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Small business chat update – Andrew Donnelly

mugs Welcome to another Small Business Update – with Andrew Donnelly, who creates apps for iTunes (see the link at the bottom of this piece). I originally interviewed Andrew back in August 2011 and then followed up in September 2012, and the last one was in October 2013. When I asked him then where he wanted to be in a year’s time, he replied “I have work planned to take me up until 2014 at the moment, so my focus is on that, and I expect that to last into mid 2014. Working alongside a global brand on strategy and producing apps for them is an enjoyable experience so I hope it continues.” At that point he was working with just one company, giving them exclusive rights to his experience and expertise – now things have broadened out and shifted for him, as happens in fast-moving industries like technology. Let’s see how he’s getting on.

Hello again, Andrew! So, are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

2014 was another good year for me as a business. The demand for iOS app work has increased dramatically from businesses, however with this has come a a shift in what I do slightly. I have found myself working more on what are called Enterprise apps (which means they are not delivered through the App Store but direct to the device). With this shift, also my main focus has been working on iPads, which has brought its own challenges, too.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I was hoping that the work with the Global Client I mentioned in last year’s interview would continue, however this didn’t materialise, Ive learned that the App Development market changes very quickly and keeping up with the new trends has required a lot of work outside of normal working hours. However, that has brought its own rewards with a greater knowledge of the technology.

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

This year, I wrote my first game Red Dot (give it a go, it’s free, it’s a pretty simple one but quite addictive). It was built using Sprite Kit – I wish I had done this sooner, as I’m eager to make another one now.

Any more hints and tips for people?

“Not my circus, not my monkeys” has been a good mantra to follow, as in concentrate on what you need to do, not what’s going on around you that doesn’t concern you.

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

Looking forward, I can see a lot more App work in the world of connected technologies and home. I think this is going to be a year where the game changes dramatically in the sense of what we can do with smart phones in a number of areas
1) connected home – controlling central heating, lights, garage doors, kettles, to name a few, are all out to market already.
2) Wearables – watches, fitness devices, gaming controllers, smart clothes all seem to be in the pipeline.
3) Beacons – like a personal GPS, you can set them up to detect based on proximity and action apps on the back of that, e.g. shop store fronts can offer discounts to customers who have the app installed.

I see the business looking into these technologies in more depth and producing apps to support them and make everyday life a little easier and smarter.

That’s all very interesting – we’ve been dabbling in the world of wearables here in Libro Towers, and there’s a lot more talk about that sort of thing even permeating into the less techy worlds. It must be exciting to be at the forefront of technological development like Andrew is, but then again, “Not my circus, not my monkeys” can be applied very generally!

You can find Andrew’s iTunes apps here.  and contact him via email or Twitter: as he says, “I’m always still open to giving people advice or guidance to help them out”.

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2015 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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On completion of your edit, will my manuscript be ready for publication?

On completion of your edit, will my manuscript be ready for publication?
I was asked this question by a prospective client recently, and it seemed like a good opportunity to share the answer with the wider world.
So, if you send your novel or non-fiction book.article or chapter to your editor for copyediting (fiction writers might know this as line editing), is it going to be ready for publication once they have gone through it?
Well, to be honest, probably not. What you will receive from your editor is a document marked up with suggested changes and comments. You will need to go through all of these and undoubtedly action some comments or questions that they’ve given.

