Posted in Indie Business

Honest Business – Returning To My Nemesis

I have expounded at great length in the past about why I fell out of love with Etsy. You’re probably sick of me talking about it by now. Perhaps you see my name or twitter handle and think, oh, her, the one who hates Etsy. I wouldn’t blame you, because it’s pretty much been my nemesis for a few years now.

The whole descent into Chinese reseller promotion and twee-as-fuck antler headbands straight from Alibaba really grated on me. I wrote extensively about how selling “vintage” iPhones was damaging to people who do genuinely design and make awesome products. And I definitely voiced my annoyance and deep disdain for Etsy putting profit before their apparent ethos of being all about the makers. I think I’ve even argued with them on Twitter about it in the past few months (though sometimes I just do that in my head, so it’s hard to recall).

My opinion on this aspect of Etsy hasn’t changed at all. I still think Etsy are drifting further and further away from what they say their ethos was about and that they lack transparency in some areas. Their recent floating on stock exchange hasn’t really quelled my concerns either. I just read this post by Piddix this morning that really sums up the situation very succinctly.

However, what has changed is the way I think about Etsy. My viewpoint was challenged considerably when I read this article by Danielle Spurge about a different version of Etsy success.I read that back in March and it has really stuck with me and resonated. As Danielle says, Etsy has changed considerably but the way in which many people view it hasn’t, myself included. I guess I wish they were just more honest about turning into a multi-national company who are all about profit-making first and foremost, with the nurture of creative entrepreneurship second. They report to their investors first, their customers (both sellers and buyers) second. That is entirely fine and acceptable if you start to think of Etsy as a profit-making company and not as your friendly community leaders.  I cannot change that, so I should really stop trying to. I don’t even want to change it, I just maybe now want to reconsider how I could possibly make it work for me.

I got to thinking – what is really that different to, for example, Not On The High Street now to Etsy? When I think about the way I list products there, the sales I make, the communication with customers and the business/ethos balance there, it’s really not so different. Does it annoy me that people sale mass-produced stuff on NOTHS, an apparently curated collection of products? Of course it does. Does my annoyance make any difference to the customers viewing those or my products? Not a sausage. Are they also a profit-making entity who has grown from being a small, community type affair to a big company who has to count the beans before anything else? Sure they are. There are obvious differences, but the underlying principle is the same.

So, I’ve been thinking – maybe it’s time I climbed down off my high hand-carved, hand-painted dala horse and explored how I can make it work for me instead of what might appear to be cutting off my nose to spite my face. Hell, if Etsy has sold out, why shouldn’t I, too?!

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Can I expand my idea of success and the way I think of exposure for my business? Yes, I can. I’m still pondering how best to leverage it, but it’s no longer off my agenda. I’ll still be annoyed about everything I’ve mentioned, about the endless being ripped off by people who cross stitch one Me To You kit and think they’re Jane Greenoff and all that shite. But it’s every man for themselves, really, innit? Being ripped off is something that has happened loads to me in the past, and I don’t see that changing whether I am on or off selling platforms.

The other thing that has coloured my views on this since the turn of the year is the VATMOSS debacle. I had to stop selling my instant-download patterns which was a nice, easy revenue stream for me. Not huge volumes, but still. Now that Etsy are  going to be collecting the VAT and processing it without seller intervention, it seems a no-brainer to use that facility over other options that don’t get the traffic looking for the charts in the first place. See, something else that has recently changed that has changed my opinions. Something to consider on the balance sheet of pros and cons.

Am I big fat hypocrite? I am sure at least one person will think that of me. But no, I don’t think so. Things have changed a lot and I’ve re-examined my position and found it to have shifted a bit from where it was nearly 5 years ago. If you’ve never changed your mind about anything at all, then please feel free to think of me as massively hypocritical. Maybe I’ll even change my mind again. Who knows?

