Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Hampshire Baby And Toddler Exhibition

There is a fabulous baby and toddler exhibition planned for the 2nd October at the City Cruise Terminal in Southampton. All details for exhibitors and visitors are available on their website http://www.thehampshirebabyandtoddlerexhibition.co.uk.



With some fantastic feedback from their 2010 this year is set to be even better.
If you have a business in this industry, baby and toddler fairs can be a fantastic opportunity to get your product seen as well as network with other exhibitors and chat and get feedback from potential customers.

Follow them on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/dreameventmgt


Friday, 24 June 2011

Making the most of your products - A brief guide to product photography

Article By: Aloha Photography

What sort of image?


One of the first questions I ask clients is where the images will be used. This is the most important thing to establish as this dictates the type of shot you need.
The main places that images are used are as follows:
·         PR – used in magazines and other promotional material

·         Online – on your own website or others e.g. facebook.
There are also two main styles that are used those being Lifestyle and Still Life on White . Each has their merits and their own place. It really does depend on what you are doing with your images so really do give this some consideration.
LifestyleLifestyle photography shows your product in a particular setting or gives a feel for your product. These images can look fantastic and you can really go to town with artistic license.  The most common is outdoors, however this is also very often created in a studio.
Still Life on White Still Life on White  photography is your product on a pure white background. That is simply it. Again this is very popular for websites and marketing material as there is no background to distract from the product, the product is all you see so it is the main focus. If your images will be appearing in magazines this is what will be required as the images can easily be cut out to suit the layout of the magazine.
In the images below (taken by Aloha Photography for Dotty Drawers of London) you will see the exact same product (a pair of Knickers), two are lifestyle and two are on a white background. As you will see they all convey a different message about the product.







If you are using a professional photographer, make sure you find out all the information regarding charges. If you want Still Life on White  and Lifestyle, will this be the same price or more expensive?

It’s all about size!

The next thing you need to consider is size. For PR the requirement is usually for the image to be at 300 dpi and usually square. Bare in mind that a normal image straight out of camera is oblong so you may need to consider this when framing your shot! If you haven’t already heard about it then check out:  http://www.picnik.com/ This site is a great starting point to edit your images if you don’t have appropriate software. If you are in any doubt just ask your web developer or PR consultant what is required.

Lights, Camera, Action

Photography is all about light, without going into detail just believe me that it is. Natural light is always a winner but you will need to consider things like harsh light and shadows. If you are shooting indoors, avoid where possible the flash on your camera as this can be harsh and cause dramatic shadows. The best thing to do is shoot in daylight and use additional lights around your products, looking out for shadows and what looks good, moving where appropriate. Avoid using tungsten lights (normal bog standard household light bulbs) as this can cause your images to go yellow. Of course this is only really a concern if you are trying to shoot on white – if it is a lifestyle piece then this is less of a problem.
As an example, the below images were taken with a normal point and shoot compact camera. The first was taken in the evening with the lights on and using the on camera flash. Can you see the harsh shadows and the harsh colours it has produced? The second was taken in the evening with ordinary house lights on. Can you see the yellow-ness that happens with tungsten and also the poor quality due to not enough light? The third image was taken in daylight next to a window. Out of all the images this is the best. I am not saying this is the best image ever, just the best of what was available. These images are just a guide to iterate the point about the use of lighting.

 



My main advice here is to do your research first – what looks good, what looks bad. Why is that the case and would it look better if it was used in a different way?

Take a couple of images and then look at them on your computer screen (the screen on the back of your camera is way too small to properly judge). You will know what looks good and more so what looks bad so keep playing with your set up – move the lights around, move the product and most importantly move you! Don’t just stand still, move to get the best angle.

If you need more light use white cardboard or tin foil to aid as a reflector.

Product Photography Workshops


Don’t despair there is always help out there through networking with other businesses or photographers.

This is only meant to be a very brief guide, of course the more you experiment, the more you will learn and the better your images will become. If you would like to learn more why not come on one of our workshops. Workshops are planned for the Autumn, to register your interest please do email us: mail@alohaphotography.co.uk

Visit http://www.alohaphotography.co.uk or find them on Facebook

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Starting to Crawl!

