About this blog

Handmade  Lives is somewhere for craftspeople  to reflect on how things are going.

This is for the  craftsperson who simply wants to make a living out of their craft.

It is aimed at the UK because that is what I know about.

You can ask for some direct advice in the  comments  of each post.

Honest directed feedback is perhaps the most useful tool in getting things right

If you want a proper, private review consider a £30 mentoring session

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I can help you see what you need to do

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But then its up to you to save yourself

The WRITER

Writing laptop

I run my own creative business as did my father whose work I still sell , the story of that enterprise is here 

I have ten years experience of feature writing for national newspapers and magazines and way before that, in the dim employed years, marketing and publicity.

I am not an expert but I am not a fool either and I have been around the block. I am bossy and nosey which means I am more than happy to tell everybody what to do. I think I am good at it but you need to take a look and see what you think. I  put the emotional and practical together which makes my interventions more useful.

It is always easier to see whats wrong from the outside, the difficulty lies in getting someone to tell you.

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I dish out instructions to realise I need to sort that in my own enterprise, everybody’s business should be a project in progress: conditions, fashions,  markets, tools constantly change, you have to ride the wave, keep your focus and your balance.

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It’s not easy and it can be lonely and frustrating

You are lucky because I have decided to help

Handmade Lives  is also on  Facebook

with lots of extra material and discussion

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11 thoughts on “About this blog

  1. Barrie Dale says:

    From Barrie Dale, barrie@wildhaven.co.uk, barriedalesa@gmail.com.

    Thanks for all your help, Dixie. You have made me think much harder about what, precisely, I am expecting my website to do. People are often led to believe that the mere possession of a website is a big ‘plus’. You have shown me that it is only a ‘plus’ if it actually delivers what is being asked of it.

    My next step, is going to be very difficult, and only I can take it. You have forced me back onto my own resources, where I belong. Thank you.

    • Dixie Nichols says:

      Trouble with getting an outside perspective is it leads to lots of thinking and changing things around ie lots more work to do. Unfortuately its only beyond that work that you can reap any benefit from the process.
      You begin with the considerable advantage of a very good product I enjoyed trying to help

      • Barrie Dale says:

        Hi Dixie,
        Second thoughts on our conversation last Friday; if I had to say what I was doing at the launch of my website, it would be ‘trying to establish a Unique Selling Point’, although I might not have formulated it that way at the time. And if I had to say why I didn’t have a simple ‘Buy’ button it would have been that I thought that anybody contemplating the sort of money I was asking for would have wanted to speak directly to me first. Hence the ‘Contact’ button.

        Barrie Dale, barrie@wildhaven.co.uk

      • Dixie Nichols says:

        Barrie talking to you will not matter to a buyer they could want to see the photos in the flesh first but photos reproduce particularly well online so I think that isn’t much of an issue. All art has a USP or else it’s not art.

  2. Laura says:

    Hi Dixie,

    l have the opposite problem of the lady above. l am not getting the best of views for my Etsy shop ( l am sure you have heard this many times) and therefore the sales are not happening. l am feeling overwhelmed at the moment over the planning part of Kireina Jewellery and my mind feels as if it were scattered many places at once.

    l have a theoretical understanding of social media ( l read free ebooks and l’m also subscribed to social media related marketing blogs), but when it comes to implementing all these wonderful ideas l am listening/reading about l seem to be falling on my face.

    l am currently designing for Spring/Summer whilst recovering from an attack of RSI in my right wrist and taking the time to think everything through concerning the future. l have realized that my plans and so called strategies are wishy washy, which is partly why l am feeling overwhelmed.

