Botox your homepage

First impressions matter so pimp your homepage.



The Look you Need

mass home page

Look at all these websites, all professionally generated with a corporate feel. That is not the way to go. You want to look individual.

You want to look  personal, one-off.

Flashy effects such as scrolling pictures look corporate and distract. People have come for craft. Craft is about contemplation

Your site should quietly offer clarity and lovely things. Thats it, nothing more.

Do nothing because that’s what other sites do.

Routes in

When people buy craft they are buying two things:  the  craftsman’s way of life and the crafts piece.

That means you have two things to sell, two routes to take on your home page.

Here a maker takes the product route . It is beautifully simple, it gambles on the viewer being sufficiently attracted to the product displayed to click-through to find more and buy something

Here the maker plays the craftsman / lifestyle card beautifully. This is the central picture on his homepage .

The hope of the maker route is that the visitor will want to plug into the romance of the craftsman’s life by buying  a piece of their work. You are hoping for an emotional connection which will  predispose the visitor to search for something they can buy.

The risk of this approach is that the visitor may be impatient to see the product and see pictures of the maker as an unnecessary  diversion.

Of course you can mix the two approaches  but if you do, you spread the appeal, but dilute the power of your message.

If what you are doing is  complicated, you need to explain your offer on your homepage. But keep it simple.

Focus & Organise

You cannot have a decent homepage unless you are completely clear what you want it to achieve.

The visitor has arrived, they are looking at that first page. What do you want them to do next?

There should only be text, image and links  which lead to your chosen goal.

All communication has to be swift. Your visitors have butterfly minds, they alight very briefly, you have to be quick to catch them.

Say who you are and what you do.

If your work covers different areas offer defined pathways into each area. Mixing media makes a site look like a jumble sale, get it sorted so the visitor arrives and chooses.

Answer the questions your visitors came with. Think from the outside in. What you need to cover depends on what you are offering . Essentially your job is not to persuade people to buy but to offer sufficient information for them to make a decision.

It’s fine to have scroll down on your homepage but make sure the main whack of communication is on  that first frame, also that it is obvious there is more to see by scrolling.

Textual Blemishes

Every single word on your Home page has to earn its living.

Cut the inane  “wood is perfect or special for any occasion” the sort of thing  that sounds good but means nothing

Don’t tell visitors why they need your stuff  as in “the perfect wedding present”. They are already open to having it or they wouldn’t be visiting your website.

Don’t balance out sentences. Good web copy is staccato. Visitors are not committed to reading your every word but the fewer there are, the closer they will be to reading it all.

Watch out for a dodgy stance like those Christmas round robins which change person. Don’t use “we” you are not  BMW. “We” to you sounds stronger, but to the visitor it sounds evasive.

Don’t self praise, it’s not going to work

Clarity  is hugely reassuring to buyers It makes them feel you are someone who knows what they are doing and are easy to deal with and honest.

You can explain yourself in very few words here the main text is simply

” Carol Saunderson

 An Artist in the Landscape.

Abstract Landscape Painter, Rural Dweller, Lover of Modernist Art and Design”

Nothing showy but enough to place the artist. It’s a bit repetitive but it makes sure we get it and the repetition is in different parts of the page. The simplicity and calm gets us ready to look at her pictures.

Too Many Links

 The cost of putting zillions of links is your visitor blithely goes off in your least desired direction.

 Forget  about getting up the rankings by having lots of links, just stay around and you rise like scum. Chasing rankings is something that is sold hard by the marketeers but that’s what they are selling. But don’t bother, two seconds later and the rules change and you have slithered back down. Much better make sure that when a visitor does arrive they are herded firmly in the direction you wish.

Don’t link  with social sites on your homepage that benefits only the owners of those sites. Of course they tell you to but it is simply a way in which to lose your sale and boost their visitors.

Web surfers jump about like scalded cats hitting links because they caught their eye, so what if they follow you on Twitter, that is not going to fill the fridge is it?

The images

Before you consider images, consider space. Books have great big margins so that they are comfortable to read, websites are the same.

