New Workshops (& a confession)

So it turns out I'm headed to Ireland in May to teach A WHOLE WEEKEND OF WORKSHOPS. 

*breathes into a paper bag*

First up, let me share those details before I clean pass out and then I'm going to reassure you all why it's going to be ok. There will be 3 workshops for anyone looking to improve their writing, photography and social media skills. The dates are 13th-14th May and tickets are selling, now. This is a weekend focusing on making the best of what you put out there in the world whether you're a blogger who really wants to take better photos or a business owner determined that you're going to nail online marketing. I'll be hosted by the good folks at This Is Knit, based in Dublin. I hear there will also be some sort of partying and such. This pleases me enormously. 

Feeling vulnerable online

So now you know the details, let's get back to that paper bag moment. Putting yourself out there, whether it's online or in real life, can be pretty scary. You tell yourself all kinds of lies that one day, it will be easier. You tell yourself a magic number of Instagram followers that will mean you've made it. You tell yourself that when that blogger snaps herself clutching your product, you'll find marketing a complete breeze. Landing a feature article in that magazine you love so much? Oh it will all be so, so much easier to be out there because by then, you will be A Thing. 

I hate to break it to you but that's not a thing really. Some of the most insecure people I've worked with are some of the most prolific, talented, well known and respected people. We are all still working at it and trying to make it through the day without digitally falling flat on our face. Heck, I'd settle for just not spilling coffee down my front most days. 

Coffee

So you know what? I'm saying I'm going to be in a room full of people who feel just like me and my paper bag and that's going to be great for all of us. I'm going to be listening to what really makes people tick and what makes them feel they can't ramp up. In return for that, I'm going to be sharing all my experiences as a blogger but also as a brand manager and freelance journalist. It is hard. We can make it easier to feel less vulnerable when we share online and I'd even say, feel good when we do.  

Just know I'm right there, still working at it too. 

(Then come book those tickets because that helps immensely in getting this feel good out there. Here's those workshops again: Discover Your Writing Style; Telling Your Story Online & Getting to Grips with Visual Storytelling). 

 

New for September!

Busy, busy, busy, busy! Anyone else look up and realise that it was Friday? I forgot just how fast time moves once childcare hours start and work is back in full force. Pass the coffee?

I thought I'd pop in to give a quick update because things are happening. Here's the deal:

Telling Your Story online

Workshops- 

I have TWO confirmed dates for 'Telling Your Story Online', a workshop I run for creatives, bloggers, makers and businesses. This workshop talks you through finding your voice, your people and making your story really shine on social media, blogs and websites. This is about taking the time to reflect on what you want to say and how. Then to do it all in a way that feels authentic but gets the results you need, whether that's traffic or sales. 

Want to join me and plenty of other inspiring people to network with? You can do it here:

The Forge, Bristol- 7th October 2016

A Yarn Story, Bath- 22nd October 2016

Sad you can't make one? I'll come to you. Drop me a line if you have a venue and let's make the internet a more inspiring place to run our businesses on!

APD podcast

Podcast-

Season 3 is almost ready to launch and it's a beast let me tell you. I seem to have collected far more interviews than usual and am bursting with stories to inspire you. Make sure you're subscribed to itunes or your favourite podcast catcher as the first episode goes live 15th September 2016. 

Alex Collins Designs

Maker of the Month- 

Let's say hi to Alex and her incredible work. I first met Alex over a year ago and will confess to giving her project bag some envious side eye. I was utterly delighted to learn she made it by hand and is now selling them for us to enjoy! Alex is all about making handprinted bags for makers who need beautiful bags to keep projects and tools protected and organised. What's more, her commitment to the environment means that they're made with cotton organic and solvent free inks. Caring about people and making the world a cleaner place is kind of the way I think all things should be. 

 

Of course you could have got all this news delivered to your inbox along with some lovely inspiration that I've found to share with you via the monthly newsletter. I'm guessing you're already signed up to that though. Right? Right....?

More soon lovelies! x

Slow Blogging

It's Sunday and once again I'm sat, music on (today Nina is telling me birds are flying high for those interested) and I'm gathering my thoughts. I've realised I always want to blog on Sundays lately. It's possibly because I take most of my photos at the weekend and have time to think outside of the frantic busy pace of the working week. I can't help but feel there's something else at play here though. There's something to be said about giving yourself time to think about what you want to share with the world. 

Slow Blogging via A Playful Day

That's what got me thinking about Slow Blogging. Slow Blogging is a movement to reclaim these online spaces and share thoughtful posts that we feel more invested in. When you blog or work in an industry that exists predominantly online, it can feel like you must keep up with the fast pace with which your creations are consumed. Bigger follower numbers, regular blog posts, new images and quick fire Twitter chats seem vital to your continued success. The level of burn out I see from people who lose themselves to beating the stats is so heartbreaking. 

