Obligatory ‘my blog has moved’ post which I probably should have done a few months back

11 Feb

Hey there

So I think that might have been an article going viral? I’m not sure – my husband asked how many view is going viral, and I think maybe 16k unique views in two days might qualify

I’ve moderated all your comments, and I thank you for all of them – yes even the ones telling me I’m wrong.

That post was never written as an ‘I am right, this is what to do’ post – my posts are merely collections of thoughts about what’s happening in my life. I’ve never had a blogpost viewed by more than 50 people before, so I’m overwhelmed and a bit weirded out.

I also don’t really blog here any more. All  my blogposts were migrated to my new website, so that article also appears there, and hasn’t been viewed nearly as many times. C’est la vie

If you’ve enjoyed reading here, why not follow on the newer website where there will be more updates, and you can read stuff that doesn’t appear here.

Thanks again for joining in


Keep your eyes on your own plate

11 Jan


Here’s a useful thought for the holidays as we get together with friends and family over food and drinks: other peoples’ food choices aren’t your business. Unless people ask your advice, keep your food judgements to yourself. I mean best yet, don’t make them, but if you make them, no need to share.

You just can’t assume you know what choices people are making or why they’re making them. It’s wrong to assume everyone is trying to “be good” over the holidays.

A parent I’m friends with on Facebook talked about teaching her children the “keep your eyes on your own plate” rule. That’s an important lesson for adults too.

Ragen Chastain
has a broader principle, not just about food, but about other people’s life choices generally. She dubs it the “underpants rule.” You’re the boss of your own underpants and that includes what goes on your plate.

Here Pesky…

View original post 6 more words

We’ve moved!

13 Mar


If you are still following this blog, I should tell you that we’ve moved! All the old posts have been transferred so if you need to find an old post, you still can, and all new posts will now be posted here


So please follow us there if you’ve been enjoying the blog here. Looking forward to your comments!

Ten things you shouldn’t say when pricing handmade items

26 Jan

PLEASE NOTE – comments are now off on this post. Should you wish to comment or to see the updated post, please go here – http://www.lifesbigcanvas.co.uk/ten-things-you-shouldnt-say-when-pricing-handmade-items/


I’ve been giving advice this week on pricing handmade items for selling. Not on purpose, just because it’s cropped up a couple of times. Working in a shop where people sell handmade items means it’s something which is bound to come up.

When I started selling handmade items, advice was thin on the ground. I tried reading some things online, but never really had someone to talk to in person. I also didn’t realise that my lack of knowledge was holding back my business, because people were bitching about me not being able to price properly behind my back, instead of just telling me what I was doing wrong, and I was missing opportunities.

This is why when I now see people underpricing their work, I tell them, and hopefully not in a patronising way, but because underpricing is undervaluing your own skill. To me, it’s not a big deal to say to someone their items are too cheap, and to help them work out the real price. It shouldn’t be a mystery, or a closely guarded secret! There are some things I’ve learned that I won’t share, due to the amount of time it took to research or learn, but pricing correctly isn’t one. Everyone pricing correctly helps EVERYONE, not just you – it helps the shops you sell in, other crafters and yourself. There can be bitchiness and backstabbing in the handmade community – undercutting your colleagues doesn’t go unnoticed, and people talk.

There are certain things which crop up every time I advise people on their prices – so to help you all out, here are the things I most often have to say to people.

1. I don’t think people will pay that

Number one on the list, and for good reason. You should never second guess your customer – you’re already making a leap guessing what they might want to buy in the first place, don’t try to guess their budget as well.

You should always work out how much you should charge, and then charge it. If no one buys it, try another outlet. Only after a few months, and/or a few different selling opportunities can you rightfully say, ‘this isn’t going to sell at this price, I need to put it on sale’.

2. I worked out how much I should charge and it was a ridiculous price, so I made it lower

Firstly, well done for working out the price! That’s one hurdle over.  However, charging a lower price means working out how much to charge was a waste of your time. I’m not trying to mean, I’m trying to make you value your time.

3.  I made it ages ago so I just want it out of the house

This came up yesterday – someone I know brought something into a shop near mine, and had marked it at far too low a price. I asked her why, and she said, ‘oh I made it ages ago’. My answer was, and always will be that that doesn’t matter.

