Friday, January 06, 2012

PART 2 - Ghosts of Business Past, Present and Future.................

Continuing on from the blog I wrote a few days ago. I'm bringing you part two of my personal little journey, stepping positively into 2012. If you missed it, you can read it here.

Since starting to write this blog, it seems to have taken a path all of it's own, as is meandering in all different directions. So there will now be a part three and possibly a part four in the series.... coming very soon.................

I have been meaning to write a blog giving some help and advice to new FB business page owners for absolutely ages. However, I was initially a little apprehensive and didn't think I had enough to say, (can you hear hubby laughing at that statement!!) but once I got started, I soon realised that I had  rather a LOT to usual. LOL!! So what follows is my story, my personal journey and opinions about starting up a crafty business.

Oh, one last thing....please let me know if you find it useful, as it's taken me bloomin' hours to put together!! Enjoy!

my journey into 2012
part two

So I had already started to tackle my personal life and was busy trying to budge some of my stubborn little habits even before 2012 had begun. Next I knew I had to start looking at my business a little more seriously.

I always knew that once I had got the mad lead up to Christmas out of the way, I would need to then take a massive step back and take a look at my business from a different perspective.

What had I achieved?
Where was I going wrong?
And what possibilities had I not investigated?

in 2011, I saw my business go from an expensive hobby, making very little profit to a serious money making little enterprise.

The first project I needed to tackle was to see what Cheeky Pickle was actually making. I always keep my tax receipts/invoices e.t.c, but now I needed to get to work and put them all into some sort of order. I started CP about three years ago and so it was quite amazing, and pleasing :) to see (in figures) just how much my little business had slowly grown.


What I do is keep little glad bags in my top kitchen drawer (as a busy mum, this is where I spend the majority of my day) I label them January 2012 e.t.c and once a week I empty out my purse and pop all the business receipts in there, all ready to be totted up and put into my spreadsheet at a later date.

in the beginning...................2009

In my first year I did lot's of markets, and made next to nothing. But in my personal opinion, you have to do them. Start with a few Kinder markets. They are cheap, friendly, and you may even get offered a glass of wine by the organisers if you're lucky. But it's from doing these dreadful markets (where I came away making a loss), that I can now appreciate the markets that now earn me a small fortune.

You can read just how soul destroying markets can be here, and have a laugh at some of the mistakes I made, and hopefully learn a thing or two at the same time.

onwards and upwards................2010

The following year, my work had moved on considerably and I was feeling a little bit more confident in both myself and my business. So I headed off, very, very nervously I may add, into the "boutique" children's emporiums. All of a sudden, you have put yourself (yes, this was your choice, nobody elses!)in front of a very knowledgeable shop owner, who will basically tell you straight out whether or not all the hard work that you have put into your "thing" over many weeks/months or even years, is actually sellable. And come on now, let's not beat around the bush here, s/he is going to tell you whether you are going to make any money from it and that's what all this is about at the end of the day isn't it? This is very, very, very daunting indeed and a wake up call you may not have been prepared for.

I have not had it easy with regards to shops and I have been turned away by numerous in the past. Some shop owners give you that motherly, "oh you poor dear" look when they tell you no, and some are just downright rude and hardly give you the time of day. I will not tell a lie (line, blatantly nicked off T.V show Gavin and Stacey. LOVE it!) when this happens to you, it really is soul destroying, and if it happens time and again, then it can be really hard to pick yourself up and try again.

believe in your product...........

But let's not get downhearted about this, let's put a positive spin on the subject. These shop owners, be they rude or lovely, they know their shop and their customer, they know what sells in their shop and they know that your product is not right for THEM. This does not mean that your product is not right for another shop. So don't give up! If you believe in your product, then it will sell somewhere. You just have to find that somewhere.

But when you find the shop that positively gushes over your work and can not wait to get hold of your product and place it proudly on display in the front window. Well, let's just say, it does your ego some bloody good! But be warned, with all this gushing and ego boosting, this is still a business transaction and you must deal with it that way. Please read on.....


Most shops will only deal with craftspeople on a consignment basis. This means that you hand over your product and when it sells, only then do you get your money. Personally, (and maybe I have just had a few bad experiences) I have had numerous problems with doing business this way, and I no longer work on a consignment basis. However, If you are happy to go ahead with consignment, please take into consideration the following....

LABEL YOUR PRODUCTS carefully, so both you and the owner know exactly what stock they have.

