Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fabric for Marketing?

Sometimes I feel like my blog voice gets stifled.  Between projects I can't show, events I'm still planning and community situations I'm dealing with, all of which aren't ripe to share, it gets weird and I'm pretty sure it translates into a tinier, stuffier voice.  And then there's the pressure to not be negative.  Heaven forbid!

via Pinterest

Okay, so perhaps a little release can be attained via a few announcements and a real, down and dirty question about... gasp.... marketing.  Do you think we can handle it?

Questionable.

You know the marketing topic is going to take up so much of our mind-space that I think I'd better save the announcements for later this week.  But they're coming.  So that's good to know.

a Delicate Question

So this is not a small-talk topic like "talk to me about aprons."   It's a much more delicate question with a much more significant (to me, anyways) answer.  I'll try my best to get us there without hurting any feelings.  We're going to have to be big girls (and boys) and not make accusatory statements, while at the same time speaking up for how we feel.

If you read blogs, you know about marketing.  It's part and parcel of why all of this works.  Each blog post I write takes at least an hour at the computer, over and above time sewing, photographing, thinking.  If you keep a blog, you know what I mean.  Sustained blogging exists because the writer gets some kind of reward.  It could be via personal satisfaction, comments/feedback, relationships, fabric, money, ideas, or a combination of these.

via Pinterest, folding tutorial at Turning*Turning

Fabric?  Yes, fabric.  There is fabric to be had.  One could earn fabric from sponsors, receive gifts from designers or even get fabric directly from a manufacturer.  In fact, many manufacturers are looking for influential bloggers to partner with on an ongoing basis.  In the past I received an invitation to be a fabric ambassador of sorts for a fabric house.  You've probably seen this arrangement around.  It has many forms, so I'm not speaking about any specific program, but the general idea is 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.

How does this make you feel?  Jealous, probably.  Or, at least I've been there.  It's totally human to be jealous if anyone is getting free fabric.  Hey, fabric to us is like candy to a kid or chocolate to a hormonal woman or booz to a ______.  Well, you get the picture.  One can feel jealous while still feeling happy for the person getting the fabric.  Hey, we want everyone to be happy (ourselves included)!  I'm not assuming you get all green with jealousy, but just a little jealous, ya know?

Aside from that, how else does it make you feel?  If a blogger keeps promoting that one manufacturer (as they've agreed to do), does it color the way you read their blog?  Is it a turn off?  Or, do you feel like you can easily read around any messages since you understand the lay of the land?  Does the blogger's connection with the manufacturer conjure feelings of admiration? exclusion? disdain? indifference?

by Coeur Blonde, via Pinterest

If you're a blogger, do you desire this kind of ambassador relationship?  Do you want to receive fabric in exchange for tutorials?  Does it bother you that the tutorials don't live on your blog, so you won't continue to receive traffic from that work?  Will you make your best tutorials for such a program or will it encourage sub-par work?  How will you feel when you like and use fabrics from other manufacturers?  Will there be a conflict of interests? 

As a reader, are you glad these programs exists since they create free tutorials?  Oh, and there's usually giveaways of the fabrics used too!  Do you like these posts or do they come off as "marketing" quite apart from the content you usually love?  Do you think that overall these programs are benefiting our community?

by Helga Webber via Pinterest

I ask because I care.  I want to make decisions that do benefit our community.  I believe that having a thoughtful discussions about these topics can help all involved - the manufacturers, the bloggers, the readers.  We all share a common love for sewing, for fabrics and goal to enjoy this amazing hobby together.  Please speak up and share with kindness, honesty and tact so we can all benefit!

Your thoughts?

166 comments:

  1. I like seeing new fabric lines made up into projects, especially if there's a tutorial included. Seems like a win/win/win situation for the blogger, manufacturer and reader. Can't fault that.

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  2. This really is a personal choice. I don't think I could pin myself down to a single fabric company or designer - I like to play with it all. And though I like to share tutorials, I like them to be 'mine'. Yes, we like free fabric, but like anything that comes with strings attached - it gets boring and frustrating. I don't be-grudge anyone going their way - does it turn me off - not really, nice to see new things, but in the end we all have to make our own decisions.

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    1. The strings attached part definitely plays in here. I've found that the strings can make the project much less fun to produce, personally. That doesn't mean I don't appreciate these type of offers, I'm just sharing that perspective for all.

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  3. It's definitely a delicate balance between feeling like a blogger is pushing a certain manufacturer/product and feeling like they're genuinely interested in what that manufacturer is offering.

    I would say that for me, that sort of arrangement would be just fine, provided the blogger was upfront about it - either with some kind of introductory post that they link to in any related post on their blog, or with a disclaimer, or something like that - I have a friend who regularly does sponsored posts and she has a disclaimer graphic that she includes at the end of each blog post.

    I wouldn't mind any of my favorite "big time" bloggers (like yourself!) joining an arrangement like that - the hard work that you do allows you to pursue something that I can't currently pursue at this point (a life that involves a lot more sewing!) and helps me learn more about the craft of sewing or quilting all the time. :)

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    1. Linking back to an introductory post is a good idea. That would be clean, informative and yet not redundant to readers. Thanks for sharing!

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    2. FTC regulations actually require bloggers who are receiving cash or product payments in exchange for endorsement to disclose that information. Although it's great to include that information in an intro post and I would recommend that, if you go this route you should make sure that you either disclose the relationship on a post by post basis, keep that disclaimer (or a link to it) somewhere visible, or link back to that information regularly.

      I turn down most product offers (I occasionally review books, though I turn most of those down too, but rarely fabric) for that reason -- I feel like having to mention that I got something from a company takes away some of the credibility of my enthusiasm for whatever it is. I'd spend the money I earn from sponsor buttons so I can say I bought it myself, even though it probably means I end up with alot less fabric (because I don't make that much from sponsorships). But that is *me*...not you! You need to do what works for you. If you can find a relationship that you are enthusiastic about, then it probably won't matter.

      As a quilter, I see the problem: you always need to have the most recent lines, in every print, but there's so many lines you can't afford to buy them all, all the time. I think people will understand that's how it works...and you are always honest and authentic, that's something people already appreciate about you Rachel! I don't think you'll lose any readers over it if you approach it that way.

      :)

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  4. I can see why bloggers choose to go this route (advertising one fabric manufacturer) but I have to admit that it isn't my favourite. I tend to totally skip those posts (in which the blogger goes on and on about the quality of such and such, blah, blah.) I prefer if the blogger simply makes something from the fabric and shows it to us, letting us know which fabric line it is from.

    You have a very original style and I'd hate to see you lose it by sticking to one fabric company or 'having' to make something from a certain line of fabric.

    Giveaways are fun, but I think little contests with a great prize is even better. That way the reader has to contribute something too. And that's always fun!

    I'm sure I'll keep reading your blog regardless of what you do with it (unless it goes way off the beaten track.) :-)

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  5. Yeah I'd agree with prior commenters - this is one that's a personal choice for sure. I think it's awesome when bloggers are able to make the jump into designing fabric, and I like seeing the projects that come of it. As for the "we'll give you fabric and you do tutorials for us" question, that's just blogger's choice. Since Pinterest got huge, I feel like I'm starting to be more careful about who I do tutorials for, since they're such a large ongoing source of traffic that may not come directly to me. Other people don't care about that. So yeah, personal choice there too and if a blogger posts too much about one thing and it turns readers off, they'll need to readjust. I personally love the eye candy, though, and I think it's great that gals (usually moms) are able to translate their creative talents into something lucrative for their families. It's up to each blogger to strike the right balance, and if it's something YOU want to do, I say give it a whirl! :)

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  6. Well, as a blog reader I completely undstand that the person doing that blog needs to earn money in some way. Since I am interested in fabrics and quilting it is much better for me to get news of new fabric collections rather than the "standard" ads that are sometimes displayed on web pages. Those are annoying! However, if a blogger is sponsored it is important to me as a reader to know about this. The writer needs to let me know when her choices have been influenced by monetary issues. Being open and honest about what you do can never go wrong!

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  7. My observation: I start to follow a good quilt blogger and their blog is well written, they share a lot of finished products, they give tutorials, they might have a quilt along and they offer directions for some of their quilts. Then, they might start to sell rather than share their patterns. I get that. Then as their following increases, they start to attract sponsors or some sort of partnership with (usually) fabric companies. At first, when I noticed that some bloggers were offering fat quarter bundles, etc, I thought that it was something that they had purchased, and I still think that it sometimes is, and I figured that they were doing that to increase their readership. I now assume that most of those giveaways have been given to them by the fabric company. The other thing that I notice is that some bloggers have advertisements all around the perimeter of their website. Sometimes the ads don't even have anything to do with fabric or quilting. I find a plethora of ads to be distracting and somewhat annoying. As bloggers have more offers to get involved with the quilting community at a different level, they tend to have less to offer me as a reader. By that, I mean that they blog less, when they do, they share less, and the things that interested me as a reader in the first place

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    1. I absolutely agree. There were blogs that I loved to read. Now more and more of them spend far too much time with fabric sales from their sponsors and selling certain fabric lines.Even all the fabric giveaways are unappealing to me. These are not what got me interested in blogs. I find myself skipping past lots of blogs I used to enjoy reading and am now searching for something new to read.

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  8. I think it gets pretty obvious when bloggers push a certain manufacturer or product. Thankfully most admit it openly. In addition, most manufacturers have their own blogs to promote their products. As a peruser of the content you are not compelled to use any of the products they recommend. It just a suggestion. Most readers IMO are interested in blogs that teach them new things as opposed to selling them things.

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    1. Your last sentence is very concise and true. The interesting thing is that these programs combine selling with teaching = tutorials with fabrics for sell. I guess my question is how is that combo working for readers?

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    2. I don't mind it as I can glean the learning from the sell. The fabric is just a suggestion in my mind. I would be peeved if the fabric is mandated as part of the activity, as in you can participate in this challenge only if you use this line of fabric. I would steer clear of those.

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    3. Which is what one particular fabric manufacturer does...

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  9. I am an avid reader of numerous blogs in the quilting and knitting world. It's clear when a manufacturer or designer or author is making a marketing push - all of a sudden, a dozen or more bloggers are "so excited' about the x,y,z line from so and so. I always assume they are a sponsor or have provided free product for the blogger. Since I read the blogs through an RSS feed, I wouldn't always see the note about sponsorship, depending on where it is placed, but it doesn't matter to me. While it can get old as a reader of multiple blogs to see the same fabric or book promoted repeatedly over a few short weeks around release (because the content is so similar from blog to blog) what is never old for me is the work created from the book or fabric or yarn, the honesty that creeps in subtly in the blog post (someone who picks "favorite" fabrics from a big line, someone who "wishes" for more complete instructions in a book). Each blogger has a real style and point of view in their work, their process, their photos. If you blog frequently, there is so much more to read than just the sponsored posts AND things to learn even from sponsored posts, that there is a fair balance for me as a reader. What I ultimately scan for as I read is the creative voice and the created work. I find the projects made so inspirational and aspirational, and I can see past a particular fabric line for how I might use the ideas in my own work. As for giveaways, as long is there is also plenty of content for a regular blogger, why not? I don't enter all of them, just the ones with a book or fabric or yarn I'd really want. But if I ever do win, it would be great! Its for you to decide if you feel fully compensated for your patterns or tutorials.Don't undersell yourself as a woman or because there are plenty of other bloggers who would do it if you don't. I love your work and your blog, and can't imagine you'd go overboard in any direction.

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    1. I second this comment. I was going to leave one of my own, but this pretty much says exactly what I would want to say. It's interesting to read people's perspectives on this question. Thanks for starting the conversation!

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    2. You said, "what is never old for me is the work created from the book or fabric or yarn, the honesty that creeps in subtly in the blog post". It sounds like these programs are working well for you in that you personally find a way to enjoy what you value that's mixed in with the marketing. Thanks for sharing that!

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    4. I second, or 4th this comment from Crafty Karen. I'm a small blogger and choose to keep it that way. I get so many ideas from other bloggers, it's a win/win for me. I'm not jealous, at all.

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    5. That's wonderful, Jan - really! I'm so glad to hear that the "system" as it were is working for many!

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    6. This post sums up my feelings about this. I only care about inspiring/interesting content when I'm reading quilt blogs. How the blogger makes a living isn't my concern (or my business to be honest). Jealousy doesn't enter into my mind. I respect their choices since it is MY choice to follow their blog.

