PlanetJune Craft Blog

Latest news and updates from June

Archive for My Craft Business

new mobile-friendly website

It was only 9 months ago that I launched my new updated website, and I’d never have imagined that I’d be changing things so soon after all the work I put into developing a single unified look and feel for my entire site. But Google had other plans, and I’ve been back in web developer mode again for the past 6 weeks so I could learn how to meet the new Google requirements for a mobile-friendly website by their deadline of April 21st.

Here’s how Google saw PlanetJune before today:

pjwebsite_nonmobile
Old site: not mobile friendly :(

It’s been a huge task but I’ve finished with 5 whole days to spare(!) and I’ve just launched the new, responsive, PlanetJune website. (If you’re reading this by email or in a feed reader, please do click through to see the site!)

If you’re using a desktop, laptop, or large-screened tablet, you may not notice any difference in the site – I’ve tried to keep everything as consistent as possible while making it easier to use for those of you using smaller screens. If you previously had to zoom into the pages to read and navigate my site, you should now find that everything loads in a clean, clear format so you can read everything without needing to zoom.

Here’s how Google sees PlanetJune now:

pjwebsite_mobile
New site: I’m mobile friendly!

The screenshots above are from Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test page – as you can see, PlanetJune.com is now Google-approved for phone and tablet users! (If you need help finding out how to make your site mobile-friendly too, I recommend you check out Google’s Mobile-Friendly Websites guide as a starting point.)

Although I wasn’t delighted to have to to take on such a steep learning curve and large project with only 6 weeks notice, I’m pleased to have done it. Acquiring new skills is always fun and useful, and the more new pages I tested on my phone, the more I appreciated the simplified design for smaller screens. It’s hard to show this in a screenshot, but in case you’d like to get a better idea for how it works, here (below) are 3 side-by-side snapshots of the new homepage at 3 different screen widths (separated by black bars for clarity).

This is called responsive design – instead of you deciding between seeing a full ‘desktop’ version and a pared-down ‘mobile’ version, my page will detect how wide your screen is, and modify the page layout to fit your screen, so the text is always large enough for you to read without zooming in. If you rotate your phone or tablet from portrait to landscape, you may notice that the layout changes as your screen becomes wider!

new PlanetJune responsive website
L-R: instead of shrinking the page to fit the full site onto a narrower screen, now the elements automatically move around to fit your screen at a readable size.

Of course, you don’t need to worry about how it works – the end result for you should just be a seamless and enjoyable browsing experience, whether you use a desktop or laptop computer or any size of smartphone or tablet.

I’d like to thank the many helpful volunteers in the PlanetJune Ravelry group who’ve spent the past few weeks helping me test the functionality and layout of the new site on every device, operating system and browser we could find, to try to ensure it’ll work smoothly for everyone! This rigorous testing hopefully means that I’ve ironed out all the bugs before launching this new site. However, there’s always a chance that something won’t work for you, and I’d be very grateful if you could email me immediately if you find anything that looks strange, wrong, broken or unusable, so I can fix it.

I do hope you enjoy the new PlanetJune mobile-device experience – please let me know if you like it!

Comments (4)

my knee surgery, and PlanetJune operations

In an unexpectedly speedy turn of events, I’ve just discovered that I’ll be going in for my knee surgery this Wednesday! I’m very happy to be getting my knee sorted out after a year of chronic pain, but it’s going to affect operations at PlanetJune for as long as it takes me to recover from the surgery.

Hopefully it won’t take too long, but please bear with me in the meantime. Here’s how it’ll play out:

Patterns: No change

You can always buy my patterns from the PlanetJune shop at any time, as they are automatically available for download. (I will be temporarily closing my external Etsy and ArtFire shops though.)

Shipped items: Order today, or wait…

I won’t be able to fulfill any orders for physical items until my knee is fully recovered and I’m able to drive to the post office again! So, if you think you may need a stuffing tool, stitch markers, or an amigurumi kit in the near future, please place your order by the end of the day today (Monday), so I can ship them to you tomorrow before my surgery on Wednesday.

If you miss the deadline and would like to be notified when PlanetJune crochet tools are available to ship again, please sign up for the one-off notification email.

Help: Check my resources first

I’ll be offline while I recover, so anything that requires personal attention from me will be unavailable for a time – how much time depends on how long my recovery takes. If you email me for help, I’ll reply when I’m able to, but I suggest you check my online resources first – you may well find the answer to your question:

  • If you have crochet questions, please visit my Crochet Tutorials page for help. (And if you’re having trouble with a PlanetJune pattern, but aren’t sure what you’re doing wrong, check my Amigurumi Troubleshooter to find which of my tutorials will solve your problem!)
  • If you have any other questions for me, please check the FAQ first to see if I’ve already answered them there.
  • If those pages don’t answer your question, feel free to ask for further assistance in the PlanetJune Ravelry group, where your friendly fellow PJers are ready and waiting to help! This is the quickest way to receive knowledgeable help from a real live person.

