Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Sparrow Returns

Hey you guys I'm back! Yep - almost exactly a year after I closed Sparrow Salvage I've re-opened again because... well... the muse woke up!

I've started slowly - it's soft and earthy and romantic with a touch of my 'bohemian galactic' as Fanci calls it. The muse is still fumbling about, unsure of what's going on like most of us when we first wake up. I might change my style in a couple of weeks, I might give it up again! My muse does have a reputation for going on sudden holiday for weeks at a time. I have a newsletter you can sign up to so you'll know when new things come into the shop - it'll also tell you when I update here, which I do very much hope to make regular again.

So what have I been up to all this time? 

Well, remember a million years ago when I did the series of posts on pricing handmade? After all the lecturing and lead up, I didn't end up posting the final post about the actual formula and the maths and giving you a better alternative. You know why I didn't post it? Because I couldn't find a better alternative. No matter how much maths I did, no matter the approaches I took, I couldn't come up with a system that worked out better and that I was comfortable advising you to employ. This lead me to query why....and long story short I ended up falling down a rabbit hole of branding, social media and online shop development. Basically I've spent the last 2 years quietly becoming an online merchant geek.

The plus side for you is that I am now a master of it all! I've developed a whole series of tutorials to teach you how to make a living selling handmade online, including social media, shop branding, Etsy-specific secrets, running your own standalone website, pricing and successful one-of-a-kind selling - most handmade business people say you can't make a living as a OOAK maker; they are wrong!

One of the biggest reasons for me teaching this stuff is I'm sick of seeing good handmade shops not getting off the ground and making the sales they need and deserve to make. I wander all over Etsy and I see great shops with great stuff that could be selling great too, with just a few changes. There's not a lot written about selling handmade online that also enables people to keep their own style and gives clear, practical, actionable advice, and that's what I plan to do.

There is no substitute for hard work - Thomas Edison

I should warn though I teach this with the end effect being a full-time income for any maker and it requires a lot of work. A lot of it will take people out of their comfort zone - maybe way out of their comfort zone. But it's necessary; a comfort zone doesn't require you to change or challenge yourself and that means nothing happens. Selling handmade is hard and it's getting even harder as time goes on - more people dive into it every day and competition rises. In addition, Etsy - who I think almost all of us rely on - have recently made a change in how their search algorithm works. After reading about it at length I've seen it as a bit of a death knell for shops who don't know what they're doing. I'll detail here it in another blog post in the next day or two as well as showing you how to get the best from Etsy if you choose to keep selling there.

There's plenty of usable information coming up for free though, so anyone who doesn't want their handmade shop being a full-time gig can still benefit from it. But that's not all! I'm also finally getting around to releasing some handmade tutorials so you can learn how to make assemblage jewelry in Sparrow Salvage style. The first tutorial should be done by next week and involves the techniques and tricks for making my Bollywood bangle earrings.

My other project is something that's only just been coming back from the dead - my photography. I don't think it's going too far to say I'm fairly well known for my imagery both as a jewelry maker/blogger and as a photographer.  Since the accident I feel I lost something of my natural ability, and though I have now and then tried to coax it back again, I think even my shop photos are just not what they used to be. I've always wanted to sell my work as prints and I have tried now and then, but nothing I put any great effort into.

I think reconnecting with my photography is not only good for my creative muse but is also highly desirable as a future income. I've long dreamed of contributing to magazines or even better, working with heritage groups to showcase the buildings and natural resources they protect. It's a bit of a dream to do a calendar for the UK National Trust for their Buildings at Risk campaign.

So I've additionally decided that I'm going to use my (re)budding photography pursuits both to fulfil me creatively and prove that my teachings about online selling work. By starting from scratch with a standalone website/portfolio, rebuilding my social media and defining a whole new brand I hope to show anyone who'll listen that making a living selling your handmade - furniture, paintings, jewelry, photography, clothing - is definitely possible.

And of course Fagin will be with us again this year, providing unusual antique and vintage craft supply. I have so much cool stuff to share - a whole range of found objects I uncovered moving house recently, as well as paper kits and a whole suitcase full of my custom dyed fabrics!

Who's that girl with too many projects? Muggins here. But you know, what's life without overly-optimistic project levels? I didn't even mention my vintage clothing shop or the potential projects with my local museum and a textile-collecting friend or two...

Monday, March 23, 2015

Monday Memories

Monday memories on the Sparrow Salvage blog

 Came across this little memory moment while cleaning up the shipping desk - a couple of old stamps including one for Little Brown Sparrow. The Sparrow Salvage one will be used again soon... Does anyone still have these cards I used to give out? Hold on to them, they'll be worth millions when I'm famous! The pages they're sitting on are part of my packaging materials; books bought long ago in auction lots that were too far gone to be of worth. Now they add a little romance to every purchase.