MA Sexy at One Scrappy Site
Life Lessons from a Mother of Sons, Part I

The State of the Scrapbooking Union

Fascinating discussion going on in the Pub (the Publications board) at Two Peas.  At the time of this post, the discussion is 5 pages long and counting. 

In the original post, Sharyn (aka "Torm") presented three "facts" (excerpted, a bit out of context, below):

Fact: When people ask how they can climb the ladder to success some have been coached to comment on big name blogs and praise their layouts as a way to be seen. This is a fact. People have been told this. It boggles my mind. This is how to achieve success??? This alone breeds ‘look at me’ and jealousy as one is taken under someone’s wing and someone else is not and people compete for attention. This is not the way to true success – but, it has worked for some.

Fact: Entitlement. There are a huge percentage of published scrapbookers who have a feeling of entitlement. To their credit, this is a feeling that has been bred and taught. But it’s eating the industry alive. The numbers of self-proclaimed entitled persons that go booth to booth at CHA, or that email distributors asking for product is so great now that the manufacturers as a whole are wondering how to go back in time and put a stop to this practice.

Fact: There are more and more and more contests than I ever remember.  Competition while it can be fun at times…we are now drowning in it. The negativity and bad feelings come as we continually feel badly for those that lose over and over again. We carry their loss…and it drains us all. We also feel elated for those that won..but in the end, it’s all draining. We are flooded with it now.

The bottom line tho is…do we like what the industry is becoming. And if not…how can we get back what was? What do we really want from it all?  My inbox tells me that not too many people like the direction that it’s heading.

But me? I’m in it for a creative outlet first, friends – 2nd, publication 3rd. Cuz in the end…it’s the first 2 that have lasting value and rewards.

But the other stuff...that's the reality.  That's what everyone should be aware of...

Well.  People on the business side of the scrapbooking industry do have an entirely different view of the hobby than the general consumer.  I kow I have become more jaded about a lot of things, wary of "opportunities", and the reality of becoming "famous".  Those are the things that immediately come to mind for me when I consider what's "wrong" with this industry.

Sharyn does bring up good points, and others obviously agree (evinced by the 5 pages of discussion, which also boiled over onto the Pink Martini board).  I think the two main issues -- entitlement/donations and contests/cult of celebrity -- are definitely concerns that deeply affect the industry, and those wanting to get into the industry. 

The first "fact" Sharyn brought up, about the commenting on blogs...that seems more of a symptom than a real problem to me.  She said that " some [people] have been coached to comment on big name blogs and ...as a way to be seen".  This is actually a standard response for a technique to build traffic to one's blog/website.  Blog evangelists like Andy Wibbels, Darren Rouse, and "The Blog Squad" all offer that advice (as such, so do I, in my blog consulting).  But here's the key distinction: if you go to a blog that addresses a similar niche (scrapbooking, in our case), leaving a comment accompanied by your URL can lead that blog's readers to visit your site.  True.  But generally, the readers will follow your link only if you leave RELEVANT and INSIGHTFUL comments on that blog.  Generally, if you read the comments on a blog post, you don't follow the URL for a commenter who says, "Wow, great idea."  You follow the URL for someone who says, "That's a great idea.  I like it because it applies to me [this way]", or if they describe how they put the idea into effect, or if they offer another idea -- generally just contributing more to the conversation that just "me, too".  Then, when the readers click over to that URL, that blog must also offer relevant and insightful content that gives people a reason to come back.  If "wanna-be" designers comment on the "A-list" scrap-blogs as a means to get noticed, they must provide relevant and useful content on their own blogs/websites for the "notice" to stick.  So, really, if people are posting "me, too" comments on "A-list celebrity" blogs, then don't have blog content to back up their talent or to indicate their interest in becoming a designer, the entire practice is a waste of time.  So I guess part of the issue, as with any type of self-promotion, comes down to intention -- what's the intent behind the technique?  Are you promoting yourself in a sleazy-used-car-salesman way, riding-someone's-coattails-to-success, with nothing to back it up?  Or are you making honest comments on blogs, offering additional perspectives and insights, as well as posting other useful content on your end?

This post is long enough for now -- I'll post my thoughts on Facts Two and Three later this week.  (Something to look forward to, I'm sure!)

Comments

Sharon

Very interesting. I know I have followed those blogs just to see what is going on, but rarely comment unless I have something to say. Yes, something more than "Nice." I am always amazed at how many comments are left and almost never read them (as I barely have enough time to read the blog entry). I had assumed that many/most of the commenters were fans/wannabes/hopefuls. I didn't realize they were doing this consciously to get noticed. Hmm, makes me look at my own blog comments another way.

