Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Cute Kids, Clocks and Etsy Treasuries

This week I have become addicted to Etsy Treauries.  I've been selling on Etsy for a couple of months now but I've not really taken part in the "community" until this week.  To be honest, I've had a look on the forum and it doesn't really interest me.  Likewise I've joined some teams but most of the discussions just seem to be "Look what I made!" so I got bored of them pretty quick.  But then I started making Treasuries....

Treasuries are collections of 16 items (although I could only 'print screen' 12 when I was getting the pictures for my blog) and they usually have a theme.  I like to do my treasuries with an animal theme, such as the guinea pig treasury above and this ladybird treasury:

For me, as a seller, there are several advantages to creating treasuries. 

The first is that it's fun.  It's like window shopping on Etsy and I find it inspiring to see what everybody else is making.  

The second is that it can help with your market research.  While looking through all the items available for your treasury you can get a good feel for not only the amount of products available but also the variety.  For the ladybird treasury I had almost 2,000 varied items to choose from.  Whereas for the puffin treasury below there were less than 300 items to choose from and these were mostly art, cards and jewellery.  This tells me that if I made a puffin clock (something I've been considering for a while) it'll stand out on Etsy far more than my ladybird clock does.

Finally it can help bring people to your shop.  I was sceptical that creating a list advertising other people's products would be a good way to market my own but since I started compiling treasuries my both my views and like have increased.  I haven't seen an increase in sales yet, but surely increasing the number of visitors to my shop increases the likelihood of a sale?  As free marketing goes, I'm pleased with the results so far.


If you're on Etsy, I'd recommend creating a few treauries to drive extra customers to your shop.  It's free, fun, easy and, unlike most internet marketing, uncomplicated.  Just remember a couple of golden rules - never include your own items in your treasury (it's just not done) and create your treasuries around a theme which is compatible with your shop.  As I sell cute animal clocks, most of my treasuries are of cute animals.  That way I know the people who make the items I've featured like cute animals and the people who look at the treasury like cute animals, so anyone who comes to look at my shop through the treasury is more likely to like my clocks than if I'd done a treasury of cranberry glass or comedy t-shirts.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Cute Kids, Clocks and Flapjacks

This week I'm going to share my recipe for flapjacks.  These flapjacks always turn out really well thanks to the secret ingredient - a spoonful of jam!  This is the basic recipe.  You can add fruit or change the cinnamon for a different spice to make the flapjacks how you like them.  I like to add grated apple for an extra fruity kick.

Ingredients
250g  butter (or margarine)
250g brown sugar
175g honey
1 dessert spoon jam or marmalade (any flavour)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (or other spice)
425g porridge oats

  1. Line and grease a 20 x 28cm baking tin and preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. Place the butter, sugar, honey, cinnamon and jam in a large heavy-based saucepan and cook over a moderate heat, stirring until the butter has melted.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the oats until evenly coated.
  4. Turn the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface.
  5. Bake at 180 degrees C for 25-30 minutes.
  6. Leave in the tin until almost cold, thern turn out onto a board a cut into 16 pieces
 The flapjacks will keep in an airtight container for up to a week (but mine are usually gone in a couple of days!!!).
 



Monday, 14 November 2011

Cute Kids, Clocks and The Dangly Santa

The original Dangly Santa was made by my Granny in the 70s.  I'm not sure where she got the pattern from, so apologies for not creditting the person who created the original Dangly Santa.  

Dangly Santa has been hung in my Mum's house every Christmas for longer than I've been alive.  I've always loved him so I decided to make one for my house.  I created a template by drawing round the original.  You can download a PDF of the template if you follow these links:


To create your own Dangly Santa you will need card, thing string or strong thread, a needle, red, white and black felt and white fur.

The first step for creating your own Dangly Santa is to cut out each part of the template and use them to cut the following pieces from the card:
  • 1 x hat
  • 2 x eyes
  • 1 x nose
  • 1 x moustache
  • 1 x beard
 The next step is to join these pieces of card together.  On the template there are crosses marking where you need to attach the thread.  The picture on the left shows the distance between all the different body parts.  The measurements are rough guides, you can change them to what you feel looks right.


The thread out of the top of the hat can be as long as you like - just remember to put a loop on the end, as this is how you will hang you Santa.  I recommend you start with the thread on the top of the hat and then attach the nose, moustache and beard.  This way you can hold your Santa by the hanging thread to make sure your Santa's eyes are level before you attach them.  Once everything is placed how you want it your next step is to cut out the felt shapes.  You will need the following pieces:
  • 2 x hat (red)
  • 2 x trim (white fur)
  • 4 x eye (white felt)
  • 4 x pupil (black)
  • 2 x nose (red)
  • 2 x moustache (white fur)
  • 2 x beard (white fur)

Then you simply glue the material to the card.  You want fabric on both sides of the card, including pupils on both sides of the eyes.  This might seem a bit strange but once your Santa is hung, the different bits will spin round and he'll look very odd if you can't see the pupils in both his eyes.


