Thursday, 31 March 2016

Tips for Selling Handmade Cards Online | Stationery & Lifestyle

If you run a card-making business, you’ll probably be selling some of your products online. You may start off on something like eBay or Etsy, but as you gather customers you’ll want to start up your own site – which opens a new set of challenges!

You don’t just start a website and wait for orders to roll in – you have to get it right, so here’s some pointers to help you do just that.

Make sure your site is easy to get around
You need a working shopping cart that uses a reliable payment service. PayPal is a good one to start with. Everything needs to be laid out clearly – by size, colour, season, event and message – and the personalisation service needs to be user-friendly and easy to change if someone makes an initial error.

Take your time with photos
Nothing turns off buyers more than oddly-angled and poorly-lit photos. Use a macro setting if you want close-ups, use sunlight (or daylight) with no flash and crop and edit as best you can. Use a plain background for group shots and avoid “busy” images.

Use social media wisely
Season your social media with your presence – don’t drench it! Posting update after update and link after link will lose you followers. Use as many sites as possible, but sparingly. Get involved in discussions but don’t promote yourself in them – let your name do the talking. Do keep customers in the loop, though. Been on a paper-cutting course? Let them know.

Start a blog
Make sure you update it regularly as well. Your blog should be visible to search engines to display your work, as well as to keep fans and clients up to date with your latest projects and seasonal offers. Blogging boosts sales.

Have two price tiers
If you have a really popular design, do a budget option. Invest in some inkjet cartridges – they can be ordered on the web cheaply – get printing and you’ll reach more of the market.

Bring the online into the offline
Craft fairs, school fetes, wedding shows, expos – make sure you have business cards with your website details on them. Your cards may be available online, but customer relationships can start in person.

Stay fresh
Stop flogging designs that don’t sell. Always look to bring new designs in. You can find out what’s trending by looking at other sites – although never be tempted to copy someone else’s work.

Get into magazines
Offer batches to smaller craft magazines, or other hobby publications. There’s cat magazines, craft magazines, wedding guides – as long as your design fits the mag’s theme. If you’re offering seasonal cards, remember that most magazines have long lead times, so approach them in the summer. Click here to read more about lead times.

Offer great customer service
Send orders out on time, communicate regularly and always try to exceed expectations. Those cards that don’t sell well – include one as a freebie. Even if it isn’t on point for that customer, they’ll remember the gesture and may send it to someone who does like it and orders more.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

5 Great Places To Buy A Holiday Home | Travel

Are you considering buying a holiday home abroad? Here are four places you should consider taking the leap.

If you live in the UK, buying a holiday home in France is a great idea. First of all, it’s close by. You can be there in a matter of hours. Secondly, there are tonnes of different options for getting there. You can fly, sure, but there is also the ferry, the Eurostar and of course, the car! This proximity and flexibility means that going every couple of weeks is viable. You’ll also have to save up less to get there! France also has better weather than the UK; although where doesn’t!

The Telegraph put together a list of 20 great places to buy in France. Towns in Brittany and Provence both make the list, the latter of which Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie own property in. Plus, it’s only an hour from St. Tropez for when you want to top up your tan and live like a celebrity.

Spain has had a property nightmare over the last few years. When the economic downturn occurred, developers were in the process of building thousands of holiday homes. Homes that were priced around the 200,000 mark were suddenly selling for 100,000 or less.

Recovery is now slow and gradual. As a result, bargains are still be had. Like France, it has a close proximity to the UK. You’ll need to move fast. Experts have predicted that the majority of these great deals will be gone by 2017. The also advise buying away from the sea and beaches for the biggest savings.

(Image source: Photo link)

Caribbean holiday homes are what dreams are made of. Along with your new home, you get reliable, sunny weather, blue skies and seas and a slower pace of life. The locals are overwhelmingly friendly across many Islands. The car reg plate slogan in Aruba is “One Happy Island”. You can’t argue with that.

While the journey out there might not be the cheapest, once you get there your money will go far further than it would elsewhere.

Given how much further your money goes in the Caribbean, you’ll be looking at luxury villas with private pools and incredible vistas. Take a look at Real Estate on Nevis, a small island just 36 square miles big. Be warned; you might fall in love.

