Selling on your blog - E- books

Today is the last day of July - so I'm now setting out my challenge for the month of August.
As I want to find a way to make my blog profitable, but as yet haven't had any success with the advertising, which I must admit I've taken quite a passive approach to.  I've decided I need to take more active action.

Since I love writing - and my blog is growing through people coming through to read and see information I am giving, looking at E-books seems to be a logical option for me!

As to the topics - the how to of writing, putting together, publishing and selling these e-books - well that's what I'm aiming to research and learn about throughout the month of August.  If this is a topic you're interested in - or perhaps have some knowledge about yourself - then I hope you'll follow along and share in what I learn!

My goal - (because you always need goals, aims and targets) is:

To have published an e-book which will be available for sale by the end of August.

I feel this is a good SMART goal - specific, measureable, achievable, relevant and timely.

I have to say I'm not starting completely from scratch here.  I have had this idea for some time, and have lots of potential material written. 
But I just needed the motivation and extra push to actually do it !
So here goes!!!

Of course I'll be continuing to grow my blog in August too - more pageviews, followers and even better content!!
Plus - I've decided to set myself a monthly challenge/target for my other blog (Be Our Best).  Where my hushand and I both share our ideas and insights on how we are trying to help our girls - and in doing so ourselves, be the best we can be! If you're interested in that challenge too - I'd love if you head on over there to have a look!
Here's to more success to us all!

Blog growth and learning review

This picture is of a Golden Orb Spider who has built her web in our garden. She is about the size of an adult hand - so pretty impressive, but harmless to humans.  Anyway - she has nothing to do with my topic today - other than I wanted to add a photo - and I think she's amazing!

But back to this post!
Now that it's the end of July, which has been a month of consolidation for me so far as my blog goes, I thought it would be a good time to review what I've learnt so far about growing my blog - and the effects I've seen from the actions I've taken.
I also thought it would be nice to bring together everything I've learned into one post - so it's easy to find for anyone else who might find the information useful and/or helpful.

Social Media
This is something that I'm still learning about and know that the more I learn and put into it - the more I'm getting out of it!
I learned how to add a facebook like and tweet button to my posts.  I have seen since adding these that I do get traffic from facebook and twitter sometimes - when someone has liked a post.  So this was definitely something worth doing.  It makes it easy for other people to share something they like on my site with others.
I also added a 'stumbleupon' button several months ago, which I hadn't really seen any response from.  That is until last week, when someone 'stumbled upon' my post on how to make a reusable fabric sandwich wrap.  This brought me DOUBLE my regular traffic stats for 2 days straight!
So those little buttons are well worth the effort of adding to your posts!
Here's a link with more info about adding a stumble upon button:

I've also been using my facebook page more this month.  I've never been much into facebook on a personal level, but I'm getting quite into it with my blog - as another way to show and tell others about things I find about the internet, to give other bloggers a shout out, and  of course, another way to promote me and my blog!

I've still not got very far with twitter - so if anyone finds it a useful blogging tool - any tips or advice on how to use it would be much appreciated!!


After learning how to check my Google Page Rank  (which is essentially how important Google views your site to be, based on links and popularity) I was thrilled to see mine go from a 1 to a 3 in the space of one month (June) as I pushed and promoted my blog.
I added my little button to the sidebar of my blog to show my ranking - and was so very disappointed to see last week that I've dropped to a 2!!  Not sure why - and I can't find a decent answer on Google, but since my stats are still growing, I've decided to focus on that, and just keep the page rank button out of curiosity!

Photos and Presentation

I don't have a big expensive camera - but I'm learning how to edit and improve my photos with software and also in how I present the photos.
I learned how to add a border to photos on my posts - like the green one around the spider picture at the top of this post.
I've also been taking more care with the composition of my photos - and just a few days ago had another of my photos accepted on craftgawker.  (after many rejections).  They only accept really good photos - so I take it as a compliment that I've been on there twice now - especially since it's a good source of traffic! 


Joining and becoming active in forums that cover the topic of your blog is a great way to find new friends and bring in more traffic to your blog!  I get so much inspiration from the forums I spend time on, and also gain traffic back to my blog for the things I share on the forums.
Again the more you put in yourself, the more you gain from this.
I also discovered that you have to think outside the box here - and spend time on forums that may not be the main topic of your blog - but do cover some aspects!
I mostly go on sewing and crafting forums - but since I noticed traffic coming from a forum about saving money, I now look at that type of forum and also environmental ones too - as I cover lots of upcycling and recycling of clothes and other fabrics!

