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?

Free Download – Craft Stall Checklist – Handy Checklist for your next Craft Fair or Show

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Craft Book Review – My Crochet Doll by Isabelle Kessedjian – Crochet Book Review

 

Title – My Crochet Doll
Author – Isabelle Kessedjian
Publisher – David & Charles
ISBN – 978-1-4463-0424-2

I could not resist this adorable book with over 50 patterns for an amigurumi doll, her clothes and accessories.

The book measures 8″ x 10″ (21cm x 28cm) and has 95 full colour pages.The patterns themselves only start after page 60, so nearly two thirds of the book is large “coffee table” pictures of the projects.

The Crocheted Doll

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I could not find any mention of how tall the doll actually is, but am assuming she is about 6 inches.  She is simple to crochet in a spiral and one can insert an alluminium wire skeleton to make her poseable.  There are no instructions for customizing the dolls, nor for how to do the various hair styles shown, but I am pretty sure it would be easy to work them out from the pictures.

The Crochet Doll Clothes

The book contains patterns to knit a selection of clothes for your doll.  The patterns included are:

Underwear – basic knickers (can double as shorts)
Shoes
Boots – variations include moon boots
Trousers – variations include dungarees
Sweater – variations mentioned throughout the book, including as a tshirt and blouse
Pyjamas
Nightcap
Bathing Suit
Raincoat
Rain hat
Scarf
Anorak
Bear suit
Pinafore dress
Coat dress
Apron
Head scarf
Superhero outfit including cape

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A lot of fun could be had customizing these patterns to make lots of other clothes.  They are all simple to create and look sweet.

MyCrochetDoll1Crochet Doll Accessories

There are also patterns for accessories to go with the outfits.  Again these could easily be customized to create other things.  The patterns are:

Suitcase – to store the doll and clothes
Simple granny square blanket
Teddy bear
Bucket
Airbed
Paddling Pool
Camera
Penguin and fish
Basket
School bag
Cake
Cupcakes

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The Instructions

The patterns are in written format and use UK terminology (there is a conversion table for US knitters so they can easily use this book too).  The patterns are clear with the round numbers maked.  MyCrochetDoll3

The book includes a written reminder of how to do the various crochet stitches required.  Some previous crochet experience would be required but this book would be suitable for a fairly new crocheter.  More experienced crafters will be able to find many ways to vary the patterns to create their own variations.

The samples in the book use Bergere de France yarns.  There is a helpful table showing what colours and types of yarn are used for each pattern.  There is also a table showing the approximate weights of the yarns used so you can easily substitute whatever you have available.   The doll is crocheted in a Lightweight DK yarn and the clothes mostly use DK and 4ply yarns.  You could of course use a different yarn and adjust your hook size accordingly to create different scales.

Summary

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This is a very attractive book and the doll and her outfits are very cute indeed.  I felt that perhaps there was less actual patterns than I had initially thought as most of the book is pictures, plus many of the clothes are variations on each other.  However the book has a good basic wardarobe included so one could create countless clothes for a loved doll.

It would have been nice if the pictures could have shown more variations to inspire.  There are numerous images of the dolls, but all have the exact same skin colour, same eyes, same face.  There could also have been a picture showing some different designs for the sweater, for example.  I found myself imagining how to adapt her to make a goth girl, a princess, a boy version and so on.  Doing so would be quite easy, so I am surprised that the large amounts of included images could not have perhaps included this.

This is a great book for any crocheter who is looking for an ongoing project that is easy to get going with, but offers a massive amount of potential variation and customization.

And, of course, the doll herself is adorable and would make the most wonderful gift for a youngster (or mascot for a not-so-youngster).

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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.

Free Course for Online Business Owners – FutureLearn Course

I have been doing quite a lot of FutureLearn (www.Futurelearn.com) courses lately.  They are free to do and last between 2 and 8 weeks.  You can do them at your own pace as long as you register during the official time period.  Once completed you can pay for a certificate or award if you choose, but this is totally optional.

FutureLearn – Online Business: Planning for Success

On Monday 8th August a new course is starting which may be of interest to those of you who run craft businesses online.  The course is called “Online Business: Planning for Success” and, as the name suggests, is all about planning a new business or reassessing an existing one.  The course lasts for 4 weeks (so you need to register before then to do it, though it will probably be repeated later in the year too).  They recommend it will take about 2 hours of work per week.  I have found some of the courses can be done much faster than the recommended times but of course it depends on whether you have any prior knowledge of the subject and how fast you absorb info.

The course is part of a series called “Online Business Success” which has three other courses to come:

Customer Profiling for Success – starts 12 September
Pricing for Success – starts 17 October
Digital Marketing for Success – starts 21 November

I intend to do all four.  Keep an eye out for me in the comments sections if you join in too.

