Thursday, 3 July 2014

New sewing room at last!

6 weeks after moving in I have finally gotten my sewing room sorted!  Only phone pics below I'm afraid so not the best quality but you'll get the gist of how it looks.  My sewing room is basically half of my bedroom.  I used an Ikea room divider shelving unit to separate off the bedroom side of the room from the sewing room side.  This does mean that both halves of the room are pretty small but I wanted to keep all my sewing things separate, don't want to be finding needles in the bed at night!

The room divider
I've made the sewing room the side by the window, with my desk right under the window so I have lots of natural light.  Plus there's a lovely view out of the window.

View from my sewing desk
Sewing desk
My sewing table is actually two £10 desks from Ikea, they are only hardboard but look and feel pretty sturdy.  For £10 each you can't go far wrong!  I wanted to have one for sewing on and one for cutting on.  In my old house I had to push the machine back to cut on the front of the desk which was a pain.  The only downside of how I've set the room up is the sockets are behind the shelves to the left of the desk, not too sure how I'm going to get an extension lead in but I will be trying at the weekend.

I've got all my sewing books right to hand, although I do have to crawl under the able to get to some of them!  Most my haberdashery is on those shelves beside the desk too, and some on the shelves behind (the two bookcases join in an L shape).  I do miss having desk drawers to keep my habby in but I'm sure I'll get used to it.



To the right of the desk I have my brilliant rainbow drawers, they are full of fabric.  They are labelled to say which colour of fabric, or type of fabric is in each.  I've also got the ironing board there but I think I need to find somewhere to leave it open ideally, and there's no socket by there so it might have to go in the bedroom side of the room.  The boxes on top of the drawers have all my stationery in.What you can't see is to the far right, beside the filing cabinet I have a stack of the boxes like the one on top of the filing cabinet, full of fabric!




It is amazing how much stuff you can fit into these shelves, plus I have things stacked up on top too.  They are good for getting lots of things into a small space.  It total the area I have for the sewing room is around 5ft x 7-8ft.  There is an awful lot of fabric and sewing books squeezed into that space!

I've just managed to find an extension lead so once I figure out how to plug it in without having to move those giant shelves full of stuff I'll be good to go.  This weekend I plan to spend several hours sewing.  I haven't decided what yet, think I need to have a browse through some of the books to choose a project.


Friday, 27 June 2014

Craft a Creative Business

Well this month has pretty much been all about the book.  Whilst I was moving house I was editing the book,  I was also building the website to accompany the book too. Which is what I'm going to blame for me not having finished unpacking yet!  No pics of the house yet as it's still in chaos but we've sorted the garden and started growing our own veg already.  There's a couple pics of the garden below.
We now have corn and broccolli growing down that side
Over this end we have lettuce, strawberries, herbs, spinach & spring onions growing

Craft a Creative Business Book


The book goes to print next week and will hopefully be out in September instead of November as originally planned.  It's available to pre-order now on the Search Press website and Amazon.  Search Press are the cheapest at the moment, just so you know. ;-)




CHA One Big Show


Last week I went to the CHA (Craft & Hobby Association) UK's One Big Show which was a brilliant networking and training event in Coventry.  There were lots of small craft businesses there as well as some of the big boys like Coats Crafts, Deramores, Create & Craft TV etc.   I was teaching SEO and social media but I got lots of time to mix as well.

The networking was the best bit of the event, I met so many new people and caught up with people I haven't seen since the trade show in February.  I also got a new website sponsor....that will be announced next month.   Plus I met the lovely Jenni from The Great British Sewing Bee.  We've chatted online but it was the first time we met in person.  Everyone there said they loved the networking and all got a lot from it, I'm really looking forward to next year's show.


Jenni & Helen from Coats Crafts were very excited by my book!

As you'll see from the pic I have info booklets about my book which I was handing out at the show.  Hopefully it'll lead to a few pre-orders.

Craft A Creative Business website


Also book wise I just launched the new website which accompanies the book - http://www.craftacreativebusiness.co.uk/  This site has lots of free business guides on it, and plenty more to come.  Plus I'll be adding free downloads from the book on there too.

I also decided to use this site as a SEO case study.  Since learning huge amounts about SEO over the last few years I've only had chance to test it on sites which are already up and running.  So the Craft a Creative Business website is ideal for seeing how it works on a brand new site.  I thought I would blog about what I've done SEO wise on the new site, and what results it's had.  So if you want to learn more about SEO do pop over and take a look.