Sponsorship and Advertising

This is another aspect I'm still learning on. (well ok - I'm still learning about everything, but this one especially!)
I've got Adsense adverts and a couple of affiliates on my sidebar - which are slowly earning me small dollar amounts - this is increasing as my traffic increases.
I'm also now offering advertising space - but know I need to go and ask companies - not just put up the space and hope!!!  This is a weakness of mine - not being too confident with the sales side of things!  But I will push past this and make an effort!

I now have guest posts and some sponsorship and giveaways going on.  It's really nice to be able to feature other talented bloggers - and my blog is growing big enough now that I feel I am offering exposure by featuring their work here. 

Generally with this - I'm watching other blogs - keeping reading, and just trying things to see what works and what doesn't!


I looked at this in a post in June - and was surprised at the difference the words you use can make!
I do try to check what words people do search for most - and make use of that info in my posts wherever possible.  It's not always suitable - like when I'm putting out a tutorial, but it is definitely something to bear in mind.

Joining forces with others

I have learned that I alone am not enough to grow my blog into what I want it to be! (an income producing business).
As with any business, you need a team.  Aside from my now regular guest post tutorials and linky parties - where I can showcase other people's fabulous creativity, I am lucky enough to have teamed up with 4 wonderful ladies to produce our Creating Success Worldwide hop.  Every week we co-ordinate our many different time zones - on all 5 continents to provide a tour around the World of creative people - with the added bonus of a hop where everyone who comes along can add their own blog link and join in too,gaining new friends and followers. This is still in its infancy - but is slowly growing, and it's great to be working with others on such a fantastic project.  Each week I still go around all the posts with a sense of pride that we're all working together and co-ordinating our efforts so well!

Email newsletter

One last thing I have to mention that I figured out was how to set up an email newsletter.
I used a free service called Mail Chimp.  After a few frustrations trying to figure it all out - I'm now extremely happy with it.  I set it up so that all my new subscribers get a free PDF pattern for my Kathryn Bag (see top of my sidebar if you're interested).  It's nice that this happens automatically - and it's easy to send out my weekly newsletter - in a great easy format.
Again - I'm still learning with this - but it's nice to be able to see the statistics of who is opening the emails I'm sending and which links they're clicking on so I can see what people do and don't like!

Phew!!  That's a lot of info - but good to review it all - and hopefully clear for others to get something out of it too!

Now my targets for July in terms of my blog were:
To increase my monthly pageviews to 30,000 - which I have achieved!! Yippeee!
To increase my number of folowers to 1000 - which I have almost done, and am happy with my progress there.
And finally to make $100 profit somehow!
Unfortunately the money is still eluding me!

So  that will be my focus for my August challenge..
For more details on that and how I'm going to go about achieving this - come back tomorrow!  I hope you'll follow along again as I try to push myself and my blog further - and share what a learn along the way!

Easy Zip Coin Purse Tutorial

Hi! I'm Crafty Mummy! I love to create when I can fit it in around my first priority - my family. I blog my creations over at The Crafty Mummy. I also hang out on Facebook and Twitter, and recently on Google+, so come and have a chat! When I create more than we need, I sell my creations in my Madeit shop. Thanks so much for inviting me over today, Jill.
Are you feeling creative today? Love sewing but scared of zippers? Me, too! But I've got an easy way to add a zipper to a coin purse that you'll love. This coin purse is little - and cute - but you could use this method to make a bigger bag or pouch. Just adjust your zipper size and your fabric pieces to create a pencil case, make-up pouch, nappy carrier or kids activity case. Let's get started...

What you will need:

  • zipper - mine is 3" which means that with the fabric sides it is 4" long (10cm)
  • two rectangles of fabric - mine are 4" x 3" (10cm x 7.5cm)
  • two rectangles of wool batting or pellon - 3.5" x 2.5" (ie half an inch less than the dimensions of your other rectangles) (9cm x 6.5cm)
  • usual sewing supplies - machine, thread, pins, etc

Step 1:

Lay your batting or pellon on the wrong wide of your fabric pieces and iron to help hold in place. Add a pin to keep it there as you start sewing. You could use iron-on pellon which will stay in place without the pin.

Step 2:

Now for some simple quilting. This is going to hold the batting in place and give a little decoration. You could do any pattern you like, but mine was down one edge, across the bottom a little, then back up parallel to the first line. Keep going across the fabric until you've covered it. My lines are about a centimetre apart. Do that on both rectangles, then iron them.

Step 3:

Trim the edges that will join to the zipper with pinking shears to stop fraying. (You could zigzag stitch them if you don't have pinking shears.) Then pin the zip on the right side of one rectangle as shown above. The right side of the zip should be against the right side of the fabric. There may be a little overhang on each end of the zip - that's fine.

Step 4:

With your zipper foot on your machine, start stitching from one end of the zip. When you get to about half way, stop with the needle down in the fabric.

