It’s been a great couple of months for press for Claireabellemakes. I’m so grateful to all the publications that get in touch – it’s still so exciting to see my work in print!
This month I was featured in Handmade Magazine which is one of Australia’s most popular craft titles. Yay! Oh and my face was on the front cover eek!
It wasn’t until I received my copy last week that I realised I had a two page spread all about Claireabellemakes. The team at Handmade were so lovely and asked me lots about my inspirations and creative journey.
One of the pictures they used in the feature is a little hint about an upcoming blog post….let’s just say Cambridge is in bloom!
Thanks for letting me share today! I also wanted to update with you guys on new products. Despite my intention to release something every month this year, May has been crazy busy with a lot of behind the scenes freelance work and it hasn’t quite happened. BUUUUT, I have restocked some wall art pieces and June has some exciting new releases to come. Watch this space!
As an organisation and planner geek, I thoroughly enjoy the new year. I love to set up my planner and make goals for the months ahead. Today I’ve decided to share my 2016 goals with you, mostly so I’m accountable to the internet and actually get things done! Starting with my personal goals……
Finish that knitted jumper
I started a Wool And The Gang kit a while back and it’s been slow progress. It really needs to be completed or else it will be summer and I wont be able to wear it!
Crochet a blanket
Last year I purchased some lovely yarn in my brand colours. I want to make a blanket for the studio instead of just looking at the yarn.
Get back into scrapbooking
Must update Project Life binder! So many things to document from 2015.
Maintain a clean and tidy home
G has been SO patient with me, but last year I basically made a tip of our home by spilling out of the studio and never having time to tidy up after myself. No more clutter and back to my cleaning schedule. Separate work and living spaces needed!
Schedule self care time
My acupuncture lady reminded me I should take time off. The Christmas break also showed me I NEEDED it too. I want to have more baths with Lush Bath Bombs and spend time getting back into rollerskating for fun.
Continue my weight loss journey
I joined Slimming World in 2015 and have lost a stone. Half way through and I don’t hate the plan because I can still eat a bit of chocolate. My group is pretty ace too.
More date nights with G
Because he’s bloody brilliant and always always supports me in everything I do.
Last year, my business word was COLLABORATE and this year I am choosing two words; LEARN and GROW. I want to apply that to these business goals….
Keep the studio in order
It was a tip for the last 4 months of 2015 (way worse than the photo above). It impacted my productivity and ability to hoover the floor. Too much stuff. And yes, I’ve read that book.
Grow blog readership
Readership has been growing steadily since 2012, but I want to grow the blog this year by creating content which is more shareable. I enjoyed working with brands in 2015 and will continue to do so.
Share more DIYs
Goes together with growing readership, I want to bring more DIYs back to the blog as well as more planner and organisational posts. Do leave a comment if there are things you want to see more of!
Increase Freelance contracts
Writing for other companies was a great way for me to learn in 2015. I want to build on this and connect with international publications.
Release stationery products
After creating a notebook prototype, I’ll be planning more stationery products this year and will begin working on a calendar in the next few weeks.
Create a shop on my website
Etsy has worked well for me, but it’s about time right?
Learn more about video production
I want to invest in new video equipment and learn techniques and skills that will improve the quality of my videos.
Devise a strategy for You Tube channel
I am a big consumer of You Tube videos and would like to be part of that from the creator side. After a dabble in 2015, I now want to create themes for the channel and to up my game to monetise my content.
Stay up to date with accounting
I was horrendous at this in 2015 and I will be researching software and apps to make this a more streamlined and less laborious task for my business. I’ve yet to meet anyone who actually likes doing their accounts!!
I want to make use of my Skillshare subscription and take classes in different creative areas. Recommendations welcomed! I’m also starting this goal by taking a woodworking class at my local hardware store in a couple of weeks.
I still have a long term goal of making Claireabellemakes a full-time business for me, as well as writing my own book at some point!
Feel free to prod me throughout 2016 to ask me how I’m getting on with these goals….I might need it!
2015 was a jam packed year. You’ve probably read tons of these posts by now but I took longer than expected to rest over the holidays and only wanted to return to blogging when I felt ready. It is important for me to reflect on achievements and goals, as this space is not only somewhere for you to visit, but also a journal for my business.
So today I’m talking about the year past and thinking ahead a little too. Personally, I spent the latter half of 2015 quite sad. It wasn’t something I wanted or felt I needed to talk about at the time, but I had a general low feeling and I didn’t know why. I was in a funk creatively and I even cried on my birthday (and not because I’m getting old!). There wasn’t a reason I could pinpoint. My anxiety and migraines had even been good so I couldn’t put it down to ill health. Luckily it passed (thanks to patience/hugs from G and friends) and I realised I needed to focus more on my dreams and what I had managed to accomplish. My business word for 2015 was COLLABORATE so bear that in mind as you read ahead and let me know if you think I smashed it or not!
