Mothers’ Day Card Featuring Lawn Fawn Mom & Me Stamps and Inking

I puchased the adorable “Mom & Me” stamp set from Lawn Fawn ages ago, specifically to make my mum’s Mothers’ Day card this year.  Sadly the set does not include “mum”, only the American “mom” – it seems odd they didn’t just include the alternative for everyone who is not in the USA.  Still, not a problem.StampCritters

I stamped the owls and the tree trunk in Rich Cocoa Memento Ink.  I then stamped some of the blades of grass and fir trees in Cottage Ivy Memento ink – I wasn’t sure if I would want to use them or not though.

I coloured the stamped images with Copic and Promarker alcohol pens.

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I cut two cloud shapes from scrap paper.  This cloud is from the XCut Build-a-Scene set “All Aboard”.

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The I cut out a circle stencil from more scrap paper.  I used a die from the Nesting Circles set by PresscutPlaceMasks

I fixed a 5″ x 7″ white card blank down to my craft mat with low-tack tape, then used more tape to hold the circle mask over it.  I folded a wee bit of the low-tack tape up behind the clouds to hold them in place too.AddBlueInk

Next I used more low-tack tape to mask off the bottom third or so of the circle aperture.  I use an Ink Duster Ink Blending Brush from Inkylicious to gently apply Salty Ocean Distress Ink.  I was careful to always start on the tape or the mask and to brush on to the card blank below.  I tried to keep the colour very soft and applied more towards the bottom than the top.ThenAddGreenInk

Then I swapped over and masked off the top of the circle with scrap paper and began applying Mowed Lawn Distress Ink to the bottom of the aperture.  Again I started each stroke on the mask and brushed in.  I added more ink at the bottom than the top as I hoped this would give the finished circle a bit more of a 3d effect.FinishedInking

Here is the end result once I removed the masks and the low-tack tape.AddSentiment

I added one of the sentiments from the stamp set using the Rich Cocoa Memento ink.

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And then I assembled some of the stamped images on the front of the card.  The owls are on a foam pad for a bit more dimension.  I then added some Glossy Accents over the heart shape on the tree stump.

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I add the other two owls and a sentiment to the inside for a cute touch.

These links leads to items on Amazon.co.uk. If you purchase something from these links then I would get a small commission from Amazon for sending custom their way.

12″ Tonic Super Trimmer Review – Tonic Paper Cutter Board

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For a while I have been wanting a decent paper trimmer for use in my craft room.  I have a portable one, but I wanted something more “solid”.  When my mum got a Tonic Super Trimmer last summer, I was rather envious of some of its features.  But I am envious no longer as mum bought me my very own one for my birthday! 8

The trimmer has a large base plate and is suitable for paper and card that has one dimension less than 12″.  It comes in a simple “blister pack” with instructions for how to replace the blades and how to use the trimmer.  There are two blades includes -a  cutting one and a scoring one.

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The paper or card is held beneath the clear, central ruler.  This has measurements in both cms and inches and the ends are “turned up” which makes it very easy to flip open and closed.

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The board is marked in both centimetres and inches throughout.  The rulers are repeated around the board to ensure it is always easy to be accurate.  This is one of the strongest features of this cutting board.   There are also lines marked out at 4 1/4″ and 5 1/2″.  These are the standard dimensions of greetings cards in America, though not in most other countries.  However, many non-USA crafters do use American products and standards, or you can just ignore the marks!  It is just as easy to use the board for International standards too (A5 and A6 sized cards).

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The rulers have extensions that swing out from behind the board and click into place to make the board effectively wider.  There are two of these swing arms, and this enables the board to be used either way up.

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A scoring bladed head is included.  The “blade” is smooth to the tough and ideal for creasing lines in projects.

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The included cutting blade is permanently mounted in a plastic holder.  This is very easy to slip into and out of the central ruler.  A great feature of the blade holder is the two little pointy “wings” that stick out of the sides.  These allow you to line up the blade with the ruler and cut very precise lines in the middle of your card – ie not cutting to the edge.  This makes cutting mounts and frames a doddle and is one of the things that really swung me to this particular model of paper trimmer.