Step 5:

Lift the presser foot (leaving the needle down) and carefully open the zip up. Make sure the zipper pull is now behind the presser foot then finish sewing down that side of the zip.

Step 6:

Close the zip up again while you align and pin it to the right side of the second rectangle. Make sure the edges of the two rectangles are going to match up. Pin it in place then open up the zip again - it will be easier without the zipper pull where you want to start sewing. Stitch down that side of the zip, stopping halfway with the needle down. Carefully close the zip and finish sewing the zip in.

Step 7:

Make sure your zip is open before you do this next step. Line up the bottom of the two rectangles, right sides together, and pin. Also pin the zipper ends carefully. See in the picture how I've laid the zip flat with the top edges together.

Step 8:

Starting at the top right, stitch around the three sides of your rectangles. Trim the seams with pinking shears which will also trim the excess ends off your zipper. (Again zigzag on the seams would work too, and then clip the corners so they sit flat when turned.) Turn through and use a knitting needle to push the corners through nicely. Iron and you're done!

Thanks again for having me. Jill. Please pop over and say "Hi" at The Crafty Mummy.

A new dressing gown for my daughter

Here in Tropical North Queensland just now it is winter.  Now winter here is relatively mild - days are around 20-25C, but we do get some chilly mornings - getting down to around 10C.

I know 10C isn't that cold for most people - and I grew up in the North of England - so really it shouldn't be that cold to me - but I have adapted and gone soft - living here in Cairns, so anything below 20C is decidedly chilly!

Anyway, the other morning was one of those cold 10C mornings, and it inspired me to make a new dressing gown for my eldest daughter - whose current one is far too small!

I used the funkiest fleece I had in my stash - although not very girlie - she does like it!

I persuaded her to do some modelling after school..

But by then it was too hot outside - so that didn't last long!

Mickey approves too!

All snuggly and warm - and hopefully it will last her for a few years as she grows!

I didn 't use a pattern - just used some of her current clothes for size and her old dressing gown for the style.

I'll probably have to make one for my younger daughter, so perhaps I will make a tutorial for it when I do that!  Watch this space!


One more thing before you go - If you are from Australia or New Zealand, and would like to be featured on our weekly Creating Success Worldwide hop - great exposure for you, your blog and your shop!  Then please leave me a comment and I'll get all the details to you asap!

Added note: I just finished the second robe - and the tutorial will be posted here next Tuesday!
For more wonderfully creative spaces, go here!

How to make a personalised drink holder in 5 steps and 15 mins

Ever thought it would be great to have the equivalent of a wine glass marker for your kids drinks?
These drinks holders are perfect for outings, parties and 
get-togethers. They fit around most drinks bottles or cups and help your kid remember which is their drink!
Best of all, they are small and flat and slip easily into your bag to take with you!

Would you like to make one of your own?

Here's how:

Step 1.

Cut 2 rectangles of fabric - 30cm x 10cm (12" x  4")
and two pieces of stitch in velcro 8cm (3.25") long.
Plus personal embellishment!

I chose to add names - for which I used scrap material, vliesofix (fusible webbing) and cut out the letters to iron on.  I like to stitch around the edge of my finished applique for extra strength!

You could use any embellishment you choose - buttons, fabric flowers or none at all - the fabric you choose may be distinctive enough to remember which drink is yours!)

Step 2.

Attach your embellishment, and pin and stitch on the velcro pieces like this:

Step 3.
Place the rectangles right sides together..

And pin all the way around, then stitch,leaving a small gap to turn out when you're done.

Step 4.

Trim all four corners, then turn out through the gap you left in your stitching.

Step 5.

Iron flat, then top stitch all the way around the rectangle, as close to the edge as you can.


Now you can wrap your drink holder around your bottle !

Great if your kids drinks bottles look the same....

For the downloadable PDF version of this tutorial, click here.

And for over 100 more free sewing tutorials for all levels of sewing ability, visit My Free Tutorials Page.

How to strip furniture - guest post tutorial from Straight Stitches

I'm so excited to be guest posting here on Creating My Way to Success! Jill has such an amazing blog, but I'm sure you guys already know that. :)

Straight Stitches

So let me tell you a bit about myself. My name is Heather and I have a little blog called, Straight Stitches, which is kind of a misnomer now, but it originally started out as a way to show off my sewing, because that was the most common craft I did when I started the blog a little over a year ago. My sister, Dana, writes up a food post every Friday, and sometimes she explores her creative side in a non-culinary way. :)

So there tons of posts, books and articles about how to finish your furniture, and I'm sure there are probably almost as many about stripping your furniture, but that's what my post is about today. Stripping your furniture.

I'm working on a console that needs to be brought up to date. I am only going to be stripping the top, because that's the only thing I'm going to be staining. The rest of the piece will be painted, makes it slightly easier on me. :)

Its an older piece that has an oak veneer and an awful stain color.

