Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Silly Postage Charges

I'm really sorry if you have tried to buy a digital stamp or other digital product from Handmade Harbour in the past few days...

The website is adding postage charges onto digital products for no apparent reason.  If you do buy something and it adds postage where it shouldn't (there should never be a postage charge for a digital product) I will refund the postage charge as soon as I can.  You don't need to let me know, but if you are worried I've missed it then please feel free to email me:

The technical people are looking into this, and I'm hoping for a fix sooner rather than later.

Thank you so much for your patience and understanding!

(click to be taken to the page where you can buy your own puppy digital stamp!)

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Craft Addict - Tote, T-Shirt...

One of the things I've been playing around with recently is designs for totes, t-shirts and other stuff like phone covers and cushions (pillows), all via the print-on-demand site, Redbubble.

One of the things I wanted to do was designs for crafters, and here is my very first one...

The design started with a hand drawn image, embellished digitally with a button sun peeping out from little clouds.  I think the rubber stamp seems to make the craft addict definition very official!  The texture on the C and T comes from fabric I scanned, which I then altered digitally to create different colours, and the A is a little pincushion!

It's available directly through Redbubble, on a variety of products.  I really like the studio pouches - they are available in a few sizes, and look like they will be really useful!

The T-shirts come in a choice of colours as well as styles...

and there's a choice of phone cases too...

It's even available as wall art in several different formats and sizes:
Just in case you're interested, my Redbubble shop is here, and is already populated with an eclectic mix of designs, a lot of which are based on humour.  I firmly believe it's a sense of humour that gets you through life, especially when the going gets a little tough!

Feel free to let me know what you think!  Also, if you have any ideas based on a crafting theme (and/or humour) that you'd like to see, please do let me know.

Edited to add: it's also available as a mug now, with the design on both sides of the mug.  The mug is listed separately from the other designs, as it seemed the only way to get the design on both sides.

Friday, 27 March 2015


Time off is always precious, and in the UK having time off when the sun shines seems even more precious!

This week we spent a couple of days in Llandudno.  I love Llandudno's genteel Victorian splendour, rugged backdrops and long beaches.  I've never spent more than a day there though and there's never seemed enough time to walk around the Great Orme, which I've wanted to do for a long time.  There's a road which runs right the way around and happily, this time we walked it.  We could not have chosen a better day for it: look at the blue of that sky...

It's four and a half miles right round the Orme, plus a bit more to take you back to your starting point.  We stayed in a room in a fabulous Victorian villa just at the base of the Orme, which was very handy for our walk!  If you fancy stopping in Llandudno, I can throughly recommend The View guest house.  As the name suggests, the view from the hotel is breathtaking...

You'l also find beautifully appointed rooms with lots of little luxurious extras, superb breakfast cooked exactly how you like it (plus a view of the sea, even though it's a basement dining room!) as well as a cold buffet: fruit, yogurts, cereals, toast and crumpets.  My gluten-free vegetarian diet was no problem at all, and I certainly had plenty to choose from (including gluten-free bread served separately).  I was impressed with the print-out they gave me on arrival of all the potential allergens in their foods.

The guests' lounge was a modern twist on an old idea: a well-stocked honesty bar, free tea, coffee and hot chocolate and lots of books, magazines, local information and the use of a computer with free wi-fi.  The free wi-fi extended to our bedroom too (really useful if you are running a small business when even time off has to include answering emails at some point!).

We'll be returning to The View at some point, I'm sure of it.

But walking Marine Drive, the road which wraps itself around the Great Orme, was a real treat.  The views were spectacular.

There were more people walking it than I expected, and there were lots of benches along the way - so if you think it might be too much of a challenge, you will be able to rest and take your time.

There's also a cafe at the halfway point (you may be able to just make it out in the photo above).  Water, toilets and somewhere to sit for a few minutes was enough for us, but I'm sure they'd serve you with food too.  It's aptly named: Rest and be Thankful.

There wasn't much traffic...

... the vintage tour bus makes its way around every couple of hours and there's the odd car and cyclist working hard on the hills.  We've driven it in the past, which was beautiful, but you definitely see and appreciate much more on foot.

The lighthouse on the side of the Great Orme is now decommissioned and has been converted into a B&B.  We'd love to stay there one day, too.

The photo below shows the lighthouse's position...

The views all the way round the Orme are stunning, and especially so on such a beautiful day.

As we rounded a corner on the downhill stretch, the little Orme came into view, then the long stretch of Llandudno's main beach and the pier.  The hill across the sea is the little Orme...

Speaking of the pier, it was really nice to see handmade gifts and artwork being sold from some of the little huts on there - although it's still around, there's a definite and welcome reduction in seaside tat!