Going through your editor’s comments

Once your editor has gone through your document, it will come back with a range of different comments and suggestions.
To break these down, they might include all of some of the following:
  • Vital textual changes – you will need to go through these but will probably accept most of them – they will be based on grammatical, punctuation etc. rules, or will be picking up typos.
  • Suggested textual changes – Your editor should be striving to retain your ‘voice’ and to help you get across your points, ideas or story, and they might well suggest rearrangements of sentences, changes in word choices, etc. Some of these you might not accept, for example I have a client who doesn’t like semi colons, so I know they will reject any I add (of course I just don’t add them now!). Some might be a matter of style but will make the piece consistent (e.g. use of capitalisation and hyphens which is often inconsistent in texts I work on).
  • Style sheet questions – your editor should send you the style sheet they’ve built up while editing your work, which will list all of the choices that they’ve made (where there’s a choice to be made) in a separate document, alongside any terminology that they’ve made consistent, etc. This might, however, include questions – for example, if you have used “the chapter” and “the article” interchangeably and an equal number of times in your short piece, your editor might not know what its eventual destination is, and might leave a question in the style sheet for you to answer (that’s how I do it) – then you will need to make that terminology consistent
  • Comments and questions – there will be points at which your editor may suggest, for example, moving a section to a different chapter, saying something in a different way to make it more clear, or even marking a section that they find unclear and then suggesting that you rewrite it. You will then need to action those points yourself, moving or rewriting sections as necessary.

What happens next?

Once that’s all done, if you haven’t done so before, I suggest that you get some people to beta-read the book to give you their reactions and suggestions to the content, now that consistencies and the most obvious issues have been ironed out. You may need to do a bit of rewriting on the basis of their comments.
If the rewriting is substantial, it’s a good idea to have your editor look over either the whole document or just the sections that have been changed (I usually ask my clients to highlight the bits they want me to check in the whole document, so I can see where they sit in the work as a whole). And then you will need to go through the above process again.
Once that’s done, before you publish the manuscript, you will need to have it proofread to check that no additional errors have crept in and to ensure that it’s going to look good in publication (if you’re doing a print book, the proofreader will need to see a pdf of the final version, if an e-book, a Word document is often OK). This person shouldn’t be the original editor, because they would be too close to the contents, and you should send them your editor’s style sheet so that they know how certain things should be and don’t waste time changing them to their preference.

Once the proofreader’s comments come back, it would be very unusual if you didn’t have something to change. So, you will need to make those changes – and this might affect your book design, so you might have to have your book designer look over the whole thing again.

Then you might just be able to consider it ready for publication!

Related articles on this blog

Do I need editing or proofreading?

Dealing with Track Changes in a document

My work is being proofread – why do I need to use Spell Check?

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2015 in Copyediting, proofreading, Word, Writing

 

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Small business chat update – Simon Forder

mugs Welcome to another Small Business Update – this time with Simon Forder from RingHello. Simon is one of my original 2011 interviewees, with a catch-up in October 2012, and we last caught up with Simon in November 2013, when things were changing rapidly in the telemarketing business but he was excited about having his new book published. At that point, he said, “I am hoping in a year’s time to have consolidated the position with regard to The Castle Guy, so that I can spend more time on this passion of mine, and to be more stable with my RingHello work, rather than be working on a month by month basis. Having new clients is always a nervy time, so as I continue to get results for them this should happen. Speak to you next year!” So, how have things gone?

Hello, Simon, how are you? Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

I’m not sure that this time last year I had an expectation about where I would be, more an idea about where I wanted to be. By and large I think I am in the right general area, but of course things happened a bit differently to how I might have expected them to. A shoulder injury has caused delays in the development of The Castle Guy side of my business, but at the same time allowed me the space I needed to sit back and approach things from a different and very exciting direction – after having the time to reflect on it all! As the telemarketing is my bread and butter still, I concentrated on getting the job done during the day, leaving me little scope to continue at my desk in the evenings. So I am in a more consolidated position with The Castle Guy. With telemarketing, the business has remained constant, which is a good thing.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

Reading through the comments I made last year, the market hasn’t changed all that much since 2013, and all the statements I made in our previous interview still ring true today – I am still having these conversations with prospective clients. The moves we made to encourage clients to us that value what we can do, and discourage those whose business models don’t fit with ours, have been successful, and we don’t get very many queries from people who don’t already buy into our way of working, and our areas of speciality.