Its been super nice here in VA the last two days, so I moved the big heavy console out into my driveway to work. No problem with ventilation here! I also vacuumed the console to remove any debris, cobwebs, etc.

Next I gathered my supplies. I like to use CitriStrip, but I ran out of it during this process and I also used - Motsenbocker's Lift Off Paint & Varnish Water-Based Stripper. You can get these products at your Home Depot or Lowe's.  I can't tell you which worked better, but the Motsenbocker's is soap and water clean-up so that's really nice.

Anyways, you're also going to need a plastic bag, paper towels, a plastic stripper tool, chip brush, stripper pad, a plastic container and gloves.

Pour some of your stripper into a plastic tub and then liberally brush onto the surface you want to strip. Its kind of hard to see but the gel is on there. For the CitriStrip, it says to leave the gel on for 30 minutes, but for the Motsenbacker's only 5 to 10 minutes.

After the proper amount of time has elapsed, you're going to bring out the plastic stripper, and scrape in the direction of the grain. It's a very goopy mess, but the results are worthwhile.

I scrape all of the stripper into a pile towards one end of the piece.

Then I bring up the plastic bag and push/scoop the goop into it. I use the paper towels to clean my scraper, because its a sticky business that likes to gum up the scraper blade of the stripper tool.

There's the first bag of goopy mess.

For curved or moulding pieces, you'll need a stripper pad, which I did not have until the 2nd coat. You know, since I ran out of stripper and this piece ended up being needed to hit twice because of how well the original finish was on, but you can see above how the gel holds to vertical and curved surfaces. Now for the CitriStrip, you will need to wipe down your piece with mineral spirits and then let dry for 24 hours. The Motsenbacker's is a wipe down with warm water.

 So here's the top after the first strip session. So much better! Don't you think?

Here's the final stripped top after sanding and being moved inside.

 So that's it! Now my top is ready for stain. You'll also notice in the last picture that the rest of the piece has been scuffed up in prep for paint.

I hope you guys enjoyed today's tutorial, and you'll be able to check out the rest of this console's make over at Straight Stitches.

See you guys soon!


How to make a handibag from a pillowcase - in 5 easy steps and 15 minutes

I made one of these last year, and thought it would make a good project for my "Anyone can sew" series of 5 steps in 15 mins.

Here's how to make your very own handibag - great to slip into your handbag for when you go shopping - or perhaps to carry your kids artwork home from school!!

Step 1 - Cutting

Take a pillowcase you no longer use (or buy a pretty one from the charity shop).

Cut off the flap that is on the inside of the pillowcase - You'll use this for the pocket!
NOTE - This has caused some confusion amongst readers. Here in Australia and in the UK, there is a small 'flap' on the end of the open end of the pillow case, this slips over the end of the pillow when you put it inside the case - it's essentially just an extra strip of fabric. It seems to be missing off pillowcases in the US.  You can just use any scrap of fabric for the pocket if there is no flap on your pillowcase!

Then cut two strips from the open end of the pillowcase - 10 cm (4") in width. These will be the straps:

Then cut one side seam from each 'strap' so you have two long strips, and your main bag left:

Step 2 - The Straps

Iron each strap in half length-ways,
then open out,and fold either side in towards the middle crease and iron again..

Then fold in half again and iron.  This will give you two straps, approx 2.5 cm (1") wide.

Then machine stitch down both sides of the length of each strap.

Step 3 - Attach the straps:

Fold the top of the bag in on itself approx 2.5 cm (1") and place the end of one strap where you want it to be.

Then fold the bag end AND the strap over another 2.5 cm (1") and pin into place.

Repeat for all 4 strap ends:

Then machine stitch around the bag opening at both the top and bottom length of your fold.  You can also stitch a cross on each strap for extra strength!

Step 4 - The Handipocket!

Take the flap you first cut from the pillowcase,
and cut a rectangle 16 cm x 23 cm (6.5" x 9")

Double turn all 4 edges to finish off neatly:

Then fold right sides together - ALMOST in half, like this:

Then pin it to the INSIDE top middle of your bag with the folded edge at the top.

Then stitch along the three sides of the pocket.

Step 5 - Into the pocket!

Now you have a nice strong, large bag.

Open it up and find the handipocket inside..

Then push the bag UP into the pocket from the bottom - turning the pocket inside out as you go around the bulk of the bag.  Then finally flip the little flap over at the top.

And there you have - one handibag - to slip in your handbag - you never know when you might need one!

For the downloadable PDF version of this tutorial, click here.

For an updated version of this tutorial, plus more tutorials for making a selection of shopping bags from upcycled fabrics, 
check out my e-book here!