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Secrets of the Super Crafters: The Crafty Gentleman

 

Mike Aspinall, aka The Crafty Gentleman, has taken the online blogging industry by storm! Recently winning a Craft Business magazine award and having worked with brands such as Cricut and Singer, Mike’s success is on the rise, and we want to get to know him more.

Congrats on being chosen as a Super Crafter! What might our readers not know about your journey into the world of craft?
It all happened by accident! Back in 2013, I was studying for a Chemistry degree when I become pretty frustrated at the lack of creative outlets I had. I decided to share a few craft projects online and it all grew from there – there was no initial plan or strategy!

How did the idea for The Crafty Gentleman come about?
It came from a frustration at the lack of craft content available for young people, especially men. It felt like the craft industry was solely aimed at women – and I was the odd one out. But I knew there must be other young guys who, like me, were interested in crafts. So I decided to make this my mission; to encourage men into the world of crafts, and I continue with this ambition today.

What was the real turning point in your career? Was it a particular blog post, commission or a piece of publicity?
One big turning point was in 2016 when I appeared on Channel 4’s Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas. My blog crashed from the huge amount of traffic it drove to my site. I was inundated with messages from new readers, and my social media following doubled overnight. It was crazy!

What is it about your job that you love so much?
I just love that I get to make things! I constantly get to try out new techniques and products – all in the name of work. Even if a project goes wrong, it’s still a lesson I can turn into a blog post to help my readers.

You’ve probably had a few, but what has been your ultimate career highlight/what are you most proud of?
One of the biggest highlights was my trip to Salt Lake City to present at a craft conference last year – it was incredible! I got to meet so many crafters from all across the USA and beyond, many of whom were readers of my blog. It was a real ‘pinch-me’ moment when someone asked if they could have their photo taken with me!

If you weren’t a full-time crafter, what job do you think you’d be doing?
Actually, I’m not a full-time crafter (yet!). I have a day job in digital marketing and run my craft business at the weekends. However, I’m now at the point where I’m ready to go part-time and dedicate more time to crafting – which is both exciting and nerve-wracking!

What’s your advice for people who are looking to start their own craft business or perhaps craft full-time?
Find your visual style; something that unifies your projects in a consistent way. For instance, I use a lot of bright, cool colours (think blue, green, white and grey). The aim is for someone to see your work and instantly know that you produced it.

If you go back to ten years ago, what advice would you give yourself?
Start a blog immediately. I was fairly late to the game and I wish I’d started earlier. Also, try every social media outlet possible and start experimenting with content. It’s never too early to start building an audience.

Do you think it’s more about WHO you know, instead of WHAT you know? Where there any people who played a big part in your success?
I actually think it’s a combination of both. You need to know your stuff, but you also need a network to help promote your work. For me, the team at Cricut have been instrumental in my recent success. They’ve given me opportunities to travel internationally, appear on live TV and so much more. I’m hugely grateful to them.

Where do you see your career in five years time? Are there any goals that you’d still like to achieve?
I’d love to do more television work. I’ve just finished filming for a new craft show on Channel 4 and I regularly appear on Hochanda TV. It’s become a real passion of mine. I’d also love to write a craft book for the modern maker – so if there are any agents or publishers reading, please get in touch!

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