We will Remember.....

At the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, we will Remember.

They shall not grow old as we that are left shall grow old,

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn,

At the going down of the sun,
and in the morning

We will remember them.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009 | 1 Comment

What's in a name?

Hello again everyone - firstly I want to apologise for the appearance of the blog lately. It seems the template I use has had the images deleted from Flickr, I need to play around with the coding a little.

In the Artfire forums, there is a grea thread going about how you decided the name of your store. I am not sure if I have ever really told you? Well here goes....

When I set up Butterfly-Crafts in late 2008 I wanted a name that reflected me and my idea. I chose Butterfly-Crafts because I adore beautiful butterflies, I think they are so delicate and pretty and I could sit and watch them in the garden for hours.

But it runs a little deeper than that! In its lifetime a butterfly goes through a few life changes! It starts off as a catterpillar and then a chrysalis before finally transforming into a butterfly. I feel a little similar.

In my day job I feel like i can never keep up with what i need to do, like I need a hundred pairs of hands and it is never quite good enough. But once the click hits 5.30pm I leave the office and shut my eyes on the commute home, as if I am going into my shell to become a chrysalis. When I get home (after a minimum of 90mins commute), I eat and then transform into doing the work that I love - my craft and my business. I might not create every evening but I am working on my business be it blogging, plurk, facebook, listings, promoting or just networking - I am working on what I love and what I hope can create a better life for me - just like a Butterfly.

Sunday, 1 November 2009 | 0 Comments

Butterfly Crafts Christmas Giveaway

Yes its time! I have not run a giveaway for a while and now is the time - today is the day!

From Saturday 10th to Sunday 18th October you can enter to win two Christmas cards and a 20% off coupon for a future purchase. I will pick two winners from a random number generator. The cards are currently not made but you can check out the Christmas section of my Artfire store to see examples of what you might win.

Here's how to enter:

Twitter about my store or giveaway and get 1 entry - include @butterfly_craft in your twitter

Facebook - Write about Butterfly Crafts or the giveaway and get 2 entries. My fan page is www.facebook.com/ButterflyCrafts

Newsletter - Sign up to the Butterfly-Crafts newsletter and receive 3 entries

Write a blog about Butterfly-Crafts or the giveaway and receive 4 entries

Make a purchase from the store or run my ad on your blog/website etc for 5 entries. Please email me at butterflycrafts@ymail.com for the ad.

Also, please post a comment to this thread of how you have promoted and how I can contact you if you win!

Saturday, 10 October 2009 | 12 Comments

Business Set Up Tips Part 21 - Marketing Plans

Part 21? Wow, this series is officially an adult!

So with all your new found publicity skills you might just have been promoted in a magazine article or a feature on Hand Made News or receive a thousand hits from a high profile blog feature but what was todays feature will be tomorrows fish wrappers as the saying goes. You will need to start thinking longer term to the next six or twelve months and ask yourself one question: How can I keep the momentum going?

A successful marketing programme is based on frequency and keeping your business name and products in your audiences face until they recognise your brand and then buy your products.

Before devsing a marketing plan or create your marketing materials, you need to have a clear understanding as to who your target audience are. Get to know your customers, how do they spend? How much to they spend? What blogs or magazines do they read? That way, you can create materials they will respond to. Knowing your customers specific wants and needs will help you put together products to meet those desires.

As you begin to put your marketing plan together, assess your goals and budget. If you need immediate results to stir up interest quickly try advertising or getting into a high traffic blog (like mine!) However for most of us small business owners in the craft world we have the time but no money! In this instance, put your money into publicity rather than advertising. Send new material to editors, follow up and remind them of your company until they bite. Publicity is not a marketing method for the impatient, you may spend days putting together press kits and sending them out and get no response, it might even take months for an article to be published.

It is also worh bearing in mind that not all of your ideas, products or sales are appropriate for PR activity - it is for you to decide what is important to publicise and what can be skipped over.

I must admit, writing this blog has made me think about having an actual marketing plan, something I donot have as yet. It would be great if you have any marketing tips to share, please comment......

Friday, 9 October 2009 | 2 Comments

Business Set Up Tips Part 20 - Hiring a Publicist

Are you like me and struggle when it comes to publicity or do you not have the energy? Have you considered hiring a publicist?

A publicist is paid to sing your praises from the roof tops to the press but also consult with you on every aspect of your business. The most imporant thing a publicist can do, is develop your marketing strategy.

A publicist will want to present your products to their contacts every season so you will need to be prepared and committed to delivering an agreed quota. You need to ask yourself if you are really ready for major recognition and the sales (and production) this will bring - I know I'm not just yet but Butterfly-Crafts will be one day! Finally, and most importantly, can you even afford one?

Remember you are hiring a publicist for their expertise and contacts and this unfortunately does not come cheap. On top of their monthly fee, you may also have to pay out for their telephone calls, postage and copying costs. You will still have to create your press kit and advertising because although the publicist can advertise you, they are not necessarily a graphic designer.

If you do decide to take the next step in marketing and hire, choose carefully and pick someone you have a good rapport with and who you feel will represent you well. Do your research with different companies and ask fellow store owners for their contacts. But, when it comes to signing that contract, put your expectations in writing and stay in contact.

It is really important to realise that a publicist can be selective about who they choose to work with. Like all of use, they will want a client who is easy to work with and whose talents and skills they truely believe in as you are likely to be committed to a minimum contract.

One thing to bear in mind with a publicist however is that the results are cumulative so you may not see immediate results but when they do start, they are likely to snowball!

Monday, 5 October 2009 | 1 Comment

Business Set Up Tips Part 19 - Press Kits

In the last business tips blog we looked briefly at being your own publicist. Now we look at what to do next and how to develop a press kit.

If you hear back from the editor or their designers from the publication you approached, it is possible that they will be working on a deadline and want your information yesterday. The best way to be prepared for this is by having a web page with high-res images, key facts, press releases and suchlike that can be downloaded quickly. Sometimes this approach can be quicker than snail mail and if you make work easier for your contacts, they may be back for more.

However, it is good to have a hard copy press kit as one way to express your creativity in your business material. Standard components of the press kit would include:

  • a catalogue with clear photos and descriptions,
  • a line sheet with product numbers and whole sale prices,
  • a biography,
  • colour copies of any press cuttings,
  • press releases if what you are announcing is newsworthy,
  • a few samples if you can spare them as often Editors prefer something visual to a press release.

A press kit is a great chance to be imaginative, but is can go terribly wrong if you try and jump through too many hoops and end up confusing the viewer and losing the message whilst you're at it. If you can balance out simplicity and creativity you'll have a winning kit. You may also consider:

  • Including your contact information on the bottom of every item in the kit,
  • Reflect your brand by reinforcing your colours and logos,
  • Everything in the kit, aside from samples, should remain flat as editors often keep a stack of kits on their desk - and you wouldn't want to be the person who sent in a poster tube and you roll off or get binned.
  • As a precaution label each and every item in the case it were to be separated from the rest.
  • Don't include too many loose small items incase they get lost.

