Be prepared

Is anyone feeling the post Christmas slump in business? Now is the time to get your thinking caps on and start preparing for the up-coming seasons.

Valentine’s day is on it’s way in a couple of weeks and is followed by Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day right before we start heading into Wedding season.

Make sure you get your templates designed and prepared ready to list as early as you can before the seaonal event, maybe a month or six weeks ahead. People who like to give homemade gifts like to be prepared, giving themselves time to be able to fit their paper cutting in with their daily life. If your customers will be selling framed paper cuts to their own customers they need to be able to purchase the template and get them cut and prepared ready to sell.

  Think about who your customer base is. Are you aiming at home crafters or craft businesses. Think about the time scales needed to prepare, cut and post orders. You want to be out there, ready for when your cusomters want to buy or they will go elsewhere. And don’t forget to tag your listings with the correct keywords. You won’t get found if you don’t tag and keyword your templates. The internet is an amazing place, but you need your designs to be found and if you don’t tag and keyword them, they won’t be found.

The other thing you need to do to get more customers is let the world know you’re out there. Promote yourself. There are so many ways to do this on social media these days. Take a read of this article on the TT website about self promotion on social media (Faceboook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter etc)


By law digital downloads are non-refundable unless the product is faulty. As TT do not sell templates (the individual designers do) your contract is with them and not Totally Templates. It is worth contacting the designer to see if they can help with any refunds as they are paid at the point of purchase and TT do not hold anything other than the commission which is non-refundable.

How to get more customers

How do you get your templates and patterns seen by the big wide world and get new customers? It’s all about sharing. It’s no good just putting templates and patterns in your shop and expecting them to sell. You need to share the fact that you’ve uploaded somethig new to your shop.

Networking is key to selling. Social media is your new best friend. Share links to your items in as many craft groups as you can, share it on your page, pinterest, twitter etc. It’s been made even easier to share by social media links below each of your listings. Go and take a look.

Towards the bottom of your listing in your shop, right below the Product description you will see a row of social media buttons like these:


All you need to do is click the relevant one (facebook, pinterest, twitter, google+ etc) and it will enable easy sharing of your item listing.

The more you share your links the more visitors and customers you will get.

Make it your new motto, share, share, share 🙂

Product Tagging

Tags and Tagging

Tagging your templates and patterns is important when listing online. If you don’t tag your are less likely to get your designs seen.

What is tagging? Tagging is using keywords to describe your item for sale, so that when someone is looking for a specific item, they use a word that describes what they are looking for and the clever little critters in the internet go running around and find anything on Totally Templates that has that specific keyword. For example. If I wanted a paper cutting template for valentines day, I would type valentines day and possibly paper cutting aswell, in the search bar on Totally Templates. The little critters would run around and find anything that had a keyword (tag) of valentines day and paper cutting. It would then show me the results in picture form on the TT web page and bobs your uncle, you can choose which one you like. Unfortunately, Mrs I’ve got the best Valentines Day design in the world didn’t tag her template with keywords and so hers doesn’t show up. She’s lost a potential sale.

So how do I tag them?

When you are listing your template/pattern for sale you will see an area which asks you to select product tags. This is where you type in your ‘relevant’ keywords. So, say I wanted to list my Valentines Day heart paper cutting template. I would click into the box that says select product tags and then tart typing in there and you will get a choice of words to click on which will then show in the box. Keep putting keywords in until your product is described. You can also add your shop name in there so people will be able to search for your shop and that will show in the resutls. So, back to my Valentines template, I would add, Valentines Day heart love roses … etc until it describes my design. It’s no good putting ‘on valentines day my heart will melt into yours’ (or something like that if that’s what your design says) because those suggested words won’t all come up, and words which crop up again and again are the ones that will be added. There’s no point adding on, my, will, into etc… they don’t describe anything.

What happens if a word I want to use isn’t there? Words can be added to the keyword database for your by one of the TT site admin. You will need to make a post on the Totally Templates Website Group page and tag Jessica Massey and she will either add the tag or make sure one of the other admins can get it added.

If you’re not sure to what words to add, imagine you were on google and were looking for something. What would you type in to be able to find that thing quickly? That’s the type of keyword (tag) that you will need to add to your product. If you tag your products properly, they will also show up in google search results… so, it’s important that you get them right so your word can be found easily. Good luck. And as always, any problems, please use the groups to ask questions and we’ll answer them as best and as quickly as possible.

I can only add one seller’s items to my basket?

That’s right. You see, Totally Templates is a marketplace and each shop is unique. You are buying from each shop at a time and the seller gets paid at the point of sale.

To get around this, when you are browsing add the items you want from as many sellers as you like to your WISHLIST. When you go to purchase you can go to your wishlist and buy from there; you will still have to buy from individual sellers but all your items will be in one place. XXX

Making Your Shop Name Searchable

Long and IMPORTANT post for SELLERS!!! Please read!!

