, no picture of a tarantula as I am merciful)


Also never waste your viewer’s time. I clicked through on New book project to be greeted by
 This is my book project and I will be updating this space soon… Priority this evening is to work on some of the other parts of the website so please check back later for more on this space and this project!
 Blessings abound! 
Blessings don’t abound, you have just treated my time as less important than yours. Don’t make a link live, until there is something there.”


“You are selling Cards and Candles but there is so much superfluous material here I have to concentrate really hard. What is the colour chakras stuff doing there? Frankly what on earth are you talking about? Then the essential oils section, (which you don’t sell) why is that there? I came to buy a card, or perhaps a candle and you seem intent on telling me what illness it is associated with WHY?”

english 2

“A couple of comments on your descriptions. Don’t address negatives such as doesn’t stand alone, just make it evident from the pictures. Also get rid of that awful “Thank you for stopping by” Be very, very English, not mid Atlantic and that is so redolent of the expectation of their not buying”.


“I feel you are pouring all this family stuff, wit, and new projects at me and I would just like to see what you want to sell me. You need to justify every single word of text not pour it merrily over everything as if it’s a jug of cream. Cream is great but please make very clear whats underneath.”


“Don’t tell me its machine embroidered or that it’s not pure cotton and certainly not that its smoke free and pet free. They are all negatives. You think the last, smoke free and pet free are positive, but the idea of smoking and cat hairs are negative. If people have extreme allergies they can check with you.

Its equivalent of a baker having a notice up saying I made this with clean hands.”


All too negative? Not always, read this bit

 Perfect. Completely and utterly perfect.

On message all the way through. Friendly, enthusiastic, completely confident, visually interesting.

I wanted to stay and explore, I wanted to wander off anywhere you chose to send me. Good pricing, Loved the gentle messages saying how much work you have “Your personalised goodies are taking 4 weeks” Completely unified product, if I see one of your pieces I would know its yours.

What can I say? Apart from “I resign, you take over.”

So for 2012’s bits of advice that helped… You are welcome

For any comments that upset… I am really sorry,

 For all the smiles you cracked I  grinned too 

For the future… here goes


Its going to be tricky…

101 thoughts on “That was a bit harsh! Advice to craftspeople

  1. Alex Snowdon (@alex_snowdon) says:

    Thanks for clarifying that for me Dixie. I like the idea of creating something just to please myself : ) Having spent the majority of my career as a graphic designer it’s a hard one to get my head around, the complete opposite of what I’m used to in fact, but I’m willing to give it a go. It’ll be interesting to see what comes out, and as you say, it’ll also help people to see the person behind the art, and as someone to potentially invest in.

    Thanks again for your help!

    • Dixie Nichols says:

      Dawn Happy Birthday. Now you are a certain age it is time to take yourself seriously

      Please redo your meet the maker and make it more professional. Its really off putting I am sure you wanted to be chatty but it is just too amateur. Your cards are nothing to do with your age, your children or your other job, here you are a craftswoman and a designer.

      In your descriptions don’t tell me anything I can see for myself from the image and do tell me exactly what is in the card. What does this mean “A basic greeting on an insert has been put inside to complete the card” What is a basic greeting? and if there is a verse inside you must tell me what it says, not just that it is a verse. Also you don’t tell me anything about the envelope is there one?

      Surely it is unwise to put the date you made each card as that shows how long it has sat in the shop.

    • Dixie Nichols says:

      Anna no need for fear at all, seems to me a confident shop, which knows its business.

      I think you are verging on the clinical in your photographs and the harsh surfaces become a bit tiring. I understand why you don’t want to model all the earrings but just a picture to show the drop would help me decide to buy. Jewellery photographed against skin helps with the idea of buying, its saying when you wear this, it will look like this. Its important to make it look attainable.

      I wonder if making the items searchable by colour would produce a more engaging grouping as I like the sold section as it is visually more varied.