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  10. WOW, heavy topic for this early in the morning, LOL! OK, nutshell response...It all depends on how the blogger handles it.I don't care if a blogger is getting free fabric for promotion. I am usually a little jealous, but always keep in mind I am not willing to do what it takes to be at that level of blogging. It is a lot of hard work. Also (me, personally) I have a really hard time working with fabric I don't like.There isn't a manufacturer out there that only makes fabric I love. LOL.In fact, to date I have only run into one line I love every print of :-). So, with that said...On the reader end, from my experience only, I don't mind if a blogger is working for fabric. Hey, they work hard to keep that blog fresh and to gain the following to warrant the relationship with the manufacturer. What I don't like (and have seen multiple times now) is when the blogger/manufacturer relationship changes the blogger. When the blogger starts using fabric, making projects, that you know are not "them". That bugs me. a lot.
    As for where the tutorial/project is hosted. Well, I am kinda lazy, so, if I can pin it (at blogger or manufacturer) I am happy. If I can't, well, I will never find it again, LOL.
    I think overall it is a benefit to the community. I think readers can see what can be done with different fabrics. I think it is super nice when the blogger can show the "whole" line of fabric.
    I am not 100% sure how the blogger/manufacturer relationship works, so I will throw this out there...I think it would be sad and limiting for any blogger to have to sign anything limiting them to showing only one manufacturer's fabrics.
    With all of that said, ultimately I think, if done right, it is a huge benefit all the way around :-)

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  11. I personally love the idea. I'm going to name names and say that the Art Gallery Fabrics Fat Quarter Gang is a brilliant idea and I would DIE to be a part of something like that! The bloggers involved are gifted creators and use AGF in fabulous, original ways... and it is clear that they're an ambassador from the get-go. Honesty and transparency is key, and not sounding like a press release is vital! Sure the tutorials are on the AGF blog, but the giveaways are on the personal blogs - huge traffic there! Plus if I like what I see, of course I'll click through to their blog to see more of their stuff!

    Fabric is largely a visual medium - as buyers/consumers/addicts, we buy fabrics because of the colours, designs and the overall effect it gives our projects. Seeing fabrics in use and 'real life photos', learning new techniques, etc are more likely to convince me that I need that fabric than just seeing images in an online store (the only way I can get my hands on all this kind of fabric).

    Having said that, I wouldn't just join something similar should it be offered to me. I would actually have to personally be interested in it already and have an idea of what I could offer the manufacturer/designer.

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    1. Thanks for adding your thoughts, Alyce. I just want to clarify that I wasn't singling out the Art Gallery program. There are other similar programs I've observed. But, the Art Gallery program is an example of great transparency.

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  12. My reasons for reading blogs are connection and inspiration. What is talked about, pictured or linked to must be interesting to me, or I stop following. I have definitely stopped following bloggers who seemed only to promote products, especially if the products and the projects associated with them, didn't interest me. I've also stopped following some blogs for these very same reasons, except they weren't promoting anything, just their work and writing stopped engaging me.
    I don't have any feelings about getting free fabric, except to wish I'd get some, but I do faithfully enter contests to win lines I really like, otherwise it's too much trouble.
    As for tutorials, I love them, but I had never thought about where they live. I would think that it would be mutually beneficial to manufacturers to loop back to the creator of the tutorial because that person will be promoting more of their fabric.

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  13. I used to ONLY subscribe to sewing bloggers if they a) weren't aggressively pushing their own Etsy shop and b) didn't have a bunch of fabric sponsorship junk going on. I've now broken that rule, but my favorite blogs are NOT heavily sponsored and do NOT waste a bunch of time doing giveaways. Lure readers with your content, not free fabric!

    That said, I DO understand that if an opportunity to make money arises, one--you--must take advantage. But I'd be sad, even as a new-ish reader to Stitched in Color, if you traded your voice entirely for posts that are all about "X Designer House Fabrics and The Easy Strip Quilt You Can Make With This $87 Fat Quarter Bundle!!!" I have read some blogs where for every five or six sponsored posts, you maybe get one "real" one. Not a great balance.

    Moderation in all!

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  14. I love to see what bloggers do with the new lines of fabric - good ideas and inspiration for me, and I see things I might not otherwise. But I confess, I do get tired of hearing promotions of 'my latest sponsor' and gloss over them. Honestly, they in no way affect my buying habits (ie. who I buy from).

    I hadn't really thought of the fact that sometimes bloggers do tutorials for the companies but don't actually get much traffic from them because they are on the manufacturers' website. That probably wouldn't feel too good to me. And also, all the free fabric relationships/sponsors do make me feel like a little fish in a big pond. Which is good food for thought for me, because as much as I want to grow my blog/presence/brand, truly the comradarie and community with my fellow bloggers is what really makes blogging fun for me!
    Thanks for this thoughtful conversation, Rachel.

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    1. I too love seeing what bloggers do with new fabric lines. It's so fun and actually helpful to see them in action. That's my favorite part of these programs!

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  15. It's a nice problem to have -- a company wants to piggyback on your profile and success. I blog for fun and not-for-profit, but I do sell my writing elsewhere. I think the question you have to ask yourself is are you getting paid the true value for your intellectual property? If you come up with something truly great and original, but the fabric company owns the pattern/tutorial in exchange for free fabric you may or may not like, is that enough for you? the way I understand the arrangement is that you couldn't use the design for your own profit, since you've done it on behalf of the fabric company.
    I have unsubscribed to blogs that have heavy advertising while not providing much content. I'm not really interested in the latest and greatest, since I'm not likely to buy it, or make my quilts exactly the same way someone else does.
    In the end, it's up to you to use your content the way you want -- but please protect yourself before you agree to give it to a for-profit organization.

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    1. I'm with Brenda - I think the Fabric house sees a great star in the making and you're getting the short end of the stick as the business partner in this deal.

      You're very talented with an unique style that isn't out there in the quilting/sewing world. Be a smart business woman, get legal advise.

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  16. I am not a big fan of marketing that is tied to specific manufacturers, because it tends to narrow the focus of a blog and gets on my nerves a bit, to be honest. I don't mind shop sponsors as much, but I have to admit that endless giveaways are a real turn off, especially the kind that requires a tweet and a facebook like etc etc. On the other hand, there are a lot of fabric lines that I think I would miss (living in England) if they weren't blogged about. It's a tricky question to answer, and I am not feeling terribly coherent!

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  17. What Brenda said: "I have unsubscribed to blogs that have heavy advertising while not providing much content." It's not advertising that bothers me so much, it's that that's all they're doing. There is nothing else original on their blog. Naming names - Jeni Baker does a wonderful job of promoting a fabric, yet also retaining her own voice and still providing her own content - that is not related to Art Gallery. I'm sure there are others, as well, that are able to this, but she is the first one that comes to mind.

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  18. I agree with many above that it's not a cut-and-dry situation. IF I feel that the blogger is showing me content that he/she would otherwise, then I have no problem with them receiving free fabric/paid sponsorship whatsoever. IF I feel that the blogger is pushing something on me because they agreed to, then that is different. I have stopped following blogs because I felt they had "sold-out" or were mostly just a vehicle for sponsorships/advertisements/etc. I watch TV and listen to the radio, I hear enough advertisements without them clogging up my reader as well. BUT, if the blogger is open and honest and still creatively using the given fabric or tools then I love to see what they make with it AND I think good for them!

    I guess in a nutshell, if you are still being you, just with some benefits involved, then I have no problem with sponsorships/ambassador programs/etc. Besides, if one post isn't what I want to read, then I can just skip it and come back next time. It's when I find myself skipping multiple posts because they're all the same that I find my way to the "unfollow" button.

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    1. Thanks so muck for sharing, Kelli. I think about what you're saying as push vs. pull. I want to pull in fabrics I like, not feel pushed towards fabrics because of a relationship. And fabric lines are so diverse!

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  19. I am not a blogger, just a follower. While I have the time to blog - I do not have the mad skills that most bloggers have. I am in awe of the amount of fabric that some bloggers seem to have, with the prices having gone up I find that my fabric shopping needs to be more and more selective. No more buying what I like, just buying what I need for a specific project. Sad because I do so love fabric and shopping for it. Like most I sign up for giveaways of fabric that I like and know I will use. It is easy to spot a blogger that loves the craft vrs a blogger that is "marketing". If the tutorials must live on the mfg site, then a link back to the originator (sp?) must be available. Often I see a pattern or tutorial that speaks to me and I search out the designer to see what else they have done and if that person has a blog, do I want to follow. I have no issue with a blogger that needs to hook up with a sponsor to make money, and I would continue to follow that person as long as what they had to say or to offer is worth the time to read and I can learn something. I am a self taught sewer and I have learned so much from the blogs that I follow - that is my principal purpose as a "follower". Keep up the good work.

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  20. For a while I got swept up with the whole fabric neediness, but now I've come to realise that it is just a big marketing pro-mo, like the GO machine giveaways were.

    I'm taking a step back, from 'the scene' afterall my 'summer of love' quilt was mainly made from inexpensive salvaged fabrics.

    You always seem to say what I'm thinking, and quite honestly I'm fed up of the haste in which a fabric line becomes a 'must have'.

    I am no sheep.
    So no, I dont want a sponsor, I like to be individual, someone who isnt interested to know the names of her fabrics.

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    1. I agree with selfsewn. Well put.

      I've been quilting for a really long time and the quilts I like best are not dependent upon using specific fabric lines. In fact, I find buying fabric lines or collections very restrictive - there are fabrics by some designers/manufacturers that just don't play nicely with other fabrics by other designers/manufacturers.

      For me the fun is in the process of putting it together and making it work, not collecting a specific designer.

      So, its a big turn-off for me when I visit blogs and are "swooning" over the latest in a particular fabric collection. Please. If it becomes an overriding theme of the blog ("new line! don't you love it?") more often than not I'll stop visiting that blog.

      The blogs I enjoy the most emphasize the creative aspect - the "making-do-with-what-you-have" mentality which is the original goal of scrap quilt making.

      My blog turns 2 years old at the end of the year - I wish it would replace my real job (you know, the one with the real paycheck) but as you said, I get other satisfactions from it.

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    2. Right. I seem to have this same feeling as well. A. I try to be a minimalist/live simply as much as I can. So the whole 'jealous of free fabric' statements didn't resonate with me at all. Honestly, having too much fabric on my shelf stresses me out! We try as best we can to reduce excess. I really try to only buy fabric when I know exactly what I want to do with it. B. I would find sticking to one line alone to be restrictive, if too predictable for my personal tastes. I like to mix things up. To me, it would be too boring to use fabrics from only one designer. I find when I start working with lots of color, I need to balance that with more subtle colors for awhile. When I've been on a linen/mellow color kick, then I want to punch it up with more color. That's just me.

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  21. It feels like the quilting world has turned into a sell-a-thon. Quilting TV shows and blogs feature plugs for certain rulers, threads, patterns, etc. I guess I miss the old days when blogs were sort of chatty and project-oriented but didn't push selling or endorsing particular brands and weren't full of advertising. Really, we could all quilt with a few basic necessities using scraps like people did years ago. It just all feels oriented toward making money now. I never envisioned the day when a blog would become a major source of income for the blogger. And I get really sick of giveaways that involve going to 3 or 4 social networks to "like" things and make comments, it just feels like more selling.

    That said, I have learned a ton from tutes on the web and I appreciate all the time people put in to doing them. So thanks for that.

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  22. I think the key is to only partnership with manufacturers that you truly believe in, not just for the opportunity. That is what keeps it honest, real and inspiring to me as the reader.

    If you personally were to partnership with Westminster to promote AMH fabrics, I would believe it because I know you love her designs and the aesthetic lines up with yours. If you suddenly started promoting civil war fabrics I might think that a bit odd. :)


    I also think less is more in terms of opportunities. It shows when a blogger is overwhelmed with commitments and partnerships they have made. Their stress is voiced in posts and sometimes in the finished product/tutorial created. It's better to do one thing well, then many second-rate.

    It's easy to say that then to actually have the opportunity and decide whether to say yes or no. Ultimately it is very exciting to be able to make a go at a creative career. I have had the twinges of jealousy and I try very hard to 'check myself' when I have a negative response.

    At the end of the day I am happy when one of 'our own' succeeds. Whether that be book, fabric line, or partnership. It's another woman having the opportunity to follow her dreams and I am behind that 100%!!

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    1. What a nice comment, Lindsay. I especially appreciate how you've pointed out that we can celebrate success for others regardless.

      You make such a good point about "less is more" in terms of opportunities. I can really feel the difference in my blog when I am doing my own projects vs. saying "yes" to helping with a lot of other projects. Both are good - it's a balance. But, everyone has to find their own balance and spend enough time following their own muse.

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    2. Phew...you are sooo right about the stress Lindsay! Whenever I join a swap or something with a clear deadline that pushes my "own" projects to the side, the anxiety is probably very evident in my writing voice! I can't imagine what it would be if I HAD to write for a sponsor!

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    3. Agreed! I think it's a sign of graciousness for each other when we can celebrate those little victories... I am thrilled when "one of our own succeeds"! When you can learn to say "no" to partnerships (either with other bloggers or companies) that will imbalance your life and your blog, I think it's freeing. But sometimes easier said than done! I think everyone has stated that it's a personal choice. Part of my question lately has been on the how much blogging I do for others regard, but I think it relates to the fabric discussion. If I'm focusing on growing someone else's dream, do I leave room for my dream and creative voice? I think there can be room for both, but you have to "budget" your time and commitments so it makes sense for you! Thanks for opening up this discussion... now, I need to keep reading comments. :)

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  23. I read all different blogs, some that are sponsored and some that are not. I don't mind the sponsored posts because 1, they usually say they are at the beginning and 2, it is part of them making a living through something they enjoy. Like many comments above, I like the work you do and the creativity you show through it. I know that some quilters stick with an entire line in a quilt so for them seeing one line in sponsored posts are helpful so that is a good point. I am a mixer, I almost never stick to one line in a quilt or follow a pattern exactly. Another comment above pointed out that you "can see the honesty that creeps in subtly in the blog post (someone who picks "favorite" fabrics from a big line, someone who "wishes" for more complete instructions in a book)". And that means the blogger truly believes what they are saying. So when you decide just remember to keep your own voice.
    (I think I rambled.... sorry)

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  24. I think the tutorials are beneficial since it sparks creativity - look at your flickr pool! I do get influenced, sometimes, by the promoted fabrics but ultimately, I have found that I always go back to my favorites. I definitely enjoy your blog because of the content and would hope that any sponsorship or contract you decide to take does not stifle your creativity.