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The paper trimmer is very well made.  It feels sturdy (though it is lightweight) and all the markings are deeply engraved so unlikely to wear off easily.  I have been using it a lot and am very impressed with how easy it is to get quick, very accurate cuts.  I have used it on paper from very thin copier tissue paper right up to 340gsm board.

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I am very happy with the Tonic Super Trimmer and would recommend it to anyone looking for a sturdy, easy to use paper and card trimmer.  I love the features that help ensure accuracy (even for someone who is like me!).  A very well thought out and well made piece of crafting equipment.

This link leads to the item on Amazon.co.uk. If you purchase something from this link then I would get a small commission from Amazon for sending custom their way.

Dozens of Fantastic Free Course Books From Open University now on Amazon

Just a quickie to tell you about the amazing totally free course books that the Open University have added to Amazon.

They are issued in conjunction with the free courses available on the OU’s website (or at Future Learn).

The books cover many different subjects and provide a short but detailed overview of the subject.  They vary in length from 20 or so pages up to about 128.

Of particular interest to craft sellers might be:

We Are Memory Keepers Mini Alphabet Punch Board Review

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I first saw the We Are Memory Makers Alphabet Punch Board on “Create and Craft” TV and was fascinated.  It seemed such a clever device – and although I didn’t really think I had a use for it, I wanted one, badly.

Fast forward to Christmas and my mother had been hinting (hard) that she had got me something that I “will really love”.  It was the mini version of the Alphabet board!  Whilst I had not really felt I had use for the big one… the little one was perfect for my sorts of projects.  Well done, mum.

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The board is a very clever bit of kit.  It is small and compact and seems very sturdily made.  It has everything built in to punch, cut and trim a full alphabet of capital letters, plus numbers, in two (agreeably quite similar) styles.

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So how does it work?

First you need a piece of card that is 2.5″ by 1.5″. (the larger version of the board uses 5″ x 3″ pieces for comparison).  Handily, the board can actually cut these pieces for you!  There are simple instructions in the included booklet and having done one you will be easily making as many as you need.  You could, of course, also cut your pieces with a paper trimmer.

The series of techniques needed to make each letter are very clearly given in the instruction book.  They are simple illustrations and after making a few letters the overall principles are learnt and it is easy to make new letters without needing the manual.ABC-Board-4  There is also a (free) Android and iPhone app that you can download with the instructions – handy if you loose the book.ABC-Board-3

I was cutting out letters within minutes of opening this Christmas present – and it is great fun.

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The back of the instruction book shows the alphabet with optional extra punches for decoration.
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Everything you need is built into the board for convenience.
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I soon had a pile of letters.
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The little knife is easy to use in the grooves for accurate cutting every time.
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The corner-rounder does its thing on the top of the letter R.
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Then the other side of the corner-rounder makes the little “indentation” in the front of the R.
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And here is the finished letter in all its glory – ready to use on a crafting project.

I have been using the letters for ATCs, card making (the numbers are especially handy for this), scrapbooking and similar projects.  I have also made a couple of little banners with them and they fit beautifully on the First Edition Bunting Dies (link below).

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The larger board is perfect for making bunting and We Are Memory Keepers have also bought out a punch that will make perfect little card links to join the letters together.

These links lead to the Mini Alphabet Board and the larger version on Amazon.co.uk. If you purchase something from this link then I would get a small commission from Amazon for sending custom their way.

A Mermaid Engagement Card with Lawn Fawn Stamps – Tutorial

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Today I am making an engagement card for a very special couple.  I am sure they will get lots of classy, sophisticated cards – so I am going for cutey and whimsical!

I got the new Lawn Fawn “Mermaid for You” stamps just before Christmas and they came with the perfect sentiment, plus who doesn’t love mermaids?

I took two sizes of circle dies from the  from Circles Nesting Die set by Presscut.  I placed the smaller one on a piece of Neenah Solar White cardstock and drew around it with a pencil, then cut it out with about half an inch extra all around.