My son has recently started crawling which is wonderful although I could really do with another set of eyes, and hands as he’s getting quicker by the day!


This is a little clip of when he first started crawling,  he look's a little startled when he crashes into his toy but doesn't cry. He’s since improved and is now pretty much a top speed!

His main aim seems to be to seek out and eat the remote control and failing that he turns his attention to reaching the coals in the fireplace. We’ve had to temporarily block off the fireplace with boxes until we get a fire guard, our living room looks as if we’re moving! Our little dogs also tend to hide as soon as they see him coming.
I think the upcoming weekend could be filled with choosing baby gates and general baby proofing!


Jill. x

Sock Monkey Showcase!

We recently held a little showcase on Facebook for our mums who make Sock Monkeys or Sock Animals. We got some fabulous entries and the wonderful examples of these lovely creations really brightened up and brought some fun to our Facebook page.
The most popular Sock Monkey was called Lady Leona and was submitted by Handmade Crafts of Letchworth.





"My name is Liz Wilkinson and I am a Hairdresser working with my husband in a Salon which we own in Hitchin Hertfordshire. I only work in there 3 days a week so the rest of the week is mine. As I have a love of craft I set up the group Handmade crafts of Letchworth on Facebook in 2010.
I mostly make Sock cuddleys (I don’t call them sock monkeys as cuddleys allows me to broaden what I can make) These are made from brand new socks, filled with carded polyester filling (which is hypo-allergenic and also conforms to the furniture and furnishings fire and safety regulations 1988, and to british standards BS5852) I use Black felt for their eyes as this makes them safe for children.
Before I started making sock cuddleys I was making items from polymer clay but due to having problems with my hands being constantly cold molding the clay became difficult in cold weather so I was looking for something different to make and came across sock monkey making on youtube. After seeing a few different styles I tried making my first cuddley and I was so proud of myself so much so that I took it to work and made sure everyone saw! I have adapted my style and now im very pleased with how they look. Each cuddley I make has a handmade crafts of Letchworth Label behind the left ear so there is no doubt where it came from.
No two cuddleys are made identical, I can use the same style sock more than once though but they will not turn out completely the same.
These seem popular with the people in my group as they are light in weight and very squishy, it took a little while to find the stuffing that I was completely satisfied with but now that I have found it I buy 5kilos at a time!
Socks these days are so whacky and colorful making fantastic cuddleys, they can be made to colour co ordinate pram colours, bedroom colours or favorite colour. They make great gifts for birthdays, christenings, anniversaries wedding gifts for bridesmaids/pageboys birth of a new baby the list goes on! One of my oldest members is 74 and she has just purchased her 3rd cuddley and my youngest was bought by its mummy to take to hospital when she went into labour!
I try and get at least 20 made a week, this is just me making them on my own, but I am currently training someone up to come and help out once in a while to help get my order list down.

I run my group on an order basis, each Friday night I upload photos of around 10 – 15 pairs of new socks for people to choose to be made into cuddleys as there are over 1400 members, these go very quick! Some people send me personal or special socks to be made so this normally gives me around 20 to make each week. I charge £9.50 for a large cuddley (usually size 4 – 7) and £7.50 for a smaller one (size 12 – 3)."


We will be meeting a little Sock Monkey from Handmade Crafts of Letchworth very soon and he (or she!) will be a prize for a future competition. That’s if we don’t fall in love with him and are just not able to give him away! J

This is a little collage of all the wonderful items in the showcase. They are available to view in an album on http://www.facebook.com/morethanmummies and details of who made them and where they are available to buy are underneath each photo.






Jill. x

Monday, 20 June 2011

More Than Mummies Update

Just a little update post, June has been a really busy month for More Than Mummies we revealed our new logo and sent out our first newsletter. Our next newsletter has also been finalized and will be sent out by email at the beginning of July. Our July edition has also been printed and will be distributed at a couple of different events and at any other opportunities next month. (The printed version will be available to view here on the blog from the 2nd or 3rd of July.)