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  25. I tend to not really like this and usually skip over these posts, but at the same time I have mixed feelings because I really like to see new fabric lines being used because it helps inspire me. Personally I maintain my (very tiny and not popular) blog for personal satisfaction. I read other people's blogs because it helps me understand how and why they make what they make, and that is hindered when they are making something because they are getting something in exchange for their post. So, basically I have mixed feelings.

    But I can't say I would turn down free fabric, what a gift!

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  26. I have noticed the Art Gallery thing lately; it's not like it's hiding. That doesn't really bother me. If a blogger consistently only uses fabrics from a certain manufacturer or only promotes certain online shops, that does get a bit under my skin. And the constant giveaways and new shop sponsorships do, too. Maybe if I won once in a while lol. I agree with a lot of what's already been said. It is a fine line to walk.

    Oh and when a blogger uses an entire line of fabric in a quilt and adds nothing else, bah that's boring! Okay, done now :)

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  27. Oh, by the way, I really liked this post and the conversation it generated. It's fascinating. And I don't need tutorials every day. It gets overwhelming. Sometimes I just like to see what you're working on or what's up in your life in general. That's why I subscribe to blogs.

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  28. Thanks Rachel for bringing this up! Very interesting! I read blogs (maybe too much!), but there are some that I really love and tend to come back to; those that have their own voice and creativity! I love to see the mix of fabric that you, Rita of Red pepper quilts, and some others have. The unexpected colors and combinations, that I wouldn't have thought or dreamed of, but look great and really inspire me to make something new, and create my own combinations. So that is definitely a turn on! I tend to think of sponsored projects with fabric from just one line a little bit boring, well knowing that they probably aren't allowed to mix other fabrics in, especially from other companies... That doesn't spark my own creativity as much as a personal combination. The latter has also been much more costly for me and my wallet, taking me to the online stores... But really relly fun!!!

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  29. I am actually in the midst of working on a few "projects" right now where I have received free fabric in exchange for writing a tutorial, making a quilt for quilt market, etc. Yet, I have boundaries and try not to do something that I remember being annoyed by when I wasn't at this stage. While the constant sponsored blog posts on others' blogs can be annoying, it's my right to choose whether or not I want to read that post or that blog. Just as it's the Bloggers right to write what they want.

    And sometimes receiving free fabric isn't all that it's cracked up to be. It might sound like whining; but it messes with your head sometimes. For example, when you are staring down yards of free fabric, it changes your perspective on how you buy other fabric. I continously have running through my head "Do I need to buy this when I have X and Y at home that I didn't pay for"...or in some cases I have started feeling guilty for having received the fabric and I want to give it away. It can ruin what should be a fun hobby/business.

    I say to each their own! Thanks for bringing this topic up.

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    1. Thanks for sharing some of the negatives about getting free fabrics. No one wants to sound ungrateful, but I definitely know what you mean. For me I've found that sticking too closely to given fabrics does make it harder to enjoy my own projects. Recently I've allowed myself to mix in my own fabrics when using given fabrics and it makes me happier, plus creates a more interesting work.

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  30. Honestly, it makes me totally jealous to see all of these people that get free fabric. It's hard too, because it makes it look like all of you ladies are making tons of money and for someone like me who has a day job and would love to be spending my time sewing and blogging and improving my skills, I have to sometimes stop reading blogs because it's too depressing. I tend to quit looking at blogs where they only use one fabric manufacturer though- because I like lines from each of them.

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    1. Kris, this is a totally honest opinion that I have totally resonated with before! When you are sitting in a cubicle reading blogs and wishing you were sewing, it does something to your head. ;) Agreed.

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  31. It doesn't bother me at all that some bloggers are getting fabrics from the designers, other than you are getting it earlier than me! I will never have sponsors because I just don't have the designing talent that so many of you have. Doesn't mean that I don't benefit!!! I'm embarrassed by how much fabric I have won in giveaways lately because the sponsors also share with your followers! I say keep up the good work, because I love all the tutorials that come from the talented bloggers! Just because the tutorial is sponsored by a fabric company doesn't mean I can't use something else in the pattern!

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  32. I do follow quite a few blogs, and I also stop following some that don't peak my interest anymore, or that haven't posted anything in months. I think that it's natural for blogs to start getting sponsored by certain fabric lines, products. It is part of the perk of blogging. And every quilter/sewer has a preference for fabric. It's your choice/opinion. I use blogs as inspiration, and I do like a good tutorial every now and again but do not expect one every day. I do tend to tune out most of the sponsorship stuff. Blogging is hard work. Takes a time commitment. I personally feel that if there is something that someone doesn't like or care for, there are a million other blogs out there to choose from. You can tell when a blogger starts to get taken over by the fabric lines/products that they represent. Then again, some blogs belong to the fabric designers themselves, so you come to expect that they will be pushing their own lines/products. It is what it is and there are so many blogs to choose from nowadays, that I just don't make it an issue. I just try and enjoy the eye candy out there.

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  33. Hi Rachel,

    I don't think I have a super strong opinion about this issue until a blog becomes all sponsor/all giveaway/all the time. Then I get turned off with the excessive giveaways and requests to pin this and like that. I know from experience that many, many people do not realize how much time goes into putting up quality posts, of which I consider yours to be, with sharp, clear photos.

    I'm not particularly drawn to single lines of fabric. I like a much scrappier look and I have the ability to see a pattern worked up in many different fabrics not just as it is seen on the screen. I will take tutorials I see and use whatever it is that I like about them and make them mine regardless of where I find them or where they are stored.

    I hope that you stick to your gut and follow your heart. Partnering and marketing are good things as long as they don't require you to sell yourself short or compromise your values.

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  34. Manufacturers, designers, and store owners want (and need) to promote their wares. High-profile bloggers are certainly one way to attract attention, especially since so much fabric is bought online. I see the connection and sometimes it bothers me and sometimes it doesn't. I'm fine with it when it's very transparent (e.g., the Art Gallery Fat Quarter Gang). I'm not fine with it when it is semi-covert -- suddenly a bunch of well-trafficked bloggers are hawking the same thing without saying that they've received x fabric for free from y designer/manufacturer/store owner. And I'm very uncomfortable with it when it attempts to be covert -- especially when someone is trying to sell something, be it a pattern or an item, online or in person -- with material received for free.

    In the end, to me, maintaining a clear voice and transparency are tied together. Promotions can be subtle or loud but what's most important is that a) the blogger really does like what they're promoting (tone speaks volumes), b) the blogger is clear that it is a promotion and they received something in exchange for advertising, and c) the blogger isn't trying to make more money on top of whatever free stuff received (especially if the blogger doesn't acknowledge the fabric (or Go-cutter or whatever) was sent gratis. The latter makes me feel like it's a con game and emphasizes the difference between the high-profile quilty blogosphere and the regular, ordinary, sew-and-blog-when-possible blogosphere -- I don't think that's necessarily intentional but I'm not interested in feeling conned or bad for the time I don't have to put into sewing.

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  35. Rachel, I have one tutorial on a big fabric designer's blog with their fabric. I could have requested the fabric to do the project, but I actually had purchased the fabric and thought it could be shared on said Fabric Designer's blog. I CAN request for fabric to share more tutorials on their blog. I have to admit, it stressed me out when I had to come up with a new design right after the first one. I actually never completed my second project. I do have the fabric and feel very guilty that I haven't completed the project/tutorial yet, and I would never use it for anything else. Did I get more traffic when I did it? Yes, but not as much as I had thought I would. But, in the end, I find that I get more follower-ship for solid content. I do think it is okay for people to sponsor fabrics or do tutorials with the fabric as long as they ARE transparent about it and they LOVE it. Like you noted, you can read the stiffness in the posts where they are just not in love. And just a side-note...if you don't like what you are blogging and you aren't blogging out of pure enjoyment, but for business alone? It can be sensed pretty quickly. And I move on. If I can tell someone LOVES what they are doing or they are the type of blogger that admits they are stuck or struggling or have lost inspiration...I completely stick with them. It is more human. Must be why I keep sticking with ya!!!! <3

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  36. If you read blogs, you know about marketing. It's part and parcel of why all of this works.

    I disagree 100% There are still plenty blogs out there that are ad free. Thankfully.

    I find the marketing to all be a bit too much - what if the blogger HATES the fabric, but makes "something" and says nice things about it anyway? As for the free tutorials, how many "new" things are there out there? (How much time do you have to do everything? I have a UFO & want to do list a century long already!) Also I am tired of coveting what this or that blogger has - seriously I don't need the whole line even if she made a really pretty all squares with kona snow quilt with it. Coveting is a sin for a reason & I started to feel it seeing so many parades of projects made with fabric that is not even available to the plebes.

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  37. I love that you're always seeking to be real, Rachel. So I'm going to be real with my answer: I am so tired of marketing on craft blogs. I absolutely feel it compromises the blogger's originality, creativity, etc.

    I feel like a couple years ago, I would log onto the various craft blogs I loved and it would just be cool women sharing their cool crafts. And now I feel like every time I log on to so many of those same blogs, it's like, "Day one of such-and-such blog tour! Buy yet another book!" or "I just got 500 fat quarters of this yet-to-be-released fabric and you won't be able to get YOUR hands on it for another six months!"

    It's not that I don't love to hear about new fabric lines and new books, etc. I do! And I love supporting small businesses run by cool women who I know are mostly just trying to earn some extra income for their families. I just wish I could hear about these things in a more organic way and hear someone's honest review of things (criticism and all) instead of them just plugging X product and saying it's great cuz they "have" to say it's great.

    I just don't need products hurled at me all the time on every blog. I wish it could still be cool to work from your stash and not always have the latest and greatest new lines and patterns. I wish I could read a review that felt honest instead of endlessly, incessantly flattering. (For example, I ADORE Anna Maria Horner. ADORE her. I think she is creative and inspiring and she seems like such an awesome, generous, friendly person. But c'mon, people, sometimes her patterns have minor problems. I LOVED her second book, but let's agree that most of the clothing projects from her first book are cheesy. And I wasn't crazy about, say, some of the prints in Innocent Crush, even though AMH is absolutely my fave desiger and I pretty much love every other last thing she creates. Yet no one would ever risk giving their opinion on this kind of thing anymore because we can no longer be honest. Only happy feelings and positive comments seem to be allowed anymore, especially if you want to maintain your status as a "popular" blogger. (I'm in no way trying to attack AMH personally! Just commenting on her WORK and using her WORK as an example because she's so well-known and most people reading this will know what I'm talking about.)

    And it's not like I would ever want to read a blog that outright slammed anybody or anybody's products, either -- I'm not a negative person! I just crave some honesty--I want the good points and the drawbacks. I just feel like if we can't constructively criticize even the things/designers we love, then it's all kinda fake, you know? (Wouldn't it be great to know that if you did read a rave review of a book or a pattern that you could trust that it is really, truly an amazing product worth your money and time?)

    I swear I don't mean for this to come across as mean or angry! I'm not at all. I mainly have nothing but love for the generous and inspiring craft blogging community. But I definitely share your feelings of frustration with the way craft blogging has evolved in the past few years. Enough marketing. And more honesty from everyone involved, please!

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    1. I totally agree. I want more honesty. Not every book or line of fabric or gadget is awesome. Sometimes they're great for something specific (a book may be best for beginners or not, a fabric might be awesome as a quilt back but not as a dress, a gadget may save time or not), and sometimes they're just not so hot. It would give the reviewer a lot more credibility if flaws were actually pointed out, or at least the targeted audience was identified.

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  38. Great responses above. I appreciate the larger blogs for keeping me abreast of new lines of fabric or a quilt design, but I tend to read the smaller blogs more often because I like to get to know the person.

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    1. Oooh, thanks for sharing! That's an interesting and natural delineation.

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  39. Firstly thank you for raising this topic. I have been thinking about it a lot recently. I don't have a blog but I am an avid blog reader. Lately however, I'm reading some blogs less and less and I realised that it is because so many have become advertising vehicles for one thing or another they have got boring. It seems that once a blogger ties up with a manufacture or joins in a book launch blog hop (or any of the other marketing opportunities they are involved in) they seem to loose the spark of individuality which attracted me to the blog in the first place and my visits start to dwindle. This seems to be getting more of a problem as manufacturers have recognised the marketing value of blogs and it sometimes appears that every blogger is promoting the same fabric line or gadget.

    Of course I would love free fabric to play with and am totally jealous of all the fabric some bloggers seem to acquire but on the other hand I am totally free to make exactly what I like with exactly the fabric I want and I don't have any deadlines to worry about.

    My main concern that the dependence on particular fabric lines and patterns seems to be stifling creativity to such an extent that many quilters no longer have the confidence in their ability to put their own fabrics together for a quilt or do the basic calculations needed to size a block and work out fabric requirements for a finished quilt. Long term I think it does the crafting community a disservice to present everything served up on a plate so there is no thinking necessary at all.

    I love your blog and would probably still visit if you featured new fabric lines etc but I may visit less frequently.