DAMAGED GOODS Sometimes shops can take a good long while to sell your product and they can be on the shelf , or even worse, in the shop window (being hit by red hot UVA) for months. They are being picked up and handled a hundred times over by customers and so, they can inevitably get damaged. Have a discussion with the owner and discuss what will happen in this circumstance, print up an agreement and get them to sign it.

PAYMENT One of the trickiest and most uncomfortable subjects to broach is when you are suddenly chasing payment. Not only do you first need to get the owner to tot up the items that have been sold (which can take weeks, as they are so busy with other things) but then they have to pay you. Again, this can take weeks. Don't let them fob you off. They have sold your work and have YOUR money, just don't forget that that money should now be in YOUR pocket, not THEIRS

the day my business life changed................rock on FB!

I did a market in November, 2010. It was a much hyped up market with the reality being that it was just "another craft market" Around that time, Melbourne saw a huge surge of little craft markets cropping up in every suburb and there were  lot's of  eager, young, crafty mums jumping on the band wagon with their little bits of originality
So this one was pretty dire and I spent most of my time chatting to all the lovely stallholders.


These little markets are a hive of  information, so if it's quiet, don't waste a minute. I suppose what I'm saying is "get networking!"I used to be scared by that word. Don't be. It's not something that only high profile business women are doing. Going for a coffee with a fellow stallholder and talking about ways to improve your business, swapping valuable info about where to buy great fabric e.t.c is networking. So get doing it and get doing it today!

SO, it was whilst I was "networking" that I met the lovely Jolene from Jolene's mumbo jumbo , and she basically changed my life (thanks Jolene, if you are reading this. xx). She introduced me to the idea of a FB business page. Well, my first thoughts were no way, not on your nelly, not me, not my thing thank you very much! Up until this paticular day, saying I was not a fan of FB was a bit of an understatement. I couldn't understand what all the hype was about, why it was so popular and I thought that the only people who went on there were the ones with rather large ego's.

Hands up, I was wrong, wrong, wrong and apologies for being so judgemental. I admit it, how very wrong and extremely naive I was!! But to be honest, you may see me confidently posting on my business page many times a day, but I think I have only ever posted about eight times from my personal profile. Who wants to read about MY boring life!!

Back to the market, and once I got chit-chatting to the other stallholders, I realised that I was the only girl in the room who did NOT have a FB Business page. Pop!!! (there goes the light switch)

wake up and smell the coffee, like, NOW!!

As you may already know if you have read my other blogs, I am not the most savvy person on the computer. But that day, I determinedly went home, locked myself into the office. And much, much later that day I saw the birth of facebook/cheekypickle

what now?

Once again, Jolene, who hardly knew me from Adam, came to my rescue and was there every step of the way to help and guide me through those first few, very frustrating weeks of FB.

I had no idea how to tag (tag, what the hell was that?) and had no idea how to add photo's/links e.t.c. And all of this was before I had to actually think of what I was going to bloomin' well talk about on there. Back then, I wasn't very confident. I was your typical reserved English girl and was certainly not very good at selling myself or my product. Not a good start when setting up a business page.

I say WAS, because over the past year, I feel like I have changed immeasurably and am now very confident when speaking about my business. However, get me talking about ME and I'll go back to being that reserved little English rose all over again!


Right from the start, be yourself. For example: If you are not the most organised of people, let your "likers" know it. They will love you even more for your honesty. Eventually, they will learn to know who the real person is behind the logo and will trust you more and hopefully want to buy into what you do.


Why do you love the page? Why can you not wait to see what they have been up to? Why is it their post you read and yet you skim past 10 other fb pages that you "like". O.K, now see how they do things, copy what they do. I don't mean their product, I mean how they address their likers, questions they ask e.t.c. Have a look at who they "like" and jump on board. Once you have got into the swing of it, you can start doing it your way and mke it personal to YOU. Please don't just follow the sheep though. I'm ashamed to say that I have done it on accasion and it's just plain dull and boring.

One of my personal favourite FB pages Little White Cottage The way Emma engages with her "likers" is dynamite!


