About Me

Blogging Goals For 2016

I’m calling this post blogging goals for 2016 even though the goals aren’t just for blogging, and even though we’re already 2 and a half months into 2016. You’re okay with that right?!

Blogging Goals For 2016 at Jennifer Grace Creates

I did a post last year for my blogging goals in 2015, and though I didn’t achieve everything on the list, it certainly helped to get me focused. And I like putting my plans out there for you all to see, so you know what I’m up to behind the scenes, and what I have planned for the months ahead!

So, here’s the things I’d like to achieve in 2016…

Goal One: Make My Blog More Snazzy

Okay, I’m totally cheating with this one, as I’ve already pretty much completed this. But it was a blogging goal for 2016, I just happened to finish it before I wrote this post. I’ve been working super hard on it all weekend. If you are reading this post in an email or reader where you can’t see the whole blog, please pop by and take a look!

Here’s what the landing page looks like now:

 Jennifer Grace Creates New Blog Look

There were so many things I wanted to achieve, and I think I’ve managed most of them! I wanted: a logo I’d made entirely myself (drawing the text by hand rather than using a font), a home page with some welcome images / info on (rather than you just landing on the blog), a drop-down menu so that you can easily choose which project types or seasons you are interested in viewing, the menu to stay at the top of the page when you scroll down so it’s always accessible, a full width instagram widget in the footer, a sticky sidebar so when you are scrolling down a long post the sidebar doesn’t suddenly go empty, and just a slightly cleaner look – but without losing too much colour.

What do you think? Here’s a screenshot of the old home page for comparison:

 Jennifer Grace Creates - Screen Shot Of The Old Blog Look

If anyone is interested I used the Cabin Theme by Select Themes on Envato to help me build my new look.

Obviously I will keep playing around with things a bit but I’m pretty happy with the overall effect. Do let me know if you have any problems with navigation or page load times or anything though!

Goal Two: Work On My Etsy Shops

Yes, you did read that right – it’s plural. I now have 2 Etsy Shops. Because, you know, life wasn’t busy enough!

You already know about my Happy Scatter Etsy Shop, selling stencils and embellishments that I’ve designed and mostly made myself. I’ve been planning some more bits and pieces to add to that, including 8 mini-stencils that are 3″ square, but I’m just waiting for some more mylar to arrive before I can cut them and list them.

Mini Stencils at Happy Scatter

But what you probably don’t know about Happy Scatter is that I’ve recently created a Happy Scatter Instagram Account, and a Happy Scatter Blog!

The blog can be found at happyscatter.com and it looks a little like this at the moment:

Happy Scatter Blog

There’s a few posts on there which I wrote just to get it started, including a tutorial for this card using the Wood Slice Stencil:

Congratulations Card Using The Happy Scatter Wood Slice Stencil

At the moment I’ll just be posting my own projects using Happy Scatter items on there, but in the coming months I hope to get a design team going and start a monthly blog challenge, etc, so make sure you add it to your blog reader!

I created that blog using blogger and the Felicity Template by BlogShopbyGeorgiaLou on Etsy, in case you are wondering!

The Etsy shop which I haven’t mentioned on here yet is the one I just opened a couple of weeks ago. For a while I’ve been wanting to have another shop so that I could sell jewellery and gifts that I’ve made myself. I ordered tests for the wooden necklaces and pendants back in May last year, but then I started my part time librarian job in June, and then became the chair of the PTA at my kids school in September, and my plans got forgotten for a while. Then Etsy had a course called Etsy Resolution at the beginning of the year and it got me fired up again!

Here’s what the Jennifer Grace Creates Etsy Shop looks like:

Jennifer Grace Creates Etsy Shop

At the moment it just has a few designs of necklaces, earrings, and badges in it, but I plan to add more designs of these and also some other gifty bits.

One of the fun things about them is that you can choose the colours of the jewellery from a selection of paints, and I can add any names or phrases to the items, like on this Bunny Rabbit Necklace, perfect for Easter:

Custom Bunny Name Necklace at Jennifer Grace Creates

I won’t be blogging about that shop too often on here, but I will occasionally share if I’ve added a lot of new things or something. I will be sharing pics of items in it on my social media, but it’s not going to take over – my usual crafty projects and family photos will still be the bulk of it!