Our little Llandudno break was a really, really happy one, so I'm sharing this post in Planet Penny's Happy Friday.  Pop over for a dose of happiness from other bloggers!

P.S. A quick update for regular readers: Quentin is still at the Guide Dogs' centre having his post-op care.  He had some swelling on the site of one of the operation wounds (they had to realign a muscle as well as create a groove in the bone to stop the kneecap dislocating) but he is recovering well.  Then it will be time for his next operation on his other leg.  Poor love.  He must surely be wondering where I've gone.  (Do dogs wonder?)

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Quentin Update

Regular readers will know that guide dog puppy Quentin has been a regular visitor to the vet for a whole lot of x-rays and CT scans and has spent much time both limping and resting.  After several months, we now have a firm diagnosis...

This week he visited an orthopaedic surgeon, who has diagnosed Quentin with a grade 2 luxating patella in both back legs.  Basically, his kneecaps are dislocating themselves, which is causing him to raise one of his legs until the kneecap slips back into position when he extends his leg again.  He ends up walking on three legs for anything from a few seconds to a couple of minutes, sometimes several times a day.

So, what this means is:

  • Quentin will need two operations, about six weeks or so apart - one on each of his back legs.  The surgeon will create a deeper groove in the bone which will hold the kneecap in position for him.
  • He will - sadly - be withdrawn from the Guide Dogs training programme, mainly because of the time it will take for the operations and recovery, but also because he will be more prone to arthritis in his later years and guide dogs are required to walk mostly on hard surfaces.
  • His parents will be withdrawn as breeding stock, because luxating patella is a hereditary condition.
  • Guide Dogs will be paying for the operations and helping support his recovery within their training centre.  I'm really impressed with and touched by their level of commitment to the welfare of a pup who won't ever be a guide dog.
  • And - this part is the silver lining in the cloud - we have decided to keep him as a pet.  I'm very happy about that part!

I'm really quite sad that he won't be a guide dog, because he is showing signs of being a fabulous guide!  He knows exactly when the road is safe to cross - he often starts to make a move before I tell him to.  He has safely guided me around parked cars, too.  Having a mind of his own means he does sometimes try and make a decision based on where he wants to go (grassy areas are definitely desirable!) rather than where I want to go!

But my sadness at him not being a guide dog is balanced with the knowledge that I can continue to enjoy his company and watch him develop into a happy pet dog.

His first operation is on 5th March.  He'll go in the day before, and Guide Dogs will pick him up afterwards so he can benefit from recuperating where (among other things) they'll walk him on an underwater treadmill to help rebuild his muscles and joints!  I'm guessing he might have to wear one of these again for a while...

Fortunately, he didn't mind it at all last time, although he took chunks out of it from walking (and running) into walls with it on!

I'm linking up to Handmade Monday in its new home today.  I apologise to all the Handmade Mondayers for the distinct lack of handmade in this post!  I know there are some of you who have been waiting to hear about Quentin, so hopefully you will forgive me!

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Where is Handmade Monday?

If you missed last week's Handmade Monday, you'll also have missed the announcement about it being the last one on this blog.

However, all is not lost!  Vicky from Lucy Blossom has kindly offered to take over the hosting of Handmade Monday - so please do pop over and join in over there.

There's a second option, too.  I discovered the lovely Happy Friday on Planet Penny recently.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Handmade Monday 200

Hello and welcome to the 200th Handmade Monday!

I've spent quite a long time (months!) thinking how I want to go forward with my various different creative endeavours.  I've been aware for such a long time that I'm doing far too much - spreading myself too thinly - and because of that I know I'm not doing any of it justice.

I've been needing to take a step back for some time now.

And I've decided to concentrate more on illustration and less on handmade, which leaves me in a slightly tricky position with Handmade Mondays!!  In fact, Handmade Harbour itself may turn out to be altogether the wrong name for the direction I'm going in.  Still, one decision at a time!

So I've decided that the 200th Handmade Monday is (rather sadly) going to be the last one.  I'm sorry - I know this might come as a bit of a shock to some of you. 

200 is a nice round number, a good place as any to end what has truly been a wonderful journey (which is all down to the fabulous Handmade Mondayers and that really amazing sense of community).  It feels like it's the right time.

I was worried about where all that wonderful creativity, sharing and friendly community feeling was going to go, but I have found what I think is a lovely solution...

Planet Penny has recently started a Happy Fridays linky party.  If you haven't visited Penny's blog before, please do pop over and check it out - it's full of colour, fun, knitting and crochet (and an incredibly cute dog).  And I've chatted via email with Penny, who agrees that Happy Friday could be just the place to accommodate handmade projects that have made you happy in one way or another!  Of course, it could be something else altogether that's made you happy, in which case that's going to be perfectly fine too.