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

With my increasing focus on The Castle Guy, I have found that it is very easy to allow myself to get over-ambitious with what I can achieve in a day, and that quite often because I like to do things thoroughly, they (a) take longer than I expect and (b) don’t need to be perfect, because what I see as imperfect other people see as an exceptional piece of work. This has meant I have become far more aware of making sure I don’t over-reach myself and burn out. I wish I had known this time last year that I would still be suffering pain from an injury after 12 months; it would have enabled me to do a little at a time rather than do nothing and hope that I would recover quickly and just get cracking again.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Just one – listen to what your body tells you! If you don’t, it might just have to shout louder.

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

Ooh, I don’t know. I plan to have made significant progress with The Castle Guy, so that I can devote more time to it, and develop it further. The more I do with it, the more I should get back, so fingers crossed for a successful 2015! With RingHello, I’d still like a bit more stability, but perhaps that’s a change in the marketplace that’s permanent. Either way I am confident that what is right will happen when it’s meant to. And I also hope to be back to full fitness by then too!

It sounds like it’s been an eventful year, but one from which Simon has learnt and drawn some basic principles, so the effort hasn’t been at all wasted. Getting customers on board who already accept and prefer your way of working is a major bonus, and bodes well for the future. We wish Simon all the best for a full recovery, too, of course!

Simon can be found at ringhello.co.uk and you can find all his contact details here or call him on . His book is available via his website and on Amazon.

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2015 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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MailChimp 3 – setting a sign-up form for your newsletter subscriber list

Welcome to Lesson 3 in my MailChimp series. Following on from MailChimp 1 – Signing up, and MailChimp 2 – Setting up your list and importing contacts, this time we’re going to learn how to create a sign-up form to allow people to consciously and willingly sign up to receive your email newsletter.

Remember, once you set up a subscriber list, there are two ways to populate it:

1. Import members from a previous mailing list (ensuring that you have their explicit permission to send them marketing communications)

2. Offer people a sign-up form via which they can choose to sign up for your newsletter.

I prefer Option 2, and we’re going to find out how to do that now.

How do access the MailChimp contacts list area?

As a quick reminder (full details are in this previous article), when you sign in to MailChimp, you will find Create a List on your front screen, but at any time, you can click on Lists at the top to get into the Lists area:

MailChimp lists area

Once you’re in the Lists area, if you have any lists set up, they will show here, and if you are going in to do this for the first time, you will see that You have no Lists, and be pointed to the Create List button:

MailChimp create list

Once there, you have an option to click on setup a signup form (or set up a sign-up form, even), so click there:

MailChimp sign-up form

You will now find a few options on forms to create – all of them are designed in the same basic way, but some can be embedded into your website. For now, we’re going to create a General Form which will come complete with its own URL to which you can direct people from social media, your website, etc. (see top right in the top of the sidebar for what that looks like in real life).

MailChimp create sign-up form

Once you’re in the Create Forms page, you can see at the top that you have a URL or web address. That will never change, and you can use that to direct people to your sign-up form. You can generate a QR code if you want to, by clicking on the button.

You can also see two options at the top: Let subscribers pick email format and Protect your signup form with reCAPCHA – I would recommend ticking both of these.

Let subscribers pick email format will give your subscribers the option to have emails delivered in plain text or HTML format. This means that if they’re using a slow Internet connection or don’t have much bandwidth, your newsletter will be sent to them in a text-only form, without the pretty pictures (this means you’ll need to make sure to add description and alt-text to any pictures in your newsletter), and just gives them more options.

Protect your signup form with reCAPTCHA means that subscribers will have to manually click and tick a box to prove that they’re a real person. It protects you from automated signing up bots filling in your form and giving you false subscriber numbers. It’s all very accessible and offers alternatives, so I’d go for it. It shows people signing up that you’re serious and are protecting your list, too.

