Summer in Scotland

Summer in Scotland can be everything from awesome to frustrating (much of the frustration comes from the unpredictability of the Scottish weather!). I love the light nights and on a warm, sunny, summer’s day there is nowhere I’d rather be. This year we had a staycation. Armed with sunscreen and raincoats, we went on day trips around Scotland. As well as firm favourites like the Glasgow Science Centre, we also went a bit further afield (you can read more about Glasgow and Edinburgh kid friendly activities in a previous post).

The Falkirk Wheel

The Scots are famed for their ingenuity. A recent example of this is the Falkirk Wheel. The only one of it’s kind in the world. The Falkirk Wheel links the Union and the Forth and Clyde canals and replaces a system of 11 locks which used to take a day to traverse. Originally the Falkirk Wheel wasn’t planned as a tourist attraction, but so many people wanted to visit and ride on the wheel that there is now a Visitors Centre, where you can book a boat trip on the wheel, and the area around the Falkirk Wheel has been transformed into a kids water play area.

 

 

 

The Kelpies

Just a few miles from the Falkirk Wheel are The Kelpies. An amazing, 30 metre tall, sculpture, designed by Andy Scott, sitting along side the Forth and Clyde canal.

“I see The Kelpies as a personification of local and national equine history, of the lost industries of Scotland. I also envisage them as a symbol of modern Scotland – proud and majestic, of the people and the land.”                             Andy Scott

The kids were suitably impressed, their only slight disappointment was having to leave before it got dark, so we didn’t get to see them lit up!

There is a great time lapse video of construction of The Kelpies here.

 

 

 

 

 

Heads of Ayr Farm Park

We always enjoy a day out at Heads of Ayr! There are lots of things to keep the kids happy, from giant sand pits and jumping pillows to zip lines and a donut slide. There is also an Animal Zone and indoor Adventure Barn. My Primary school aged kids are at the perfect age to enjoy Heads of Ayr to the fullest! I’ve posted some pics from the day on my Instagram.

 

Whitelee Wind Farm

Something I’ve been meaning to do for a while was a trip up to Whitelee wind farm. There are lots of tracks around the turbines for walking, cycling and mountain biking. The day we had planned our visit for turned out to be wet and overcast but, determined, we packed a change of clothes and the bikes and headed on up.

When we got out there, literally among the clouds, I felt like I was on another planet! The wind turbines are an impressive sight and what with the low cloud and the swooshing of the blades, the atmosphere was eerily alien and strangely thrilling!

After getting thoroughly soaked, and a much shorter bike ride than planned, we headed back to the cafe and visitors centre for hot chocolate and cake! I’m so glad we went though and I will definitely be going back but, perhaps, I’ll wait for a dry day!

Whitelee wind farm

 

Further reading

https://www.scottishcanals.co.uk/falkirk-wheel/about-the-wheel/how-it-works/

http://www.andyscottsculptor.com

http://www.thehelix.co.uk

http://www.thehelix.co.uk/things-to-do/the-kelpies/construction/kelpies-time-lapse-video/#.WZSphK2ZNsM

http://www.headsofayrfarmpark.co.uk

https://www.scottishpower.co.uk/whitelee/

Chalso birthstone jewellery

Birthstone jewellery makes a great gift. I make birthstone jewellery for each month of the year with genuine gemstone beads.

Birthstone jewellery makes a great gift. I make birthstone jewellery for each month of the year with genuine gemstone beads.

I make two main styles of birthstone necklaces. The stones I can get as large beads I make into pendants of my own design with Sterling silver wire.

When larger beads are not available, I use small gemstone beads to insert a small section of stones into a Sterling silver chain.

I have a number of different styles of birthstone bracelets available too.

Customised family birthstone bracelets are a popular request too.

I also make matching earrings for all these styles.

There are usually a number of options for each birthstone in my shop.

Many of my other designs can be adapted to feature birthstones on request.

Swarovski make a range of crystals in birthstone colours and I use these mostly to make family birthstone bracelets when continuity in size and shape is required.

