Best Practice – Customer/Reader Appreciation

“The customer is always right.” How many times have you heard that? I used to work in the retail industry, and I always rolled my eyes when I heard that speech. At the end of the day, I think every corporation, small business, and individual maker of handmade goods will tell you that customers (and blog readers) are the #1 most important element to their business (or blog).

I know, you don’t need to hear from me how important it is to appreciate your shop customers or your blog readers. Crafters are kind folks by nature, right?! Just look at the steady list of giveaways taking place every single week as proof of that.

I am not an expert in marketing, and I am generally a shy person when it comes to marketing, making it hard for me to drum up new customers or new blog readers. I try to appreciate the ones I have. I just wanted to share a few of the things I try to do, especially here with my blog.

If you have ever left a comment on my blog, you have most likely received an email from me thanking you for taking the time to stop by and leave a comment. I love comments. I love hearing from readers. That has also been the start to a few email conversations that have led to great friendships I cherish.

Offering Tutorials
I think tutorials are a cool way to offer your readers something for free. Who doesn’t love a free pattern?! I wish I were better at offering more tutorials!

Participating in Swaps
Exchanging supplies or handmade goods through swaps is a great way to meet people and share similar obsessions. Some of my blogger friendships began from swaps. (That reminds me, don’t forget about our Christmas in July ornament swap coming up.)

Interact and Engage
Sometimes I can be indecisive, so it’s good to know I can ask you all for advice, such as with my recent patchwork arrangements project. I loved reading your thoughts on which half-square triangle arrangement you liked best. I like it when other bloggers ask for an opinion or feedback because it initiates in a creative conversation, which is beneficial to all of us.

Amy frequently posts surveys on her blog, seeking feedback on sewing topics or ideas for content she could offer. I love that! Personally, I think surveys are fun to participate in because they make me feel like I have a say, like I’m contributing to the success of another creative person. I’m all for that!

I adore this little matchbook notepad I got from Randi’s shop with a recent fabric order!

I am going to make a supply of these little drawstring bags to include in orders from my shop. Just a little something extra.

I mentioned above the number of giveaways that take place every week. I’m not telling you that you should do a giveaway. Just saying I like doing giveaways, whether it’s an extra goodie with an order, a giveaway for a blogiversary, or participating in a sponsored event like the upcoming Sew,Mama,Sew‘s May Day giveaway. (Be sure to check back next week for the giveaway I have to offer!)

This series has been fun for me to do. It has challenged me to take notice of and share the things I do to keep myself organized and to keep life running smoothly. It’s also been good writing practice for me. I hope you have found it to be useful in some way too.

– – – – –

Previous posts about my Best Practices:




Bobbins, Pins and Folding

Business Cards

Carry Your Product

Best Practice – Filing

I deal with ridiculous amounts of paperwork in my day job. I think real estate transactions generate too many documents. To keep up, I have to be very organized, which carries over to keeping paperwork at home organized. The home filing is much more interesting – sewing and knitting patterns!

There are hundreds of wonderful tutorials offered in blogland, which I usually just bookmark. Since I do all of my computing on a laptop, sometimes I need to print a pattern so I can follow along as I make the project. Or I just want to save it for future reference. I don’t have any of those fancy magazine holders to store my patterns and magazines, mainly because I’m cheap frugal and short on time to make them for myself.

My sewing room is only 10 feet by 8 feet, thus I don’t have a lot of space, so no room for a filing cabinet. I make do because I think I am lucky enough just to have my own room!

I’m a simple girl, so I use accordion file folders to keep my patterns and reference information organized. I love them because they expand, meaning there’s always room for more ideas.

I try to keep them coordinated – pink for quilt patterns, purple for bag patterns, green for home patterns, blue for clothes, vanilla for color inspiration, red for crafty projects, yellow for techniques.

I keep them on my book shelves (as you can see in the photos above) in between the magazines I save and reference books I collect. I broke the patterns down into categories of handmade projects, which makes life so much easier when I have an idea to just browse through my files. I keep files similar to this for my shop too.

The other filing practice I like to do is keep my current project in a plastic sheet protector, which allows me to store the instructions and cut fabrics together. Since I don’t like cutting, I tend to cut several projects in one day, in essence “stocking up” on cut projects, so they are ready when I find some free time.

I also like using these pocket file folders for the same purpose. Once I’m done making the project, I file the pattern into the appropriate folder shown above, and reuse these protectors or pocket folders.

These best practices have saved me time and patience! Feel free to share your ideas or practices in the comments or link to your blog.


