What next for Mr B’s Button Jamboree?

Buttons on wooden table

Initially I started this blog because I was starting my own little business up (see my very 1st post ‘And so it begins….’!).  At the time I had big dreams of creative enjoyment and success, expanding from my simple button earrings into more elaborate pieces as my business took off and I became more confident.  The blog was to follow this journey and yet instead it became a reflection of how things stalled and stopped.

My plan was to start small and as sales grew, so would my range and my ability. However a year after opening my Etsy store Mr B’s Button Jamboree, I realised that I had stopped developing and growing.  Yes I had added a few new things like my hemp bracelets, felt brooches and fabric buttons, when I looked at my range though I could see that I had not reached the potential I had hoped to.

So what was behind this stagnation and lack of progress in my plans?  One reason is that very word – ‘plans’.  I spent so much time reading and planning, drawing up new plans all the time, constantly changing things. Too much time.  Hours were invested working out social media, SEO keywords, listings, business plans….and not making or experimenting with new products.  I sabotaged myself.  I feared failing and people thinking my button jewellery was rubbish.  So I over-planned, trying to be the most prepared I could be and drew back from pushing myself to try making new products because I was afraid of not being good enough.

Things then became more complicated as I took on work preparing photos for our microstock portfolio..  This is incredibly time consuming yet something so important if we are to achieve our plans of mobile working. I have since also started writing freelance for blogs.  This does not leave much time for my button business and the combination of it all leaves my brain somewhat frazzled and exhausted.

Setting up my little business has not been without its positives though and when I remember to stop and take stock of these, I am grateful for what it has bought me. Without it I am not sure I would be here now talking to you. Not only did it introduce me to the world of blogging, it has given me a community of friends and support on Instagram (why not pop over and say hello!) that has made so much difference to little old introverted, solitary me. My confidence is still shaky and yet it has also grown. I have learnt the joy and comfort of sharing my thoughts and feelings with others…and that there are some truly awesome cats out there!

@buttonjamboree Mr B's Button Jamboree Instagram

My favourite Instagram photos from 2016

So where does this leave me and Mr B’s Button Jamboree? To be truthful, I am not quite sure. I am not quite ready to say goodbye to it and still want to get more creative with what I make.  Whether it fits in to how my life is going is a different matter.  Whatever happens though I am glad that I tried it…it has given me confidence, bought me friends and taught me valuable lessons.  Watch this space for what happens next I suppose!

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Working on my product photography

wallpaper samples

I have been giving my promotional photography for social media some thought recently and decided that one thing I need is a good background or two for my shots.  Having seen some fellow crafters using wallpaper as backgrounds, I decided that this was a jolly good idea to try.

So off we went to one of our local diy stores for a stroll up and down the wallpaper aisles.  It felt so naughty tearing strips from roll after roll – we both kept waiting for a member of staff to enquire what we were up to!  Eventually we left with about 8 samples carefully rolled up in one quite fat roll…and then nonchalantly strolled out the store.

Our spoils acquired, I sat down to have a look at them and decide which ones I liked.  Admittedly there were a few that I looked at and thought ‘what was I thinking’?!  I did a few mock-ups to do the old compare and contrast.

There are some that I looked at and discounted straight away, I am finding it difficult though to narrow it down to one.  I may have to have two different ones…or three…or four…

Which do you like?

April’s Instagram

Rolled up wallpaper samples for product photography

My favourite photo of mine on Instagram in April

My enjoyment of using Instagram is continuing to grow and grow.  Using it to both publicise my button jewellery as well as show my photography and life is something I take great pleasure in.  Add in the lovely feel of community I get interacting with my fellow crafters, seeing all the amazing photographs out there and getting to have a general nosey into the life of others and…well…I think I have finally found the social media for me.

Having followed an Instagram challenge in March (click here for the #marchmeetthemaker summary), I did approach April a little concerned – would I lose focus, struggle to find photos to put on every day, run out of ideas?  Thankfully these fears proved groundless.  I love finding things to include on my feed and seeing what gets responses from others on there.  The photos that for me got the biggest responses this month were these two:

Business cards for Mr B's Button Jamboree

New business card design

Nippori station, Tokyo

Nippori station, Tokyo – our old local station

Okay we are still talking small numbers…everyone has to start somewhere though!