Angie Pedersen

Oh, I wouldn't discount your blog comments just yet -- both the ones you leave, and the ones you receive. Obviously, you "get" blogging, and how to use it for promotional purposes, and are providing useful content on your own site. AND by your own admission, your comments on other blogs are "something more than 'Nice'." So I wouldn't worry on your end. And the comments you receive at your blog [http://linnefaulk.typepad.com/linnecards/ ] aren't people trying to "get ahead" -- they're your customers, and you're involved in a genuine two-way dialogue with them. As far as I'm concerned, you're golden! ;)

Pam

Angie - you make many on-target points about commenting on blogs to build traffic to your own blog. You can't build your own blog-traffic or recognition of your name by posting "me too" comments and why would you want to. To understand this marketing technique one must understand the entire concept of the blogsphere. It's about growing relationships with like-minded people, building the knowledge-base of the industry for those wanting to learn about new things and sharing a part of our lives with people who share the same types of interests we do. If we happen to build our business or name recognition by being an active participant in the blogsphere that's a bonus. I find that the relationship building and insite I learn far outweighs the business bonuses.
~Pam

Angie Pedersen

Absolutely, Pam. I completely agree. I have made friends with bloggers simply by leaving comments, and initiating a conversation. Relationships will get you much farther (and deeper, in a more meaningful way) than simply "getting noticed". And once you establish that relationship, the learning and mentoring can begin.

Bonnie K

Angie, I love your post! This is the way it is, unfortunately.. I notice lately there are far too many pub calls/contests.. and honestly.. I have never been published, and well.. I don't really try too hard to get published.. it's not that high on my agenda, as you shared...
I do it for me, as u shared.
But that said, I enjoy blogging. Love it.. made some wonderful new friends.. and have had tons of emails/comments that have been nothing short of postitive!
I scrap cuz I wanna.
I blog cuz I wanna.
And in the process.. I learn and grow.
note/ I just picked up the book, NAKED CONVERSATIONS today.. BY ROBERT SCOBLE.. have you read this? I am sure u have!!! I'm just getting into it, but so far I am lovin it!!!

hugs,
bonnierose

Lee

I have made the most amazing friendships just through leaving comments on blogs. Actually one of the friendships that I made was by pure chance. I was blog surfing and came across a blog that I loved the way the person wrote. It just happened to be her birthday and so I wished her a happy birthday. We are now great friends and even talk on the phone!She is all the way from the US and I am from OZ. This is the sorta connecting with people that I want to do through blogs.
I also now have made amazing friendships throughout the world just from blogging. I blog because I love it... I love the connecting with people... the sharing of ideas... thoughts and creations.

Allison

Hi Angie. I love your post about the State of the Scrapbooking Union. I didn't see this on 2peas, but find what you have written very interesting. I too am on the other side of the scrapbooking world--being a former store owner, former editor of Scrapbooking.com, author of scrapbooking books and designer of my own product line. I don't think I like the direction scrapbooking is heading. It has turned into a dog eat dog world out there. Everyone is trying to be discovered! After tearing my hair out just trying to make it on my end of the scrapbooking spectrum, I have decidied to take a back seat and go back to my roots. I have given up on all the contests, all the design teams, all the scrapbook teaching, etc. I have gone back to working as a registered nurse and I now scrapbook again for myself. I am continuing to work on my product line with Creative Imaginations and the Chicken Soup for the Scrapbooker's Soul book. Life has become simpler for me again--and much less stressful. I'm not saying that I am turning my back to the industry--just what it has turned into. With all that I have done--if someone wants me, I feel they will seek me out--that is how I wound up doing the Chicken Soup book(which by the way I loved both of your stories though only Speaking My Piece made it to the final cut). But anyway, I am now enjoying scrapbooking as a hobby again and not a career. I have loved teaching, the people I have met and know that I don't need to be a celeb. to know that I enjoy what I do. I am me--simple, creative, happy and humble. Thanks for sharing your insight! Allison

kim

I'm just waiting to see what you have to say about Sharyn's facts 2 and 3!

As you know, I've been pretty active on that forum (a little on 2Peas, a lot on Martini)- I've been around for 2 years on the industry end and am still trying to figure out why our craft isn't more spread out across 'the color lines' - it's still a predominately white, middle class (or upper middle class) suburban mom hobby, where the potential for scrapbooking to grow is enormous. Boggles the brain!

Melody Brown

Well, I am just a consumer; but to think that scrapbooker's are facing these issues makes me sad. I mean, I realize it is a business for many - and a business must be run as a business. However, the other issues make me really sad; I love scrapbooking because of what it brings to my family and for how it makes me feel to know that I am creating a thing of substance. I put my heart and soul in my pages because that is "my mark" I am leaving on every page and story. It is my therapy since being diagnosed with a chronic illness, and it helps me show my family NOW how much I love them in ways my spoken words and deeds cannot(though I am not suggesting that it is a replacement for showering those you love with hugs, kisses, and "I love you's").
I will just pray that all those who once loved scrapbooking for more than just a way to success, a paycheck or a pat on the back from a scrapbook "celebrity". will love it once again with no strings attatched - it will most definitely help those who have a "fear" of not turning out a publish worthy page.
And for those in the scrapbook biz- "celebrity or not", I pray that your job is one you chose because you love it; and may your days when the job seems to pressure and burden be few.

The comments to this entry are closed.