Ok, one of the drawbacks in TT is that as a seller you are not easily searchable by your shop names (WordPress does not have/allow a front end user search, certainly not one that works with the theme we use). So, to try and combat this and to help sellers out I have manually inputted each sellers UserName (which should be your shop name) as a TAG.

What I can’t do is go into your listings and tag each of your templates with your own tag to make you searchable, I need you to do that for yourselves. Go to your listings and add the tag for your shop.

If it’s not there it could be because your user name and shop name are different (though please remember the link to your shop uses your username). If that’s the case pop your shop name on the post in the Totally Templates Website Facebook group and we will input the tag for you.

A note of caution. I don’t want to be all badass about it but this does leave it open to abuse; what we won’t accept is you using other people’s business name tags for your products, that’s just not cool. If we see this happening the items and possibly the shops will be removed and the seller notified. We have to protect the majority of our sellers and that will always be our goal. Every item you tag with your business name will show (hopefully) on a search for your shop. It’s not perfect, but it is a workaround. XXXXX

Creating paper cutting templates to sell

As a seller. it is vital that you produce a good template for your customer, they are, afterall, paying you money for it. There’s nothing worse than paying hard earned money for a template that is all fuzzy around the edges or has shadows making the cut line difficult to see. It can result in a very unhappy customer who won’t buy from you again, and also, word gets passed around that your templates arent good. So how do you go about making sure your templates are the best they can be?

There are two ways of creating templates, either you hand draw and then scan the final cut or you create a template on your computer using an image editing software. If you are using the image editing software, make sure you design your template using 300dpi (dots per inch), that’s the highest resolution you can get and it will make sure that it gives nice sharp edges. Try to use a mid to light grey for the pieces that need cutting away as it uses less ink when printed. Don’t get it too light though, or your customer won’t be able to see the cut away very well. This is very frustrating and hard on the eyes. when you save it, save it as a nice large size, don’t re-size the image by shrinking it down as when it comes to being printed and perhaps made larger to fit the paper, it will go fuzzy around the edges (pixilate)

If you draw your designs you will have to scan your final cut to make it into a template. When it comes to scanning your template, put a piece of paper behind your template (again, mid to light grey works well), making sure all the cut away pieces are covered (you don’t want gaps). Make sure you set your scanner to scan at 300dpi so you get a nice high resolution image for your customer to download.

Your design might be the best design in the world, but if you don’t provide your customer with a nice, clean and sharp image to cut, your reputation for bad templates can ruin your business.

Repeat Template/Pattern sales

If you’re looking to increase your sales, it might be a good idea to include a repeat custom discount voucher in your listings. I’ve recently started including a 10% discount voucher in my product listings and they’re already getting used. It means that you get repeat sales, and your customers get a better deal . Win win!

Of course this applies to sellers and buyers in all the categories on Totally Templates.

Are you ready to sell your handmade work?

Am I ready to sell my work?


Only you can answer that question. Facebook groups are awesome places to get peer response to your work, but they tend to be full of people who love the same things you do and they are full of awesome and supportive people who will encourage you all the way. What they are not full of are customers, people who will be looking very objectively at your work and deciding whether it is worth a purchase.


If you want to sell put in the leg-work. I cut for a year before I considered trading though I knew I eventually wanted to sell. I spent a huge amount of money giving away framed papercuts; you may say that is stupid, I called it investment. I worked out in that year that my Family Trees were way more popular than anything else that I cut, so when I established Cut By Hand I already had some knowledge about product popularity and I was also pretty good at cutting by then, and designing my own stuff (don’t underestimate the absolute importance of both those skills if you want to sell).


I hadn’t joined any FB groups at that point so I was clueless about pricing. It never occurred to me to ask others what they charged (maybe that’s something to do with the stiff upper lip) but I went on a rocky road, throwing out random figures and feeling an awful sense of guilt about charging anything.


So I’ll tell you a story about what changed that for me. A lady called and said that ‘they’ were collecting for a colleague, would I do a papercut as a leaving present for her? I agreed and as it was simple I said I would do it for £25. She seemed a little hesitant and said she would get back in touch and I was panicking that I had charged way over the odds. She did call back, and she put the order in but said they needed it within a few days. When she came to collect she looked over the piece with a fine toothcomb, and I mean she fully examined it. Finally she handed me £35 and said ‘we tried everything we could to find a different papercutter to you because we all agreed that if your price was that low your work would be awful. We couldn’t find anybody else to do it in the time frame so had to take a chance on you, but we wanted someone that was charging £70. You’re kind of making a mockery of your own business’. I was mortified.  And I worked out with the HMRC’s help how to price. I researched like Billy-O and so should you.


The simple fact is that psychologically we associate a higher price with better quality. But if you don’t match the quality of your work to the higher price you won’t ever be successful, the two go hand in hand.


