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 :)

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Tea & Tips: Advice from a PR Expert on The Importance of Having a Blog...


With a fresh term at school and business back to a more regular routine, I’d like to introduce a new ‘mini’ series to run each week here on my blog.  A mid week tea break refresher to help share some insider business and marketing tips with the help of a PR expert friend of mine.

Regular blog followers may be aware that I spend some of my time visiting a local PR Agency because they have an in-house photography studio which helps capture lots of my product images (particularly the full range images that I’d find impossible to shoot at home).  As well as being their client, Porcupine PR are frequently a client of mine as I’ve also worked on many graphic design briefs from them over the past year and a bit.  I must confess, I enjoy my visits to their agency as it’s a very familiar environment to me having spent many years working in advertising agencies - and they are a very warm and friendly team... 

One of the main benefits I find of spending time there is having relaxed chats over tea and biscuits about all sorts of business and marketing matters, swapping tips and things we’ve learnt.  Most of the time, I find myself having very some inspiring conversations with the Agency’s Managing Director, Rachel Burks.  So, I had an idea and have asked Rachel if she’d be happy for me to share some of the key tips and advice she’s kindly shared with me in those conversations, here on my blog so that those of you with small home based businesses (like mine) can also benefit from some professional marketing know-how. 

Lucky for me, she said yes and I am delighted to be able to introduce my new ‘Tea & Tips’ series which will be posted here around the middle of the week, for the new few weeks.

First up, Rachel shares some advice about blogging...

Rachel: “Blogging is big business at the moment and having a blog gives you the perfect platform to show your customers the personality behind your brand name. As all sales are based on a personal connection, using social media and blogging are vital tools in any successful PR and marketing campaign.  Having a blog is a great promotional tool as you can reach a huge audience of hundreds, thousands, even millions of people. It is one of the quickest ways to spread the word about your business and once you have an established online presence people will keep coming back.

Potential customers want to know about the people behind the business they’re buying from, what they are like, what they do in their spare time and what they look like. They want to hear behind-the-scenes stories, see photographs of you and your team and generally know just what is going on in your business.  A blog can allow you to reveal this sort of information in an informal way, while still maintaining a professional image.  It is a great way to feature your products and let your readers know more about them, leading to more sales and potential new custom.

Keeping your blog up-to-date is extremely important as people want to find out as much information about you as they can and there is nothing worse than discovering a blog that hasn't been updated in months. People think that you have closed down and this does not generate a positive feeling towards your business. Therefore if you’re unable to maintain it on a weekly basis then it’s always good idea to get an external expert involved rather than risk your company’s reputation.” 

Angie: “Ahh, but if you are a small home based start-up and your budget doesn't stretch that far, then I find it helps if you take some time and try creating a blog plan.  Rather than creating individual posts as and when, make a plan and create a number of posts in one go then schedule them  - there are some great scheduling tools on most blogs that help ensure you have posts ready and lined up ready to automatically post on a given date.  That way, you can be assured that your blog is kept regularly updated, especially during times when you know you will be busy and unable to keep on top of things”.

Rachel: “It is also important to make your blog as unique and interesting for people to read. Use good quality pictures (they are just as important as the words) with your text, link back to your business’ official website so people can discover what you’re all about and use keywords in your blog posts to keep your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) high. Unique and ever changing/updated content is also good for SEO, however it is important not to be too wordy as these days people have small attention spans and little time to read long posts.

The better your SEO, the higher your blog will appear in Google search rankings and the more visitors and future customers will discover your blog.  After social media, blogs are one of the fastest ways you can communicate with your existing and potential customers too.  They allow you to gather vital information through competitions and surveys, which can then be used to tailor products and services.”

Angie: “Used with social media to reach a wider audience, I find it’s not only a great way to go into more depth about a product or project (which a string of hashtags or 140 characters on their own can never do).  Blogging is also a great way to discover exciting new designers, gather inspiration, advice and learn some great tips.”

Thank you Rachel – some sound advice there, especially the tips on SEO.

If you are interested in finding out more about social media, a little while ago posted my findings following some research I did about social media to create a brief guide to each of the top sites (I basically did the hard work so you don’t have to).  You can read those findings here:

Next week, Rachel will be sharing some Tea and Tips with me about how to get your Press Release noticed, I hope you can join us.

Best wishes


Wednesday, 3 September 2014

New Season - New Look...


It's back to school day here.  It feels like summer has flown by and it was great to spend some precious family time together.  I am slightly relieved that it's back to business as usual though, six weeks is more than enough - time for some routine and structure to help make it easier all round to balance work with home...

As a new season begins you'll find my online shops have been given a little bit of a new look to reflect the autumn nip in the air.  I'm a little bit in love with current trend for dark florals (as I've always been drawn to such patterns and designs), so I had a play with some of my wraps and my camera and have taken some new pics to feature on my online sites....

As I mentioned on a previous post, there are also some new prints available on my website, Folksy and Etsy shops...and development is well and truly underway on my 2015 calendar, which some of the new designs will be part of... 

 I am also working on some more occasions greetings designs which when finished, will be available wholesale.  The aim is to 'fill the gaps' in my occasion range portfolio, there are a number of occasions I have yet to do and some others I need to refresh for next year.  Like this design below 'Everlasting Love' which will be February in my 2015 calendar and will also be released as a valentine card next year...

One thing this summer has taught me, is that I am finding instagram a joy to use and a great way to stay in touch with all those lovely businesses that rarely appear in my facebook newsfeed anymore.  I've been enjoying it so much that I've been generally using it as my first port of call social network.  Here's where you'll find me over there:

Well, that about brings us up to date on projects I've got on the go.  Next week, I have plans to launch a mini series here on the blog, I'll share more about that very soon.

Have a lovely 'half' a week.

Best wishes