Now you have your own Dangly Santa all ready for Christmas!!!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Cute Kids, Clocks and Lions

 Inspired by my birthday trip to the zoo, I've been working on a lion template.  All my designs begin life this way and then the size, material and method are adapted depending on what I'm making.  The lion in the photographs is made from craft foam and is going to go on a bag, but it would also look good made from felt or coloured paper .



  
The first step is to print out the template at the bottom of the post onto A4 paper (for a lion that is 21cm tall).  Then cut out each section.





 


 Draw round the templates on your coloured material and cut them out.  For this lion I've used bright yellow for the back legs, pale yellow for the body and brown for the mane.  As he's a very cartoony lion you can use any colours but I find it works best if the legs and body are different shades of the same colour.  Remember to do 2 eyes and 2 pupils!




  Depending on the materials you've used and what you intend to do with your lion you can either glue or sew your lion.  Here I've stuck my lion together with PVA to hold all the pieces in place while I sew it.


And here's my finished lion, sewn onto what will be the pocket of a shopping bag.  The mouth is stitched on but could also be drawn on or you could leave your lion without a mouth, as in the previous photo.


I hope you have fun making your own very easy but very cute lion!








 Lion Template

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Cute Kids, Clocks and Spanish Chicken

Just doing a quick post this week as I'll be busy celebrating my 30th birthday this week so here's my recipe for Spanish Chicken!


Spanish Chicken (serves 4)

1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 red peppers, chopped
100g chorizo, sliced
500g passata
1tsp paprika
8 chicken pieces (wings, thighs, drumsticks)
chilli flakes
salt and pepper


1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and fry the onion until soft, add the garlic and fry for another minute.
2. Add the peppers and chorizo and continue to fry.
3. When the chorizo begins to release its oil, add the passata and paprika and bring to the boil.
4. Transfer to a deep roasting tin and place the chicken pieces on top.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and sprinkle with chilli flakes, if using.
5. Roast in a pre-heated oven for 40 minutes at 200 degrees C.  Serve with rice or potatoes.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Cute Kids, Clocks and Opening an Etsy Shop

I decided this week that I would finally open an Etsy shop.  With my usual excellent timing, I've chosen a week when Lochlan's third tooth is coming through so I've not got anywhere near as much done as I'd like, and the stuff I have done isn't to the standard I'd like.  Still at least it's there now and I can dedicate my efforts to stocking and improving my shop.

My initial instinct was that I didn't need to join an online marketplace because it would increase my costs and  mean that I would have to divide my marketing efforts across two sites.  But as the Christmas period approaches I've begun to feel as though Cute Kids Clocks could benefit from the increased exposure offered by a large marketplace.  Also I think being part of a recognised marketplace makes your shop seem more trustworthy than an independent website the customer stumbled upon on google.


So once I'd decided to join a marketplace, I had to decide which one.  There's a large and ever-growing selection of sites offering to help you sell your handmade goods online but for me it was a simple decision.  There are only three sites which I had heard of before I started looking into selling my clocks - Not On The High Street, Etsy and Folksy.  I disregarded  all other sites thinking that if I hadn't heard of them, then my potential customers probably haven't either.  Not On The High Street has a high joining fee, which was too expensive for me at the moment so I disregarded that too.  Given the choice between Etsy and Folksy I chose to join Etsy as it is US-based and so has more international customers.


Before I joined Etsy I did some reading about how to create a successful Etsy shop.  There's a lot written about it on the Etsy blog but, to be honest, I found it quite overwhelming and went to check out what bloggers said on the subject instead.  I've linked to some of the blogs I enjoyed below.  They're a little contradictory but I like that as it gives me more to think about.


Joining Etsy was simple but not as fun as I'd expected.  There's lots of sensible stuff to think about like returns policies and sales tax, but if you set sections up right then you won't have to worry about them again.  To set up your shop you follow a few simple steps and then it's work, work, work until you get it looking great.


Shop Name - The general consensus is that your shop name should be product neutral as it can't be changed.  If you call yourself 'cutekidsclocks', it'll seem a bit odd in a few years time if you are now selling sock monkeys.  I've ignored this advice as my website, blog, facebook and twitter are all 'cutekidsclocks' and I want my Etsy shop to be consistent with my other web presences.  And it means noone else can use cutekidsclocks for their shop.