Ooh, I feel like a guilty secret has been let out! Not earth-shattering but I wanted to share this because people don’t talk about mistakes or changing views enough in our business. It’s OK to change! I haven’t made any decisions yet, but expanding my horizons, or un-narrowing them can’t help a little.

Posted in Living

#BEDM 1. Intro

Blog Every Day in May badge

I did the Blog Every Day In May challenge last time around (or was it two times ago? I can’t remember) and quite enjoyed it, so I signed up again this year. Of course, I’ve had a pretty busy week since I decided to do so, so haven’t gotten round to even starting it until now. So I’m blogging retrospectively every day in May for a bit.

The first set topic is to introduce yourself, so for anyone who hasn’t been reading this for years, firstly, you’ve really missed out (ho ho, not) and secondly, here’s some fascinating facts you might not know about me already.

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1. My day job is in television – it sounds exciting but it’s really not anything than a relentless endurance test of the soul, mind and body. I work in Access Services which is providing subtitles, audio description and sign language translation for most of the UK’s broadcasting companies (everything except ITV and Channel 5, basically). I used to be a live and pre-recorded subtitler but I’m now a duty manager, planning who does what and then making sure it all happens. It’s all the stress of live television but none of the glamour.It’s long hours, stressful at times but you do get to watch a lot of telly. Sometimes, I remember that we’re providing a magical service to some people who would be lost without it and that makes me happy. I’m really great in a crisis though, as a result of my job. It’s the one thing I can blow my own trumpet about without cringing – bring me a problem and I can think of 5 ways to creatively tackle it quickly. It’s why I think I am pretty awesome at my job.

2. I’ve been running my own business for over 10 years. Some aspects of it I really like, some I don’t. Some days, I have an overwhelming urge to pack it all in and never think of it again and others I want to drop everything and immerse myself in it. Lately, I’ve been enjoying not worrying much about it and taking time to create things for myself or friends. It’s made me remember that it can be fun and relaxing to cross stitch!

3. After vowing never to buy another house, I recently did. Other things I’ve vowed never to do include: get married (11 years this year), sell on Etsy again (considering a return for the VATMOSS headache for my patterns), go in a hot air balloon (so far, so good).

4. My brother lives in Siberia. I was hoping that he’d blog/instagram more when he moved there, but so far, all he’s done is talk about the weather and ask us to post him gravy granules. It’s not as cold as you’d think it is there but it is apparently a lot harder to make a stew than you’d guess.

5. My husband and my dog are both Welsh. I’m outnumbered by Welsh males in our house. We sort of rescued our dog, Max. He was taken in by a 93 year-old lady in the Lake District after his original owners had to give him up the day they were moving house. He’s a big Labrador, and quite active, so he soon proved too much for even a sprightly almost-centenarian. We were starting to think about getting a puppy when my friend Sarah suggested that we drive down and meet Max. We agreed, on the understanding that we were not taking him home with us that day. A few hours later, we were driving back with him in the back because he was just adorable. He’s really a massive part of the family and I can’t imagine life without him. I’m forever grateful to Sarah’s parents living next door to the old lady who took him in.

6. I really like giving things to people, gifts, unwanted possessions, etc. I am always the one who brings cakes into work. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I am forever giving things away. I just like making people happy in small ways.The joy of gift-giving is something I’ll never tire of. I like helping people find great gifts for people that are really well-suited to them.

7. I really like driving. I only passed my test a few years ago, later in life, and since then, I’ve become quite a confident driver. However, the past month or so, I’ve had a string of incidents where I’ve been completely abiding by the rules of the road and other drivers (all male, all white BMW/Audi/van drivers) have cut me up and then verbally abused me rather rigorously, which has knocked my confidence a bit. I’ve started driving different routes to work to mix it up a bit, but it’s really stuck with me and I hope my stupid brain lets me forget it soon or it will be sad that I’ve let them fuck my mojo up.

8. I do all my best thinking in water. I can spend hours in the bath, or in a pool, and a lot of my best ideas have come from wallowing in water. I’d love to swim more but I don’t often get the time. I’m a Pisces, of course.

