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Monday, 29 June 2015

Shops closed in July

If you've got your eye on something in my Folksy or Etsy shop you'll need to place your order by the end of the week. I'm closing my shops on Friday for 3 weeks whilst I take my summer break and give my fingers a rest.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Folksy Friday - Old Macdonald

After last week's Twinkle Twinkle Little Star theme, I've decided to do a series of Folksy Friday collections based on nursery rhymes. So this week we're off to Old Macdonald's Farm!

Each of these items is handmade by a very talented designer-maker and is available to buy on Folksy.

Old Macdonald had a farm, e-i-e-i-o...

Farmyard placemats featuring original paintings by Grace Scott. These would look great on the dinner table.

Isn't this the cutest little babygrow? Available from My Pipsqueak.

This Old Macdonald bunting from Peony and Thistle would make a great decoration for a kids party.

Love these colourful farm animal bean bags by With Hugs and Kisses. You could sing the rhyme whilst throwing them!

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

An extra special wedding gift

I've been working on this month's new product for quite a long time and I'm so excited to finally add it to my shop. If you've got any weddings coming up this summer and you're looking for an extra special wedding gift you will love it!

Handmade wedding guestbook

This new wedding journal is personalised with the names of the bride and groom and the date of the wedding making it a unique gift. It is entirely handmade - I cut the pages to size, stitch them together and make the covers.

Personalised wedding guestbook

Use it as a journal to record all the special memories from the big day, or a wedding album, or a scrapbook, or a honeymoon journal or a wedding guest book. Fill it up with whatever makes you happy. Or, at 120 pages, there is plenty of space for everything! You could start it off as a guestbook, add some photos, then take it away on honeymoon to record your adventures. One big book bursting with memories.

Personalised wedding gift

You can buy the new personalised wedding journal on Folksy or Etsy. Just allow up to 2 weeks for me to create yours.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Folksy Friday - Twinkle twinkle little star

Folksy have started up Folksy Friday again. I need very little excuse to spend time window shopping for gorgeous handmade items! The theme I've chosen this week is twinkle twinkle little star.

I love the simple design of this star ring from Tartan Tree.

Let the kids be superheros for the days with this felt star badge from A is for Alice.

Wouldn't these tags by Victoria Snape look fab added to a thank you or congratulations gift.

Everyone should send one of these cute cards by Funky Fossil to their hero. Perfect for father's day this weekend.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

How to make more money from selling handmade products (part 3)

Here's part three of my series on ideas for making more money from selling handmade products. In part one I considered the impact of increasing your prices and in part two I thought about using higher quality materials. In this third part I'd like to share my thoughts on what happens when you reach your capacity and don't have any more time to give to the business. Is there a way to make more money from the hours you put in?

Part Three - Remember that your time is money

When I started my business I had plenty of time and very little money. If I could save a few pennies by doing something myself I would. For example I didn't buy board backed envelopes for posting out my cards, I used normal envelopes and cut sheets of recycled cardboard to size to stiffen the parcels and make sure the cards wouldn't get bent in the post. It was much cheaper this way as board backed envelopes are expensive, and my hand cut cardboard inserts did the job just as well.

This is sensible to start off with because you need to keep your costs low and sales are probably slow so you have the time. If I could save a few pence on each order by doing a little extra myself I'd have a bit more profit at the end of the week.

But then you start to get busier and you have a lot more orders to fulfill. Once you reach capacity and you are making as many products as you can your time is no longer a cheap resource. You don't want to spend time doing things that you could pay other people to do. Your unique talent is in making the handmade products so you want to spend as much of your time as possible doing this. Therefore it might become sensible to think about outsourcing where possible.

I'm not just talking about the big things. When I first read about outsourcing I thought it wasn't for me, because the articles were talking about hiring someone to run your social media channels or manage your marketing. And I'm just not at that point yet. But think about the really small things - is there anything that you spend time doing that you could pay for someone else to do and therefore have more time to make products? Switching over to using board backed envelopes was a good starting point for me! Yes it added about 12p to each order, but it saved me so much time. And when you are working at capacity you have to remember that your time is money. In the time I saved cutting up cardboard each week I could make up another journal for a customer.

To see if it's cost effective to 'outsource', work out how much time you could save. Then convert this into an hourly wage that you want to pay yourself and compare this to the extra price of paying someone else to do it for you. For example, if you want to pay yourself £10 per hour then every minute of your time is worth 17p. If you can save a minute of your time and it costs you less than 17p to do so you will be making more profit.

Here's the costings for my envelope example:

I now spend a lot more on packaging, but I have more time to make up orders so I'm bringing in more money each week. I'm ashamed to say it took me a long time to get this and my husband had to convince me it made financial sense (he's an accountant!). Doing things more cheaply by doing them yourself isn't always the best option.

Here's another example from my business. I use a lot of A4(ish) sheets of brown paper. I used to buy the brown paper in rolls as it was much cheaper, then cut it to size myself. Doesn't take long to do one or two and saves a few pence per item. But it takes ages when you're trying to do 20 at a time - time that could be spent making more products. Now I buy brown paper in A4 sheets so I don't need to cut it to size. It costs a little more but my time is more expensive, so overall it is cheaper.

Making your products is the skill that is unique to you - the skill you can really charge for. So what do you do that isn't making that you could outsource to someone else? Buy your business cards instead of printing and cutting them at home. Buy materials pre-cut to size. Buy gift boxes instead of wrapping things. Buy accounting software to keep track of sales. Save yourself some time and make a bit more money.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Behind the scenes - May

How is it the end of May already?! It's kind of flown by in a crazy whirl of double sided tape backing (that stuff gets everywhere!) and lots and lots of maps. Here's what I've been up to.

I've mostly been making up lots of honeymoon journals. These new journals are really popular and I've been cutting lots of heart shapes out of my vintage atlas collection. So many lucky brides and grooms are off to America this summer!

There are two new sets of notecards in the shop. Both come in a pack of four presented in a nice new kraft card folder tied up with bakers twine. Choose from pretty butterflies or vintage maps.

At the beginning of the month I set up my new spreadsheets for the year as I follow the tax year from April - March. I have to make sure I keep track of all orders and expenses. Every month I total everything up and it's great to see how much profit I've made. It's also encouraging looking back on that month last year and seeing how many more orders I've had. I also track where sales are coming from so that I can see which of my shops are performing well.

I've had so many orders for journals that I nearly ran out of the paper I make them from. So I put in a order from the lovely people at the Exotic Paper Company for another 800 sheets of their wonderful rhino poo paper. It's 100% recycled and made in the UK. I love it.

Lots of sales also means that I started running low on packaging. I buy board backed envelopes in bulk which makes them much cheaper and means I don't have to place an order very often (though it does give me the problem of where to store them all!). I've also just bought some postage boxes that I'm planning on using for some new products coming soon - before I can add any new designs to the shop I have to work out how I'm going to package them to ensure they get delivered safely.

And here on the blog I've started a new mini series about how to make more money from selling handmade. I occasionally like to share what I've been learning in the hope that it helps others who are following along a similar path. Part 1 and part 2 are up already, part 3 is coming soon. Please do share them with anyone who may be interested.

So, here's a round up of the month in pictures:

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