A note of caution though regarding samples - if you send unsolicited samples to publications, it is very unlikely that you will receive them back as they would be considered gifts. However if an editor was to request something specific from you, you will be more likely to see it again.

So your challenge for this week is to think about what you would include in a press kit.......

Image from http://www.theangryrobot.artfire.com/

Friday, 2 October 2009 | 0 Comments

Artisan Feature - Exquisite Studios

I am so excited, I get to feature a very dear friend of Butterfly-Crafts, Emily from Exquisite Studios. I interviewed Emily a while back now but here was her interview:

1. If you had to work by a creative mission what would it be? My mission is to keep the bar high and over deliver.

2. Have you had any creative disasters?-While making berries from hand-torching glass stringers, I burned the floor in my kitchen in about 4 different spots. When I was working while tired, I would lose control of the berry and drop it or I'd accidentally hit something else and the tiny piece would go flying somewhere. Yeah, you couldn't see so you had to find it by smell--melted vinyl!

3. What is your favourite item in your collection? A rainbow flourite cube bracelet. I love all my designs, but the colors there are amazing

4. Sum up your collection for me: somewhat eclectic, always fantastic

5. Is there another craft you would like to try? not right now

6. What is your favourite craft store? Kasson Variety Mart & Hardware Hank! I get all my butane from HHank. I buy local as much possible!

7. From where do you draw your inspiration? Emotions, colors, seasons, the most unexpected places--even the gas station

8. What made you do this for a business? I finally found my confidence in my abilities

9. How do you like online selling? I don't really know yet

10. What tip can you pass to a new online seller? Ask for help when you know you need it, stay positive

11. Describe yourself in 5 words: Loving, artistic, creative, hilarious, happy

12. What has been your favourite vacation/holiday? Our first-ever family vacation last year to Florida! We visited/stayed with friends who moved there and the girls loved the ocean as much as we did.

13. What's a good book you have read? Ummm, what?

14. Which season do you relate with and why? My favorite is hands down, FALL. no jacket, cooler out, and no mosquitos

15. What is a favourite film of yours? Please, there's only 1 and is and has always been "Terms of Endearment"
Emily is such a wonderful person, a true enhancement to the Artfire site. Here is a showcase of her work.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009 | 0 Comments

Book Review - Friday Night Knitting Club

I'm not a fast reader, I'll be the first to admit it takes me a while to 'get in to' a book let alone finish one. However, when I read the Friday Night Knitting Club, I could hardly put it down. No, it's not a classic or book of the year, but it is one of the first books I came completely engrossed in and could hardly put it down. I will admit, I have actually read it twice.

The book is set in NYC, in a knitting shop called Walker and Daughter run by Georgia and her daughter Dakota. The knitting club meet every Friday (shocking revelation I know) to knit, chat and share in each others lives. There is KC the aspiring lawyer, Lucie the music video producer, Darwin the PhD student, Peri the aspiring handbag designer, Anita the always there older woman and Cat, the long lost friend. The book follows their ups and downs, lifes, loves and laughs.

There is a bit of a twist towards the end, I would say a shocking twist because it actually made me shed a few tears! That is the first time I have ever reacted like that to a book, especially a fiction story which just went to show me how involved I felt.

I could not recommend this book highly enough. It is just an easy going read but I loved it, it was a good story and allowed me to dream of having my own craft store!

What books have you read that have had a reaction like that? Please share and comment below.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009 | 1 Comment

Business Set Up Tips Part 18 - Being your own publicist

For most independent crafts people like myself, publicity is a good strategy when you are short on money but have some available time. But, before you rush into getting yourself known, it is important to know that getting press mentions is more about raising the profile of your business and your products than driving sales. I would love to get Butterfly-Crafts and my handmade cards mentioned in the press!

In an ideal world, you should aim to spend at least two hours a week working on publicity and getting your brand and products into the media. If it is applicable, might I suggest a trip to the local newsagent or library to research your target publications?

For magazines, bear in mind that the lead time is often three to five months and if you have Christmas products, you need to approach them in the Summer time. Take note of the Editor for the section your work would fit in and send them a press kit. Double check that the address you have found is not for advertising or subscriptions as often these are managed separately to the magazine. Once you have the information you need, write the Editor a letter, talk a little about your business and show that you have read their publication bt explaining why your product would be a good fit.

Editors are looking for something that stands out against the crowd so it is likely you will write to many editors. What ever you do however, don't get lazy and send off a generic letter or just fill in the blanks of a stock letter, tailor each letter to the editor you are writing to.

Happy researching!!

Monday, 28 September 2009 | 1 Comment

Business Set Up Tips Part 17 - Blogging

Wow part seventeen already!

If you are after more web space for your business then a blog may be the answer. However you chose to manage your blog, whether it be business or personal, it can help keep an audience interested in you and return to view your recent posts and updates.

It is vitally important to know that blogging is time consuming and if you do it well you will need to post frequently to maintain an interest from your audience. Unlike Facebook, Twitter, Myspace or the other social networking sites, a regular blog reader will search for authenticity and honesty in a posting not a complete sales pitch of new listings and special offers. If you were to use your blog as just another marketing tool then you may lose regular readers.

I have put a lot of planning into my blog and if you are a follower you will see I post business tips, an artisan feature of a fellow Artfire artist, the Crazy Marketing Train, some of my new listings and more personal nature to let my readers learn more about me as a person and artist.

Image from Brainscan

Monday, 21 September 2009 | 1 Comment

Artisan Feature on Shiny Adornments

It is time for me to feature another wonderful Artfire seller and today it is Kristy from Shiny Adornments.

1) If you had to work by a creative mission what would it be? Create what you love. After creating jewelry pieces for about 6 months in, I had an epiphany of sorts. I was making things I didn’t particularly like. Making things "to sell". Not fun for me and wasn’t filling the creative void nor was the act of creating them particularly stress reducing. I decided that going forward, I would ONLY create things that I loved. Items that I would wear if they weren’t purchased. So that’s what I do today.

2) Have you had any creative disasters? Besides spilling a large bead stash on the floor at least once a month? I also have to admit whacking my fingers more than once with a texturing hammer or jabbing myself with a pair of pliers.

3) What is your favourite item in your collection? I’ve become very
partial to these sterling knotted hoop earrings

4) Sum up your collection for me: ShinyAdornments is artisan handmade beaded and wire wrapped jewelry, handcrafted in Wichita, KS. I use sterling silver, gemstones, SRA lampwork, glass, and polymer clay beads in my work, which includes bracelets, bangles, earrings, necklaces, hair sticks, and cocktail rings for both work and play. I make jewelry I would wear myself. The materials depend on my mood and inspiration. My goal is to create wearable items for work and play that offer an interesting statement about the women who wear them.

5) Is there another craft you would like to try? I’m taking a silversmithing class this summer in order to further my skills. I’m most interested in learning about enameling.

6) What is your favourite craft store? Wow, that’s a tough one. There are multiples online that I love. Monsterslayer and Otto Frei come to mind.

7) From where do you draw your inspiration? More than anything else I am inspired by color, specifically botanicals.