Space > calm

 Calm > contemplation

Contemplation > desire

 Desire >sale

If you were selling printer ink you don’t need space, you need low prices and an instant sale mechanism. If you are selling a piece of craft you need to slow the world down, make it feel rested and offer your lovely object.  Space and pictures of nature, the craftsman lost in the creative process  are your workhorses,

Mind your images don’t clutter your page, keep it all carefully focused. Home pages are about sacrifice, less is certainly more.

Revisit Rejuvenate Rethink

Every time you up load product you should take a long hard look at your home page. Is it still the best you can do?

More Help

For web designers look at  5-6 pages, with no shop, costs from £250 They made the first two pictured in this post

Free starter web host look at Brighton based and so far only heard postive things about them

Critical Eye Offer

If you would like a private review of your website’s home page then fill in the contact form .  Its £40 a throw. I will take a quick look, make sure that I have something useful to say, then email you a Paypal request for payment which means you can use your credit or debit card Once your money is my money I will send you a brilliant email explaining the changes I think you should make.

But give me your comments here, the  same as usual as you often say things which make the post better.

Online shop MOT for Craftspeople

This is the stuff I say over and over again when you ask me to take a look at your online shop.


If you have a suspicion your online shop needs a bit of attention

Heres your toolbox:


Take good pictures ( yeah, yeah, you know that) Anything less than good, is a total waste of everyone’s time

Your lead picture must make it obvious what the product is, so if its five cards for the price, fan to show five

Don’t be too arty . Pictures, are tiny before click-through, so less styling, more product

Don’t ruin the look of your pictures with clumsy mean-spirited watermarks

made by

This is the cool way to keep tabs on your pictures

At least one pic should be product in use I have to see the necklace worn, to know how it falls

Don’t take pictures that date so no snowy backgardens. Unless you’re keen to show how long its been unsold


The first two words are crucial as the headline gets shortened before click-through

Don’t duplicate what the picture tells the viewer in the headline


Here, the fact that it is a handkerchief, has been entirely lost.

The headline only tells us  what the picture does


Keep text short, people are skimming

Don’t say anything that people can see for themselves

 You must have size and what it is made of

A brief bit of attitude breaks you out of the pack

 The Cameron hankie seller says ‘Keep them close to your heart in your top pocket, or blow your nose all over their face to make yourself feel much better!’

Write as if purchase is a foregone conclusion, no loser statements like “ pop in again sometime

Don’t suggest use, as in ” a perfect wedding  gift” as that limits, not extends, your market

Please no “smoke free, pet free, anthrax free”

Don’t emphasise packaging or insurance It does not reassure, it reminds buyers of  risks

The word unique is banned and ! is on the suspicious objects list

Don’t go into how its made detail because it suggests to customers that they could make it themselves

Don’t complicate by offering custom-made options.

Remember that people click-through on several items so repeat yourself as little as possible


Don’t say anything apologetic or amateur

such as “my nan taught me to crochet, I have always liked making things” (Clearly not money)

Do not mention any medical problems

Don’t try to be the reader’s best friend

Don’t direct the visitor anywhere else of yours online. They are at your shop,  let them buy

Every word on your online site should be there to sell, your profile is no exception

 Buyers respond to a confident talented expert.  It is a commercial transaction

Read this

“Hello my name is …I am a wife, mother, nana and an obsessive crafter…I am self-taught which has resulted in numerous mistakes, but hey you know what they say ” you have to break  a few eggs to make an omelette”. I persevere and more often than not I am pleased with the results”

I promise its not made up. It sounds like Alcoholics Anonymous. It makes out that the maker is an obsessive hit and miss amateur.

car repair

How are you getting on? Ready to face a few more running repairs?


My advice on  pricing is here Pricing for Failure

Round prices up, no odd amounts, that’s for supermarkets

Consider doing dollars on Etsy for the US market and £ on Folksy

Never put SOLD OUT as  that suggests mass production.


Dont make postage free, make it inexpensive and simple

Don’t put off international buyers unnecessarily by making them contact you

Hide some of the postage cost in the item price

It is easy to loose a sale mid process if the postage cost looks greedy or out of proportion to the purchase value

You may be able to charge a flat rate across your buyers and come out smiling

The US are used to high postal charges.

Take a view on compensation. Sometimes it is better to reimburse  for lost packages rather than always pay for the track and insure route. Undeliverable post mostly comes back to sender in the end.

