Thursday, 16 October 2014

Craft a Creative Business : Book review

I've known Fiona Pullen for a while now, firstly on social media and checking into her Sewing Directory website.  Then I won a competition at Sewing Directory.  I met Fiona in person at the first Fat Quarterly retreat and then we met in person again as she has family in my area.  Now Fiona lives in Devon and she has written the book that she was born to write, Craft a Creative Business.  

Fiona is a dynamic hardworking woman with incredible business skills and a love of crafting, especially sewing.  She can problem solve all day long and is funny and positive even during hard times.  If I want anyone to tell me about business, I want it to be her!   Fiona writes with a friendly,  clear voice.  She covers a wide range of issues and topics relevant to a creative business (and many other small businesses) with no flannel, making complex subjects simple and easy to understand and absorb.  You can work your way through from beginning to end or, more likely, dip into the chapters that you either need to work on for your business or are naturally drawn to.  It's an interactive read; Fiona suggests at the beginning that you start the book with a notebook at your side and complete the activities as you go (these are the  ring bound notebook boxes on the page).  At the end of the book you will then have a notebook full of good ideas and plans for your enterprise.

This book is a joy to read and that in itself is an achievement in a book about business.  It is well laid out, with each chapter having a different background colour and information is presented in a mix of styles so you eye and brain is kept stimulated.  Its a neat size 6 ¾" x 8 ¼" too, easy to carry round and read on the go.

The coverage is vast, from tweaking your merchandise photographs to insurance, to google analytics.  
Its no surprise to me that the chapters that are particularly helpful are those on legal matters and the online themes of Social media and Online Market place; Fiona trained as a lawyer.  Legalities are not the most interesting to think about but they do have to be understood and mastering an online presence is an essential part of any business today.  Much of the success of Fiona's own business, Sewing Directory, has come from her knowledge of law and her social media skills.  Her etiquette guides to Twitter, Facebook and her Do's and Don'ts of Social Media are must read sections if you are new to any aspect of social media.

 I am self employed small business woman in my non sewing life- that sounds so fancy but really it means I run music classes for babies and toddlers as part of a supportive and friendly franchise.  Like many small businesses, I chose it because I love teaching (I used to be a primary teacher) and I wanted a job to fit round my daughter who was just starting school at the time.  Much of the online sections could be applied to this business, a non craft endeavour, and I worked my way throughout the section on Search Engine Optimisation (I think this could be Fi's specialist subject if she ever decides to go on Mastermind!).  The way Fiona explained it was easy to understand and my meta tags  descriptions, which were a bit vague and wishy washy, are now focused, up to date and ready for google searches.

 There are special guests with varying words of wisdom from all over the craft world.  Some chimed with me, others not so much but there is something for every sort of craft business.  I especially liked Kristin's (Sewmamasew) contribution, I could not agree more with her focus on community and reciprocity.  I do lots of work for free, blog hops, tutorials sharing links with projects and books that I find interesting and I hope you will too.  Most of these came about through slowly building relationships with a variety of people and businesses over the years.  Most are unpaid or without direct material benefit, occasionally I get sent a book or some thread which is always a treat- who doesn't love free stuff, but most are goodwill, support and mutual appreciation.

I should declare that I was sent this book for free as a review copy and that obviously I know Fiona.  If I had a criticism the only thing that comes to mind is the font choice in the little post-it note style squares- its a handwriting style font and just not to my taste and was probably decided by someone else.  There is nothing else to criticise!  Fiona has a dedicated website to  this book and keeping the topics up to date.  If you are having even the vaguest thoughts about starting a crafty business, this book is your new best friend.  Read it, do the activities and be prepared for what having a small business throws at you.  Its a tough world out there and everyone needs a friend!  It goes on sale mid November as is available for pre-order.

Well done Fiona, I await your next book- there is so obviously going to be another!

sib blog


  1. Great review. I'll put this on my must read book list.
    "...covers...a wide range of topics...with no flannel..."
    There are certain blogs I come back to - because of the sense of community and reciprocity. Spot on.
    When I was self-employed, this is how I ran it and how I run my etsy store too.
    I would love to understand Google analytics more. And all that #hashtagging.

  2. Isn't she holding a talk at the sewing shop soon? Thinking of going :) x

    1. Hi Josie, I will be at the Exeter Sewing Machine Company on the 14th of November, a launch party for this book. Kerry will be there too, there's free food and drinks, a raffle, goodie bags and the chance to network with other crafters and craft business owners. It would be great to see you there. It starts at 6.30pm.

  3. Sounds like an interesting read. Unfortunately meta tags are now rather passe, as search engines have developed more sophisticated algorithms, but such is the way when it takes a while for books to come to print on fast moving technology!

    1. Hi Katy, Luckily I was able to update the book just before it went to press so I think it's the meta descriptions Kerry is referring to as the book does say that meta tags now have little if any SEO significance. Like you say things do change really fast in the worlds of SEO and social media so that's why I've set up a website to accompany the book, where I can keep people up to date with any significant changes. It's if you'd like to take a look :)


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