MailChimp sign-up form

Once you’ve filled in those details, you can go on to creating your sign-up form: let’s scroll down to have a look:

MailChiimp basic sign-up form

Now, in fact, you can just go with this form, as a very basic example. The subscriber will be able to enter their email address, first and last name and click to Subscribe to list. Simple. So you can actually leave it there.

But you might want to add more flourishes, text and options to your sign-up form – if you do, read on; if you don’t, then skip to the “What does my form look like in real life?” section near to the end.

How can I add more fields and text to my MailChimp sign-up form?

We’ve created a basic sign-up form but you might want more.

For a start, see that space where you can Click to add a message at the top? Here you can personalise the form and be a bit more friendly. Once you click in the text box, a text editor will come up – you can add all sorts of things in here, including links, images, etc. (this is the same text editor you will use when you’re creating your actual newsletter).

I’ve just typed some straightforward text in here – once you’ve added what you want, hit the Save & Close button

MailChimp add text to sign-up form

You will be returned to your Build It area, and you can see that the text has now appeared in that top section.

To add more options, such as collecting birthday dates (great if you’re a restaurant and want to collect that info to send out a special birthday meal offer) or full address if people are also signing up to have an item sent to them. Here we’re going to look at Radio Buttons, which gives you the option to give your subscribers choices about things …

MailChimp add text to sign-up form

What things do you want your subscribers to choose, you may ask. Well, although we’re not going to go into the ins and outs of getting people to sign up for your newsletter right here and now, it is common to offer subscribers a little freebie in return for their joining your newsletter (which is really a favour to you). For example, I offer subscribers a free pdf of a sample chapter from one of my books (as you’ll see in the final screenshot in this article).

So, click on Radio Buttons and drag it across to between Last Name and Subscribe to List. There is is, in your sign-up form.

Now click on the field settings tab to personalise those choices:

MailChimp sign up form add fields

As you can see below, field settings allows you to give the radio buttons a name and to add text to those buttons, add and remove them, and generally personalise everything. Here I’ve  …

  • added help text to appear when the subscriber hovers over the buttons
  • added two choices as to whether they want to receive something
  • clicked on the minus button by the third choice, because I only want to offer two

MailChimp add fields to sign-up form

As you do this and press Save Field, there you can see just two choices, each with my text by it.

MailChimp add fields to sign-up form

You can see plus and minus buttons under this area – this allows you to delete it if you decide not to have it (note, when you press the minus, MailChimp demands that you type the word DELETE in a box – make sure you do that or you’ll get stuck in a loop of endless error messages. It’s trying to help you not to delete your careful design by mistake …).

And there we have it – it’s fine to play around a bit with the form, you can see how to drag different fields across and then delete them if you want to, so have a play around with it.

How do I get back to my MailChimp sign-up form to check the URL or edit it?

If you want to return to your sign-up form, choose Lists from the top menu, then click the drop-down arrow next to Stats and click on Signup forms:

MailChimp edit sign-up form

Once there, you can check your URL and amend your form if you want to.

What does my MailChimp sign-up form look like in real life?

You’ve created your form – what does it look like to a new subscriber? Remember that URL at the top of the page? You can find that at any time by going to the signup forms page (see above section). Pop the URL in your browser address bar and you can see what your subscribers will see:

MailChimp sign-up form subscriber view

You can see the message we added and the options for receiving a free copy of something, receiving the newsletter in Text format, and a reCAPTCHA section which asks for a tick in a box, and a Subscribe to list button.

And what happens when you get a new subscriber?

You will receive an email in your inbox which includes all of the information you asked for – this is one of my own, so the question is a little different, but you get the idea. Now I can email that person their sample chapter and they will receive my email newsletter until they unsubscribe.

MailChimp new subscriber email

In this article, we’ve learned how to access the Lists part of MailChimp and set up a sign-up form. The other MailChimp articles will be listed below as I add them to the blog. You can find a growing set of articles on blogging, social media MailChimp etc. in my resource guide. Do click on the share buttons below or comment if you found this article interesting or useful!