If you still have questions about PlanetJune patterns or tutorials, or anything else you’d like to say to me, you can still e-mail me, but please be aware that I may not be able to respond for days (or weeks), depending on how my recovery is going and how many email questions have piled up.


Please keep me in your thoughts on Wednesday. My health has to be my first priority for a little while, but I’ll be crossing my fingers for a full and speedy recovery so I can get back to coming up with new designs for PlanetJune!

Comments (12)

Commissions Review: 36 months

It’s been about 3 years since I launched my crowd-sourced model for crochet pattern commissions. The first 18 months went amazingly well, and the second 18 months didn’t – not through the fault of my system, but from all the other things that kept me from working on commissions (book-writing, health issues, etc).

PlanetJune crochet pattern commissions
I designed all these patterns thanks to my crowd-sourced design commissions!

Now I’ve picked up the reins of the commissions again, and I’m very happy that my next commissioned design (Camel) will be launched this week.

So, today seems like the perfect time to make some more changes to the commissions process, firstly to give me a chance to work through the huge waiting list of commissioned designs, and secondly to make the commissions process sustainable for the future.

Summary of Commission Changes

I’ve written a long post below to explain my thoughts, but, if you don’t have time to wade through it all, here’s a summary of the changes:

  • As of today, I’ve raised the commission price to $300.
  • All patterns that were fully pledged at the old price will remain fully pledged.
  • I’ll revisit this pricing decision once I’ve cleared the backlog of commissioned designs.
  • Please continue to pledge for the designs you really want me to make!
  • If you’d like to cancel any pledges, just let me know (you can check what you’ve pledged for here).

It may seem like an extreme measure to double the price of my commissioned designs, but I have good reasons. I like to run my business transparently, so I’ll explain my reasoning below…

__(‘Read the rest of this entry »’)

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my EU VAT position

Sorry for two posts in one day, but customers are asking how PlanetJune will be affected by the new EU VAT law, so I need to address that today…

The new EU place-of-consumption tax law that comes into effect today applies only to telecommunications, broadcasting and electronic services. In this case, an ‘e-service’ is defined as something you buy that is entirely digital, where the process is automated and has minimal human involvement.

For example: you buy an ebook from Amazon. You pay, you download your file, and that’s the end of your transaction. Nobody at Amazon did anything manually to deliver the product to you, and Amazon has no further responsibility after you receive your product.

Now, as it says in my Pattern User Licence information (linked from every pattern page in my shop):

By purchasing any PlanetJune patterns, you are not buying a copy of a pattern; you’re buying far more: a perpetual single-user licence for the pattern. Your licence entitles you to [many perks, including]:

  • Unlimited customer support from the pattern designer (that’s me: June Gilbank).

That means you’re buying as much of my time as you need to be able to complete the pattern you’ve purchased. This is not a service that can be supplied automatically by a computer! If you need my help, as per my customer support FAQ:

You can also email me directly for further assistance with any PlanetJune pattern. Please send me a photo of your work (if possible) together with a description of what’s going wrong, to help me diagnose what your problem may be.

photos from customers needing help
Photos that accompanied recent help requests (all now happily resolved)

Can you imagine emailing a photo of your crochet work-in-progress to Amazon and asking for assistance?! Knowing you have unlimited access to expert help from me, now or at any point in the future, should you have any difficulties in completing the pattern you’ve purchased, is the difference between an automated ‘e-service’ and the licence you buy from PlanetJune every time you purchase a pattern.

And that’s why EU PlanetJune customers will not be charged ‘e-services’ VAT under the new law, as I don’t provide any products without a human component attached. As any customer who has ever needed my help can testify, the personal service I provide as part of every pattern licence purchase at PlanetJune goes far beyond the scope of an automated pattern delivery with minimal human interaction.

Disclaimer: This is my understanding of the law, but I have no legal background and am unable to answer any questions regarding this topic, so please don’t ask me! I also cannot be held responsible for the decisions any similar businesses may decide to take.

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2014: year in review

2014 has been a very strange topsy-turvy year, and I’m glad to put it behind me and move forward into 2015. My 2014 goals were to spend less time working, enjoy life, explore nature and get healthy, but life threw me some curveballs that made each of those impossible. Putting this review together always helps me to get some perspective on the year, so I can appreciate what I did accomplish – which was actually quite a lot, despite the difficulties!