So my goal with my Etsy shops is just to keep working on them – keep adding new items and finding other ways to promote them. I love making items for them and I just want to do more, more, more!

Goal Three: Keep Networking

 Last year networking was one of my goals and I attended the CHA UK Creative Exchanges event in April, which was amazing fun (I wrote about it HERE). I believe CHA UK are doing Creative Exchanges again, but I’m not sure if I’m going this time as I think it’s in June, and in June I am already booked to go to Blogtacular!

Blogtacular

I can’t tell you how excited I am about this. I have wanted to go for the last couple of years, and have been joining in the #blogtacular twitter chats on Wednesday nights at 9pm as much as I can. But I’ve never had the money for the ticket at the right time. So last summer I convinced hubby to buy me an early bird ticket for my birthday present – this means I’ve been excited for months now! It’s less than 100 days to go, and I’ve booked my accommodation for the Friday night so I can attend the Friday night party, so I can officially start jumping around with anticipation!

I also want to continue networking online, in particular I’d love to get better at reading more blogs and writing comments again. I used to be much better at this, at least I would catch up with blogs I loved once in a while, but now when I do read blogs it tends to be on my phone or tablet and I don’t take the time to leave a comment. Which is naughty, because I know how much I love comments!

I enjoyed watching Julie Kirk’s challenge to herself to Write 300 Comments In 30 Days, and the Things She Leaned From It, and whilst I think that’s too high a number for me to attempt, I’m sure I could manage more than I do. I might print off some kind of tally chart to keep by my computer and just see how much I  manage each month. I’ll see how it goes!

Goal Four: Keep Making Stuff

I thought this was an important one to include! Last year I wanted to try and write 5 posts a week, and right now that’s laughably impossible. But I do want to keep making and sharing projects on here as much as I can. I’m not going to promise a certain number or a particular schedule, and I’m still not sure if I’m going to host any kind of blog event this year. But I will promise to keep making stuff, and to keep posting it on here!

It’s going to continue with a mix of layouts, cards, DIY gifts, kids crafts, and more, because I love making lots of different things. But hopefully now that the top menu can help you filter out particular projects you will still enjoy stopping by to see the latest ones you are interested in, if it’s not all of them!

Mix Of Projects at Jennifer Grace Creates

Thank you so much for continuing to support Jennifer Grace Creates with your visits! Do you have any blogging or crafting goals for this year? Let me know. Maybe we can keep each other on track!

I hope you have a great day,

Jennifer x

Industry News & Reviews, Your Craft & Soul Events

Focus On The Props – Photo Styling

(This post is part of my Focus Your Craft & Soul Blog Event – see the list of all the posts HERE!)

You may have noticed that I’ve been attempting to make my photos a bit more arty and styled lately – using props rather than just photographing a project on a plain background. This is for several reasons – 1. I got a bit bored with the way I was doing things, 2. I wanted to emulate nicely styled photos like you see in magazines like Mollie Makes, 3. I noticed that things which get pinned more on Pinterest are often the ones with more props.

I still have a lot to learn, and I thought this event was a good excuse to practice a bit more and share what I’m doing!

Focus On The Props - Photo Styling

Here’s some of the photos I’ve posted recently using props:

Focus On The Props - Photo Styling

I also used props to style my header for my Jennifer Grace Creates Facebook Page:

Focus On The Props - Photo Styling

Adding the scissors was the ah-ha moment in the above photo!

On these pictures I’ve mainly been using crafty items as the props, but I want to start adding other pretty items too. One of my inspirations for adding more items is the #propstylers challenge on Instagram, set up by Georgie St. Clair and Christina Colli. Each month they challenge use to use a certain prop (for this month, May 2015, it’s ribbon) and style it in a gorgeous way, to post to instagram using the hashtag. You can see Georgie’s original post about the challenge HERE. If you click HERE you can see some of the recent #propstylers entries on Instagram. I thought I needed a plan of action to help me focus on this!

So I gathered up a basket full of bits and pieces:

Focus On The Props - Photo Styling

Here they are all spread out. It include a big mix of items, large and small, and different sizes and colours – though I did keep it to more muted colours rather than bold and bright ones for now:

Focus On The Props - Photo Styling

Note the little boxes of sequins and buttons – these wouldn’t be necessary for everyone but I think it’s good for me to use something I’m comfortable with, and so I can keep my scattered style!

