Let’s Hear it for the Boys!

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Hello there Thursday Readers!

I decided to take a little break from my business musings to bring you a nice little DIY that I thought would be nice, given that wedding season is upon us and groomsmen need some love too! I find that ladies get all the love when it comes to wedding gifts, bridesmaids or bride, we luck out. So let’s hear it for the men! Here are some great DIY gift ideas for the gents involved in a wedding!

1. From Ellavine, a not so quick but unique and stunning idea for groomsmen gifts. You can find the full tutorial here.

This might seem like an odd thing to give another person, but let’s face it. Men think sharp things are cool. I think sharp things are cool, and to be honest, I gave my brother an axe once for his birthday and he loved it. It’s still up on his wall. This is a great gift for rustic weddings, manly men, and men who like to throw axes at targets that aren’t people.

2. From DIY Readypersonalized handkerchiefs. Just scroll down a little.

Where this may seem oddly formal, this can be a great gift for any gentleman who will be wearing pocket squares at your wedding or who wears pocket squares regularly. This is for the debonair gentleman who may want to wipe away the grime before his lady sits, or just to mop the sweat off his brow, you can give him the gift of doing this in the classiest of ways.

3. From Kristi Murphy, we have a tutorial for a DIY custom bottle of yummy goodness.

Maybe giving a big bottle of alcohol isn’t classy. But frosting someone’s name into it makes it infinitely classier, right? Though let’s be honest, who doesn’t love getting the gift of a good drink to say thank you. Just remember that you can do this to almost any liquor bottle so long as the label is removable, and for that, Goo Gone is your best friend.

4: From Ehow, a beautiful and very customizable wooden beer caddy.

This fantastic gift can give you endless opportunities to stretch your manly creativity. Adding band stickers or tin labels, hand painting or wood burning, you can do anything with this project to make it a one of a kind for all your special men. And remember, giving a gift filled with beer makes everyone happy. 🙂

Well crafters, I hope this has give you some inspiration for the gentlemen in your life, and for our lovely gentlemen crafters, I hope this inspires you to make something fantastic for your bros.

Happy crafting!

Megan


Know your Resources: Craft University

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I have been asked to explain the many resources that crafters have online and explain how they work, why they are beneficial, and how you can utilize them.  So I am going to introduce a new series, Know your Resources.  A few weeks ago I talked about the webinar Cheryl Sleboda is giving tonight.

I had never heard of Craft University before so this prompted me to take a closer look at at.  From the Craft University Website:

Craft University is an online education program from F+W, A Content + eCommerce Company, for those who want to learn new crafting techniques, deepen their understanding of a current craft, and choose when or where to participate in learning skills including quilting, sewing, knitting, jewelry making, beading, spinning, weaving, crochet and more!

Craft University’s engaging and easy-to-follow instruction inspires students to take the next step in their crafting experience – whether you are a beginner or interested in more advanced instruction, or looking for advice about how to make your craft into a business.

Craft University makes learning new crafting techniques or expanding on skills you already have, both fun and rewarding. You can complete lessons on your own schedule within your class sessions. In each class, you’ll get guidance from an experienced instructor, interact with other students, and complete exercises that will help you grow as an artist. In these online crafting classes you will use some of the most prestigious craft resources on the market.

Our online classes cover a variety of different topics, from quilting and sewing, to jewelry making, to weaving and mixed media. Learn from the best. On your schedule.

The content includes both online courses and webinars.  As a quilter I looked at the classes that were being offered and I was excited to see Deb Tucker teaching her Hunter’s Star block.

I have used her templates and made her quilts.  I think it is one of the coolest and easiest ways to make Hunter’s Stars, but can be tricky and should be taught by someone instead of reading about it.  The course is definitely ideal!

I am excited by the chance to take classes from people that I may not have had a chance to take classes from.  Craft University looks like it has a lot of potential and I hope to see it grow in the future.

(Don’t forget if you have a craft business or want one Cheryl’s class is tonight!  If you can’t make it, you can always watch it when you can)

-Toni


Building up your Brand Webinar

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One of the people that has helped me advance in my Quilting career is Cheryl Sleboda.  Whenever I am in Chicago, I try to take her out for a beer and pick her brain on the next step for my business.  One thing she is extremely good at is branding.  I was super excited to see Cheryl is holding a special webinar all about building up your brand!

According to the class description she will teach you:

-What is a Brand
-Why you need to brand yourself or your business
-Creating a logo that expresses your brand
-Branding yourself online
-How to leverage your brand
-Branding for businesses vs. artists
-Accidental branding
-What to consider when rebranding

And much more!

This is how the webinar works:

Each webinar is a live event that lasts about an hour and includes a Q&A session toward the end where you can submit questions that the instructor will answer.

If you can’t attend the live event, don’t worry. A recording from the live session will be uploaded to the webinar area within a week after the live event and the recording will remain available online for 30 days after the live event. You can watch the recording anytime during those 30 days, or download to keep.

Prior to the published live webinar date:

  • You’ll need to complete your registration on GoToWebinar – this is where the actual, live event will take place. Once you register, you’ll receive a confirmation email with instructions on how to complete your registration on GoToWebinar.