Pastel rainbow birthstone bracelet with Swarovski crystals. A perfect gift for mum, you can choose the number of birthstones. The one shown has ruby and sapphire for July and September.
https://www.etsy.com/Chalso/listing/257899194/

Most of the birthstone jewellery shown here is available for purchase from my Etsy shop. Click on the link under each picture to see the listing for that item or, to see the birthstone jewellery currently available in my shop, click here. You can see more from my Birthstone Collection here.

I am always happy to discuss custom orders, please contact me via my Etsy shop, thanks!

Sarah x

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How to craft a successful Etsy listing

Etsy is a huge market place of over 1.8 million shops, you may wonder how you will ever be found amongst so many. Here, I’m going to share some tips that have worked for me…

First, open your shop! This link will get you started with 40 free listings, so opening your shop won’t cost you a penny. Next you need to fill up those 40 spaces. The more items you have in your shop the more chance you have of being found!

Crafting a listing

I’ll be using my Tiger ebony and Garnet bracelet listing as an example throughout this post.

Tiger ebony and Garnet bracelet
http://etsy.me/2rJYMPR

Product photography

I’m guessing if you’re reading this post you already have a great product to sell but, do your photos show your potential customers how great it is? You can add five photos to each listing, make sure to use them all. Photograph your product from different angles, add a close up and an “action shot” if relevant/possible. A staged shot is great for showing off the product, but an *in use* shot will give scale and let the shopper imagine the item in use by them. I share more photography tips in a previous post.

Tip: Use natural light, never a flash.

Titles and Tags

Make this your mantra, “titles and tags, titles and tags, titles and tags…” The first three words of your title carry the most weight in Etsy searches, so make sure these three words are the most relevant to your product. Fill up the rest of the title with more descriptive key words like colour, style, ideal recipient. Now take words and phrases from your title and add them as tags. Lets take my Tiger ebony and Garnet bracelet as an example. You can see I have repeated words and phrases from the title in the tags (you will see the tags at the very bottom of the listing). If you were looking for this bracelet you would most likely find it by searching for one of these tags, obviously the more specific the search, the higher up the search results it will come. A search for “tiger ebony bracelet” should see this bracelet on the first page. A tag like “gift for her” will be swamped so, this bracelet would only reach the first page in this search when it was newly listed or renewed. Which leads me onto timing. Time affects search results, newly listed/renewed items will appear higher up in search results than older listings.

Tip: If you are listing similar products, try to vary your titles and tags to cover as many potential search terms as possible.

Tip: Update your titles and tags to reflect seasonal trends and celebrations.

Good to know: Listings that have been renewed after selling will stay higher up the search results for longer.

What’s the right price?

You know how much it cost to make your product and you know how long it took to make it, this will give you a good starting point. While deciding on your price bear in mind if you under price, a potential customer may be suspicious of the quality (especially if the description is also very sparse) and if you over price, you may price yourself out of the market.

Tip: Don’t undersell yourself or your skills.

Getting the Sale

When writing your item description, imagine you are writing it for someone who can’t see the pictures. Include size, colour, shape, the ideal recipient. Bear in mind that the first paragraph will be searched by Google, but not Etsy, so think of your first paragraph as an introduction to your product and then go into details in the following paragraphs. A detailed description encourages confidence in the product.

What if your potential customer is just browsing? They may have clicked on one of your items for a closer look, but not be convinced it’s for them. Maybe there is something similar in your shop that would be perfect for them but, as they found this listing from a search result, you will need to entice them into your shop to find it. You can do this by adding links to other areas of your shop, for example let’s take my Tiger ebony and Garnet bracelet again. I link to five other places in my shop, including my wooden jewellery section, a search for “birthstone” from within my shop and my Etsy shop home page.

Tip: Log out of your shop and browse Etsy as a customer, see if you can find one of your own items via Etsy search.

Shout it from the rooftops!

Once you have opened your shop and have some fabulous products ready to sell, shout it from the rooftops! Use at least four social media platforms to let the world know about your shop. I recently wrote a post focussed on Twitter and promoting your shop on social media, read it here.

Further reading:

Etsy’s Seller Handbook

Chalso blog post on Social media and Twitter tips

Behind the scenes Chalso blog post with more tips, including photography tips.

