The 18th June almost seems like a lifetime ago now. Blogtacular, the conference for creatives and bloggers, a happy memory. I have already written about how to prepare for an event such a Blogtacular when you deal with anxiety like I do, but I have wanted to write about what I learned for a while I just haven’t been able to process it all in my already crowded brain. It’s not that I felt I didn’t learn anything, far from it. It was more I had a bit of reverse FOMO in that I felt I didn’t fully absorb everything or immerse myself in the day, and it is only now reading back over my notes I thought I would share what I learned from Blogtacular 2016 so here are my seven top tips for bloggers and creatives.
It’s ok to be scared
You can guarantee that you will not be the only one terrified in a room of bloggers. Scared that you don’t really belong because maybe you think you’re not a “real” blogger, or you’re not good enough. Being scared of the few hundred people I shared a room with on that Saturday in June is linked to my anxiety and feeling inferior to everyone, scared that my blog readership is barely a dot on a graph, yet there was nothing to be scared of. Every single person I met was delightful and many also said they felt scared and nervous, even the amazing speakers said they felt nervous which I felt was refreshingly honest. I did feel very uncomfortable trying to introduce myself to others due to lack of confidence but that’s more on my part that anything else. Next year I will do better!
I am enough
Being someone with acute anxiety (sorry, this is not meant to be a post about anxiety!) I often worry that I am not good enough or haven’t done a task good enough and at first, going to Blogtacular made me feel it even more. But in walked Lisa Congdon. Lisa was the opening keynote speaker and I have never felt so virtually hugged as I did when she spoke, I felt captivated. Here was a woman who came to her career late in life by means of a chance encounter, but who spoke with such authenticity and inspiration that the tone for the day was set. Lisa said that we measure our successes by how hard we work or how busy we are and it never feels enough. But we are enough and we must accept that.
Being on the Internet every day is hard work
In her keynote speech Lisa talked about how hard it can be to put yourself out there on the internet every day, showing up but not knowing who will respond. Facing competition and jealousy, we see our imperfections and differences are far more important than successes we have. But rather than measuring your success by how many likes you receive on Instagram, or a retweet on Twitter, focus on being real and showing other people what makes you real.
It’s ok to be a bit shit
Kirsty Smith’s workshop on Developing Content Ideas was both funny and inspiring and hearing someone tell you that it is ok to be a bit shit to start off with was rather reassuring. Kirsty continued to say that it is so important to write down all the ideas you have, even the dreadful ones, because you never know where they will take you (why hello there excuse to buy more pretty stationery for a list making session).
Give yourself time to think
Another nugget of inspiration from Kirsty was that you have to make time to think. Make an appointment with yourself to have an ideas meeting, and yes it’s totally fine if that ideas meeting happens at your local tea room with a big slice of cheesecake and a cold drink – just me? Once you have a big list of ideas pick one and take it with you for a while, take that idea into the garden, or out on a run with you, you might just turn that shit idea into a brilliant diamond. By giving an idea a thought process you are ready to write with enthusiasm which will come across to your reader, rather than forced writing. You have to love an idea before you can hit publish on a blog post.
Create an inspiring workspace
Whether you are a full time blogger or not, you need to feel inspired when you write and this came across from both Lisa and Kirsty. Kirsty in particular talked about the importance of an inspiring workspace and how you must work where you feel comfortable. For her it is the kitchen table, for others it might be the sofa, the bed, a dedicated office, the cupboard under the stairs or out of the house at a coffee shop. No matter where your inspiring place is, find what works for you and use it.
You don’t have to chase all. the. things.
The closing keynote speaker was Enid Hwang, Community Manager at Pinterest who was the sixth employee, and first woman to work at Pinterest when it first started in 2010. I did not really know the story behind Pinterest, but to hear Enid talk about how the first office was a tiny apartment and her desk was right next to the toilet (fun when working with five men) and thinking of the global success now was inspiring. Success stemmed from the determination and focus of the initial small team. In it’s infancy, Pinterest was shunned by investors who could not see the long term vision, but the team stayed true to their focus and vision and well, look at it now. Although by the end of the day I was feeling rather frazzled, hearing Enid talk about how it’s important to have a clearly defined goal and to stay focused on your vision, to make decisions based on that vision, and to be aware that jumping on a band wagon or chasing that shiny new thing is only wise if it’s true to your goals, reminded me that I perhaps need to refocus and clearly set out in my mind what I want for Butterfly Crafts.
