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Tips For Bloggers When Ideas Run Out

7 Tips For Bloggers When The Ideas Run Out by Butterfly Crafts

Being a creative blogger can mostly be a lot of fun, we get to craft a lot and have fun making. But, it also has its own challenges, especially during those times when you’re not feeling particularly creative, or when all inspiration has dried up. It’s the same for any blogger really, and so when the lovely Holly from A Branch of Holly asked for submissions for guest posts on her fantastic blog, I jumped at the chance to write some top tips for bloggers when ideas run out. Click on this link below and it will take you directly to the post on A Branch of Holly….

Seven Tips for Bloggers When Ideas Run Out

I’d love to hear what you do if your inspiration dries up, have you any more tips you can share with me? Let me know in the comments.

I’d like to say a big thank you to Holly for letting me guest over on her blog whilst she enjoys a well deserved week off. If you’re not familiar with A Branch of Holly then get yourself there quick sharp, there is a whole heap of information and advice for bloggers and small business tips.

7 Tips For Bloggers When The Ideas Run Out by Butterfly Crafts

Blogtacular 2016 – Seven Top Tips I Learned For Blogging and A Creative Business

Blogtacular 2016 Seven Top Tips I Learned for blogging and running a creative business by Butterfly Crafts - Image Courtesy of Mollie Makes © Will Ireland

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!

Blogtacular 2016 Seven Top Tips I Learned for blogging and running a creative business by Butterfly Crafts - Image Courtesy of Mollie Makes © Will Ireland

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.

Blogtacular 2016 Seven Top Tips I Learned for blogging and running a creative business by Butterfly Crafts- Image Courtesy of Mollie Makes © Will Ireland

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.

Blogtacular 2016 Seven Top Tips I Learned for blogging and running a creative business by Butterfly Crafts - Image Courtesy of Mollie Makes © Will Ireland

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.

Blogtacular 2016 Seven Top Tips I Learned for blogging and running a creative business by Butterfly Crafts - Image Courtesy of Mollie Makes © Will Ireland

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.

Blogtacular 2016 Seven Top Tips I Learned for blogging and running a creative business by Butterfly Crafts - Image Courtesy of Mollie Makes © Will Ireland

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*

Blogtacular 2016 Seven Top Tips I Learned for blogging and running a creative business by Butterfly Crafts

Tips for iPhoneography with Shutterhub

Tips for iphoneography workshops with Shutter Hub by Butterfly Crafts Handmade Emporium

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.

Tips for iphoneography workshops with Shutter Hub by Butterfly Crafts Handmade Emporium

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.

Tips for iphoneography workshops with Shutter Hub by Butterfly Crafts Handmade Emporium

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.

Tips for iphoneography workshops with Shutter Hub by Butterfly Crafts Handmade Emporium

5 Tips To Help Prepare For A Conference If You’re Anxious

5 Tips To Help Prepare For A Conference If You're Anxious by Butterfly Crafts Handmade Emporium

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.

 

5 Tips To Help Prepare For A Conference If You're Anxious by Butterfly Crafts Handmade Emporium

Mollie Makes Photography Special

Mollie Makes Photography Magazine Review by Butterfly Crafts Handmad Emporium

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.

Mollie Makes Photography Magazine Review by Butterfly Crafts Handmad Emporium

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.

Mollie Makes Photography Magazine Review by Butterfly Crafts Handmad Emporium

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.

Mollie Makes Photography Magazine Review by Butterfly Crafts Handmad Emporium

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.

Mollie Makes Photography Magazine Review by Butterfly Crafts Handmad Emporium

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.