      I also feel that if silver hangers only cost £2 extra on the fused glass drops put them on routinely as it says something about the quality of what you are selling.

      I think you should be quietly nudging your lower prices up as you are selling right across the spectrum.

      • Anna King says:

        Hi Dixie,

        I think you are probably right about categorizing my items into colours. Beneficially, this would also allow customers to easily find matching items.

        I think it would be good to have photos of the earrings being worn. It’s just a bit trickier logistically. I shall try and work something out.

        I have plenty to think about.

        Thank you for taking the time to give me some feedback and ideas.


        P.S. I shall keep an eye on your blog. You seem to have a different perspective to the norm.

  2. Becky Harris Cowley says:

    Hi Dixie, I’ve been looking at a lot of your comments on Folksy and would really appreciate it if you could cast a critical eye over my shop please ( I’ve neglected it for a while but have been trying to sort it out, any advice gratefully received. I also have a website at and am in the process of changing it so any opinions there would also be great.

    Many thanks


    • Dixie Nichols says:

      Your main problem is you have very disparate product so the website and your Folksy store dont fit the product properly and they can’t as its all so different. My advice is work out your best sellers in the last year and see if that gives you any cohesion, you can drop the odd ok selling product if it doesn’t fit. You should not just consider how many of each thing sold but what the profit is. Also take the chance to review your prices.

      The more unity the easier it is to sell. You have to be brutal and no cheaping things off that dont fit. Read before you do.

      You need to make your own website far more upmarket to get better prices and ruthlessly edit. What I do like is the way I can see all the glassware on one page before you click for individual items that means I can swiftly find what I like but often its not there to buy. Price everything even if it is sold. It makes it seem like a missed opportunity rather than a dead-end. You have to get a online shop on your website otherwise what am I getting from it?

      In terms of product why don’t you sandblast your tealight holders with a single letter so that people can arrange them to write what they want, it would mean multiple sales. Maybe even some numbers as well, I haven’t seen that done What do you think?
      Also some with arrows useful for directing guests. Maybe some with the word welcome. What you are really looking for is some core products that you build your own website for.

    • Dixie Nichols says:

      I imagine you have two good little businesses there, especially the party one.

      The party one is dressed up as an instant cheapy, which means you will miss some of the Private school circuit. There is probably a parallel market there with same goods, different website, higher margins.

      The one overwhelming thing missing is a picture of you. Would you let a woman ( however CRB checked) roll up at your daughter’s party who you had never even seen a picture of? I really wouldn’t. I would also note that you have a business address not a private one so I have no proper hold on you. Share a bit and if you have daughters say so. You could have written every word that other parents say, of course you didn’t, but when you give a party you are always over cautious fearing other parents’ disapproval if things go wrong.

      On your pearl site for heavens sake get rid of the Ratner pricing they are handmade. Nothing in handmade is an odd amount. £14.99 is a chain store price, handmade is £15.00.

      Your landing page on the pearls is over worded- cut all non essential text to ensure that the essential bits get read. You only need paragraph one there, the rest is fluff. Also and this is always my preference, one heart stopping collection picture, not a slide show, otherwise you are using up precious time on a non selling page.

      In passing I wonder how many people think this business Love:Divine is religious especially the Americans.

      • Amanda Kavanagh says:

        Thank you Dixie, I love your no-nonsense approach! To respond to the one point you made that irked me some – the party website is not a instant cheapy as you so rudely put it(!) Most of my parties are for private school children! (and the website was not instant, took me an absolute age to get it where it is).

        Duly noted re the picture of me – I despise having my photo taken but understand the thinking on this one and will brave the camera!

        My address on the website is my home address, not a business address, I live on the high street in a beautiful little village.
        (think the next bit in the paragraph is muddled as couldn’t understand what you meant about having daughter’s say so?)
        The comments from parents all entirely real as they have been emailed or written on a feedback card. but I see your point that I could have made them up!