Claireabellemakes is and still remains a side hustle for me, but boy is it tough. I spent most of the year working 60-80 hour weeks, working as hard as I’ve ever worked. And this was the result…..grab a cuppa as this is a long one!
In January I started a new contract with Simple Stylish Makes writing for their blog. Working alongside my blog pals Sophie and Jo has been a delight and I have enjoyed getting to know more about the publishing world.
My SEW brooch had a little appearance on the Great British Sewing Bee after contestant Tamara wore it! TV FAME AT LAST for Claireabellemakes.
In February I joined the Etsy Cambridge team which has been an amazing opportunity for meeting local creatives and participating in Cambridge markets in some fantastic historic venues. My local brand awareness was raised!
I was interviewed for the Blogtacular blog and signed a new contract to work with Sizzix UK. I’ve learnt so much about die cutting and I’m completely hooked. I really hope you’ve enjoyed my DIYs and having an additional blog post in the schedule.
In March I attended the Knitting and Stitching Show to work with Simple Stylish Knitting and I also hung out with some local bloggers at the Camb Meet Up. I started book binding classes in a bid to learn something that wasn’t business related.
I hit 100,000 followers on Pinterest (Now 143k WHAAAAT?!) and made 500 Etsy sales. It was a month of milestones.
April was a busy month as I took on a heap of crochet commissions for titles such as Crochet Barefoot Sandals and some that are still to be revealed.
I launched my Positivity Postcards in the shop and they were featured in the local press in Cambridge along with an interview. Spoonflower and Yahoo Makers also featured my DIYs and this blog had it’s 3 year birthday.
I started my You Tube Channel (which I absolutely LOVE doing) and continued my book binding classes by making a hardback book from scratch. I will never ever look at books in the same way ever again.
I began my partnership with Rhode Island in Cambridge to relaunch the Spring season of Cambridge Craft Parties. Many flower crowns were made in the months ahead!
In May I took the Claireabellemakes shop to London for the BUST Craftacular market. Kate came along for moral support and we had an absolute blast meeting friends such as Zoe from Ladybird Likes and Hannah from PupTart. Getting a London market was a real achievement for me.
This month I also worked with one of my favourite brands Tiger for this DIY and began my relationship with the guys behind The Happiness Planner.
I launched my new cards and prints in the shop and felt really pleased with them! I also joined the Craft Cafe Team to write for one of my favourite blogs, Heart Handmade.
June was fun as I attended Blogtacular and helped organise the Cambridge Etsy Craft Party and Pinterest workshop. The Cambridge Craft Party fun continued too and lots of people exercised their creative muscles!
In July I was part of the Etsy Cambridge pop-up shop in the Babylon Gallery in Ely and I made this video because it was just ace!
I worked with Cambridge Video Productions on a promotional video for Cambridge Craft Parties which was a lot of fun and quite nervewracking!
August was so exciting as I achieved one of my biggest collaboration goals of the year. My work was featured in the Lucky Dip Club subscription boxes and I was SO proud.
The contributors for the We Make Collective were announced and one of them was me! Working with Fran is a dream as she really understands what bloggers need and how to grow a wonderful community. I’m so excited to see the future kits that are released!
Karen from I Don’t Like Peas hosted a wonderful photography workshop for bloggers in Cambridge. I tried my hand at food photography and it was a whole new experience.
September was holiday time for us as we visited Disney World in Florida. I had two weeks off but spent it packing in as much Mickey Mouse fun as I could. It wasn’t restful but it was amazing.
On my return I visited The Handmade Fair for the second time and caught up with crafty friends such as Hester and Jamie. Blogging chats and duck wraps. WINNER of a day.
In October I made the cutest bed for Tammy on the Laura Ashley blog and I sold at my first Crafty Fox Market in Peckham which was a blast.
I hit 600 sales in my Etsy store and things started to ramp up for Christmas.
Alongside all this, I hit 700 sales in my store on my last Christmas posting date of 21 December. The studio was hit hard but still showed some festive sparkle amongst the mess (which still covers the floor)!
PHEW. What an exhausting but amazing year, and that was just the highlights! I will admit, there was some disappointment along the way, but nothing that doesn’t drive me to improve Claireabellemakes.
I’ll save my 2016 goals for a separate post as this is super long! You deserve a medal if you’ve read right to the end! I’m sure I’ve got some gold chocolate coins here somewhere to dish out.
Thank you so much for all your support. Every like, comment, and follow means so much as Claireabellemakes enters its 4th year of business. Here’s to a year of a little more sleep eh?
