Last night I met up with Lisa-Marie and Jen-Y and went along to an evening organised by the wonderful Glasgow Craft Mafia about Trade secrets – basically a get-together of likeminded crafters who were looking to share the wisdom learned in the process of becoming a business. I have to admit that I was quite anxious about it beforehand but thanks to a double-shot mocha and a dawning realisation that I have some experience, I didn’t stop talking for the duration. (Forgive me, if you were there!)
Anyway, one of the subjects we explored was business promotion and the topic of swaps came up – now I do enjoy a good swap and I like to think that I have organised some enjoyable ones but as an aside to getting to know other crafters better, it’s a superb way to drive new traffic to your blog and therefore your business. Here are my tips for a great swap.
Come up with an idea
If you’ve been around the crafting community for any length of time you’ll know that there are fashions and trends which are in vogue at any given time. To make a good swap, you want a theme that complements those trends whilst being a subject that inspires you. Try not to overegg the pudding as it were, go for an original twist on a popular concept.
Decide on the format for your swap
Are you going to have your swappers anonymous so that they receive a package with no idea who it’s from? Are you planning a direct swap where you pair up crafters and they can converse before sending their swap goodies? Are you having a more tiered swap where person a makes for person b who makes for person c ad finitum? Consider the pros and cons to each and go from there.
Set an achievable deadline by knowing your target audience
I couldn’t sign up to a swap with a two week deadline – I have four children, a husband, a business and various commitments that restrict my time – so knowing who is likely to join your swap is a great tool. Ask your blog readers/twitter followers/facebook friends for their opinion. I generally go for 4-6 weeks after sign-ups have finished to give participants a bit of headspace.
Make your participants send you a questionnaire that you can send onto their swap partner
It doesn’t need to be War and Peace, but a questionnaire will not only help you to allocate partners it’ll give your participants something to go on which is especially useful if they have a less than chatty partner to craft for. Generally my questionnaires ask for:
Likes/Dislikes (including allergies!):
Give consideration to your participants and their crafts
Generally speaking, I try to match crafters from different disciplines rather than pairing a knitter with another knitter or a resin artist with another resin artist. Let’s be honest here, if I want to knit something for myself then I will but I’m not good at jewellery making and I’m less likely to make my own things. If in doubt, ask your participants to specify in their questionnaire which craft disciplines they’re most interested in receiving from.
I particularly like gmail’s email system because of the way it stores emails and the ability to ‘star’ emails to find easily later. Keep a spreadsheet to remind you who you have partnered up because there will always be a participant who deletes their email!
Promote! Promote! Promote!
Social networking is your friend. Post about your swap on twitter, create a facebook page affiliated to your blog and post about it there, make sure you are regularly commenting on blogs you like because if you leave a well-considered and thoughtful comment you will get traffic back from that blog’s other readers. Join and participate on craft forums that appeal to your ethics – like everyone I enjoy Craftster but it’s so big that I feel intimidated posting there. My favourite UK-based craft forum is Crafteroo. If there are others that you enjoy tell me in the comments and I’ll add them here.
Share your swap
Make an image that your participants can post on their blog (“I am participating in Vonnie’s sleep swap!”) which can link back to you. Create a flickr group where participants can post photos of their given and received goodies. Encourage your participants to talk about the swap by doing it yourself – blog about it, tweet about it and mention it so often that you worry your sole topic of conversation is your swap. The internet as an entity has a short memory span, remind people about how awesome you – and by default your swap – are.
The day you have to allocate your swap participants you’ll wish you’d never bothered, that should be the only point where it feels like hard work
So I hope this is helpful to those of you who have considered your own swaps but not known how to go about it. I promise you, if I can organise one so can any of you. Good luck!
This post was written by Vonnie on March 30, 2010