Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Honestly, it's like waiting for a bus...

Two in one day hey! Well, I've been thinking a lot recently about how I can possibly turn this all into a bona fide business. It's something I've longed to do, meant to do, been preparing to do, for a very long time, but I never seem to get the time to make it all gel in one go. I know it's unrealistic to expect things to actually gel, but it's the way my mind works- if I can't work on something continuously until it's finished, I lose my way, and ultimately, my interest. So, in no particular order, my thoughts on this chaos:

Website: I need a website. There's no escaping it! I've had a friend offer to build me a site, but he seems to want to do it his own way with little regard to my style and the vision I have in my head for it. And that's the point really, isn't it? I have the vision in my head, and I'm notoriously bad at explaining what I want! I think what I really need to do is something of a collaboration with a graphic artist to design some of the things that I can't do myself, and then put it all together myself. To be honest, I used to be good at it and it'd only take a little time to resurrect the skill that I once had. It doesn't even need to be that complex really, but I'm worried over payment- do I take payment on the site, do I ask for e-mails? Asking for someone to send me an e-mail might put them off, but integrating paypal to a website might be too complex. I need to know if there's a simple way to do it without resorting to Mr Site, which I'm loath to do as the maintenance fee is so steep.

Tax: I need to register as self employed! I'm a little bit confused as to the national insurance regulations to be honest, but I think I'd just choose to pay them all at the end of the year if it turns out I do owe them. I'm also worried about keeping accounts- I'm fairly bad at keeping a record of things, although I really don't sell that much in the grand scheme. I do most of my work on commission now, and rarely buy in beads just because they're pretty (such a shame! I used to love doing that!) so on a general basis as soon as the beads land in my bead box they're gone again. Does this make it easier? Who knows. I need to talk to an actual accountant here, as the opening stock confuses me. I have so much stock stashed away in boxes that it's really rather overwhelming at times. Which leads on nicely to my next point...

Stock: So much stock! Everywhere! I need to sit down and catalogue it all, which could take hours. Although I guess it will allow me to root out the pieces I now don't think are up to scratch, which judging by my current standards will be quite a lot! I feel like going to a craft fair and having a sale just to get rid of some of it. I used to love all my pieces like they were my babies, but I've become so tired of lugging it all to craft fairs and carting it all home again. I feel almost like they're stifling my creativity somewhat- like if I have too much stock on hand I worry too much about the value of it just sitting there, and need to get some of it away so I can feel good about making yet more stock! I think to be fair the money I used to buy the beads to make them was out of my bank account and long replaced by earnings, so I don't really feel so bad about selling most of it off cheaply, in fact it would just be nice to see some money trickling in from sales. After registering as self-employed of course ;)

Marketing: So, what route do you go down here? I have many friends who are rabid about promoting me. My boyfriend always wears the chain I made him with pride and is the first person to tell people that I made it, and that I'm a jewellery designer. I keep tossing around the idea of making small catalogues, with details about myself, and my jewellery, and photographs of examples I've made so far. If they were small enough I could send Michelle off with one, my mother, leave one at work, seems like a fantastic idea to me but is it too much work for too little return? I always try to suggest to men that I can make them jewellery as presents for wives, girlfriends, sisters, etc, and that seems to prove a good return for the effort I put it. It shows how good actually getting out there and showing yourself off is! I not really very good at marketing myself, I'm very shy and I find it difficult to get myself out there and talk to people. Do I also need to consider posters, flyers, leaflets? I know I need business cards, but would a leaflet with a money off voucher work well? So many questions that go unanswered here!

Craft fairs and display: Craft fairs. The bane of my life, and all at once a joyous occasion, so long as the person selling bought in "handmade" jewellery isn't sniffing around my stall. I need to get some actual, professional looking display items sorted out! It's getting desparate now, I think one of the contributing factors to having done poorly at craft fairs before was the shoddiness of my display- forgetting table coverings is a favourite of mine. I need to have the stall planned out, know exactly what I'm doing and have it all packed into a big so when I go to a fair I can just pick up and go, not worrying about whether I've forgotten something or left something out. I haven't been involved in a craft fair since 2007, so I really need to get back into it, and use what I've learned about targeting my stock to the desired audience. Going to a school craft fair and taking lots of stock to sell in the £10-20 bracket isn't going to work. Going to a school craft fair and taking lots of children's jewellery that I can sell for under £5 *is* a good idea. To be honest it's pretty fun and relaxing sitting with a bowl of beads and making children's jewellery so I don't mind that aspect of it. I need to contact the place I get my boxes from to see if I can negotiate a deal too!

Last but not least... I may actually be able to get my jewellery into a shop! I decided I'd take the leap and make some basic enquiries, and they think it's a really good idea! It's in a holiday resort, so now isn't the best time for gift shops, but when the Spring and Summer finally drag their heels onto the scene, I think a sale or return basis could work out to be very profitable for both of us.

Anyway, I'm sure there was more I wanted to talk about but this post is now so much longer than I anticipated, so I'll sign off.

Thanks for reading,



Kiamyka said...

Hi Ollee
You kept this quiet or I totally missed that you joined the land of bloggers:-)
The forum has oodles of advice for all your concerns - paypal is easy to add and have you thought about looking at free templates and amending them - there are loads out there - bound to be one that catches your eye chris

Hilary said...

Found your blog via UKBF. Don't know if I have the time to offer you my web design services, such as they are. I am doing 3 at the moment for other folk, but I'll help you if I can. Drop me an email.

As sales are small at the moment and you have so much to sort out (accounts, tax, displays etc) Why don't you simply open an Etsy shop? It's quick to do, easy, cheap as chips and yet gives you a website to put on your business cards. It'll make you feel good too!

Ollee said...

Hi Chris :D yes, I snuck in quietly, I didn't want to advertise it until I actually had a decent amount of posts so I knew that I wouldn't just abandon it! Nothing sadder than a jewellery blog with only two posts dating from a year ago! The only problem I'm having with a website is time really- I know exactly how I want it to look, it's all fairly basic, but what with university I just haven't got the time!

Hello Hilary! Thanks for the offer of help, I hadn't really thought about the Etsy/Folksy possibility, but I think I'll look into it :)

Colleen x