If you’re taking something to a new stockist, their customer base don’t know you made it ages ago, or are sick of the sight of it. It might be the first thing they’ve ever seen of yours, they’ll fall in love with it… but then they have a fixed vision of what your prices are, and you’ve shot yourself in the foot. You can’t then explain to them that you made it ages ago, and your newer items are more expensive – to them, it was NEW and that’s how your items are priced.

I can sympathise with this in one instance – if you don’t have much storage space, you might be tempted to reduce your items to clearance prices too soon just because you’re running out of space. If this is happening to you, then try offering your items at lower than wholesale prices to your regular successful ‘sale or return’ stockists – they might jump at the chance to have your items in their shop at a higher mark-up.

4. My friend says this is the price they would pay

Asking friends how much they’d pay is a good idea – as long as you also work it out properly. Also, if you ask ten friends how much they’d pay, don’t just go for the lowest price. It’s a good idea to go somewhere in the middle as long as this is still the price you should be charging (or thereabouts). For example,  if you work out you should be charging £10, and your friends suggest prices ranging from £5 to £15, then the middle price of £10 is perfect – however, if your friends suggest £5-£10, then go for £10, don’t go down to £7.50.

5. I feel like I’m ripping people off if I charge more

A contentious issue, but think about it – if you get a tradesman fixing something in your house, you pay him, because that’s what he charges, and that’s what he’s worth. He doesn’t think, ‘hmm am I worth that though? She might be expecting to pay less.’ He gives you the quote, and you say yes or no.

This is exactly what you are doing by putting a price on your item.

You are saying ‘this is how much this costs’, and then the customer can say yes or no. You don’t have to justify it in any way – he isn’t telling you how much it costs him to keep his tools serviced and his certificates in order, so why do you start telling people why your item is cost as it is? Sure, tell people it’s a one-off, there’s only 5 ever made, or whatever makes that item SPECIAL, but you don’t have to tell them how much it costs you to hire a table at the craft fair you’re selling at to justify the price (I’ve actually overheard this happening).

6. It didn’t take me that long to make

Good for you – that’s probably because you’ve practised a lot, and been doing it a long time. Did you get paid for all that practice? No? Well now is when you DO. If I was to make a dress it would take me at least a couple of days, because I’m shit at sewing – I’m happy to pay someone £20 an hour to do it for me, cause I know it won’t take them much longer than two hours, and they know what they’re doing.

*edit to add*

I know most dresses take longer than two hours to make and dressmakers should be paid more than £20 an hour. I have a friend who makes clothes for me, and it takes her a couple of hours and I give her £20 an hour. I never expected this post to be spread so far and wide, and I really was talking about a particular situation I am in, not all dressmakers!If you re-read my sentence, I am talking about someone I personally pay £20 an hour, and it only takes her a couple of hours. I am not intending to undervalue dressmakers!

7. I just enjoy making it, I don’t care how much I get for it

That’s excellent, you have a hobby which people want to buy from you. However, if there are people who make a living doing what you do as a hobby, please charge the same as they do. I know that sounds mean, I really know it does, and I can’t think of a good metaphor.

Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that you have a friend who is a hairdresser, and you’ve decided to take up as a hobby cutting hair. You keep your regular job, but on the side you cut hair, and you charge less than your hairdresser friend. It doesn’t matter because it’s your hobby, you enjoy it, and anything you get is good enough – but your friend who does it for a living is being put out of work by your hobby because she has to charge less as the value of hairdressing becomes diluted by people doing it at home. She has paid for training to do what she does, and years of practice to be as good as she is, but people will still question why she charges what she does when you are charging less. She also hasn’t got another income to supplement her hairdressing, this is her whole career.

This may sound extreme, and as I say, I couldn’t think of a decent metaphor. However, I will use scrabble tile necklaces as an example, as I don’t make them any more, and this never happened. I use to charge £10, as I’d worked out this was the price they needed to be – if someone then came along, who made them as a hobby, and sold them for £6, it would impact on my sales. The price would still cover their costs (I would be wholesaling them at £5 after all, so I have to know my costs are covered at that price) so they think they’re being fair, but as mine are £10, people wonder why I seem to be ripping them off.