Slow Blogging

Yet, I've noticed something lately that gives me cheer. The content getting the deepest interaction and engagement, is the content telling the most heartfelt stories. I'm not necessarily talking about huge emotional moments, more a sense of investment from the person publishing the blog post or image. I sense that the online world has started to hit 'Peak Click' and now we are looking to root our experiences in real life too. Events and gatherings springing up from online hangouts are happening with more frequency. Also I'm fairly sure that the posts that go viral lately are those which speak to us as people not consumers. 

Is it just me?

Slow Blogging

It's meant that I'm really looking forward to the next workshop I'm teaching in a week at A Yarn Story in Bath.  We'll be exploring how to tell your story online if you're a creative business owner or blogger. There's a few spaces left and I would love to sit and hear what makes you tick as a creative person and then help you to get that story online.

It's not about stats and it's time we stopped being consumed by them. I understand it's frustrating to feel there's a vast echo of nothing when you post and believe me, I've caught myself feeling like I need to churn out content for the sake of keeping my voice heard. What I'm advocating is a gentle storytelling combined with some serious reflection about what you truly want to achieve. The two do not need to be mutually exclusive. My own experience has been that Slow Blogging builds an audience much more effectively. I love to see regular commenters and chat on Twitter with people reacting to what I've chosen to share. It feels more like a flow of conversation between long distance friends. 

If you would like to join us to think about how you're presenting your story online, you can join us at 10 am on Saturday 6th February 2016. All details can be found on A Yarn Story's website here, including tickets. 

If you want to read more about what others have to say about the Slow Blogging movement, you can find some thought provoking posts pinned on my Pinterest board, Love your Blog. If it has struck a chord, I'd love to hear your thoughts. 

 

~ xx

Photography For Knitting & Crochet

Just a quick blog post to let you know that we have a few spaces left on our popular photography workshop next weekend and we would love to see you there.  You can join myself and Emily Quinton for photography, practical sessions and inspiration at her beautiful Makelight studio. 

Whether you have always wanted to take better pictures of your finished objects or are a designer thinking about getting the best images for your patterns and social media, this is a morning dedicated to celebrating stitches and your craft.

Photography for Knitters & crocheters2.jpg

The morning will include:

  • Finding inspiration and developing your style
  • Learning to use and find the best light to really show your stitches and accurate colour
  • Composition and styling- how to take pictures of whole pieces vs small details such as lace or colourwork
  • Getting the best from your camera phone
  • Shooting in Aperture Priority mode on your dSLR (if you have one)
  • Basic editing on your phones and computers
  • A goodie bag for each attendee 
Photography for Knitting & Crochet

After the workshop, there will be a couple of hours to share food, knit, crochet and practice what you’ve learned. During this time you will have plenty of time to get hands on with props and share ideas. Emily and I will be on hand to answer questions about:

  • Tips and tricks for visual social media and using photography on your blog
  • Story telling through visual social media, so that people want to connect with you and if you’re a designer, buy from you!
  • Tips for building your social media following.
  • How to create a visual social media presence that really represents your brand or tells the story you’ve always wanted to tell.

After the workshop you will be able to join the private Makelight Facebook group for continued support, inspiration and networking.

Photography for Knitting & Crochet

Essential Details:

Date: 16th January 2016

Cost: £85 (includes lunch, drinks and cake)

Workshop running time: 10am-2pm

Coffee & settle in: 9.30am

Lunch, practical sessions with props & making time: 2-4pm

Tickets here

Please bring your camera(s) - whatever that is and remember to charge it up and clear your memory cards. We will have plenty of props and inspiring things to photograph but if you want to bring some of your own things then please do.

We can’t wait to spend the day with you all! x


Fixing Creative Block

Sometimes you just hit a wall and *nothing* happens for you creatively. I'm not making. I'm not writing and every picture I take feels a bit.... meh. 

So I went hunting for inspiration this week and thought I would share some of the goodies I have found because sometimes, we need a creative adrenaline shot. 

1. Podcasts:

I fell out of love with podcast listening as my daily routines changed a few months ago and I didn't have the same space to listen anymore. I've carved out some time lately and went hunting for something new and vibrant. The Slow Home and Blogtacular didn't disappoint.

Blogtacular's podcast is still a baby but they've launched with an interview with Marte Marie Forsberg so expect something that will make your toes tingle and your soul yearn for big adventures with a camera. 

