Top

Tag Archives | community

A Note From Our Editor: Online Craft Communities — Changes and Expectations

As the owner and Editor-in-Chief of Craft Critique, I often long for an Oprah-esque “What I Know For Sure” moment. Also referred to as the Jerry Springer “Final Thought,” or the Jon Stewart “Meet Me at Camera Three,” editors yearn for opportunities to step from behind their Wizard-of-Oz-curtain and share an opinion, or ten.

Sure, my segment doesn’t have a fancy title… maybe it will someday (suggestions welcomed). For now we will refer to it as “A Note From Our Editor” since “Sarah Speaks” or “Sarah’s Soapbox” smacks of narcissism.

So what is it that is making me open my big mouth today? A bit of drama in the world of online crafting communities… the second sale of popular web forums Craftster.org and Splitcoaststampers.com. Both communities are personal favorites of mine, and both veterans in the world of crafty forums. These are two companies that have set the bar for what a crafty community should be. Both communities built out of a love of craft and grown into successful, thriving, families of crafters.

You can read all about the details of the sales on Craftster HERE and Splitcoaststampers HERE. I don’t have any news you don’t have access to yourselves. I do want to offer my commentary, hear yours, and offer our readers a place to share about what they think makes online communities successful, or not.

Note: Craftster and Splitcoaststampers “ain’t goin’ no place” anytime soon. These are two communities built from a strong foundation. They have dedicated members that aren’t about to up and abandon a site just because their founders have left. But the change does beg the question, what makes an online community successful, what makes one fail, and what makes one a hot commodity?

Building Success: For me, people are the key. Leadership that isn’t just out there moderating the heck out of a site, but participating as well. Getting the conversation going, welcoming new members, sharing their expertise, and keeping things positive are all imperative. In my experience, Craftster and Splitcoaststampers are great examples of all these components. The plain and simple fact that all the leaders on both sites are just darn nice people helps too.

What is the site offering? Other than crafty chat, what’s there to see? Tutorials, galleries, challenges, contests… what keeps members returning? What is the reward? On the most successful sites I participate in, an easy-to-search gallery of inspiration is key. Free patterns and tutorials a close second, and a place to show off a bit can be nice too. Who doesn’t like having their ego stroked?

Keeping Things Friendly: I often hear people complaining about some communities being cliquey, or hard to break into. I personally haven’t experienced this, but I am a “put it all out there” kind of gal. Most forums tend to amplify reality to the nth degree… a little cliquey in the real world, a lot cliquey online. Besides, there is that whole “this isn’t the real world” perception that tends to mess with people’s heads.

Sometimes forums do get nasty and dramatic because the face-to-face element is gone. Sometimes, the meanness is caused by downright crazy people just being crazy. I often say, “for all you know these people are eating raw bacon dipped in mayonnaise as they are posting.” A good community has a zero tolerance policy for nastiness. Posts that attack or disparage are deleted immediately and members banned or suspended.

To Profit or Not to Profit? Do members care about advertising? Is it perceived negatively as muddling up a site? In most cases I don’t think so. As a frequent forum lurker, I assume advertising is what keeps the servers running. As a site owner myself, I know that selling advertising is just as challenging as running the community can be. Site owners deserve the cash, and the only other option is selling product, and personally, I wouldn’t want to touch retail with a 10-foot pole… but that’s just me. Many of the most successful forums are supported by retail sales. But if the shop closes, so likely will the forum.

Some larger retailers like EK Success’ new Spotted Canary have recently launched into web community building. They seem to do a good job keeping the fact that they are owned by EK Success on the down low.

The Future of Forums: I think most site owners would agree that the rise of blogging and the addition of Facebook and Twitter has dramatically reduced forum traffic.

Here below are some communities frequented by our staff and fans… feel free to add your own in the comments below. Visit these sites, poke around and tell us what you think!

Craftster

Splitcoaststampers

Spotted Canary

Fiskateers

Etsy Community

ScrapGal

The Mosy Scrapper

Ravelry

Burda Style

Craft: Forums

Paper Craft Planet

Rubber Stamp Chat

Scrap Freak

I Love to Create

Scrap Love

Craftig

SewGirls

Plaid Online

Get Crafty

DigiShopTalk

We’d love for you to weigh in on some of the topics I’ve introduced above. What makes a great community? What makes one fail? What is missing in the world of crafty communities, and how can we all help bring multiple craft genres and generations together in one place of inspiration and sharing?

