Facebook Selling Adventures (part 1)

Since there are lot of words here that have no relevant pictures, I’ll share some photos of one of my other recent finishes which I made for another Facebook Showcase, but I think it’s now cancelled. I made the quilt following an idea from Cynthia at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework who runs monthly scrap projects. In my scraps I found a bunch of blues, and fishy novelty prints. I made the top prior to the showcase, but when I found a showcase with an Under the Sea theme I finished it up!

Riddle and {Whimsy} Under the Sea (front)
Nothing fancy; just a lot of fish

Over the last couple of months, as I’ve started trying to sell my quilts on etsy, I’ve been trying to market them and get word out via Facebook. I have a few thoughts and have noticed things about how FB marketing works (it’s so weird!) and thought I’d start writing some thing down to share my experience. For the most part I’m not selling directly via Facebook; I put things in my etsy store and then advertise them on FB in various promo groups. The only ‘direct to facebook’ sales I’m attempting are on Showcases, which are basically online markets (which I’ll post more about later as I’m still working on that…). If no sales are made, it’s still a bit of exposure. No FB sales = I’ll pop them on etsy.

I’m doing this, because despite getting a number of search hits in my etsy stats, as I do not live in the US the majority of etsy users would have to pay for international shipping, or if I reduce the advertised shipping price I’d have to raise prices of the quilts to offset the higher shipping costs… which then means those who live closer would pay more… it’s tricky. As someone who always has to pay international shipping for most online purchases, I know it’s not cheap, so even if someone is interested in my quilt enough to buy it, I’m sure the postage rates scare potential buyers off since there are thousands of other quilts out there to look at that would be cheaper (postage wise). So, the best way to market it is to do it locally and the easiest way seems to be via the Facebook community. There is an Australian etsy-based site (Made It) but the last time I used it, it had very little traffic (not just for personal items, but the whole site in regards to new uploads).

Riddle and {Whimsy} Under the Sea (closeup)
For quilting I did a mixture of swirls and pebbles. Some of my pebbles are a little rough but for the most part I’m happy I’ve pretty much got the hang of them!

Marketing and keeping up with the Facebook pages is taking up more time than actual blogging which is hard because sewing and blogging are what I do for fun, and trying to sell quilts isn’t a main “business objective” ; it’s just something I’d like to do to help sustain my hobby! It’s also hard for me, because I’m not much of a facebook fan (I’m tempted to actually delete my personal page which I might do soon). I would immediately move my quilting stuff elsewhere if there was another place I could promote in like this to leave FB in the dust. It’s too much of a time suck so I’m trying to spend as little time as necessary on the site.

One of the better Facebook promotion sites I’ve found is Hike Those Likes. They have multiple versions for different countries if you search. As well as running different promotional activities through the week (quiz nights, free for all sharing, support of small pages) they also provide a lot of info on how to best moderate and promote your page which has been useful since I don’t spend that much time on Facebook to know this myself. The Australian page pushes that you should only like a page if you really like it as empty likes don’t generate sales and empty likers usually will leave a page which reflects poorly in a page’s stats which reduces their reachability (posts will show up in less feeds). How people are with ‘likes’ seems to be quite a regional thing though, as I’ve seen discussions where people in different countries prefer page likes. I’m not a fan of the like for like mentality (which also goes for blogs, instagram etc) so the non-pushing of likes is okay with me.* From what I can tell, when this group was made, “likes” played a bigger part in promotion on Facebook, so their name is a little outdated. With all of FB’s changes, liking pages and posts helps but isn’t one of the main factors anymore (that’s what the paid advertising is for… :/).

* I’m not going to automatically follow your business  just because you like mine, most especially when your business is unrelated to mine! I know that sounds unfair because people are making the effort to like my page but just because you like Star Trek as well as quilts, doesn’t mean I like the Star Trek too. If I were a Star Trek fan, maybe I would be interested in your collectable figurines, but I’m not, so why would I like your page when you’re selling items I actually have no interest in? I do understand that you want to put yourself out there and and advertise to a broader audience but I’ll follow you if you have something I like or I’m interested in or if I have a personal interest vested into you/your work (smarter marketing).