Other relevant posts on this blog:

MailChimp 1 – Signing up

MailChimp 2 – Setting up your list and importing contacts

How to avoid two common mistakes when using MailChimp

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2015 in Business, Marketing, New skills, Newsletters

 

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MailChimp 2 – setting up your list and importing contacts

Welcome to Lesson 2 in my MailChimp series. Following on from MailChimp 1 – Signing up, this time we’re going to learn how to set up the list of people to send your newsletter to.

There are two ways to populate your list:

1. Import members from a previous mailing list (making sure that you have their explicit approval and permission to send out marketing materials to them)

2. Offer people a sign-up form via which they can choose to sign up for your newsletter.

I prefer Option 2, but I’m going to go through option 1 with you in this article then write about setting up a sign-up form next time (if you’re reading this day by day, you will only have to wait two days, don’t worry!).

Why do I need to create a list in my MailChimp account?

Put simply, you need to give MailChimp a list of people to send your newsletters to. It’s as simple as that, and is the second stage in signing up for an account.

Don’t worry if you don’t have an email list to import – you can start off with an empty “list” and a sign-up form that will fill it for you.

How do I create my MailChimp contacts list?

When you sign in to MailChimp, you will find Create a List on your front screen, but at any time, you can click on Lists at the top to get into the Lists area:

MailChimp lists area

Once you’re in the Lists area, if you have any lists set up, they will show here, and if you are going in to do this for the first time, you will see that You have no Lists, and be handily pointed to the Create List button:

MailChimp create list

Once you’ve pressed Create List, you will find yourself in a screen that allows you to create a list. Note here that you can create more than one list, for example, maybe one for customer newsletters and one for general or prospect ones, or I might create one for my social media tips readers and one about my books. For now, we’ll just create one called “My Company Newsletter”.

You can fill in the list title and your email address to show in the “from” section of your readers’ email clients, and you will want to pop a name in to show who it comes from – I always advise using a real, human name, not just a company name.

Remind people how they got on your list gives you a place in which to reassure people that they have signed up for this newsletter and they are not being spammed (you’ll see that I’ve filled this in on the final screenshot – it won’t let you proceed if you don’t).

MailChimp list details

Then we reach the Contact information area. MailChimp is gratifyingly careful to stop you spamming, and this is an important area. If you click on Why is this necessary, you will see this explanatory screen all about spam laws:

4 why they need address

Note here that I haven’t put in a home address, because this is an example, but you should include your full business address here. A disclaimer for anyone who’s on my own list – I haven’t got my exact, pinpointed address on here, because I work from home. But if you’re running a business with a business address, you should include your full address. MailChimp pulls this information from your sign-up information, so you can see there’s an Edit button to allow you to change this if you need to.

Scrolling down to the bottom of the screen. We have an opportunity here to choose how we see our sign-up notifications. I’ve ticked one-by-one because I want to be notified of sign-ups and unsubscribes as they happen, but as your list gets busier and more active, and especially if you don’t have an action you need to perform when someone signs up, you might want to go onto a daily summary.

MailChimp list details

Time to press the Save button – and now you’re returned to the List screen for your list “My Company Newsletter”, which now usefully tells you that you have no subscribers:

MailChimp list subscribers

You can see that under the You have no subscribers message there are two links to click: import subscribers or setup a signup form (or as I prefer to say it, set up a sign-up form). We’re going to learn how to import subscribers now, so we’ll click on that link:

MailChimp import subscribers

The Import Subscribers function allows you to import from a huge range of sources, including all sorts of programs that exist to capture subscriber lists. You can create a list in Excel or export a sub-section of your email list into a .csv or .txt file, or just connect to your email program.

I’m not going to go into detail on all of those options here, that’s something that’s separate from MailChimp (Google or YouTube is your friend if you want to know how to do these things) and I’m really advising newbies to create a sign-up form here. We’ll take a quick look at what happens when you import your email contacts, then next time we’ll do it the sign-up form way.

