Well I must say I feel incredibly honoured to have my mitts on one of the early copies of this book Craft A Creative Business. If you love to sew and you’re not familiar with Fiona Pullen then you really should be! She is the brains behind The Sewing Directory, a wonderfully content rich sewing related website. The Sewing Directory is packed with incredibly useful information ranging from local sewing classes, fabric shop info, helpful tutorials and guides, sewing events, interviews and much more. It’s very easy to while away a few hours browsing through the carefully curated content on Fiona’s website. She has spent the past few years building The Sewing Directory from an idea into the successful site it is today and this book takes the Directory one step further. Fiona is generously sharing the copious knowledge and experience she’s gleaned from building The Sewing Directory from the ground up and it’s packed full of practical tips and invaluable insight aimed at those wishing to make a living out of their craft.
The first thing I love about this book is the thoughtful layout and design, the content is broken down into very digestible bite size chunks which means you can just read a few sections at a time if that’s all you have time for. I mostly read this book on the go (it’s perfect handbag size!) yet it didn’t feel disjointed that I was jumping in and out of it. In fact it was perfect because I rarely get a couple of hours in one sitting to actually sit and read something undisturbed so it’s perfect for all you busy crafters out there juggling a business with family life.
Something that I hear a lot from our customers who have their own business is that the creative side is easy and under control, but the business side of things can seem a bit overwhelming. This is where this book is going to be invaluable for anyone who doesn’t have any previous experience with their own business. Craft A Creative Business is not only packed with very practical tips on how to help your business stand out and succeed, but there will undoubtedly be things Fiona describes that would never have even occurred to you.
The “Where Do I Start?” did make me sigh and ponder “If only…” Plush Addict certainly wasn’t planned, it was a happy accident, and when a business unfolds organically out of a hobby you miss a lot of important things you should have done much earlier and we’ve had to retrospectively go back and put in place lots of changes. Let me tell you it’s much easier to plan ahead for these things than have to un-do so if you’re not up and running yet make sure you pay attention to this part of the book! This section walks you through all sorts of planning and research ideas from market research to writing a business plan and there’s a great section on goal setting (this is something I don’t do but am going to start after reading this) The stand out part of this section for me was the costing suggestions, I know many people struggle with this and Fiona runs you through a concrete example of how you can cost your products. I know this is a big headache for many craft businesses, it’s hard to know what to charge but I loved the thoroughness and practicality of this section.
“Legal Matters” may not be something you may have ever thought about but of course you need your business to be operating within the letter of the law. Fiona provides pointers on employment law, toy safety and clothing regulations, taxation, accounts, copyright and insurance and there are two pages of helpful links and resources for further reading. This is a brilliant section for breaking you in to what is a potential intimidating subject, it’s easy to read and understand a good jumping off point for further research and will probably highlight some areas you might not have considered before.
“Presentation” covers essentials such as branding and photography. I look back on my early photographs and cringe, photography is an ever evolving process for me and there’s some great info here including hints and tips about editing photos and some suggestions for free editing software that’s available. There’s a run down of photography equipment too. I still sometimes struggle to think of Plush Addict as a “brand” but everyone reliably informs me that it is and thinking about your own brand identity is actually very important.
“Social Media” is one of the larger sections and a great read. If you’ve not realised the importance of social media for your business, then where have you been hiding?! The main social media platforms are covered in depth, and some others you might not have thought about. There’s a great section on blogging with hints and tips about content. If you’ve not thought about post scheduling and analytics then this is a great chapter to understand how all of that works. Both are an invaluable tool for your business and something that’s on my daily to-do list.
There are two chapters about channels to market covering on and offline selling. “Selling Online” is one you’d think I’d be writing a masterclass for but there was still fresh content here that was relevant for me alongside the basics, this is a must read if you plan to sell your products in cyberspace. There’s so much more to selling online than just putting up some products for sale on a website, to really succeed there is a lot more required behind the scenes. Fiona has lots of tips on both selling through an online market place like Etsy and Folksy, as well as selling through your own website. Get the lowdown on domain names, site usability, payment options and how to help Google find you effectively. The best bit for me in this section is the run through of Google Analytics. We use Google Analytics all day long and we’re pretty much self taught how to use it. It’s an incredibly powerful tool that can initially be very intimidating but Fiona’s fantastic coverage is clear, concise and helps makes a very complex tool accessible and easy to understand. “Selling Offline” is the last chapter of the book is brilliant if you’re selling at craft fairs or retail outlets. It’s full of practical tips about presentation, how to approach retails outlets as well as some ideas about how to get your products featured in a magazine, PR and networking.
There’s something in this book for everyone, whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out. Some of this information is out there already but you won’t find anything that brings so much together in one place in such an easy to read and digest format. I think this book is a must read for anyone with, or aspirations to have, a creative business and I wish I’d had access to it when I first started out.
To compliment the book Fiona has set up a website which will give you even more of a taster of what you expect form the book.