Thursday, 18 December 2014

This much I know about Tsu and the changing face of social media...


Today I joined a new social networking site called Tsu.  When I got there, I quickly discovered I was certainly not alone!

Up until yesterday morning, I had not even heard of Tsu.  So I took to google to find out what all the fuss was about and was very encouraged by what I discovered.

Earlier this year I did a post on here called 'social media, this much I know' which you can read here:

I feel compelled to blog about Tsu today as a follow up to that post back in April which highlighted facebook's intentions for pages, with the continued decline of organic reach of posts from facebook pages.  In the last few weeks, it's no surprise that facebook have updated their business news section with this post:  stating January 2015 as the time we can be assured to see less content from pages in our newsfeeds.

Be clear on one thing - it will happen!  
Be clear on another thing - many have flocked to Instagram (I'm there too), 
However, please bear one FACT in mind whilst you build your following over there.

 the words 'matter of time' spring to mind.

So with that in mind, what should we be doing to ensure our social media related marketing efforts work for our little businesses.  

Firstly, if I was back working in advertising and you were my client, I would strongly recommend you start collating your own database.  The best way to do that is to encourage your customers and followers to opt into an email list for your newsletter.  I use mailchimp and I am very happy with it.

Secondly, keep calm and carry on, but also experiment by trying new social media platforms.

Thirdly, think before you opt to pay to boost your post on facebook.  All those pounds will seriously add up.  If you are thinking of paying to promote then please consider your overall marketing spend for the year - weigh it all up to ensure you are getting best value and a good chance of a return on your investment.  For example, it could all collectively add up to the cost of exhibiting at a key craft or trade fair where you get to meet people face to face, make sales and gain valuable feedback. 

It's always best to have a plan when it comes to your marketing budget then you'll happily get the most out of it.  My advice would be, don't knee jerk react when you see your post reach fall on facebook.  The problem I have with the way facebook is currently going about the paid for posts is they are not clearly targeted  (there is no control over who the post reach is boosted to) making it very hard to feel convinced you'll get much return on your investment overtime - so think long and hard about what you want to achieve in the long run. 

And, this is why Tsu grabbed my attention.

Who is Tsu? I hear you cry!!

Well, Tsu is a NEW free network that gives the social revenues back to you, because they believe it is the right thing to do.  

Hear what the founder of the company has to say on Fox Business:

'As content creator, you'll earn fair value for the social things you share'

So all the above is what did it for me.  

The only reason facebook has reached it's current status is from people sharing their content, their data, their lives, their connections.  There is a huge advertising value for all that collective data.  I believe, the people on facebook have already paid handsomely because we have given our data to them freely, data that they can use to sell on to their advertisers.  

At the end of the day all the people that use facebook are basically facebook's products!

Which is OK, if users are happy and gaining a very good experience by getting to see the content they are interested in most - like all those lovely pages they opted to like and follow.  Which unfortunately for them, from January 2015 many of those pages will no longer get shared with them because the pages can't afford to pay to reach them.

So with that in mind, this new Tsu concept seems less of a :

'Eh? did I read that right? make money from social networking? that sounds too good to be true, surely it's a scam?' 

It makes is seem more of a:

'Oh yes, that is absolutely the FAIR way to go about's not really about making money from my social media content - as let's face it, I've already given most of it away for free anyway...,it's simply a breath of fresh air to hear a company recognise the fact that it is MY content that I am willing to share with them for profit as long as they treat me fairly and I'm getting a good experience as a user'

Well that's the conclusion I reached today!

Time will tell whether this will amount to the next 'big thing'.   For now though, I am giving it a whirl and so far I'm liking what I see.  

So much so I am happy to encourage others to come and join me over there.

Here I am on Tsu:

I hope this post has been informative and shed some light on a new approach to social media.

Best wishes

Monday, 1 December 2014

'Failing to Plan is to Planning Fail' - So Let's Make Some Beautiful Plans!


November seemed to whizz by - sorry it's been such a long time since my last blog post.
November has been the month of 'the planner' for me.  It's something I've wanted to launch as product for a while.  The reason being, over the past year I have been making more of an effort to be more efficient in my own business planning in attempt to avoid some of the things that caused problems for me and my little business in the past.

One of the benefits of a few years experience of this design and online selling m'larky is that I can clearly to see patterns in what works and what doesn't work.   I can see the little habits I've formed for tackling tasks (or, being perfectly honest, at times avoiding them!).  Sometimes these habits are good, sometimes they aren't.  Looking at them all objectively has really helped me put together a better plan for 2014.  