8) What made you do this for a business? I started making jewelry because I couldn’t find pieces to coordinate with my work attire. I love being able to hammer components into submission. Creating little wearable expressions of color has become a stress reducing therapy for me.

9) How do you like online selling? I’ve learned a lot over the last couple of years. One of the things that I like the best is that my pieces are being worn by wonderful buyers from all over the world. That makes me smile.

10) What tip can you pass to a new online seller? Develop a business plan. Stick to it. Get a really good camera and learn how to take really really good photographs.

11) Describe yourself in 5 words: Silly, geek, Mom, sarcastic, analytical

12) What has been your favourite vacation/holiday? A cruise, any cruise, any time

13) What's a good book you have read? Anything trashy and scary, preferably with guns, ghouls or crime, or all three

14) Which season do you relate with and why? I’m a fall, all the way. The color palette is my favorite, I don’t have to sweat. Love the fall.

15) What is a favourite film of yours? Shawn of the Dead, The Big Lebowski, Star Trek
Thanks Kristy! Now here comes my showcase of your fantastic work.......

Thursday, 17 September 2009 | 1 Comment

Business Set Up Tips Part 16 - Having an online presence

The primary reason for having a website or online presence is to connect to your customers! Whether you choose to host your own domain name or use a site like Artfire, you can easily create a site that reflects your company image. Having a website can maximise your marketing potential, but keep these points in mind:
  1. Include a bio so that customers can learn about you
  2. Use a domain that is not too lengthy, isn't confusing and more importantly is easy to spell
  3. Update the site frequently with news or new products
  4. Consider running a mailing list
  5. Include details of other sites / social networking you are involved in if it is appropriate

Another aspect of being online is the online communities or social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Plurk. If you are looking to aggressively promote your business, social networking will allow you to post pictures and descriptions of both your business and product. Following this, you can invite your friends and customers to connect with your pages which will in turn connect to their friends and so on. As an enhancement you might also like to consider a giveaway or discount to those who join your community.

I use Facebook for personal use but I also have a Butterfly-Crafts fan page where I talk about projects I am working on, offer special offers and giveaways, show new products and brainstorm. Followers of my Twitter are able to see new listings shortly after they are created along with blog posts. Plurk is more of a social tool for me but I do use it for some business purposes.

Next time we will look a little into writing blogs!

Friday, 11 September 2009 | 0 Comments

Business Set Up Tips Part 15 - Photography

I will say from the outset - I am in no way an expert on photography! In fact, I really struggle to take good photos and when I first set up Butterfly-Crafts, my photos were shocking! I thought it would be good to photo my cards on a black so that they were the main feature, that was until someone kindly pointed out to me that the black was washing out my cards.

So, after a long hard think I decided to use a silver background, I just bought some wrapping paper, and use two props in all of my photos: purple butterflies and a purple pen, that way my store front has a uniformity to it and I am so pleased!

I have gathered a few tips on photography and would like to share:
  • Do not use a flash as this can distort the product colour

  • Use indirect light as direct light can create harsh shadows

  • Buy daylight, tungsten or halogen lightbulbs as incandescent ones can create a yellow effect

  • Use soft, diffuse lighting such as a photographer's umbrella or a light box.

  • Use a tripod as your hands will shake no matter how steady you think you are.

  • Get to know your camera as some digital cameras have manual settings allowing you to programme the shutter speeds and apertures.

  • Think about using the macro setting (I do!) as this will help focus when taking up-close pictures

  • Be creative with your backgrounds/settings or just use something plain. Something too busy will distract from the product

  • Take multiple shots of the same item (I take about 10) and think how the buyer would want to see the item. I photo my cards from all angles I can think of and then close up on specific parts. Make jewelry? Then make sure you photograph the reverse of the item if appropriate.

  • Learn how to use a photo editing software as you will need it!

Some links you may find helpful:

Coming the next time for Business Tips (Friday) - Having an online presence

Monday, 7 September 2009 | 1 Comment

Artisan Feature: Michigan Mud

Time seems to by flying by lately! Its already time for another Artfire artisan feature and this time I have great pleaseure in showcasing MichiganMud. So here come the questions....

1) If you had to work by a creative mission what would it be? I intend to work with integrity, stay true to my beliefs in handmade art from quality components and to respect all other artisans and their craft.

2) Have you had any creative disasters? Any attempt at needle craft. My mom is a brilliant knitter/crochet-er/cross stitcher, etc. Me. not so much!

3) What is your favourite item in your collection? My asian lantern pendant shown here

4) Sum up your collection for me: It's really just a collection of simple items that I think are beautiful. I really treasure simplicity and hope my items reflect that.

5) Is there another craft you would like to try? I've tried a few and right now I'm very happy playing with my clay!

6) What is your favourite craft store? hmmm, Michael's probably although I'll shop at any of them!

7) From where do you draw your inspiration? Just about everywhere. Nature, especially water, is very good for my muse, but just about anything might strike a chord!

8) What made you do this for a business? My "real" job as a scientist went away a couple years ago. I wanted to stay home with my son and work on my Master's degree, but still be able to contribute to the household budget. I'm still a fledgling business, but every day I learn something new to help get me to my goal!

9) How do you like online selling? I love it! I love being able to "go to work" any time of the day or night and getting to "meet" people from all over the world.

10) What tip can you pass to a new online seller? Don't get discouraged. If you do quality work and promote yourself, you will get sales.

11) Describe yourself in 5 words: smart, sarcastic, caring, impatient and true (to family, friends and myself)

12) What has been your favourite vacation/holiday? So far, it's the Alaskan cruise from last summer. I have lots of places I want to visit though!

13) What's a good book you have read? "The Poisonwood Bible" by Barbara Kingsolver is outstanding!

14) Which season do you relate with and why? I love all of them! That's why I love Michigan! Four beautiful seasons, each with their own merits.

15) What is a favourite film of yours? ahem, I am a geek at heart...Star Wars original trilogy...

Well thank you for letting us get to know you a little more! Here is my showcase of your wonderful items on Artfire

If you would like to be featured another time, please leave me a comment or contact me through my Butterfly-Crafts

Wednesday, 2 September 2009 | 0 Comments

Business Tips Set Up Part 14 - Marketing & Publicity

Once you take that first step into the world of marketing, you must first consider the materials you use to represent your business. Your stationery communicates a message about your business therefore should feature your logo and represent your brand. My business cards for Butterfly-Crafts shown here are one way I market myself.

You may have business cards, letter-head, post cards and pens but have you ever considered a catalogue? If you only sell online you have the difficulty of not being about to directly show your items, here is where a catalogue can help. Catalogues are typically image heavy with concise item descriptions. It can also help to include company history and contact information. Bear in mind you may change your catalogue with the seasons so print in realistic numbers.

Having catalgoues professionally made can become expensive, especially if you hire a photographer, stylist, graphicdesigner and printer. Services like Vista offer calatogues if you do the work yourself.

Prior to working on the catalogue, carefully consider what it is you want to say. Planning to send them to store who are new to your product? Then a fancier presentation may be required. Handing out at trade shows as a reminder as to who you are? Then just one side may be enough.