As for The Slow Home, I jumped in with Zero Waste with Bea Johnson and have been hyper aware of my habits at home ever since. It touched me deeply and profoundly and her call to arms that involves " a life of experiences not denial" was just awe inspiring. 

2. Steller

A (new to me) story telling platform that lets you upload images, video and text. The thing I like the most about this platform is you can harvest old content in new ways so all that hard work across a year finds new life again. I'm a teensy tiny bit in love already and have drafted about a million stories that I would love to share. In the meantime, this one helped me find a story when I thought I'd never be creative again. 

3. Mamas who roar 

My lovely friend Jen of Make Do and Mend was recently interviewed by national press and film crews, eager to make a story out of her choices around a more sustainable family life. In a recent Skype call she told me she sat her children down for a chat about what this all meant and I urged her to share that story. She did (read it here) and it's pretty humbling how a mother in the public eye has to answer to the many voices asking if she's making her children weird. She's not. She's really, really not and we need to stop making this a question when women do brilliant and brave things. 

 

"I just ever seemed to quite feel that glowing period that everybody talks about"

Another mother who made my heart swell with pride is Emily at MummyLimited. Emily was brave enough to be part of a campaign in which she was featured in a video telling all about her experiences of miscarriage, anxiety and depression and is now nominated for a Tommy's Voice Award. This award celebrates a mum who has spoken out about her own experience and given hope to others so I sent my vote in immediately. Some of you might remember that Emily held my hand online a few months ago when I told the world I was a regular single mum struggling to make sense of it all. Emily's ability to make us feel better as mothers is uncanny and having her hand to hold made 2015 a much better year for me. If you are moved by Emily's video like I was, please vote. You can find details here

4. Going on a knitting adventure

Last weekend I had the pleasure of meeting up with Clara Parkes and she slipped an early copy of her forthcoming book 'Knitlandia' into my eager hands. I sunk happily into this ode to the fibre community this week and smiled throughout. Clara has a wonderful ability of describing people I have come to know and love in a way that is honest but also a magical version of them where our knitting is appreciated and our efforts celebrated worldwide. If the world saw people through the same eyes as Clara, we would all be better for it. Her starting point is that we are pioneers, explorers and leaders and it is, of course, as it should be. It's out in February and you can find out more here

5. Speakers who awaken my creativity

I was honoured to be a speaker at the annual winter workshop event held by Nuffnang last weekend. While my own contribution left me a little weak at the knees, hearing fellow speakers Sara (of Me an Orla) and Jess (of Love and London) made it all worthwhile. The take home lesson for me was know your platform, love it, nurture it and form a community around it. Watching these two women speak with such passion about what they have grown and love was truly incredible. They've created a world that allows them to earn a living and be creative and it made me hungry for 2016. It reminded me also that there is no greater adrenaline shot of inspiration than being in a room full of dynamic and fascinating people. 

 

What's been keeping your creative this week?

Telling Your Story Workshop

Last month I found myself in a yarn store in Bath, surrounded by women looking for insight into how to best tell their story online. They were a mix of creative business owners, freelancers and entrepreneurs. Somewhere in the discussion, Jen, a highly successful blogger asked:

"At what point does it all become fake though? My life doesn't look very aspirational. It's actually a bit messy but I don't really feel like I should show that."

Without hesitation I replied, "It's your story to tell and only you have the right to edit that. If you don't want the mess there, it doesn't have to be in order to make you any more authentic." In a room surrounded by women I couldn't help but point out that this was our opportunity to be in complete control of our story. Social media and blogging give us a direct way of communicating with the world on a scale that previous generations simply wouldn't have been able to. We all have a right to present our story in the best way we can. It doesn't need to be all painstakingly styled mantelpieces and perfectly clean children, however. For me as a professional and as a person, it's about balance. 

Inspiration from my visit to A Yarn Story last month 

Inspiration from my visit to A Yarn Story last month 

Mess under scrutiny is something I have battled with a lot these past few years. Knowing I was looking at a future of solo parenting, I began to make changes as far back as 2 years ago that would pave the way to making today a far easier journey. Mentions of family were carefully erased. I didn't focus on our location, house or home. I simply let corners of my life grow dim. I thought that by not drawing attention to a lack of collective nouns I could present a better version of me. 

The backlash was an assumption that my life was perfect somehow: working in the creative industries, blogging and podcasting, with a healthy family and happy home. I hadn't offered a different narrative because I wouldn't have stood on the high street blasting that out to anyone who wanted to hear on a megaphone. Instead I chose to wait until I felt that my life was back in my control again. 