And guess what? on the whole, my plan is working for me!...Plans work - who knew?!

On the back of this little personal revelation of mine, I began to design my wallplanner for 2015 - the one I wanted to put by my desk.  Something lovely to make me feel happy and inspired by the tasks that lay ahead.  Something very practical, easy to use with decent space for my messy frenetic handwriting (I can never get ideas on paper fast enough!)....

Here it is - my happy, bright and pretty planner for me to 'Make Beautiful Plans' throughout 2015. 

 Then I turned my attention to my lovely regular customers, the ones I know and chat to often.  Many of whom have their own craft or baking businesses - I figured that they would probably feel the same way as me about wanting to make plans on something lovely for their craft space, studio or kitchen walls.  So, two more wall planner designs came into being....


Having a yearly planner is simply not enough though - there are plans that need to be made each week and each day.  

I set to work on a further six designs - a daily and a weekly planner in each of the same three themes as my wall planners.  These planners are now available as printable downloads or as A5 (148 x 210mm) 40 page, spiral bound notebooks....

The digital printable download versions are available from my Etsy shop here.

The notebooks are available from both my Folksy and Etsy shops...

So far so good on the launch of my new products.  It seems I am not alone in my desire for something colourful and lovely to plan important life and work stuff on.  

The first wave of the orders for these have all been sent out and this morning my message in boxes have welcomed me with lots of lovely feedback from happy customers who now have their planners.   I think my favourite reaction of all of them has to be this very simple and direct one:

"Parcel received. It's bloody stunning!"

Thank you - that comment made me smile from ear to ear.  It makes all the work I put into creating these planners last month worth every minute!!...

On the subject of planning, it's time to say Happy December to you all and it's time for us all to crack on with plans for Christmas.  There's still plenty of time to shop regardless of all the Black Friday and Cyber Monday frenzy! Here is some useful info to help with your shopping plans...

My online shops will be open right up to Christmas, and as most of my items are sent by Royal Mail, here's a handy reminder of those all important Christmas postal deadline dates this year:

International Standard (formerly Air Mail)
Wed 3rd Dec - Asia, Far East (Inc. Japan), New Zealand
Thur 4th Dec - Australia
Fri 5th Dec - Africa, Caribbean, Central and South America, Middle East
Mon 8th Dec - Cyprus, Eastern Europe, Greece
Tue 9th Dec - Canada, Poland
Fri 12th Dec - USA, International Standard to static HM Forces Mail
Sat 13th Dec - Western Europe (excluding Greece and Poland)

Thur 18th Dec - 2nd class and Royal Mail Signed for 2nd class
Sat 20th Dec - 1st class and Royal Mail Signed For 1st class
Mon 22nd Dec - ParcelForce Worldwide Express 48
Tue 23rd Dec - Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed
ParcelForce Worldwide Express 48

My Newsletter readers are getting a 20% discount code which is valid not only at my website and Etsy shop, but now that Folksy has discount codes - it is now valid at Folksy too.  This discount will run up until Dec 18th .   I will be sending out another copy of that newsletter this evening to send that code to all those who subscribed over the weekend (thank you for those subscribes).  

If you'd like to subscribe and get your code too, here's where you opt in: subscribe to my newsletter

I think that catches up on everything for now.
Have a very happy week!
Best wishes

Friday, 7 November 2014

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...


It's official! 
I have seen the John Lewis Christmas ad (ahhh, penguins!)...the pumpkins are in the composter and fireworks are now just a memory...
May the Christmas shopping commence!

I've been quiet here on the blog because listing products online takes longer each year as my product range and number of online shops continue to grow...

It's done now and I'm proud to be able to offer such a colourful choice of cards, wrap and prints to help make Christmas a very Merry and Bright one this year...

My newsletter subscribers will have already seen from the email that went out this week, that there are a few offers currently running to help ease the cost....

First up, my newsletter subscribers will be sent a discount code for 20% off at my website and Etsy shops which is running right up until 19th December.  To subscribe to my emails, please fill in the form here...

Over on my Bespo shop there is 25% off everything throughout November using the code above...

And, this weekend over on my Society 6 shop there is free worldwide shipping until 9th November.

Have a lovely weekend!
Best wishes

Friday, 17 October 2014

Something Pinteresting For The Weekend...

Happy Friday!

Aren't these pretty? I thought I'd share a blast of colourful papery goodness to help see us all into the weekend nicely!

