Update: December 2019.

Huge apologies for the lack of blog posts recently but I have been working on ideas to come up with bigger and better things to post for you, watch this space for future blogs as I have a plan to do one a month starting soon. 

Fancy Dress

It’s hard keeping up with this blogging thing isn’t it?

Especially when you’re a single Mummy and it’s half term! 
Sorry it's a day late but I made it. 

I’ve been having a lovely time with my little 6 year old monster but also taking some time out to be Rachel rather Mummy for a bit!

I went to gay pride this bank holiday weekend and it was rather fantastic. It’s the third year that I’ve bought tickets to enjoy the whole weekend and not just the parade!

I am a great lover of fancy dress and this year I decided to go all out and dress as a peacock!

Why not?

It was truly fabulous. I felt really nervous but every single float that went by and saw me waved and told me I looked fabulous. It made me feel great!  

Gay pride is all about celebrating who you are and truly being yourself and although I am straight I have some fabulous gay friends and I’m just a little bit quirky so I feel like I really fit in!

I made the costume myself. Here I am looking fantabulous!

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So this is just a short blog this week. As I have 2 birthdays coming up! One of my best friends is having a 1930’s murder mystery evening tonight and I’m currently sitting with my hair in rag rolls, with a finger wave at the front in preparation.

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I don’t do things by halves. (Yey for more fancy dress! I'll try and add a picture tomorrow!) and then I’m cooking a 5 course meal for my mum’s birthday on Saturday! I have spent all day (hair included) cooking the starter and the dessert.

Ahhhhhh I must be mad! Look at the mess...
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I think I used every bowl I own!

I'm definitely rather a messy cook but I absolutely love it and the feed back so far has been great!

I think cooking is another kind of art form and love treating my family and friends.

Please come back to check out next weeks blog where I’ll be writing about the meal and how to put together a great dinner party! (I’m pretty good at it!)

But in the mean time, I have been making lots of cool things for my stall and also new jewellery items so please do check out my instagram page to see all the new and exciting things I've been doing.
Thanks for reading. 

Wedding Fever - How to create a Wire Wrap Pendant

With the royal wedding just passed, it really got me thinking about fashion and what woman wear to these occasions.

I thought some of the dresses were fabulous but others... Meh… They could have made a bit more elegant but then I am not a fan of the suit type look.

I have a wedding coming up in 3 weeks’ time. The first one for me in years and I have been really stressing about what I should wear.

I have (almost) sorted my outfit, I have the dress (See the picture above) and the shoes, but I need a black slip dress to go underneath otherwise I will look almost naked (really not appropriate), possibly a hat or a fascinator, what are your thoughts? Do I need one? And definitely an amazing piece of jewellery to hang around my neck.

I saw a great quote on Pinterest recently from Yves Saint Lauren…

“Accessories are what, in my opinion, pull the whole look together and make it unique”

This is so true.

Being an artist and making jewellery myself, I can definitely use this opportunity to showcase my work. I see my jewellery as a piece of art to be worn. They are unique and mostly made to order.

I like to be different and wear things that are just a little bit quirky and hopefully no one else will have. I think the dress I’ve bought proves that.

So, to go with the dress, I am thinking a really striking piece of black stone with cooper wire (I think cooper will pick out the orange and red in the dress)…

Here’s a little behind the scenes look of how I go about making a piece…

I’m not the kind of jewellery maker that draws an idea out beforehand. I generally will pick up a stone, decide in my head how I feel it should look and then I start weaving.

So here is the stone I chose...

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A Smokey Quartz. It looks black unless you hold it to the light. 

I then had to decide on the wire to use, so I chose 1mm and 0.4mm copper wire and cut 2 quite long (almost 30cm) lengths of the 1mm wire. I use the 0.4mm wire in it's original coil as I never know how much I will use...

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I started by putting a little twist at the ends of the 2 1mm pieces of copper...

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(Please excuse the fingers they are being ripped apart by wire!) 

I then started wrapping the 0.4mm wire twice around one length of 1mm and then twice around the other. I slowly allowed the wire to get wider and then thinner again to create this interesting pattern, it's quite hard to explain...

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I find that using odd numbers works best for some of the weaving and thought I would use a 5 -3 pattern after the original weave...

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I really like the look of this together so I repeated the pattern 3 times...

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I then started to wrap the wire around the stone...

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I then had to work out how to finish it, so did the first weave again twice to create the loop...

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And VOILA we have a complete piece. 

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I think it will look pretty amazing with my dress. What do you think?

Please do take a look at my website www.akers-of-art.co.uk and especially the jewellery page if you like this piece http://www.akers-of-art.co.uk/jewellery. Contact me to place an order or make an enquiry. Quote Offer2 for 15% off your first order. 