Nova Scotia
While classed at Canada, it only takes five hours to fly to Nova Scotia from London. This short flight time means budget flights are available. You can set off to the airport after work and be there by midnight!

The population of Nova Scotia is around the 940,000 mark, meaning plenty of space and free areas to roam. With 4,360 miles of coastline, you can find a piece of this to call your own without much competition. You can stay for up to half a year each year without needing to apply for a visa extension, and you can get a lot of land for your money. Acres and acres in fact.

As for what it looks like? Well, you only need to do a quick Google search to see the beautiful, rugged landscapes.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

How styling your home can help you sell faster | Lifestyle

First impressions count. When a potential buyer walks around your home, the slightest thing that looks like it could cause a problem is too much for them, and they will take their money elsewhere.

They’re incredibly difficult to please, but there are plenty of little tricks you can use to give your home that extra bit of wow factor. So, make sure you follow these top tips, and you’ll be packing up your boxes for the move in no time.

Give your curb appeal a boost
This is the first thing a buyer sees before they walk in the door, and that initial “yes” or “no” on the doorstep could affect how they see the whole house. Make sure the lawn is cut, any gravel paths are tidy, there are hanging baskets in summer and wreaths in winter. You want to make your house look instantly inviting.

Is your garden letting you down?
Your garden can be a real selling point for your property, but it could also be letting you down when potential buyers come to call. Are there trees that have grown out of control? Are there weeds that have taken over the paving stones? These days, the garden is seen as an extension of the living room, and is often a space for entertainment. So be sure to clear up any areas of overgrowth, and look at investing in some plush garden furniture.

Don’t underestimate cleanliness
This is absolutely vital; the cleanliness of a property instantly affects the way a buyer feels about it. It could have all the potential in the world for a fantastic family house, but buyers often perceive a lack of cleanliness as a lack of care and attention. They will assume other parts of the house that they can’t see will need more work. You should also look for ways to “tidy up” things like exposed wires, loose cables and any cases of peeling paint.

Re-think brash colours
Bold colours are a statement of your personality, and when selling a property, you want it to be the buyer’s personality that they see. Go for neutral tones and pastel colours to make a room look brighter. Dark colours can also make a room seem smaller, as well as put off any potential buyers who happen to hate your favourite shade of orange.

If you need help, call in a professional
Don’t be afraid to ask for help with staging your home, as there are many professionals who can help show your property at its best. Emblem Furniture are one such company who can provide everything from rugs and artwork to beds and desks, with only the best expertise on offer. Visit their home-staging page at

I hope you find these tips helpful when you next come to staging your home to sell; you can find more ideas here. Do you have any tips for people putting their home on the market? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Make Your Wedding Stand Out Amongst the Crowd | Lifestyle

Wedding Kiss Balloon Drop
(Image source Flickr)

Sometimes, we like to tell ourselves that the aesthetic of the wedding isn’t important. If you boil it down to the key factors - a proclamation of love, a legal bind, friends and family - then you can see how that is somewhat true. But let’s face it; we love to be able to frame the memory of such an important day with dazzling features.

One of the ways we can make a wedding feel beautiful without detracting from the main factors is to be subtle. Subtlety in itself can help your wedding stand out amongst the overblown events people often see. People go to a lot of weddings in their lifetime, and the memories of them can often blur into one. Make sure yours stands out.

The venue
Are you thinking about marrying in a church? Come on. Isn’t that what everyone you know has done? What a million television characters have done? A church is a predictable and often dusty venue. Why conform to the masses?

Tutbury castle
(Image source Flickr)

Technically, you can get married anywhere you like. We’re not saying you should get married in your living room, but you should certainly look in places other than a church. There’s Tutbury Castle, the medieval ruins supposedly haunted by the ghost of Mary, Queen of Scots. There’s also Carnglaze Caverns, a beautiful set of underground caverns that can hold weddings.

The invitations
The wedding invitation is something you want your guests to keep. It makes for an amazing memento if you get it right. Don’t just send out a card that says “Save the date”! These are going to your friends and family. Be more fun and creative!

For the style of the invite itself, you should consider laser cut wedding invitations. Make the message inside something personal and informal. You don’t want it to look like you hired some company to copy-paste a generic invite template in all the invites. Consider writing a unique message to all the guests. That sounds like a hefty task, sure. But if they’re important enough to be invited to your wedding in the first place, then perhaps they’re worth it.

