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116 The Sidetrack Cafe No. 4: What Happened to the Magic? (Part I)
Do you remember back to a time when there were magical love notes, original porcelain knitware vases, doily installations, and original Rosa Pomar dolls? Do you remember? (It goes back a bit). We do - and along with those other original handmade artists and bloggers who were there from those early days (circa '05) - we really miss the spirit of those days; we've really lost something special along the way.
I write this post, in sadness really; I'm reminded that in as much as the internet has helped handmade art, handmade artists and the whole handmade movement, it is also crushing the magic, the beautiful, the real handmade, the original.
I write this to those who don't remember, and maybe to those who have forgotten. I'd like to shed a little light. I'm saddened to hear today about an artist no longer making because for the most part a big company has stolen several of her designs and had them mass-produced in China.
I'm saddened when I hear that an artist has to write her lawyer a letter every time someone copies her work (which is very often).
I'm saddened when I see artists giving away their works on blogs that are only having giveaways to drive more traffic.
I'm sad when I see someone using my brand name on their site to get more traffic to their site via google.
I'm sad when I see companies staging as if they're "indie"; ripping off real indie businesses and then seeing these items in magazines (who don't know the back story).
I'm sad when I see an artist contact me to write about their "charity" when really they only want the press about their work.
I cringe whenever I see a newbie blogger (that has no background in marketing & blogging whatsoever) giving e-courses on "blogging" or "marketing your work" and I'm sad that many are buying it! I'm really sad.
It seems so many want a piece of the pie. Yes, they may have the flashy sites, and say all the right things; but I'm sad people are believing the hype.
It takes everything away from what the internet was supposed to and should be.
Personally, it saddens me too, that so many have copied our business model, Poppytalk Handmade. Not that we don't like competition, that just makes us better. But because so many are in it for the wrong reasons. You may recall my Copy Cats post from this past March. But in case you haven't, let me quickly give you the reason I mention it again, and why I'm sad.
Here's an example. One person who recently started up a market (like ours), emailed wanting to advertise with us (as many of them have); and when I gave her a bit of our "back story", and explained why we couldn't take her advertising dollars, her response was, "Oh, I'm surprised, I just thought it was something bloggers do". What? You want to start a market, after you just started a blog just because you think it would be cool to work from home? And you want to "buy" my readership (that I worked so hard at for 5 years to get) to visit your site that you copied from me?
Or even worse, as in one particular case, you want to buy my readership to visit your site that you copied from me after you participated in my market to see how it worked and then say it was "your idea" on your site? And in that same case, approach my vendors that I created years establishing relationships with, offering them free space initially on your site, creating a false community that seems successful just because there are people in it (who look like they paid)? That people is freakin' crazy and really uncool. It's unfair to the handmade community. Yet, many (who aren't aware of the back story) sadly buy into it.
It took us years to gain a readership strong enough to even support such a venture, a readership in numbers that would be fair to the handmade community involved and yet, some think they can do the same after just starting a blog after two months. And now there are so many markets, so many it's dizzying. And many are buying it. That's even crazier.
I don't know what the answer is to all of this, and we probably can't control a lot of it (yet). But I would like the media, (eg. magazine editors, newspapers, bloggers) to take better notice what they are featuring in their publications. Is it from the original artist, or made from a company that copied that artist, with lots of marketing dollars to get your attention? I would love for the handmade community to come together as a force to be reckoned with! I think we as bloggers, big, little or small, should always give credit where credit is due (including images). I would love for the handmade community to not buy into all of the online marketing schemes out there; don't get me wrong, there are some good ones, but sometimes, even if they are "indie", "indie" doesn't always mean it's got your best interests in mind.
It's sad that Stephanie Congdon Barnes isn't making anymore, because we are all missing out on something magic. And I don't know about you, but I miss something magic.
jan and earl
Parts II to this post is here and Part III is here.
P.S. Have you read my other Sidetrack Cafe posts?