4 tips about starting a business that I learnt this week

Success, traffic to my website has gone from 8 views to 74 in a week! How amazing is that?

So a blog is clearly the way to go.

I just thought I would update you with 4 bits of knowledge I have learnt in the last week (from another visit to the Google Digital Garage – Again go to them if you get the chance. https://learndigital.withgoogle.com/digitalgarage, they are amazing.)

  • Tip Number 1. Are you looking at your data? 
It really helps you understand what people are doing! (I use Google Analytics - a free and very useful app you can get on your phone)

I made the mistake of not having a call to action somewhere in my blog.

You need one.

The whole point in driving traffic to your page is so that people will then have a look around.

My bounce rate is now at 71% because lovely people read my blog and then left! But the point here is at least they did stay and read it. My viewing time went from 5 seconds to 1 min 49!! That’s amazing. 

But…

I didn’t put any links to my own website pages and I didn’t ask them to do anything either, so they stayed to read the blog and although I actually got some great feedback, no one stayed to look around.

Oops. Lesson learned. I hope that that won’t happen to you now that you have this amazing piece of advice

  • Tip number 2. Why are you writing the blog?

The next little bit of advice I will give to you is this- Think carefully about why you are writing a blog and what you want to achieve.

I want to drive more traffic to my website so that people will take a look around, hopefully like what they see and maybe remember me when it comes to buying a gift of jewellery for a family member or friend. Or mention me in conversation if anyone says, I’d love a mural painted in Billy’s bedroom.

Shameless promotion. Remember me. Remember my brand and my logo. Mention me. That is what I want! Of course it is, why else would you do it?

That’s what it’s all about, I’m just being really honest. (See how I put links to both of those pages in the above paragraph? I hope you click on them! but also use that advice.)

My next few blogs will probably be more specifically based around my jewellery or mural making. (See the links are there again!)

  • Tip number 3. What is The Call To Action all about?

The call to action is what I would really like you to do after reading my blog.

What I would love for you to do is sign up to my mailing list. I’ve put a link below. The reason for this is because I would really like to send you any offers and promotions I am having. I won’t be spamming you every day, not even every week. I make a promise that I will send one email a week at the most, simply telling you about a new product or send you a link to the new blog or offer you a discount on something new. In fact I am going to do that right now. Take a look around and if you like what you see and wish to order something from me then use the code Offer01 and you will get 15% of your first order with me. So if you would like to hear about these things then please do sign up by following the link below. 

I have set this up via MailChimp and honestly I'm not exactly sure if it will work. So please do let me know if you have any issues with subscribing.

http://eepurl.com/du7JRP
  • Tip Number 4. Be honest

I am a real person, a single Mummy just trying to get by, by doing what I love. I would love my little business to succeed and to do that I need your help and that’s what it’s all about.

I’m not trying to do a hard sell or slam you with boring information. I’m just offering my advice based on advice given to me. My experience of setting up my business has been interesting and varied. I have learnt so much in just a few months and I can honestly say trying to implement them is not an easy task. It’s quite over whelming, I’m spending more time trying to put all the advice into action than making things, but that will happen in the beginning, you can’t make things for no customers.

The worry that I will scare people away or say something stupid is huge, but as I said I’m just being me and I hope that that is enough.



Why I started a blog (with hints and tips on starting your own business)

Its early days for me in the grand scheme of starting a business.  

It all began in February this year (2018), when I had had a really rough time in my current job, I was desperate to leave and the opportunity arose for me to do so.

I have contemplated and even tried to begin working for myself for over 10 years.

I am 37, so I decided it was now or never.

It’s hard, I’m not going to lie. There is so much that goes into setting up a business and what you should and shouldn’t do, that I felt slightly overwhelmed and believe me if you don’t do your research and just throw yourself into it you will stumble and probably even fail!

I read numerous blogs and advice pages on what to do and how to get started that I had pages and pages of notes that started to contradict each other.

I think one thing I learnt from all of this was that I can’t do everything, I had to really think about what I want to achieve and what my own personal goals were, but the two main things that kept reoccurring in my research was knowing your product and knowing your audience.

My business is just me. Down to the designing and making of the product, to marketing, sales and even accounting (and now it seems blogging too.)

So where do you start? I still can’t answer that question but I shall tell you how I have got to the point I am now where I was told… “You need to start a blog”  

What a scary prospect that is, I know I can write but can I write well enough to engage people and create something that they really want to read?

I hope so!

It all started with what I knew I could do. I was pretty sure that family and friends weren’t just being nice when they said that I was talented and that I could sell the things that I created.

I paint murals, so far mainly for children’s bedrooms and playrooms but I have also painted a conservatory and some logos and quotes around a school, but just to add an extra string to my bow, I make wire wrap jewellery, they are bespoke, unique and (I think) rather unusual. (that's me wearing one of my pieces in the photo - Hi!!)

