Saturday 6 October 2012

Thoughtful quilting

Earlier this week, Rachel at Stitched In Color did a very interesting post headed Fabric for Marketing?.  Rachel asked for feedback on how bloggers and blog readers feel about arrangements where bloggers receive free fabric from a manufacturer in exchange for posts promoting the fabric (often including a tutorial).  Rachel described the arrangements she was talking about like this:

"one agrees to form a long-term relationship whereby the blogger receives quantities of fabric in exchange for posting about said fabric on his or her blog and usually providing free, detailed tutorials using the fabric.  These tutorials "live" on the manufacturer's blog, not on the bloggers blog"

I thought this was a great question, and one I have pondered before.  Many people posted considered and insightful comments, and I wanted to add my two cents, so I posted the comment below.

While there is a great sense of community between quilt bloggers (and quilters in general), quilting is big business.  So I can see why people at the business end of quilting (manufacturers, retailers, publishers, etc.) are looking to promote their products.  I also respect the right of bloggers to turn their hobby into a business and the legitimacy of them engaging in marketing activities as part of that business.  That said, I can definitely identify with that twinge of jealousy when you realise the blogger you are following gets stacks of fabric for free. 

For me, the keys to blog marketing activity not being a turn-off are: 

  • being transparent – I can tell anyway when a blogger is marketing, but I am more likely to respond positively if they are honest and upfront about it;
  • staying in tune – promotional or marketing material should be generally consistent with the blogger’s own tastes, preferences, and the material they would produce anyway; and
  • keeping your own voice – don’t let marketing take over your blog.  Keep making your own “just for the sake of it” projects.  Most quilters enjoy quilting as a hobby and do it for the love of creating.  You need to keep that love going otherwise your blog will not resonate with readers.

Honestly though, the posts that stick with me, and that I will go back to and read more than once (other than tutorials) are the ones that make me think. This post definitely qualifies.  Your series on the Indie Craft Market was also a great read and made me think about my own desire to turn quilting into a side business and how achievable that is.  Amy Gunson over at badskirt has also posted on a few topics that have really made me think – about fabric buying habits, creating thoughtfully, commenting meaningfully.

It would be a great shame if sponsorship impeded a blogger’s ability to ask a sticky questions and honestly blog about tough topics sometimes.

I know that long, wordy, sometimes heavy blog posts are not for everyone, but I enjoy thinking critically and analytically about things to do with quilting and blogging.  So, I thought I would share links to some of the thoughtful and thought-provoking posts I have enjoyed:

What Modern Quilting Means to Me - Amy Gunson (aka badskirt)'s thoughts on modern quilting.  I am trying to put her comments on understanding what I like about the things I like, and providing insightful feedback, into practice.

Old Ladies Know Stuff - this post from Krista at Poppyprint inspired me to join a real life quilt guild.  The ladies there definitely know lots of stuff.

Personal things - another post from Rachel at Stitched In Color - how do you decide how much personal stuff to share on your blog.

Does this fabric make my stash look fat - Amy Gunson again, this time on fabric shopping strategies.

There are heaps more out there, if you look for them.  Does anyone else have suggestions on posts like these that they just keep going back to?

And, just because any post feels incomplete without a picture, here is a gratuitous cat on quilt photo:
Oh Ralph!

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