I tried to create a styled photo straight away, using the ribbon prompt for the challenge. Plus I used an empty frame and a triangle button to keep in with my ‘focus’ theme for this weekend. I liked how the tarnished frame looked with the green flowers inside so I picked these out with a couple of other bits in the same hues:

Focus On The Props - Photo Styling

Which looked okay but I thought it needed something else to make it ‘pop’. So I added in a couple of coral-coloured buttons:

Focus On The Props - Photo Styling

I liked this much better!

Next I decided to try and photograph my ‘On A Journey’ Brooch again with these new props. I also kept some ribbon in for the challenge, but wanted to do something different with it, so I wrapped it around a piece of slate:

Focus On The Props - Photo Styling

I thought I’d try a different background surface, so I photographed the same set-up on a woodgrain patterned piece of paper:

Focus On The Props - Photo Styling

I’m not sure if I prefer this on white or on woodgrain, what do you think?

One tip I’ve learnt is it’s great to have a lump of Blu Tack to hand while you are styling. You can put a small piece under a curved object to stop it rolling around, or you can use it to keep things level – for example in the above photos the brooch is propped up at the top with a thick button and a piece of Blu Tack to keep it level with the slate:

Focus On The Props - Photo Styling

What do you think? Have you ever tried to add props to your photos? You could try photographing some of your favourite things, or a nice meal, or a new purchase, in an arty way like this, then use the photo for a scrapbook page!

Be Inspired:

Style a photo using some props

Wrap ribbon around something grungy / discoloured

Put some flowers inside an empty frame

Which of my styled photos do you like the best?

I’ll see you again soon for the last post of the day,

Jennifer x

Industry News & Reviews

The CHA UK Creative Exchanges Scholarship Competition

Hey all. I just heard about a competition for UK crafters that I thought I’d to share with you, as it sounds exciting and is a bit different!

You may remember me mentioning in my Blogging Goals for 2015 blog post that I’m now a CHA UK member, and I will be going to the CHA UK Creative Exchanges event for designers / demonstrators / educators in the creative industry. It sounds like it’s going to be interesting and fun, and I can’t wait to go! If you thought you’d love to go too but you couldn’t afford it then read on, as one lucky person is going to win a place there…

CHA UK Creative Exchanges Scholarship Competition

CHA UK are currently holding a Creative Exchanges Scholarship Competition. All the details can be found HERE at the CHA UK Website, but here’s the important information:

One lucky winner will be awarded a fantastic career boosting bundle of prizes including a free place at the Creative Exchanges event as well as a range of craft supplies, work placements and mentoring. Two runners-up will also receive a prize of craft supplies as well as mentoring to help them boost their business for the year ahead.

The Creative Exchanges Scholarship competition is open to applicants from all creative fields including papercraft, soft crafts and cake decorating. To enter, simply send a brief overview of you, your business and your aspirations for the year ahead combined with your creative resume with a link to your blog or website and 2-3 examples of your work to creative-exchanges@cha-uk.co.uk

The closing date is the 31st of March 2015.

Because the main prize is a place at Creative Exchanges you should only enter the competition if you are available that weekend (18th – 20th April 2015) and able to travel to the venue near Coventry. If you’ve already paid for a place at the event and you win then you will be refunded. I will be entering too as I may as well give it a try! The winner will be publicly announced at Creative Exchanges, though they will have been told before that they have won so they know they need to come to the event.

If you’d like to further your crafting career and you are free that weekend then why not give it a try?!

If you are on Facebook there is a closed group where there are regular Q&A sessions, the next one is on Monday 2nd March between 12 and 1pm, and the theme is ‘the Creative Exchanges and the Scholarship Competition’. If you want to join in you can request to join the group HERE. The FB group is going to be for CHA UK members only eventually, but at the moment they are letting others join in for the Q&A’s. If you have any problems joining the group let me know.

That’s all, bye for now,

Jennifer x

About Me

Blogging Goals for 2015

I’ve got so many ideas bubbling through my head all the time, and in an effort to be more ‘focused’ (see my word-of-the-year post HERE) I thought I’d list some of my blogging goals here. That way I will have something to refer back to when I start to get distracted, and knowing that you all know my plans will help me to stay on track!

