Saturday, April 25, 2015

Spring Style Jewellery Collection

Saturday, April 25, 2015
Spring Style Jewellery Collection

Spring is finally here and Oh My Clumsy Heart has an entire spring jewellery collection dedicated to the glorious sunshine. The collection features little birds, pretty flowers, delicate handpainted fans, love heart lockets, and iridescent gemstones.

Remember to subscribe for free worldwide postage and share your style on Instagram using #ohmyclumsyheart

Friday, April 24, 2015

How to Create an Editorial Calendar

Friday, April 24, 2015
How to Create an Editorial Calendar

I’ve previously written about why you need an editorial calendar if you want to see results from blogging and save time in the long run, now I want to share how I set up my posting schedule and how you can create an editorial calendar of your own.

Map Out your Blog
Get super familiar with what you want your blog to be about; work out what topics, features, categories, and series you want to feature. Form a clear idea of what your blog is about, who it’s for, and the reasons why you blog. Knowing these things will help you stay focused and dedicated to blogging. Use a planner or make your own DIY blog planner to write down blog post ideas by topic and list any series or features you want to create.

Decide on a Realistic Publishing Schedule
You might want to post daily, but is that a realistic expectation? It’s best to commit to posting once or twice a week and build up from there; increase your posting schedule incrementally so you don’t feel overwhelmed and you can manage the extra workload. Finding the time to blog can be tough. Use the editorial calendar to transition into daily blogging, if that’s what you’re aiming for.

Create a Weekly Overview
Once you have decided on publishing schedule you’re confident you can stick to, decide how often you want to create content for specific topics and features. The frequency of content topics will vary depending on what your blog is about and how niche your market is. Decide on the categories your blog will cover and how frequently you want to post about them. My blog encompasses quite a large range of topics but not all of them are featured as prominently. I reserve four days a week to creative content while travel is posted on an 'as-and-when' basis.

Allocate specific content to days of the week or even month means readers know what to expect and when. If they’re not interested in fashion or lifestyle posts, they know to skip reading your blog on specific days and if they’re really into catching up on a series you’re running, they know what to look forward to.

I post creative content on four days of the week, book posts go live on Wednesdays, and the weekends are reserved for features like What to Wear and Shop Independent, on Sundays I tend to post Week Notes, which is lifestyle content. I move the editorial calendar around to accommodate posts that occur less regularly such as travel, beauty, and fashion posts, and PR features.

Knowing which days readers are most active on your blog is a useful insight that can be used to build your editorial calendar. If you’re been blogging a while, use Google Analytics to tweak your editorial calendar and make the best out of traffic.

How to Create an Editorial Calendar

Pick the Right Tool
Find the right editorial calendar for you; whether you use a printable, handwritten version, a digital calendar, or a simple word document, you need something that is easy to use and that makes sense to you and the way you work. Your editorial calendar could include everything from social media prompts, keywords, permalink information, and other additional details - make it as minimal or as complex as you like.

I use a really basic Google Document made from a simple table, it’s nothing pretty but it compliments the way I work. I colour code sections, assign post titles to days and dates, and unbold them when the post is written up and scheduled. Everything else I do in a blog planner, Evernote, and a corresponding social media calendar.

Get Specific
Once you have your goals lined up, a realistic schedule set, and a weekly overview, you can start filling in the specifics. Assign post ideas to specific days and start mapping out your content on a monthly scale. Remember: you can move the content around freely, assigning posts to days doesn’t mean anything is set in stone or that all spontaneity is destroyed. Don’t be afraid of moving your content around, even at the very last minute before publishing.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

HP Sprout: Created For Creatives

Thursday, April 23, 2015
HP Sprout: First Impressions
HP SproutHP
I did not receive payment for featuring this product

The HP Sprout is a bold new take on the traditional desktop PC and attempts to be an all-in-one computer boasting a 23-inch touch-screen display with 1920x1080 resolution and 10-point touch tracking, an Intel Core i7 processor, an Nvidia graphics card, and a 1TD hard drive. It runs Windows 8.1, comes with a wireless mouse and keyboard, and had a ton of ports along with a big floppy 20-point muti-touch 20-inch "mat" that works as a huge touchpad. It also features a "Sprout Illuminator," which works as a second display, a projector, and also a scanner. The Illuminator has a 14.6-megapixel camera and also an Intel RealSense camera, which can capture 2D and 3D images. Pretty impressive.