One of the events it will be distributed at is Lancashire’s Mother and Baby fair at the Oaks Hotel in Burnley on the 3rd of July. More Than Mummies is also a proud sponsor of this Baby Fair and from all the wonderful things that are planned, it’s set to be a great fun family day out and I’m a very much looking forward to attending. More Than Mummies is also going to be a sponsor at a couple of other baby events over the next couple of months and I look forward to telling you all about them very soon.

We have also run various competitions and giveaways this month both on our More Than Mummies Facebook page and also on our Twitter page. On Facebook we ran a competition for UK mums who make cards and the winner was Silver Fairy Dust Creations and our runner up was Relatively Pink. It was a very close contest and in the end there were only 5 votes between first and second. You will be able to see the features on our winner and runner up here on the blog very soon.

A very big thank you to all who took part in our card competition they were all wonderful entries and no two cards were alike, there really are some very talented and creative mums out there.

We also so had a wonderful amount of entries in our ‘Children’s Cakes Made by Mums’ competition and all the entries are fantastic! You can vote on them until the 30th of June by clicking on the contest icon under the profile picture on our Facebook page, you can vote for your favourite 3.


If you have voted and you would like to be in with the chance of winning a personalised apron for an adult and a child from the gorgeous 3 Blonde Bears Ltd simply click on the sweepstakes icon (underneath the contests icon) to register or if you prefer just email your entry saying ‘apron giveaway’ to morethanmummies@gmail.com. (Open to UK entrants only.)







Another giveaway on Facebook that ends on the 30th June is to win a luxurious cashmere cushion cover from Babatude worth £55. To enter all you need to do is email us (morethanmummies@gmail.com) and tell us what colours you think Babatude should make their next range of cushion covers in. This giveaway is open to UK and international.


(Please see the competitions page for any terms and conditions.)


And finally our Twitter giveaways! We have been running a little giveaway on Twitter each week in June to celebrate reaching 500 followers and tonight we will start our 4th and final one. I will be uploading a photo of the prize later this evening and it will be available to view on the competitions tab of this blog. Our Twitter giveaway will also be UK and international.

One final mention is to the winner of our 3000 Likes competition, Basket Basket, on Yummy Mummies – Business Mums. We will also be featuring them in a blog post very soon and there logo is our profile picture on our Yummy Mummies page until the end of June.

Next month we also have lots of competitions and giveaways planned, from books to beauty products to more fantastic promotion or advertising! And even a fabulous Sock Monkey!

Our website is also progressing nicely and I am very excited to launch it sometime in the next few weeks! As soon as it’s ready I will let you know.

Jill. x

Friday, 3 June 2011

Gift Ideas for Father's Day!

Though I better get this photo up asap in case anyone is looking for Father’s day gift ideas. It’s not until Sunday 19th June but we won’t be adding any more photos to our album to give people time to place orders and allow for posting.
There are some great items and our album on More Than Mummies has certainly given me a few ideas as to what to get my other half from our son for Father’s day. I won’t tell you what I like just yet in case he reads this and spoils any surprise!
There are all types of items to suit all budgets, even some things perfect for ‘pocket money’ pressies. From yummy cakes to beautiful cufflinks, from books to handmade crafts and cards, there really are some unique items that you won’t see on the high street!

All the items in the above collage are available to view in a photo album on More Than Mummies and more details including price and where they are available from are under each picture.
I would have loved to have added more items but the album was a little bit of a last minute idea so the time period for receiving photos was quite short. We will be doing more albums with ideas for other occasions and I already have one planned for July which I will announce on our Facebook page soon. Our showcase albums are free to add a picture to and will hopefully be a way of giving you another opportunity for your items to be seen.
Jill. x

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Necklace Showcase!

The item showcased on our Yummy Mummies - Business Mums Facebook page for June is necklaces! Below are two photo collages of all the necklaces exhibited in our showcase, the variety is incredible, no two are alike. This showcase includes necklaces made or sold by UK and international mums and the majority have their items for sale via their Facebook pages.



