I Was on the Bhooked Podcast!!

When one accomplishes a lifelong goal it is only natural to bake a big fat yummy chocolate cake to celebrate, no? For me, being on the Bhooked podcast was definitely a lofty ambition and there was no better way to memorialize it!

Have you ever had an aspiration, but honestly never thought it would happen? Ever been so excited that you then had to make a decadent dessert to celebrate? Well today a big dream of mine came true and then I cooked up a ginormous ole calorie-packed chocolate cake to commemorate the occasion!

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Believe, Bloom, and Balance: Cultivating Your Creative Potential

I’ve been thinking a lot about balance recently and how to attain it. As a creative person I find myself vacillating wildly between working with extreme focus or wandering aimlessly from one idea to the next. Although the past few months have been quite productive, I have felt a little like a chicken running around with its head cut off. Actually that’s not even an accurate description. A mutant, crazy eyed fowl jumping from one frying pan to another sounds more like it! But I’ve discovered an approach that is working for me and maybe it will help you too! I must believe and bloom to be able to achieve balance. This may sound like nonsense, but I love alliteration and I do have a point!

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How to Edit Photos for Free

I used to think photo editing just meant adding a fancy Instagram filter to my pictures. My favorites were Lark, Juno, and Ludwig. Now there’s nothing wrong with those filters but using an actual photo editing app gives you so much more control. More control = more happiness! Haha! Well, it does for me anyway!

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5 Lessons Makers can Learn from Disney

Yes, I am that crazy woman who brought a crocheted pig into Disney World and snapped a photo of him! On an average day almost 53,000 individuals enter the gates of  Magic Kingdom in Orlando, FL. Gasp. Let that sink in for a sec… That equals over nineteen million visitors each year! It is the most visited amusement park in the world and there are no signs of it slowing down any time soon, even with more competition coming on the scene in recent years.

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12 Simple Rules for Growing a Handmade Business Instagram Account

My 12 simple rules for growing a handmade business instagram account!

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When I become interested in a subject I want to know everything about it.  I study, I learn, and I focus. My interest in Instagram is no different. I listen to podcasts, read blog posts and attend webinars all about this social media platform.  November 13, 2018 marks my one year anniversary on Instagram and so much has happened within that time frame. It seems like just yesterday that I posted my first grainy photo. I’m certainly not an expert, but I want to share my twelve simple rules that have worked for me!

How I’m Organically Growing my Instagram Account

  1. Engage – This is my absolute number one, most important piece of advice. Engaging with those who are in your niche or who take the time to comment on your post is critical for growth. When I began my Instagram account I spent a good deal of time looking for crochet accounts. I liked and commented on their photos. I responded when they commented on mine. I built genuine relationships and I continue to nurture them to this day. I cannot stress the importance of this step enough.
  2. Good photos – Please listen to me, your photos matter. They matter a lot and particularly on Instagram. Learn a little about photography. In the beginning of my account I exclusively used an iPhone 6 to take my photos. Originally I applied some pretty awful filters, but I didn’t know any better and I thought they looked nice. I began to improve and upgraded to an iPhone X which has a better camera and I stopped using filters. Recently I bought a DSLR camera, but it is not necessary for taking good photos. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have good pictures. (I wrote a blog post about photography if you are interested in learning more : How To Photograph Amigurumi. ) You can use your cell phone or whatever you have to take photos. Always keep in mind that Instagram is more visual than some other social media platforms. If you don’t have an interesting photo, people will just scroll right on by.
  3. Collaborate – Now that you’re engaging your audience and taking decent photos it’s time to connect with others. One way to do this is to share other accounts on your stories or on your feed. This is a very natural step once you’ve been engaging with others and built relationships. Featuring other accounts benefits that person but also your own followers! It’s always fun to discover new accounts! I believe in the “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch your back” philosophy. Don’t just be a taker, be a giver as well.
  4. Hashtags – Hashtags are a very effective way for new people to find your account. You are allowed to add up to thirty hashtags to each post. Spend some time researching which hashtags your favorite accounts are using and try them. Experiment with hashtags, don’t just use the same ones over and over again. Find accounts that will feature your photo for using their hashtag. That is a great way to get your page out there for others to discover.
  5. Consistency – Since Instagram is about building relationships you’ve got to show up on a fairly regular basis. Some people recommend posting more than once a day for optimal success but that isn’t possible for me. I post once a day, in the morning, because that works for me. I know there are apps out there that will even let you know when the best time to post. I have never personally used them but they could be a good tool for you. The point is to be consistent. Show up regularly.
  6. Share something personal, but not private – I like to know the person behind the accounts I follow. I like knowing about their life, but there is a very fine line between personal and private. I share personal things on my page. I have shared about my son’s health issues (you can read about that here: Why I started crocheting and you should too!) and about my love of my dog, Jersey-boy. But I do not share my private life. You won’t hear about the arguments with my husband or that I’m particularly gassy that day. That’s private. Always keep in mind that your Instagram place is public.
  7. Keep it classy, not negative – No one likes a complainer or a Debbie-Downer. People come to Instagram to be inspired, not depressed. There’s a way to share things that aren’t super cheery or upbeat without being negative. I recently shared about how scatterbrained I have been lately without complaining about our busy schedule or my peri-menopause. Negativity pushes people away, positivity draws them in.
  8. Use stories – I am super awkward on video. I hate the way my voice sounds and how old I look! I don’t like it at all, but I do it. Instagram rewards those who use stories, by sharing their feeds more than those who do not.
  9. Be Patient – Success doesn’t usually come overnight. Keep experimenting. Keep learning. When you hit a growth plateau don’t panic, be consistent, try new things, and be creative.

