Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Moved to gizmofiberarts.com

This blog (including the free patterns) has moved to gizmofiberarts.com. I am adding free patterns every weekend during April and May 2014. Come check out the site and join the Gizmo community!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Bad Advice

This post is adapted from a post I made on my other blog. It might be thought provoking for people who are running crafting businesses.

I’ve probably started 4 or 5 businesses that failed miserably. There are several reasons for my failures and one of them is taking advice, not always bad advice but wrong advice. Because of this, when I started Gizmo Fiber Arts I already had a lot of experience with failure. I resolved to do things differently so I read a lot of information about how to market my designs. I read advice on photography, on how to set up an online store front, on how to write product descriptions, on search engine optimization, on advertising, on social networking, pricing, giveaways, and so on. A lot of the advice came directly from Etsy, where I sell most of my patterns. This is not a bitter post about the advice that I took, but rather a constructive post about what I learned from it.

Most of this advice was bad, or at least wrong. By wrong, I mean it didn’t work for me and it never would work for me. Here are some reasons, with examples.

1. Fooled By Randomness: I think sometimes people look back on their success and try to figure out what they did right and share that with other people. I can commend them for doing that. However, a lot of the time people don’t really know why they succeeded. In fact, it could be and often is luck. You just happened to catch the notice of the right person who spread the word about your product or you know a friend of a friend who showcased your work somewhere. Meanwhile, you did all of these other things that appear to have helped you succeed but only contributed marginally if at all. For more on this topic, see the book Fooled By Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (which is about investing, but also randomness in general).

2. Personal Idiosyncrasies: Many times, what works for one person doesn’t work for another. I’ll give you the example of Twitter. A lot of artists use Twitter to promote their work and also connect with the community. I think that’s great. I don’t think it’s essential. I wasted a lot of time trying to force myself into the Twitter mold (because I read how "essential" it is) and it just isn’t my style. There are plenty of other ways to reach out to people and engage that I can pick and choose what works for me (blogging for example). I can’t do everything and I shouldn’t.

3. Nitpicking: Much of the advice was focused on little things like shop bios, descriptions, photo backgrounds, holiday sales, prices, and so on, always saying how crucial it is to get those things right. As long as that stuff isn’t disastrous I think I’m better off working on the important things mentioned below. I also think it should have been a little more obvious to me what was nitpicking, but I was in a space where I didn’t trust my instincts after so many other failed businesses. Since I was just starting out in a new business type (crafts) and mode (online), I really didn’t know what was going to matter most, but I could have found out as I will explain.

How can you know what advice is good?
Look at several businesses that have done well. In my business example here, I finally looked at some very successful crochet pattern shops on Etsy. What I found is that their descriptions, storefronts, practices, and prices were all over the place. What was consistent was that each store had many, many patterns, professional looking logos, and very clear pictures of the products. I really needed that advice on photography. My product pictures were horrible, and I didn’t even know how to use my camera other than point and click. In fact, my shop was lacking in all three of those areas. If I had looked at successful stores to begin with, I could have seen what I needed to improve and focused on that FIRST, followed by tweaking the other things once I had the important things covered.

(A great website that lists top sellers by category is craft count.)

Hope this helps someone or at least provokes some marketing insight.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Christmas Stockings

Christmas is always that time of year where all my crafting energy is focused on getting some projects done. This year, I completed two Christmas stockings. The first one shown here is needlepoint. I'm really enjoying needlepoint (fiber canvas) these days and am working on a coaster project at the moment.

This next one is my first knit argyle. I thought it was going to be really hard but it was only moderately hard. *wink* Once I got into the flow of the pattern it went smoothly until it was time to turn the heel. I think I got it on the third try. Oh well, that's just more practice, right?

Hope you had a wonderful holiday crafting season and many fun projects in the new year! -Jennifer

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Back In Business

Well, I have had a two week absence from blogging, facebook, twitter, and just about everything else. About two weeks ago I ran into major computer trouble, probably stemming from repeated power spikes and outages.
Anyway, I spent about a week trying to recover my computer, until it was clear to me that it was not going to recover. So then I spent about a week waiting for my new computer to arrive in the mail. It got here yesterday and I have been installing updates and software until just now. It works! It works great, in fact. I bought one with Windows Vista so I am getting used to that, had XP before. I bought it from geeks.com (no affiliation), and I have to say they shipped it out really quickly (next morning) and it's exactly as described.
I hope to be back in the full swing of the fiber arts action soon, and am looking forward to making some beautiful treasuries in the next few days.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Coffee Cup Sleeves- Four Designs to Crochet

I have just listed my newest crochet pattern on Etsy and Ravelry, my coffee cup sleeves (or click here for the Ravelry link). About a year ago, my best friend Heather asked me to make a coffee cup sleeve for her, and so I did. Then I made about 20 more! Of course, some of the ones I came up with don't really work as patterns, and some were knit rather than crochet. I chose these 4 designs for my pattern collection because they are fun and versatile. I used several of them for adult stocking stuffers last Christmas.

To celebrate the new pattern in my store, I am going to release a scrubbie pattern here on my blog for free this coming week, so check back for that.
Right to Left: Frills Sleeve, Baubles Sleeve, Squares Sleeve
Ruffle Sleeves
Right to Left: Squares Sleeve, Baubles Sleeve, Frills Sleeve

Ribbed Knit Sleeve
Back in February, I also posted a free knit cup sleeve pattern here on my blog (shown at right).

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Chrysanthemum Bracelets

I am working on a new line of crocheted jewelry, and I have finished the first design. The line is inspired by Chinese culture, and in this case, the chrysanthemum. I have a lotus and a dragon in the works as well as some bamboo designs. It's really fun working on some new stuff! I am going to make all of these into patterns, but for now, I am offering the finished bracelets in my store. Here is the design in several colors:


Monday, May 9, 2011

Sunny Day = New Hat Pix

Today is so sunny and beautiful that I decided to take advantage and get some outdoor photos of my hats. I was home alone so there was no one here to bother me but the dog while I was doing it. I think I got some great results. Some people say that full sun photos aren't good because the sun washes out the colors, but I think these turned out ok. Also, I love the spring flowers in my photos!
Woods Hat

Sailing Hat - Baby

Sailing Hat - Grade Schooler

Sailing Hat (Pattern)
'Lil Love Hat (Pattern)
Flower Garden Hat and Purse (Pattern)