Signed for can be a nightmare for the recipient

Consider using Royal Mail online to print out postage but you need to buy postal scales and ask at the post office for a roll of Customs  Declaration labels.


 Sales don’t help See Special Offers and other Disasters

Don’t put in vouchers or freebie gifts with your deliveries. It  makes the buyer feel they over paid.

Don’t plague your buyers, they are busy people.


Reams of conditions are pointless. Don’t try to manage a complaint before its happened

When something goes wrong be generous, suppress your suspicions. If the mistake is yours, say so and apologise.

Give yourself time to respond to orders. You will not always be in a position to  post  immediately

Don’t try to prove you are honest and trustworthy, it looks suspicious


You need to offer  unity of product Split your offer into different shops if it doesn’t sit comfortably together.

You need a recognisable style running through your work, you can change themes by offering collections

Clear out non-sellers regularly The ones that in your heart you know don’t cut it.  It should be your show case and far too public a place to cheap off your second-rate.

Regularly review the way you make your list searchable. Kill categories with less than three entries

Pay attention how you upload  new product. You need that first page  to reflect your general offer.


Here the gift tokens have been uploaded en bloc and so dominate the product

site owner

 Some advice given by the site may benefit the site owner’s interests more than yours.

 If they suggest free postage  or lots of mutual liking and treasuries between sellers what is that really doing for you?

 Promotion of your shop on their site essentially promotes them more than you. If you ask a customer where did you buy that? They say Etsy / Folksy etc  not you. All the e-commerce sites are leaky. There are trap doors all over the place where your customer vanishes to another shop.

Using  these outlets is a step toward your own website which will not be leaky. See  Online Brick by Brick

Thats it !


Goodness what an improvement. Do recommend this garage to your fellow car owners

By the way if you want to get Handmade Lives emailed Extra Pickings then sign up

Also if you want a proper private review of your Empire think about a  £50 Meal Deal ( its me, but you pay)

Cardboard Box Economics

Advice  for creatives starting out on the bumpy own business ride.

Designed for those who hedgehog when faced with money issues.

When you grow into a big bold successful business then employ someone to do this stuff properly.

In the meantime these strategies should get you through.

The advice is for the UK .

There we  are, now we are safe, now you can cope

This is all going to be in your language, you will completely understand and be able to apply it

What you don’t need to do and what to do instead:

You need some sort of book-keeping record but one you understand and feel master of. If spreadsheets mystify you, don’t use them.

Accounts are simple. They record how much money comes in and how much you spend on  the business. You need them to understand your business and to pay the taxman

Use an ordinary A4 blue* hardback notebook and a cardboard box. Keep both to hand and fill them in as it happens

* Thats a joke, don’t be silly it doesn’t have to be blue

In the book you put a heading  INCOME with the year and then put the month then every time  you  receive  money you fill in who from,  what it was for, and how much . Annotate this in any way that could be useful to you so  if you do a show  bracket the sales at that show and label it

On the opposite page do the same but head it EXPENSES and there you fill in what you paid out for, then how much.

Keep the numbers at the end so they are easier to add up and round them all  to the nearest £.

Then total that month. Keep your expenses and income separate just run totals.

In your CARDBOARD BOX put your spending receipts,  they are for the taxman.  At the end of the April to April  year bag them up, label and KEEP. If you work from home put your utility bills in here  as you can probably claim a portion against your tax bill.

This simple method shows you how you are doing, for a bigger view  do a YEAR ON YEAR account.

Take the monthly income totals and at 3, 6,9 and 12 months  total those. The next year  fill in those figures alongside and if the total is up or down on the year before put an up or down arrow. The arrows tell you everything. In the third year you do two arrows for the previous two years.

Remember that your expenditure total for the year needs to be taken off your income for the year as that is your profit. Working monthly on expenditure off income is misleading.  But do the totals monthly as you need to be aware how much you are spending, especially if it’s consistently above income as that way disaster lies.

 Accountants come later, you use them to save on tax, but for that you need a proper income.

Employ a book-keeper before an accountant  and don’t do that before you have a solid working business.

You need to do the books to begin with, so that you know what’s happening.