A Nervous Groom
(Image source Flickr)

Why not invite people to bring their pets? Of course, this will all depend on the venue to which you’re going. And many people don’t even want kids at their wedding, let alone animals. But let’s face it: a puppy dressed as a groom would be a great addition to any wedding. Maybe this suggestion is a little silly, but give it some consideration. Please? It would be so cute!

The gifts
We considered the wedding invitations as mementos earlier. A physical item by which someone can remember the day is an amazing addition. Why not consider some custom gifts for your guests?

It doesn’t have to be anything super fancy. We’re not talking about buying them all a car, here. But how about getting some custom t-shirts for your guests? Maybe you should get something like I WENT TO (wife’s name) AND (husband’s name)’S WEDDING AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS STUPID T-SHIRT? It should be something they will see immediately and know it was from your wedding.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Foolproof Tips To Find Your Personal Style | Fashion

Personal style is one of those terms that is always thrown around like we all know what it means. On an ordinary level, sure. We know that personal style refers to the way that someone wears something. What they might choose, how they might accessorise it that separates them from everyone else. But what about our personal style? Do we really know what suits us? Can we identify our style with ease or do we simply “know it when we see it”? It may seem self-indulgent at first but really taking the time to understand your own personal style can have lots of benefits. Firstly, it will save you money. We have all been in a situation where we want to wear something new, hate it, and never get around to returning it. We also might buy the same kinds of things time and again because we have forgotten what we even had! Knowing your personal style means you’re less likely to take the risks that won’t suit you. But you’re more likely to be able to adapt trends to fit your own style, because you know exactly what that style is. Personal style isn’t about owning as much as possible or even looking great in absolutely everything. It’s about getting wear out of your existing wardrobe and looking great in what you have. At its best, personal style captures your personality, flatters your body type, and looks effortless. With a few quick steps, you can discover your own.

Look Through Your Existing Wardrobe
Begin by taking an honest look at the clothes you already own. Are you minimalistic? A hoarder? Do you clearly favour the style of one season over another? Many of us love the Summer for example and so have tons of strappy tops and sandals. Others are Winter lovers and splurge on warm coats and cosy sweaters. What you own is a good indicator of what you naturally gravitate towards. Select a few of your most worn items and try to think of a few words that capture them. If you find you wear a blazer, scarf, and cashmere sweater, then classic, chic, and tailored might work. If you like maxi dresses dresses, sandals, and floppy hats, how about bohemian, feminine, and relaxed? Write down what springs to mind and see what else in your wardrobe fits it. When you’re out shopping, recall the words and see what fits that aesthetic. You’re less likely to be drawn to things that don’t go with anything else in your wardrobe.

Get Inspiration
Browsing magazines or websites like for celebrity style can be a great place to start. Identify a few people who you think look great and get specific about it. Why do you admire their style? Is it because you like the way they dress for their body? Or maybe you love someone who breaks the rules? Is it the textures, colours, or materials you like? Perhaps it is just the overall “personality” of the outfit. Whatever the reason, start thinking about the impression you’d like your own style to create. Many people have describing style and clothing as creating a character. It doesn’t have to be as literal as feeling like a different person, but we all want to feel like the best version of ourselves. Think about the image or personality trait that you want to project and ask if your clothes reflect it.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

The Perfect Treats For Your Favourite Ladies | Beauty & Lifestyle

As the song says, ‘girls just wanna have fun!’ We ladies certainly work hard, so we know all about playing hard too. And cute surprises are all part of the fun! If you have a special lady in your life, why not stop to show her how much she is loved with a little treat. Whether you’re best friends or in a relationship, these presents will go down exceedingly well with every girl!

Whether she has a sweet tooth or not, she’ll find it hard to resist chocolates! A box of chocolates is an absolute classic gift and there is no wonder why they have been the favourite present for women for decades! Find out what her favourite types of choccies, buy a large box and brighten her day up! You’ll be in her good books for such a long time! You never know, she may even share them with you...