Please note: I write this post from experience. Things that worked for me in the past may not continue to work in the future, especially as Etsy, Google and social media platforms are always changing and evolving. This means you too will need to change and adapt over time.

Sign up to the Chalso Newsletter to receive occasional email updates on new additions to my shop, seasonal gift guides and exclusive special offers!

Summer is coming!

With beautiful blue skies and blossom everywhere, daydreams have drifted towards summer and sandy toes and salty kisses! With this in mind I have created a few new items for my shop.

 

These wonderful wooden pendants are smooth and round (so tactile!) and come in a few different colours. Shown are the Whitewood, Greywood and Rosewood versions with “seafoam” hemp cord, pale pink and white cotton cord.

 

 

These would be great for sunny days and be sure to pack them for your summer holiday!

 

Rose Quartz bracelet with star charm.
Star charm bracelet

For a free Rose Quartz bracelet with your next Chalso order, sign up for the Chalso Newsletter here.

You can find all the jewellery featured here in my Etsy shop.

Chalso Circles

Announcing the new Chalso Circles Collection.

This collection is a slight diversification for Chalso. When you visit Chalso you will usually find lots of colour. This new collection is almost entirely Sterling silver (I couldn’t resist adding just one option with a touch of colour!).

Circles are a symbol of eternity and, for this collection, eternal love. With this in mind I have created a collection focussed on love, starting with a simple “I love you”.

 

The next, the Double Circle, is perfect to represent a couple’s love and would make great wedding jewellery.

The Double Circle necklace can also be separated onto two necklaces to make a mother and daughter or sisters set. The earrings would make a great gift for your mum or sister.

 

Triple Circles, I’m a mum to three children, so three is always on my mind.

 

The beauty of this minimal collection is that it is perfect for layering.

 

Visit my Etsy shop to view the full collection.

Note: Each picture has a description and a link to buy, click on the picture to see more information.

Sign up for the Chalso newsletter for shop updates and special offers!

Social Media and Twitter tips

Getting started

Twitter is the fastest moving of the Social Media platforms and, at the same time, it’s a slow burner. By joining in with hashtag hours you can get instant reaction to your work and tweets, but once your tweets are out there, they will continue to be retweeted and pop up on Twitter feeds for days after.

fullsizeoutput_1e03.jpeg

 

 

 

You can follow a tweet’s activity by clicking on the bars in the corner of each tweet.

 

 

 

 

Tweet activity

 

 

This will then show you the number of impressions and the total engagements made by this tweet.

 

 

 

 

Engagements

 

 

The total engagements can be expanded to show the types of engagement.

 

 

 

This information can be used to assess and plan your Twitter strategy. What kind of tweets get the most engagement, which hashtags give the best results and what time of day your tweets get the most attention.

 

Immerse yourself

Having said this, if you are going to promote your business on Twitter effectively, the most important thing is to immerse yourself in it, engage with others and join in hashtag hours. My favourites are #HandmadeHour (7.30-9.30pm on Wednesdays and 8-9pm on Sundays), #CraftHour (7-8pm on Sundays), #womaninbiz (6-7pm Monday-Friday) and #womaninbizhour (7-8pm on Sunday). There are so many hashtag hours on the go that you’ll definitely be able to find one that suits your business, at a time that suits you.

If you are a Twitter novice and this all seems a bit scary, just observe for a while, follow a few people in your niche and see which hashtag hours they are joining in with. When you feel comfortable, start tweeting, and remember to retweet and follow some of the others who are using the same hashtag and others will do the same for you. I usually retweet 3-5 tweets for each of my own (click on the hashtag to see all the tweets that have included that particular hashtag). When a lot of people are joining in with a hashtag hour it will start trending, so keeping an eye on what’s trending can also help you find popular hashtag hours. Once you are up and running here are some basic tips to keep in mind:

 

Twitter Tips

DO pin one of your own tweets to your profile (this option can be found under the down arrow at the top right of each of your tweets). This is important so that someone visiting your profile doesn’t have to look too hard to find something of yours to retweet!

DO share a link AND a photo in each of your product tweets. People respond better to tweets where they can see a photo without having to click on the link to your shop (and hence leave Twitter). If they like what they see, they may then visit your shop.