Keep records as above and phone your tax office after a few months when you have a business and tell them what you are doing and they will send you forms to register. They will also give you a phone number to get help with how it works and what your allowances are. Use that.

You don’t need a business account they are expensive.

If you  have a shared bank account open one in your name, possibly in a different bank but it should be a personal account.

Then join something like Paypal so you can take credit cards. You will pay them commission on each transaction but there are no other costs.

You need a situation where if you earn nothing, you pay nothing.

Don’t it’s not an investment.

Until you have a proven product and sales you should not buy in bulk, it might make your price look attractive but its a red herring because:

If you buy 100 widgets for £100 the cost of each widget is only £1  but only when you have used all the widgets. If you sell  just 5 widget using products the cost of each widget is then £20 See what I mean? Its cheaper to pay the higher individual cost.

Make to demand not to your expectations.

Don’t make product expecting high sales, that’s an expensive game

Establish a show fund

Right from the beginning put £30 a month in so when you are grown up enough for a big show you have the money which often has to be paid in advance. Return the stake  to the fund after the show or  as much of it as you have left. If you start with capital, lock £1000 into a show fund but don’t use it at all in the first year as you are too likely to crash and burn.

There are all kinds of pricing formulae and none of them work

Pricing handmade in the UK  is an art not a science

This is why :

An acceptable price  depends on who you are selling to

Different products have different price ceilings

There is a soft margin around prices which means you can put them up or down and make no difference to the sale so it always makes sense to push to the upper limit and formulae don’t do that.

Your circumstances determine what you need to charge

Labour cost  is always a nonsense as you don’t just make  you have to spend about 70% of your time trying to sell. That has to be paid for too

None of this stuff can sit in a formula you have to price , step back and think all the way round.

Your prices are more likely to be too low than too high.

Underpricing builds in failure.

How many you sell is irrelevant to profit.

If I sell 20 Lovelies for £2 profit each that is not as good as selling one Lovely for £42 profit.

Only consider wholesale if you enjoy repetitive making and can make a living from it.

Selling one expensive Lovely will take effort but selling 20 cheaper ones will not necessarily be easier.

So You Made It .

 You can do what you need to do to know whats going on and to make the right decisions.

It isn’t really such a big deal after all.

Now you will have to find something else to worry about.


A Craftsperson’s Coat of Arrogance


Most craftspeople suffer from a lack of confidence, they are naturally quiet people  emotionally engaged  in their work and fear the world’s reaction to it.

Selling makes you uneasy,  you are not sure how good your work is, even in the face of compliments You try to protect your work from criticism by charging very little.

A bit of you knows that your lack of confidence is unjustified but that alone does not resolve the problem.


Did that make you smile? Did you like that? See, confidence is attractive. You felt comfortable and happy as I am going to help you.

And I am, just stay with me

I am going to help you  slip on a

Yes, that’s it at the top of the post, its body armour.

Doesn’t look very comfortable does it? That’s because it is not a perfect fit for you. It wouldn’t be. It’s like high heels, you have to get used to wearing it.

The point of this coat is to achieve things you want to achieve. I am not asking you to change your personality, you have a perfectly good one. I am just suggesting that there are times in a maker’s life when this is appropriate dress.

Just hang it on the hook on your workroom door and put it on when you need it.

It’s okay I am going to give you a whole lot of practical  dressing tips which will make it easier to wear.

And then I am going to give you a sniffer dog trail to check that there are no traces of your pre-Coat of Arrogance days.

I know you are a bit worried. You don’t want to be arrogant, you just want to be confident, but its okay because this coat is going to make you attractively confident. You see, you start as an underconfident person, a Coat of Confidence would just bring you up to everybody else’s level and I think you may need just a touch more than that. But you will still be you, but without the misplaced  insecurity.

All good isn’t it? Yeah, so off we go…

What we need to do is to take a look at the confidence destroyers, recognise them and know what to do

Leaches confidence. Recognise it. Duvet it.
Watch your mood if you are feeling negative take a break .

Do not try to explain depression Never say I am depressed because … my business is going badly/I hate my partner … You are depressed, because you are depressed: that’s all there is to it. If you observe yourself you will probably discover  your most creative phrase comes after a whiff of depression, it’s a cycle; so work with it.