        On to LD – re the pricing, you made me laugh so hard out loud! But you are absolutely right and I am amending them today. I did the .99p at the end more to be inline with shops and the thinking that it ‘sounds’ cheaper to buy something for £24.99 instead £25 – but I agree with you and will change them.

        I shall re-arrange the front page as i haven’t been happy with it for a while – choosing one photo will be hard (hence the slideshow) and I shall cut down on the fluff (I always find writing the fluff bits hard anyway!)

        Having researched the love:divine name, I find its a church song (I am totally not religious and I don’t think I have ever been to church so didn’t know this! should have researched name better, my bad!) Unfortunately I cannot afford the expense right now of changing it, and then trying to seo again, nightmare – so it stays as is I’m afraid – the religious people that look at my site will hopefully just like the sparkles anyway, and then move on to what they were looking for (but they will remember!) I have a good mix of sales in this country and in the US so you never know, I might just have piggybacked on the name in the google search system!

        Thanks Dixie, much appreciated!
        Amanda x

      • Amanda Kavanagh says:

        I have now changed the front page of the pearl jewellery website – to your liking I hope :) Nice big eye-catching photo and lost the fluff. I must admit it looks a lot cleaner now. I have also changed the prices too.
        Now for putting a few more designs up today, hot off my hands!
        Thanks Dixie, really appreciate the thoughts.

      • Dixie Nichols says:

        Your Love Divine Site now looks wonderful, well done.

        On the Party site I think you miss read my comment on it being an instant cheapy. I meant that you had deliberately made it look very affordable and I think there is more to be made by making it look a bit more aspirational as so many mothers like to out do each other on the party front. Didn’t mean to suggest it was a quick cheap website I was talking about how you had positioned it.

        The muddled bit about if you have daughters say so was trying to say put a bit more in about who you are to help mothers want you to come and run their child’s party treat.

        I agree its too late to change your name but you could add Love Divine Pearls or Love Divine Bling perhaps with out loosing your placing

      • Anonymous says:

        Oh Dixie, I did totally misread you, so sorry ;)
        I have ‘poshed’ it up a bit – what do you think now? I am planning to do some new photos to make them stand out better, and add an about me page, just trying to get a shot of myself that I feel comfortable with!
        Thanks re Love:Divine comment – I am so much happier wit how it looks now!

      • Dixie Nichols says:

        Yes the party home page is much gentler I think it will have a wider pull than the one before. Well done.
        One of the ways to get a natural photo is to video yourself and take a still from that. It means you feel less foolish. I feel the same as you do about photos.

    • Amanda Kavanagh says:

      Hi Dixie
      Just wanted to update you – the overwhelming missing bit is now not missing! A whole page about me including the all important photo (now that’s the one bit I will cry at if you are too harsh – I hate taking my photo!) by all means criticise the writing part!!
      I have tweaked a lot of things on this site and am now feeling like it is a proper business and your kick up the bum has given me the confidence to really go for it this year and make this business the best it can be.
      My other site Love Divine is still going and has had some great photoshoots which has totally changed the feel of the site
      So onwards and upwards!
      THANK YOU Dixie!!
      Mandy x

    • Dixie Nichols says:

      Emma your sales are dropping as your website is no longer fashionable and your products are also begining to need a injection of now. You need to get a young designer to come in and make you over as you have let things slip away.

      Have a really careful think about what you want to do as the whole offer feels like something that the designer has fallen a bit out of love with. If that is the reality then stop now as you will start to really loose money. These businesses need a lot of love and energy from their creator if you dont feel that way any more step away and put down your gun.

      • Emma Rogerson says:

        Well i asked for honest ! Although I reaching for the wine, I totally agree my product range needs some newness but I’d be interested to know if you believe any of my range can cut it? Why do I put myself up for this slaughter you ask? I have a couple of gems in there that sell again and again. Do I build on them or move on with a new look?