DO be aware that the picture you add to your tweet will appear cropped, so make sure your product is positioned towards the centre of the picture you share and will still be seen in the letterbox version that appears in your tweet.

DO add relevant hashtags to each tweet (this is how people will find you) and vary the hashtags you use to reach a larger audience.

DO follow and retweet others (many will return the favour), Tweeters love to share!

DO join in with hashtag hours, engage, comment and retweet.

DO be friendly and professional. Be yourself, but if you have strong political views or love sharing personal stuff or pictures of your pets, it might be a good idea to open a different account to do this from! This goes for all social media.

DON’T worry about how many followers you do or don’t have, Twitter is very fluid and this number will go up and down.

DON’T forget to fill in your profile and add a link to your shop!

If you find you just aren’t around to tweet when you want to be, there are ways to schedule tweets, check out TweetDeck for example.

 

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

Whatever your views on social media, there is no denying that it is an important part of promoting your business. I would highly recommend having a presence on multiple platforms. The reason being, things are always changing, for example when Facebook made changes a while back, many Pages all but disappeared from people’s feeds. If you put all your effort into one platform, you may find that when they inevitably make changes, your reach will dramatically drop until you figure out how to be seen again. However, it is unlikely that all social media platforms will make changes at the same time so, keeping a presence on multiple platforms means that you won’t suddenly disappear! I use Twitter and Instagram daily and Pinterest and Facebook a couple of times a week. You can choose your favourites, but I think having a presence on at least four different platforms, that you update regularly, is a necessity.

 

Brand continuity builds trust

Make sure you have brand continuity across your social media and that you maintain professionalism on all platforms. This will build trust in your brand and make it more likely for a potential customer to make the purchase. You will find that by working on your social media presence you will become the “go to” whenever someone is looking for whatever it is you sell. It is much easier to go straight to the person you see promoting their gorgeous bags on Twitter when you need a new bag than to search Google. I know this is the way it works because I do most of my shopping from small businesses I “met” on social media. 😁

 

Win win

By doing your gift shopping from small businesses and helping to promote them as well as yourself you become part of a community of like minded people all working together to support small businesses.

Links and further reading:

Chalso on Twitter

HandmadeHour on Twitter

CraftHour on Twitter

womaninbiz on Twitter

Justacard on Twitter

Bonnie Scotland

My home is Scotland. I grew up in St. Andrews and have lived in Dundee (the sunniest city in Scotland*), Edinburgh (the windiest city in Scotland*) and Glasgow (the wettest city in Scotland*) where I now live. I’ve also travelled, from Hong Kong to San Francisco, Germany to South Africa and many places in between.

Travelling definitely broadens the mind, and I’ll have to remind myself of that when my kids decide they are off on adventures of their own! But, as Dorothy so eloquently put it, “There’s no place like home” and that is where I now spend most of my time. A “stay at home mum” allowing my life to revolve around the three little humans I made. A scientist by training and a problem solver by nature, I’ve found being a mum incredibly challenging and rewarding. I feel very fortunate that there are a lot of wonderful family activities on our doorstep, the likes of the Glasgow Science Centre and Dynamic Earth are definitely worth frequent visits and annual passes make these very affordable days out. There are also the Scottish museums and art galleries that are free to enter (donations welcome) such as Kelvingrove,  Riverside Museum, GoMA and the National Museums. We are also very lucky to have many large green spaces to enjoy throughout our cities. In Glasgow especially, you can feel like you are in the countryside despite being just a short walk from the city streets.

I’m a great supporter of public transport and when I’m out and about I will use trains and busses in preference to driving so, I know, these places are easily accessible by public transport (and a short walk, it’s always good to add a bit of outdoor exercise to any activity!). It’s also worth mentioning that ScotRail do a great Kids Go Free deal, with every adult return ticket, you can get free travel for up to two children and free child entry to many fantastic attractions. This makes travelling by train a fun and money-saving part of the adventure, bonus!

Sometimes it’s fun to go a bit further afield in the car. There are many fabulous places that can be reached and enjoyed on a day trip from Glasgow. Sights, natural and manmade, new and old, castles and beaches… I think I’ll keep these for a future blog post, but I’ve included a few pictures in the slideshow below to give you a taster!