There is so much to marketing a small business but it needn't be too complicated. Over the next few business tips blogs I will look into marketing a little more. In the meantime, why not check out the marketing department at Handmade News for some tips.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009 | 2 Comments

Business Tips Part 13 - Pricing Part 2

Now this blog might be Business Set up part 13, the number unlucky for some but I think this might actually be one of the most important blogs - pricing. In the last blog I briefly talked about pricing your items for sale, this time we look at the different terms that go into a pricing formula.

Material Cost - the cost of each material directly used including packaging

Labour Cost - Calculate how much your time is truely worth

Overhead Cost - Everything that is not labour or materials such as a trade show stand, equipment and promotional items.

Profit - Money in your pocket when you have paid all of your expenses

Mark Up - The % of materials and/or labout costs added to an item to reach a price.

There are so many different ways to create a pricing formula and the most important aspect is finding one you are comfortable with. Generally, the best formulas consider materials, labour/time, overheads and profit. However, if your time far outweighs your materials you may choose to just calculate on time.
Some example formulas include:
Wholesale price = (materials+labour time) x mark up
Retail price = wholes ale price x markup

It is recommended that a minimum markup for wholesale price is 100% to cover overheads and profit but if you can increase this it can only be to your benefit.

The retail price is what you suggest your wholesale customers (if you have any) sell your items at. If you sell directly to your customers online or in your own shop, you still need to sell at the retail price or you will be underselling your wholesale customers and risk losing them. Selling at retail also increases your profit margins and enables you to have sales or special offers because even if you have a sale at wholesale price you still make a profit.

Evaluating your prices every few months is essential. Pricing is a balancing act between your costs and what your target market is willing to pay - I find this balancing act very difficult as do many. An alternative method is to work in reverse starting with what you think people are willing to pay, half it to get a wholesale price and then realise that you have to use materials in line with this price. You may be surprised to find your profit margin may increase this way.

If through evaluation you discover that your prices are indeed too high, look at ways to reduce your costs, such as wholesale purchasing, before automatically dropping your prices.

Next time - we start looking at marketing and publicity.

Image from Salvagenation

Saturday, 29 August 2009 | 1 Comment

What's new?

It is strange for me to start a blog with an apology but I have to - I am sorry that there was no business tips blog on Monday, I have been feeling rather swamped lately and time flew by, service will resume on Friday.

So, what's new in the world of Butterfly-Crafts?

Well, I bought a domain name not too long ago and have a website that is a work in progress: www.butterfly-crafts.com I am yet to decide the structure of the website yet so watch this space for updates.

I will be sending out the first Butterfly-Crafts newsletter shortly, there is still time to sign up for the first issue, just click the link over to the right of the blog. The newsletter is going to be sent every 4-6 weeks and include highlights of new items, special offers and general news. I am hoping that the new Artfire coupon codes will be up and running by the time I mail as then I can offer my newsletter recipients a very special offer to launch the coupons.

Something exciting is that I now write for Handmadenews and had my first piece pubished this week. I am writing a series on cross stitch at the moment and will possibly follow up with a series on knitting.

Finally, a really exciting development is the Artfire Kiosk being added to facebook. This is such an amazing development by the Artfire staff enabling verified members to have an application similar to rapid cart available on their facebook pages where buyers can buy directly from the facebook page. Take a look at my kiosk on the Butterfly-Crafts fan page.....and maybe even become a fan!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009 | 0 Comments

Business Set Up part 12 - Pricing (Part 1)

You can take it from me as I have first hand knowledge, pricing can be one of the most challenging aspects of owning a craft business because it isn't always about following a formula.

The most important aspect of placing a price tag on an item is the perceived value you are creating. A consumer doesn't always want a low price as this can indicate an inferior product. They view a price as an indication of craftsmanship and by buying a handmade item such as one of my cards, the buyer has a sense of good taste, status and confidence in the seller.

However, a buyer can tell if something is overpriced. Similarly, not all buyers will take into consideration the time taken to make something and they may compare it to a machine made item. This would be like someone comparing one of my cards with a mass produced card you'd find in Clintons or Hallmark and to me, they are not comparable.

Many new sellers, including myself in the beginning, misunderstand price and undersell themselves at bargain prices because they feel guilty about making a profit margin or they are just so excited to get those first sales.

Ultimately, the value you place on an item should wattant the price tag you use!

Coming over the next few business tips blogs will will look more into pricing so make sure you come back!

Friday, 21 August 2009 | 2 Comments

Artisan Feature: The Murphy Studio

I have had a lot of fun writing this feature on The Murphy Studio on Artfire, as I do with all of my feature blogs. As with the others, we shall learn a bit about Murphy Studio owner Misti and then I will showcase some of her fantastic items.

1) If you had to work by a creative mission what would it be? My creative mission is to create “fine art” that is affordable for everyone – without commercially producing my art. My solution is to hand-paint or sketch magnets that are reasonably priced but still remain a work of art. Don’t get me wrong, I have more expensive items for sale, but magnets are really my focus. Everything is handmade by me, including the sketches, the paintings, the leather wall hangings, and the silhouettes of the wood cut outs (although I have a craftsman actually cut them out due to the lack of strength in my hands). I paint what inspires me and every piece is original.

2) Have you had any creative disasters? Sure! Lots of them. Crafting is a trial and error process. Many of my creative disasters turn into something someone out there just loves – even though it is a disaster in my mind. That’s the great thing about art – everyone’s view is different.

3) What is your favorite item in your collection? My giraffe magnet! I’ve
started a new “Safari Collection” based off of him! My husband and I were married at Reid Park Zoo in Tucson , Arizona between the Giraffes and the Lions. It was a memorable moment that I draw on for inspiration. Throughout the day, the giraffes were trying to reach over their enclosure to nibble on my bouquet of flowers!

4) Sum up your collection for me: Hand-painted wood cutouts (magnets) and hand-painted leather wall hangings with a focus on wildlife

5) Is there another craft you would like to try? I would like to experiment with some kind of metal craft – not jewelry, though. More like furniture or home accessory design.

6) What is your favourite craft store? Sarnoff Art Supplies – it’s a local Tucson Store

7) From where do you draw your inspiration? My love of animals and the southwest. Animals have always been a huge part of my life. From growing up with animals, to currently having four dogs of my own, animals have a unique place in my heart. I love to see their expressions come to life in my paintings, and consequently, how my paintings make animal lovers feel when they see them.

8) What made you do this for a business? I’m actually a custom home designer struggling through this economic downfall. I turned to art (after 20 years of not painting) to fill my time and make some extra money!

9) How do you like online selling? It’s interesting. It’s a lot more work then I thought it would be. It’s difficult to keep up each day, but I love the community and seeing other’s work.

10) What tip can you pass to a new online seller? Promote, promote, promote! It’s all about networking and marketing – which I’m not very good at yet but I’m getting better. My advice would be to try to get your name out there, be supportive of other artists, and don’t be shy about the art/product you create. Be proud of what you make and share your site with everyone you know!