You don't have to be kissing their ass, but you can be friendly and professional. But please don't just head over to their page and say you love their work because they have a lot of fans. Be genuine and find pages that you really DO like. They don't have to be pages that do the same stuff as you. Just a page that you admire for whatever reason, be it their product, service, customer service, the way they interact with their likers.......And before you know it......your networking! FB is an amazing FREE resource, so use it to your advantage.


with both your customers and with other pages. We've all seen it go horribly wrong for some pages. Don't make the same mistakes. It's hard when you are wanting "likers" to get to to know you better as a person. You want to let them in a little, but you want to be professional at the same time. Tricky. Get it right! As one of my "likers" said it to me. Owning a business page is very much the same as owning a shop. How would you speak to your customers if they were physically in front of you? Would you be gossiping?

A page I really think you need to have agood look at, read and "like" is Build a little biz - A brilliant page that gives you all the info you could possibly need for your new little enterprise. There are now loads of FREE marketing pages out there, hoping to sell you their know how. But personally, I find Karen's page not only to be CHOCK FULL of advice, info and inspiration, but she writes in a really friendly manor, which I love. You can ask her anything and she always responds and resposds quickly. Which in my book deserves a tick, tick, tick!. I also love the way her info is written in a way that even I can understand! Clear, concise and simple. Bonus!


I found this from Kids on the coast via Mornington Peninsula Handmade and I feel it sums up all there needs to be said about starting an online business page and relates very well to FB:

  1. Passion It shows in your work and keeps you going through the tough times.
  2. Quality Take pride in your work and build a reputation for quality.
  3. Uniqueness Make your product stand out by adding a small touch of your personality.
  4. Research Understand your target market, your pricing and current trends.
  5. Persistence It doesn’t happen overnight. Learn from your mistakes, adjust and move on.
  6. Service Treat customers with respect and courtesy.
  7. Realistic expectations Start small and grow your business within your means.
  8. Networks Exchange information with other crafters. Use forums, blogs, Facebook and other online resources
  9. Marketing Take quality product shots for posting online. Your product will stand out from the competition.
  10. Learn to say “No”. Don’t undersell your work. Don’t over-commit and then fail to deliver.

I would also like to add that for me, getting to those first 500 likers was very, very hard. Up until this point, you really may as well be talking to a brick wall and this can take months and months. You put up a post, a picture, a question.......and get nothing back, not even a measly "like", but.......


Keep plugging, keep posting, keep designing and keep in the back of your mind that it will take time. It will not happen overnight. Be pro active in that period when you are building up your numbers, and physically prepare your business for when the orders DO start flooding in. Be prepared! These are just a very few of the things that I didn't do at the beginning, that I now think are the most important things to put into place.
  • Put together an invoice master (looks professional and saves you a heap of time in the long run)

  • Include your policies on your invoice. (check out mine and copy them if you want to) DO make sure you have some sort of policies in order.

  • Set up some sort of order book This is SO very important. Start as you mean to go on. I now have an exel spreadsheet that hubby set up for me, which is fantastic and will help me no end when it comes to totting the figures up, but I still always keep a hard copy of every invoice I send out. I just order them monthly so I can easily go in and see how much I made on any paticular month. Probably not the best, but it suits me for now. This is an idea as to what you need on your order book/spreadsheet:
  • name
  • date
  • product ordered
  • payment method
  • date payment was made
  • date sent and registered post number.

things started to slowly happen....................

So I started FB in Nov 2010 and I would say that by Feb/March 2011 the orders had started to come in. Not flooding in, we are talking a slow drip, drip, drip here. But it was just enough to get me rather excited and to keep plugging, posting and talking to my very own brick wall!

By April 2011, I had pretty much stopped doing shop consignments and started to concentrate more on FB and my website. One day I do hope to, sorry, that's not very 2012 positive is it? I WILL sell wholesale to shops once again (never on a consignment basis), but only when I can make my product cheap enough to justify itself and I WILL do it on a much bigger scale.

why i love fb

Facebook does not only mean sales, but it also means instant feedback. Which for someone who works alone, from home and with a hundred creative ideas running through her head at any one time, and with no one to ask "what do you think to this colour/shape/paper?" FB is an absolute Godsend. Instant feedback.

And I'd like to add at this point that I really DO value your opinions, comments, feedback and thoughts. Because at the end of the day, if YOU don't like "it", "it" won't sell and I won't make any money from "it"! and it's also a hell of a lot nice than talking to that brick wall :)

Tune in for part three, where I will be talking about how I have been busy putting my business plan together for 2012. There may also be a part four.

Don't forget, you can sign up to my blog FREE at any time, meaning you won't miss a thing!