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What Not to Do!

10. Follow for follow – I have had people reach out to me and ask to follow for follow. I don’t play that game. I follow accounts I genuinely am interested in. The follow-for-  follow game is just a gimmick and won’t work long term.

11. Pay for followers – I would never ever pay for followers, which is different than ads.  Be very careful because I have heard that Instagram can find that tactic very spammy and shut down your account.

12. Make your Instagram account one big advertisement – no one is interested in seeing  advertisement after advertisement. You can have a product to sell but have your account be about so much more. The best advice I ever heard about this topic was from the Gold Digger podcast. (Link to my post about my favorite handmade business podcasts:  My Favorite Handmade Business Podcasts) Jenna recommended treating your Instagram account like you would a lifestyle magazine. There will be some ads but every page won’t be an advertisement, that’s boring. If  you are selling a product share your process, teach what you know, or share some behind the scenes.

Instagram, like any other business, is about relationships. It’s about humans connecting with other humans. Gimmicks don’t pay off. Growing your Instagram takes work, creativity, and patience but the connections and opportunities that can come from this platform make the effort worth it! How are you growing your Instagram account?

 

Why Le Petit Saint Crochet Isn’t Just my Business Name, but a Piece of my Heart as Well.

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I’m not French. I don’t speak French. I’ve never been to France. I’ve never even been to Quebec, for goodness sake! But the name of my little crochet business is most definitely French and more than likely I don’t even pronounce it correctly!

When I began thinking about making my little crochet hobby a bit more official I knew it needed a name. I’ve admired other craft bloggers and handmade businesses for years and they usually have a very memorable name. I wanted something that represented my love for crochet but also represented something more than that. I wanted the name to represent why I was crocheting.

I wrote down dozens of cute names that typically had the word “bunny” or “cozy”  or “cottage” in them, but none felt quite right. I thought about how I loved making beautiful crocheted things and that I took such care to make sure that no detail was overlooked. Those thoughts led me to my admiration of a little French saint from the late 19th century.

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St. Therese of Lisieux, also known as The Little Flower, was a cloistered Carmelite nun.  In her autobiography, Story of a Soul, St. Therese wrote about how her position in life limited what she was going to be able to accomplish. In coming to this realization she wrote, “Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love.” Her attitude towards life was a great inspiration to the legendary Mother Teresa who is famous for saying, “Do small things with great love.”

That saying perfectly encapsulates my highest goal as a maker. I want to do everything, down to the smallest of details, with great love and care. I know that my place in this world is a small one, but I believe that the small things really are the big things when done in the right spirit. Le Petit Saint Crochet (The Little Saint Crochet) is a tiny homage to St. Therese and a reminder for me to always do the small things with the greatest of love and attention.

