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    Category Archives: book review

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    Book review (and member giveaway): Taking Back Retail

    By Tess McCabe

    For almost every creative with products to sell, having an online commerce option is essential. Even if your sales are mostly through your bricks and mortar store, or your market stall, or wholesale orders, no-one can deny that these days, customers expect that you also sell your wares via your own website or a third-party online marketplace.

    The argument for having an online retail presence is at the heart of Taking Back Retail, written and released by Portable founders Andrew Apostola and Simon Goodrich last year. But this easy to digest, information-heavy handbook has lots to offer those looking to succeed in any aspect of the online space – whether it be devising a new website design; figuring out the easiest and more effective social media platform to work for your business; conceiving of new ways to promote your product range; or simply analysing how you’re current modes of online selling and marketing are working for you.

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    Overall, the book hammers home where best to spend your ‘business development’ budget (which they acknowledge is often limited) to get the best return. This is advice that, as creatives, we often don’t get to hear. The team at Portable have made their mistakes along the way in the growth of their own business and side projects, and they are happy to share what they have learned so that we can all benefit.

    Taking Back Retail is primarily aimed at those in the fashion industry (to whom Portable’s own online shop software is targeted), and many of the case studies within its pages relate to this field. However, in my opinion, retailers, makers and designers of any creative sort will likely benefit from the advice in its pages. Personally, I was surprised I found much of its advice relevant to my own business – the tips on creating interesting blog content, organising and managing an online shop, and making the most of a enewsletter and mailing list database were particularly helpful and prompted me to think about CWC’s online presence in a fresh way.

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    It’s an easy read that could potentially have a big impact for you and the future of your creative work.

    Lucky for us, the generous folk at Portable have offered 10 paperback copies of Taking Back Retail to CWC members this month. Join CWC before February 28, 2014 to be in the running for a copy, or current CWC members can log in and enter the giveaway here. Winners will be drawn on 1 March and notified shortly after.

    Or, if you just want to get your hands on a copy of the book, you can do so in digital or paperback format at the Portable website.


    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: book review, giveaway | Comments Off
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    Book Review: Not Quite Nigella – My Path To Happiness Through Baking & Blogging by Lorraine Elliott

    9780670075034Food Blogger Lorraine Elliott created the highly successful blog Not Quite Nigella in 2007. In this food-centric book she shares her journey from media strategist to blogger, offering a collection of food memories, amusing anecdotes, and recipes along with a sprinkling of advice to wannabe bloggers.

    A food lover from way back Elliott only began blogging at the insistence of her husband, who set up the blog and told her to get writing. When a promised job falls through Elliott focuses more attention on the blog, becoming a fulltime blogger in 2009 and currently enjoying statistics of 250,000 unique readers a month with over 500,000 page views (according to her about me page).

    The book is difficult to categorise. Part cookbook, part memoir and part blogging lesson it offers an eclectic mix of information written in an amusing, easy-to-read style.

    The stories are entertaining including such adventures as a race around the city trying all the Peking Duck dishes on restaurant menus in one afternoon/evening, or sneaking into a swanky exhibition at the NSW Art Gallery waving just a wine glass and a confident air. Although there are more poignant pieces on offer too, with a tour of the cooking facilities at Long Bay Jail and a visit to old-fashioned eating establishment catering to the pensioner/ex-prisoner clientele with cheap and hardy dishes.

    Food lovers will enjoy the book for the variety of recipes offered at the end of many of the chapters: red velvet cake, wontons, pork belly with chilli-caramel sauce and vanilla macarons are just a sample of the delicacies on offer.

    Although for this poor excuse of a cook, it was the blogging advice that I found most interesting. There were snippets of information throughout the book ranging from dealing with threats of legal action from large publishing firms to stockpiling blog posts for the times when you are unable to blog (so my day-by-day seat-of-the-pants approach could be hindering my entry into the blogging big league).

    The final two chapters are devoted to how to blog and how not to blog. Elliott advises potential bloggers to choose a topic they are passionate about and explains the joy in creating a community and having a positive impact on readers.

    The book offers an interesting glimpse into the world of a professional blogger.

    Janine Fitzpatrick blogs at  Shambolic Living where readers get to feel far happier about their lives when they experience the chaos of hers. She is coming to terms with being the mother of two teenagers, has given up on the dream of a tidy house and still plans to write a book one day.