      • Dixie Nichols says:

        Emma , I bet it needed a glass or two of wine, I’m sorry, I knew it was a bit bald but sometimes bald helps more. Also I really did think you had to decide if continuing was what you actually wanted to do.

        I think cut down to the core gems and display only those and start to work on a really new product and sell that face to face only, until you know its right and sells. Then relaunch your site with a more of the moment look majoring on the new product.

    • Dixie Nichols says:

      Katie it is the right place to ask. Because Folksy does not present your work by collections it all looks a bit disparate. My feeling is you are inventive but have not yet really found your regularly selling product so you are still moving about trying to find it. Your site is fine, but it lacks VaVa Voom for example your profile doesn’t commit to anything :

      “I make unique modern crocheted jewellery and accessories. My Nan taught me to crochet at an early age and I’ve had a passion for it ever since. My products are handmade using a range of different yarns and embellishments. I take inspiration from anywhere. I start off with a theme and my work progresses from there. I also take customer orders to make a bespoke piece just for you.”

      You just seem determined not to give anything away. You need a bit of attitude and a strong product that simply couldn’t be found any where else I should see a piece of your work and immediately recognise it as by you. You are in an overcrowded segment in an overcrowded craft You have to take risks to survive.

      Could you read this on sales because I am sure yours is just harming you

      • Katie Morton says:

        wow, you are like a psychologist! you have got it spot on. you should be getting paid millions for your insights!
        I am trying to find what people like. I wanted my products to be unique, modern, quirky with an edge which I tried to portray in my first collection. However when I thought I would do a collection Candy Girl which had things for children in as I noticed people seem attracted to things for babies and that are cute. I’m trying to find what people want.
        I read somewhere to stick to what you love and be true to yourself. Then I read you should do go with what the market wants.
        I know my profile seems a bit boring- I mean most people who crochet learnt from their Nan’s when they were young :)
        A few years ago I had a difficult personal life and its made me not ‘give much away’. I guess I’m afraid to add to much personality to my profile for fear people will not like it.
        My first collection was inspired by a beautiful picture I took of my two boys on Scarborough beach. They are giving each other the biggest hug with the sea behind them. Its portrays the love between them and really touches my heart. However in my description of the inspiration I just mention the sky and the sea as I don’t want to waffle on about my kids as I this may be boring to people.
        I’m not very good at expressing myself through written words but I been going through my shop elaborating on the descriptions as they were a bit basic.

        Thank you for your taking the time to look at my shop. It’s really appreciated

        Katie x

      • Dixie Nichols says:

        Katie in handmade you need to sell yourself alongside your work as its all about buying something created by an individual rather than a machine. If you are too impersonal you lose out.

        If you reveal yourself a bit more some people will be attracted and some won’t, but thats better than not even being noticed.

        People are looking for different.

      • Dixie Nichols says:

        Yes definitely getting better. But just cut the first paragraph of your meet the maker and kill that “unique” in Crocheted jewellery and flowers.

        Next move is I think to organise into collections as you have two themes in there one the bright coloured pieces could be Caribbean or Sunshine or something like that and the other could be Nautical. If you do it that way you will loose the clashes of product.

        But your prices are hopeless The major piece like the bib necklace one has 12 elements, you charge £12 for a brooch which is perhaps twice as elaborate as each element so you have to charge at £6 per element so that’s £72. I know why you dont because you fear it wont sell as its “too much” so dont make it then, or make it and price it properly as it still does good as a non seller as it makes a statement about the value of your work.

        If you undervalue yourself what do you think your customer will do?

        You have some little felt heart tags on the flowers take those off and sell a range separately You are on to something with those. People will buy to attach to other gifts I suggest £4 post free on those and custom made with customer’s message so many words £6 post free.

        You need dimensions on things like the brooches which are beautifully photographed and photo all rings on fingers.

        Keep coming back as you move on for feedback if it helps.

    • Katie Morton says:

      Hi Dixie. I’m working on the comments that you have made. Thank you again. I have come here with a question as I know you will be honest.