11) Describe yourself in 5 words: Wow! That’s difficult! If you are looking for adjectives I would say, “Creative, emotional, technical, artistic, and a ‘problem solver’ ” If you are looking for a phrase, I would say, “An artist on a mission!”

12) What has been your favorite vacation/holiday? My honeymoon! My husband surprised me and took me to Las Vegas and then to Catalina Island . It was very romantic!

13) What's a good book you have read? Sad to say – I don’t read many books. I never have. It’s just not something I can keep my interest in – I just think about everything else I have to be doing while reading, and then I have to read it all over again!

14) Which season do you relate with and why? Fall – it seems to be the season the season that everything happens. Maybe because the weather is cooler!

15) What is a favourite film of yours? Oh – there’s too many! I like We Are Marshall, August Rush, 27 Dresses, basically any kind of love story or anything with Kevin Costner!

Thanks Misti, it's great knowing you're an Artist on a mission!!! And now, for the showcase....

Wednesday, 19 August 2009 | 2 Comments

Business Set Up Tips Part 11 - Production

In the previous business tips blog, we looked at packaging your items. Well today we are going to look at production and lowering the cost of supplies.

If you are new to the craft business, it can be extremely tempting to pay retail prices for your materials - believe me, I have done it when buying for Butterfly-Crafts! But, by doing this you will have to price your items high therefore reducing your profit margin.

Finding a seller who will sell wholesale will take a lot of time and leg work but it will definitely pay off in the long run. You may be extremely lucky and know a fellow craft business owner who is willing to share their sources, but if not, a trade show is a great place to start.

It can take contacting several sellers before you discover the perfect match for your requirements. It is important not to settle for the first quote you receive, you must base your decision on the quality of their products, their competitive prices and the customer services. Another suggestion would be not to buy an extremely high quantity to begin with just to take advantage of bulk pricing. You should make sure the item you wish to make with the supplies will be a seller and then increase your purchase when appropriate.

All wholesalers have a minimum order requirement. Keeping the idea of cost control in the forefront of your mind, order the minimum quantity. Check what payments will be accepted. You are likely to find that as a new buyer, you will need to pre-pay with a cheque, credit card or perhaps cash on delivery. If you become an established buyer with your seller, you can probably set up a 30-day credit account.

One final thought on production is that some of the best materials can actually be free or very low in cost - fallen leaves, sea shells, thrift store items, charity shops and vintage bedding all make fantastic supplies and materials. But, it is important to remember that these sort of materials are not always readily available therefore collect and gather when ever possible. Taking the children to the beach? Have a hunt for shells or such like! You never know when that pretty little shell / vintage throw / oak leaf will come in handy!

Monday, 17 August 2009 | 0 Comments

Business Set Up Part 10 - Packaging

Packaging may be the last step in the design process but, it is still an important step and still requires thought and planning.

Some crafters, in simple haste to get their items listed, just stick on a quick label and this can sometimes look mismatched. Good packaging can enhance the value of your product, strenghten your brand and draw attention to the item if it were in a physical shop.

It is no good however being all packaging and no substance! You will need to find a balance between your product and packaging. What you choose need not be expensive - it just needs to look professional.

Ideas you might like to consider include printing labels with your logo, use left over fabric to make tags, include an information sheet explaining your company history and if applicable, include information on how to care for your product.

But, the number one tip I can offer for packaging is it must always be marked with your company name and logo and if space allows, your website.

For Butterfly-Crafts, I have all of my cards packaged in a celophane wrapper and if applicable a sticker saying that the card is blank on the inside. I plan to develop a sticker saying this but with my logo. I also ensure that when I mail off an order, there is a business card and perhaps another promotional item but more on those at a later date.

Friday, 14 August 2009 | 1 Comment

Business Set Up Part 9 - Plagiarism

In the last Business Set up blog, we looked at product research, this time around we are going to look at how research can sometimes go that step too far into blatant copying and how your product is a mirror image of someone elses work.

With so may crafters out there, the creative industry has a common problem - plagiarism. When you see that a particular product is successful for a business owner, you may be tempted to emulate their work hoping it will be successful for yourself.

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery but, copying someones work just isn't good business practice. It can be OK to use ideas as inspiration or to learn a new technique, but, this must be treat as a means to an end and not a route to the final product.

As a designer, you must exercise great caution when you reproduce an existing pattern or image. You must check any copyrights and that images are royalty free.

We all know by now that the craft market is extremely competitive and designers need to consider protecting their work. The two main means of this are patents and registering for a copyright. In a nutshell, patents are for new discoveries and inventions whereas a copyright protects original works of authorship including illustrations, patterns and photographs.

Once you own the copyright, you have the exclusive right to reproduce and distribute the work and create any derivatives.

Obviously registering for a copyright or a patent will not prevent someone else form making something similar but, if someone were to reproduce your work as a mirror image, you will have the necessary legal protection in place.

Monday, 10 August 2009 | 1 Comment

Business Set Up Part 8 - Product Research

It's now time to think a little about researching a new product line. Creating your product is a personal process but you are placing that product in a market for consumption therefore people have to want to buy it!

You need to figure out what the buying public actually want (add that to your hard goals list). Flick though the 'lifestyle' magazines, look at trends, visit local shops and attend craft shows or trade fairs to seek out your future competition - it will all help! But ask yourself these questions:
  1. What products already exist and is there already market saturation?
  2. What products are missing?
  3. What trends did you notice?
  4. At craft shows, how many tables are selling similar products?
  5. Why did certain designs appeak to you?
  6. What are the wholesale and retail prices?

Attending a craft fair or trade show is a fantastic method of research. However, try not to make it too obvious you are on the hunt for ideas! Trade shows can be hard to access initially as you often have to prove you are a legitimate business. But, once you gain entry, check out the floor plan and booths you wish to visit and get moving! If you are able, pick up a price sheet and catalogue and always keep a notebook handy to write down the information - but perhaps over a coffee and not infront of the booth.

Craft fairs can be easier to access, I attend a minimum of one a year to check out what's new and behave like a shopper - all in the name of research for Butterfly-Crafts you understand!

If you return home in a major panic about all of the work required to reach the standard of those at the craft shows or trade fairs just remember - everyone had to start somewhere

Coming next time in the Business Tips (monday) - Tempted to copy?

Friday, 7 August 2009 | 0 Comments

Artisan Feature: Haffina Creations

I am really loving my fortnightly series of artisan features from my fellow Artfire artists. Today is the turn of Haffina Creations. I got the chance to interview Jennifer about her business......

1) If you had to work by a creative mission what would it be? Make things because you love to create, invest a little of yourself in every piece, never be afraid to try something new.

2) Have you had any creative disasters? Yes, heaps of them. It is part of the process of creativity in my opinion. I always learn something from the disasters, and I think it makes me a better artist.

3) What is your favourite item in your collection? It tends to change from day to day, I like all my pieces for different reasons. Currently I really love my 'Lolly Drop' earrings

4) Sum up your collection for me. The easiest way to sum up my collection is one word - eclectic. There is a real mix of items and media.

5) Is there another craft you would like to try? I would love to try making Lampwork beads or fused glass.