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I used a mixture of the “Mermaid For You” and the “Fintastic Friends” stamps from Lawn Fawn to make a little underwater scene within the circle.  I stamped the sea weed with two shades of green Memento ink (Cottage Ivy and Bamboo Leaves) and stamped the rest in Tuxedo black Memento ink.

I then used the Tuxedo black ink to stamp two of the sweet little mermaids, the big rock and the seahorse onto more Neenah Solar White card.  I added the tiny starfish to the girl mermaid’s hair.

I coloured everything in with a mixture of Spectrum Noir, Copic and Promarker alcohol markers.  I used the clear blender pen to create a “scaly” look on the mermaid tails and the biggest fish.  I cut out the mermaids leaving a very thin white border because I rather like this “sticker cut” look.Coloured-Lawn-Fawn

Next I used both of the circle dies to cut a frame from Hunkeydory Gold Miri card.  To make this look a bit more like a porthole I added Bright Gold Dovecraft 3D Pearl Effects around the edge: they are supposed to be the rivets.MiriCardPorthole

I used the smaller die as a template to cut a circle from acetate (recycled from Christmas packaging) I drew around the outside of the die with a black Sharpy pen, then cut it out with scissors.  Some sorts of acetate will cut fine with dies, others just seem to bend and stretch rather than cut through.  Had this acetate been ok to cut, I would have done so using the larger circle die.

I used both of the circle dies to cut two frame shapes (exactly like the porthole one) from fun foam then glued them together with Anita’s Tacky Glue.  I then glued them on to the coloured scene circle.

For the “shakers” I used some Scatter Blue from My Village.  This is a product designed to go with Christmas village ornaments, to create fake water.  It is very tiny pieces of coloured transparent plastic and great for shaker cards. I added a few clear sequins too.  Then I glued the acetate to the back of the gold frame with the Tacky Glue, then glued this to the fun foam on the scene to finish the shaker part.

Handy hint – rub the inside side of the acetate with an anti-static bag or tumble-dryer sheet before gluing it in place, this will help prevent the sequins sticking to it.”

MermaidShakerCardThe base card is a white 5″ by 7″ side folding card from “The Works” – I bought some before Christmas as they are great quality and useful to have on hand.

I took the sentiment “We mermaid for each other” from the Lawn Fawn Mermaids stamp set and carefully cut off the word “we”.  I often cut stamps up like this, it won’t really harm them as it is easy enough to push them back together to stamp the whole thing again.

I stamped the “mermaid for each other” part of the sentiment on to the base of the folded card (I laid the shaker part on first to be sure I had it in the right place), then added the word “you” from the “sea you soon ” sentiment that is included in the same stamp set.  I used Tuxedo black ink for this too.

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Then I added the shaker unit to the card.  The reason I added this after stamping my sentiment was because there is always a chance that the stamping will go wrong, well there is when I am stamping, anyway!  So I prefer to stamp before adding the extra items to save having to cut things off etc if it goes wrong.  Once I am sure I have a perfectly stamped card, then I can add the rest.

I then added the rock, mermaid, merman and tiny seahorse to the frame of the shaker card.MermaidEngagementCard

These links lead items on Amazon.co.uk. If you purchase something from these links then I would get a small commission from Amazon for sending custom their way.

Boldmere Art Markers from “The Works” – a Review

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I spotted these smart looking alcohol markers in “The Works” and decided to try them out.  They cost just £4 for each pack of 6 markers (about 66p per pen).

There were two sets in the store: I don’t know if there are any more available but only the same two packs are on their website.  The numbering on the pens seems to imply they are part of a much larger range – plus usually alcohol makers come in multiple intensities/hues to allow shaded colouring.

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One pack is called “Brights” and contains the following colours:

Y37 Pastel Yellow
P82 Light Violet
R14 Vermilion (actually bright orange)
R10 Deep Red
G46 Vivid Green
B86 Baby Blue

The other pack is called “Vintage pastels” and contains:

BR95 Burnt Sienna
YR26 Pastel Peach
BG5 Blue Grey (the cap looks like a soft blue but it is actually a dark grey colour)
RP17 Pastel Pink
Y42 Bronze Green
WG5 Warm Grey

After a bit of detective work and I discovered that the numbers exactly match those of the Shin-Han Touch Twin markers.  I do not have any Touch Twins to compare them with though.Boldmere-Art-Markers-Colour

The pens initially look quite similar to Spectrum Noir pens with square, black barrels.  Unlike the Speccys (and other brands) there is no clear way to tell which end is which with the caps on.  You have to look at the barrel to read and I suspect this will wear off quickly.  I will mark mine with little strips of washi tape as this gets annoying very fast!