9. I’d love to live in America one day. My family in Cincinnati really want us to go out there, too, but we’ve been unable to secure jobs/visas so far. I firmly believe that it will happen one day though. Until then, we’ll just make do with frequent trips there. Next time, I might even pluck up the courage to try driving on the wrong side of the road.

10. I really like horses. I enjoy a trip to the baseball. I love the beach. I’m addicted to Coca Cola. I lived in Thailand for a bit a few years back. I have an irrational hatred of lollipop ladies. I could happily eat soup for breakfast and toast for dinner. I’m a bit addicted to Netflix, too.I don’t eat fish or seafood of any kind because ewww, it’s been in the sea and I’ve peed in there. I just want everyone to get along and have a quiet life, really.

FIN.

Posted in Random Utterings

Last Minute Makes

If you’ve suddenly realised you’ve under-gifted this Christmas, there’s still time to whip up a quick handmade gift, you know.

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As well as my own quick and easy cross stitch patterns (and don’t forget, there’s 25% off them before they disappear), there are a few places I’d recommend to hit up, if you’re of the stitchy persuasion:

Satsuma Street

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Really, these are a joy to behold. Jody is a very talented designer and I just love her style. These Christmas ornaments would be a great gift if you’re going to someone’s house for dinner, for example, or for a little extra stocking gift. The chart can be downloaded as a PDF instantly and features 6 different small Christmas themed designs.

Check out her Pretty Little… charts for more elaborate designs, too. Look, here’s the New York one I did, after I was gifted the chart for Christmas last year:

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What Delilah Did

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Sophie’s style and packaging are really appealing to me – kind of Victorian-y, kind of contemporary, kind of awesome. I have bought one of her kits in the past and only just gotten around to starting it recently – a no-sew cushion is really my kind of cushion!

Her charts may not be around for too much longer thanks to the VAT law changes, so check out her collection of patterns before it’s too late. I may have snaffled one to make as a gift for someone in the process of writing this…

Floss & Mischief

Amber_Bee_hoopla_PREVIEWGenevieve, the brains and beauty behind Floss & Mischief has a deep affection for creepy crawlies and taxidermy, reflected in her collection. I love this bee, and also the pastels of her feather range. Really pretty! Her charts are all here – again, not sure how she’ll be tackling the VAT stuff, so buy now to avoid disappointment.

Capes & Crafts

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If geek-stitch is more your thing, Capes & Crafts, another Scottish designer (yay!) have a whole host of TV, sci-fi and geek inspired patterns for you to choose from. I don’t know what half of them mean, but I am sure you will!

Wee Little Stitches

il_570xN.206788626The pixel people cross stitch charts are quite legendary – and also quick to stitch – the perfect last minute gift!

Happy stitchmas!

 

 

 

Posted in Indie Business

#VATMESS

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Image from Knowledge Computing

Did you know that on the 1st January 2015 there are changes to the VAT laws within the EU which are going to cripple small businesses who sell e-services? No, of course you didn’t, because they’ve seemingly been rushed through and no one had heard anything about them until last month.

People are not happy about it. I’m not happy about it. So many  people are being royally screwed over, businesses will close, people will be out of work.

Basically, instead of VAT being charged in the country of purchase on e-products and services, it will now be charged in the country of sale, meaning UK micro-businesses will have to be VAT registered if they sell a single PDF to anyone in the EU. Sophie over at What Delilah Did wrote a heartfelt post about it  and an update here that gives you more background on how it affects pattern sellers.

The extra admin, expense and effort this would take for most micro businesses, including mine, is so ridiculous that many of us are just going to have to stop selling our e-services. So to that end, all of my PDFs will be coming off the virtual shelves on the 31st of December.

Until then, you can get 25% off them all by using the code 25PDF at the check-out. Shop here.

Way to stifle the creative industries and the little guys, law-makers, you fucktards.