Riddle and {Whimsy} (back) closeup
Bit of the back, binding, and label

Instead of liking, you’re advised to “interact” instead because people will remember you and want to buy from you and because I don’t even like using Facebook to begin with, it’s hard for me to want to sit there and trawl through random pages to find a business to talk to. Spelling. Grammar. Netspeak. It can be terrible on Facebook. I see listings that are “4 sale 2day” or am asked to “cum c my pg” or “I’VE JUST ADDED NU THINGZ 2 MY ALBUM PLZ LOOK” . My brain hurts from trying to figure out how to type all of that, let alone read it. I’ve seen a number of market-place groups that are even named that way, so it’s not just people trying to directly sell items.

As simply just liking doesn’t play a big part on Facebook as it apparently used to do, I’m noticing there now tends to be “empty comments” to replace the “empty likes”. Things like “wow” or “good job” and “great”. They help in the way they push promotion (or “the reach”) to other pages because adding comments generates more promotion for the posts to show up in multiple feeds of other users (like when your friend comments on a three year old funny picture that then sits at the top of your feed amongst new posts) but it becomes obvious that people aren’t actually reading your posts or looking at your picture, they’re just writing words and I almost find this disheartening; like I’m talking to people who are there but they’re too busy doing something else (ever tried talking to someone who was busy playing a game on their phone instead so they’re only half listening and aren’t invested in what you’re saying, if they’re even listening at all? Or when you talk to your husband and he just says “uh huh.. hmm mm sure” at random intervals ;) ). As an example, I once shared a post to promote someone else’s event and received a comment saying “good job”. Uh? It’s not my job? It’s not about me?! It’s like they’ve just assumed I made whatever was in the picture and didn’t read the words attached.

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Pebbly backing print; photo also taken on bad-photo day earlier this week.

I do understand that if commenting promotes better than liking, then saying “wow” is no different from simply pressing a button that means “I like this” but it seems pointless when there is no engagement or interest. It seems like a similar problem we face on blogs when you receive (or leave) a comment just saying “nice quilt!”. The comment itself is appreciated but it doesn’t really create a dialogue.  I think you can still make empty comments but they can also be relevant. When an event is posted.. how about commenting “fun” or something like that?! Come to think of it, I think I did actually receive one on that event that was “can’t wait” which ended up still bugging me since it was a random person and not anyone involved with my fb/blog/quilting community so… why can’t you wait, random person?

All of that said, because of my own feelings towards Facebook, I know I don’t comment and engage much over there as I should with others (pressing the like button is so easy and to be honest I think I prefer someone just pressing “like” than having an uninterested party say “wow”). I’ve been having a hard enough time keeping up with all the blogs I follow so not sure how to work more FB time in there too!

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Still no cats!


QUILT STATS

Pattern: based on “Scrap-A-Palooza” Bricks from Quilting is More Fun Than Housework

Name: Under the Sea

Size: approx 30″x 33″

Fabric: misc – had no selvedges on the scraps (known: Kate Spain’s Cuzco, Michael Miller prints, Heather Ross Lightning, Bugs and Other Mysteries, Carnaby Street from Pat Bravo, Outfoxed from Lizzy House)

Backing: unknown

Binding: unknown

Thread: Aurifil grey

Red Eyes and Tears

The quilts I’ve been making to (hopefully) sell in a few Facebook Showcases were all due in this week. One of them I’m having a hard time with photos for, which of course happened to be the quilt that was actually due today. Luckily the host has said tomorrow is okay so I can have another chance at taking photos. I spent a few hours trying to get it right in Photoshop and couldn’t get it to work ahhh.

The last quilt of the bunch that I finished was my Little Red Riding Hood inspired quilt for the Once Upon A Time showcase! Which also means I’ve completed my 6th A Lovely Year of Finishes project this year!

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To finish it off, I was having trouble with a binding choice, and ended up asking on instagram (and Facebook) for thoughts on my binding choices. My first set were these and then I found these. The Scrumptious Dots from Bonnie and Camille were the clear winner, and even though I liked them, I wasn’t fussed on the column of cream dots that would happen if I cut the binding straight so I made bias binding as on the diagonal the dots became more random so that they were more sporadic which I think looks better.

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After making my first set of labels as rectangles to piece into a backing or plop on afterwards, I made another set into triangles so I can piece them into the corner of the binding. I stitched the pocket closed with blanket stitches which I thought gave it a more ‘homely’ look. When doing the binding on this quilt, and the others, I actually tried glue basting for the same time: now I’m a convert! Can’t wait to try glue basting when actually piecing blocks too!

For quilting, you can see I ended up going for stippling after all. Figured it wasn’t worth the hair pulling to try and do straight lines when not all of my corners line up.