So there you have it, my top seven things I learned from Blogtacular this year. The day overall was amazing, Kat and her team of assistants and helpers did a fantastic job. I have a background in events planning myself so I know what organising this kind of event involves but they pulled it off fantastically. The atmosphere was electric, the venue was perfect (even having an introvert area for when anxiety strikes), the catering was brilliant (oh my that flapjack!) and the community feeling was something I have never felt before. And then came the goodie bag, but this deserves a blog post all of it’s own so watch this space.
If you are a blogger and want to spend a day with a likeminded community, then I highly recommend keeping an eye out for Blogtacular 2017. If you want to read more about this year and what happened, check out more blog posts on the Blogtacular 2016 Pinterest Board, but if you do come along next year, be sure to find me and say hello, I promise to be less scared next year.
*All images (except The Girl Power Manifesto) are Courtesy of Mollie Makes © Will Ireland*
On a gorgeous sunny day in Cambridge last week I joined a bunch of other creatives at a Shutter Hub Workshop with Sara Tasker all about iPhoneography. I’ve always wanted to get more out of using my iPhone and it’s camera because its really handy to have in my pocket so I thought a workshop on iPhoneography would be perfect.
So what is iPhoneography I hear you ask? Well, as Sara explained, it’s a new movement of photography taking and processing pictures on your phone rather than a dslr or other camera. It’s much quicker and easier to take photos in this way when a job or family life can get in the way and take up more time.
To some, taking photos with your iPhone might seem amateur but even professionals use it and now there is even the annual iPhone Photography Awards
Sara spent the first part of the workshop talking to us about why iPhoneography has become so popular.
- Simplicity – there are limited settings and little learning needed meaning the emphasis is on the subject rather than technical specifications.
- Accessibility – Most people (especially me) always have their phone with them making it super quick to capture a moment as it happens, this then makes photos more relatable.
- Style – iPhoneography definitely seems to have taken more of a retro style but is also more forgiving as it doesn’t capture quite as much detail as a dslr photo might.
- Community – The rise of networks such as Instagram amongst a young and diverse audience.
- Shareability – The quick processing and relatable subjects mean its easy to share instantly on social media rather than put photos on a pc, edit them and then share.
After getting us all to take a photo as a baseline before we learn anything, Sara shared a few basics about using your iPhone camera such as you can swipe up from the lock screen and the camera is there, tap the screen to focus or hold it down and it will lock the focus, hold down the shutter button and it will take a burst of ten photos, always use the grid lines and finally that you can use the volume buttons on the side of the phone, or on headphones as a shutter button.
After taking photos of our hands or feet (including part of ourselves puts us, and our audience, in the moment we are experiencing) Sara shared some tips on getting the best from our photos.
- Composition – this is something that you can’t fake or fix at a later late and follow the rule of thirds, using the grid on your phone helps with this
- Angle – A top down photo, or ‘flat lay’ puts your audience in the moment with you, or get down to your subjects eye level, but always keep straight lines straight.
- Balance – Think about negative space and what backgrounds you use so they are not too distracting from your subject
- Texture – Showing texture can make a photo tactile or sensory, it also shows how life can get messy
Our final challenge of the session was to take a ‘selfie’ as putting ourselves in the picture helps add to the story you want to tell and even just a part of you is enough to convey your message. The top tip Sara gave for this is to NEVER us the front facing camera but find something to rest your iPhone on, and get familiar with the self timer.
With a few photos now taken we had a quick practice at editing on our phones and what apps are good to use. There are so many options out there but Sara recommended VSCO and has a beginners guide on her blog (I didn’t find this particularly intuitive to use) and A Colour Story (good for bright and colourful photos) I also use PicTapGo which I find really simple to use.
It was really good to spend a couple of hours thinking about photography and getting some tips using a camera I carry around with me all of the time. I am trying really hard with my social media sharing lately, in particular Instagram, and so I will be trying to put into practice some of the tips I picked up.
If you want to find out more about Sara then you can follow her over on Twitter, Instagram or take a read of her Me and Orla blog. Shutter Hub is a collective and resource, created and maintained by photographers in the UK. One of the aims of Shutter Hub is to provide information and advice for photographers (or budding photographers) and the workshop is just one of the ways they do this.
If you’ve followed me for a while, especially on Instagram, you will know that I LOVE stationery, always have and always will, and so I jump at the chance to treat myself to something new. Enter Sainsbury’s range of “Impressionist” stationery new for the Summer. I happened to be in store recently looking for something else and noticed the beautiful stationery and I decided a treat was needed.