Stress is a concentration killer with your brain whirring on empty chambers

Its worry about worry

The stress that comes from too much going on is helped by a to do list but you have to do the worst first

Stress can also be evasion A way of not facing something you should

Hope can be destructive  because it can crash into disappointment

Crafts businesses tend to make a spurt, then plateau.Think of it as building a sandcastle. The sea will keep coming in, leaving you with nothing, but that is the nature of finding your way. One day you will  build  further up the beach.

Remember  “Nothing is a bad as it seems nor as good as you think”

Also known as jealousy.

You are seeing their work and their accomplishments from the outside, from the inside you’d be surprised how shitty it looks to the owner

  Your viewpoint is skewed you can’t compare yours with theirs accurately.

Shit happens, it’s how you deal with it.

Accept that a disaster will happen from time to time, it isn’t avoidable.

Just know the  rules about handling it; fearing it is pointless.

Some  Stanford Graduate School of Business students came up with these pointers:

“Your natural reaction when something really bad happens is to think about the worst-case scenario.  But, that’s usually counter productive.  Think about the most likely scenario and solve based on that.

Try and make a realistic determination of how important it is to respond quickly.  Often, when something really bad happens, entrepreneurs make the mistake of assuming they have to respond immediately.  In many cases, that’s both unnecessary — and risky.

Don’t  compound a bad event with panic-induced mistakes.      If it makes you feel any better (it should), know that most entrepreneurs (even the successful ones) have near-fatal events happen.”

If it’s a customer disaster then  a simple straightforward “my fault, sorry” goes a long way, topped off with a freebie.

On tech stuff, buy from a small local shop who will come to your rescue swiftly when things crash.

If its wind fire and earthquake insure sensibly.

The rule is Scream>Think & think again> Act (don’t react)

 Things have a way of being ok in the end

You will be ridiculed, everyone is, some visitors at craft shows say the stupidest things and they assume we are deaf. So what? Two minutes in their company would show you how idiotic these people they are, so there is no need to worry about their views. If someone you know and respect says something that makes you feel bad, talk to them as you probably misunderstood.

If people don’t like something you have made it doesn’t mean that they wont like anything you make. Finding the right products is a long unending process.

You create, They choose.

If you go into a shop and buy nothing you’d think the shop owner a lunatic if he felt ridiculed by your visit. So careful what you think. Try and stay this side of psychosis

It’s okay to be shy, lots of people are and they are more comfortable with other shy people.

Shyness does not preclude you from success unless you avoid people.

Talking to people is a kind thing to do, if you think of it that way, it’s easier.

In a face to face situation you will be more comfortable if you concentrate on showing people your work and telling them a bit about it, don’t worry about selling it, you just need to get them to look.

The Mitford sisters’ nanny used to say to them “Nobody is going to be looking at you”  and she was right; people are so self-absorbed they rarely take in anything about any one else. Shy people imagine everyone is watching and judging them but the reality is nobody is that interested.

“What ever you are bad at you can improve. Believing you have the ability to reach your goals is important, but so is believing you can get the ability .Fortunately, decades of research suggest that the belief in fixed ability is completely wrong — abilities of all kinds are profoundly malleable”
Harvard business blog

As a craftsperson you have so much ground to cover, so many skills needed that you are going to have an uneven distribution of ability.

You mustn’t give in and just concentrate on what you are good at.

You must hack away until you have gained any skill you need

The language you use affects the way you react to situations

So, if  you try for a big show and they don’t take you, you are not REJECTED you MISSED OUT

 The labels you use affect your handling of situations, so watch which word you pick.

Now you have absorbed those Dressing Tips  you will now find that the Coat of Arrogance fits beautifully

While  wearing It you are going to be great company.

Your customers  will have confidence in your advice and pride in their purchase and be glad they found you. You will have a little more money to pay your bills so its  win win.

In wearing that Coat you have done nothing underhand or dirty you have simply increased the happiness in the world. With the coat on, you know your stuff is good and the price realistic.

You should wear your Coat for any thing to do with marketing  also for pricing and  negotiating.  If you start thinking negatively at other times march over to the back of the door and slip your Coat on

Think back to your school teachers, they wore Coats of Arrogance in the classroom, so you know how it plays. Its useful, sensible and helpful. Whats even better its free. Its going to make you grin with pleasure when you handle things so much better. You will no longer think I can’t, you will think why not?