6) What is your favourite craft store? My absolute favourite store is online - Over The Rainbow - http://www.polymerclay.com.au/

7) From where do you draw your inspiration? I dont really know. Lots of things inspire me, but I guess most of it comes from within.

8) What made you do this for a business? I was making lots of things, more than I could wear. So I started to think about selling some pieces. The owner of a forum I work on opened a store on the forum, sort of kick in the pants for me to get on with it. I talked to my family about trying it out and then if it worked pushing it further. When I heard about ArtFire I realised it was time for me to get serious about selling. This is what I want to do with my life.

9) How do you like online selling? I love that it costs less than a bricks and mortar store! I have also made heaps of new friends. It has opened up new opportunities for me. Yes, it is hard work at times, but I dont regret my choice one bit.

10) What tip can you pass to a new online seller? Promote, promote, promote. Seriously, it is the only way to get your name and product out there. People will not come to you unless they know you are there.

11) Describe yourself in 5 words. Creative, compassionate, passionate, hardworking and goofy

12) What has been your favourite vacation/holiday? When I was pregnant with my youngest child we drove interstate with our 4 kids and my mum to help celebrate my Grandparents 90th birthdays. It was the first time we really had a family holiday, even though it was only a weekend. It was also the last time the whole family was together, including both my brothers. My Grandmother died a short time later, 2 weeks before my daughter was born.

13) What's a good book you have read? Terry Pratchett DiscWorld novels... any of them, I love his work.

14) Which season do you relate with and why? Summer. I was born on the last day of Summer (in Australia), always my favourite time of year, even if it does get really hot.
15) What is a favourite film of yours? My favourite film of all time is The Rocky Horror Picture Show, although Star Trek movies run a close second.

Well now we have learnt a little about Jennifer and Haffina Creations, lets take a look at some of her beautiful work.......

Wednesday, 5 August 2009 | 1 Comment

Blockhead Radio

"Three o'clock in the morning and I can't frickin' sleep. I've tried showers, music, milk and cookies, wine and counting sheep. But a zillion little random thoughts are driving me insane, It's like hamsters on a wheel running right inside my brain."

No, I have not lost the plot. If you know what the above is about then you too must listen to Blockhead Radio. If you have no idea, then you need to start listening!

I 'discovered' BHR during the 48forLarry silent auction one weekend in July and they have gained me as a dedicated listener now. I really like BHR because I felt welcomed from the outset in the chat room, I may be in the UK but I get included in the chat. The others who are in chat are so friendly and it is a great place to bounce ideas around like I did recently for a product idea I had. I also love the chat because if you post a link relevant to the talk, like a blog, it will be read on air - what a great promo tool for Butterfly-Crafts!

BHR are also extremely supportive of artisans and indie musicians. It is so much fun when Rod plays songs for people when they ask (like the Tom Smith Hamster Brain song). But, apart from the chat and the community, something I love from discovering BHR, is discovering music I really like! I have often never heard of the artists as they are generally up-and-coming in the USA or I am not familiar with them. But, this past fortnight I have discovered, amongst others, Chris Huff, Tom Smith, Judd Star and the beautiful voice of Jennings who has covered Rhiannas' Umbrella in a stunning way. Its great to have an online radio to listen to whilst I work on the computer at home and now at work - thanks to our IT guy who unblocked the station feed for me!

There are not always live shows but music is always playing. The show times are always in EST time, so 5 hours behind the UK. Some I try to catch are the Morning Brewhaha with Rod and Witchy, Tough Times and Inside Handmade.

BHR also offer ad spots - people can become a sponsor for $21 a month and for that you get an ad on the live pages in rotation with other ads and a one liner read on air. There were also limited space Showcases which are now sold out, I purchased a showcase for a one off fee, I am yet to write my showcase yet but when I do, it will feature here. BHR have also bought out the BHR Artisan Directory which I will blog about another time.

So all in all, I have some serious love for Blockhead Radio, I have been included in the fold and I will return this love by continuing to listen and I have added buttons to the right hand side of my blog - go check it out for yourself.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009 | 5 Comments

Business Set UP Part 7 - Capturing Ideas (Pt2)

Last time we looked at developing ideas for product, this time we will look at capturing ideas and setting goals.

It is so important to seize any creative opportunity that presents itself. You might think of something when you queue in line at the grocery store or when you drive to work, or even when relaxing in the bath. But no matter when it happens, it is important to capture any idea so keep a notebook to hand.

Another important activity is to set yourself goals - both easy and hard. Easy goals might be something like choosing a location in your house from which to run your business or, writing a list of items to make ot beginning to network in forums. When I set up Butterfly-Crafts, choosing a location was really easy, the computer is in my bedroom and my craft supplies are in the spare room so I flit between both.

Harder goals often revolve around completing a project and the business aspect of your business - opening up a business bank account for example if it is necessary. Although Butterfly-Crafts has been functioning for over four months now, i still have harder goals like updating Flickr, making more of my Facebook Fan page, creating a newsletter template and consolidating my new supplies store - but more on the latter in another blog.

Coming next time on Business Set Up (friday) - How to go about researching ideas.

Monday, 3 August 2009 | 1 Comment

Business Set Up Part 6 - Capturing Ideas (Pt1)

Inspiration can present itself in so many ways; perhaps it might be a complete idea of just a tiny little acorn of an idea. But, sometimes it is the little acorns that set your products apart from the rest - from tiny acorns grow great oaks afterall.

It can be helpful to start the ideation process off slowly, beginning with a single idea rather than a whole collection. I for example think of an idea for 1, maybe 2, cards rather than think "I need to create a line of anniversary cards". Document your ideas process in a pretty notebook and do not get too bogged down with time or budget as these can be altered. It is also important not to write off your mistakes too quickly as you can learn from them.

If you did want to create a collection, then focus on a single element or concept to ensure that the collection is memorable without one item take the pride of place.

No single item will please all buyers which is why it is important to vary your items in purpose, price and production. Customers like variety which is why in Butterfly-Crafts I have complicated cards like Iris folding or Flowersoft and then more simpler cards such as Birthday cupcakes.

It is also important that a good number of your items require very little labour time otherwise the craft that you call your labour of love will soon become labourious.
Coming next time: Business Set Up Part 7 - Ideas Part 2

Monday, 27 July 2009 | 0 Comments

Artisan Feature: Creative Critters

In the third installment of my Artisan Features of fellow Artfire artists, here is Michelle from Creative Critters and her answers to my bunch of questions:

1) If you had to work by a creative mission what would it be? "Love what you do". I get great pleasure from all my creations, and hope that my customers get pleasure from them as well.

2) Have you had any creative disasters? Creative disasters? -but of course! I've super glued my fingers together, dropped unbaked sculptures on the way to the oven, spilled everything from paint, to glitter, to embossing powder. But you clean up your mess and move on (hopefully before the cats track embossing powder all over the house!)

3) What is your favourite item in your collection? My favorite item is kind of hard to choose. I form a real attachment to all my pieces. Two of my favorites right now are my Plush World of Warcraft Tauren Hunter and his Pet Lion, and my Scorch the Rockin' Dragon sculpture. I put a LOT of work into both of those.