Another brilliant gift idea! Everyone loves receiving a bouquet of flowers. They’ll brighten up a home and fill it with a fresh, floral fragrance. If you want to buy your girlfriend flowers, how about pushing the boat out with a bunch of roses? Or, you can always keep things cheap with some seasonal flowers. If you aren’t sure what kind of flowers to go for, you could think outside the box and buy a cactus. These prickly plants are really popular presents these days as you don’t need to remember to water them!

Something shiny and sparkly will also go down very well! Every girl loves jazzing up her outfit with jewellery. Maybe large, dazzling statement pieces or some dainty, silver chains. If her birthday is coming up, find out what her birthstone is. A piece of jewellery decorated in her special stone would make a fantastic gift! Thinking about maybe even popping the big question to your partner? Well, if you’re looking for an engagement ring, you can buy verragio rings online here.

A Spa Break
If your lovely lady deserves some pampering time, buy her a day or a weekend in a spa. She’ll be able to forget all her cares as she’s sitting in the sauna or soaking in a pool. You could even turn this into a girly day out and go as a whole group! It’s a great option for a hen weekend as well. There’s nothing better than chilling out with your best friends with a couple of bottles of bubbly!

If you don’t have the budget for a spa day, why not just buy your friend some lovely smellies. Then she can turn her bathroom into her own private spa! If you buy the toiletries separately, you can create a cute basket decorated with ribbons and bows! Don’t have time? No problem, many of the big drug stores sell toiletry gift sets at competitive prices.

There are so many great present ideas for that fantastic lady in your life. Make sure you don’t take her for granted – get her a treat!

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Paying For A Life Travelling The World | Travel

There are thousands of travel blogs all over the internet. People own them and they seem to spend their entire lives travelling the world. Seeing new sites and gaining new experiences. None of them are stuck in offices all day or meeting clients. They are truly free. I know what you’re next question is. Is all as it seems? Well firstly, most of these travel blog owners don’t actually go anywhere. They simply write about what they find online. Sure, they’ll go to a few places themselves but most of them have not set this up as a lifestyle. It’s typically a second career. That said, there are a few people who really are travelling the world every day of their lives. But how can they afford to live like there? There are a few tactics you can consider if you’re thinking about following in their footsteps.

Setting Up A Blog
You can make money by setting up a travel blog. It does take some time to find success with a blog online. You will need to gain as many readers as possible by using social media to your advantage. But once you have done this, you will soon attract the interest of advertisers. Particularly, if your blog is attractive and well reviewed. They will want you to advertise their services or products in relation to your travel blog. This is the easiest way to make a blog profitable. However, you shouldn’t be foolish. Usually, blog owners will not make enough to spend their entire lives travelling. If you want to do this, you need other sources of income.

Seasonal Careers

Season careers are perhaps one of the easiest ways to pay for travelling. For instance, if you love snow and ice, you could sign up for the Alltracks Academy Snowboard Instructor Course. There you will learn the skills you need to get a job out on the slopes. If you do this, then you can pay for your travels in an area where this job is available. An instructor course typically will take up to a year. Until then, you will have to rely on the money you make from your blog and any other work you can take on. Remember, this job will also mean you can work at home in certain seasons. Or, you may like to try a scuba diving course. A diving instructor course will allow you to take a job somewhere tropical, away from the stresses of life. In your spare time, you can still travel filling up your blog.

Travel Jobs
Alternately, you may want to choose a job with travel built in. For instance, a pilot will travel all over the world. The disadvantage is that you won’t be in control of where you’re flying off to. As well as that, you’ll probably only spend a weekend or even a night in one place. But at the same time, you will see a number of different locations, even if it’s just for short periods of time.

These are the best options for you to consider if you want a life travelling the world. Which one takes your fancy?

The Hidden Gems of Vienna | Travel

Vienna is world-famous for its vibrant art scene, its museums, its palaces and gardens and the River Danube. Lots of people also know about the seven square miles of vineyard within the city limits, and Vienna opera tickets are a popular choice of birthday or anniversary gift for music lovers. However, there’s a whole different Vienna right under your nose and it’s quite amazing.

The Hundertwasser House
This amazing piece of architecture will have you believing that an abstract painting has turned 3D before your very eyes. This house was constructed between 1983 and 1985 after being designed by famous Austrian painter Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928-2000). Hundertwasser was allowed to go to town on the design of this building and he certainly did! The bright blocks of colour, the living grass roof and the trees growing inside the apartments are testament to his style. Design and architecture buffs and students should take this place in if possible. It’s actually lived in, so visitors will have to stop at the ground floor Kunst and CafĂ© shop, which offers a free film showing a tour (guided by the artist himself) of the rest of the building.