Which brings us to…

8. *person A* sells it for £x

You shouldn’t use someone else’s price as comparison, unless you’re selling like for like at the same price. You should never think ‘I’m not as good as person A so I need to sell it for less’. If it is the same thing, you must sell it at the same price.I learnt this the hard way – I made an item at the start of my selling life, and sold them for £2, because I thought this was the right price. I found out someone else was selling the same thing for £5, and instead of thinking I should put the price up, I thought, ‘but I’m not as good as them, I should keep the price where it is’. The person who made this same item found out, and thought I was undercutting them on purpose, when I was actually thinking they were better than me. I was undervaluing myself, but hurting someone who I respected in the process.

I shouldn’t have to say this, but I feel I should – You should never sell it at £2 on purpose because person A sells it at £5 and you want to steal their customers.

9. It’s OK for you, people will pay more for one of your items

I find it hard to believe that anyone thinks I can charge more simply because I made it, but I have had someone say this to me. All I can say is this – a name can carry weight when pricing something, otherwise designer clothes wouldn’t exist, but there aren’t many crafters who can charge more just because they’ve made it. BELIEVE ME.

10. The materials were just hanging around

Therefore the material cost is nothing, and making your price far too low? WRONG! The material cost is not how much the material cost you this time – it’s how much it will cost you to replace it.

So if you make, for example, a cushion from a piece of fabric someone gave you, it doesn’t mean you don’t add in the cost of the fabric – it means you add in the cost of replacing that fabric. This is hard to get your head round, but I have learnt this from pricing making stock out of donated and recycled items. For example, I might get given a lot of books by someone for nothing to make vases out of, but I always factor in the cost of having to buy a book – usually it’s just as if I bought a cheap one from a charity shop for a quid – but you can see the parallel I hope. Just because that fabric was hanging around, you can’t charge £5 less for a cushion, or next time your customer will wonder why this cushion is £5 more expensive than the last one.

So what do you all think? I know how difficult it is to value yourself, and how much easier it is to see someone else’s stock and see that they’re undervaluing themselves, so maybe if we all watch out for each other, and make each other feel good we can create an even nicer handmade/crafting family.

Thank you for reading this far. I am so happy that something I wrote last year has become useful. I now blog on my main website
so you can find even more stuff over there.

I feel I have to answer criticism that I have not made thousands of sales and therefore I shouldn’t be regarding myself as an expert.

Not once have I ever said I’m an expert. On anything. This is my experiences from owning a shop, working in other shops, and running a website selling items. My Folksy and Etsy sales might together number less than 300 (thanks for adding it up for me), but neither of those sites are my main sources of income. I have sold in shops for 5 years, on my own website for 4 years, and had my own shop selling other people’s items for 3 years. If I thought I knew everything, I would be an incredibly dull person.

This guide is meant as a way to make crafters value themselves, not to tell you how to price. There are loads of pricing guides out there, written by people more ‘successful’ than me. I highly recommend you read one of those. My whole life is about making people value their time, not telling them that I am the pinnacle of success and you should do what I do. I hope that helps some of you who have been annoyed with me.

Further edit – I’m very flattered to be asked if you can reproduce this blog. If you’d like to print this out for your craft group, that is absolutely fine. If you want to quote me anywhere else, I’d appreciate being quoted and referenced, rather than you changing the words slightly and then not referencing me. Thanks!

Photograph credit -Poppy Thorn (alt model) and Miss Affleck (photography)


24 Jan

So now the shop is ready, and we’re all so proud of ourselves! We spent two days organising, stocking, painting, lugging things around… and now it looks nothing like it did!


One of the walls before we worked


All this furniture had to GO


This pitched ceiling had potential though…

Once we decided on this space, after two hours of debate about whether to just expand where Jil and Alice already were, Jil started thinking about colours and a logo. A couple of days later, I got this colour chart sent to me

Colour chart for eek!

Colour chart for eek!

Along with white, these would be our colours. Handpicked Hall is fairly white already, and we wanted our room to look completely different, so we decided to paint at least one wall a feature colour.

After a day of work...