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    1. I agree totally with your point about creating dependence. My favorite craft books are ones that say, "Or you could also do it like this. Or you could resize it like this." It is hard for people to gain confidence in their own creative choices if they always stick with one fabric line, or always just use tutorials even for simple quilts.

      But on the other hand, quilt shops have always sold kits and block of the month clubs for people who just enjoy the process of making a quilt without having to worry about the math or making the "wrong" choice - its just transferred more to the blog world now.

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  40. In my mind, I love to see the tutorials, I'm all about learning. I don't want to just see the finished products. I want to see the process. I want to learn more about quilting. Of course we want to see all of the beautiful fabric that is out there!! YUMMY!! What I don't care to see is the quilter who is jet setting all about the globe receiving gifts, and trips for what? I havn't seen much about their blog in so far as work at all except for the trips that they are taking, and the places they have been so lucky to visit. Well bully for them. I don't see any fantastic tutorials or learning coming from their blogs, and yet they have tons and tons of followers. I am at a loss as to why! They gave away a pattern once upon a time. Ahh they had a stitch along way back when. I'm not impressed with that. I think quilters want to see current work, current tutorials, and show me how to do something.

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  41. Great questions! I think this is one of those areas that is so "gray". I think every blogger needs to be asking these questions and deciding where they want to be with all of this because I don't think there's a clear one way or another with marketing.
    As a blog reader I don't decide about follow a blog based on the marketing. The blogs that are in my reader and have been for a while--like yours--are ones where I feel connected to the person behind the blog because they are real, they have similar interests (I'm not following any wood carving or hunting blogs at this point in my life!), and express themselves through their work. I love the free tutorials and paid classes, but I also just love to flip through blogs on my phone and see the pictures of what folks are making and how it reflects that individual.
    As a reader, it's also obvious when someone is promoting what they love (even if they get payment for that) and when they are promoting something they are paid to promote. For me the difference is not whether or not the blogger is compensated--you and many of the other bloggers I follow work dang hard to keep such great content and I am so glad you get something for that. I wish I could pay you for every great article, tutorial, picture, or story you post. But I can't. And I have no problem with a company (whether it's a small fabric store or giant manufacturer) recognizing your talents and paying you for that.
    On the flip side, I can think of several blogs I stopped following because the blogger got lost in all the promotion. Rather than connecting with them, I felt I was always being compelled to love the same designer or manufacturer or fabric store they "love". There are some who are on the border of this, and that's ok. I still follow them. I do see a difference in their posts when they are doing something truly their own and when they are doing something to fit in the marketing box. And then there are some who are doing a great job of working their own art and craft into the marketing box.
    So how's that for complex? I really do see this as just that. I think you do such an awesome job of taking on projects you love regardless of the compensation, and I can't think of any time I have seen a post of yours that smacked of marketing. Your posts always have YOU woven through every line and picture. So keep up the *fabulous* work and I do hope you get lots of great fabric, money, satisfaction, (or whatever else you get) out of it!

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    1. It is so complete, Kelly, and you outlined it well. The important part is not to me "are they compensated" but "are they being real?" I believe you can be real and be compensated. Some would disagree.

      Thanks so much for your kind words about my posts. I'm sure I've fallen short sometimes, but it's nice to think the good posts are remembered =)

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  42. I personally don't mind seeing new fabrics since I don't really get around much aside from the blogs. What gets annoying to me is when the blogger turns the blog into simply a sales pitch. Once it goes from being a tad personal to all about the money making (I have a couple specific blogs in mind), I quit paying attention. When they can't share anything because "it's going to be in this magazine" or "the book is coming out next month", I'm not interested anymore. I don't have the disposable income to buy much in the way of fabric let alone all the books and magazines that people are coming out with. I have to have a specific project in mind for a fabric line before I allow myself to buy it and the tutorials help with that.

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  43. Of course it's up to each individual, but personally I'm bothered when it feels like each blog post is about 'my new sponsor' or 'sponsored giveaways', etc., I don't think that's what blogging is about. I think it is about sharing of yourself, your life, your progress, your successes & failures. I'm fine with the above if it isn't ALL that is talked about on a blog. There are a few blogs that I go back and forth whether I'll follow them because the posts rarely seem to be about themselves. All that said, I do think about it sometimes but when I'm realistic I realize that I'm just interested in the free fabric!! So I won't go down that road, but I think for anyone that does it is important to keep the balance.

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  44. I ignore 100% of any type of sponsored blog posts. Whether it's a post about a sponsor or a post pointing to a tutorial on a manufacturer's website or even a giveaway -- I ignore them all and don't click through on my reader. Frankly, posting these things is a good way to ensure that I won't visit a blog. I don't get any value from them and I have unsubscribed from blogs that degenerated into almost nothing but sponsored posts and giveaways. I would rather buy my own fabric and read informational, neutral blog posts than have a small chance to win a few fat quarters and be advertised to constantly.

    My complaint with the manufacturer-specific tutorials is that they are mostly, well, lame. How many tutorials does there need to be of some super quick and basic block pattern used to make a tiny lap quilt that I could easily make without any tutorial at all? I've been so consistently disappointed with free tutorials posted on manufacturers' websites (whether by a blogger or otherwise) that I don't even bother looking at them any more. I'm also really not drawn to designs made from a single fabric line which is what these tutorials are all about.

    Once a blogger has signed up with a sponsor or manufacturer I feel that I can no longer trust their opinion on those things. Sure they say that Store X is great or Manufacturer Y is awesome -- they are being compensated for saying so!

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  45. I'm not a blogger, only a blog reader. I have no problem with a blogger tied to a manufacturer. I read blogs to see what's out there and ideas on what to do with it. And, fabric giveaways are always fun to try for.

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  46. I can totally appreciate the partnerships and I can't say I d turn one down if I were a blogger. However, I was struck by your post this morning because I have been thinking lately about how annoying my reader list has become. I feel like between sponsorships and blog tours I'm seeing the same thing over and over again. There seems to be a lot less genuine creativity happening and rather cult followings of certain fabrics and patterns. Not inspiring at all which is why I started reading blogs in the first place. I want to see authentic creativity, not just a bunch of quilts always made from an entire fabric line. Mix it up... Break some rules! Give a nod of thanks to the fabric houses if they supplied the goods to make a portion of the project.

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  47. What a fantastic discussion. I, personally, understand why larger bloggers tend to have some sponsors/marketing. They deliver fresh content so regularly that they deserve to get some financial compensation for it. I totally agree with that aspect and while I could never purchase that much fabric, or make that many projects, it's not my job and I would never expect that.

    As a blogger, although I would love to get showered with free fabric, I tend to enjoy projects more when I have more creative freedom. I am not sure about the sponsor relationship and how often the blogger has to create something, but I would say every once and a while it might stretch me creatively to have to use something specific and I would enjoy it, but regularly, I would probably be craving some time to just work unrestricted on my own projects.

    As a reader, I love blogs that feel personal. I like reading blogs to gain some knowledge and tutorials, but that alone won't draw me in. I can always google a tutorial for something, so I actually don't read blogs specifically for that reason. I read them because I relate to the writer's voice, or his/her work inspires me in some way or their process gets me thinking about something differently. Sometimes a writer's voice will change with sponsorship, other times it doesn't. I would caution bloggers that take on sponsors to be extra diligent that they keep their voice and remain authentic. (and, of course, be transparent)

    As for contests and giveaways, I actually like how you have been formatting them here! Having to make something with the given fabric, putting together fabric combos to win it, I think it all engages the reader in a way likes on facebook and twitter and all those other places you have to click don't. (I don't usually click through to those posts in general anymore because I know my chance of winning with 4,000 entries is next to impossible and not worth my time)

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    1. Always so well put, Jess! I have learned the hard way that I too enjoy projects more when I have complete creative freedom. Lately I've enjoyed mixing in my stash fabrics with new fabric lines, even when I want to draw attention to the new. It feels so right!

      Thanks for complimenting the way I've been running contests lately. I've enjoyed the change too. I will keep having occasional random giveaways, but I do find it more fun and valuable to interact rather than draw a number.

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  48. Thank you very much for raising this topic. I'm a blogger just for fun, for sharing my work with others like an online show and tell. In Germany quilting is not popular so the internet is my window to the quilting world. I never wanted to blog because I feared that it robs me of the little spare time I have for myself. And to be honest, it really does. However I made a promise to myself to just blog when I feel like doing it and when I have something to tell or show.

    That being said, I know that there are such programs that you mentioned and I have mixed feelings about it. I can easily understand people that are tempted to accept such "contracts" but in MHO it depends on the way the blogger deals with it. AND what might be even more important is the companies and articles they test, try, use and blog about. When following a sewing or quilting blog, I don't mind reading opinions on sewing or quilting fabric, notions or patterns. But I don't want to learn about kitchen or gardening tools. I also expect the blogger to indicate the mentioned relationship with a designer, manufacturer, etc. That does not have to be in every related blogpost but somewhere on the page there should be a button, information or explanation.

    Overall I'm happy for everyone who likes this collaboration and I aknowledge that it is a great commitment as well as a treat. I guess I would not jump to the chance if I were asked as I would not want any deadlines and more commitments in my spare time- so any envious thoughts are quickly silenced by reason.

    I feel that I make a difference in "judging" bloggers that blog for fun and those who earn a living and support their family income by their work. Somehow I am more "forgiving" in those who blog for a living ;o)

    That's my two cents on that topic. Loving what you do!
    And I will continue reading however you decide ;o)))

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  49. Big question and only a small answer. I thik it can work if you and the fabrics are a match, that you really like the fabric. Other thing I want to share is that I don't like giveaways, I feel they "clutter" my reader and I stop reading if there are too many.

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  50. i honestly don't have a problem with any bloggers taking on sponsorship or advertising. i think it's great that bloggers can be supported in making their passion into their livelihood. and most people do a very good job of being transparent about when posts or giveaways are sponsored (in fact, i believe there is a law that says you must do so). the only part of this that turns me off is when you can tell there is a huge marketing push behind it and it feels like one line/manufacturer/publisher is sweeping the blogging world. it ends up giving me fabric fatigue, so that by the time a fabric line (or book) comes out i'm so sick of it i don't want it myself. i suspect you know what i'm talking about.

    my only other issue is something another commenter above pointed out. that's that often times tutorials made to promote a certain fabric line are often overly simplistic, which makes them of little interest to me. i wonder if this is because a blogger has overcommitted and doesn't have the time/creative energy to make something better. i know you a person who prides herself on her creativity, so i hope this doesn't happen to you should you take on a sponsorship/partnership in the future!

    but i think you have done such a great job with moderation in the past, rachel, that you will tackle these issues with the level-headedness and practicality you always have. and i totally appreciate how you ask your readers what they think to make sure you keep your everyone happy. yay!

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  51. I understand that Being a Blogger is your work, your business, your career, etc, while being a Blog Reader is just entertainment to me. It seems completely acceptable that you would get some/most/all of your supplies from sponsors. You're working for it. Who wouldn't want to get paid in fabric?! I don't mind a sponsored post or a giveaway if it comes with a tutorial or a something crafty kind of post. But generally I skip any post (on anyone's blog!) that is *only* a giveaway or a sponsored post. Also, if I have to click on a link to read your post on someone else's site, I'll usually just skip that too. My feeling is that I added you to my Reader because I wanted to read YOU and rarely have I added someone to my Reader because I was linked to another site to read a post by the person *I already follow*. I agree with someone above that talked about wanting to see crafty things on a craft blog...a finished product or a work in progress or some crafty brainstorming. Not the business and marketing stuff. But the supplies you're using? By all means, get 'em for free! I just want to see what you make with them!

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  52. Again you bring up a sticky topic with grace. There seems to be a thread of truth in all these comments. I found myself nodding along. We want to rejoice and support those in our community who make a business out of blogging and quilting; and yet there is a twang of jealously. We also don't want to lose the creativity and individuality of the person we first fell in love with (I love this blog!). Because having a new must have fabric line jamming up my google reader every 2 weeks is getting worn out. The good bloggers can balance that fine line, and I think you are one of those bloggers Rachel.
    Also does it have to be forever? Give it a go and if it doesn't work for you, your creative voice and your family then let it go. I'm pretty sure we'll still be here. Good luck in your decision and thank you for letting us put in our two cents.

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  53. As always, such thoughtful topics. I appreciate bloggers who have sponsors that are in keeping with what they blog about. I do not like to see ads for online universities when i am trying to read about fabric or read through a tutorial. That is a huge blog turn off. I soooo get the jealous thing. I would live to have someone send me fabric to use in tutorials, but at the same time, it is very nice to see my friends get this opportunity. Particularly when they have worked so hard to earn it. I feel that generally those being sponsored work hard for those sponsorships and often, the fact that they are sponsored means that they are delivering a quality product to you. Good, bad, or indifferent, I often unconsciously view the blogs that are sponsored as more 'legit'.....on kind of the highest level of blogger-dom. For me, sponsorship is a goal to work towards and I definitely don't mind seeing it on other blogs (again, assuming its in keeping with the topic of said blog)

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  54. Blogging for some people is a way to make money and I understand that. Yay for them I say. However, I have usually added a blog to my favourites because I have connected with the blogger on some level, their family life,sense of humour, quilting style, educational information provided, their journeys and photos etc. If they get into promoting a product or company to the exclusion of the content that first attracted me I typically delete the blog from my favourites. So I guess a balanced approach is best.