They have thick square colour indicators on the ends.  They are a little bit longer than a Spectrum Noir marker (and therefore quite a bit longer than Copics, Promarkers and most other brands).  The barrels do fit in my Art Bin Marker box, but they are a bit too tall for the lid to close properly on them.  It would be fine with just a few in the box, among other brands.

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One end has a bullet type nib.  This is similar to that found on the Spectrum Noirs and Promarkers – it is not a brush type like the Copics have.  This nib felt nice and soft on many of the pens but was hard and scratchy on a couple of them.

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The other end has a wedge shaped nib, similar to other brands.  This nib felt the same as the other brands, firm but pliable.

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The overall build of the pens does feel rather cheap.  There was no mention of their being refillable, but as most cheap markers aren’t, this is not surprising.

As I only have these 12 colours it would be very hard to colour a detailed, shaded image without using other pens too.  The Warm Grey included could be used for some shading though.

To test the pens I coloured stamped images of adorable Japanese dolls from Hero Arts.  I stamped the dolls using Memento Tuxedo Black ink onto Neenah Solar White card.

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Overall the pens sadly did feel cheap.  I used the Pastel Peach for their skin and it was a very hard, scratchy pen.  The end result was streaky (as well as rather orangey).  Usually I would use multiple skin tones to get shading, so this colour may work better with others than alone.

The other pens felt softer, the Deep Red was lovely to use (the dress of the doll on the left) and I know I will use this again as I have a bit of a thing for red pens.

The middle doll’s top is coloured with the Blue Grey pen.  I expected this to match the top of the pen and be far more blue than it is.  The right hand doll’s top looks pinky red in this scan but is actually quite orange in real life – for some reason oranges and pink alcohol markers never scan quite properly.

Please note that the coloured dolls look much better in real life than they do here.  The pen strokes tend to show up far more in scans.

These would be a great buy if you want alcohol markers for colouring pearls and buttons.  If there really is only 12 colours available then they are very limited for colouring purposes – it would be cheaper to buy water based markers if you are not going to shade.

They blend perfectly with other brands of alcohol markers, as is standard.  Therefore they do make a very cheap addition to an existing collection of pens.  There are a couple of very nice colours included.  They are not Copics, or even Spectrum Noirs, but they are alcohol markers, they do blend (if you have additional colours) and they are VERY cheap.

To read more about my Art Bin marker box and how I store my pens – click here

These links lead items on Amazon.co.uk. If you purchase something from this link then I would get a small commission from Amazon for sending custom their way.

Boldmere Art Markes A Review

Craft Book Review – A Little Course in Crochet from Dorling Kindersley – Crochet Book Review

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Title – A Little Course in Crochet
Publisher – Dorling Kindersley Limited – Penguin Random House
ISBN – 978-1-4093-7215-8

I h ave been crocheting for quite a few years now, and have tackled all sorts of different projects, but it recently occurred to me that there may well be basic techniques, tips and useful crochet stitches that I do no know about – in fact there are probably rather a lot!

And so when I saw this nice little book on sale, I decided that it would be worth investing in to improve my crochet skills and knowledge.

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In was not disappointed.  This is an attractive, well illustrated book that is full of useful information as well as very nice projects to try out your new found skills.

Each of the three chapters introduces key techniques then has a handful of projects to make that utilize those and previously learned skills.  The techniques are clearly explained with annotated photos that are very easy to understand.  Dorling Kindersley are famous for their beautifully illustrated books and this is up to their usual standards.CrochetCourse7

The book starts off with the very basics, making it eminently suitable for total crochet beginners.  At the end of chapter one you will be able to make washcloths, a phone cover, a cafetiere cosy, towel edging and cool friendship bracelets.  You will also be able to adapt your skills and the patterns to make many other types of item too of course.