Although my crochet pattern output was far less than usual, with only 8 new releases (plus 4 more to come that I couldn’t quite complete in 2014), I’m very happy with how they all turned out, and I came up with some nice innovations for these designs:

2014 PlanetJune crochet patterns
PlanetJune 2014 crochet patterns

And I’m very proud of my new 264-page crochet book, Idiot’s Guides: Crochet, which was published in August:

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank
My latest book

I also made quite a few other craft projects – 5 crocheted, 1 punchneedle, 1 sewn:

2014 PlanetJune craft projects
My 2014 craft projects

Plus, I managed to knit 2 new sweaters for myself (one with handmade polymer clay buttons) which I haven’t had a chance to model for photos yet, so you’ll have to wait to see them!

Personal Report

2014 was a challenge both mentally and physically. My year of unexpected turns:

  • I mistakenly thought my book work was 95% complete when I turned in the finished manuscript last Christmas; I didn’t count on the several rounds of editing – initially for content as I expected, but then again and again for length as the page design (a stage absent from my previous books) started to play a part.
  • I bought an exercise ball to use instead of a chair at my computer desk, and ended up re-wrecking my knee that was injured in a car accident over a decade ago, causing months of inactivity and ongoing residual pain.
  • Disturbing a burglary in my home led to months of mental trauma.
  • An amazing week in Borneo finally got me back on track, but was immediately followed by almost 3 months of chronic viral bronchitis.

The net result of all these unexpected things was that I was essentially housebound, unhappy and not feeling at all creative for much of the year. But I did fulfill a lifelong dream of seeing orangutans in their natural habitat!

orangutan4

Business Report

My personal situation actually had a positive side: precise technical work was the one thing that distracted me from my woes and made me feel like I was still moving forward with something. And that’s exactly what happened – I ended up, without even realising it, substituting the goals I couldn’t accomplish with the other goals on my list that I’d intended to defer until after I got healthy and happy, and I ended up completing 4 of my 7 main overarching business goals in 2014!

These goals were all related to my grand plan that I began three years ago. In 2011’s review, I said:

I want to invest time into things that will, in the long run, save me time in the technical and administrative sides of the business, leaving me with a larger proportion of time to spend on the creative and instructional sides, and having a life apart from my work.

I’ve been working ridiculously hard on that for the past three years, to get the ever-expanding PlanetJune to the point where I can run the business instead of it running me. And, fingers crossed, I may now be at that point!

For the past few months, my business has been able to essentially keep me covered with ‘vacation pay’ and ‘sick pay’ when I needed them, which has been a huge relief. (I have a lot more I want to say about how I reached this point, but I’ll save that for another post.)

What’s next?

I’ve questioned myself and my goals (and sometimes my sanity) a lot throughout these years of non-stop hard work, but now I have a really clear of what I want for PlanetJune and what I don’t want:

  • I want to design unique and beautiful things, and to help others so they can make them too.
  • I don’t want to compete with anyone else, or to make decisions based on finance or greed.
  • I want to follow my own path, to do my best, and to be genuine, honest and caring in everything I do.

That’s an unusual business plan, isn’t it? But I’ve subconsciously been following these principles right from the start, and they’ve led me, almost by accident, from being an animal-loving techy girl who liked to make things into an entrepreneur with a thriving business, so I know this is the right choice for PlanetJune. I’m still that animal-loving techy girl who likes to make things; it’s just an added bonus that other people also want to make the things I come up with!

So, where to go from here? It’s time for me to really try to meet those life goals from last year: to enjoy life and nature and to get healthy. My knee is still troubling me, but I think I can carefully build back up to real exercise again (although I think my running days may be over for good!) and, now my fear has receded, I really want to be brave and get out and explore more.

As for the business, I’m going to leave my goals flexible and see where life takes me.

  • I still have a few big projects to work on to further improve the workings of PlanetJune.
  • I want to catch up on my commissioned designs, and then review how to improve that system so I’m not constantly in the position of having a huge queue like a millstone around my neck.
  • I’d like to continue to offer my crochet knowledge and tips as new tutorials for my wonderful customers.
  • I have so many ideas for new pattern designs and I need to allow myself however much time it takes to bring my most innovative concepts to life.

Most of all, I want to feel happy, healthy, and fulfilled. That’s my wish for 2015, and I wish it for you too. I’m excited to see where this year will take me and PlanetJune, and I hope this will be the best year ever – for all of us. Thank you – as always – for your support on my continuing journey, and I wish you a very Happy New Year!

Comments (14)

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  • Welcome to PlanetJune!

    June Gilbank

    Hi, I'm June. Welcome to my world of nature-inspired crochet and crafting. I hope you enjoy your visit!

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