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I really love the fabric on the backing, which I also used in some of the blocks. It’s what I based the colour scheme for the quilt from. You can’t really tell from the photos, but I love the effect of the stipple quilting on the back. It almost looks like the windy path Little Red has taken on her walk to grandma’s house. And there are a lot of houses on the back, so I’m sure she’s probably lost and confused and has walked a lot trying to find the right house!

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Some of the fabrics that I found for this I can’t believe how well they work. As I mentioned before, my favourites are the basket weave and the gingham to match Little Red’s basket, but I also love the wolf/fox print (a Japanese linen) and of course the Little Red print itself.

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Some of the colours haven’t come out well in the photos (see above re: trouble with camera) as the brown in the lower left in the above photo, is actually a creamy soft brown and not a murky green brown.

No cat memory cat yet. I’ve actually got three to make which means I only need 3 more for my 25 cats to be complete! I just pushed out three quilts over the last week or so so I’m feeling a bit stressed about all I feel I still “need” to do. Ideally, I want to get through all of my WiPs by the end of the year to have a fresh start for the New Year. This quilt does mark one WiP down so that’s good! I think I’m going to need to do a proper count and tally and maybe checking them all off will relieve some of that (self-imposed) stress (I’m thinking doing the Quarter 4 check in thing I’ve seen around). By November I’ll be done with bees and my other round robin is winding down and I’m honestly looking forward to be being done with them! I don’t see myself signing up for another bee or anything for a while; I think I will ban myself until I am done with Possum Magic (mid 2015) and then re-evaluate how I feel about community sewing groups. I’ve also signed up to two mini swaps on Instagram so I have those to do by circa Christmas time and those will be the last of swap signing up also! Then I need to finish my Gypsy Wife to keep up with the Quilt Along schedule… I need more time for me-sewing!!

In my previous post for this quilt, I added up my labour time. Since then, my labour has changed to:

Labour Notes Time
Cutting 400x 2.5″ squares, 1″ sashing strips, 2″ border sashing, 9x 1″ cornerstones 2
Piecing Sewing 16 blocks of 25x 2.5″ squares, ironing (pressing!) and trimming to size 5
Construction Attaching sashing between blocks to form a whole top, attaching sashing borders around sides of whole quilt 2.5
Basting Cutting backing and wadding to size, lining up pieces and using pins to join all three layers together .75
Quilting Stitching stippling design all over the quilt via free motion quilting 1
Binding Cutting fabric strips on the bias, starching and ironing, connecting strips together into a continuous piece, attaching to quilt on front and back. 1.5
Total 12.75

I’m still working on the cost of materials. I started working it out by figuring there are 400x 2.5″ squares in the top. There are 4x 2.5″ squares in one charm square, so there are the equivalent of 100 charm squares in the top. A charm pack here is around $16.50 (can be more or less depending on where you shop) and $16.50 divided by 42 is approx. 39c per charm square which ends up being $39 for the 100 used. Then I just need to figure out the sashings and binding amounts as well as the wadding and backing, ha.

Another material to add on is a rotary blade. Technically they should be changed often, and with the amount of cutting for one quilt top from beginning to end, including cutting through the wadding, I figuring a fresh blade per project is pretty fair. Then there are needles (to be changed often) and thread (thread seems tricky to figure out).

Items not accounted for: fabric selection (labour) , squaring up after quilting (labour)*, washing the quilt (utility usage + colour catchers), photo taking and editing (labour), utility charge in general (the utility companies can’t even offer exact usage charges on the bill so how am I supposed to work it out?).

* not added as I forgot to start the timer

At the end of the day, I feel like I need to draw the line somewhere in choosing a price. Whatever this quilt comes to in final cost, I know I’m not going to charge that much, and that’s my choice (rough estimates have it around $350+ at the moment, without all of the materials added). From what I’ve seen on Facebook, it’s a lot of stay at home mum type businesses so there is no market for “high end” merchandise at thousands of dollars so I need to be realistic about the market I’m selling to. You need to “spend money to make money” as the saying goes, and when just starting out I know I have to give a little first. And no, before anyone jumps onto my back, I’m not selling it for $60!