 

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Chapter two moves on to crocheting flat circles (very useful for many types of projects, including amigurumi) and has lots of info on creating the ever-popular and extremely versatile granny squares.  There is a stitch gallery with fun new stitches to try.  At the end of this chapter there are 9 nice projects: a set of coasters, a round cushion, a baby’s blanket, toy balls, a chevron cushion, a baby’s hat, a project basket (very nice!), a bookmark and a clutch bag.  Again you will be able to adapt these patterns quite easily if you want.CrochetCourse6

The third chapter again has many useful techniques to expand your crocheting skills.  There is also another stitch gallery with fancy stitches and motif patterns.  The third cluster of projects are: a ribbed scarf, a string bag, a lacy scarf, a tote bag, a patchwork blanket, a baby’s cardigan, a teddy bear and baby’s shoes. CrochetCourse5

All the patterns are nice and clear with closeups of different elements, explanations of any bits that might be new or tricky for you and handy tip boxes.CrochetCourse4

This would be an ideal book for a beginner to crochet.  It also is the ideal reference book for the more experienced crocheter who wants a refresher, to fill in the gaps or simply likes the nice included patterns.  The book is very low priced, so worth it just for the projects, in my opinion.CrochetCourse3

This is a medium sized, thick book, 22cm x 17cm  (8.5″ x 6.75″) in size.  It has 192 pages.  It would be a good size to slip into your craft bag for on-the-go reference.CrochetCourse2 CrochetCourse1

This link leads to the item on Amazon.co.uk. If you purchase it from this link then I would get a small commission from Amazon for sending custom their way.

Sharing a Craft Stall – A Craft Stall with a Friend

TTSharingACraftStallMany crafters, especially when starting out in craft stall selling, choose to share a stall with a friend or family member.  Each person has their own products to sell, or you maybe will work on joint projects.  This can be a great way to split the cost of a stall, to ensure a companion/assistant when actually selling and be a lot of fun.

If you are thinking of sharing a stall with someone else, please do consider some of the possible problems that can arise from this arrangement.

Be sure to know in advance how you are going to divide up the takings, share the costs and who is going to do the various actions required.

The Simple 50/50 Split

If you are working together on all the stock and just splitting everything 50/50 then it will probably be pretty painless.  Ensure that both parties know exactly what they will be creating so the workload is divided fairly.  Decide in advance what you will be doing with any left over stock (if not keeping it for another craft stall.)  Keep a written record of how much the stall costs and what you have each paid towards the cost – and for any other costs involved.  Discuss in advance things such as how you are going to get to the show (who’s driving!), where products will be stored beforehand and who is responsible for paying for the stall, getting insurance and any other costs.

The Individual Stock Scenario

Another common scenario is where both parties have their own individual stock and each has the takings relating to that specific stock.  Stall costs etc are usually divided up either a simple 50/50 or in proportion as to the quantity or value of stock each party has.

With this type of arrangement it is important to work out in advance how you are going to divide the takings properly.  Here are some often-used ways:

  • Sellers have a notebook and write down all the sales (or the sales for one party)
  • Sellers divide the money as they go along – can be a bit tricky if you have a lot of stock or a lot of sales
  • Comparing remaining stock to stock lists made before starting to see how much each party sold

Sharing with More than One Other Person

If you are planning to share a stall with more than one or two other people then things can get a lot more complicated.  One common way to handle the takings in these situations is to mark all the products with coloured sticky dots; a different colour for each seller.  When a sale is made the person handling the sale notes the colour of the dot and the amount taken in a notebook.  At the end of the show you can tally up the dots and amounts to see how much each seller earned.  This system can work well when the sellers are not too sure who else is selling what.  Another common option is to be sure to have clear records of how much stock from each person is on the stall then afterwards you can see who has sold what.

A Contract For Clarity

Unless you are very, very sure of your relationship with the other seller/s it may be well worth drawing up a simple agreement in advance to outline those issues where there might possibly be contention later on.  This could include how you are dividing the takings, how you are dividing the costs and who is responsible for actually paying those costs, who is supplying a table, display stands and any other stall-dressing that you will require, what is going to happen to any surplus stock (if jointly making individual products) and any information that will be required for tax purposes.