I'm incredibly lucky to work in the industry I do and with some of the most brilliant people that this industry has to offer. I love my little girl and I am constantly grateful for the deal life has given me. It's not always easy but I am finally comfortable about how I tell that story most days. I choose the way I present myself so there's never a nag in my tummy before I hit publish that I've overshared, been negative or worse, made someone else feel negative.

All too often the word 'curated' is used negatively. I only choose to share the positive because that's my mission- a playful moment in every day. If I need it, I'm sure others must too so I work hard to bring inspiring images and stories together in every corner of the internet that I find myself. 

'Telling Your Story Online' Workshop- pin for later. 

'Telling Your Story Online' Workshop- pin for later. 

So it makes me incredibly happy to be returning to A Yarn Story again for another workshop, Telling Your Story Online.  I want to share all I've learned from 5 years of business support and telling my own story to help others find their way to shine online. The workshop will run from 10-12pm on 6th February 2016 with time set aside for a Q&A on specific social media. 

During the workshop we will cover:
·         Finding your voice online
·         Branding vs. story telling
·         How to create an engaged community
·         Fine tuning what makes your story unique
·         Reaching *your* audience
·         Planning out content and sharing it on different social media
·         Measuring the impact of your efforts
·         Maintaining balance and focus

You can purchase tickets via A Yarn Story here.  Hope to see you there!

 

Let's Get Together This October?

Announcing a Special Workshop for Bloggers and Creative Business Owners! 

Creative Blogging Workshop

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of chatting to Carmen from local yarn store, A Yarn Story. We were pondering the dilemma of work life balance when you're self employed and how to put your best foot forward online. Whether it's keeping up (or not) with a blog, doing your accounts or growing a real life local community, it can all feel a bit frantic. 

We hatched a plan

On Tuesday 13th October you can join Carmen and I at her store in bath for a 2 hour workshop aimed at Bloggers and Creative Business owners. The focus will be positive and creative (as always), but also provide lots of practical tips and tricks to try afterwards. During the workshop we will cover:

- Finding your voice online

- Branding vs story telling

- How to create an engaged community

- A look at social media platforms: Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter (and others if people wish)

- Newsletters for business

- Blogging and working with bloggers

- Collaborating and developing a support network

- Measuring impact 

- Maintaining balance and focus 

Creative Blogging Workshop

The session runs from 5.30- 7.30pm with half an hour Q&A afterwards. The session will be a mix of hands on or worked examples with some information sharing by myself. We've also allowed for a little down time after for some further questions should anyone need. 

This is a ticketed event to help you carve out time to pause and reflect about some of your goals this year.  Tickets cost £25 and can be purchased here. We recommend booking in advance as spaces will be limited for this session. 

If you're wondering about some of my experience as a professional supporting small business owners and creating online, you can find out more on my About page.

 

We hope to see you there!

Photography For Knitting & Crochet

An Online course of Photography, Practical Sessions & Inspiration with Emily Quinton.

PHOTOGRAPHY FOR KNITTING & CROCHET

When Emily and I joined up to create a workshop in her Makelight Studio that was focussed on knitting and crochet, we were blown away by the response. This first workshop in September is now sold out but don’t worry, we’re busy creating more!

For those of you who aren’t close enough to join us, Emily has kindly offered her online course with a special twist just for those of us who love to knit and crochet. If you want to learn how to take better photographs for your blog, your business or just for fun, make your Instagram account shine and add a healthy dose of daily creativity into your life, this online workshop is for you!

PHOTOGRAPHY FOR KNITTING & CROCHET

Emily Quinton will guide you through four weeks of lessons, tips and inspiration to enable to you to get the very best from your camera….whatever that may be, from a fancy pants dSLR to your camera phone and everything else in between.

Lessons will include:

  • Finding inspiration and telling your stitching story
  • Developing a photographic style
  • Every day creativity
  • Use of natural light
  • Composition
  • Styling your handmades
  • Getting the most from your camera phone
  • Shooting in Aperture Priority
  • ISO
  • Basic editing on your phone and computer
  • Tips for getting the best colour accuracy for your yarns, close ups of stitches and shooting handmade items on people
  • Visual social media
  • Photography for your blog
  • Ideas for building your photography kit

You will have access to the private Makelight Worldwide Facebook Group where you can connect with Emily and other students.

PHOTOGRAPHY FOR KNITTING & CROCHET

You will receive your lessons three times a week, which you can access any time during the course and download to refer back to at any time, so you really can take the workshop wherever you are in the world!

After the workshop you will be able to join the private Makelight Facebook group for continued support, inspiration and networking.

Start date: 12th October 2015

End date: 23rd October 2015

Cost - £55

 

Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased on Emily' website here. Happy snapping!