      I had a lady comment on my facebook page about my crochet flowers. This is what she put:
      ’Yes they are very nice but very pricey, for all the wool I have I could be a millionnaire if i made these!! Lol !! Not that hard either to make when you know how!! ’

      It upset my quite a bit but I understand everyone has an opinion.
      Its takes me 3-4 hours to make one and I haven’t included the cost of materials in my price. I use
      2ply cotton
      4ply cotton

      The stems and leaves are all wired so they can be bent into the desired position.
      I have had orders for them so far.
      Do you think I have priced them wrong?

      Thank you,


      • Dixie Nichols says:

        I think that woman is a stupid old bat and so did everyone else that read her comment. Lots of people with issues out there, my advice is never back down. Say something like
        ” I know just how you feel, I have a lot of oil paint and I would be a millionaire if only I knew how to do a Picasso”
        Your prices are fine you have no need to worry

      • Katie Morton says:

        Thank you. I wish I had put that about the paint. That’s brilliant!
        The next day she had put a few more comments in response to other people but then she deleted all her comments and removed herself from my page. I’m glad because I wanted to do that myself but felt abit rude.

      • Dixie Nichols says:

        Katie I wish I had answered earlier . It worked out rather well for you as it stirred up the faithful in your defence. I dont think deleting her comment would have been rude if a drunk kicks off in a pub he is removed, its not personal, its just you cant expect to remain if you behave a certain way.

  3. Lisa says:

    Dixie, thank you so much! This is what you said about Rag Baby
    “Ragbaby Here we go again then. Thank you for being so patient.

    Split your sites crochet one place, cards another. They are united by a single maker which is not enough. Keeping them together makes it too Jumble saley

    Cards: The old Annual wheeze is a good one but dont tell the world, just present the cards one picture one card, if sold in pairs they should be dissimilar from the same source not similar ( its harder to place two cards almost the same as need two recipients) Are they fold over traditional cards or one sheet stand ups? I cant tell Tell people inside message or blank

    I think the anti Valentines card is a great concept and we all know girlfriends who would appreciate them but you cant mix them with the romantic ones just go on the edge – all antis

    Photographs: dressmakers dummies wearing only a neck warmer in a Winter’s back garden look weird and sinister and very very chilly Shoot outdoors by all means but dont let it look like it. Use back sheets to cut out the view. Nothing more depressing than out of season shots which show how stuff has languished unsold

    Crochet kits Good idea but make your colours less resistible and watch those before the click though headlines it should not be Crochet Gran but Learn to crochet kit

    Recycle Believer Yes we know but good up cycling means we should not be able to guess that is what it is. Maybe I am not a True Believer but to know that my neck warmer was a second hand jumper so manky you unravelled it does not make me feel elegant. Bang the recycle tambourine on your blog not in your shop Of course say up cycled but not the gory details.

    I will explain better: Every year I go at the end of the summer to Spitalfields market and buy a handful of cashmere jumpers for my cold house Winter. My daughter thought she would buy one as a present for a friend. I told her which stalls but when she saw she just couldn’t stomach it. Lots of people approve of recycle while being queasy about the realities. Those jumpers were fine in my drawer but not on the second hand clothes rail.

    Your product is a bit hither and thither as you haven’t found the thing that churns the money Drop anything that you know doesn’t sell from your site ( its no loss it doesn’t sell) that will help tidy it up and make you feel more positive about your offer. Also revisit all your product headlines and text and take out every single word that tells the reader something she can see from the photo.

    Reconsider your name I dont pay money for rags. The look has to be cool and clean to counteract the negative associations with recycled.