These notebooks are A6 in size and come as a pack of three, they are all lined. I think they are super cute for their size and will be great to tuck into the pack of my Erin Condren Life Planner to keep a small notebook to hand.
I’ve been searching for an A5 clipboard for quite a while as I thought it would be nice to have a sign up form for my e-newsletter at Craft Fairs so seeing this one was a definite purchase. I love that it comes with a ‘Things to do’ notepad. I love a notepad and I always have a to do list on the go.
I have been using sticky notes a lot recently, they are great as page flags in books I have been reading and want to refer back to, but also for adding things into my planner that are happening at a future date – I then write it in at the start of the week once confirmed. So I love a pretty set of sticky notes and these ones come contained in a tin which is great for storage. And washi tape! The coordinating washi tape in this range is lovely, the glitter will add great sparkle to the back of envelopes which is one of the ways I love to use washi tape. For more washi tape ideas take a look at my How To Craft With Washi Tape Pinterest Board.
A supermarket might not be the first place you think of for buying stationery but take a look next time you are in one – pretty stationery and usually at very reasonable prices. I can’t wait to use these in keeping organised and with my planner.
**I have not been paid or asked to write this post, I just wanted to share some stationery I loved**
On Instagram I often share snippets of what happens behind the scenes at Butterfly Crafts and that includes snapshots of my craft room. I thought I would take a bit of time today and share my craft room set up in more detail – be prepared for a lot of photos!
When we moved into our house back in April 2014 we decided that the second reception room downstairs would be perfect for my craft room, it overlooks the garden and has great natural light. You can see the original room in the “Craft Room – In The Beginning‘ blog post from April 2015 – it was painted grey with awful carpet. The room is painted lilac and I have tried to maximise as much storage space as possible, primarily using Ikea units and various storage boxes.
In the corner of the craft room are my old wardrobes which I’ve renamed my Crafterobe. They have sliding doors, one side is mainly shelves and the other is shelves and drawers which are really great for fabric storage as fabric is best stored flat and away from sunlight.
I have a small TV which is great for watching DVDs or listening to the radio whilst I craft. Above the TV I have a couple of shelves housing the TiVo box but also my bucket filled with packaging supplies, a mini version of my wedding bouquet and other pretty things.
On the back of the door I have baskets which are great for holding ribbons and rolls of ricrac. On the side of the ‘crafterobe’ I also have a pin board with loads of happy inspiration. We are thinking of changing the doors in our hallway soon meaning this door will change to one with glass which will be great for added light.
My final element of storage is an Ikea Billy Bookcase with a glass door. I use the top shelves for button and thread storage and my sewing kit and the bottom shelves are for my craft books, both technique and small business books.
The table I use in the craft room is our old dining room table, at one end I have a small 2×2 Expedit unit with storage boxes. The table is covered with oilcloth making it great for crafting as its easy to clean. I love the view from this space and the large sliding doors which I can open in warm weather and listen to the birds chirp. Behind the table is a blank wall space and I have a few ideas in mind for decorating it – watch this space!
I do love working in my craft room, its my place of calm and creativity, where I can spend hours just looking at fabric and pretty things or sit and watch the birds outside whilst I create. I hope you enjoy seeing where the magic happens for Butterfly Crafts, if there is anything you’d like to know about or see up close just let me know!
The end of term is fast approaching with most schools breaking up in a couple of weeks time, maybe you’re all organised and already have your teacher thank you gifts sorted but if not here are a few suggestions of what the teachers in your life might like to receive as an end of term thank you gift.
Super Cute Felt Owls by Butterfly Crafts
A6 Notebook Trio by OhNoRachio
Natural Handmade Soap Bars by Butterfly Crafts
Hand Stamped Personalised Key Chain by LaurieBale
Fabric Bow Handmade Brooch Pin by Butterfly Crafts
Cuppa Cards make perfect Teacher Thank You Cards by Butterfly Crafts
I hope these will help with a little inspiration for what to gift a teacher at the end of a busy term – or even buy ahead ready for Christmas!
Just like May, June has flown by in a blink of an eye, but oh my what an exciting month it has been, there has been fun, travel lots in between.
I knew that June was going to be a super busy month and so I wanted to start off on the right foot with the husband and we went off to Norwich for the day for a treasure hunt, I just loved these colourful market stalls! This was part of our first wedding anniversary gifts which you can read about here.