Shop Title - I've gone with 'More than Cute Kids Clocks' which isn't the catchiest title but it reflects my plans for the shop.  I  don't want my Etsy shop to just be a replica of my website, instead it's going to expand my range to include other products featuring the same cartoon animals (shopping bags coming soon).






Shop Banner Image - For this shop I've ditched my usual cartoon characters (above) for a new banner featuring photos of my clocks (below).  I'm not entirely happy with the new banner.  As the first thing my customers will see when they visit my site, it makes sense to have my clocks on the banner but I don't think this banner does them justice.


Shop Announcement - This bit is very important and subject to conflicting advice. The problem is that it is the text at the top of your shop and so is the perfect space to promote any special offers and new products, but it is also the text which will be displayed on google search results.  It needs to be short so the full message is displayed on the top of the page and in the google search results - you don't want your potential customers clicking away from your shop front to read your mission statement, you want them to look at your products.  It also needs to make sense in the context of a shop announcement, while being enticing enough to encourage people searching on google to visit your shop.  I think this section will be rewritten many times in the coming months.


Message to Buyers - In some ways this isn't a very important section of your shop as your customers won't see it until after they have made a purchase, but it's very important in terms of happy customers, good feedback and repeat purchases.  


Policies - The boring serious bit...  Writing your payment, shipping and refund policies isn't fun but it's probably the most important part of your shop.  Put a bit of time and effort in to create policies which cover any situations which may arise and you'll save yourself problems in the future.  I think it's better to have strict policies which you can relax if the situation requires (making you the good guy, going the extra mile for your customer), than to leave something out of your policies.


Shipping Profiles and Payment Methods - It sounds obvious but weigh your products with the packaging you will be using and look up the postage costs for different regions before you set your shipping profiles.  You'll need a different profile for each product if there is a big difference in sizes and weights.  I've set up my shop so I will ship any where in the world but I'm only accepting payments through Paypal.  If I were only shipping to the UK I would also accept cheques and postal orders but I've had issues with payments from overseas on ebay in the past, so for ease I'm just accepting Paypal payments from everyone.


Once you've done all that you can start adding items to your shop and with some great photography and well-written descriptions you should see the sales come flooding in.  Currently I only have 2 items in my shop (thanks to my grumpy teething baby) so I'll revisit this topic in the near future when I've had chance to research photography and descriptions.  Until then I'd love you to leave any tips you may have for creating a successful Etsy shop in the comments.


Links:
My Etsy Shop
Kellbot! - The Secret to Selling on Etsy
Everything Etsy - 20 Tips for Selling on Etsy
Crochetgal's Etsy Shop Tips
Every Little Thing Top Ten Tips for Selling on Etsy
Bachman's Sparrow - Selling on Etsy

Friday, 7 October 2011

Cute Kids, Clocks & The Scary First Blog Post

I've been considering blogging for a while but I've been too scared.  I probably have the same concerns as many first time bloggers - Will anyone read my blog?  Will anyone like my blog?  What if I'm really boring?  Do I have time for this?

So far it's not going too well.  It's taken me 3 days to get past the title!  So apologies to the first 11 visitors to my blog who just got to see a pretty background and the words 'No posts.'  It's not that I'm a really slow typer (although I'm currently cudddling a sleeping baby with my right arm and typing with my left hands, so that's slowed me down somewhat), I've been busy with the grumpy, drooly mess that is my son.  Lochlan's 8 months old and expecting tooth number 3 so it's a full time job trying to keep him happy.  

As well as raising Lochlan, I make clocks which I sell on my website Cute Kids Clocks.  I won't get rich making clocks, I just want to make enough money so I can stay home with Lochlan.  Being able to make a living doing something I love is an added bonus.


As I can only blog one-handed during naptimes, this blog is going straight from my brain to the internet so apologies for any errors or typos.  I try to proof read as I go but I'm sure some mistakes will slip through.  My plan is to write about whatever it is that I'm up to.  So some posts will be about my crafting, some will be about marketing and there'll stuff about Lochlan and whatever else is on my mind that day.  If I come across any good craft tutorials or useful marketing tools I'll share them with you.  I'll share my craft makes and maybe a few recipes (but only the ones with the best results).  Hopefully there'll be something you'll enjoy reading.  I think my first "real" post will be about advertising on Bing or joining Etsy, as they're both on my to-do list and it might encourage me to actually do them.

Until then if you'd like to know more about me or Cute Kids Clocks why not have a look at the following pages.
website - www.cutekidsclocks.co.uk
facebook - www.facebook.com/cutekidsclocks
twitter - @cutekidsclocks