4) Sum up your collection for me: My collection could certainly be considered "varied". I have a good variety of polymer clay sculptures (lots of fantasy, whimsical, animals, pens, miniature houses), then I also sew cloth dolls and plush World of Warcraft characters, make mixed media jewelry, and knit stuffed animals. I like making use of my many creative skills, plus I'm always picking up new crafts.

5) Is there another craft you would like to try? Metal clay looks pretty interesting, and glass beads have always fascinated me, but for the moment I can't afford new equipment, materials, and tutorial books. Maybe by the time I'm 90 I'll have mastered every craft that catches my attention!

6) What is your favourite craft store? I do a lot of business with JoAnn Etc. They're the closest craft store in my area, but I've been wandering the web more lately, and of course Artfire has some really great supply stores as well. I get a lot of my stuff from flea markets, garage sales, and donations from friends and family. I recycle everything I can and try to find creative uses for otherwise unusable items.

7) From where do you draw your inspiration? The entire world of
fantasy gives me tons of inspiration, be it movies, anime, paintings,
books, anything fantasy oriented grabs my attention and puts new ideas in my head. I also get a lot of inspiration from nature and animals. Really, I can find inspiration in nearly anything. I've got more ideas than I could ever complete in a single lifetime.

8) What made you do this for a business? I was born an artist, and when people offered to actually pay me to do what I loved, what choice did I have? I'm still amazed that people like my work as much as I do. I really can't imagine doing anything else (although I've had plenty of other jobs, none were very fulfilling). I wouldn't be "me" if I couldn't create.

9) How do you like online selling? I love it! I don't have to cart my stuff all over, from show to show, or ship everything to a consignment store where I have no control over anything. I can post the pictures I choose, write up a detailed description, even let people in on my inspiration for a particular piece. And I can communicate with tons of like minded people all over the world. And I absolutely ADORE Artfire. The staff is great, the artisans are great, the whole experience on this site has been wonderful.

10) What tip can you pass to a new online seller? Promote, promote, promote! It really works! Before Artfire I didn't know a thing about promoting my work or social networking. Now I'm on Facebook, MySpace, ByHand.me, JoAnn.com, Flickr, and I have a blog, Since February, I've had more than 7000 views, and a lot of those clicked over from my other sites. Posting in the forums is another good way to get yourself out there. People have to see you in order to buy from you (plus it's so much fun chatting with the other artists!).

11) Describe yourself in 5 words: Creative, Caring, Unique, Organic, Passionate

12) What has been your favourite vacation/holiday? Christmas. I make gifts for everyone in my family and I love seeing their faces when they open them. I try very hard to make them something very special and personalized. Plus I just love getting together with family, especially now that I've got young cousins, nieces, and nephews to play with. I don't have any kids of my own, but I really love kids.

13) What is a favourite film of yours? Hayou Miyazaki's My Neighbor Totoro. It's a wonderful anime with great characters and a delightful story. I've seen it quite a few times and it always makes me smile.

Thanks Michelle - now take a look at this spotlight on Creative Critters, I have to say, my favourites are the houses!!

Thursday, 23 July 2009 | 0 Comments

Butterfly Crafts Newsletter Giveaway

When I relaunched Butterfly-Crafts, I created a Newsletter for people to sign up to and I will send out a newsletter ever 4 to 6 weeks. Well, the newsletter hasn't received a great number of sign ups and this might be because I have not advertised it well enough or there is no incentive to sign up!

Well, let me tell you about what I will write about! People who sign up to the Butterfly-Crafts newsletter will receive information on new listings, projects in the making, promotions coming up and general information about the business and me! I will also run special promotions for newsletter recipients that will not be available to anyone else.

If you would be interested in signing up, you can either click the box in the top right of the blog screen, click the link at the top of the page saying 'Newsletter' or the one right here:

As a prize, I will be picking one person from all of my newsletter recipients to win a handmade card similar to the ones shown here. I have not yet made the card so cannot show the exact one but it will be a twisted flowers card! I will make the draw on July 31st and contact the winner!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009 | 2 Comments

Business Set Up Part 5 - Brand Identity

Last time we looked at creating a mission for your business, this blog will talk about brand identity. By creating a brand, you communicate a message about your company to other peope. But, a brand is not just about a logo, colours and stationery but about an entire idea. If I asked you how would you like other people to describe your business, what would you say?

When establishing your brand consistency is key. Think about what your business represents and relay this in your products and photographs, website, blog, business stationery and packaging. If, for example, your logo is comical yet your website/blog is deadly serious, your message will be mixed. The brand you decide on whould not only reflect your business personality but be appealing to your customers - both potential and current.

When I first set up Butterfly-Crafts I created my own banner in photoshop and it was terrible! Then I found LibertyDoll on AF and she created me a wonderful banner. However, in July of 2009 I decided to rebrand myself and worked with LibertyDoll again to design a new set of banners and the results you can see on this blog in the header. I also use it as my banner in my AF store, on promotional materials like pens and use the avatar seen here on my promo materials. To continue the purple theme, my AF studio is purple, I photograph on a silver background with purple butterflies and a purple pen in everything. I try to carry this over to my packaging where possible, including branded business material and if multiple cards are purchased they are tied with purple yarn.

Take a look at your brand and think - is it consistent and what message am I trying to convey? It would be great if you'd like to leave a comment and tell me about your brand.

Monday, 20 July 2009 | 0 Comments

Business Set Up Part 4 - Creating a Mission Statement

Over the past few business set up blogs we have looked at the technical side of things. Now it is time to talk style! The biggest aim you have is for someone to see one of your products and recognise it as your brand.

Defining a style does not need to be complex, especially if you keep it real and make it an authentic expression of who are you because you will be more satisfied with the end results if you have stayed true to yourself.

To help me stay focused, I created a creative mission statement for Butterfly Crafts. When you know what your goals are, it is far easier to work towards achieving them! However, creating a statement is not easy as you will need to be introspective and visualise what inspires you!

My mission statement is:

1) Ensure that I enjoy what I am making and be conscientious when making,
2) To make all of my items by hand

3) To design cards that I believe will bring a smile to the face of the recipient

I would hope that when the brand of Butterfly-Crafts: Handmade Cards and Gifts becomes more established, someone would see one of my cards, such as these shown here, and think "I know who made that!"

Friday, 17 July 2009 | 0 Comments

Business Set Up Part 3 - Finances

Now you have decided to make the giant step into owning your own business you need to decide if you want to continue doing things alone (sole ownership) or with someone else (partnership).

A partnership is much more than just dividing up the work and the profits, it’s also about taking advantage of each individual’s strengths. A partnership can be very satisfactory if it works well, but emotionally draining when they aren’t working right. What ever legal structure you decide upon will determine your taxes and personal liability. The best recommendation I can give here is to seek professional advice.

When you set up a business, one of the biggest concerns is the finances. Many craft businesses are started as a sideline career or an extension of a hobby and therefore require little capital investment (like Butterfly Crafts). But if you plan to work full time on your new business, many business advisors recommend that you save up twelve months of living expenses – just in case!