This computer is a beautiful looking one-piece PC and its combination of dual display, touch input, projector, 3D scanning, and cameras create a new experience from the traditional desktop PC. The HP Sprout is super fun and enjoyable to play with.. if you approach it with an open mind.

My first impressions of the HP Sprout were pretty good: the computer is really easy and quick to set-up. The unit itself is heavy and takes up a fair bit of desk space. Yet the HP Sprout is incredibly neat in contrast to the traditional ugly tower unit, which this computer doesn't have, plus it looks beautiful. I have to say, I approached the HP Sprout with a very open mind. There was one aspect of the computer that intrigued me the most and two project ideas that instantly sprung to mind.

HP Sprout: First Impressions

The first project I wanted to challenge the HP Sprout to producing was creating flatlay images. With HP Create, you are able to scan objects, which are then photographed individually so you can manually move them about the page to create new compositions. I figured this would be pretty useful if I could get it to work well enough to produce flatlay blog graphics.

I composed a simple flatlay and scanned the objects using HP Create. The camera did a pretty good job although I couldn't find a way of adjusting the brightness and contrast, resulting in harsh shadows. Overall it's workable and there is plenty of potential for quickly producing flatlay compositions.

View the Final Image

The second project I challenged the HP Sprout to was producing product shots. Again, I used the HP Create software to scan and photograph six necklaces hoping the software would be smart enough to produce cut-out images I could then crop and use as individual product shots. Being able to place several items onto the large touchpad and photograph altogether yet save them as individual images, is very appealing and could potentially save a lot of time for designer-makers like myself.

I have to say, I'm pretty impressed. The camera picked up a lot of detail considering it was photographing very delicate chains and with a bit of tweaking to get the contrast just right and a higher resolution, I could see myself using this to product cut-out shots I would be very happy to use in my online shop.

View the Final Image

I chose to set the computer up in my studio, which has no internet access so I tested the HP Sprout "as is" right out of the box. I'm curious to see how it improves with the updates HP have released and look forward to challenging it to future projects and making the HP Sprout an integral part of running my business.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Travel Bucket List

Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Travel Bucket List

We have been fortunate enough to have been able to strike two of our "dream holiday" destinations - New York and Tokyo - from our travel bucket list and since my word of the year is explore, we are eager to travel to different parts of the world.

We are curious travellers and like to head to destinations that offer something special. Although we have both wanted to visit Iceland and see the Northern Lights for the longest of times.. there are three other places offering something equally as entrancing - once-a-year events that would be incredible to experience.

Dia de los Muertos - Mexico
Dia de los Muertos is a traditional Mexican holiday for honoring the dead, celebrated throughout Mexico from October 31st to November 2nd. During the celebrations, ofrendas (private altars) are built, and sugar skulls, marigolds, favourite foods and beverages, are gifted to the deceased. "Day of the Dead occurs at the year's end, after the last harvests, when the barren earth is though to give passage to the souls lying beneath it." I have a huge interest in tradition and folklore, visiting Mexico during Dia de los Muertos would be phenomenal and it's one place I'm eager to strike off my bucket list.

Ice Festival - Harbin, China
The Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival is the largest ice and snow festival in the world. The festival begins on January 5 and lasts an entire month featuring the largest ice sculptures in the world, Yabuli alpine skiing, winter-swimming in the Songhua River, and ice-lantern exhibitions. Full size buildings made from blocks of thick ice are illuminated at night, and stand in stark contrast to the –16.8 °C winter weather.

Diwali - India
Diwali is an ancient Hindu "festival of lights" celebrated in autumn, spiritually signifying the victory of light over darkness. The celebrations continue over a five-day period with the main night of Diwali coinciding with the darkest, new moon night of the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika. Diwali is the biggest, brightest, prettiest festival in India and it simply looks stunning. I would feel so privileged to experience and be a part of such a significant celebration.