Blogging Goals for 2015

2015 Blog Goals at Jennifer Grace Creates

So here we go, these are the things I’d like to achieve here on the blog in 2015…

Goal One: Plan ahead more.

Mama Miss Blog Planner 2015

I’m usually pretty good about planning ahead for my blog events, but I’m terrible about planning my blogging for the rest of the year! Posts go live sporadically and on random topics that I feel like creating and blogging about at the time. This has got to change!

I downloaded the above planner HERE at Mama Miss. I bought the all-inclusive package for $10. There are free blog planners out there if you search for them, but after some debate I decided this one was worth the $10 because I loved the design (and therefore wouldn’t get bored of looking at it by the end of the year) and there was so many different kinds of useful pages. One section I was interested in was the holidays/occasions for each month – they are VERY American as that’s where Mama Miss lives, but I think I can just cross-out and add in where neccessary. I find it useful to know when the USA are celebrating anyway as I have some fabulous readers from all around the world (Hi there!).

As you can see my planner isn’t bound together yet, nor have I written in it at all. But I’ve printed it off, so that’s a start, right? I need to put it together and start filling it out this week.

Goal Two: Blog 5 times a week.

Archive Blog Posts at Jennifer Grace Creates

The above shows a screenshot of my archive of blog posts (which you can find in the sidebar). I didn’t expand the November archive as that’s a gigantic list thanks to Frosty Festivities! You can see that my posts are a bit random. Only two posts for August, only three in December. A few more in September and October.

I don’t like it looking like this! I want to try and post 5 times a week, probably Monday – Friday. I almost wrote ‘post more regularly’ as the goal, but I realised that wasn’t specific enough. I usually aim in my head to post 2-3 times a week, and as we can see that means I only blog once or twice a week, if that. So maybe if I aim for 5 times a week I’ll end up with at least 3 posts a week on average!

I will continue to mix up various crafts, but as the year goes on I hope to make it so that certain days will be certain things eg, Mondays – Scrapbooking, Tuesdays – Cards, Wednesdays – Industry/Blog News, Thursday – Home Decor, Friday – Kids Craft. Or something like that. We’ll see how it goes. For now, more posts with great content is the main goal!

Goal Three: Earn money from blogging / designing / Etsy shop.

Earning Money at Jennifer Grace Creates

I’m going to be perfectly honest here. My son starts school in Sepetember. If I’m not earning at least a little bit of money from blogging / designing / my Happy Scatter Etsy Shop by then, I will have to get a job instead. This isn’t the end of the world or anything, I know plenty of people work hard and still manage to create amazing blogs. But I know it will seriously decrease my enthusiasm for blogging. I certainly won’t have time for my bi-annual blog events, even if I had more guest designers the amount of time it would take to organise and co-ordinate that would be beyond me. I don’t do all my blogging during the school day at the moment or anything, but I do get a little done here and there – more imporantly I get the housework done during the day. If I’m at work while the kids are at school, so I need to do the housework in the evening, that means I loose my evening blogging time.

Anyway, I’m not trying to get any sympathy or handouts or anything like that! I’m just putting this here as it is a goal of mine, and I want to explain why you might start seeing more adverts / affiliate links, etc on here. I’m not going to let them take-over, and nothing will happen that I don’t feel is in-keeping with my blog theme and design. Mostly you’ll be able to ignore them if you choose. Perhaps if you enjoy a blog post here you’ll click through an advert or buy from an affiliate link as a way of saying thanks, but that’s totally up to you, no pressure.

Regarding Happy Scatter I also don’t want that to take over this blog. I’ve set up a Happy Scatter Facebook Page so I can share more stuff on there, and in a few months I might set up a Happy Scatter blog. In the meantime there will only be one or two Happy Scatter posts a month here, as I don’t want you to feel like I’m overselling the shop. I seriously don’t want to offend / upset any of my regular readers – you can always contact me at jennifergrace@hotmail.co.uk if you want to discuss any changes on my blog!

Goal Four: Network and learn more in the industry.