You really should not use your personal savings for your business as all business related expenses should come from your business account. At first be prudent with your spending and keep your overheads low. I have recently imposed a shopping ban on myself and to “use what I have” so that I can reinvest any profit I make. There are ways to save money on other aspects of your life though. Remember that you have an inner domestic goddess who really does know how to cook rather than dial for takeaway and obviously, hand make your gifts instead of buying them!

For me, book keeping is the least exciting task as a business owner but it is so important to have an effective record-keeping system. Keep copies of invoices, bills, cheques and receipts and file them. I bought a little expanding file with 12 compartments that I file things in by the month. With a little bit of thought and organisation, the way you run the financial side of things and file records will help in the long run at tax return time!

Coming next time: Your style & products

Monday, 13 July 2009 | 0 Comments

Business Set Up Part 2 - Basic Necessities

Whether you sell online or in bulk, once people begin buying your products, you are a business and there are some basic necessities you will need to consider. Firstly bear in mind, a company must make a profit for 3 out of 5 years or it will be considered a hobby. I will not, in any way, call myself an expert here and you will need to research further but below are some points to consider:

Business License – you are often required to keep your business license mounted on the wall at your place of business.

Zoning – you may need to verify that you are allowed to run a business from the location you choose.

Fictitious Business Name – if you run a business under a name that is not your legal name, you will need to file a fictitious business name (FBN), also known as a DBA (doing business as).

Sellers Permit – if the goods you sell are taxable then you will need a sellers permit.

Federal Tax ID – if you have employees then you will need to have a Tax ID number. If you are the sole proprietor then you would fill out a self assessment form instead every year.

Trademarks – a trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or picture that distinguishes your goods from another company’s. Getting a trademark is a protective measure to prevent someone else opening a company or selling a product with the same name.

House insurance – if you are running your business from your home you need to make sure you have enough insurance to cover your tools, equipment, materials and products.

Health insurance – sometimes joining an artists’ guild or association can provide discount rates.

Product liability insurance – this covers you if someone suffers an injury from your product and decided to sue you. Items that may be affected include candles (fire) and bath and body products (skin irritants).

Phone line – it is illegal to have your home phone line as your business line so you will either need a mobile phone or another land line.

Business bank account – it is far better to use a separate bank account so that you can keep track of expenses and keep the income separate. It might also be a good idea to open a separate savings account to set aside money for the tax bill.

Friday, 10 July 2009 | 2 Comments

Artisan Feature - Silver River Jewelry

I really love featuring other Artfire artists and today is the turn of Silver River Jewelry. I set Silver River Jewelry owner, Sonja, a bunch of questions to find out more from the artist.

1) If you had to work by a creative mission what would it be? My creative mission is to make as much of each piece by hand as I possibly can. You can see this the most in my metal work as I dig many of the stones myself and finish them as well as design and make the settings. I am hoping to learn to make lamp work beads in the future which will help make my pieces more "mine" as well.

2) Have you had any creative disasters? Almost every day! I am quite good at melting metal!

3) What is your favourite item in your collection? Right now I really like my rustic wildflower pendant series

4) Sum up your collection for me: Elegance with a touch of whimsy

5) Is there another craft you would like to try? Umm everything else in the jewelry field I haven't learned yet! I came late to the jewelry but have spent many years doing other crafts.

6) What is your favourite craft store? Rio Grande

7) From where do you draw your inspiration? From the stones, from nature, from color and shapes

8) What made you do this for a business? My compulsiveness to create and my addiction to stones and beads of course.

9) How do you like online selling? Actually I love it! BIG learning curve but well worth it. And I have met so many wonderful people I would never have met otherwise.

10) What tip can you pass to a new online seller? Take really good pictures, be willing to work harder than you ever have and be patient.

11) Describe yourself in 5 words Christian, Mother, wife, metal smith, jewelry designer

12) What has been your favourite vacation/holiday? Germany

13) What's a good book you have read? If you want to walk on water you have to get out of the boat.

14) Which season do you relate with and why? Spring, Summer and Fall. Spring is for new beginnings. Summer is the best, I love the warmth and the sun, and Fall just has such beautiful colors that can't fail to inspire.

15) What is a favourite film of yours? Lord of the Rings

Well thank you Sonja, and here is a spotlight of my favourite items available at Silver River Jewelry:

Wednesday, 8 July 2009 | 2 Comments

Business Set Up: Part 1

So you've been thinking about how you can turn your creative hobby into a business, but now you have this idea - what next? Well the absolute first thing you need to do is become serious about your dream and don’t just limit your idea to earning a few coppers on the side because you never know where it might lead!

Earning an income from your creative hobby is not purely about someone buying your products; it’s about making a livelihood that works for you. The early days are about development stages where it is important to include all the activities you love or you will soon grow tired of something that started as a hobby.

One of the first items on your business “to-do” list has to be deciding on a business name. The name should reflect your product but ask yourself this: Will the name still sound good in 5 years time and will it give me the space to grow? I chose Butterfly-Crafts because I am fascinated with butterflies and how they go through many changes, I could develop a good brand and also cover many crafts. If I’d chosen Butterfly-Cards, I would’ve put a constraint on myself.

Coming up with a business name can be fun, just remember though that you will have to live with the result so it pays to do some homework and groundwork. Research on the Internet to see if your name has been taken, check with any agencies if necessary but overall, make sure the name you choose is a perfect fit!

Coming in the next Business Tips blog on Friday: Business Set Up Part 2 - Basic Necessities

Monday, 6 July 2009 | 3 Comments

Welcome to Butterfly Crafts

Hello and welcome to the Butterfly-Crafts blog.

I write this blog to coincide with my store, Butterfly-Crafts, on Artfire, where I sell one-of-a-kind handmade cards and gifts along with taking custom orders.

I have enjoyed crafting for as long as I can remember and it is a hobby I can never grow bored of, every time I pick up a project to continue I keep saying - oh just stitch one more row or make just one more card before i can pack away for the night.

Cross stitch will always be my weakness, I love nothing more than picking up some fabric and sifting through patterns for a new project. I have made small 'initials' pictures up to much larger fire screens and baby samplers and my friends and family frequently have an cross stitch card.

I have been making cards with mixed media for a few years now. I love the way a few pieces of paper and card can be turned into something wonderful and given as a gift.

I am always trying to expand my craft skills and I have been knitting and crocheting since 2008 and I am thoroughly enjoying them and learning new stitches all of the time! I knit on the train to work, in my lunch break, on the train home from work - heck, any chance I get!

This blog will feature my handmade items, general comments regarding my life and running an online store, along with a twice weekly blog featuring business tips (hopefully Mon & Fri). I will also be featuring a fellow Artfire artisan every fortnight (Wednesday) and help promote the Artfire Crazy Marketing Train - featuring a different artist every 2 days.

I hope that you will enjoy following this blog, please do leave me comments on what I write and if you would like me to write about anything specific.

Best Wishes

p.s. - that's me eating ice cream in Siena.

Saturday, 4 July 2009 | 1 Comment