Did you find this blog useful? I would LOVE to hear your comments and feedback - Thanks for reading - Ali xx


  1. I LOVED reading it ALL Ali... and had to leave a small thank you for sharing it with us.
    It's lovely and refreshing to read about another's journey from start to now and how you've reflected about it. It's so hard when time flies, and you have kids and everything else that needs doing, that we often belittle the importance of reflecting and keeping track of what worked and what didn't. This is the hardest thing I'm facing so far. I'm a wuss at heart (!!!) but think that being brutal..haha..or strict sometimes is really important to see where you want your business to be in your life.

    I've been very fortunate to have started on Fb first and I agree fb has been great because it gave me immediate sales and traffic without spending much money (i.e. markets and time spent at markets). I think we are very blessed to have so many of us on Fb for support as well.

    ps. I've always thought your work is beautiful because your love for it shows through so clearly. ;)

  2. what a huge helpful post for people trying to build a little biz. thank you for sharing your journey, i truly believe that what you give away comes back to you ten-fold. and thank you for the fantastic mention of build a little biz. i am so glad you find it helpful! i hope you continue to do what you love and be awesome =)

  3. Great blog post! I have a similar series of blog posts here:
    I started out on FB with my boutique and I used to get quite a few orders there and interacted a lot with my fans and customers. Over the last few months though, my FB page, though not dropping in numbers, has basically died. The only ones who ever interact on there are my family and friends and I haven't had an order there in months. Thank goodness for Etsy or I wouldn't be selling at all. Any ideas on how to revive my FB fan page?

  4. Hi Ali - AWESOME read and thankyou for the vital information. I plan to put my lil biz on FB sometime this year so all of this information is very much appreciated. May contact you if I get stuck with the FB rules etc related to having your own business page (hope you don't mind) :) Thanks again and keep up the good work!!

  5. No worries girls. Glad to help you out in any way I can. Please feel free to contact me anytime if you need help with anything at all (will I regret saying that LOL!!)

    I know what it's like when you first set up a page. It's very lonely and you are just in awe of anybody with over 1,000 likers. But even the pages with lot's of likers are still pretty new to all this. We are learning it at the same time and I feel that we should support each other as best we can :) Ali x

  6. Great blog! We are at about the same stage as you in building our business so nice to read your journey and also remind ourselves to focus for this year. Have been following your work and facebook page for some time and love your style...just gorgeous

  7. The Owl and the Elephant - Do you remember when I posted on your wall - "how do i get more fans?" LOL. You were kind enough to answer me. I am a huge fan of yours as well. High five for 2012, that's what I say!!Ali xx

  8. Loved reading this - I'm going through the same kind of things (even the flying canvases... LOL). I agree that Facebook is the best thing I could have done business wise... LOVE IT! Looking forward to see what 2012 brings for you (and me too). :)

  9. Fantastic post Ali! I could so relate to all of this. I can't tell you how much I detest consignment but you're probably right that we need to do a little of it in the beginning until we know where our product will sell best. Looking forward to part 3! x

  10. Thank you for your post, i enjoyed reading it and having the same feelings, i too have been involved with a shop and its difficult to remember to be professional when they make not so nice comments. Always be professional, people talk!
    Looking forward to the next part.

    Linda x

  11. as usual.... brilliant !!

    I love reading your blog posts, your honesty and 'plain English' way of writing. I find everything you write insightful and very helpful.

    Looking forward to part 3 !!!!

  12. Thank you very helpful ! Love all the info sharing, your cards are amazing!

  13. Its taking me a while to read all your blog but i'm getting there and its all so interesting - well cone Ali, thanks for sharing and being so honest, inspiring stuff :)

  14. That's great. So glad. Hope you can take something from it inject into your business. :) Ali xx

  15. Hi Ali,
    This post was so helpful. I've just started trying to build my facebook page and it does seem so difficult. Knowing that it was also difficult for you to get to your first 500 likes (I'm not even at 100 yet!)is comforting. However, I shall keep on posting and networking and hopefully build up my likes :)

  16. Ali, This is my first time commenting here and it's actually via your Facebook page that I've found your blog!
    I love reading the story of the beginnings of your business and your early days using Facebook. Especially as yours is one of the FB pages that I find inspirational as I find my own way with my business. And although mine is not a 'handmade' business, so much of what you've shared here is still very relevant for me - and extremely encouraging to read!!