Just because your Auntie Sheila and Betty down the road ask you to make them something doesn’t mean you are ready to sell as a business.


Think about it. Most people spend upwards of 6 months formulating a business plan, forecasting profit and loss, sorting out branding and stationery, filing with the HMRC and preparing to actually BE a business. There are enormous legal ramifications to running a business, are you insured? Do you know what type of insurance you need? If you don’t know the answer to that you are not ready. Do you know how to work out your profit margin? Do you know how to charge and for what? Can you price your work independently of other’s opinions? If the answer is no then you are not ready to sell.


Take emotion out of the mix. Being a business is all about your product on the surface, but it actually has nothing to do with the cogs of a business. Those bare bones are profit, loss, tax, insurance and turnover. It doesn’t matter if somebody in a FB group thinks you have charged too much, they are not your customers; they are not your business.


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There is no such thing as a hobbyist that sells. If you sell you are legally bound to register as a business, which makes you a business. And if you are a business you need to have some sense of what a business is.


It is not ok to wail and moan that you have set up a page and though you have 200 likes not one person has ordered, if that is the case you are missing a trick, something with your business isn’t working. Are you putting in the hours needed to network? How are you presenting your business page? I cringe every time I see somebody moan publically on their business page, your customer’s do not want to hear it. Keep that to your personal profile. Your business is not you, it is a separate entity and you are merely it’s caretaker and manager. XXXXX

Pricing your work the clinical way.

Meet Norman. Norman creates art and doesn’t know how to price it.
Firstly, he has a house that has 10 rooms. His combined utility bills are £200 per month. Divided between each room that’s £20 per room per month. Norman works just in one room, and he works 40 hours a week. There are 168 hours in a week, times that by four and you roughly have 672 hours a month. £20 divided by 672 = approximately 3p per hour, granted, it’s not a high sum, but if he doesn’t add it to the cost of his work he will be paying it out of his own pocket. The HMRC gave Norman this way of working out his costs for working at home; the HMRC usually allow around £4 per week for your homeworking expenditure (utility wise), & it soon adds up. Unless you live in a tree you are using resources to work at home, that should be added to the cost of your work.

Norman works with paper. His paper costs £2.50 for a pack of 10 sheets and he needs 2 sheets for each piece of work he creates, so at a minimum he uses 50p per output.

He also uses blades. The blades cost roughly £10 for 100, (10p per blade) and he uses 10 blades per unit, so he spends £1 each time he creates.

He roughly factors in his other costs such as glue and estimates it to be around 5p per picture.

Norman sometimes uses templates. The templates usually cost him around £10 and he estimates that he will probably use each template around 10 times, so when using the template he adds £1 to the cost.

When creating his own template Norman spends around 2 hours on the design process, he needs to pay himself minimum wage for that, which is £6.70. That’s £13.40 in total. Again he will probably use the template around 10 times, so he will add £1.34 to the final cost when he does.

The actual time spent creating the finished piece is around 3 hours (not including the design time). Norman’s pretty new to the game so he is only charging minimum wage. He needs to add £20.10 to the cost of his piece.

Finally he has to factor in the cost of his frame, which was £5.

Using someone else’s template =

Utilities – 3 hours = £0.09
Paper – £0.50
Blades – £1
Glue etc – £0.05
Template – £1
Wage – 3 hours – £20.10
Frame – £5

Total = £26.60 with no profit added.

Using his own template:

Utilities – 5 hours (design & creation) = £0.15
Paper – £0.50
Blades – £1
Glue etc – £0.05
Design time – £1.34
Wage – 3 hours – £20.10
Frame – £5

Total = £28.14 with no profit added.

Remember, Norman hasn’t allowed for a profit margin here, he has paid himself a wage. Anything that he now adds to the total cost is profit. Where necessary he will need to charge P&P as well.

All of this might seem like mathematical bollocks, but when you see a cut charged out at a fiver the basic costs of creating are unlikely to have been factored in, it undercuts the market as a whole because those of us that charge according to our costs know that if those costs haven’t been accounted for then we are partially gifting the work to the customer, and you simply cannot run a successful business by doing so. ‘I only really do it as a hobby though’, well, if that’s true then you shouldn’t be charging at all. The minute you charge you need to register with the HMRC, and as soon as you do that you are a registered business. It really is that simple.

Finally, when you say that your customers simply wouldn’t pay that much, what you are actually saying is that you don’t believe your work is worth that much, that YOU wouldn’t pay that much. If a customer values what you do they WILL pay, just as you might pay an extra £0.20p for Heinz beans rather than an off brand, because you believe it is worth the cost.

This is about as basic as it gets, if you are not following basic pricing guidelines and just hazarding a guess at what you think somebody might pay for your work you really are doing yourself an injustice, and compromising the field as a whole. I hope it helps.