Previous posts about my Best Practices:


Bobbins, Pins and Folding

Business Cards

Carry Your Product

Best Practice – Notetaking

Notetaking is probably one of my strongest points in keeping my life organized, so that is the topic of today’s best practice idea. This is likely something you all do, sketch your sewing projects, make notes for your crafty business, or keep lists to keep your life organized.

During my first couple years in college, I struggled to find my groove. My mom signed me up for a class called “How to get better grades in school.” It was one of the best classes I’ve ever had. The biggest point I learned was how important it is to always take notes, whether it’s in a meeting, or bumming around the farmers market or visiting the botanical gardens. (The other valuable point we learned in that class was how to take notes, but that was more applicable to a classroom/lecture setting. It was a lot about bullet points and how to make lists.)

These days I carry a notebook or sketchbook with me EVERYWHERE I go, sometimes even to the bathroom. You just never know when an idea is going to pop into your head. I can get so easily distracted by the millions of other things going on or things to remember to do, that I might forget that idea.

I carry a stack of notecards in my purse to jot down ideas, sketch bag shapes or quilt blocks I want to try, colors combinations I’m interested in, names of flowers I want to draw or plant. I also carry a mini color wheel to mess around with when I find a few free minutes to daydream.

I would love to hear what system you use to keep track of your ideas and keep yourself organized.


Previous posts about my Best Practices:

Bobbins, Pins and Folding

Business Cards

Carry Your Product

Best Practice – Bobbins, Pins and Folding

Here’s the next installment in my best practice series – pins, bobbins and folding! It’s not a crafty business-related tip; more like reminders about being organized and efficient. If you have been sewing for awhile, these time-savers may seem like no-brainers to you. But sometimes I get lazy and neglect these simple tasks, so I thought you might have similar issues.

First up, bobbins. I use white, cream and grey bobbins a lot. But dang, I hate it when my bobbin runs out, I reach for a new one, and this is what I find in my bobbin basket – empties!

Take the time to fill up a good supply of bobbins, leaving a couple empty ones for those colorful projects that call for a different color. You will thank yourself when you are on a roll in the middle of a project and you have a supply of bobbins ready!

Next up, pins. The idea popped into my head after reading Amy’s recent post where she asked her readers what kind of pins they use. I was working on a patchwork project lately, using a lot of pins. I found an extra stash of pins in this box, and decided to use them. As I was pulling pins from this box, I wondered why so many of them were bent! So I sorted them into two piles, using the cover  for straight pins, the black box for bent pins. If you have bent pins, quit putting them back into your pin cushion!

I never throw bent or dull pins in the trash because they could be dangerous for whoever is handling the trash. For this batch, I secured them to a paper plate using packing tape so they aren’t floating loose in the trash. You could also tape them to piece of cardboard.

Finally, when you bring your fabric home from the fabric shop, don’t shove it onto your fabric shelves like I did with these remnant pieces of muslin.

At least take the time to peel off those labels and refold them properly. I’m not a perfectionist, so personally, I don’t think it matters how you fold it. Just get your new fabric ready for proper storage, especially if you aren’t going to use it immediately. I had to press this pile to get it back into useable shape.

Do you have any sewing tips you do to keep your groove going? Feel free to share your best practice ideas in the comments or link to your blog.


Previous posts about my Best Practices:

Business Cards

Carry Your Product

Best Practice – Cards

Here’s another installment in my best practice series – business cards! If you have ever received something from me in the mail, it’s likely you have received one of my blog business cards / calling cards. They are a quick and easy way to market my blog.

I set up a template in Word that fits two cards across by six cards down. I printed it on regular white cardstock from the office supply store. I especially like to change the photo for the seasons.

If you are going to carry cards with you to market your blog or your crafts, you must have a stylish holder to keep them in! I made this cute little card holder using a pattern from Amy Karol’s first book.

I had to make it a little wider than the pattern instructions in order to fit these cards. Now it’s big enough to carry my blog cards and my etsy shop cards.

Last week, Anne suggested getting some MOO cards printed up because they are more portable than carrying around a photo portfolio. Check out this handful of MOO cards I had printed a couple months ago for my shop. They are fun to have in a bowl at my desk because the unusual size and the bright photos attract people’s attention.

You never know when you’re going to strike up a conversation about your blog or the crafty things you make. People are almost always interested in what you do for fun, but they may not remember your name, your blog name, or your URL. Never leave home without a card!

Feel free to share your best practice ideas in the comments or link to your blog.


Previous post about my Best Practices:

Carry Your Product