CHA UK Creative Exchanges

One of the best things I did last year was going to the Cricut Explore Launch which I was invited to in London. Not only was I given an Explore machine and lots of materials since (which I’m still loving using) but I also met some other bloggers from the UK and the US, and some industry professionals like Ashish Arora (the CEO of Cricut). Getting out of my little home down in deepest Dorset and meeting other people who are as passionate about the crafting industry as I am was inspiring.

I’m lucky that I do have a crafty friend (Sarah) who lives near enough for me to pop and scrap with occasionally. She’s also set up a Facebook group for UK scrapbookers to chat on: For The Love Of Pretty Paper (UK Based Scrapbooking Group). And I did get to go on a lovely scrappy retreat in November too. While these are fabulous and relaxing and therapeutic, in 2015 I’d love to meet even more bloggers and industry professionals, to keep my drive going and to teach me more about where I can take my blog and my crafting.

So I’ve signed up to become a member of CHA UK, and I am going to their Creative Exchanges Weekend on the 18th – 20th April! I am super excited about this. I was excited anyway, because the list of education topics sounds so interesting, and then during a chat with Sarah Hurley (who is involved with CHA UK) she mentioned there would be a onesie party and film night too, which sounds like fun, and when I said I wanted to learn more about using Pinterest to drive blog traffic she mentioned that actual Pinterest would be coming to talk about Pinterest. I can’t wait now!

I’ll be sure to tell you all about it when I get back!

Goal Five: Making tweaks.

New Blog Header 2015 Jennifer Grace Creates

Because I think 5 goals is quite enough to be going on with, I’m squeezing a few small goals into this one, as ‘making tweaks’, mainly to the blog layout / design.

Eagle-eyed readers might have already noticed the updated blog header and new profile photo. I’m going to leave the background the same this year, as I happen to quite like it! Other tweaks I want to make are:

1. To update the pages accessed from the menu bar – ‘blog events’ needs updating already, and the ‘about me’ page could do with a freshen up!

2. Optimising the blog to be viewed on mobiles / tablets. How did I only just realise that it’s hard to read my blog on a mobile phone? I read blogs on my phone all the time, but apparently not my own blog, as I hadn’t noticed. Time to sort that out!

3. Create a press/media pack page. Yeah, I don’t know much about these other than I should have one if I want to make money blogging. Something else to learn!

One final important goal: to have fun!

Jennifer Grace Profile Pic

I don’t want this blog to feel like a chore, so I will still be blogging only the things that excite me or which I enjoy doing!

Stephanie at Skyline Paperie recently published a blog post about starting a blog (you can see the post HERE). She asked a few others for hints and tips and my tip was to blog what YOU want to blog. So I’m going to stay true to my own advice and if I find I’m not enjoying any of these goals I will re-think them and let you know the new plan!

Thank you so much for reading, and for continuing to support Jennifer Grace Creates with your visits! Do you have a blog? If yes, do you have any blogging goals for this year? What do you want from your blog?

I hope you have a great day,

Jennifer x

About Me

My Crafty Space

Here’s my crafty space, where I write, scrap, paint, create, and will hopefully now blog! (Though at the moment I’m blogging from my sofa…)

My Crafty Space at Jennifer Grace Creates

I love my crafty space as it’s so colourful and messy, and full of little bits and bobs of inspiration and little characters to keep me company, like Humphrey the penny farthing traveller…

Humphrey The Traveller at Jennifer Grace Creates

I also love my laptop, as though it can be a bit small for working on websites that also means it’s easy to cart about and leaves me plenty of space to spread out other stuff over my desk!

It’s the first day of the ‘blogging for scrapbooker’s’ class today so I fully intended to spend some time at my desk today. I got as far as choosing a photo for a scrapbook LO for today’s prompt, but then I had to roast some chestnuts! But I did think about what it is I want to get out of this class, and my goals are:

To get in a stride of blogging regularly

For my blog to be a diary of events as well as a gallery for my projects

To make some online friends who share my joy in papercrafting

Finger’s crossed! I’m gonna try my best to blog every day or two but November is a busy month for me so we’ll see! On that note, I’ve got my first ever craft fair coming up (scary!) so here’s pic of two cute xmas wall hangers that I’ve made for selling: (sorry the pics aren’t great quality)

Penguin Xmas 2009 Snowman Xmas 2009

That’s all for now, bring on prompt two!