Go On An Adventure:
Tokyo, Japan New York The Private Life of Paris Belfast
Tokyo New York Paris Belfast

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

How To Curate Content For Instagram

Tuesday, April 21, 2015
How To Curate Content For Instagram

Previously I have talked about how creatives can use Instagram to connect with the creative community and gain exposure. Now I want to talk more in-depth about how you can consciously curate an Instagram feed to align with your creative style.

The most successful Instagram accounts have a clearly defined aesthetic that applies to every photograph they share. If you use your Instagram feed as a purely personal account, you might not want to curate it at all; for designer-makers and other creatives, Instagram is a useful tool that can be used to curate a cohesive brand and introduce it to new audiences.

How To Curate Content For Instagram

Plan Content
Think about what you want to share and clear time in your schedule to plan and take specific photographs. Take photographs of behind the scenes, work in progress, and finished product shots to share online. Much like using an editorial calendar for your blog, planning content for Instagram means your account stays active with consistent updates.

Define An Aesthetic
Make sure your aesthetic aligns with your branding and vice versa - never share anything that doesn't fit into your brand's ethos. Edit your photographs in a similar way; use the same tones and familiar shots to help define your aesthetic. Focus on developing a specific theme, colour, and/or common composition. Utilise the best photography apps to enhance your photographs and produce high-quality images.

Make Decisions
Decide on the type of content you want to share and the way in which you want to share it. Remember when someone finds your account, the first thing they will probably do is scroll through your feed in grid view (rather than viewing individual photographs) to see, at a glance, what your content looks like altogether. This means it’s important to express a clear representation of what kind of account it is and what content they can expect to see - having a clearly defined, consistent feed means people are more likely to hit “follow."

As a designer-maker, you might want to share finished products but also behind the scenes, work in progress, and a few candid personal moments. You don’t have to completely omit personal content, just remember to keep it within your established aesthetic boundaries.

Consider Separate Accounts
If your personal style doesn’t align with your business aesthetic, consider setting up separate accounts. You can be as free as you want with your personal account while curating a very specific aesthetic for your business resulting in the best of both worlds.

Schedule Posts
To remain consistent with Instagram it’s important to post regularly without being spammy, withholding photographs to post later makes it easy to forget to post them altogether. There are several apps that allow you to schedule photographs and even post content for you - I use TakeOff. Used in conjunction with Iconosquare’s “optimisation” stats, it’s easy to schedule content for the optimum engagement time specifically for your account.

{ join me on Instagram }

Monday, April 20, 2015

How I Quit My Day Job: An Interview With Holly Booth

Monday, April 20, 2015

Holly Booth is a freelance photographer specialising in product photography, meaning she gets to work with super talented makers, designers, and shops producing images for their website, social media, and marketing campaigns. Holly also offers a remote service allowing clients to post her products from wherever they are based meaning her client base has grown across the UK, Europe, and even the US.

What sparked your interest in photography?

I’d had an interest in the arts, and in particular photography, from an early age. My Dad is a keen photographer and so there were always lots of cameras and photo albums in the house. I didn’t take it seriously though until my early teens, which is when I started to take photographs of daily life, my friends, the places I visited.

I choose to go to college (instead of staying on at sixth form at my high school) to study a BTEC in Art & Design – this allowed me to try out different mediums and then specialise in the final few months in photography. From there I applied to University to study Commercial Photography. At the time, I had no real plan of what I was going to do career wise, I just knew that I wanted it to be based around photography in some way.

What did you originally do for work before you quit?

During Uni I worked part-time for Hallmark Cards for a couple of years, a job I then quit in my final year so I could focus on my work. I graduated from the University of Derby in 2010, I’d started the process of setting my business up in my final year and had my first few paying clients. The plan was to go straight into being self-employed once leaving but once I finished University, I took on three part-time jobs in order to pay the rent, and bridge the gap from being a full-time student to being out in the real world again.

How did you transition from full time job into full time photography?