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    1. I'm very late tossing my hat into the ring regarding your post but yet here I am. I have read much of what was written prior to Diane's comment but Diane's feelings very much reflect mine. I follow bloggers for most of the same reasons as Diane, but mostly because I feel some sort of connection with the blogger and I like her style of quilting and she mostly likes the same sort of fabrics/colors that I like. When advertising takes over and the personal connection is lost I'm no longer interested. I don't mind a giveaway once in a while but I'm not going to Pin, Tweet and jump through 90 hoops to enter one. I don't have that much time on my hands and it's just not worth it to me. I have begun to weed out the bloggers who never reply. Especially when it's obvious that I have gone to great lengths to share something regarding the bloggers post. I do understand that many bloggers have 1000's of followers but not every single post has that many people commenting so it can't be that hard to respond once in a while. The other thing that turns me off the minute I see it is a Linky Party. Here again, I just don't have that much time on my hands. I don't follow a blogger to be sent to a dozen other bloggers that I care nothing about. So when I open my reader and I see anything about a Linky party I just skip that blog and go on to the next. I don't need a tutorial every other day from my bloggers. I don't expect a blogger to post every single day...bloggers have lives just like the rest of us. So, with that off my chest to address your post...... It does not bother me that bloggers receive fabric and notions to promote. It does, however, if I can tell the blogger is not really thrilled with what they are promoting. Also if promoting takes away from the bloggers personal sharing I would be disappointed. You need to follow your heart and do what works for you. I would be disappointed though if you decide to promote a manufacturer that leads you drastically away from what up do now. You enjoy what you do and if you step away from that you won't be happy and I as a follower will not be either.

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  55. I would much prefer to read content from bloggers I love on the blogs themselves. I am unlikely to click through to find tutorials or other freebies on a 3rd-party website, particularly if it's a manufacturer's site where they are trying to sell me things.

    I often skim or even skip "giveaway" posts because I generally find them less interesting to read (and so many people enter, my chances of winning are pretty slim). Plus, as you mentioned, I think the green-eyed monster rears its ugly head - I don't want to read about free fabric that's not mine!

    That being said, I don't mind bloggers having sponsors. I often turn to my favorite quilting blogs to find fabric shops online - since I trust the blogger, I trust that their sponsors will provide good service.

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  56. I'm finding myself having a hard time believing that the person genuinely likes it sometimes lately. I've been wanting to roll my eyes a few times and say, "Really?"
    I don't mind the arrangement of marketing fabric at all -- I think it's mutually beneficial, but tags of exclusivity should not, in my opinion, be included. I think we should all have the idea of what builds up one of us, builds us all up ultimately.

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  57. Great topic.. I often found this type of marketing on the blogs I love.. I don't mind them and of course the jealousy do come.. I wish too that I get a chance to get some free fabrics.. So giveaway are not bad..because for those who does not get freebies from sponsors, might be able to get some through giveaway though chance are very slim.. However I am not fond of constant ad on blogpost.. Which makes the blog less interesting..i think once a week or two would be fine provided that the blogger herself have their own creative post in between these ads..

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  58. This is a question that has been on my mind lately. While I agree with other commenters that being hammered with ads can be a turn off for me as a blog reader, I find that sponsorship and above all partnership can actually be helpful for a blog. That is in reasonable quantities. Blogging at a high level, that is with good content on a daily basis, is an involved and time consuming process. You wouldn't go to a job that didn't offer any compensation, so sometimes I think it is unrealistic to assume that someone working this hard would want to give away the best of their creative energy without receiving a little support or compensation for it. It can also be true that sponsorship/partnership provides creative opportunities that might not have existed beforehand. A really fantastic post might result from simply having the prompt and supplied materials needed to make an interesting (and free) tutorial. Realistically, without sponsorship, I think we would find far less free content made available.

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  59. wow sounds like you have got lots to think about:) i think the fact that you are concerned about how your readers feel is probably a great start to figuring out a plan. i've been reading you for awhile and have watched you get more and more sponsers and still keep your own voice and ideas:) i love that. some one else mentioned In Color Order, also i love her style and all tho i wouldn't hardly ever buy art gallery fabrics her ideas still seem doable with my stash:) so i guess if you really love what your pushing and feel like you can honestly say if there is something you would change about a product, then why not:) good luck and remember you can't please every one you have to do what is right for you and your family

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  60. I have mixed feelings though because I understand that you should get compensated for all your hard work and don't mind a few sponsers.

    What an interesting topic that I have been thinking alot about lately. I have been thinking alot about dropping a blog I follow that used to be creative and fun, but has taken on several sponsers and the tone of the blog has changed. The projects created are no longer interesting to me and everything is about the sponsers and "liking" them on media outlets.

    While I would love free fabric, I personally would have an issue having to create a project with it. I have a difficult time already making a project for someone when they give me a pattern and fabric. I'd much rather them give me a few colors and pattern choices and then let me create.

    Also, as a newbie blogger I did get sucked in by the new fabric that everyone seemed to "love" and bought some. I felt scammed because the quality was quite poor when I received it in the mail. Live and learn, I guess.

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  61. Hmm . . . I think this is a tricky one. I think its fantastic if people can make their living off of blogging, and it works for their family. I don't really get jealous, because I don't think I would like the pressure of having to turn out tutorials and quilts at the rate that is necessary to maintain that kind of a relationship.

    I find that bloggers whose work I enjoy and who have a fun "voice" are bloggers I will read anyway, wether they are getting marketing deals or not. Also, bloggers who are up front with the "such and such a company or designer sent me this fabric to play with" get a huge thumbs up from me, because its not like we don't figure it out eventually. I do get tired of seeing quilts and projects that are only done in one fabric line because I love the look of a bunch of lines mixed together. That is what I usually like to do, so I appreciate seeing quilts like that.

    I guess what I don't like is that manufacturers would make you put the tutorials up on their blog, so they get the traffic. I think it is more fair for you, as the designer, to get the blog traffic from their blog instead of the other way around. I also don't like the forced scarcity that manufacturers create by only doing one printing of most fabric lines so that we "have" to buy it right away if we want it, otherwise its gone. I would like it better if they would keep some lines in print longer, so I can see how "real" people use the fabrics in their projects, and then think about wether I want to buy it, instead of seeing the blogosphere flooded with a bunch of projects made to hype up a fabric line, followed by a huge buying frenzy, followed by me thinking, "Oh, I really like such and such a print from such and such a line . . . oh. Its all gone. Too bad I thought about it for two weeks."

    So I guess I think its awesome for bloggers when they get those deals, but I wish the whole system where slower and more natural than it has become in the last few years. And I do get annoyed when bloggers are working so hard to keep up with tutorials and the like that we never see works in progress or hear about their thought processes about making and sewing anymore.

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    1. The fabric world really does move fast these days. I'm sure it's exhausting for the shops too, trying to keep up with it all.

      Thanks for including that you like to hear about works in progress and thought processes. I sometimes feel that those posts are probably boring because I get more comments on "finishes" posts. It's nice to be reminded that the process is interesting too.

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    2. Your process posts are some of my favorite. You invite us into your wonderful, creative head!!! And it also is very relate-able!!!

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    3. Historically quilts took months and years to finish, as fabric scraps were carefully collected or intricate handwork was done. I think it is a great disservice to the craft for everyone to be so finish oriented! I have just thought to myself on my own blog how I would like to spend many blog posts on the nuances of crafting one project, one quilt. To me there is not that much attraction to a quilt that someone busted out in one weekend. I am much more interested in the story, the time, the sweat, the forethought, the investment in color or fabric choices, the hour spent with concentration and love. Quilting is not a race and should not be created and slammed out for blog content! If it is it is usually just a bunch of fabric sewn together, meh, cool looking maybe but boring in another way. Quilting has traditionally had a story, a soul and a purpose. The "soul" of the quilt is what interests me. Thanks.

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  62. I'm a blog reader. For me, I enjoy the variety of content that's included on each of the blogs I read. I don't mind someone attached to a specific manufacturer of fabric, but I would prefer to read about the tutorial, etc., on the blogs, not the manufacturers web-site. I think most blog readers have their favorite blogs they read, like this one, and usually check out the same ones over and over unless they lead to another great blog. Those of us that work full-tume out of the home read blogs for fun. We are looking for that one really great idea to use in a project or to read about a product, or see how someone uses the fabric you just bought. Keep it light and simple.......fun!

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  63. It's a tricky one to make a hard and fast pronouncement on! On one hand I think it's great the bloggers get something in return for their hard work, both in fabric and maybe in traffic as a result of tutorials and giveaways. There might be a bit of jealousy involved on my part, but actually not too much considering the volume of fabric that seems to flow some bloggers' way and the pressure to perform that must place on them. However, there is a fine line between me thinking 'good for you' and 'hmmm...is this an honest appraisal/tutorial/plug for a fabric?'

    I think the promotion of products on blogs needs to be more transparent on the whole - if I know the fabric or product has been donated, or a tutorial solicted, then fine, I can read between the lines and it doesn't worry me overly. If it's not up-front though, that's a different story. I can't be bothered remembering what fabric lines come from which manufacturer, so it's quite possible for a blogger to have an arrangement with one company and I wouldn't actually realise what was going on. I really don't like that, though of course if it's really subtle I probably don't even know it's going on so can't get upset about it! Another kind of promotion that worries me is when a blogger suddenly gets a pattern to make something, be it a quilt or a garment, and raves on about it like it's the best thing since sliced bread. And then you notice another blogger doing the same thing, and then another. Sometimes they might say they've been given the pattern but even then, the reviews are so OTT perky and fawning it's just...yukky. How blindly accepting do some bloggers think we are? Give me an honest review and I'll be your devoted reader forever. Give me anything else and I'll be suspicious of you forever after.

    Of course, the manufacturers are not innocent in this either, I don't really blame bloggers for taking what's on offer because I'm not sure if I could be all pure and "no!" if the devil came knocking. But I do wonder if the companies are going to create a backlash with some of their marketing approaches, particularly the "hype a fabric line to death by trickling it out to big bloggers and making the peons wait for ages thus causing a total frenzy when it's finally released" approach. I got so tired of seeing bundles of the new Liberty on blogs presented in a coy "look what the postman just delivered!" kind of way when it wasn't due out for a couple months. I think it's about that stage I stop thinking "good for you" about the blogger and start thinking "sell-out".

    I think that becoming a big blogger with sponsors and free fabric can be a bit of a poisoned chalice in the end. Well for the readers anyways! One of my favourite blogs used to be all about the process and life with a few fun tutorials, now she's big and it's all about doing guest posts on other blogs and promoting her patterns and raving about this product or another and she doesn't seem real anymore. I guess each blogger has to think hard about which road they're going to take and the pitfalls and benefits of each.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jacqui. One of the problems about transparency is that bloggers aren't sure how much to share. At least, I'm not. I wonder if it would be helpful, for example, to say "Hey, I wanted this fabric, so I asked and they sent it to me. Wonderful day! I'm so excited!" I'm guessing that wouldn't go over too well. And, since I requested the fabric (it wasn't pushed towards me) I wonder if transparency is the right word at that point? I don't know.

      I do have to protest the alignment of fabric companies with "the devil". You probably didn't mean that seriously, but just so that there are no misunderstandings,I'll speak up. I'm so grateful for the industry (I do enjoy new fabrics!) and I don't think there's anything essentially wrong about them promoting their business. I agree that commercialism is a real issue in our culture, but I feel like it's not up the businesses to draw the line. It's up to us.

      Don't mean to sound like I'm disagreeing with you, as I bet you feel the same way. Just trying to clarify for others reading along.

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    2. Oh gosh no, I didn't mean the devil literally! I meant more a potential moral quandary presenting itself. Obviously bloggers deal with those issues differently when they arise. But I don't think you can completely absolve the marketers, sure you can argue the blogger shouldn't accept terms like that but I don't know why companies should be offering them in the first place!

      In terms of transparency, I think you [not you personally, just bloggers in general!] should share the basis on which you are using the fabric - the more honest you are about the details the more your readers trust you. If you did not pay for it, and especially if you are being paid to use it, then the readers deserve to know, no fudging around the edges. I would absolutely rate a blogger who said she had approached a company for some fabric and got it! First off I admire people who ask - it takes moxie and the company is hardly going to give it to them unless they they're worth it too. Secondly, what a recommendation for a fabric line, that you liked it so much you went and asked for it! I suppose you'd have to careful to phrase it like the business proposition it is, they give you the fabric, you give them the endorsement/tutorial/exposure, but I can't really see how it is more objectionable than being given fabric with the same conditions, and the results will be unequivocally honest.

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    3. I think it'd be pretty great if I read that you were interested in a line and requested it and got it. I would appreciate full disclosure on how it really is, the hand and such.