I found these images on pinterest of course, and you can find them nestled in amongst my pinterest board called 'Oh You Pretty Things'  (the name is obviously inspired by my love for Mr Bowie).

The top image of the 'Color Cloud' is by artist Bonnie Gammill and the source comes from a site called

The image below originates from the Style Me Pretty blog and the photography is credited to Cameron Ingalls

Have a splendid and colourful weekend everyone!

Best wishes

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Stocking up and preparing my online shops...


The days are flying by and so is this year and the past couple of weeks has had me knuckling down and getting my 2015 calendar and wallplanner designs finished.  It's also been a time where in between commissioned work I've been adding and updating all my online shops in preparation for the run up to Christmas...

My Society 6 shop in particular needed a bit of updating and my newly set up Bespo shop was looking bare so that needed to be addressed to...

This year I wanted to be able to offer a broader range of items with my designs on, but without a limitless budget for stock - or a vast amount of storage space to hold the stock, I decided the best way to go was to add my designs to sites such as Society 6 and Bespo, where the items are made to order and I earn a commission for sales of my design.  That suits me fine, I'm happy with that arrangement, it also means that I can offer my designs on a wide variety of items shipped worldwide from both here in the UK (thanks to Bespo) and also from the US (thanks to Society 6)...

So now you'll find more of my designs on all sorts of items from placemats and coasters to cushions, mugs, tote bags and phone covers...

It's not ideal having my designs scattered here and there all over the internet, so to make things simple and easy to find, I've created a brand new section on my website called 'gift ideas'.  There will always be a link button on the home page to this section.  This section has links to all the places you can find gift items (like cushions, mugs etc) and is clearly labelled so you know whether you are linking through to a UK or US based site, or just another page within my own website.

I really want to make it as easy as possible for my customers to find what they are looking for, so I highly value any feedback about how my website is set up and how you find the experience of using the site....

I've still lots to do - my Etsy shop needs some attention next, but I am gradually getting there.

I hope you are all having a productive week too.

Best wishes

Angie :)

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Tea & Tips: Advice from a PR Expert on How to do Product Photography...


This Wednesday’s advice post from my PR expert friend, Rachel Burks, is about product photography.  Rachel is Managing Director of Porcupine PR, a local agency I work with and who I also often commission to take some of my product photography for me – especially my full greeting card range images as they have an in-house photography studio in their offices fully equipped to do that job properly.  If you missed the first three posts in this mini-series of advice from Rachel, you can catch up by clicking the link here:

This week, let’s hear some great tips about product photography:

Rachel: “Product photography is vital for any e-commerce site. It needs to be done well in order to show off your products and sway consumers to buy them rather than those of your competitors...

You need the very best images of your products on your website because customers will only buy items they like the look of and no matter how brilliant your product is, if it’s not shown in its best light then it will not sell. After all in a shop a customer can pick up a product and get a really good look. Online they need to see it in all its glory.

Here are a few of our agency’s top tips for taking product shots: 

First thing’s first – background

This needs to be plain and simple – plain white is best but obviously necessarily if your product is white. You don’t want a busy background that takes the customer’s eye off the product. We would advise that you use the same background for all your products so there is some consistency...

Lighting is important
You do need to think about this carefully and it is one of the most important things. Sometimes natural light can be the easiest and most effective. Beware shadows. Poor light will produce grainy pictures too.

Lifestyle and close-up photos
For some of your products you may want to feature them in lifestyle settings so people can get a feel for how they would look and work in real life. Think about your product and where would be the most natural place for it to be seen and the kind of style vibe you want to push too.

It is good to have lifestyle photos but also remember you will need close-up photos of the product so people can see it clearly and in detail. Publications do often like cut out shots too so if you want PR coverage be prepared...

Product options
If your product is available in different colours it is vital that you show consumers the variety of options on offer. People will want to see the exact colour and not just have a list of them. It is also handy for people to see the product from different angles and to get an idea of the scale if applicable.

Product features
If in your product description you talk about for example, the embellished detail on a dress it is important to make sure you have a close-up image of this for the customer to see. People like to see the unique features and finer details.”

Thank you for sharing those useful tips Rachel. I’m already looking forward to next week’s post – it’ll be the last in this mini-series for now and will be all about commercial videos, an ever growing medium for marketing businesses, and an area I must confess I know very little about.  I hope you can join us next week and lean a few tips with me.

Best wishes


Friday, 3 October 2014

Something Pinteresting For The Weekend...


Friday has arrived again - so here's another little something 'pinteresting' for the weekend.