After the live webinar date:

  • Log back into Craft U anytime after the live event is over to: watch and download a recorded version of the live event* and interact with fellow students in the discussion forum area.

So head over to Craft Online University and sign up if you want to build your brand up!  I know from experience you will learn a LOT.

-Toni


CopyHackers – A Quick Overview of the Importance of Copywriting

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Today I’m veering off into a different direction from my normal Sunday blog, so buckle up!

Self-advertising is extremely important for any small business, especially a business of arts and crafts, as the products of such are not often items people necessarily need, like winter tires in Montreal, or water in California (poor guys). They are pieces of hard work and artistry that people want for their look, their quality, and for their uniqueness. Add that to the fact that people generally only see your items online and you have the perfect reason to invest your time (or money) into proper copywriting for your brand.

Copywriting is the art of written salesmanship; it lets people know what they need to in a way that influences them to purchase or pay attention to your products. Though its’ roots are in ‘real world’ media, copywriting is an often overlooked but integral part of the online market. If done correctly, it will help your potential customers get to know you and the passion you have for your products, and will inspire them to appreciate your hard work and artistry as well.

I’ve gone through a lot of blogs and seller websites lately, and it occurred to me that the items’ and sites’ overall professional feel came a lot from the writing. Take item descriptions, for example:

While a lot of people would opt for the ‘quick ‘n easy’ on the left, the writing and the font on the right are more likely to convince a person to purchase your product. A lot of artists would rather like to think that their products sell themselves, but realistically that is almost never the case. When you go to trade shows there is someone behind a booth smiling, inviting you over to check out their wares. They talk to you, they inform you, and you either walk away with an item or you walk away empty-handed. The same works for online: you must show your product, tell people what they need to know, and express to them why they would like it.

Many artistic and ‘not-businessy’ people feel uncomfortable with this concept, but I believe that it is all a matter of perspective, so let us explore that. From your own perspective, you are making a product that you put a lot of effort into because you believe that the product is special, unique, something you’d want for yourself. It’s worth something to you, which gives it value, and chances are if you like it then other people will as well! Really, all you have to do is convey your passion and the personal value it holds in the product description. In other words, if people see that someone else values an item, the value of that item increases, and for good reason: that is how the economy works.

Now let’s look at this from the customers’ point of view, which should be easy since we are all customers ourselves! When we go to a mall or a trade show and walk around we see thousands of items we’d love to have, all calling out to us: Buy meee BUY MEEEE! What is it that draws our attention and influences us to go over and evaluate something specific? It’s the setup of the items, it’s the display, it’s the sign with the company name.  Once we have our eyes fixed, what is it that keeps us there, looking at the products and considering a purchase?  Those very important aspects of selling aren’t what hold our attention: that is where informational brochures, business cards, and a friendly and helpful salesperson come in and take over to finalize the sale.

Simply put, your website is your booth, your pictures are your display, and your copy is the person behind the booth being engaging, helpful, and showing that there is value in these products besides the materials used to make them.  Remember, your entire brand is also a product to be sold, so use this idea when looking to market yourself!

If you’d like more information on copywriting, check out Quicksprout’s detailed and incredibly helpful The Definitive Guide to Copywriting. As always, feel free to sign up with this blog and use the comment section to make suggestions or ask questions!

-Shalyn


Me Fecit

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No, it isn’t a dirty word, although knowing me it very well could be. This week’s post was inspired by my grandfather who passed away last week. In going through his belongings, his artistic works were some of the most treasured items.

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My grandfather was a woodworker and silversmith. Not that you’d know it if you asked him. He spent his life working a paper job, coming home and creating beauty at night. A “frustrated artist” as one person at the funeral said. I can empathize with having to do a job to put food on the table, while working on your art in your free time, as I’m sure many of us can. But even with that, he always took the time to grow his own talents as well as encourage me with my own artistic pursuits.

One of the lessons I learned from him a long time ago was “always sign your work.” Grandaddy was always encouraging of my artistic pursuits, but he was insistent that I ensure every piece had my own mark so it would be known who made it. It is one of the reasons I have struggled with so long in finding the “right” name to work under.

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He must have taken his own advice to heart, though, and in his later pieces, you can see a new signature appear. He had always put his initials, TSD, on his work before, and occasionally he added a graphic to the designs. Grandaddy was a scholar as well, and his new signature incorporated both his name, a unique mark, and his love of Latin. TSD Me Fecit. “TSD I made it”

As an artist, we like to think that our work will stand on and our link to it will be known. But it isn’t always that easy. Who gave me that quilt when I was a child? Who embroidered that sampler on the wall? We grow up and forget names and places and times. Our work is passed to others who never knew the stories behind them. Without a signature, a mark, something to stamp that work as your own, you become a nameless, faceless creator. Items have stories, value, worth when we know where they come from.

I’m so glad my grandfather marked his works. I will always know that my cutting board was given to me by my grandfather at age 90. I will know that the chalice and candlestick he carved came from him, and my heirs will too.

Do you have an artistic signature? Does your business? If not, take my grandfather’s advice and develop a unique indicator of your creation.

Be proud of your work, and tell the world “I made it.”

~ eliste