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  64. Im ready for your quilt along!! :)

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    1. Lol, me too! (Really, I'm not quite ready, but the quilt blocks are on my table as I type =)

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  65. You always seem to generate the most interesting of discussions here on your blog, which is one of the reasons I love it so much.
    I would in no way want to stand in the way of someone being able to make a little money (or fabric!) for doing something they love and who put the time and effort into documenting and explaining the thought process along with it. I think we all benefit from such.
    However, it seems the more popular a blogger gets, the more they advertise and shamelessly promote themselves and/or their "friends", and their blog content (if there is anything original in it anymore) gets crowded with sponsors, giveaways, promotions, and the like. If they are lucky, they get book deals, patterns to sale, notions, even their own fabric lines, etc. When it gets to this point, I usually stop following because the "freshness" is gone. And so is the "human" side of things because they are now a product themselves.
    The only issue I have with the manufacturers giving away free fabric is that we have to wait so long to get our hands on yardage that it can be a bit frustrating. And, as has been mentioned on this blog before, by the time the line does arrive in stores, we are sick of seeing it. So much for the "love at first sight" we experienced months ago, being replaced by the "can't stand to look at it anymore"!
    I also personally never enter any giveaways because I can't stand the over-commercialization sometimes.
    That being said, I don't mind buying fabric I love for full price to make something I will cherish, and I am mostly grateful for so many talented bloggers who are willing to share their inspiration.

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  66. I ran out of steam somewhere up there. But I basically see that quilters are smart people who know what's up. We read what we like and we relate positively to others who honestly portray their likes. If their likes happen to be sponsored so be it. I would probably be enthusiastic about free fabric unless it was just plain ugly. Often sponsored blogs help to appreciate fabric I may have overlooked.

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  67. It doesn't bother me that bloggers are getting free fabric in exchange for a tutorial on the manufacturers website. I love free tutorials. Some are better than others. I see blogs that hawk cutting machines, irons etc. For the most part I feel their reviews are honest and thoughtful.

    It's the nature of the beast sometimes to have a blog that you once read lovingly for their great content to suddenly do a 90 degree turn and become more sponsor driven. I just move on when the blog isn't 'speaking' to me any longer.

    My HUGE pet peeve however is giveaways. Yes they are great and who doesn't want a 36 piece fat quarter bundle. What I don't want to do is follow your blog, like the sponsor on Facebook, like you on Facebook, take your cat for a walk, send you a dozen roses - ok, those last 2 are stupid but you get the idea. Some giveaways have 3 things you HAVE to complete in order to qualify. BAH! Just let me make a single comment and be done with it please. Ruth

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  68. I don't like it when the promotion's spread on a bit too thickly. A mention of a fabric line and a sponsorship in a post about a project is one thing: post after post after post (not necessarily by the same blogger) is more problematic, particularly when the promotion is months ahead of the fabric reaching the shelves.

    And sure, I'm envious of the free fabric the bloggers get; on the other hand, the pressure to make a project, to do something good, and to do it well would be considerably greater than my happy self finds it now.

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    1. It's interesting that the more we think about it, the less jealous we seem to become. Everyone seems to really understand that the free fabric trade comes at a tangible cost. I'm really glad to hear that perspective from you all!

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  70. I don't have a problem with bloggers taking on sponsorship or advertising - but it´s most of the times just not interesting for me. Personally I simply don´t care for the 'latest' fabric lines. I believe you can use any 100% cotton fabric and it depends on the idea and talent to make something beautiful -even if it is vintage or fleamarket fabric. So it happens that I open a promotional post about fabric and click away right after. I understand that blogging is a way of making money but if the promotion posts take over, the blog becomes less interesting to me.

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  71. What a great discussion!
    One reason why I like reading your blog: great ideas, topics, pic's and more. If it is a balanced and not overwhelming partnership, it could work. But I can see how the additional "must-do" stress may hinder creativity and may water down content.
    I think scrap quilts just do have an appeal in today's world because they are not matchy-matchy from one fabric line and yet they are beautiful!
    As far as contests/ give-aways go: I like when it is a contest and something has to be made in exchange for an entry. Any of these "Follow my blog and the sponsor and like facebook ,..." isn't working for me.
    I wish you luck with whatever choice you are going to make - and look forward to many more inspiring posts!

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  72. I don't have a problem with it, because, just as with any pattern, I have to picture a pattern in fabrics that would appeal to me... and, it was actually through one such manufacturer's website that I found some of the designers/bloggers I first started following and then branching into others they follow...

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  73. This is a great question. I love reading blogs for inspiration, to see what people are making and to get ideas for my own projects.

    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.
    - 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.

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    1. Seriously, I think your summary of how to market well is golden. This is what we all need to remember!

      On a personal note, I thank you for appreciating these thoughtful kind of posts. I really enjoy them but realize that to some people it's a lot of "blah, blah, blah". That's ok. We all like different things! But, it's nice to know there are others who resonate with this.

      And, I love Amy's blog too!

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    2. Adrianne...wow...YES!!! ALL of it!!

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  74. The one advertisement thing I can't stand is "book tour" blog posts -- it's like reading the same blog post every single day for a week or more. I'm always disappointed when I read on a favourite blog that they are going to be participating in a book tour because I know that it will be a useless post that I will skip. Plus, these tours usually happen many weeks after the book in question has come out (why?,) rendering them pointless -- if I wanted the book I already have it by that point.

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  75. As a reader and a mom of a blogger, I can relate to all of this. How fantastic to hear the concerns, pressures, and problem that plague bloggers when they reach the place they worked so hard to get. I think blogger audiences are authentic and give immediate feedback to a blogger who has gone astray. Everyone has different reason for feeling compelled to visit a blog. If the marketing/business aspect of the blog world bothers them, they are free to move on. I think the truley sucessful bloggers (like yourself) are able to hit the reset button throughout their blog joureny and re-energize their origional creativety that got them where they are today. I think this works for thei readers as well as their sponsors and they all come to expect it. Keep up the good work, you are truely a maverick.

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    1. Thanks so much, Emme, for your encouraging comment. Creativity really is at the heart of it. One way to look at it is would this kind of relationship promote or discourage my creativity? Though, honestly, I really wanted to hear how you lovely readers feel about the situation, I appreciate the direction to look to myself as well.

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  76. I am a 50 year old mom whose only is out of state at seminary. I work full-time and quilt (too much) otherwise between church, friends, and hubby. That's where I'm coming from, just so you know. I started reading blogs last fall when I started quilting. I appreciate everything that goes into a blog - the time, the effort, and the results. I read for information, for grins, and I do it mostly while I eat my lunch at work. Because I believe it's my choice to read anyone's blog (so if I don't like the topic, I don't have to be negative, just click off the page) honestly the only thing that bugs me about any blog is when the writer says they are making something but they can't show us. I would prefer they don't say anything at all. I enjoy seeing fabric promoted, books promoted, patterns promoted, and items offered for sale (like Rita does her quilts on her Australian blog). I choose whether or not I want to buy, make, or follow someone's advice and example. So if it benefits you in any way to do anything, follow your heart. What's best for you (and your family)? What's the best use of your time? You're doing great so far as far as this reader's concerned. (Grin)

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  77. When blog posts are just about fabric that is available at a store I tend to do a fast skim of the post and with quick glance at the pictures. (And I do that mainly to get to the next post in google reader.) The posts kind of annoy me, but at the same time I would love to be on the writing side of them and get the sponsorship...so I don't begrudge the authors the post, I just don't read it. What keeps me around a blog are interesting quilts (tutorial or no tutorial, sponsors or no sponsors).

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  78. Quilting is big business and the manufacturers are looking at these new ways to increase their presence in the market. That makes sense. If bloggers are professionals and making a living from their craft (good on them that they can do that by the way) then this is usually known and it would be expected that they would have smart partnerships for their business success. Confident amateurs (as in not paid - regardless of skill levels)can and should benefit from smart partnerships. Free patterns and tutorials not only helps to sell a product (fabric, patterns etc) it can encourage new quilters to take up the craft. Not everyone can take local classes. There are always time and money issues and I think as a whole the quilting community needs to encourage new members and skill building regardless of the form they've come in. It's not 'selling out' - people just need to be transparent and honest.

    I think it's important to see examples of how fabrics can be used - a starting point for creativity. But even if people buy the exact fabrics and follow the pattern to the T - there's nothing wrong with that - it's another quilt in the world and hopefully sharing the love which is usually bound in each stitch.

    Book reviews are important too. Knowledge of available resources is good for the quilting community. But it just goes back to being honest. If the publisher gives you a book to keep and one to give away - say so. But be sure your review is honest.

    In the end, people follow a blog (generally) because they connect in some way with the blogger. If a sponsor's voice drowns out the blogger - both lose. Keeping a balance is important. I say - try it out if you feel you want to - life's too short to second guess and wonder if only. If it doesn't work - shake hands and walk away. Followers come and go and you can't live your life trying to please what are essentially mostly strangers to you. Keep it real. Keep it honest. Let your heart be at peace.

    As far as traffic feeds to the blogger or the manufacturer - you know the deal before you sign up. Life is not a contest to see who has the most followers - this is not love but an indication of popularity (with skewed rules) - you get love and affirmation from the real people in your life.

    To me, quilting is an expression of love and creativity. Do commercial interests compromise what your quilting experience is? Or do commercial interests prompt a change that you were thinking about? Is it wrong to take something you love and try to make a living out of it? Absolutely not. It's a dream we all have.

    With so many comments you'll have a lot of opinions. In the end, you need to do what is right for you personally, for what feels right for you and the direction you want to travel in.

    PS Jealousy will always rear it's ugly head, whether or not your fabrics and books are free. People who are jealous in a nasty way are like that anyway. Other people may tease a little but they are happy for you. We all choose our own way in the world. Jealous people often don't pursue their dreams. They have the misconception that other people have everything handed to them so why shouldn't they? The reality is a lot of hard work is put in by the blogger and a bit of free fabric does not pay for the hours and hours put in to making a quilt.

    Time to get off my soapbox. Good luck.
    Hugs - Shari

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  79. I largely ignore the fact that someone is promoting a certain fabric line (I'm a bad consumer). I do appreciate the 'free' that comes to me and I don't really feel jealous (ok, a little drooly) but I honestly don't have the time (MAKE the time) to do as much sewing as all the bloggers I read so I reckon they deserve it more than me. The only thing I 'feel' that is separate from what you posted is... what else does the blogger/artist/quilter want to work with? Should I feel bad for them that they are now constrained to one manufacturer (cuz I kinda do) when there is so much loveliness out there from many.

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  80. Such a great topic. I've been blog hopping for more than 3 years, and there have been so many changes in this short amount of time. I initially started as a follower, then participated in a manufacturer-sponsored blog where I was the recipient of fabric while creating a tutorial for that site, and now I am back to a follower. However, I follow far fewer blogs than I did a year ago and often skip through many posts.

    I have seen some poor quality tutorials, and I think that many issues are at fault for this. Despite sending lots of free fabric/books/etc, the companies are spending far less than with traditional forms of advertising; therefore, I feel that bloggers are actually getting the short end of the stick. I felt so much pressure to create something "good enough" that it took the enjoyment out of it for me. I also found that at the end, the projects really weren't "me" yet I spent a lot of time that I could have used on other projects or spent that time with my family. In the end, I decided that I'd rather pay for my own fabric to do my own thing at my own pace with whatever fabric I chose.

    All these previews and giveaways leave me "fabric fatigued." By the time the fabric finally arrives at my quilt shop or online, I have seen it so much that the novelty has worn out. I find that it has actually caused me to buy LESS fabric, which is a good thing for my pocketbook but not what the fabric companies intended! It's the same for books with me, and nothing turns me off more than a long, drawn-out book tour.

    Quite possibly, some people can look past all of this. However, I feel that I have seen such a transformation in blogging and advertising that it has all left a bad taste in my mouth :-(

    I am sure that you will do the right thing for you and your family. Best wishes!

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    1. Hi Cherie, i find your comment re fabric fatigue very interesting. I work in a patchwork shop in Australia and we have noticed that the whole 'excitement' of a new fabric line hitting the shop has lessened remarkably, as have sales. Now I'm sure that the reasons for this are varied but fabric fatigue is certainly playing its part. We were, ironically, only talking about this very issue just a little while ago. There is so much exposure to 'new' fabric ranges through many sources that by the time they hit the shops (especially in Australia where we often get them later than the USA) they are no longer 'new' and the 'must buy' excitement has somewhat diminished. Potentially an issue to be addressed by fabric companies sometime I think. Cheers, Karen

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    2. I find that "fabric fatigue" is totally true. Even though it may have just hit shelves, I feel like it's old news and that everyone already has it since I've seen it on so many blogs already. I feel like if I buy it and then create something and post about it on my own little blog, it's like 6 months late - even if I just bought it last week!

      Karen - I know it has to be that much harder for brick and mortar stores since online shops tend to have things available sooner anyway. Interesting issue - will have to see what the fabric companies do about it. It must affect sales somewhat because I'm sure Cheri isn't the only one apathetic by the time the fabric hits shelves.

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    3. I think it's really nice to see what upcoming lines will be available soon, it's like a preview of a birthday present. It is also quite annoying to see good looking fabric in someone's project then hear its not available for 6-8 months. Yet if all I read on a bloggers site is projects they can't show yet that leaves no content of interest. Perhaps it's all a timing factor. As long as their next post has something it's fine and as long as I can buy the fabric I've seen and like all's well.

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  81. Gosh, what an interesting discussion. I blog because I like to sew stuff and throw pictures of it up on the internet. You know why I like to do that? Because that's what I like to read. I like to read about the other chicks that like to sew stuff and throw pictures of that stuff on the internet so I can see it too. I like to look at pretty stuff and I like to read about what it was like to create that pretty stuff, why it was made, was it fun, would they change anything, etc. Kind of like if I were to go to my friend's house and ask them about that fabulous quilt draped over the sofa.