Here, I’m going to choose Import from Google Contacts:

MailChimp import subscribers

Note here the message from MailChimp – people who you add in this way are not going to receive confirmation emails that you’ve signed them up for your newsletter. When you use a sign-up form, they will receive a confirmation and an extra step to confirm they want to receive the newsletter, which is another reason I prefer that method.

MailChimp also warns you that you must already have permission from all people on your email list to send them newsletters. Do you have their explicit permission? If not, it’s best not to use this method.

9 import subscribers

You can see from the above screenshot that clicking on Authorize Connection will take you through to the service in question, in this case your Gmail, and will ask you to log in in order to populate the list. This will also happen if you click on any of the other buttons with service names on them (if you click on excel or .csv, it will just ask you to go and find the file). I didn’t go through with this because I didn’t want to import people who hadn’t given permission into MailChimp, but it will walk you through the steps to import the contacts and end up with a list.

What you really want to do is create a sign-up form, right? If you’re reading this when it’s published, you’ll need to wait two days for that (if you’re a new visitor, do add this blog to your RSS reader or click for email subscriptions). If you’re reading this after 19 February, you’ll be able to click here to find out how to create a sign-up form.

So, in this article, we’ve learned how to access the Lists part of MailChimp and how to import contacts. The other MailChimp articles will be listed below as I add them to the blog. You can find a growing set of articles on blogging, social media MailChimp etc. in my resource guide. Do click on the share buttons below or comment if you found this article interesting or useful!

Other relevant posts on this blog:

MailChimp 1 – Signing up

MailChimp 3 – setting up a sign-up form

How to avoid two common MailChimp errors

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2015 in Business, Marketing, New skills, Newsletters

 

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Small business chat update – Shelly Terry

Small business chat update – Shelly Terry

Well, I’ve had a bit of an influx of updates after the Christmas rush for our crafty folks, so I’m back to the occasional tradition of posting an update more than once a week (public opinion suggested that this was more popular than two-person posts but do let me know what you think). So, after Saturday’s chat with Jennifer Woracker, who’s been on maternity leave, we have Shelly Terry from hand-made card company, Evelyn Mae, who’s expecting her first baby! Of course this is going to have an impact on her business, and not only that, but she’s just moved house. This was expected, though – when we spoke to Shelly last in March 2014, she said, “This time next year I will have moved house and cities, and as yet, I don’t know where that will be, so hopefully in my new home I will be able to set up my office again (space providing!) and be exploring a new city and all its opportunities for my work”. Let’s hear how this year has gone …

Hello, Shelly! Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

I am exactly where I expected to be, albeit a few months later than I’d hoped! We moved about 3 weeks ago – so not only am I still unboxing, I am also changing addresses and tackling paperwork as well as downsizing the office! I haven’t had time to explore the business opportunities locally, but that will be on hold until next year now, I would think.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

Firstly, we have stayed in Kent, now living just outside Canterbury, so a lot of opportunities locally have stayed the same. I still have a room for my office/workshop, but this time it also doubles as a guest room, so I am streamlining the equipment and learning to be ruthless! The biggest thing that has changed this year is that we are expecting our first baby – so this is hugely impacting Evelyn Mae!! I am half way through the pregnancy, so I am desperately trying to get up to speed, and getting organised so my customers know exactly what they can order and how long for.

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

How tired I would feel being 20 weeks pregnant and trying to move house as well as downsize the workshop and replacing old equipment! If I could do it again I would have been far more ruthless in getting rid of things, and I would also have replaced my laptop before I moved, rather than waiting for it to die – as it has broken this week, exactly when I needed it the most!!

Any more hints and tips for people?

Time flies, so planning and time off is important, as is getting jobs done and not always saying ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’ !