My Top Seven Must Read Business Books

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To day I thought I would share with you the seven books (plus a few extras) which I have found most useful, inspirational or otherwise helpful with creating and running my businesses.

These books are not specifically aimed at craft sellers, but I have found them very useful in building my business, branding, marketing and generally improving my “entrepreneurial mindset”.

I have included links to the books on Amazon.co.uk and will get a small commission if you should buy from these links.  The links are for the print version but most are also available in Kindle and other digital formats, usually for a lower price.  I personally own all of these books in either traditional print or Kindle versions.

1 – Eat That Frog! – Brian Tracy

It sounds a bit dramatic (and cliched) to say it, but this book really did change my life.  Yeah, honest.  When I first read this it was a real wake up call.  I was aware that I had a big problem with procrastination, but wasn’t doing anything about it (big shocker, eh?)  Eat That Frog! explained why I procrastinate and how to stop it – well, maybe I haven’t totally stopped, but I sure do it a lot less now.  I reread this book every 6 months or so as a refresher.  It is an easy read, and entertaining.  Highly recommended to everyone who is thinking “Well, I suppose I should do something about my procrastinating, but…”

2 – Key Person of Influence – Dan Priestley

This is another book that really got me thinking.  If you can become a “key person of influence” in your niche then this is one of the most powerful boosts your business can have.  Dan discusses what a key person is and how to work towards becoming one.  I have gone back to this book many times for inspiration as I work towards becoming a key person of influence in my own business niches.

I also have “Oversubscribed” and “Entrepreneur Revolution” by the same author and found them very interesting and useful too.

3 – Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion – Robert Cialdini

This is a very fascinating book.  Cialdini discusses the psychology of why people choose what to buy, how salesmen make the most of this and how you yourself can use this knowledge to improve your business (and life in general.)  This is a best selling book for a reason – it is a real eye opener.  I found myself seeing many things in a new light after reading Influence.

If you sell things, anything, then this is a book that you will benefit from reading, simple as that.

4 – Why We Buy – Paco Underhill

I bought this book many years ago simply because it “looked interesting”.  Well, indeed it was and I have since read it many times.  Underhill talks about the way people shop and the tactics used by shops and marketers to encourage them to do so.  You will suddenly see your local supermarket in a very different way after reading this book!  Lots of useful information for anyone who is selling to the public.

5 – Maximum Achievement – Brian Tracy

In many ways this is my “comforter blanket” book.  Brian Tracy gives lots of tried-and-tested advice on many different elements of life, business and success.  I often grab this book and read a bit to give my confidence a boost or to inspire me to push on with my goals.  Lots of useful strategies that can be adapted for many different businesses and lifestyles.  Including Brian’s clear and simple goal setting strategies – now a very important part of my life.

I would also recommend Brian Tracy’s book “Goals!” which tackles goal setting in more detail.  It is a very inspiring book and one that I genuinely believe can help make a difference to one’s life.

6- Web Sites That Work – Jon Smith

This is a heavily illustrated, fun to read book and ideal for anyone who is trying to design their own website – or employing someone else to do it.  Lots of guidelines on how to make your website clear and easy for visitors to navigate – plus plenty of examples of what not to do.

Much of the advice would also be relevant for other forms of online communication such as social networking, blogs and online shops.

7 – Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway- Susan Jeffers

This is a very famous best-selling book.  Someone bought it for me, and at first I was rather sniffy about reading it.  Eventually I started, and then felt rather silly because it turned out to be a really important book in my life.  I first read this when my son was  very little and I was spending far too much of my time fretting about all the dangers and problems he would face in his life.  Susan’s book really helped me dispel those fears.

There are a lot of little stories, a lot of friendly little pep-talks and a lot of good ol’ common sense in this volume.  The ideas make sense and have stuck in my head.  I apply things I have learnt from “Feel the Fear” to my life every day, literally.  There are not too many books that one can say that about, now is there?

TTMyFavouriteBooksWould you care to share some of your favourite books in the comments?