    At Christmas l took part in a local market and designed a range of cute charms to sell alongside the jewellery as they are inexpensive and price wise good for a market (between £3-5). It was an experiment and they were more successful than the jewellery, which made me feel disheartened, but turned my attention to something new with potential. l don’t want to give up on Kireina Jewellery, however, and attending local events have provided great opportunities for feedback (l only started events in November 2012 – l don’t know why l didn’t a lot earlier). Now l am in a position, however, where two potential brands are in the making. l have so many ideas for both, but again l am trying to work out how to organize future plans for both design and marketing.

    A day or two ago l visited my local chamber of commerce to sign up for a mentoring service so l feel this is a step in the right direction. l would love some advice from someone, however, who is U.K based and craft related. A lot of resources l find on the internet are American and there is nothing wrong with that whatsoever, but it would be good to hear from here, as it were.

    Thank you in advance for any advice you wish to give and l hope to hear from you soon.

    Again thank you,

    Laura

    P.S Here is a link to some of the charm designs. l decided instead of opening another shop to open a blog on Tumblr and create an online catalogue to test the ground.

    http://sweetcharmsbykireina.tumblr.com/

    • Dixie Nichols says:

      Laura I have a proposal for you. I am beginning to test a new way of giving advice with the intention that it will be a money earner as Handmade Lives is getting to a scale that it is eating into my money making life so if it is to survive it needs to bring in some income.

      The idea is that I offer craftspeople a 50min phone conversation about their business, having previously spent time looking at their on line presence.

      That phone call is followed up about an hour later with a follow up call.

      The hour gap is to allow the poor bombarded craftsperson time to digest and evaluate what has been said and follow up with further questions/ objections it is also allows me to ruminate on what I have said and add further thoughts.

      Its exhausting but I think effective as it can deal with the full sweep of the business and not just with pockets.

      I have started to do some dry runs to see how it works, if you would like to take part then email me dixienichols@btinternet.com with your phone number and we could fix a time. There is no payment but I will want your input on the process after

      • Laura says:

        Hi Dixie,

        Just checked my mail and got your proposal. A big thanks and a yes to taking part in this new idea. l have my phone number/s and details in the e-mail l just sent you.
        Best Wishes,
        Laura

  3. Jenny says:

    Hi Dixie

    I would be very pleased if you could review my website for me. It is http://www.littleredrobinjewellery.co.uk set up in March 2012. I am getting a lot of orders, custom orders each day now and have plans for lot of other products but am finding i havn’t got time to make new things and wondered what way forward i can go therefore. I work parttime too (self employed).

    I have shops on Etsy and Folksy too but am finding i have no time to promote as i am constantly making orders. I have upped my prices recently on napkin rings, bookmarks and 7th wedding anniversary gift and mixed metal pendants as they are most popular products to slow it down a bit. Should i when some items sell then take them off site if they are one offs and concentrate on say 30 main products rather than keep adding new ones?

    Any help appreciated.

    Jenny

    • Dixie Nichols says:

      Jenny one thing that would take the pressure off is to employ the strategy used by this website http://www.littleadesigns.co.uk/ you see she has a image in the right margin which says “Your personalised goodies are taking ( fills in number) weeks” That means you can go at a sensible rate, under a week must be a killer promise I would skip a way from that.

      People will accept the wait as it proves you are popular. Consider employing another craftsperson on an hourly basis when you have a big order book to do some of the customising for you while you are at work and maybe the packaging and sending.

      If most of your orders are for personalisation then drop the other products for now, drop any less popular personalisation as well and set yourself to create a trial product a month.

      You are right to push up your prices to slow things down. If it doesn’t slow those push them up some more.

      If you have enough business coming in to your own site simply close your Etsy and Folksy that puts you in better control, there is no requirement to be on there too. Much better to promote your own site than promote them where you will always get leakage to other shops.

      Don’t stop doing face to face selling as you need to stay in the loop your offer will get less and less successful if you dont talk to the public about your products see it as market research.

      Also this could be a high sales glitch not a constant state you can get really strong runs then nothing its about groups of friends copying what the leaderene does so go cautiously.

      Nice problem to have though so congratulations.

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