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QUILT STATS

Pattern: Granny squares

Name: Little Red’s Granny

Size: approx 37″x 37″

Fabric: misc red, browns, creams. Various weights – quilting cotton, linens, Japanese fabrics

Backing: unknown (Little Red Riding Hood linen blend)

Binding: Scrumptious (Bonnie and Camille)

Thread: Aurifil white and red

 

Possum Magic Round 2

Out of all of the Possum Magic centres, I knew I would struggle with Wendy’s the most. She used mostly Kaffe prints and very peacock-type colours, and despite liking Kaffe prints and that colour combination myself, they are not anything I have in my stash. I have had some Kaffe in my shopping carts before, but it tends to come out first when I see other things I like instead. Purple is one area in my stash that I am lacking in much choice, and even though blue is my biggest stash colour, I didn’t seem to have anything that matched the particular shades of these fabrics!!

Riddle and {Whimsy} Possum Magic Round Robin (centre + Border 1)
Wendy’s centre + Sharon’s border

When I saw Sharon’s addition, I had a rough idea of what to do before receiving it, so I scribbled down a quick idea. Basically with all the points and triangular shapes, I wanted to square it off and lighten it up by adding some pops of green.

photo
My scribbles

Then, when I received the centre, all of the lighter purples and the bright pinks amongst the Kaffe fabrics popped out at me, so I started playing around with those colours as well. I was also excited to find Wendy had provided a few scraps including the green in the centre and a blue Kaffe floral. The whole piece (as above) was looking “dark” along the edges so I knew I really wanted to brighten it up in my border. I started playing with another idea that used longer strips, but Wendy’s scraps were maybe an inch too short for me to be able to pull it off so last night I decided to scrap that idea and just work on my original plan from my scribbles.

Since I still needed some darker fabrics, I used the Kaffe floral scrap and the closest fabrics that matched the blues and teals in my stash were solids which I was thinking would help create a bit of ‘calm’ and a resting place amongst all the busy prints. I also used the prints I had pulled for my secondary idea for a bit of mix. So I cut 2″ strips from the fabrics and paired them up, then sub cut them into 2″ pieces so I could mix and match them to create a 3″ (finished) wide border.

Riddle and {Whimsy} Possum Magic Round Robin (border 2 addition)
Wendy’s centre + Sharon’s border + my border

I’m glad I went with only the 2 square border rather than 3 as in my scribble, as I think 3 would have made it a little too busy. I did consider adding another thin border to finish it off, but decided to leave that up to Serena if she wants one for her next addition!

I seem to be the first to have a finished border posted for this round, but there have been a few updates on round one that have been posted since I posted my last update so check out the links below for current Possum Magic progress!


PROGRESS SO FAR!

Me (you are already here!)
My CentreBorder 1 (by Serena) – Border 2 (by Carla)

Serena of Sew Giving… Selfishly
Serena’s CentreBorder 1 (by Carla) – Border 2 (by Jane)

Carla of Granny Maud’s Girl
Carla’s Centre - Border 1 (by Jane) – Border 2 (by Rebecca)

Jane of Where Jane Creates
Jane’s CentreBorder 1 (by Rebecca) – Border 2 (by Alice)

Rebecca of One Wee Bird
Rebecca’s CentreBorder 1 (by Alice) – Border 2 (by Wendy)

Alice of Blossom Quilts and Crafts
Alice’s CentreBorder 1 (by Wendy) – Border 2 (by Sharon)

Wendy of Wendy’s Quilts and More
Wendy’s CentreBorder 1 (by Sharon) – Border 2 (by me! see above!)

Sharon of Motherdragon’s Musings
Sharon’s CentreBorder 1 (by Me) – Border 2 (by Serena)

What big squares you have!

I have a complete top for my granny squares I started earlier this week! I worked out that I technically ‘started’ this in 2011, because that’s when I bought the first piece of fabric for it. It feels good to have made it this far and have an old UFO near completion!

Riddle and {Whimsy} Little Red's Granny

There’s a huge mix of fabrics in this. A lot of them I bought at the Quilt and Craft Fair in 2012 from some of the more specialist-fabric stalls, such as Japanese prints, African and Aboriginal designs, and various linens. When I bought them, I purchased them with the Little Red Riding Hood fabric in mind, though I didn’t take any of that fabric with me to match colours so I had to guess. I think I guessed pretty okay! My favourite finds are the red gingham and the brown basket weave print, because I think they are so fitting for Little Red and her basket :)

I’ve been working on this quilt only for the last week so I’m going to have a break from it for a few days to give me some time to think of what to quilt on it. I’m tossing up between a basic all over stipple or grids through the square points but I think the stipple is at the top of the list because it won’t annoy me so much if my lines aren’t straight and don’t meet each square point! I’m also undecided on a binding. That choice is between the same red solid I used for the cornerstones, or to use the same fabric as the background to make the squares look more ‘floaty’ rather than closing it off with a dark border. Thoughts?