    Anyways, before I keep rambling, I'll move on to the marketing stuff. I don't mind it because I know it exists, and I think it's 100% awesome when someone can bridge that gap between doing what they love and also supporting their family (or their fabric habit! Ha!). I honestly do not care if you receive free fabric. I don't even care if you don't tell me you got it free. What I do care about is when you start to not love it anymore. Because then you can't really answer all my questions about why you made it (because someone paid you to), was it fun (no, not really), etc.

    So when a blog becomes too much of an Etsy shop commercial, or XYZ Fabric commercial, it stops being fun. I can go to the manufacturer's site to see pictures of pretty fabric. What I want to hear from my bloggers is the process. If there is no story behind the project, I kind of lose interest. No big deal if that happens every once in a while, but if I'm clicking NEXT instead of leaving a comment every time I get to that particular blog, I'm going to move on.

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  82. Boy, I haven't read all the responses, but you've opened up a swarm of bees, I do believe! I discovered the quilting blogging world about a year ago, and was amazed, and continue to be amazed, at how clever the fabric manufacturers are to get advertising - direct to their best buyers - for such a nominal price! They let bloggers do their work, and the payment is just a bit of fabric. For the manufacturer, it's a no-brainer. For the blogger, you need to ask yourself if you're okay just going with the flow, interacting with your followers, and having something new to blog about. I'm still amazed at how fabric brand, collections, designers and even style recognition is so well developed, just through the blogs! I now go into a fabric store and ask, "Do you have the Chickopee collection by Denise Schmidt?" And the clerk stares blankly at me and says, "I don't believe so." So I go online to search it out. Anyway, I'm rambling. But as far as whether you should take on sponsors this way? Why not? Just be true to your feelings about it, and don't promote it if it's something you really dislike.

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    1. Wow Barb..you just nailed it on the head for me with the fabric lines. I have been quilting for 15+ years and had no idea who is what when I would buy my fabric. I bought it based on what I needed or what spoke to me. I joined the quilt blogging world 2 years ago and I was really surprised when I went into a new LQS store (to me) a few weeks ago and I asked what lines they carried...and I started spouting of fabric lines. I thought...who is this person and what have I become??!?!

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  83. This is such a great discussion, Rachel, especially because you've been able to put into words a lot of the questions I've been asking myself lately. I'm a blogger, but I have no sponsorships and don't receive anything for free.

    Yes, sometimes I do feel jealous of all those amazing bloggers out there who are receiving free fabric – I'd be lying if I said otherwise! LOL I have long had the sense, though, that many bloggers are holding back on which fabrics are gifts from manufacturers/designers/shops and which ones they purchased themselves. I often find myself wondering, how can this blogger always have so much fabric coming to them? Especially when they seem to have large stacks of FQs from entire lines or collections.

    While it's easy to tell that a post about a shop is sponsored, I can't always tell when a post about a new line or product – and sometimes even a giveaway – is sponsored. I get tired of trying to read between the lines. I wish all bloggers were upfront about where their fabrics came from. If you are sponsored, more power to you (and kudos to those bloggers who are making money doing what they love!). just tell your readers whenever you're blogging about free stuff. Honesty and forthrightness is always the best policy in my book.

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  84. Hi Rachel,

    Wow what a huge topic. So many wonderful points of view have been expressed and mine is just one more. This may have been covered already as I confess to not having read all the 120 comments that have come before mine! It is sooo easy to see the initial temptation to receive free fabric for something that you are doing already and while the intellectual knowledge of the 'strings' attached is clearly understood the emotional knowledge of this only becomes known to the blogger over time. The level of dissatisfaction to having project types, fabric types and tutorial deadlines somewhat dictated to us over time may errode alot of what bloggers are striving for - namely the freedom to share what is uniquely us.

    As a reader I confess to finding it off putting when the marketing is blantant, repetitive or out of sync with the style of the blogger.

    As a designer who is trying to suppliment family income by selling patterns from my own work I find the whole notion of large fabric companies offering a constant slew of free patterns and tutorials distressing. I appreciate that the marketplace is a competitive place and free things are always going to be there. However, some moderation should be exercised in this respect. A blog is a wonderful place for an indie designer to establish a rapport with potential customers, to share their own sense of style and through hard and constant work to establish a marketplace for their work. However, i believe a degree of sisterhood and comradeship is lost when large companies, who generally have their own blogs, also to some degree 'hijack' readers (and let's face it reading time is limited) away from individuals with their many, many free tutorials and patterns. The value of indie designers, indeed design in general, is diminished when there is constantly no commercial value placed on design. In the end we will all be the lesser for this I think.

    Dearest Rachel ( whom, as a relatively new blogger, I hold in high esteem and as a somewhat silent mentor) I hope I haven't in any way offended you but as you say in your post - we are all big girls and honest opinions hold great value.

    With respect,
    Karen

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  85. Personally, I mainly follow two blogs. Yours and one other, I do search around and ear mark other blogs, but yours (and the other one) hold my attention. I can tell lately that the other blog has the arrangement with a manufacture. I don't mind the fabric from that manufacture, i have a bit of it in my stash, but if that is all I end up seeing on that blog, than I may stop following.
    One of the main reasons I follow your blog (and the other one) is because you both do colorful modern quilts and other things. It inspires me to create my own. I like tutorials, but don't usually end up following many of them. As I am self taught, I do get a few pointers out of them. I can usually work out how to do something by looking at it, but I have made a few few original designs myself.
    I actually have a blog. I'm trying to get back into writing it, but it is hard. When I first started reading this post, I thought yeah I want free fabric, but I'm not willing to give (sell) my patterns away.
    So what I'm trying to say is I think it's fine to do marketing deals, it's not my cuppa tea as I personally done like to be governed. As long as you can mix things up a bit, so it's not just one manufactures fabric all the time, I'll keep coming back. In the end unless I like the fabric, I won't buy it.
    Good luck with it all. I hope all these comments help you.

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  86. I love reading all the blogs and seeing all the beautiful fabric out there. Yes, I don't get to have all of that (location and finances) but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate it. I can see all the hard work that goes into writing blogs, writing tutorials, taking pictures and working out patterns. I applaud you all for doing such wonderful work. Thank you very much.

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  87. Hi Rachel.

    Thank you for such a thought provoking post and the subsequent discussions. For me it goes to prove your integrity as a blogger/designer/person. I've sat and read through every comment so far (123 at this point), it goes to show we all have an opinion and are moved to reply.

    I've been a blog reader for some time, for me some blogs come and go and a very few stay in favour (I've been following you for at least 2 years), and until now I haven't really given much thought as to why.....(in my opinion) your blog is interesting, inspiring, aspirational, honest and personal, you live thousands of miles away, I've never met you and yet I feel I know you in some small way and I'm sure that many of your regular readers feel the same.
    I've been seriously 'sewing' for a year now and I've very recently took the plunge and started my own blog so the whole marketing thing is at the forefront of my mind (I'm about to embark on a few book reviews for a publisher) along with writing interesting blog posts. Here are my thoughts:
    - I like transparency. It's refreshing to read "I've been sent this fabric from **** and heres what I'm going to do with it". So many times do I think "how on earth do these people afford to buy all this fabric?" so to hear its a freebie makes me feel less inadequate for having such a small stash.
    - Does it make me jealous? I admit, yes it does sometimes. Come on, who wouldn't like free fabric and the recognition?
    - I'm a big girl, of course I realise that most of the giveaways on blogs must be sponsored by either a shop or manufacturer. But going back to transparency, I'd much prefer it if the post mentioned it.
    - I don't like the giveaways that ask you to link/enter on all the other social media sites, it's annoying and I'm put off from entering.
    - I wouldn't like to see a favourite blog constantly using only one range of fabric, surely the blogger would then lose their identity, it'd be like having your wings clipped!
    - Business is business. If the blog is part of your business then you have to make money somehow. So yes, why not get paid in fabric or £, but be as open as possible with it.
    - I'm mainly self taught, so I like to see good tutorials and I pick up tips from just reading.
    - Would I be comfortable with one of my tutorials only being published on another blog? Not sure. For a newbie blogger like me, there are pros and cons. Yes, it gives you much needed publicity. No, its my work and I don't want to let it go.

    Marketing Deals are a fact of life and not a bad thing, I think it all depends on what is being asked of you, where you are in your life and what stage your business is at, does it feel right and can you still be "You"?
    Good luck, congratulations and thank you.
    Sarah x

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    1. I've learned so much from this discussion - both on the topic I brought up and on "disclosure" in general, which I hadn't thought too much about. I'm going to work on having a disclosure post about my contests, giveaways, etc. that I can link back to so that things are more clear.

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  88. It's about balance with me. I was naieve about the whole sponsorship thing until someone set me straight and said that many bloggers get paid handsomely in terms of fabric and money in order to advertise on blogs. I know your question was more about the free fabric in exchange for a tutorial thing. I have less of a problem with that and I guess there is nothing to stop the blog owner having a page of links on their blogs to tutorials they've written that feature else where.

    However, in any case. If I start reading a blog that is one long advert for their sponsors/manufacturers I remove it from my reading list. I don't want to read blogs that end up being all about keeping sponsors happy. I start to wonder if people are raving about the stuff because they do really love it or because they've just got free stuff for themselves or are benefiting financially. I wouldn't court any kind of sponsorship but I blog for pleasure not finance. If someone offered me free fabric to make something in exchange for a tutorial, I'd have to like what was on offer in the first place and feel it had a place on my blog. Just because an individual has worked out a way of getting a load of free stuff in exchange for putting stuff on their blog doesn't mean the world wants to read about it all the while. Even sponsored giveaways get a bit tiresome on some blogs - umm or maybe that's because I rarely win :-)

    So to sum up a little bit of marketing relevant to a blog is fine. A blog becomes all about the sponsors I remove it from my reader.

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  89. I've become suspicious when bloggers repeatedly "love the whole line" by XX. I follow them for inspiration, which I suppose I still get with a sponsored post. I really want to be told that a post is sponsored. I can figure it out, but I think a disclaimer is the honest, straight-forward way to go.

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  90. It really depends on how it is presented. If the content of the blog remains good quality and the percentage of contests to win free stuff doesn't get too high, it's a fairly charming way of including advertising, sort of like an old radio show where they always mention the brand-name of the flour because that's their sponsor. I tend to stop reading blogs if they are all contests, all the time, or if the blogger brags too much about getting free stuff. Or if the posting drops off to nothing, I quit checking back.

    I read blogs for content, and if it's there, I'm there.

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  91. Rachel,

    First I want to say that I appreciate how transparent you are about everything. It's clear that you really consider what and how you're going to say things and not just out of a need to be PC, but to be respectful of your readers. You're also really clear about when you're being compensated for a review or the like, which makes me really trust you. Thank you for that.

    As far as marketing goes, I think it's a delicate balance. I mean, you're getting paid for your work. I get paid for my work, why shouldn't you? Just because I work in a traditional office makes that no different. (I wish I could get paid for my art.)

    The key, I think, is that what you do isn't exclusively marketing. You have content, too. There's a couple of blogs I stopped reading because there stopped being any sort of content at all...just continuous commercials.

    You get to write tutorials that I get to view/consume as a result of some marketing. I'm learning to quilt as a result of your beginner's quilt along (thank you!). Marketing makes this possible. You're honest and I trust your reviews. I trust that you're not going to tell me that some product rocks when you would never use it except for some kind of bonus.

    So, keep on keeping on. What you're doing is working. :)

    www.writingsaftersunset.blogspot.com

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  92. I tend to ignore the advertising. And skip over posts that seem fake and then stop reading if the fakeness continues. I like the story of how an item is created. What was the inspiration, who is it for, the little glimpses into a creative mind. I also love the photos that bloggers take of their creations and fabrics. They are usually fairly accurate to colour so much more than manufacturer swatches. I usually start following a blog because they've made something that is amazing and then I've kept reading to see what else they make. Is fabric a fair trade for all you are offering? Not just your creativity but the time it takes to design and make, to take and edit photographs, to write patterns, to edit and then to post?

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  93. when i get a blog opportunity, my husband always asks "what does it pay?" "fame and fabric" is my usual response :) he doesn't understand it, but i love getting to share ideas and try out new products and host giveaways, to me it's a way of thanking the people who do read my blog!

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  94. I have to agree with other posters that are discussing transparency and issues with a blog becoming one big advertisement. I don't begrudge the bloggers who have this arrangement their compensation (be it fabric or money or whatever) because as someone who has done tutorials for e-zines and blogs myself, I know what kind of work goes into a good tutorial. What bugs me is the (sponsored) "tutorials" for the simplest things that are about 3 pictures and 6 lines of text. I also really dislike when every. single. post. by a blogger is exclaiming!!! the glories of the fabric/pattern or whatever. It comes off as *so* fake. NO ONE is that excited about everything all the time.

    One thing *I* would consider if I was ever asked to be a marketer for anything is how I would handle it if the fabric or book or whatever was not up to snuff. What if I *really* hated a fabric line? Or it was poor quality? Or what if a book was so poorly edited and tested that I really couldn't put my name on a positive review of it? How would the manufacturer handle that? Would I be allowed to just NOT review that product? And what about if I like something, but it has faults? Can I include those faults in my sponsored posts? These are the questions I'd ask before I ever signed on with anyone.