After a day of work…


The feature teal ended up on two walls

The feature teal ended up on two walls


Jil putting up the ‘hello’ sign everyone loved in the other shop

Personally I’m terrible at leaving negative space, allowing people’s eyes time to take everything in, but luckily Jil and Alice are better at ‘less is more’ so between us we ended up with a shop full of interesting areas, but with enough room to move around and see everything.

The sign goes up!

The sign goes up!

It really has come together in a wonderful way, and I’m sure we’ll still be moving things around for the next, well, however long we’re in here I’m guessing!

We wanted a feature display to entice people in

We wanted a feature display to entice people in

The area with the pitch ceiling

The area with the pitch ceiling

Wider view of the shop (excuse the hoover!)

Wider view of the shop (excuse the hoover!)

View towards the counter

View towards the counter

Our shop front!

Our shop front!

What do you all think? Will you be visiting soon?

New shop news!

6 Jan

Finally, I can share some news with you!

Our offer has been accepted, and I am going to be moving into a space with Jil of Jil Made This, and Alice of The Deco Press. Jil is an illustrator and as well as providing prints of her work, she also makes plushes by heat pressing her images onto vintage fabric, sewing and stuffing them. Alice sources beautiful vintage French images, and frames and mounts them, as well as providing other vintage items such as tins and games.

They already have a shop, where they sell their items, as well as some crafting goodies and vintage books. I’ve been working there in the run-up to Christmas and enjoying it so much, I asked if they’d like a third person to join in, and as things were changing anyway, we decided to try and make a go of fulfilling Jil’s dream of having a hub for independent illustration and related items.

So as well as still selling what they already have been, I will be bringing in some prints and cards, as well providing my spiral bound notebooks made with vintage book covers, and my badges/mirrors made using the insides of the books, along with some crafting kits and items, like stamps and fabric tape.

The shop will be inside Handpicked Hall, which is situated inside The Grand Arcade in Leeds, alongside other independent businesses including the amazing Our Handmade Collective (where many of my friends sell their stuff!)

It’s all incredibly exciting, and I start moving in a week today!

My teenage self loves the 30-something me

2 Jan

The other day I realised I have befriended not one, but THREE of my teenage idols on Facebook. Not only that, but they all know who I am, and respond to me when I talk to them. I am astonished this has happened – it’s possibly like you becoming chums with Keanu Reeves or Leonardo DiCaprio – I have no idea, at the age of 15-19 I was all about small zines and weird little comics

3. Joseph Champniss

Joseph did the illustrations on The Organ Gang on ‘This Morning with Richard Not Judy’, but I knew him before then as we were both contributors to ‘The Zine’, a mainstream magazine which attempted to behave like a fanzine. I had a conversation with one of the editors over the phone at the age of 15 as they wanted to let me know they hadn’t meant to publish my poem with my article (I specifically asked them not to publish them together as I didn’t want the subject of the poem to know how much he affected me.)

What I had on my wall

2. Lucy Sweet

Lucy wrote ‘Unskinny’, the first thing I’d ever read where you could be FAT and it didn’t matter. She talked about shops where jacket potatoes had ‘THIS MUCH BUTTER’ and I leant Unskinny to so many people I no longer have a full collection. I hate this fact, but I do still have the book she published. It’s a constant source of amazement that Lucy even knows who I am, let alone replies to me and laughs at what I say.

What I had on my wall

well not this exact cartoon, but it was from this story line. Hard to remember a time when I hadn’t heard of Ikea, but yes! I thought the names were funny! I was impressed by future husband living a five minute drive from one!!

1. Ralph Kidson

AH RALPH – I always thought we would get married. I even sent a marriage proposal to him, and Envelope opened it and replied, which became a strip in his comic. I had a custom cartoon of me as an elastic band, which is STILL framed in my bedroom. My husband, Ian, knows who ‘Ralphie’ is and doesn’t understand the humour, but lets us get on with it. He’s my husband from another dimension.

Ralph’s best characters were Envelope and Stick – Envelope being a stupid, irrational envelope and Stick a more intelligent and rational stick. It’s impossible to tell you all how much I loved Envelope and Stick.

