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!

Advertisements

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

MarchMeetTheMaker on Instagram

 

Glyph_Logo_png

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!

How much time?!

I wrote a week ago how I was planning my social media attack.  Well I am continuing merrily along with it…well I say merrily…doggedly may be closer to the truth.  I am determinedly sticking to my schedule, following my courses and focusing on one platform a week.  This week my focus has been on my Instagram account and I feel now that I have a better idea of what I want out of the account, how to improve my photos and have already gained another 13 followers…on my way to my target!  Taking part in #marchmeetthemaker has helped to give me a focus too…for this month anyway…

Instagram feed

Here is how my Instagram feed is starting to look now…I think it is starting to look better and more coherent…do you? (okay maybe the cat game spoils it slightly!)

It has come as somewhat of an unpleasant surprise just how much time I seem to need to devote to social media in order to see my products noticed by potential customers.  When I started up my business, I had this image of spending my days either crafting or doing non-business activities.  The amount of time I have devoted to social media and how much I need to focus on it in the future has come as quite a rude awakening especially for someone who didn’t really spend much time on it before.  Hopefully putting the effort in now will reap rewards later both in terms of reducing the time I have to spend marketing on social media and of course in more sales!

I have found some time for crafting though and hope to have some new products ready to sell very soon – yay!

The Taxman

HMRC registration

Today I finally bit the bullet and registered with HMRC as a sole trader!  It had been on my list of things to do for some time now and it kept getting put off…and off…and off.  Somehow it seemed such a scary thing to do, scarier even than opening the Etsy shop.  Here was me saying ‘hello Mr Taxman or Mrs Taxman, this is my job’.  It was a statement I felt very uncertain and scared about making.  Today though I faced the fear and made that commitment to my business.  It feels good to have done so and a reminder to myself that doing the things that scare me help me to move forward and live my life.

At the moment, my incomings are so small that the personal allowannce threshold just seems a mind boggling amount so far out of reach.  Whilst Mr B’s Button Jamboree is unlikely to ever reach those dizzing heights,  I am hopeful it will prove to be successful enough that, along with a few other ventures, we can live the type of flexible and relaxed life we aim for.

Planning my social media attack…

I have written about my struggles to get to grips with my marketing on social media before.  It confused me when I was starting out in June last year, continued to confuse me in November and honestly still confuses me today.  There seems to be so much involved in using each platform effectively for marketing my business and of course all of them are different.

Plan of Attack

 

So I have drawn up a plan of attack.  Articles have been read, notes tidied and a schedule drawn up.  For the next 4-5 weeks I am going to focus on one platform to get it set up looking its best and most informative, work out what I want from it and the types of posts/tweets/photos etc. I want to use in order to reach my goals.  All at the same time as keeping a minimal presence going on the other platforms…oh and find time for being creative…

To help with my get to grips with social media, I have joined a couple of 30 day plans.  One which looks at the main social media platforms in general and the other one a free taster course on improving your Instagram.  I am looking forward to the challenge!

Instagram Feed

One of the first task on the Instagram course was to take a screenshot of my feed now…check back in a month’s time to see the effects of my course!