Today it's a joyous, lino cut card by Whoa There Pickle from their Folksy shop.  This appeals to my sense of humour and shone out of my pinterest feed, which is why I'd like to share it with you today.

You can find this card here on Folksy:

For more 'Gorgeous Greetings' like this one, here is a link to my pinterest board:

Have a lovely weekend.

Best wishes


Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Tea & Tips: Advice from a PR Expert on keeping your friends and fans happy when social networking


It’s Wednesday again, which means the third post in my mini-series about sharing business and marketing tips from my PR expert friend, Rachel Burks, Managing Director of Porcupine PR -  a local PR agency that I frequently work with and where I glean lots of business and marketing tips when I visit them for a tea and a chat.  If you missed the first two posts in the series you can catch up by clicking the link here:

This week, Rachel shares some sound advice about how to keep your friends and fans happy when social networking:

Rachel: Most businesses are keen to interact with and sell their products to their followers but many don’t realise that constant promotional messages can cause a negative reaction. Social media must be viewed as a ‘social’ activity like going to a party. You don’t just talk about yourself, you listen to others, you don’t try and sell your products and services, you form a relationship, and what’s the best way to form a relationship? Be interested in your friends, fans and followers, make them laugh and be knowledgeable and informative.

Consumers will stop purchasing items from companies and unfollow them if they have an irritating online presence. Have you ever thought hard about what you’re posting on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook? Could it be seen as annoying by your existing and potential customers?  The last thing any business wants is to lose lots of followers, so back at our agency, we’ve put together some tips on how to keep your friends and fans happy and your reputation intact.

Show your personality

No one wants to follow a faceless organisation, so showing some personality behind the profile picture is a must.  We’re not saying you should become best friends with every one of your followers but it is a good idea to write in a more chatty way. Ask questions and gather opinions. Getting into conversation with your followers is important, as interaction is key.

Think quality not quantity

Too many tweets can be exhausting for the recipient. Also there is nothing worse than repeating the same message constantly. Try to focus on the important content of your status update or tweet, keep it short and sweet and if you really do have to repeat yourself, give it a few hours between posts.

Equally, over-sharing for the sake of frequency can be equally off putting.  Some things aren’t really appropriate in the context of social media, and in some cases can lead to trouble.  We’ve all heard horror stories, or seen with our own eyes, online disputes get out of hand.  A few vital moments of thought before making any post will avoid any regrettable situations.

Listen to your followers

Social media is about interaction and your customers/followers will no doubt make contact with you at some point.  Never ignore people. Thank them for their comments. If they are asking for help or complaining then you do need to get back to them in a timely manner. Respond to their queries as best you can, that way your followers will know that you care and you’re there to help. Transparency and exemplary customer service are key.

Being ignored is infuriating, we have all experienced this at some point, and your followers are more likely to hit unfollow if they feel let down by you. They are also more likely to ensure their friends and family know all about it and it is amazing how quickly a social media comment can travel around the world unchecked. Much quicker and easier than a word-of-mouth complaint - and therefore much more deadly.

Give something back

If you were asked to do something you’d want something in return. Your followers want something in return too.  If they value your brand or company they’ll happily re-tweet your tweets or share your statuses with their friends, so it’s nice to give something back every now and then.  Why not hold a giveaway or offer your Twitter or Facebook friends a special deal?  It will work in your favour as they’ll continue to share and tell everyone all about your competition or offer, bringing in new followers and customers!”

Thank you again Rachel – next week she will be sharing some Tea and Tips with me about how to do product photography, I hope you can join us.

Best wishes


Friday, 26 September 2014

Something Pinteresting for the Weekend...

I love this image.

I found it via pinterest.  it's by Lisa DeJohn and can be found in her Etsy shop here:

That's what I love about pinterest, finding new and exciting designs, clicking on a pic of a design that catches my eye which takes me off somewhere new to be discovered - simply wonderful!

I'd like to try and use this blog to help share more of those discoveries with you, so will try and post one each Friday with a link one of my pinterest boards so that you can go, explore and find new delights of your own.  Starting with this board.  In keeping with this weeks theme here's a link to my Autumn Almanac board:

And here's a link to the Kinks song that inspired the name of that pinterest board and was what I was humming to myself as I made most of those pins! :

Happy Weekend Everyone!

Angie :)

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Tea & Tips: Advice from a PR Expert on Getting Your Press Release Noticed...


