From Crafting A Business

Summerdaze Are Fading Fast (Grab An August Whimseybox!)

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Summer days are fading… I know because last night my sister Jeanette posted on Facebook that she went to DQ for ice cream. This probably sounds like a super boring status update, but in our family we had a tradition growing up where we always went to DQ the night before school started. We’d get ice cream and then drive by or sometimes peer into the classroom windows in anticipation of a new school year. Now Jeanette works in education so she has continued to go get ice cream the night before school starts in her district – this is the 29th year in a row. I think DQ owes her a freebie next year, don’t you?

I usually hate the end of summer, because duh summer is the best. But this year we’ve got an exciting fall to look forward to and frankly I’m ready for a new season. A fresh start, cool nights, crisp air, the return of the Chicago Bears… it’s all sounding good to me.

For many people, especially busy moms,  fall is when they can get back to a normal routine and maybe even have some time for themselves. It’s also a great time to grab a Whismeybox subscription because (a) we’ve got a sale going on through Friday 8/15! and (b) the projects for the upcoming boxes are AWESOME I’m really excited about them. Here’s the details on the sale and how to sign up. Hope you’ll join us!

 

Influencer Marketing Meets Affiliate Marketing – My Alt Summit Presentation

Today I’m at Alt Summit! In addition to hearing Martha Stewart and all of the other awesome presenters, I’m looking forward to my talk which is A Second Look at Affiliate Marketing.

Now, while it might not SOUND like the most exciting topic on the Alt Summit schedule I promise it’s worth your time to check it out, especially if:

  • You’ve tried an affiliate program before and had less-than-awesome results
  • You feel like affiliate marketing is spammy (when done incorrectly it sure can be)
  • You’re interested in exploring new revenue streams for your blog

Influencer Marketing Meets Affiliate Marketing

Here’s what’s happening – the affiliate programs of old were clunky to use, difficult to earn meaningful revenue from and exploited by scammy coupon and deal sites. However they were great for providing data and analytics that was useful for both publishers and advertisers. More recently sponsored content became popular where companies paid bloggers and publishers to create content on their behalf. The style varies – sometimes it’s all about the product, other times the product is a scant mention at the end of the post. This works well for some campaigns, but in general it’s more limited in scope (campaigns are negotiated individually rather than the self-serve nature of affiliate programs) and it’s harder to track the result.

The new generation influencer affiliate marketing programs combine the best parts of each of these strategies to create something that works for advertisers, publishers and readers. Here are the hallmarks:

  • Selective – The best networks are open only to approved members whose are creating original, high-quality content.
  • Vertically-focused - Influencer-driven affiliate marketing networks are created around a specific area of interest. This allows them to build tools and resources that designed especially for the publishers in that group. The one-size-fits-all approach of giant affiliate networks (CJ, ShareASale) no longer… fits.
  • Publisher-friendly  - The affiliate experience is built around the publisher, not the advertiser. Affiliate marketing programs need to offer tools, resources and other opportunities that help publishers maximize their efforts and earnings.
  • Technology-driven – While plain HTML links are still a mainstay, modern affiliate programs offer much more including embeddable and customizable blog widgets, cross-platform integration with social media networks and even their own apps.
  • Data-hungry – In addition to baseline metrics like clicks and purchases, publishers want to be able to track impressions, break down results by channel and more. The new generation of affiliate networks provide the analytics dashboards that publishers need to succeed.
  • Network-effects - By combining influencer and affiliate marketing approaches top networks are able to use the data for both individual publishers and the industry at large to offer their members paid content campaigns and other opportunities in addition to the mostly self-serve nature of affiliate revenue.

Affiliate Marketing Basics

If you’re interested in learning more, here’s the handout from my Alt session!

Thoughts/questions/comments? I’d love to hear them.

A Short (Final?) Update on Maker Crate – Your Actions Are All That Matter

For background, see my previous posts This Is Not Okay, Why>How>What and What It Means At Whimseybox and Standing Behind Your Work.

This morning I had a brief phone call with Sandra Oh Lin, the founder of Kiwi Crate and Maker Crate. I appreciate that she reached out to me, it was certainly the professional thing to do. She seemed quite nice and said she understood my ‘frustration’. She confirmed that they are behind Maker Crate and said the reason they haven’t put their name on it is because they consider it to be in alpha.

Essentially she echoed the response they posted here- they never meant to copy me or anyone else and that as a company that’s not how they operate, but acknowledged that they are “making changes.”  I’m glad to hear it because continuing to do what they were doing would be both wrong and stupid. I have noticed that some of the content I originally posted about has been removed.

She also explained that tackling the broader art/craft market has been in their business plan since the beginning which I totally believe. Almost every startup starts with something smallish (at Whimseybox it was our monthly subscription) but has their sights set on a really big market opportunity. However, I doubt their original plans from 2011 had anything about using content to sell supplies by project. And if it did and it’s just a coincidence that their business looks so much like Whimseybox then it’s an even bigger coincidence that they then built a site that looks so much like Whimseybox…

SHOP COMPARE

(Thanks to the Wayback Machine for that image of our old shop page. I like it better now though.)

I didn’t/don’t have much to say in response except this: Hearing that it’s not their intent to copy and that it’s not how they do business rings hollow, because it’s obvious to me that my content (and others’) was misappropriated. So in my experience that is how they do business.

It reminds me of a great blog post by venture capitalist Heidi Roizen called The One Rule For Building Your Company Cultureyour actions are all that matter.

Why did we forego the easy money?

Because, if you lie about anything in front of your team, what does it say to them about how they should behave when faced with their own dilemmas?

To me, it says, lying is okay. Go ahead and steal a hard drive if you need one for your personal use.  And take your friends out to dinner and charge it as a business expense for a client who wasn’t even in town.  We cheat, so you can too.

We did not want to run a company where cheating was a way of business.  So we told the truth.

And that leads me to the promised single rule about building your company culture:

Your actions are all that matters. 

*These are all just my personal opinions, of course :)

Psst – Friends and Family Sale

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We’re friends, right? Good, ‘cuz having a Friends + Family sale on Whimseybox this weekend. Save 25% off on your entire purchase now through Monday! We’ve got over 60,000 items available (!!!) so save yourself a trip to the craft store and enjoy your weekend outside instead!

*Offer not valid on sale items and cannot be combined with other coupons or discounts. As always, shipping for Pro members is free (US only). Sale is valid 6/6/14 – 6/9/14 or while supplies last. 

Paper Flower Mania! On Sale ’til Sunday

 

Note: For some crazy reason this post has caused my sidebar to disappear! I’m working on it. – Alicia

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Can I just tell you how hard it is to spend a month with beauties like these all over the Whimseybox office and NOT be able to Instagram them until the boxes have arrive to our subscribers? It’s KILLER! If you want to try your hand at paper flowers (I highly recommend it!) we’ve got everything from the May box on sale 25% off until Sunday.
Alyssa is the paper flower expert around here, but here’s what I learned from this project:

  • There is no such thing as too many paper flowers.
  • You can curl tissue paper using the edge of your scissors!
  • You have to pull floral tape to activate the adhesive. (I’d never used it before.)
  • Floral wire only comes in 18″ lengths, at least that we could find. Tin snip are the most effective way to chop a lot of it in half quickly, but I hope you don’t ever have to do it :)
  • Have patience! The first few times can be a little tricky, but once you get the basic techniques down it opens so many possibilities.