I highly recommend checking out the huge range of courses on offer on FutureLearn.  All the ones I have done have been very professional, interesting and entertaining.  They cover lots of different subjects including history, language, business, technology and “just for fun”.

 

5 Fab Summer Journal Tutorial Videos – Summer Mixed Media Tutorials

It has been very hot here in the last couple of weeks.  Today though is much cooler, very nice, and I have been tidying my craft room and planning some new projects.

Here are some great summery mixed media journal tutorials from my favourite YouTube bloggers.  I hope they help inspire your own summer crafting creations.

Summer Cocktail Art Journal Page by Nika in Wonderland

Hello Summer Art Journal Page by Vicky Papaioannou

Endless Summer Art Journal Page by Rach0113

Magic in the Summer Art Journal Page by Colour Your Life

Love Summer Art Journal Page by Shel C

Create and Craft Disney Range – Angel Policy Now says Personal Use Only

This is an update to my post of 27 June about the confusion over Create and Craft’s usage policy/s for their new range of Disney themed dies, stamps and papers.

Many Create and Craft customers had expressed confusion over the repeated declarations that one could sell cards and other items made using the Disney dies.  This seemed very surprising to many crafters who are familiar with Disney’s usual strict usage restrictions on their trademarked characters.

I received a reply to the email I sent Create and Craft repeating the standard Create and Craft Angel Policy (that one could sell up to 200 items a year etc).  I then had a phone call from a lady in the customer service department.  She assured me that Stephanie Weightman had spent six months negotiating this “amazing deal”.  I did ask why Stephanie had not been singing it from the rooftops from the first tv showing (at which point the C&C website was saying “personal use only”).  The customer service lady said that there had been “a confusion” but they were a big company and knew what they were doing.  She again and again said that one could definitely sell up to 200 items per year using each Disney product. She also reminded me that C&C have lawyers and would never issue usage policies like this unless they were very sure.

Today I popped onto the Create and Craft website to have a look at what the Angel Policy said now (just out of curiosity).  The extra Angel Policy tabs are not gone from the listings and instead there is a link at the bottom of the description leading to Create & Craft’s standard Angel Policy page.   Link to Create & Craft’s Angel Policy

On 11 July they added the following Exception Note (screen shot below):

Date: 11th July 2016 – Disney branded craft products sold by Create and Craft.

“Disney has granted the rights to various third parties to design, develop, manufacture and sell a range of craft products for consumers; licensed craft products are intended for use by consumers for personal and family enjoyment, such as making gifts for family, birthdays or other private celebrations. Licensed products may not be used by consumers to sell or distribute any items they produce using the craft products outside of the private, family sphere.”

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Now it says what so many of us had expected it to have said all along: that Disney have confirmed that the dies are for personal use only.  Commercial use (ie selling things made with them) is indeed forbidden.

There is a new announcement on Facebook pointing to the new policy, but not apologizing for the significant confusion.

Many C&C Facebook fans have expressed feelings of anger and sadness that they were encouraged to buy these high-priced products with reassurances that were not in fact accurate.

Link to my original post on this subject – Create and Craft Disney Range – Serious confusion over usage

 

Create and Craft Disney Range – Serious confusion over usage

Yesterday the tv shopping channel, Create and Craft, proudly released the first parts of their new Disney crafting products.  There are dies, stamps, embossing folders, paper pads and even themed die-cutting machines.  The first two sets available are Vintage Mickey Mouse and the ever popular Frozen.

However viewers did not greet the new range with quite the enthusiasm that Create and Craft may have wished for.

The products are rather pricey, compared to other popular dies etc.  They have been made by Tattered Lace, who are one of the more expensive die brands, but the asking price caused many C&C viewers to post on Facebook that they were shocked.  The bundles on offer went up to a staggering £1000 package for “everything on the show”.  To get all the products for either cartoon theme you would need to spend £221.81 or £199.63 for members of their club.

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One of the reasons that viewers were upset at the price was the Angel Policy added to the listings on Create and Craft’s website. As one would expect, Disney do not allow crafters to sell finished items made with these dies because the characters are trademarked.  Disney has a very stiff criteria list if you want permission to use  their characters commercially.  Using them without permission  is illegal, therefore a very serious matter.

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Many viewers posted on Create and Craft’s Facebook page to say how disappointed they were at the high prices, especially as they could only use the products for personal use.

Tattered Lace’s Facebook page had the following message:

At no point during the day’s many tv shows promoting these products did presenters Stephanie Weightman and Mel Heaton mention the Angel Policy.  I personally would have assumed that there would have been a statement about it on the screen at all times, as it is so very important.  But nothing was said…  at all.

