Featured Website: Swap-bot

Attention Craft Critique readers! This is written by the owner of, our very own Rachel Johnson; she doesn’t say nearly enough wonderful things about herself in the following article. So please allow me to fill in the blanks. Rachel is not JUST the creator of Swap-bot, but also an incredible designer and entrepreneur. She is the responsible for the many of the graphics you see on Craft Critique and without Rachel CraftyCon‘s website would be logoless. I adore her,

Swap-bot is an incredible community. Go check it out, then come back here and tell me how right I am. (Love, Sarah)

Reported by Rachel Johnson

Swapping art, crafts, postcards, and letters via the snail mail is a fun and popular hobby for many crafters online. Generally, a swap (as discussed here) is a group of people who organize over the internet to trade items through the postal mail. Each swap is organized by its coordinator, who picks the theme, swap requirements, and deadlines. Participants join the swap and provide their mailing info, then the crafting and mailing begins! Swaps are a fun way to physically “meet” other creative individuals who you may only know virtually online. Swaps also provide motivation for the participants to finish projects and try out new crafts.

There are many ways to join craft-related swaps on the internet; some swaps are hosted on personal blogs, and others are organized within social networking sites and message boards., a site I started with my husband in 2005, is devoted entirely to swapping. After participating in swaps on personal blogs (and having a lot of fun meeting new, crafty folks), I observed that large group swaps were often a major hassle for the coordinators to organize.

Before Swap-bot, coordinators had to manually collect all of the participants’ mailing info, assign partners, email out the partner info, and then follow up on whether all of the swap items were sent. If the coordinators had more than a handful of people in their swap, it could be extremely time-consuming and complicated to manage! We created Swap-bot to help coordinators more easily create and manage swaps, while giving swap enthusiasts a place to gather and interact.

Swap-bot is a community website and also a web tool that handles all of the organizational aspects of swapping. Each Swap-bot member provides a valid mailing address and adds some information about themselves to their profile page. Then, they can start browsing and joining the more than 1,300 swaps that are hosted each month on the site. Coordinators create swaps of all types – ranging from swaps for Artist Trading Cards and altered matchboxes (like those seen below) to quilt squares and knitted scarves – and Swap-bot handles all of the partner assignments and record-keeping. Swap-bot even sends out automatic email reminders to all of the participants and provides a feedback system for reporting whether all of the swap items were sent and received. Swaps on Swap-bot can be totally public and open to all Swap-bot members, restricted to a specific swapping group (which can be organized on the site), or private and password-protected.

If you love sending and receiving snail mail, and are looking for a new hobby, a new way to connect with other crafters, or motivation to try out new crafts and share your creativity, you should try swapping! On Swap-bot, we are always looking for new members to join our diverse, international community. Come give it a try!

To learn more about Swap-bot, and swapping in general, check out the Swap-bot blog or the FAQs. You can also receive news and updates, plus fun, crafty content by following the SwapbotNews Twitter account or the Facebook fan page.
Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

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4 Responses to Featured Website: Swap-bot

  1. Avatar
    Janine March 15, 2010 at 11:47 am #

    Oh my goodness…I can’t even imagine what it must take to run a site like Swap Bot—just thinking about organizing something on that scale, makes my head spin. Hats off, applause, and kudos to Rachel and her husband for putting a service like this together, and on the scale that it is. I’ve never heard of Sawp Bot until this post—although I am fairly new to the crafting world and there is a lot I’m still learning. Thanks for this introduction to Rachel’s site. And kudos, too, for the graphics work she’s done–outstanding!

  2. Avatar
    Jennifer March 16, 2010 at 2:52 am #

    Oh Rachel! you know that you AND Swap-bot are the best! i found your website a few years ago and have been addicted to swapping since! 🙂 you are such a great and organized administrator, i can’t thank you enough for the work that you do! keep up the good work! 🙂 love, hippofairy

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    Anonymous March 17, 2010 at 9:48 pm #

    I have been at swap bot a few years,I trade atc mostly. I love trading with newbies to give them a good start. I love the site I recommended to anyone wanting a realitively safe place to trade your arts and crafts,

    (Heartsablaze) at swap bot

  4. Avatar
    rachel johnson March 18, 2010 at 9:55 am #

    Thank you all for such kind comments! Running Swap-bot can be a big job, but it is so fun and I love seeing the high level of participation and all of the amazing creativity.