    Get a big black marker and a sheet of cardboard ( shirt packaging just right) and write this word on it and stick it up in your work area

    It took me a few days to recover from that and I slumped a bit but I needed to hear it. I had a very very good think and got some help and ideas from the Folksy forum and from friends. I’ve totally rebranded. The anti valentines cards are flying out so I’ve made the whole site a lot darker and I’m using the blog properly now. I still have to go through the folksy stock and get rid of anything out of season or not good enough but most everything fits well now into my new brand -which has the tag line ‘Rags to riches for alternative bitches’. Somewhat different to the cute Rag Babies :-) I just wanted to say thanks – you done good.

    • Dixie Nichols says:

      Lisa you are a star! I know I nearly finished you off and was just brushing down my black garb for the coroner’s court Then ..THEN you bounced back with attitude and I love it.

      I want you to ditch everything but those alternative Valentines cards which are MONEY- MAKING- LAUGH- OUT- LOUD- I -WANT- ONE -GOOD.

      I love the steam punk Goth re brand. If you wont ditch the crochet get out your black shinny paint to renovate your mannequins, wouldn’t mind some dripping blood or decoupage them with Goth images, then re photo the crochet stuff and we have a party!

      So many well dones!

  4. snowdondesignandcraft says:

    Hi Dixie,

    I love your blog and your brilliant advice and was wondering if you could take a look at my website and product range? My website currently outlines the basics with a link to my Etsy shop. There are plans in the pipeline for a new website / blog / shop combo.

    I started selling on Etsy in 2009 fitting it in around my day job and went full time almost a year ago. Initially I was selling hand printed tote bags (which are still my best selling items) but in the last 6 months I’ve branched out into art prints, I love doing them, they are more profitable than the tote bags and so far they have sold reasonably well.

    I’m just wondering if my product range is now too diverse, do cotton tote bags look OK sold alongside art prints? Should I have a separate shop for each? I would love your advice…I’m taking a deep breath!

    Thanks in advance, Alex.

    • Dixie Nichols says:

      Interesting Alex. The short answer is yes you need to separate them art prints should not share with other products.

      You have a really good list of stockists. My instinct on this is take all the non art print products off all your web places and stop direct selling them and make that a wholesale business.

      It simplifies your marketing time to do that and cuts out the retail customer servicing on what are your lower end products. In the longer term look for a part time assistant to handle the production of those items.

      Obviously that depends on a really sensible profitable wholesale price. If you go that route you need to make sure you regularly invent new product for this part of the business and trial it though your outlets. Otherwise these sales will die off in time.You will probably also need to do a trade show each year to keep your retail outlets fresh.

      I know this is a bold step but it will free time to build the art prints and will allow you to create a online print gallery exclusively selling the small pieces you do now.

      I suggest you also do some private pieces which you do as a really short run at enormous prices these will make the smaller ones look inexpensive but will give buyers a sense that they are investing in an artist rather than buying something to decorate a wall.I would use your own name for the art prints and use your existing name for the other products

      I can see that this will probably mean a short term loss of income as you must make a lot more on selling direct but it leads you to spending a lot of servicing time which you could save. However as long as you can cope with a dip for a little bit it should put you in a better place and it is a way of going in two directions at once commercialising the products and arting* the prints so you have gambled each way.

      What do you think?

      * New word and very useful

      • Alex Snowdon (@alex_snowdon) says:

        Hi Dixie,

        Sorry it’s taken so long for me to come back to you with a proper reply, you gave me a lot to think about!

        I agree with your thoughts on separating the prints from the bags across my web spaces and only selling them wholesale, but the thought of doing that scares me a little. I think will be a good move in the long term though, but for financial reasons I’m going to need to do it more gradually, starting by opening a separate Etsy shop for the art prints.

        With regards to the art prints, I’m intrigued by your idea of doing some private pieces at bigger prices, could you clarify what you mean by ‘private’ pieces?

        Thanks for the advice Dixie, I’m very grateful!

      • Dixie Nichols says:

        Pieces that you make to please yourself not deliberately aimed at a customer. Ones that take as much time to make as you please with the expectation that you will price up the result. You can not move in the art direction without forgeting the customer while you create.

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