Let me know if you are a blogger and you have written a similar post to this – I love seeing reviews of people’s years! Or maybe you can share what your biggest achievement of 2015 was?
*Some pages on this site may contain links to outside sites, including paid affiliates. Read more about my disclosure policy here.
Back in August I attended a launch party for fellow blogger Hester’s first book (see the vlog on my You Tube channel here) where I met Katie from A Playful Day and Sophie from The Things She Makes. We talked about how great it is to meet up in real life and share inspiration, ideas and general life stories.
On the train home with Jessica from The Cabinet Maker’s Love Tale, we got chatting about our experiences at Blogtacular and what we took away from the day. People asked me if I left brimming with ideas, but I didn’t. I just left with a huge gratitude that there were so many people just like me, who are in love with blogging. It gave me perspective and excitement.
So, on that train journey (whilst munching chips from LEON), we attempted to determine exactly why bloggers blog. What is it that gives us the desire to write? What do we all have in common? Is there even one thing that defines why bloggers blog?
When I think back to the reasons I began blogging, it was largely because I wanted to learn. I had recently completed my Masters and I felt as though I wanted a project that was for me and completely in my control. I wanted to discover new crafts, new technical skills and new ideas. 3 years on, I still blog for that reason, but also for many more.
I want to share ideas, makes, skills and inspiration. I want to celebrate the handmade world and indulge in my passions. Jess and I also discussed bloggers in niches outside of our own and agreed that they are all sharing; whether it’s their latest outfit, favourite lipstick, or museum to visit in their city. From a young age we are taught that sharing is kind and generous. Is blogging about being generous with your knowledge or experiences? Is it a platform to fulfill the desire to help others?
Or is it about the conversation? The opportunity to connect with likeminded individuals? There has been a lot of talk about ‘the death of blog comments’ lately, so does the conversation still exist or is it found elsewhere on social media now? Ultimately a blog is a journal for some, but is it valid if no one reads? If there is no connection, what is the purpose?
Do we blog to be creative? After all, a blog is usually an outlet for your ideas and passions. Is the need to express oneself part of the motivation? When I started this blog, I was a hobby blogger and only thought of blogging to make money as a thing that was possible in the future. This recent Instagram post (and subsequent comments) from the author of super blog A Beautiful Mess really highlighted the conflict between blogging full-time/keeping readers happy, versus authenticity and satisfaction. These gals have 2 million unique hits a month so there was bound to be some controversial responses to their question!
ALSO – please can we just appreciate that skirt and those shoes?!!!!
Other reasons to blog were the need to make a difference, to be an expert, or for small business owners; to sell products. This space has now become a platform for my business. However, I will always strive to keep it a well balanced resource despite earning from my writing.
Whether you are a blogger or just someone who enjoys reading blogs, I’d love for you to join me in this discussion in the comments below. What are you views on why bloggers blog? Is there one single thing we all have in common?
Oh and one last thing. I read blogs because I’m super nosey 😉 How about you?
Last month I realised I need a blogging break. Aside from a bad migraine week a couple of years ago, in 3 years, I’ve not had a break from this space. Last Christmas I burned out. You can read my thoughts on this here. In the blogging and creative world there is a constant need to be ‘on’ especially when you’re business is online.
I’ve now realised it doesn’t hurt your business to take a break. In fact it can help it. I’m hoping that it will invigorate my mind (and body) so I can return refreshed and ready for the Autumn. Although my diary is pretty full for August, I will not constantly be preparing content or scheduling the business. I’ll take some time to reflect and will finally have time to read some books!
I thought hard about this, as some of income for Claireabellemakes comes from the blog and everyone has bills to pay! This year, I’ve gradually increased my schedule to 5 posts a week, plus writing freelance for other sites and publications. However, over the next few weeks there will be no content here on the blog. I’ll still be hanging out on social media enjoying some creative pursuits and taking a holiday to Florida with friends.
Self care is important to me. As most of you know, I’m a frequent migraine sufferer which can be extremely debilitating at times. Time out will be good. Of course I’ll be planning (Autumn craft parties are coming!) and making lists of ideas and DIYs, but life will be a little slower as I’ll be travelling and resting.
I haven’t yet decided when I plan to return to the blog, but it is likely to be in September. By then I hope to have an organised mind and a rested soul. No doubt I’ll still be hanging out on Instagram or Twitter so find me at the links below if you want to keep in touch! Have a wonderful summer.
Oh, and I’ve been nominated for best DIY & Crafts blog again in the Amara Interior Blog awards! If you have time to send a vote for me I’d be so so grateful! Just click the image below.
*Some pages on this site may contain links to outside sites, including paid affiliates. Read more about my disclosure policy here.