(I may also need to clean my cutting table which I also use to table baste…ha).

For curiosity’s sake I’ve been adding up the time it’s taken for me to get this far, to roughly judge how much this quilt is worth since I plan on selling it in a Facebook showcase after all. I want to see how far off my estimate based on my pricing adds up to the actual hours and effort I put into making it.

Labour Notes Time
Cutting 400x 2.5″ squares, 1″ sashing strips, 2″ border sashing, 9x 1″ square cornerstones 2
Piecing Sewing 16 blocks of 25x 2.5″ squares, ironing (pressing!) and trimming to size 5
Construction Attaching sashing and cornerstones between blocks to form a whole top, attaching sashing borders around sides of whole quilt 2.5

Ten hours so far and I’m yet to baste, quilt and bind. I’m yet to even add up the cost of materials which is tricky since I’m not 100% as the fabrics were purchased so long ago. I do know a few were a little pricey due to the type (eg. the Japanese pieces). So far, there is still room for my head price to match the actual price, so it’s on track nicely :)

Springing into September

Don’t forget today, that those that I tagged in my Around the World Blog Hop post last week will be posting their answers! To save you from clicking through to find the links, the following ladies have been tagged!

In my own post from last week, I shared a project I’m working on inspired by the border I added to Sharon’s Possum Magic Dresden centre. I’ve slowly been working on it this last week, and now there’s only one remaining side to add a border onto.

Riddle and {Whimsy} Dresden medallion

My main inspiration for this was to “match” it with Kate Spain’s Sunnyside line, without being too matchy matchy. I chose Sunnyside, because it is what I’ll be making a Swoon out of for my bed. Recently, we painted our bedroom walls so we no longer have to live with the disgusting yellow walls of the previous owner (see the wall here. Nothing against yellow, but this was textured exterior paint and was featured all throughout the house). The new colour is a grey/blue which closely resembles to what I want in there anyway, and one day we’ll give the room a proper sanding down to remove the texture and do a proper paint job, but for now I just wanted the yellow gone gone gone and we were lucky to find this paint in the oops section for super cheap. Since the walls are bare in there, I wanted to make a few things to cover the new paint job! My plan for this was to have it over the bed, but it’s bordering on baby quilt size (it’s about 36″) and is a little big so it might have to go on another wall. And darn, I’ll just have to make something else for over the bed instead ;) If I do put it on another wall, I’m also tempted to keep adding borders… or maybe I should just make this to be the bed quilt, ha.

Riddle and {Whimsy} Little Red Granny Squares
Granny Squares and Little Red Riding Hood.. get it?! teehee

Recently I signed up to a Showcase on Facebook to sell items with a fairytale theme. Facebook Showcases are where groups of crafters make items for a theme, to be kind of like a themed market. They seem pretty hard to get into, if only because I don’t follow a lot of people to keep up with any with openings but I caught this one that opened up more places, and I actually had something I can offer, so yay. It’s scheduled for later this month so today I started piecing up blocks for the quilt I’m going to showcase. A long time ago, before I started quilting so seriously, I found some super cute Little Red Riding Hood fabric, and now I get to finally use it up! I’ve actually made another block also, but it came out weird and I kept glaring it so decided to come and write up a blog post instead. ;) I’ve also decided to make this Little Red Riding Quilt into my September Goal for A Lovely Year of Finishes to make sure it gets done!

Also happening today is the release of the new magazine Make Modern! It’s a new Australian online quilting magazine, and the editor is actually Jane, a fellow Possum Magic member (though I’m not going to get her centre for a while yet!)! There is a preview available for Issue 1 so you can have a bit of a look-see before buying. Yet another Possum Magic member, Serena, has a super cute baby quilt pattern in the magazine, and if you look through the contents, you may see a feature that seems familiar to those following along with my blog…

Screenshot 2014-09-01 14.48.38

Yep, I’m in it too! Jane “interviewed” me about my Memory Cats. It might not be as exciting as a pattern or anything like that but I’m still excited to have been featured, though I do have to admit I’ve not actually read my own article yet. It’s kind of like watching yourself on TV so I’ll have to work myself up to it lol :)