Mollie Makes Photography Magazine Review by Butterfly Crafts Handmad Emporium

Making The Most Of Instagram – Six Top Tips

Making The Most Of Instagram, Six Top Tips by Butterfly Crafts Handmade Emporium

I love Instagram. Fact. I can easily get lost in the sea of beautiful visuals of crafts, flowers, interiors, holidays and koalas – yes, there are koalas. But my goodness it can be like a rabbit warren to get lost in and suddenly lose track of an hour before you know it. Whilst that might be great to break up the monotony of the commute to work, waiting to pick your children up from after school club, or lazing in bed on a weekend morning, it’s not great to waste time if you are using Instagram for your creative small business.

Instagram is the fastest growing social platform with over 300 million brands and consumers in its user base. For us small business owners and bloggers, Instagram is the perfect way to share your story and interact with your audience but, it is good to learn some tips on how to use it in a better way. I love using Instagram for Butterfly Crafts and here are my top tips for using Instagram as a small business:

  1. Post Regularly – With feeds changing very quickly, especially if you follow lots of people, it is important to post regularly, at least once a day ideally, so that your audience know to expect photos from you. It can be useful to keep a consistency in the time of your posts if you do only post once a day, for example you might make a post in the morning to catch your ‘morning’ audience, or at lunch time to capture lunch time browsers. Worried that you don’t always have something to post on your Instagram feed? It’s great to try and keep a back up of photos ready to share for days like this. I have a folder on my phone for just this, it contains some close ups of craft materials or snippets from blog posts so I can promote them, behind the scenes photos are great to keep as back up.
  2. Post Great Photos – Please don’t get all anxious and worry if your photos are good enough. I’ve been there and done that and worn out the t-shirt. But, Instagram is such a visual tool you need to have the best photos possible to share with your audience. In the first instance don’t post photos that are blurred or out of focus. Sometimes a small detail of something is better than the whole, crop images and edit them, a simple app I use on my iphone is PicTapGo but there are loads of apps out there for editing. Along with posting great photos, think about what you are actually posting in the first place. If your Instagram feed is a reflection on your business, does your audience really need to see what you made for dinner last night? I was guilty of this in the early days of me using Instagram for Butterfly Crafts but I now have a personal account where I can share my baking and holidays and mess of a garden as much as I like.
  3. Post a Consistent Style – Yes it’s important to use great photos but its also important to post with a consistent style. If you think of Instagram as your business portfolio, what words would you use to describe your brand? Quirky? Fun? Colourful? Minimalist? Does the picture you are about to post reflect your brand, does it help to tell your story? What’s even better is if you can post pictures using your brand colours. The best person I know at this is photographer and Queen of Makelight Emily Quinton.
  4. Engage with your audience – Don’t just post and run and hide under a rock until the next time you want to share a photo. Instagram is a social network after all and its great for engaging and building up a relationship with your audience. At the very least respond to comments you receive on your posts, but, also like and comment on photos of people you follow and grow the number of people you follow each week by searching out new Instagrammers. Look for people who share your style or your interests and also those who might be your ideal customer. You can search using the search tool but also click through to people who comment on photos you like. Spend five or ten minutes a day engaging as best as you can and you will see it pay off.
  5. Hashtags! – The use of hashtags can divide people in opinions but basically if you want to use Instagram for business you need to get comfortable with that little # symbol. When you post a photo and add a # it will post your photo into the grid of images under that particular tag, you need to post the tags fairly quickly as those first few seconds after posting a photo with a hashtag are the most important at bringing in potential new followers or audience, after that, your photo is lost in the sea of images under a certain hashtag. One top tip is to keep a note in your photo with a block of the hashtags you use so you can copy and post as soon as possible – I have separate blocks based on subject area eg planners and stationery, crafts, small business etc.
  6. Use the clickable link – Any links you post in your photo posts are not clickable so its really important to make use of that one clickable link in your profile. At least have it clickable to your blog or website, but the great thing about that link is its easy to edit to something new. Written a blog post and sharing images from it? Change the link to the post post url, either post it directly or create a bit.ly link to track clicks, or if you are promoting a product change it to that. Help direct your audience to exactly where you want them!