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Handmade Cavalcade: Big City Crafters, Small Town Charm

Reported by Rachel Johnson


I have only been living in New York City for six months, but in that short time I have discovered a huge and thriving craft community within this huge and exciting metropolis. The crafty NY ecosystem seems to be roughly focused around the Brooklyn area. There are near weekly craft shows, meet-ups, plus The Brooklyn Flea and the Brooklyn Indie Market. Perhaps most importantly, Etsy has their main office in Brooklyn, and one of the most active Etsy Teams, The {New New}, plays a part in much of the crafty activity in the city. (Etsy Teams are groups of organized Etsy members formed around a shared location or interest who network, share skills, and promote their shops together. The {New New} represents artists and crafts people from the the entire New York metro area, including New Jersey and Connecticut.)


Despite the many craft opportunities within the bustling city, sometimes I need to get out of town – and The {New New} agrees! On Saturday, September 12th, they hosted their fall Handmade Cavalcade craft show in the small city of Beacon, about two hours north of NYC. Beacon is an emerging art mecca, with a contemporary art museum, galleries, and a large number of local artisans. The Handmade Cavalcade show was held in conjunction with Beacon’s Second Saturday art celebration event, which made it an even more attractive reason for a day trip.



The craft show was held just off Main Street in the wood shop of Jon and Kristy Reichert (creators of Beacon Bookmarks) and outside Lydia Lynch’s Paper Presence stationery shop. I arrived late in the afternoon, and the weather was not being extremely cooperative – it was overcast, chilly, and a little rainy. The icky weather may have decreased the size of the shopping crowd slightly, but it did not dampen the crafty vendor’s spirits. Each booth was unique and fun, and the wide variety of items for sale ranged from greeting cards and jewelry to handmade soaps and baked goods (seen above is the Pulp Sushi jewelry booth and Nordea’s Soaperie).



The majority of the Handmade Cavalcade vendors live and work in New York City, but about a quarter of them live in Beacon or its surrounding towns. Everyone was extremely welcoming and friendly. I had fun browsing the lovely handmade items and chatting with many of the crafters (above is the adorable Felt It booth and Jody Lee’s A Studio by the Sea jewelry and glass bead booth). You can view a full list of the vendors on the Handmade cavalcade website.

The tag line of the Handmade Cavalcade was “bringing you the top tier of contemporary craft” and the show lived up to those words. The organization and marketing of the event was superb, and the artisans were all talented and professional. I am looking forward to The {New New}’s upcoming Crafts in Chelsea event on October 17th, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone in the New York City area.



Tell us about the crafty events going on in your neck of the woods!

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Etsy Labs: Fun and Free in NYC

Reported by Rachel Johnson

Etsy.com recently moved to new offices in the DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) area of Brooklyn, New York, and on Monday, September 14th, they hosted the first Etsy Labs Craft Night at the new location. The Craft Nights are free, drop-in events held every Monday from 4 to 8 pm that are open to anyone in the New York City area. I have attended a few of the events in the past (for example, I’ve made cupcake crafts and recycled tote bags at previous Craft Nights), and I wanted to check out the inaugural event at the cool, new location.

The theme for Monday’s Craft Night was a recipe exchange hosted by Rebecca from Moontree Letterpress. Each attendee brought along a recipe or two to share, and we all took turns copying tasty recipes on the exquisite letterpress recipe cards provided by Rebecca. The recipe cards were so beautiful that I had a hard time justifying messing them up with my poor penmanship! But, I dove into the process and brought home a bunch of recipes on the pretty cards.
There were about fifteen to twenty different people coming and going during the two hours that I was at the event. Everyone was extremely friendly and the vibe was very easy and laid back. Julie, the Etsy Labs manager, was welcoming and helpful, like usual. I had a relaxed, fun evening and I met a bunch of cool, crafty ladies.

If you are in the New York area, I definitely recommend attending an Etsy Labs Craft Night at least once or twice. The schedule of upcoming Craft Night themes can be found on the Etsy Storque blog. Most craft materials are provided for each week’s project, and the events are completely free. If you are not near New York City, you can attend the events on the internet via The Virtual Labs. Each Craft Night is broadcast live, complete with a tutorial for the night’s craft. Whether virtually or in person, Etsy Labs Craft Nights are a crafty good time!

Are you an Etsy member? Better yet, do you have a store front, street team or other Etsy news to share? Feel free to leave a link below so we can check you out!

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!