 

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I’m always happy to find new places to visit, so if you have any recommendations, please leave them in the comments, Spring holidays are approaching 🙂

 

* Anecdotal

Further reading:

https://www.visitscotland.com

http://www.environment.scotland.gov.uk/climate_trends_handbook/Chapter02/2_00.html

http://www.tramway.org/Pages/home.aspx

http://www.glasgowsciencecentre.org/

http://www.glasgowlife.org.uk/museums/Pages/home.aspx

http://www.dynamicearth.co.uk/

http://www.visitstandrews.com/

My favourite things to make

Custom orders are my favourite things to make.

From an initial enquiry of “Do you have any…?” or “Can you make…? to picking the beads, style, pattern and finish. I really do love the process. This is a Fire Opal bracelet I made which started off with an “I’d like an elastic Opal bracelet…”. Here are some of the photos taken from the conversation that followed.

Etsy also has a very handy Translate button integrated into it’s Conversations which enabled me to make this custom order for a lovely French couple, with a little bit of improvisation to clarify the bits that didn’t translate so well, I think I got it just right!

Usually the requests are variations of something I already make, but I enjoy making something just right for someone. The request often has special meaning to the customer whether it’s wedding jewellery or family birthstones so it always makes me feel good to be able to provide exactly what the customer was looking for.

A selection of custom orders.
A selection of custom orders.

Visit my Etsy shop to request a custom order of your own. I’m also happy make multiple matching sets for bridesmaids.

Giving Tuesday

I got involved with #givingtuesday after hearing about it from a good friend over dinner one evening.

Giving Tuesday is the antidote to the massive consumer frenzy that is Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It is a day of giving, a day to do good stuff, a day to make a difference. It doesn’t matter who you give to, choose a worldwide charity or a local one. It doesn’t matter what you give, whether you make a trip to a charity shop with some clothes from the back of your wardrobe or run a marathon for Cancer Research, whether you donate time or money, cakes or clothes.

I use social media a lot to promote my business, so I thought this was somewhere I could help spread the word about #givingtuesday. In November lots of businesses are promoting #blackfriday sales. I decided, instead of having a sale, I would donate 10% of my November sales to Clyde Cash for Kids. During November, I promoted both #givingtuesday and #cashforkids on Twitter and other social media. My daughter also got in on the act, giving a presentation to her class about #givingtuesday; laying the groundwork for future #givingtuesday activities at her school.

I talked about #givingtuesday lots on the run up to the day with family, friends, fellow Etsy shop owners and on social media, making over three and a half thousand impressions on Twitter with my #givingtuesday tweets.

giving tuesday 2016
#givingtuesday 2016

Every little helps! I got involved with #givingtuesday after a single conversation with a friend. It really is that simple, spread the word! 2016 was the first year that I participated in #givingtuesday, but it won’t be the last, I’m already thinking about how to get more people involved this year! Giving Tuesday falls on the Tuesday after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, this year it’s the 28th November 2017, so there’s plenty of time to get organised. I’ve already taken the first step by signing up to be one of the 1000 Faces of Clyde Cash for Kids.

 

Further reading:

http://www.givingtuesday.org.uk/case-study-chalso/

http://www.cashforkids.uk.com/

http://www.givingtuesday.org.uk/

https://www.givingtuesday.org/

 

 

Social Media, Instagram

 

In March, Instagram is my favourite of the social media platforms. Last year I took part in Joanne Hawker‘s #MarchMeettheMaker on Instagram. It was such good fun! It really helped me to connect with a great community of makers and get into the swing of using Instagram. So now it’s March again and here is the schedule for #MarchMeettheMaker 2017… let’s do it!

 

If you are a maker/seller and want to give Instagram a go, joining in with a meet the maker, photo a day challenge, is a great way to do it.

Chalso Instagram
Chalso on Instagram

 

Further reading:

https://www.instagram.com/chalsojewellery/

http://www.joannehawker.co.uk

https://business.instagram.com/getting-started

http://www.theshopfiles.com/instagram-tips-for-business/