If you use Instagram and have more tips to share I’d love you to leave a comment below, but also come and say hello over on my Butterfly Crafts Instagram feed  – there is much paper crafting, crafts, haberdashery and stationery with a few other bits thrown in for good measure. You can fine me on Instagram under @butterflycrafts_uk or just click through here

Making The Most Of Instagram, Six Top Tips by Butterfly Crafts Handmade Emporium

The End of a Blogging Break

Blog Planning by Butterfly Crafts Handmade Emporium

You may or may not have noticed that there has been a bit of a ‘blip’ in my blogging schedule – in that well, there basically haven’t been any posts in a few weeks. I have been thinking long and hard about why that is, was it because I was too busy to blog? (maybe) My computer died? (no), I didn’t know what to blog about (partly) or I just felt burnt out? (yes).

I have blogged for a long time now and I have often struggled with it, not because I didn’t know how to write or what to write about but because I felt it was something that as a small creative business, I had to do. Towards the end of last year I was starting to feel this amongst the blogging community, people were posting what they thought their readers would want to read, or what might get them a review, or a commissioned post rather than what they wanted to write themselves.

I has also been reading lots of different tips on blogging from Pinterest, trying to gain All. The. Knowledge. and it was exhausting, some tips saying you need to blog every day (um, hello house renovation, day job, husband, living), others said you need to have the best quality photos. Some said you need to get comments on your posts and constantly check your Google analytics, whereas others said people don’t comment on blog posts anymore, the interaction is on social media. It sent my brain into a swirl.

After reading a few blog posts about blogging by A Branch of Holly, I’ve spent the past few weeks thinking about why I want to blog, what I want to get from it, what I hope you as my readers might get from it (if there are in fact readers!?!), and where I hope it will lead. The answer is simple really, I want to get back to my blogging roots and not be cornered into a niche area. I want to share with you craft tutorials, tips I pick up about running a creative business, what helps keep me organised, sharing paper-crafting ideas, and life behind the scenes at Butterfly Crafts – and yes, that includes the odd cake recipe or two. I want it to feel like we might be sitting down in a little tea shop chatting over a slice of lemon drizzle, except there is a computer screen between us.

Running a blog, and a creative small business alongside a day job is hard work. I can’t ever see me blogging every day of the week, not when I have walls to paint at home, but I would like to get back to posting what is comfortable for me – twice a week, hopefully a Monday and a Thursday with maybe the odd sprinkle of additional posts where it fits in.

To ‘celebrate’ my mini return to blogging I have made a few simple visual changes, firstly over there in that sidebar you can now see a photo of me along with a little blurb about what my blog is about, I’ve also made it so the sidebar shows on each blog post making navigation much easier and also popped in where you can come and find me on social media should you want to stop by and say hello.

My next blog post will be going live on Thursday so why not think about a slice of cake you can treat yourself to whilst you sit and have a read.

How I’m Using A Personal Filofax in 2016

How I'm Setting Up My Personal Filofax Planner in 2016 by Butterfly Crafts Handmade Emporium

Today I wanted to share with you the planner that I am using for 2016 – a personal sized Filofax. Working a day job, having a house renovation and a life to live, along side running Butterfly Crafts as a business, I need to keep organised. I have always been a to-do list maker but this year I am really starting to use a planner as my “command centre” for want of a better expression – it’s helping me side hustle and stay organised whilst doing so.

I have a separate Erin Condren journal which I am using for my business planning, noting down goals and such like, but my day to day planner is my personal sized Filofax. I have had this Filofax for a number of years but this year I am stepping up my game in using it and making it more ‘mine’ – you can see a post I wrote about making your own dividers to personalise your planner even more.

How I'm Setting Up My Personal Filofax Planner in 2016 by Butterfly Crafts Handmade Emporium

The inside cover of the Filofax is great as it has a few pockets which I use for page markers and post it notes, my KikkiK ‘Top 3″ post its, a small stencil, and my stickers. I have created a dashboard with decorative acetate and a motivational KikkiK sticker.