What I had on my wall

Apart from the elastic band cartoon, I had this one. It makes me laugh so much, still to this day, which is why I think Ralph is my husband from another dimension

Social Phobia explained to those who are not social phobic

22 Dec

I hate parties

Last week, I had two Christmas nights out planned. I only managed one of them, because I had a complete meltdown on the Wednesday. On Friday, getting ready to go out, I posted this on Facebook.

WHY am I having kittens about tonight? is it
a. I have ‘nothing’ to wear, ie I haven’t bought anything new for Christmas parties
b. there might be people I don’t know
c. anything I do have which is clean, it might be too dressy or not dressy enough
d. we might not be able to get a taxi home cause it’s mad friday
e. whenever i wear make-up i look a bit like a drag queen
f. general food anxiety, because there will be food, and people eat
g, I might say something stupid without thinking and offend or upset someone
h. all of the above
Do other people think this stuff and just not say it? Or is it medication/lack of/depression/introversion/OCD….???

I had an overwhelming array of responses, but they mainly fell into the following camps

  • Yeah I feel like this too, it’s rubbish isn’t it?
  • I feel like this too, I think everyone does don’t they?
  • You’ll be fine. We’ll look after you
  • Why are you worrying about that? Stop panicking!

I’m so unbelievably lucky that since I culled my Facebook friends, I no longer have any comments like ‘What’s your problem? There’s so much more to be upset about.’ You might think I’d be annoyed about the ‘stop panicking’ comment, but it was a private message, and followed by many reasons not to panic from a very dear friend who understands me.

I then read this awful article about social anxiety, and how basically you can will yourself into not feeling anxious by realising the anxiety is your fault and you can control it. That, my friends, is how not to understand that social anxiety isn’t just being anxious or nervous – it’s a phobia.

Look up phobia, if you don’t know the definition, I linked to Wikipedia above to make it easy.

Most people have a fear, whether big or small, of something. Show me someone who doesn’t have any fears, and I’ll show you a robot. I have a phobia of daddy long legs for example. I don’t like the way they move, and they used to make me scream. I can be in the same room as them these days, but time was I used to run screaming from rooms and had people telling me I was silly for being afraid of something.

On the other hand, spiders don’t scare me at all, but I have never once told someone they were stupid for having to get their husband to remove a spider from the bathroom. If you are afraid of spiders, there’s absolutely no logic to that fear. It’s very unlikely the spider you have in your house is poisonous, unless you live in Australia, and they’re very small – ‘more scared of you than you are of it’ is the usual response.

Now, I can understand a phobia of spiders if you have one, because I had a phobia of daddy long legs. I won’t belittle your fear. In return, I’d like it if everyone in the world would extend this politeness to people with social phobias.

We know it’s irrational. We know it’s stupid and silly, and that nothing will go seriously wrong, and everything will be fine in the morning. THIS DOES NOT HELP. If anything, it makes us feel worse that we feel this way because it’s silly and stupid, and so therefore, WE are silly and stupid.

The best response to anything is always empathy. If you haven’t already, there’s an amazing animation about the difference between being sympathetic and being empathetic. I don’t want it to look like I think there’s anything wrong with sympathetic responses, because they are usually better than nothing.

A sympathetic response is nice – it’s the responses above like ‘we’ll look after you’. It made me feel loved and looked after. But the responses I really loved were the ones saying ‘Oh yeah, I totally feel like that too’. Knowing that you aren’t the only person who can’t imagine a balance between turning up in pyjamas or in full evening dress is like someone saying to me, ‘oh yeah, I don’t like daddy long legs either, they move in a weird way.’

So whilst on Wednesday I couldn’t get myself out from under my quilt on the couch, couldn’t stop crying when I thought about leaving the house, and eventually ended up having a takeaway in the safety of my house, on Friday I went out. Talking things through  and having people being empathetic helped, and I went. Yes, it was fine, but in my rational brain I knew it would be.

The next time I get that phobia about going out, I won’t think back on this and how it was fine, and not feel phobic any more – in the same way the next time you find a spider in your bathroom and it doesn’t kill you, you won’t then be able to be rational about it the next time you find one in your bath. You’ll still go and get your husband to remove it, in the same way as I’ll go and find my friends to help me remove the catalyst to my fear.

2014 plans

19 Dec

So, things are moving forwards in LBC world.