Last Wednesday I introduced the first of my mini-series about sharing business and marketing tips from my PR expert friend, Rachel Burks.  Rachel is Managing Director of PorcupinePR, a local agency that I frequently work with and where I often end up having very informative, relaxed chats about business and marketing matters, swapping tips and advice which I felt would be great to share with you, my lovely blog readers.  If you missed the first in the series you can catch up by clicking the link here:

This week, Rachel shares a few important basic tips about getting your press release noticed:

Rachel: “Most journalists receive hundreds of press releases every single day so it’s important to make sure yours stands out from the crowd. Follow our top tips and you should be on the right track.

Make sure your story is about the latest news or trends – the most recent developments are what a journalist will be interested in so include this information at the start.

Be different – journalists get sent a constant stream of ‘non stories’ all day long. Be the first, the newest, the oldest, the biggest or the smallest.

Grab the reader’s attention – much like the blurb on the back cover of a book, the first paragraph of your release should be concise and make the reader want to carry on. Headers are important too, try to think of something different and witty where appropriate but don’t be cheesy.

Pay attention to the detail – this includes the basics like checking your spelling and grammar but also refers to including the small details, such as someone’s age or where they live. Read through your release as if you didn’t know anything about the story and see if you have any unanswered questions when you reach the end.

Include a relevant image – news is getting more and more visual and a release that is sent through with a relevant, good quality press photograph is more likely to be picked up than one that isn’t. Many magazines prefer product images on a pure white background to make it easier to layout on their pages.  Images need to be sharply in focus and at least 300dpi resolution.

Include your contact details – make sure your telephone number, brief location, website address and social media details appear on the release. It sounds obvious but you’d be surprised how many people forget to add these.”

Thank you for some more sound advice Rachel.  Next Wednesday, Rachel will be sharing some Tea and Tips with me about How to keep your friends and fans happy when it comes to social networking. I hope you can join us.

Best wishes


Monday, 22 September 2014

Foxy's Back....


Now that autumn is upon us, you may spot the return of a certain little creature on my website shop, Folksy and Etsy shops.  My little fox and woodland creatures are back!

You'll also find a the new Fox and Hare print above as well as my Autumn Family trees (which can be personalised)...

I've just put an order in for some more woodland gift wrap, so keep your eyes peeled for that being re-stocked soon...

Of course, Foxy never went away over on Society 6 where she's available to be printed onto cushions, t-shirts, laptop skins, phone case...even mugs and clocks.  Here's a link of where to find her:

And, Foxy has a new friend.  Mr Tortoise...

 Please keep an eye out on my online shops for a special offer listing I am running up until the end of the year (to help save on the cost of buying multiple prints).  I've created a listing for any 2 un-framed prints for £10 (which shaves £4 off the usual cost before p&p costs are added).  The listing looks like this...
If you do place and order for 2 prints on that listing - please remember to contact me and let me know which prints you'd like.

Also, this Wednesday on this blog, there'll be the next in my tea and tips series all about getting your press release noticed.  

Until then, I hope you have a lovely couple of days.

Best wishes

Angie :)

Friday, 19 September 2014

New Designs for all occasions...


It's taken a little while to get back in the swing of things after the summer, but I feel like I am getting on top of things gradually and have had a fairly productive week.

Here are some pics I've been sharing around my social media sites this week, which give you a peep at some work in progress on the new set of occasions cards I'm working on.  I have plenty of those to do to fill the gaps in my portfolio.  Some of these designs have been requested for licensing so should be available (all being well) for purchase wholesale and retail within the next few months...

I've also listed some of the new designs I've been developing for my calendar and occasions cards as prints in my online shops (website, Folksy and Etsy).  I'd be very happy to personalise some of these designs, like the one above for Everlasting Love, which lends itself well to being a bright and cheery anniversary or wedding gift...

I've also been allowing myself a little time to play and experiment with inks (practice, practice, practice, it's the only way to get better at anything!).  I  really relish the moments I spent on these as the further you get into running a small business, the easier it is to loose sight of the things that made you want to set up the business in the first place - which for me, one of the main reasons was to spend lots of time drawing and getting my fingers inky.

This week, whist having a play I had an idea for a personalised product I could offer in my Folksy and Etsy shops in the run up to 'a certain event that will be happening in a couple of months time!' (no need to use the 'C' word yet!)...

What do you think?  Hand drawn, pen and ink cards with a personal message inside.  Obviously they'll need to be drawn on cards... and a little more time needs to spent on each to make them lovely - but you can get the idea from the pic above.

Well that's what I've been up to this week.  I hope you all have a lovely weekend

Best wishes

Angie :)