I spent months before I started my business pinning ideas to Pinterest, I spent more time pinning than doing! I then read and read and read, until February hit and I was no longer in a job where I felt totally unappreciated. So it was time to put those ideas into action.

So, firstly I looked at this website…

https://www.startuploans.co.uk/business-advice/how-to-start-a-business/

The information that they have on this site really is invaluable in terms of the main things you need to do to start your business, even if you don’t want or need a loan, you can still use all the information and it is FREE (what a lovely word)

I thought I needed a loan but as I worked my way through the files, started to write a business plan and even spoke to a business mentor, I realised that I didn’t, I also realised that I probably didn’t actually need a business plan either.

This does not apply to everyone, I will repeat, this does not apply to everyone!! I am not here to tell you not to write a business plan, if you want a bank loan or have employees or business partners you absolutely need one, it is a very good place to start (and I have half of one) but for me, I came to the realisation that as long as I had a short, mid and long term goal, because I am just me, alone, by myself, a business plan wasn’t necessary.

What is essential though (which I found out a few months later) is writing a marketing plan... and most importantly the section on “who your customers are?”

This is so hard. I mean really hard. I still haven’t quite got there. I am still researching and writing it now but it really is so important as it shapes your whole marketing plan, in terms of where to advertise and what platforms to use.

Which brings me to now and why I am writing this Blog.

It is apparently an essential piece of the puzzle, how I will get my website noticed, how I will potentially convert readers into buyers. 

I learnt this by visiting the Google Digital Garage in Birmingham where I live. Amazing place. So unbelievably helpful and I highly recommend them to anyone who is trying to launch their own business.

Follow this link to check them out - https://learndigital.withgoogle.com/digitalgarage

I have currently gone to 3 workshops and had my first 1:1 coaching session and one of the points that has come up repeatedly here is this…

Who is your target audience?

Advertising to everybody is like advertising to nobody!

You need to know your audience.

Now… I have tried to research. I have tried to write a blurb about who my audience would be. For example: Joanna who is 48 and blah blah blah, but I am stuck. I don’t get it. This could be why I am not getting many sales because I am simply coming to a complete block when it comes to finding my target audience.

It’s not the best position to be in and I really need to answer these questions:

  1. How do my target market find things? E.g. Newspapers- real or online, social media – if so which platforms.
  2. Where do my target market hang out?
  3. What are their interests?
  4. How old are they?

By doing this I should then be able to advertise on certain websites that promote certain topics, pick the correct social media platforms to showcase my work and ultimately attract the audience necessary to create sales. Sounds easy doesn't it?

I think I get stuck because I have 2 different ideas that I am selling, but also because both of these ideas could be bought by multiple different characters.

Jewellery wise it could be a husband buying for a wife, a lady who wants to treat herself, a son or daughter buying for their mum.

Murals wise, it could be a business wanting to create a focal point, a young couple expecting a baby, an older couple wanting a unique focal point in their lounge.

Who knows? And how do you figure out where to advertise if you have so many different potential customers?

I’ll have to let you know once I figure that out myself. But hopefully my point here is coming across. Know your audience, advertise in the right place and you will start to sell your product.

I’m getting there. Slowly but surely.

My main issue is that no one really knows I exist. No one is really checking out my website and only a few people are buying my products.

Advice given to me by the google digital garage team is…

Start a blog.

So here I am. Writing a blog. How am I doing?

A few tips that I learnt from the Google Digital Garage that may help you with your SEO (search engine optimisation) and making yourself Googleable…

  • Go on to Google my Business and get yourself verified (it’s free)
  • Add Google Analytics to your webpage (it’s also free)
  • Use Google Trends to find out what is trending right now and whether your idea is worth blogging about (again it’s free)
  • Create a content calendar- knowing where to post and when to post is essential. Look for specific events that may be coming up e.g. Easter, Christmas. Do you have any products to launch around that time?
  • Create a blog calendar- to keep yourself on track and again know when you should be posting
  • Repeat your keywords at least 4-8 times on the homepage of your website
  • The more pages the better (I thought this was strange as I didn’t want to overwhelm my audience but apparently the less pages you have the less likely you are to be found.)
  • Start a Blog (I know scary thought)

I also found The Balance https://www.thebalance.com/ a very helpful website full of interesting articles about starting a business and marketing etc. 

I am not even close to being noticed yet. 4 people visited my website in the last 2 weeks, one of them was me, one was my Mum and one was a guy at the google digital garage, so I am by no means an expert, but I hope that passing on a few tips that I have learnt so far will help other people who are in the same situation.

It is hard. Really hard. Will it work out? Only time will tell I guess…