I may even meet you over there myself quite soon.  It looks like just the sort of linky party I'd be happy to join in with.  

And speaking of happy...

Quentin the guide dog puppy is now one year old!  There wasn't any celebration, to be fair, but Dave came home from work and sang happy birthday to him, which made me smile!

Quentin will be seeing the Guide Dogs vet again later this week - I'm sure they have the scan results by now.  He's still hopping around on three legs from time to time, so nothing has changed.  But he's happy enough the rest of the time.  

So, for the last Handmade Monday...

Friday, 16 January 2015

How to Promote a Small Online Business

Do you sell your handmade items?  Have you opened an online shop?  If so, are you getting enough customers to keep you busy?  This post is aimed at helping you identify ways you can increase sales.

For craft makers, moving your small business online is a really positive thing to do.  It means your shop can be "open all hours" - even when you are asleep.  It means that anyone, anywhere in the world, could spend money there.  It means you can sell without setting foot out of your front door (how welcome is that idea on a grey, wet and windy January morning?).

If you are still thinking about dipping your toes into online selling, let me tell you it's really easy to get started: online market places like Etsy, Folksy or even good old eBay make it really easy to open a shop and connect with customers.  Even having your own website and using PayPal as a payment gateway is quick and easy to do - it's accessible to anyone.

But - and this is a very big but - you then need to get people in the (virtual) door!  Your web shop, without promotion, is like having a shop in a long-forgotten back street, far from anywhere.  How do you get people to visit it?  It's a question that comes up on a regular basis on all the craft forums.  There is no magic formula to floods of customers, but there is quite a bit you can do.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Write a blog.  This is a great option for anyone who likes writing, taking photos and/or connecting with other people.  While your online shop is the place people will go to buy things, your blog is where you can show off your new products, your personality, your methods of working and build your brand.  Blogger is easy and free to use.  It can also provide a doorway to your shop via links.  The more entrances to your shop, the better!  You'll find, if you use key words, that your blog will get listed in search engines long before your website will.  Use it for promoting your goods, but not in a salesy way - many of the people who will come across it in internet searches are actively looking for what you are selling.  

  • It's often said that people buy from people and not from businesses, so get social on social media. Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest are great tools for linking with people.  There's no doubt that folk do buy from other people they meet on these places (I have bought and sold on Twitter).  It's important to note that filling your Twitter feed with links to your shop is very off-putting - social media isn't about spamming people with links, it's about being social.  So - what can you chat about?  What can you offer your followers?

  • Get your products featured in a magazine.  How?  A great start would be to sign up for Press Loft - this is a really easy-to-use service which gets your products in front of the journalists who write the product pages in magazines.  There's a 60-day free trial for any brands new to Press Loft, with no pressure to continue if it's not for you, so you can't really go wrong.  Magazine features should not be confused with advertising - editorial features are always better than ads (and free!) and Press Loft is all about getting those editorial slots for you. 
  • If you have a stall at a craft fair or any other event, make sure your customers know they can shop online too.  Hand out business cards like sweets!  I discovered that the busier events can send online customers your way for well over a year afterwards.  You can easily check if this is working by adding a "where did you find us?" question in your PayPal checkout.
  • Read up on search engine optimisation (SEO).  Basically, SEO is about making sure your site (and your blog!) gets found and listed in search engines.  The basics include key words, good customer feedback (on an independent site) and relevant links from reputable sources.  Don't worry too much about SEO, just get to grips with the basics - if you write primarily for your audience/customers you may find you already have a lot of it covered.  

  • Speaking of SEO, as well as making sure you have key words in place on your website and blog, don't forget the importance of naming images! Give them all titles which make sense (your camera might label an image SAM_1553, which means nothing to a search engine.  Rename it using a key word for that product). Lots of people use Google images to search for products they want to buy and labelling images means they are much more likely to find you.
  • Get the basics in place - payment buttons, good clear photographs, contact details. People are likely to click away if they can't see an easy way to buy - or can't work out what your product is!  There's no excuse not to have a "buy now" or "add to cart" button, because PayPal makes it so easy.  Make sure people know how to buy, when to expect their product, and that they can contact you easily in case of problems (a land line number is preferable, but your physical address should be on there too - it's a legal requirement in the the UK.  Please check the regulations in your own country).  Social media is used by many for contacting businesses with questions - be as available as possible!

I hope that helps!  Please feel free to add your own tips by leaving a comment.

Disclosure: the link to Press Loft is an affiliate link.  I have used their services (more about that in another post) and wholeheartedly recommend them for getting national magazine and newspaper exposure with minimal effort.

Images: Please do not use the images within this post without written permission, unless it is for the purpose of linking to this page.  My images are available for licensing via IBD Licensing.