January will bring about a complete website redesign, incorporating the blog and shop being together on the lifesbigcanvas url. This is amazing news, and something I’ve been building towards for a long time

It means I’ll be doing more with my mailing list, so I’m resurrecting my Mailchimp. If you haven’t subscribed, the information is below to add yourself. I doubt I’ll do more than one email a week, at the very most, so I won’t be anywhere near as annoying as The Metro.

I’m also retiring a lot of my stock – anything I’m still going to be selling on the new website has been removed from the old website. This means everything on the website right now is not going to be for sale much longer. It will also have 50% off from tomorrow through until 8th January, which is kind of insane! Some stuff is already only 50p, so you can stock up on cards for 25p. I know, right? Ridiculous. Lucky dip bags are also going to be 50p. Call the cops! etc etc

So keep your eyes peeled for other new plans I need to finalise, but which will mean expansion as well as a slightly different direction which has been coming for a few months now.

Excited? I know I am!

Sign up for the newsletter

How not to piss off other creative people

8 Dec

I’ve been chatting online with other makers and creatives about what annoys us about our jobs. I’d never do a blogpost on how annoying customers can be, because that’s unprofessional and unfair, and there are lots of blogs on how difficult pricing is and how irritating it is to turn up at a craft fair and find an Avon lady.

But what I did decide to do was write a blog about what crafters/creatives/makers do to annoy each other. Once I asked the question I was inundated with things our colleagues do that annoy us – so I’ll list them here. Be aware, some of them will probably contradict each other, because this isn’t a list from just one person. It should also be yet another reminder that there isn’t just one correct opinion on anything. Some points are longer than others – generally the ones I have an interest in, or have seen more of. The rest I’ve expanded on with information given by the person who nominated the grievance, meaning they might be incredibly short.

Finally, we really couldn’t decide what to call ourselves. Some see ‘crafter’ as a badge of honour, whilst others see it as an insult. So for ease, in this blogpost, I’ll be using the term MAKER.

1. Nicking each other’s ideas/accusing someone of nicking your ideas

I’ve put this as number one, even though this isn’t even in order, because it is the singlest scummiest thing to do, and I think other makers think the same, because it was the most mentioned thing.

I wrote a blog about this recently, but small businesses stealing from each other (in my opinion) is much worse than a big business stealing from a small business. Big businesses have design departments – they pay people to come up with designs, and often it’s those people who are to blame for googling and stealing images. Urban Outfitters, for example – yes, they should check the design isn’t stolen, but they’re massive companies, and they drop the ball now and again.

A small company however – that’s usually ONE person working alone, stealing an idea from someone they follow on social media. You might see an Instagram of someone who makes shoes with cat ears and think, ‘ah cute! I can see how they’ve made those’ – it’s then a scummy step to think, ‘I can see how it’s made, so I could do that, (maybe charge a little less) and make some money (while also plagiarising the rest of the shop while I’m at it)’.

I also had flak for naming and shaming the company in my last post – apparently I shouldn’t have called them on their scumminess. If it had been my work, I would have followed Kim’s advice – as it was it suited the subject I was writing about to name that person. In the interests of a full and fair post though, I will tell you that calling out people who steal can piss off other makers, and not just the one who has done the stealing.

2. Boasting about how many sales you’ve had/how busy you are

“Just posted out 95 orders!”

“Wow, can’t keep up with making these guys!”

“Panicking about getting all the orders I have made in time!”

You might wonder what’s wrong with updating with this. Well nothing, really… but if you’re at home having a break from making stuff and having a bad day for sales, and then it can make you feel like shit. Consider it as a customer, and you might think, ‘well, if you’ve had so many orders, you don’t need another one’.

There’s a fine line between a good promotional tweet using this basic premise. You might want to make sure customers know you’re running low on something so they can order it before it runs out, and really there’s nothing wrong with a tweet saying you’ve had a lot of orders – just think carefully about your wording, and imagine reading it as a maker having a bad week for sales.

Most importantly, whatever you do, don’t lie about how busy you are to appear to be doing better than you are – don’t tell someone at a fair that you haven’t had any sales, and then tweet about how you sold out of everything.