I have my Filofax divided up into six sections – a diary, to do list, blogging, notes, money and addresses. The address section is fairly self explanatory and money is where I keep a track of various targets and shopping.

How I'm Setting Up My Personal Filofax Planner in 2016 by Butterfly Crafts Handmade Emporium

In previous years I have used the standard Filofax inserts but this year I opted for something far more pretty! These printed inserts are from Poetic Soup Designs on Etsy, they are a perpetual calendar in that they don’t have dates printed on, but space to write your own. Each day is in a vertical format which much smaller boxes for the weekend. I have a small stencil, it was actually a gift in a Christmas cracker, and I use this to make checkboxes as my to do list on each day. I sit down each Sunday evening and plan out my week.

How I'm Setting Up My Personal Filofax Planner in 2016 by Butterfly Crafts Handmade Emporium

At the bottom of the pages is a To Do list and I have chosen to use this as a social media to do list to check that I interact with people daily. At the bottom of the right page is a water intake tracker and a menu list, I meal plan separately so have chosen to use some narrow washi tape and instead keep a list of cleaning for that week.

How I'm Setting Up My Personal Filofax Planner in 2016 by Butterfly Crafts Handmade Emporium

Notes I use to keep track of family birthdays (along with this printable birthdays calendar) but also my cleaning system. I have started to read up on the Fly Lady system of cleaning and house management. I have the different zones written down and what is involved so that each week I can bullet point into my ‘zone’ section for the week. I love the KikkiK magnetic page markers so I can jump right to the information.

How I'm Setting Up My Personal Filofax Planner in 2016 by Butterfly Crafts Handmade Emporium

I have a separate notebook which I use for blog planning and I also use a wall planner but I have started to use a month spread in my Filofax to plan out blog posts for the month – this is really useful to have in one place so that if I am having a planning session out of home or have a little bit of time on my hands to brain storm I have information all in one place. These pages are a printable I purchased from Organise With Katie on Etsy.

How I'm Setting Up My Personal Filofax Planner in 2016 by Butterfly Crafts Handmade Emporium

I have tried to use a planner before but have never really stuck to it, maybe I didn’t have enough to plan! Something that I am finding is helping me use my Filofax in a better way in 2016 is stickers! I mean, who doesn’t need a reason to buy stickers!?!? You can search online for planner layouts and planner inspiration and you can see amazing layouts for planners which REALLY use stickers. I haven’t used stickers to that extent, mine are more functional and I love it! Any excuse to have a search on Etsy or Instagram for planner supplies! My favourite so far is definitely Stickers Washi and More on Etsy which is where I picked up these lovely stickers.

How I'm Setting Up My Personal Filofax Planner in 2016 by Butterfly Crafts Handmade Emporium

Are you using a planner or a Filofax this year? I would love to hear how you use yours or if you have any recommendations for places to buy stickers!

Improve Your Photography With A Makelight Workshop

How to Improve Your Photography with a Makelight Workshop by Butterfly Crafts Handmade Emporium

Can I just start by saying this is a photo heavy blog post! Last year I set about challenging myself to improve my photography for both blog posts and product photography for my online shop. I never thought I took awful photos – they have improved vastly from when I had my first online shop back in 2008 – but I felt scared of my dslr and wasn’t too sure what to do with props and backgrounds.

I had been aware of Emily Quinton for quite a while, mainly because she has a truly stunning Instagram feed, and I had completed an online course of hers in 2014. When I saw that a special photography for paper lovers one day workshop was being held at the Makelight studio I knew I had to attend – and I could not recommend it, or another course, enough.

The Makelight Studio is in south London so one night last October I headed off to my hotel for the night ready for a long day ahead of me. The studio is amazing, the natural light is something else – I can totally see why Emily loves where she works, it’s just perfect for learning about photography and she has recently created a YouTube video tour of the Makelight studio.