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My Favorite Handmade Business Podcasts

6I’ll admit it, I’m a podcast junkie. I have loved listening to them for years, but recently discovered a handful of amazing ones specific for those of us with handmade businesses. I listen when I’m driving, when I’m cleaning, and when I’m crocheting. I love that they are informative, entertaining, and FREE!

My favorite podcasts for handmade business people are (cue drumroll……)

  1. The Merriweather Council Podcast This is my hands-down, absolute favorite, handmade business podcast. For starters, Danielle makes me laugh. She has a very natural way of connecting with listeners. She has had an extremely successful Etsy shop for many years and shares her secrets with all of us! I love that many of the podcast episodes are quite short and are packed with useful information! She’s a tell-it-like-it-is host and I appreciate her so much for it!
  2. The BHooked Podcast  This is my favorite crochet related podcast and it’s my second favorite business one as well. Brittany has turned her handmade hobby into a successful career and helps us do the same. While she doesn’t sell finished products, she does design and has a YouTube channel. Brittany is the Oprah of the crafting world with her insightful interviews with the top designers of the industry.
  3. The Goal Digger Podcast is the bomb dot com for business gals. Jenna Kutcher’s podcast feels like you’re sitting down with a girlfriend who has all the answers! She is very open about her own struggles but shares with listeners how she has overcome them. The podcast is part inspiration, part kick-in-the-pants. She gives listeners practical, doable steps to take to become successful.
  4. Raw Milk Podcast is a fairly new podcast and has a very different feel from the others listed. Beth Kirby (@local_milk) has a huge following on Instagram (over 700k!) She is an accomplished photographer, who has taken the unbeaten path to find success. Her first episode about taking the anxiety out of Instagram is worth its weight in gold!
  5. Christy Wright’s Business Boutique Christy Wright is one of the Dave Ramsey personalities who specializes in small businesses run by women. I listened to the first two episodes of her podcast before I even knew how to crochet, but what I heard intrigued me. I knew then that I wanted to have my own business someday, I just didn’t know what it would be! Christy is a very serious woman who knows how to go after what she wants and shows other women how to do the same.
  6. The Jennifer Allwood Show is a new podcast to me. I have only been listening for a few weeks but what I’ve heard so far has me coming back for more. Jennifer is a down-to-earth, boss momma. She’s been-there-done-that and isn’t afraid to share her secrets. Two of her recent episodes have been extremely helpful for me, episode 81: How to Fight Discouragement and episode 83: The #1 Thing You Can Do to Boost Your Online Sales.

I hope you all have found this list helpful! Tell me about your favorite handmade business podcasts!

How To Photograph Amigurumi

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Let me start off by letting you know right now that I am NOT an expert. I have absolutely zero training. I use an iPhone! I’m not smart enough to even use the DSLR camera that I have had for years! I even attempted a Craftsy class for digital photography and I literally could not understand what the man was trying to teach. I am a camera dummy.

But I consistently get compliments on my photography and I have learned a few things from trial and error.

  1. Use natural lighting! If you only do one thing, this is it! DO NOT USE artificial lighting, unless you are an expert, but then of course you wouldn’t be reading this! Don’t put amigurumi in direct sunlight, which creates really harsh shadows. Indirect sun is perfect, like near a window or in a spot with a little shade or cover.IMG_2954 (1)
  2. Look at what is in the background of your photo. Is there dirty laundry in the corner? Is the cat in the litter box to the side? Did your husband walk through the front door just as you were taking the perfect shot? Background matters. Make sure everything in your photo is styled perfectly. Trust me when I tell you that you would be horrified if you saw what was off to the side in my own photos!IMG_3807
  3. Edit your photos. Learn a little bit about photo editing. I use the free app, Snapseed. I don’t use filters, but I do use tools. I adjust for brightness, sharpness, shadows, etc. If you have good lighting your photos typically won’t need much editing.IMG_1858
  4. Style your photos to make them visually interesting. Play around with props and putting more than one amigurumi animal in a shot. Use what you already have around your home to make your photos more interesting.IMG_4019
  5. Practice, practice, practice. I take dozens more photos than I ever actually use. Train your eye by looking at good photography, not just of amigurumi. Have fun! Be silly and willing to try ridiculous things! You might just get the perfect shot!