And then in the late afternoon things got interesting…

The following announcement was posted on the company’s Facebook page:

Quickly followed by a confirmation post from Stephanie herself.

The same post was added to the Tattered Lace Facebook page as well.

Immediately confused viewers began to express their surprise at this turnabout.

If Create and Craft really had the rights to allow their customers to sell Disney products, would they not be shouting this from the highest mountains?

Usually, obtaining the right to sell products with Disney characters on requires the seller to comply with a pretty stringent set of criteria – Details of Disney licensing requirements here

How could it possibly be the case that ” individuals are free to do what ever they want with then finished hand made craft products, this includes selling them”?

So if I want to launch a range of Mickey Mouse themed bondage gear?  Disney are definitely not going to be ok with that.  Any usage rights they did grant would be subject to usage restrictions, they do not want people using their characters in ways that are inappropriate to the family-friendly image they work so hard to maintain.

Potential Create and Craft customers urgently need to know exactly what the situation is here.  Can they sell the items they make with these dies?  And if so, what limitation are there on this?

A couple of people have today posted on Facebook that they emailed Create and Craft to ask about this and their replies included the following:

Please be advised that the Disney Craft products are for personal use only. Share the magic of Disney by Crafting with and for, family and friends.

I have emailed  Create and Craft myself to ask them to confirm the Angel Policy, and am awaiting a reply.

In the mean time there are no further Disney shows scheduled today, the next one is at 10am tomorrow morning.

If you are considering buying these dies, I would strongly suggest assuming for now that they are for personal use only, just in case.

UPDATE – 11 July 2016 – Create and Craft have now changed their Angel Policy for these products to personal use only. Link to my follow on post with this story –Create and Craft Disney Range – Angel Policy Now says Personal Use Only

Currency Change in Tin Teddy Graphics Shop @ Etsy

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This morning 52% of the UK voted to leave the European Union.  This has caused the pound sterling to fall rapidly.

I previously had my Tin Teddy Etsy shop set to US dollars.  I have now changed it to Pounds Sterling.

This will benefit both myself and my customers.  British buyers will see no difference.  Buyers from outside the UK will be able to benefit from the weak pound and get more for their money than they previously did.

All Etsy shoppers see items for sale in their own currency.

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Follow Me as I Write My New Fantasy Novel for July’s Camp NaNoWriMo

Mindfulness Colouring and Adult Colouring Books

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It is very striking to see how many “adult colouring books” are available for sale right now.  My local newsagents have many titles (of varying qualities), and online shopping sites such as Amazon have many thousands of options available.

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My mum enjoys colouring geometric patterns.

Colouring is considered to have many benefits, especially in today’s busy world.  The act of colouring is calming and relaxing.  I try to do a little colouring every day and find it really does help me.  I colour when on the phone waiting for people to answer (those dreadful automated systems that companies insist on having now).  I also like to colour whilst listening to audiobooks or radio plays.

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These are my two favourite colouring books. There are Amazon links at the bottom of this blog post.

My father died last year and for a while I found it very hard to sleep.  I would colour and it helped me get through that very difficult time.  My mother did the same and has often said that her colouring books really helped her cope.

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Colouring a printed “digi stamp” with alcohol markers. Stamp is from the Tin Teddy Victorian Fashion Stamps & Collage Sheets.

There are many economical colouring books available now, in every shape, size and subject.  I recommend checking that the paper quality is going to be good enough for the type of colouring tools you wish to use.  Coloured pencils will be fine of lower quality, rougher papers.  Felt pens need sturdier paper or the colours will bleed.  Some pens, such as alcohol markers, require heavier paper or the ink will just seep through to the other side.

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The “Mindfulness Companion” colouring book has relaxing exercises as well as beautiful images.

For colouring in books you don’t need expensive tools to get a good result.  I colour in my adult colouring books with cheap felt pens, glittery gel pens, assorted coloured pencils and even children’s crayons.  I keep my “good pens” for colouring images that I will probably use later on other projects.

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Millie Marotta’s images are very detailed. I use my Stabilo Point 88 pens in this book.

I particularly like my Stabilo Point 88 felt pens for colouring as they are economical to buy but give great results.  They are also very fine tipped and I like colouring tiny, intricate designs the most.

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Assorted stamped images, coloured with alcohol markers and ready for future use.

I enjoy stamping images on to high density white card (Neenah card from Crafter’s Companion) then colouring then with alcohol markers.  I store them in a folder for future use on greetings cards and Artist Trading Cards.

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Colouring a larger stamped image of a rose.