    Posted by: Janine Fitzpatrick
    Categories: book review, regular columns | Comments Off
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    Book Review: The Creative Seed – How To Enrich Your Life Through Creativity by Lilian Wissink

    by Janine Fitzpatrick

    Creative Seed Front CoverCreativity is something many of us strive to incorporate in our lives. For some it is a burning passion, for others it’s a secret held close to the hearts, while in some cases it’s just a niggling feeling that there is “something more” we would like to be doing in life.

    In The Creative Seed – How To enrich Your Life Through Creativity Lilian Wissink, a Counselling Psychologist, gives us a template for how to introduce more creativity into our world.

    The first half of the book is devoted to helping unearth which sphere of creativity is best for the individual reader. In activities ranging from exploring childhood memories, creating timelines of significant creative moments in our life to working out what we value most, Wissink helps to trigger a sense of which area of creativity speaks most loudly to us. Along the way she debunks a number of creative myths such as; you have to be born creative, it’s a secondary pursuit after the bills are paid, you’ve got to mad to be creative, it’s a mysterious journey available only to select few and you’ve got to start your creative life early. Wissink crosses off each myth with a well-thought response which gives hope to all those who have put their creative selves on the back-burner.

    In Part Two of The Creative Seed Wissink draws on her psychology background to give clear strategies for engaging in the ups and downs of a creative life. Dealing with the negativity of friends and family, combating our own inner critic, overcoming procrastination and dealing with stress Wissink has a plan for all of the key issues faced when attempting to introduce more creativity into an already overloaded life.

    The Creative Seed reminded me of the importance of finding space to be more creative. It also broke down the creative process itself and the obstacles which stand in the way of achieving a creative life. It inspired a sense that it is possible to find the “something more” and unearth the creative passion no matter what your age or experience.

    Janine Fitzpatrick blogs at  Shambolic Living where readers get to feel far happier about their lives when they experience the chaos of hers. She is coming to terms with being the mother of two teenagers, has given up on the dream of a tidy house and still plans to write a book one day.


    Posted by: Janine Fitzpatrick
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    Book Review: The Confidence Workout by Michelle Landy

    by Janine Fitzpatrick

    CW_COVER_TL-203x300How confident are you? Are you assured in every circumstance? Or do you second-guess yourself regularly? Quiver at the thought of the unfamiliar?

    No matter how talented or skilled you may be a lack of confidence can inhibit your capacity for success.

    Michelle Landy is a personal coach, university lecturer and presenter and she’s written a book that might just help those of us who under-estimate our capability. The Confidence Workout takes you through 17 steps to help you feel more confident at work and in your life.

    Landy succinctly outlines some of the obstacles which limit our ability to believe in ourselves such as the inner voice of criticism, the fear of failure, the negative nellies surrounding us. Most importantly though she outlines simple strategies to overcome these obstacles.

    Each “workout” gives you an element to focus on in building your confidence. Instructions like “keep your own word” reminds us how important it is to set realistic goals.

    “Not doing what you say may seem inconsequential, but it isn’t. It will silently erode your confidence”.

    Setting progress markers in your attempts to introduce new skills will help you to remember just how much you have managed to achieve.

    “Having a sense of progress nourishes our confidence. In turn, this motivates us to keep going”.

    Using real-life examples this book gives a clear guide on how to bring up your confidence levels. It sets you very easy tasks that help to improve your self-esteem and it offered some “ahaa” moments that may be blindingly obvious but are easy to forget in the hustle and bustle of modern life.

    “The easiest way to keep our confidence alive is to do our pursuits in a regular rhythm, without large breaks in time. Breaks in time disconnect us from our flow and from our self-belief”.

    The Confidence Workout is a handy resource which provides a step-by-step outline to helping you face the world with a new air of determination.

    CWC readers can get 30% off Michelle’s book at her online store! Enter code promo37 at checkout to redeem your discount.

    Janine Fitzpatrick blogs at  Shambolic Living where readers get to feel far happier about their lives when they experience the chaos of hers. She is coming to terms with being the mother of two teenagers, has given up on the dream of a tidy house and still plans to write a book one day.

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    Posted by: Janine Fitzpatrick
    Categories: book review, discount offer, regular columns | Comments Off