On the day, we started with introductions about who we were and why we were on the course, many with the same thoughts and feelings – intimidated by a dslr, is it ok to just use an iPhone, how to style for a blog post, how can I take good photos of paper products when they are just flat objects etc.

How to Improve Your Photography with a Makelight Workshop by Butterfly Crafts Handmade Emporium

Firstly Emily talked a lot about light and how important it is to have natural light so to make the most of it on good days and on not so good days just hope you have a good bank of photos to continue to share online or to make blog posts with. We learned about taking photos by windows and how to never have a light on in the room you are taking photos in. Then we were off to have a practice with the various props and stagings that are in the studio – oh the stationery love was impressive and Emily had clearly loved shopping for props!

How to Improve Your Photography with a Makelight Workshop by Butterfly Crafts Handmade Emporium

How to Improve Your Photography with a Makelight Workshop by Butterfly Crafts Handmade Emporium

After lunch from the cafe downstairs (included in the price) we talked more about visual social media, how it’s always good to take photos for Instagram square and use the grid on your phone, and we got technical with our dslrs. All of us had bought along some of our own products which Emily had suggested so that she could answer questions we had about styling and we were off to take more photos.

How to Improve Your Photography with a Makelight Workshop by Butterfly Crafts Handmade Emporium

How to Improve Your Photography with a Makelight Workshop by Butterfly Crafts Handmade Emporium

A highlight of the day was seeing the ‘master’ of the flatlay at work creating one of her famous Instagram flatlays and trying not to giggle whilst she did it as a live Periscope film!

How to Improve Your Photography with a Makelight Workshop by Butterfly Crafts Handmade Emporium

How to Improve Your Photography with a Makelight Workshop by Butterfly Crafts Handmade Emporium

The day ran over but only because we were all asking questions and soaking up the advice whilst we could. I headed back to the car, and the M25, tired but with my head buzzing, and hopefully capable of taking better photographs to use on my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook but also in blog posts and for product photos.

How to Improve Your Photography with a Makelight Workshop by Butterfly Crafts Handmade Emporium

If you have a goal of improving your photography, whether you are a blogger, a creative business owner or just want to take better photos of your family life I do recommend going on a Makelight workshop. Being able to ask questions and get practical advice is extremely useful and has made me feel more confident behind the camera lense.

Keeping Organised – Printable Birthday and Anniversaries Calendar

Printable Birthdays and Anniversaries Calendar from Butterfly Crafts Handmade Emporium

Be honest, have you ever forgotten a friend or family members birthday or anniversary? How about a free printable calendar to keep you organised with important birthday dates? Well, here you go.

I am generally thought of as an organised person and am frequently asked how I stay organised with having a day job, renovating a house and running a creative business. Having a handmade card business it should come as no surprise that I love to send friends and family birthday cards and so one way I like to keep myself organised is to keep important dates in one place and here is where my free printable birthdays and anniversaries calendar comes into play!

When we were in Australia on our honeymoon I treat myself to a great gift set from Kikki K, the box is a great size and I use it to keep my birthday cards for friends and family in for the year ready to send, I just love how it says ‘Filled With Stationery Love’. When I have an afternoon free I like to get creative in the Craft Room and start to make the cards I need for the year, even if you don’t craft you can still follow this idea and gather cards you will need for the year, or even a few months in advance, and store them in a box ready for when you need them. I also keep a pen and stamps in the box so I have everything on hand ready to write and send off.

Printable Birthdays and Anniversaries Calendar from Butterfly Crafts Handmade Emporium

The birthdays and anniversaries calendar is great as you can fill in the dates you need and then use it year on year, it will print out as A5 so you can print a couple and keep them where you need to. Just click the link below and you can download the calendar.

Free Printable Birthdays & Anniversaries Calendar by Butterfly Crafts Handmade Emporium
Printable Birthday and Anniversaries Calendar from Butterfly Crafts Handmade Emporium