Whilst building the new site and editing the book I've also written a load of magazine features.  I've got a 6 part series on SEO running in Craft Business Magazine which is a free trade publication, I've also got 2 features appearing on Craft Focus, another free trade publication.  There's also 5 interviews/articles coming up in the next couple issues of Love Sewing, as well as an 'ask the experts' feature in Craft Seller!  I'm starting to see why the unpacking isn't going as fast as I would have liked....

I also had a lovely sewing meet up in Exeter a couple of weeks ago.  It was so great to catch up with everyone, and this time I didn't have to travel all the way from Cardiff!  In the next session (September) we're making charity quilts for siblings together.

All in all June has proved to be a manic month.  I'm not quite sure how I fitted so much in.  I've got a feeling the summer will be just as busy.  What have you got planned for the summer?



Monday, 9 June 2014

Dealing with spammers using your e-mail address as the 'from' address

This post is a bit different from my normal ones but one I thought may come in useful to people if they ever have the same problem as me.  A week or so ago I started receiving bounce backs to e-mails I had never sent, spam e-mails usually sent to multiple e-mail address as the same time.

Below is an example of the kind of messages I was getting. 

The bounce back I received

All the bounce backs would come around the same time, as if someone had just sent loads of messages from my e-mail account.  To be honest I couldn't figure out how this could happen, and I presumed someone had hacked my e-mail account so I changed my password and forgot about it.

Then just today it happened again so I decided to look into it a bit further and see whether I had been hacked or if somehow the spammers were using my e-mail address without hacking my account my some way.

A little bit of digging and I found out I was subject to a Joe Jobs attack, which Wikipedia defines as 'a spamming technique that sends out unsolicited e-mails using spoofed sender data'.

Which means that the people receiving that spam thinks that it comes from you as your e-mail address is in the from box.  Obviously I really do not want my business account associated with spam otherwise the messages I really am sending may end up going into people's junk folders.  Plus it could damage my company's reputation if people think it is me doing the spamming.


So how do you stop a Joe Jobs attack?

Firstly, although the sender can fake the 'from' address in the e-mail, it will still show their IP address in the header. If you scroll down the bounce back, or look at the attached original e-mail you will find the IP in the e-mail header.


The e-mail header

It may look a bit like gobblygook, just like the header above but if you like a proper look through you will find the IP address (I've highlighted it in red).

I used an IP locator which told me that the person sending the e-mails was in Bangkok, Thailand.  I then used Whois lookup to see who was hosting the server they are using.  This showed me that it was actually a well known host in the UK.

Luckily said host (who I won't name because it's not their fault and I doubt they want to be associated with this kind of thing) has an e-mail address you can use to report an abuse of their servers.  So I have forwarded them the original e-mail advising them that the person at that IP is using their servers to send spam and could they please stop them.  

I've asked them to let me know when they have put a stop to it, so hopefully I will get an e-mail off them in the next day or so and that person will be stopped from using my e-mail address to send spam e-mails.  Fingers crossed!

So there you have it, information I hope you will never have to use but just in case you do here it is.  If you start to get bounce backs to e-mails you've never sent don't just delete them, look into it and see if you too are suffering from a Joe Job attack.

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Naming the book

I have to admit naming the book has been a lot harder than I thought.  It's hard to come up with a unique title that encapsulates when the book is about, who it is for and doesn't sound too similar to any existing titles.  I didn't realise that titles needed to be very descriptive, it's no good coming up with a fancy creative title because if people can see at a glance what the book is about they may not buy it.

I had bought the domains for Build a Creative Business a while ago thinking that perfectly encapsulated the who concept of the book and of the site I wanted to set up (the idea of the site came before the book).  However, a few months later a book came out called 'How to start a creative business' so my title sounded way too similar so it was back to the drawing board.

Image from Flickr Creative Commons copyright Gualtiero

For a while we were using the working title of - The Easy Guide to Making & Marketing a Successful Creative Business.  As you can see that's somewhat of a mouthful and way too much to have to keep typing over and over again when talking about the book.

Lots of brainstorming later I finally hit on the perfect title - Craft a Creative Business.  I love the play on the word craft, and the SEO side of me says my intended audience could search for either Creative Business or Craft Business so this title works for both of those keywords.  Plus it is short and snappy and easy to remember.

So there you have it, the book now has a title - Craft A Creative Business

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