After three months of working the part-time jobs, the two internships came to an end, and I decided to hand in my notice at my admin job. My boyfriend (who I live with) had decided to go to University as a mature student, so we had a little bit of a safety net in that we had his student loan & bursary to help cover our monthly outgoings.

In hindsight, this wasn’t enough and I took quite a big risk going freelance when I did – I didn’t have any savings, I didn’t have an overdraft, and I’d missed out on a business course (which also offered funding) run by my University at the time. However, I was determined and I put my all into the business. The first two years were TOUGH. There were a lot of times when I considered giving in and looking for full-time work, but every time I thought about it I was filled with dread and knew I had to keep trying.

What’s been the most challenging part of self-employment?

I think through sheer determination and hard work, I got through it, and I’ve managed to create a thriving little business which is now getting busier by the week. I get to spend every day doing what I love, it’s a real achievement for me. I was such a shy person growing up, to now be a confident business woman is a huge change and I’m constantly surprising myself at what I’ve overcome. I really hope that doesn’t sound sickening, I just feel very lucky!

What do you love the most about your creative life?

I love getting to meet and work with other small business owners, everyone is so talented and hard-working, it’s great to be part of this growing community. I’m also really passionate about the products I get to photograph, I enjoy learning about the processes involved and the ideas that have gone into creating the items, I find it really fascinating.

My favourite thing about working for myself is being in control of the work I do, and making a living from what I love doing is so rewarding. I still haven’t mastered the whole work/life balance but I’m getting there. Also, the friends I’ve made through work are some of the best people I’ve ever met.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

My biggest achievement so far, is probably moving into my current studio. I’d had a studio space previously but it was a shared space, and wasn’t in a great location. I was spending two hours each day travelling, and I ended up feeling so run down. I don’t regret moving in there, as it was a good test of having a studio, but after 9 months I decided to move to a city centre location to a studio by myself. The rent was obviously higher and it felt like a risky move to make, but after my re-brand (which I did in January 2014), it’s the best decision I’ve made for my business so far.

At the moment, I now get booked up three months in advance (which is a little overwhelming, but also exciting!) I’ve managed to secure really ace clients, and it feels like my business is improving every day. Next for me really is to start re-assessing the services I offer, refine them and improve my business that way. I also want to focus on my streamlining my workflow, plus I’m looking into taking on an assistant in the near future to help with some of the work load.

What’s the best advice you were ever given?

The best advice I was given was probably to keep going.. that was from my family and friends. I’ve never had any business support or mentoring (apart from a module at University about setting up a business) so no one really prepared me for how much hard work it was going to be. Luckily, I had a supportive network of people who believed in what I was doing, and their encouragement to stick it out definitely paid off in the end.

What is the one piece of advice you would give aspiring new creatives?

I think it’s important to take time to focus on yourself, and the business, and to keep improving what you’re doing and the services you offer. I am constantly thinking about what I can do next to make things better, and work more efficiently. I also think it’s important to take time out though and give yourself a break – you deserve it! Working all day every day is going to cause you to burn out, which isn’t fun at all.

Are there any resources you could recommend using?

I recommend 99U’s 'Manage Your Day-to-Day' to pretty much everyone I meet who is self employed. I also read blogs from other small business owners and collect together useful posts into a Pinterest board.

Find Holly Booth Online:
website | twitter | instagram | facebook | email

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Week Notes #29

Sunday, April 19, 2015
Week Notes #29
Books + Pretty Shirts
The Shock Doctrine was the last book I expected to find in a charity shop but I'm glad I did.
I picked up another random book I've heard nothing about and this super pretty dusty pink shirt.

Week Notes #29
Bravely Default
I've got to be honest, I've spent more time playing this game than reading books lately.
It's the best RPG I have played in years, it's so good I just can't put it down.

Week Notes #29
Shop Update
I spent a lot of hours updating and upgrading the shop website this week. The changes are quite subtle but they make everything run a little smoother. The website is much more responsive now and I'm super pleased with the new mobile site.

Links Worth Clicking:
» How to Bring a Dying House Plant Back from the Brink
» Saar Manche
» Emoji Macarons
» Growing a Minimal Wardrobe: Affordability
» How Do People Get New Ideas?
» Of course it's been done before