3. Going on and on about where your stuff has been featured, or who wears it

It’s exciting being featured somewhere, and even more amazing someone famous bought something you made! Please tell me about it, and I’ll be very happy for you. However, don’t dine out on it for too long, or you start to look a bit silly. Corinne Bailey Rae bought one of my necklaces once – she was lovely, and was at an event at our shop where she sang. If I’d found a photo of her wearing the necklace, I’d have smiled and shared it. However, I don’t feel like I can mention it much because it surely won’t make any difference as to whether someone will buy a necklace, and it might put someone who doesn’t like her off. I’ve never bought anything because someone famous wore it – I’m sure some people do, but are they really looking for handcrafted stuff?

4. Not charging enough

This has been well covered here so I don’t think we need to dwell any more on it. But basically when you’re pricing, check your competitors who are making similar items, and make it THE SAME price, not cheaper. Makers really hate being undercut.

5. Charging too much

Conversely, if the difference is more than 10%, you should check WHY the items is so much more expensive than yours. It may be that this item is made in a different way to yours, the maker has more training, or a number of other reasons. For example, you decide to make a corset (chosen because it is a skilled and difficult thing to make, of which I have no experience) – you use plastic bones and machine stitch it. You work out a cost, and look online to find people charging more than double. This doesn’t necesarily mean you’re underpricing yourself – the other corset makers may be trained, they may be using real bone, they may be handstitching, their fabric may be real silk whereas yours is synthetic. There’s a reason some people charge what they do – it’s not you undervaluing yourself every time, and nothing makes makers more angry than you equating a piece of hobby making to something they have trained long and hard to do. Which brings us to…

6. Doing it to make money, not for the love of making, see also jumping onto every bandwagon going

I feel slightly defensive about this one, because I am guilty of it. Some makers make a bit of everything, and it’s purely because they just love making things. Unfortunately this has a tendency to piss off other makers because you might start making something which is their sole item. Not having a ‘speciality’ can be seen as being a ‘jack of all trades’.

However, I’ve definitely come across people who I think are more guilty than me of this, so let’s try to be objective – even though I’m going to use an actual example, I won’t name them. You start off drawing, and you make your drawings into greeting cards. You then see someone who makes their drawings into jewellery, so you ask how it’s done, and you start doing this too. This, I’m sure, will be seen as ‘normal’ by most people, and it makes sense to what you already make. You then decide you’re going to start making head dresses out of flowers because someone has told you they will sell well. A friend of yours who makes head pieces is upset, understandably, because they have trained as a milliner and this is the first time you’ve shown any interest in making head pieces. (You also start selling these head pieces cheaper than theirs, because you haven’t had any training) – has this crossed a line? I certanly believe it has, and I’d like to think most other makers would also agree.

This is partly why I love doing blogposts like this – it’s made me try and focus my spread and from now I’m going to make sure everything I make includes paper in some way.

7. Overly cutesy name/referring to yourself in the third person

“The Button Princess has been busy today, making lovely things for you to buy!”

Whilst this annoys some makers, it can actually work with your branding, so it’s just something to keep an eye on. I personally don’t find it as offensive as some people who emailed me, so I guess it depends what circles you run in.

8. Complaining about how hard it is/how few sales you have

Sometimes things as a maker are hard – but save it for your personal profile on Facebook. Don’t put it on your business page. Your customers don’t want to think you hate every minute of making things for them to buy! They want to know you make it with love, especially for them. Plus, do you really want pity sales?

9. Using comic sans (and other fonts) in your branding

Comic Sans is the butt of many jokes involving fonts – if that makes no sense to you, don’t worry. Just don’t use Comic Sans if you want to be taken seriously – that’s really all you need to know.

*EDIT* wow, this really did open a big old can of worms! I received a message from someone anonymous which I’m going to quote.

I will continue to use Comic Sans without a care in the world – I likes it; It’s nice and curvy, clear, easy to read and has been proved to be dyslexia friendly. I used it all the time as a teacher and I won’t be apologising for continuing to use it ALL the time

10. Complaining about a specific customer

If you had a disagreement with a customer, don’t make it public. It just looks unprofessional. Have a moan on your personal profile, if you really need to, but remember to check your privacy settings so that only your friends can see it. Even better, have a whinge in a craft forum.