All these photos are in our June Showcased Item - Necklaces album on the Yummy Mummies – Business Mums Facebook page and details of where these lovely items are available from are under each photo.
We will be doing a photo showcase album each month on that Facebook page to show off some of the fantastic items the mums on our page make or sell. Details of our showcase for July will be available later this month.
Jill. x

Selling On Facebook - Why Include Lots of Information?

In an earlier blog post about how to increase sales (Ways to Promote Your Business and Increase Sales) I mentioned including lots of information about the items you sell. This is a little follow up post on that subject and it will probably be most helpful to those who are brand new to selling their items or are just setting up their Facebook pages.
I’m going to write it with Facebook in mind as I think this is where it applies most. Some points, however, may also be useful if you are planning on having a website or selling your items on other sites such as Ebay, Etsy or Folksy.
From a psychological perspective, people tend to have more interest in things that they don’t have to spend too much time thinking or searching for information about. They are more likely to participate in things when less is required of them. You may wonder what on earth this has to do with selling your items.
If someone is looking for an item to buy and they go to a page where there is only a photo of an item and no information, they then have to get in contact with the seller to find out more. This takes time and effort and could in turn make them look elsewhere or go away and think about it. However if they go to that page and see an item with all the information there they are more likely to consider buying it. Providing this information also improves your customers’ perception of your professionalism as a business and makes a good first impression for any new visitors to your page.
So what does this mean you need to do? First of all when you are writing the ‘info’ and description for your Facebook page include your location, this could be your address if you have an actual shop or your county or city or even just what country you are in. (Please check with your solicitor or accountant about what address information you need to include if you are actually selling items via your Facebook page, this may vary depending on the country you live in and whether you are a sole trader or Ltd company).

In the info section I would also include where you are happy to dispatch items to, how you take orders, what payment types you accept and any return policies you have.
Whenever you post a photograph of your items for sale on your page this is the information I would include:
·         A brief description of your item, the colour, what it’s made out of etc. and remember this is your opportunity to give your sales pitch so include some adjectives, eg. gorgeous, lovely, beautiful, fun, colourful.

·         Without making your description too long you could also include suggestions for your item, like ‘would make and ideal gift’, ‘if you’re looking for something unique’, ‘perfect for/with...’

·         Include a price for the item and a price for any postage (if you also post items to other countries just say ‘dispatch internationally/to Europe’ contact me for prices). Don’t be put off about selling abroad, if you are not sure on postage prices just weigh your item (including envelope and any packaging) on your kitchen scales and go to Royal Mail’s website to estimate a price Royal Mail Price Finder. Remember to include your envelope and packaging materials in your P&P price.

·         Also include any measurements as sometimes people can be disappointed when they see something in a photo and assume it’s bigger or smaller than it really is.

·         If other colours/fabrics are available for the items in your photographs be sure to mention it.

·         And back to the blog post Link Selling Technique, let your potential customers know if you have any other matching or complementary items for sale. They may just buy an extra item.

·         Once your item is sold, by all means leave the photo up as an example of what you sell or make but just write ‘Sold’ or ‘Out of stock’ above or instead of your description, and include any information about whether you can make another or when your items are likely to be back in stock.
These may seem like obvious things, but I do visit quite a lot of pages and these are some of the things I see missing.
A far as your customers go there are lots of different personality types, some people won’t think anything of sending an email or leaving a comment with an enquiry but others will be more hesitant and prefer to go elsewhere. Some will patiently wait for a reply to a query and others will be straight off to the next seller. If all the information is there you are more likely to get custom from those buying on impulse and who could change their mind if they’re made to wait for an answer or given time to think about their purchase.
You will probably still get some enquiries as you can’t cover everything in your description or information so try to deal with them promptly to keep your buyer’s interest.
Facebook gives you a wonderful opportunity to get your items seen but because it’s such a great, free platform for businesses, every business has a lot of competition so anything you can do to stand out from the crowd will give you a better opportunity to increase your sales and be remembered for repeat business.
For anyone new to business or selling their items you may find an earlier blog post Low Cost Ways to Promote Your Small Business helpful too.
Jill. x