So one more bit of housekeeping to be done and then I shall leave you to your delicious new way of being. We just need to check round your empire to identify any little bits of pre Coat under confidence which might need a bit of an overhaul.

Those dogs are fully trained for the task so lets see what they turn up…

UP a minimum of 50%

HARD with everyone you deal with

Concise, Organised and Confident on website and market place

Relaxed, interesting, entertaining ,  on your blog, Twitter and Facebook


Not in third person.

Not about your kids /pets/ health

No arts speak

No exclamation marks they are so under confident !!!!


Stop telling people why they should buy

Stop offering alternatives, they get what you offer

Size, Materials, Price That’s all

Stop setting yourself MAKING targets, set SELLING targets

Don’t pay for it.

Get editorial mentions for free ( involves persuasion which Coat owners are good at)

It’s your livelihood, so don’t rush to do what other people say.

 Assume  you are right, then think and decide.

Now I think I have done a very fine job for you

Enjoy your new Coat and please tell other people where you got it

cartoon person wearing body armour

More help? try these

 Craftsperson Types

Help! Not making a living

 Craftsperson’s Seven Deadly Sins

Will your business succeed?

Juicy Customer Segment

 Many craftspeople are convinced there is no money out there , but it still exists and here is a rich pocket who are more than prepared to spend.



This is the illustration that Grayson Perry did for the latest RA magazine, in it he depicts the typical  visitor to the Royal Academy summer exhibition. Heartlands British upper middle class.

Do these people buy art ? Is the Pope Catholic? You bet they buy art . The RA takes 30% commission, back in  2003  they were already making two million pounds from the show. These people buy and buy, they have London flats, country houses and seaside places and in each they want to express their immaculate up to date good taste.

Don’t imagine the rich aren’t still with us, they are still there, a bit more discreet, and so over their  bling years.  Now they Care. They buy handmade, they buy craft, they have craft every where. And when they havent had time to buy the real thing from an individual maker, they buy it fake from Cath Kidson 

 They want to play happy families and create idyllic memories. Rock, Southwold, Newport holidayers whose children go to boarding school and are looked after by au pairs. Mothers who work desperately hard to keep it all running and sit in their offices and feel guilty that their families are not being nurtured.  They hanker for  handmade because it represents time and that is what they havent got.


Handmade craft buyers are predominantly female.  Even if he pays, the motivation to buy is female.


They are females of all ages, but largely twenties to fifties The young female buyers are the surprise, but its easy to see what is going on, it’s all  about nesting. The rental flat gets decked out in handmade, weekends are  all  cupcakes and tea dresses. They drool over Kirstie Allsops Handmade Britain


It’s a mutation of  the naughties’ spirituality search, it’s trying  to find value, not financial value, but emotional value.

 The threat of losing your job, even if you do it well, is disheartening, the need to stay in a unfufilling job is also emptying, long hours drain energy. There is never enough time to do what you need to do, let alone to be who you want to be.

 There seem to be a group of people who stand outside these miseries, the people who live simply and make by hand.  Your customer  is wanting to buy into your world. They want to live your life vicariously.


Here are the rules you need


 This customer category expects  them,  they think buy cheap, buy junk


 They splash the cash but are mean about postage as they know the real cost


      Pander to their fantasy


These buyers are almost all women


        Share your life, they aspire to it, blog if possible but in small helpings


       Handwrite, don’t print , be personal;  no business speak


     They are time poor, if they want something custom-made they will ask for it


Online use PayPal or similar try not to use selling sites with lengthy sign ins for customers


They are buying into an ideal don’t spoil it


Heavy on nostalgia works well


So that it can be  bought guiltlessly as a household necessity

 £45 tea cosy made by Sarah Hancox of A Very British Affair nobody aims at the target group better


How good are you at attracting this group of buyers?   How well do you fit in?  Give yourself one point for every one of the above  you do okay and two points for each one you do very well.

Any thing over 12 and you have this licked, under 7 and you’re in trouble, get it sorted if you want to attract this juicy part of the market

Links to places that are  on message for this customer segment

Selvedge Magazine this is their own shop

Little a Designs online website