The Republic of Kugelmugel
Oh, those Viennese artists, always getting themselves into trouble! Edwin Lipburger got into hot water with the city authorities over some building permits, so he decided to cut his ties with Vienna and make his own republic – Hugelmugel – which is in fact a spherical house. The original designs for a roundhouse didn’t pass planning permission, so in 1985 the artist built another house on a hillside to avoid official scrutiny. The house was transplanted to a park and is now a tourist attraction.
Lipburger went the whole hog with his republic, naming himself ruler of hundreds of imaginary people, refusing to pay taxes and making his own stamps. He nearly ended up in the clink for this!

This is a hidden area of Vienna for many tourists. Taborstrasse is the Jewish District, also known as Matzo Island. It’s got its own special character and even though it’s in the heart of Vienna, it’s almost an island because it’s surrounded by the Danube and the Danube Canal. There are loads of independent and unique shops and markets and it’s also where the Vienna Boys’ Choir practices. You can also visit the Augarten Porcelain Factory.

The Krampuslauf

The Krampuslauf, or Krampus Run, happens every December 5 and it’s for the stout-hearted only! Krampus is the Germanic anti-Santa – a furry, horned and hoofed demon that comes along not with a sack full of presents for good children, but a basket to collect naughty kids! Once trapped in the baskets, misbehaving children were eaten, drowned or kept prisoner for ever more, depending on who you listened to. If you’re lucky enough to be in Vienna in early December, head out to a Krampuslauf and you’ll see dozens of performers in stunning costumes stomping through the streets. They’ll torment anyone – young or old – who makes eye contact with them, so behave yourself!
Hundertwasser House

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Jeepers Creepers.... Amazing Peepers! | Beauty

It’s been said that the eyes are the window to the soul, and for many people, it’s their most outstanding features. Look into someone's eyes and it’s very difficult for them to look away. That’s why contact eye contact has been one of the most powerful tools of seduction since the beginning of time. The eyes have it, they say, and it’s certainly true they hold a lot of fascination.

(Photo By Nina)

Many women regard their eyes as their favourite part of themselves. If you want to make them really stand out, here are some great hacks to ensure you have perfect peepers!

We all need to give our eyes a little bit of special attention. It’s all too easy to take them for granted! The skin around your eyes is thinner than the rest of the skin on your face. That’s why it’s so susceptible to crows feet. I prefer to call them laughter lines, some of us must just have a greater sense of humour than others! Keep the wrinkles and bags at bay by using a moisturizer at night. Giving the ingredients plenty of time to sink into your skin and get to work means you’ll get the most out of your beauty routine. If you have a tendency to have puffy eyes, then try a firming lotion to help reduce the swollen appearance. Cold tea bags are another, cheaper way to help make your eyes look better. Slices of cold slices of cucumber work too. I love DIY beauty hacks!

You should give your eyebrows and eyelashes a little brush through each day, not just the days that you are wearing makeup! This will separate your lashes and keep your brows in shape. Eyebrows frame the face. It’s amazing the difference the shape of your eyebrows can make to your whole visage. Elongating your eye area will give you an attractive, wide-eyed look.

Coloured contact lenses are a clever way to add some oomph to your eyes! By brightening your irises or changing colours completely, you can actually switch up your look. Vivid green eyes look stunning on brunettes and redheads while ice blue looks stunning on blondes. Coloured lenses UK have a comprehensive range. You don’t even need a prescription. They are suitable for almost everyone to wear! There are different shades and hues you can choose from to complete your new image.

Fake eyelashes are really popular these days. You can buy stick on versions, which a lot of people include fiddly to use. If you want something longer lasting, then you can have eyelash extensions. These will last up to six weeks, and will give you fuller, longer luscious lashes. It’s really surprising the difference it can make to the look of your whole face. They're very feminine and lots of fun. You can bat your lashes at the object of your desire for dramatic effect!

There are lots of ways you can make your eyes stand out with the use of makeup. Contouring can also help enhance your favourite feature. Why not try out these tips and tell us how you get on?