The month also ended on a travel theme with an amazing trip to Iceland. It was bloomin cold not getting much higher than 10c but the scenery was astounding, waterfalls, volcanos, mountains and lupins. Oh the lupins. I got to practice my photo jumping!
The days off continued with a great visit to Gardeners World Live with Mum, it was my first time at the show, have you been? I would definitely recommend it if you have a garden, or even just a window box. Just look at that pink tool shed.
Image Courtesy of Mollie Makes © Will Ireland
Where do I start talking about Blogtacular? Aside from Iceland, I think Blogtacular would be the highlight of June. I am still processing the day in my head, the people I met, the inspiring talks I got to listen to and the ideas that came from it all. I wrote my first post, 5 Tips To Help Prepare For A Conference If You’re Anxious, and there will be a couple more to come later this month.
In preparation for Blogtacular I got busy in the Craft Room and made up some very special tags to give out with my business cards. I just love this Kitchen Aid inspired stamp and I have plans for it in the future, watch this space.
Badges and pins are having a huge rise in popularity, I remember they were when I was at school as I covered my bag in them! I’ve started my collection with these from (L-r) Sew Crafty, JillyJilly and OhNoRachio. Have you started to collect pins? I’d love to see what they are.
June also saw me feed my stationery addiction with a few new purchases. Heading into London for Blogtacular meant we just HAD to visit KikkiK and I picked up a box of adorable quote cards and a set of pens. My love of Erin Condren has also expanded with a new sticker book and just look at the pretty hearts on my new planner – this one is for 2017 so I have to wait a little while to use it. Sob.
How was June for you? Did you discover any new indie stores or go on any adventures? I look forward to telling you all about July and then it’s my birthday!
Image Courtesy of Mollie Makes © Will Ireland
Earlier this month I had the pleasure of attending my first blogging conference – Blogtacular – the conference to go to if you are a blogger in the creative field. It has taken me quite a while to even begin to process all that I learnt and everyone who I met on the day. Not to mention a good rummage in the goodie bag afterwards! I plan on writing a few posts about Blogtacular – what I learnt, my actions afterwards and of course the goodie bag reveal. However I wanted to start with a short post on preparing for attending an event such as Blogtacular if like me, you suffer from acute anxiety and you get nervous in these sort of situations. So here goes with my five top tips for preparing for a conference:
Network beforehand – One of the fantastic things with Blogtacular is the weekly #blogtacular chats on Twitter (9pm every Wednesday) and also the Facebook group. I was anxious about meeting people on the day but by interacting with them during the Twitter chats and commenting on posts in the Facebook group meant I already had some idea of who people were, what they blog about and to my relief….many were nervous to. A big conference often has a # for social media so why not put a post out on Twitter asking who else is attending your event?
Arrange to meet someone on the day – If you have been able to network in advance or you know someone else going to the conference, arrange to meet them on the day, either in the lobby area of the venue or if you don’t think that’s possible then at the first break time you have. If you are super anxious, it can be helpful knowing that you are going to meet a friendly face and be able to talk with someone during the networking sessions rather than hide away in the loo or a corner of the room on your phone.
Plan your sessions – often with conferences, as with Blogtacular, the schedule of speakers is shared before the day. This is great as it gives you time to think about what sessions you would like to attend, perhaps think about questions you might like to ask and also do a little background research on the speakers so you are familiar with what they do. One tip is not to be too fixed on what sessions you want to attend just incase there isn’t space in the room on the day.
Give yourself time to travel – Because I was busy earlier in the week I was unable to join the Blogtacular Craft Party at West Elm the night before, meaning I would be getting up much earlier than I liked and travelling into London the morning of the conference. I was a bit anxious about getting there on time and walking into a room filled with people [hello imposter syndrome!]. If this is something that makes you anxious either plan to stay close by the night before if your budget allows, or, make sure your allow plenty of time for travel and potential delays. If in London, it’s always handy to have an alternative tube route in case there is engineering works on the line you need.
Pack your bag in advance – you don’t want to be rushing around the minute you are supposed to be leaving on the day trying to find your favourite pen or a notebook. Have a think about what you might need on the day and pack your bag in advance. Do you need a cardi if the air-con is likely to be cold, do you need to take a packed lunch (I always do, I have food anxiety), what about a pen and notebook – ALWAYS an excuse for stationery shopping!! And don’t forget your business cards.