I am experimenting with my feed at the moment and trying to use either the same or similar filter for all my photos.  I kind of like the effect (what do you think?) although I am finding that what works for my more general photos doesn’t always work for all photos especially my product ones.  I think I will try this for a while longer and then maybe try a different approach.

To finish off today, here are a few of my favourite photos from my Instagram feed last month.  To see more, why not head over to Instagram and follow me there!

Instagram summary April 2016

A few of my Instagram highlights for April

Challenges of mobile working

Saltwick Bay Whitby

This month has been a lesson to me in how working and travelling may not always be the most easiest combination.  One of the reasons that I wanted to set up my own business or work for myself in some way was so that we could continue our travels in some shape or form – initially in small trips here and there, later living in different countries abroad.  I had a vision in my head of sitting by my little camper with some gorgeous scenery to look whilst working away in between some relaxation.

The reality has been slightly different and somewhat of a rude awakening.  Yes working for myself doing something that is fairly portable means I can travel down to where I used to live to visit people or accompany Phillip (aka colobus yeti photography) on his photography work trips and see beautiful places like Saltwick Bay in the main photo above.

On the other hand though I have realised finding the time to do work whilst travelling is not always easy and found myself doing bits at 10 pm because it is the only time I have had free.  Having an internet signal that is usable has proved difficult time and time again in terms of being able to carry out any work on my Etsy shop or keep up to date with all the social media marketing.  I still also have to work out how to take all my stock, packaging, buttons, materials and  other paraphernalia with me on my travels.

This does not deter me though as it once would have.  These are all part of the learning curve and problems to be solved rather than to be agonised over.  Here’s to more travels!

 

#marchmeetthemaker summary

 

You may remember that I have been taking part in a daily photo challenge on Instagram  called #marchmeetthemaker.  Well we are now on the last day of the month and so my first Instagram challenge is at an end.

It may have been my first challenge, I certainly don’t think it will be my last though.  Taking part in a challenge where I have had to create a photo each day based on the prompt provided has helped stretch me creatively and I have thoroughly enjoyed it.  I have seen my follower numbers increase and met some great creative friends in the process.  It has helped me to start develop an identity for my Instagram feed and given me plenty of food for thought in terms of developing it as a marketing tool for Mr B’s Button Jamboree.

So here is the summary for days 16 – 31 of the challenge.  Check out the original post here for days 1 -15.

I couldn’t resist the opportunity for another time lapse video for day 29: In Action

New Product Range Launched!

Hemp button bracelets sold by Mr B's Button Jamboree

Yes indeed!  As the title states, I have added another product range to my Etsy shop for Mr B’s Button Jamboree.  There were a few trials on lengths, number of buttons, how to finish them plus a few other bits and bobs.  Finally though I have made, photographed (okay that was done by the talented Colobus Yeti) and listed my brand new hemp button bracelets – check them out on my shop!

To wet your appetite, here is a compilation of a few little shots I did myself…

Hemp bracelets - Mr B's Button Jamboree

 

MarchMeetTheMaker on Instagram

 

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Having initially been very reluctant to join Instagram, I am now completely in love with it as a platform and hopefully as a way of marketing my little shop.  I used to view it as something used by beautiful and young people who particularly liked sharing photos of their food.  Towards the end of last year though I had a look and realised it is so much more.  Being someone who loves photography of many different types, Instagram opens up a whole world to me of inspiration, enjoyment and community.

Partly to improve my Instagram photography and to encourage my creativity, partly in start engaging more with the creative community on Instagram, I have joined in with #marchmeetthemaker set up by Joanne Hawker.  I thought it would be good to do a half term ‘report’ on my involvement so far.  It has obviously done me some good as I have increased from 49 followers at the end of February to 96 today…only 4 away from 100!

 

Day 11: Post run was my first attempt at a time lapse video – I have discovered a new love I think!