11. People saying how easy the thing you do is/saying ‘I could do that’

Customers saying this is pretty annoying – other makers saying this, I think, is unforgiveable! Going to someone’s stall and saying ‘Oh, that’s just resin, I’ve used that, it’s easy’ – well, great that you recognised the method, you’re obviously knowledgable on crafting methods, but mastering anything is never ‘easy’. I used to have the pleasure of selling some resin items another company made, and it meant I can always tell the difference between good resin and bad resin, and believe me there’s a chasm.

12. Being self-important/snobbery

Conversely just because you’ve mastered something doesn’t mean you’re ‘better’ than anyone else. Someone got in touch to say they find some people snooty about having their items touched by customers and their children – ‘don’t touch the precious things!’

Personally, I’ve had emails from people about this with regards to Reet Sweet; their slogan of campaigning against ‘crap craft’ refers to (I believe) its designer based neo-craftiness, the fact it’s all handmade and not bought in, and that on the whole the people who sell there are dedicated to their craft and it’s not like a church fete. However, if you apply to something and are rejected, it’s hard not to think it’s because you’re the sort of crap craft they don’t like, and I’ve had to console a few tearful people.

13. Like for a like on facebook/buying followers

Makers are not stupid. We know when you’ve bought followers on Instagram or twitter. We can also see you participating in ‘like for a like’ groups on Facebook. Are your likers all really likers? Or are they just going to ‘unlike’ you when you’ve liked them all back and clogged your newsfeed?

14. People selling unrelated items alongside the things they make

I nearly put this with point 6, but it’s not really the same thing.

I recently saw someone selling dog collars, stained glass and jewellery. They were a lovely person, but their stall just didn’t make sense. I chatted to this person, and she just hadn’t decided what to focus on yet, so was doing her market research by selling everything she makes on her stall, seeing what sells and what people like, and then narrowing things down.

Sometimes however, you come across someone selling, for example, framed prints of their drawings and their drawings printed on cards – but then some purses. I guarantee, after talking to people in shops and at fairs, more often than not that’s a friend of theirs who’s helping them or who they feel sorry for. Just be aware if it looks weird, it might piss off other makers who will equate you with the people in number 6.

15. Setting up a facebook profile instead of a page

Just an absolute no-no. If you are a maker, you MUST understand the difference between profiles and pages. I’m very careful who I befriend on Facebook, because my privacy settings are locked tight. I will like a page, with no issues, but I won’t befriend a profile called something like ‘Settle Artisans Fair’ – I’m not saying this profile are going to be awful, just that once I befriend it, their friends can see everything I do, and they have thousands of friends. It goes against the whole of point 18 later on.

16. Makers who have ‘spotless houses’

A friend said this, and it made me chuckle. Not every maker works in a spotless studio, with everything in its place, no matter what those articles in Mollie Makes would have you believe. I videoed my studio here  if you want to see what mine looks like.

17. Having your facebook post directly to twitter/saying you’re ‘on twitter’ when you aren’t really

This is mine – seriously, if you’re a maker and you don’t like using Twitter, please don’t just set up your facebook page to send everything to Twitter. Having that on twitter is NOT ‘better than having nothing’. This is also not ‘giving in, because you have to be on twitter these days’. This is not ‘being on twitter’ – in my opinion not posting anything on twitter is better than having auto-tweeting from facebook.

*EDIT* It’s been pointed out that this shouldn’t really be something that we should worry about pissing off other makers with – it should be about not pissing off anyone with the way we use twitter.

18. Being too personal on your business page

This is the only bit I’m cutting and pasting, because I didn’t want to rewrite it.

Another one that does for me is people who use what should be business pages to give us too much personal information about themselves. Friendly chatty type postings – had a great event today, lovely to meet you all, thanks for buying, etc – is nice and reminds us subtly that it’s an independent business with one person running it. Telling me your life history – mum of 8, crafting since 6 months old, how many pets, where you live, colour of your christmas tree, etc – when all I want is to know more about the things you make is completely different. A business page is that and if I wanted to know about your day to day life, you’d be on my friends list – simples…

What about you? What annoys you about other makers if you are a maker? What don’t you like to see as a customer? I’d love to hear from you!