Anxiety can be horrible, especially in a situation such as a conference and so by taking a few steps to prepare beforehand you will hopefully reduce the level of anxiety on the day. But one final tip to bear in mind, with a conference about a specialised subject, such as creative blogging, everyone is attending for the same reason and so you will always have something in common with everyone there!
Keep an eye out for future posts about Blogtacular, I have a few planned for the next couple of weeks. Were you there? I’d love to hear from anyone who was, or share a tip about how you prepared for the event.
I love a good craft magazine and Mollie Makes is no different so I was super excited to find that the people behind the monthly magazine had released a few special editions. Photography is something I am working hard to improve, I’ve already written about attending a Makelight Workshop, but it’s good to have something to refer back to and so I picked up a copy when it came out (ok so it was published in 2014) and have finally had a chance to sit and read it cover to cover.
Now that I’ve treat myself to a new camera (Olympus PEN E-PL7) and also have a dslr camera I would like to learn more of the technical aspects of photography, rather than just ‘point and shoot’, but I find it rather daunting. The magazine includes loads of tips about the technical parts of photography in a factual way but also with practical examples, such as the ‘Find Your Light’ spread above.
I love that the magazine makes you think about your photography style and how to develop and change the way you take photos beyond your usual angles. The ‘Location, Location, Location’ piece in particular was interesting in challenging you to go on location for a week, change your perspective and not to get wrapped up in the small details. I hope to take myself on a photo walk of my town as a way to practice.
There are SO many ‘apps’ out there now to help edit your photos or create special effects, especially if you use the camera you keep in your back pocket. But it can be confusing which ones to use, paid or free, and so the ’12 of the best apps’ feature was really interesting. I love my iPhone for taking photos, the camera on it is great and it’s fab for updating social media quickly with a quick edit in an app. I use PicTapGo and Live Collage at the moment.
I wasn’t expecting to see craft tutorials in a magazine special about photography, but I loved the craft elements of the magazine. I never would have thought to take an old camera and turn it into a lamp base, and the felt camera bag tutorial was beyond cute. I also found it inspiring to read the various interviews and snippets with people who make a career out of photography, who share prolifically on social media, or who just have excellent photography styling and see what tips they had to share.
I am not sure if you can still pick up a copy of the magazine as it was published a little while ago now, but, if you do happen to see one I would say grab it! Have you read the Mollie Makes Photography special? I’d love to hear what you thought of it, or if you have any other photography tips please do share, it’s something I am always striving to improve.
Lately there has been a resurgence in the sending of happy mail – think PostCircle, Ladywriters and other similar groups. I think it’s always handy to have a supply of blank greetings cards in your stationery supply to use for happy mail but also incase you need to send a belated birthday card, wish someone get well wishes, say thank you or just a note to say hello. Enter Cuppa Cards.
Cuppa Cards are a card I designed a few years ago now to send a friend a cup of tea just to say hello as I missed catching up with her, you know how life gets, and I thought they would be a great addition to the online shop.
A6 in size they are great to send a note and all designs are blank on the inside making them suitable for any occasion you need. The teacup is hand coloured to compliment the background paper and include either an individually wrapped teabag or two coffee sachets.
The tea Cuppa Cards have a little greeting – “Have a cup of tea while you think of me, I will have one too while I think of you” and the coffee Cuppa Cards say “A little something I can share to let you know I really care”
Cuppa Cards are in stock now and cost £3 each – why not get one and send a friend a cup of tea! You can see the full range in the Cuppa Card category online.
Fathers Day is fast approaching and so if you haven’t already, it’s time to think about a gift and a card for your Dad. I thought it would be fun to share a few gift ideas that I have found for your Dad or the Father figure in your life.
If your Dad is the DIY kind then how lovely is this Personalised screwdriver set from Auntiemims on Etsy.
How adorable Personalised Cufflink Dish from DianaParkhouse on Etsy
I love the quirkyness of the parenting T-shirts from Parent Apparel
Perfect gift for a biscuit lover Dad – Biscuit cushions from Nikki McWilliams
And don’t forget about a Father’s Day card either. A handmade card is a personal touch for your Dad, I have card designs for gardeners, car enthusiasts, a good fry up and more. Take a look in the Fathers Day Card category in the online shop.
If you get really short of time, or you have children and need ideas for something for them to give their Dad, why not get crafting? This Fathers Day board on Pinterest has lots of ideas to try out too, take a look.