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

In a years time, our baby will be 7 months old, so I am hoping that I will have offered a few Christmas letters, and be readying myself to open again – whether that is full or part time. I fully intend to spend as much time as I can with our baby, so as long as I have a business plan my husband and I are happy with, I will feel accomplished.

Wow – busy times ahead, but some good general points to pull out for everyone here – regular readers might remember Ruth Badley, who suddenly moved to Dubai and wished SHE’d sorted out her office in advance, too! Although we can’t be prepared for every eventuality, it is important to keep things up to date and keep any equipment maintained or replaced in good time, in case something unexpected suddenly happens. I know I’ve been a lot happier since I’ve had a back-up person who can pick up my work if I’m suddenly indisposed. We of course wish Shelly and her family all the best for this exciting year, and look forward to finding out how it all goes!

You can find Shelly’s work online at www.evelynmae.co.uk (with links on there to other crafting sites where she has a presence, such as Etsy). She has a blog on that site, too, and you can also find her on Facebook.

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2015 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Small business chat update – Jennifer Woracker

mugs It’s Small Business Update time – hooray (and for a little while, you’re going to see bonus ones on every other Monday, as everyone suddenly got in touch with their updates after Christmas – I do have a lot of crafters on the list, like today’s interviewee, so that’s completely fair enough!). Today it’s the turn of Jennifer Woracker who was from Twinkleballs last time but now also has a new venture! We first met Jennifer in December 2012 and caught up with her most recently in January 2014. When I asked her then where she wanted to be in a year’s time, she replied “I hope to be running cake decorating classes locally and to be on my way to having a tutorial book published. However, this might take more than a year, as I think the new baby will slow things down. I am also working on a new range of clay characters that will make extra special keepsake gifts for special occasions”. With a new baby on the way, who knew what was going to happen … in fact there’s a baby and a new line of business in the picture now! Read on to find out more …

Hi, Jen! Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

No, things have moved in a different direction and I am busier than I ever imagined I would be.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I no longer work with fondant, I only make polymer clay products now and I have moved away from cakes. I still make cake toppers, but my most popular product is my award-winning ‘Forever Family’ Baubles. They are so popular I have opened a new Facebook page and website just for them. The TwinkleBalls Big Bauble Boutique offers one of a kind keepsake gifts for all occasions: hand-sculpted polymer clay caricatures, displayed in acrylic balls, finished with a decorative ribbon.

My most popular design is the award-winning classic ‘Forever Family’ Christmas Baubles, tiny models of your own family wearing festive jumpers and playing in the snow. I am also working on a New Home bauble, a Baby Shower bauble and an Engagement bauble, I have a waiting list of over 40 people already!!

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

I wish I had kept updating my website whilst on Maternity leave, it has lost its place on the Google ranking and I am struggling to be seen again. I need to start work on Christmas orders a lot earlier – last Christmas was crazy busy and I only just managed to keep up!

Any more hints and tips for people?

It has become a lot harder to be seen on Facebook, so I recommend spreading yourself a little wider with a website and use other social platforms such as Twitter and Etsy. I myself need to put a lot more effort in to these areas!

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

Hopefully having two very successful websites selling my unique products all over the globe. My younger son will start full time school so it will free up a bit more time for me to take on new orders, with my baby girl by my side!

If I get really popular I might even have to take on an assistant, but success scares me, so I will just concentrate on the here and now at the moment.

It can be scary working out what to do when your business really starts to take off (I have a series of blog posts on the topic if you’re interested in reading about the options – one of which is, indeed, taking on staff). It’s interesting how many of my interviewees end up going in a different direction to the one they’d planned – but it’s always good to be flexible and to see where your business takes you. I salute Jen for managing to develop this lovely new line of products while looking after a new baby – and I’m sure she’ll find a way to get back up those Google rankings and build her business over the next year!

You can find Jennifer’s new venture online at www.bigbaubleboutique.com  and on Facebook.

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2015 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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