    With that said, Rachel, I think if anyone can pull off marketing posts in a tactful and meaningful way, it'd be you. As it is, you manage to create new business and posts for yourself in ways that are not common in the current quilt blogosphere. I really admire that.

    (and as an aside -- I also really am jealous that you are comfortable broaching hard topics, and you manage to do it in such a diplomatic way. I wish I was that brave as a lot of things that I perceive as something that could cause a big uproar have been swirling in my head lately, but I try to avoid conflict when I can and so I'm keeping my mouth shut...)

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    1. Personally, I have just not reviewed a book that I didn't like. It still sits on my shelf though - I should donate it! The nice thing about not being in a program, is I've never agreed to receive fabric that I didn't care for. I hate to think of waste - fabric sitting around that I don't want to use.

      But, you're right - asking those questions is definitely a good idea when starting a relationship!

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  95. I would imagine every individual's perspective is different and rooted in their reasons for reading or following blogs to begin with. For the most part, I think I assumed bloggers were receiving the fabric from the manufacturer/designer/shop so I don't feel as though I've been mislead or the blogger has not fully disclosed - that is MY perspective - other people may not bring my assumptions to the table.

    I read the blogs I read because I enjoy them. Period. I am generally drawn by their writing style, their photos, and the types of projects they typically share. If I happen to like a line of fabric they are promoting, great, if not, so what? I have options. I have options not to purchase, I have options not to follow the links to the manufacturer/designer's blog, and I have options to stop reading blog posts, if it comes to that. I have options not to Tweet, Facebook, visit another site, make a blog post, or stand on my head in order to get another entry to win. I am not ENTITLED to win, therefore, I have no right to get upset about the requirements (if there are any) for obtaining entries into whatever draw it is. I don't think anybody - blogger or reader - is a victim; we all have plenty of choices.

    I blog. I would love to turn that into something that resulted in fabric or even a job - I am a writer, at heart, and I think my dream job might be to work as a blogger for a fabric manufacturer. But I also use my blog to reach out to the quilting community because I don't have any quilting friends where I actually live, and I want to connect with others about this passion of mine.

    This is an interesting discussion and provides valuable perspective. I hope others continue to share from their heart so that all of us can learn and grow as a community.

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  96. I follow your blog because I enjoy what you post. I give you kuddo's for the time and energy that it takes to have a blog. If you get anything free good for you, I feel that you have earned it and though it doesn't cover the time or cost involved it does help a bit. If you believe in the company that you are representing that is a plus. I have read some blogs that no doubt they are just going through the motions and don't really have any commitment or care for the company they are blogging about.
    I think it would be great to have a blog but I don't know if I could do it and in saying that I appreciate and enjoy what you are doing. It is important that you stay true to yourself and what you believe in and you need to be having fun at it also. You are doing a great job :)

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  97. I would love to get free fabric, but blogging is not my business nor is it my income. I do it to connect with the creative community. I do not mind that other bloggers choose to do it for money or fabric. To me, that is how we all hear about the new and good things. I think it opens doors for many quilters and artists and they choose to walk through there. I only read blogs where the content inspires me. I make that choice. If a blog seems too much like a commercial, I might avoid it, but that is rare in my experience. Most are quite inspiring most of the time. We all have off days. I think it just boils down to personal choice. Blogging for profit is a job and it is hard and time consuming. If you choose to do it, do it well.

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  98. Y'know, what I really want to see when new lines come out and bloggers get FQ bundles to play with are *reviews*. Actual, honest-to-goodness critical reviews, in the same way that books get interesting and reflective reviews of the parts that work and the parts that don't (not thinking of reviews that just recapitulate the plot here). Like your Kona colours post from August (I bought Kumquat last weekend based on that...). Things in the line that work design- and colour-wise, and that don't, other lines they play with nicely and solids that complement them: there's not a line in the land where every print of twenty-plus are going to be outstanding, and it does a line no benefit to have whole-line quilts made where the very good sits alongside the mediocre. The critical contribution of the blogger is to show that personal discernment.

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  99. You bring up some interesting topics to read and the discussion is even better. I’m quite new to all these activities. I admit that I get jealous when the winner of any contest is a big blogger who is getting the fabrics for free anyway. I enjoyed some SAL and appreciated the random drawings. Giveaways with hundreds replies and some silly questions are not really fun. I’m still struggling with too many blogs I follow but working on that too. I follow your blog because you are fun and very honest so thanks for that.

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  100. Rachel, i don't always comment anymore. But your blog is the one blog that i always go to read. It's interesting, informative and beautiful, very inspiring. I know i've probably told you this before. And i enjoy it much more than when i feel like i am being sold on a new line of fabric. However this is a good way of finding new lines.
    Your blog seems more balanced to me. you occasionally have a giveaway or a competition. But this is in between all the great information and inspiration you have.
    So thank you and keep up the great work.

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  101. I especially appreciate the tone you set for this question. In answering it, I hope I'll you'll hear the same respect. When I read your post, I immediately thought of a blogger whom I respect and am fond of, who has recently been blogging about the quilts she makes from a manufacturer that in my experience produces poor quality fabric. (Think "stamped" designs instead of woven.) When I read her posts, I wonder if she truly loves the fabric--because, after all, people have different tastes--and I find myself less interested in the projects, even knowing that I would make my own fabric choices if I were to use the pattern.

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  102. Wow Rachel that is some food for thought, your post as well as all the responses to it!
    My experience with sponsorship and marketing is limited. I've been lucky to have only been asked for things I really wanted to do and would have blogged about anyway.

    I see most bloggers keeping a pleasant balance between sponsored and non sponsored content and keeping their integrity with this. As long as you pair up with sponsors that are in keeping with your style and other content I don't see any problem with this. Good for them, good for you and if one of those offers comes my way...good for me ;)
    Do I read every marketing post, hop on every book tour, join all the QAL's or enter all the give-aways? No, but I don't begrudge anyone getting compensated for their hard work either.
    Good luck with your decision!

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  103. I haven't read every single comment, somewhere when the counter said 90+ I decided to stop reading. So I hope I don't say something that has been said over and over again.

    In my opinion it is a difficult topic, most people do or seem to know how much time is spent on a blog post. But did you or any other blogger ever think about how much time your blog reader has? I always wonder what the target audience of some bloggers is. I am a full time worker - hence I am at home somewhere around 6 pm and go to bed around 10pm. And I am in no way interested in reading for 1 or more hours blog posts every day. I have too many other activities to spend the evening with. So I am in no way interested to read about this great new fabric everyone needs to have. That seems to me as wasting my limited time in the evening with something really unimportant. On the contrary I love to read how somebody comes up with a new idea, why they choose this color combination and that Pattern design. I love to read why they quilted something this or that way. Or why a certain idea didn't work. I do love the inspiration and the entertainment of blogs for projects I will/plan to start in the future. It helps me to learn about the whole process.
    In short: Do keep writing like you did. Don't write blog posts just about: I can't show this, that and that but I made marmelade today.... (That might be ok once, but when it happens twice I get turned off very quickly - I just don't have that much time in the evening) - I love to read about you, your thoughts, your projects (in progress or finished), your ideas for future projects and I just loved your insight in your market planning to give you one example.
    And thanks for making me see that modern quilting is in fact something I do like!!! Before I read your blog I usually dubbed it as something I will never try!
    I hope this post wasn't too confusing!
    Take care and be yourself
    Segelfliege

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  104. What a great topic and the fact that you are thinking about it and asking for input shows that you will make the right choice! I certainly don't mind if a quilter uses sponsored fabric in her blog. I like seeing the new fabric lines in action. What I do mind is when it's the same content over and over (all one fabric line, all giveaways, oozing over the newest, greatest fabric, book, gadget even if it isn't that great) and pumping out quick quilts and projects for the sake of having something to blog. I like to see variety in the blogs I read: new fabrics, finished quilts, process, a giveaway, a tutorial, personal life.
    One thing I don't like is that sponsorship often seems so secretive. Yes, the blogs have a nifty little button on the sidebar to advertise their sponsor, but what do they need to do in return, how did they get their sponsor, what are they now NOT allowed to blog about? Now that I am a SAHM, I have been playing with the idea of building my blog and eventually getting sponsors, because who wouldn't like free fabric, but the more I learn, the less interested I am. In my fantasy, I only receive the fabrics I love and I can mix them as I wish, but that isn't the case in real life.
    Thank you for blogging about such an interesting topic. I never read anything about the pros and cons of sponsorship and believe me, I've attempted to research it.

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  105. This is an interesting discussion, but I must admit that I gave up reading all the comments. I have been thinking about this lately too. I have been blogging for over five years now and the virtual quilting world has changed a lot over that time. Once upon a time giveaways were so much more personal. You know, something from me to you. Of course there are still giveaways like that, but the general tone seems to have changed. I remember the blogworld before we had those "follow" buttons. In some ways those buttons make the whole blogging thing so high school. It's so important to be popular! Once bloggers started stipulating that to have a better chance in their giveaway you should click the follow button I gave up entering. Now they advocate you advertise their blog via a whole raft of social media. Their giveaways become less "giving" and more "earning" as you have to do so much work just to enter for a chance to win. I blog for fun, and to keep a record of my making life. Making is really important to me. I derive meaning through making. It helps me to make sense of life. I read blogs for inspiration, to continue the making process. I'm not a "follow the pattern" type person. I like to change things and do my own thing, so I guess it's unsurprising that I'm unimpressed by anything that stipulates that a project should be made in a certain fabric range. I'm not turned off by sponsored blogs neccesarily. I think it depends on how clear you are about your sponsorship and also whether you have time for "real" posts too. In the end none of us have to read sponsored posts if we don't want to, the fact that we generally seem to indicates to me that even in a somewhat nerdy, alternative community we worship the culture of celebrity, which is determined by that little followers section on your blog!

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  106. I don't have a blog, but I love to follow them. My comment regards the "give-aways". To be honest, nothing makes me madder than when I see a contest I'd like to enter, but only other bloggers can enter! It's like they're excluding all of us who read them, but aren't part of their group. I may be totally off base, like I said, I don't blog or professionally make quilts, I'm just an ordinary person who loves to quilt and belongs to a local quilt group and shops local quilt stores. But I am a follower! I feel better now. Thanks! Sue

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  107. I think I must read blogs with blinders on. I really had no idea there was so much partering of this nature. I assumed that most bloggers who did giveaways were like me and bought the fabric for the giveaway. That is why I have only had a couple. I read quilt blogs for ideas and community. I like knowing there are other women out there like me who love to work with fabric, to create something new. I am happy when I know I am a part of a community that cares so much that when one member gets bad news, someone else calls for quilt squares to create a quilt for that blogger. I would love to have a bigger readership just to be part of a bigger community, but I don't think I could partner up with a manufacturer who required that I use only their line. There are only a few designers whose work I have always loved. Partnering with a shop would be a dream, however. At least I think so. I think it is wonderful that some of you are getting free fabric. I think it is also wonderful that you are willing to share your ideas and create tutorials. You deserve the free fabric for your hard work. All that being said, I think that deciding whether or not to partner with a manufacturer has to be an individual decision. I think it can be done gracefully, and I believe you will be able to do it with grace and aplomb. Great thought provoking topic.

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  108. You know. I used to get jealous. When I began blogging I began with the intent of keeping a journal of what a liked and what I created (sewing or non-sewing related). I enjoyed it, but even on some level you'd like people to comment a bit on what they see. Then I started a business and my blog became more about that. I wasn't happy. So I stopped the business, but continued blogging and now it was very sewing/quilting focused. I did a few giveaways to get more traffic, and that's when I began noticing these "relationships" around the blog world that you mention.

    I was so frustrated. What did I have to do to get noticed and be one of these people? Fabric is expensive. Sewing and quilting are hobbies that really hit the pocketbook hard. And I really don't mind sharing ideas for free. But, then...it dawned on me. The bloggers teaming up with manufacturers...I think you have to do what you think works for you. While it may be good for those people...it's not for me. I don't want to be "forced" to create...whether it be with certain fabric or to NEED to come up with a great idea. One of the things I didn't like about the business I had was that it was custom...but I was working with other people's ideas and fabric choices. I was working on things constantly that didn't inspire me while my personal projects sat on the sidelines. And that alone is enough to make me want to buy my own fabric. The freedom of the process from all angles. :)

    -Amanda-

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  109. I spent yesterday morning's 'blog reading quota' on this blog post and all the comments! First of all, I'll say that I agree with most of it. My overall thoughts as a blog writer myself, and also as a blog reader...? Well, it makes me tired trying to think of putting it all into a couple paragraphs! What I'd really love to do is sit down with you over coffee!!

    But I will say this. Over the last year, somehow your blog has crept to the top of the list of blogs that I check in the morning. You always have something worthwhile to say. You have been completely up front about the fact that your goal is to make your blog profitable. Rather than being turned off by this, I'm so inspired! I love hearing about these topics that I'm thinking about alot, but somehow they've seemed taboo to talk about on my blog.

    I'm excited for your success because I can feel that you are passionate and putting your whole heart into this venture. You deserve it!

    And the danger of becoming a marketing robot? Yes, I think it is always there. Of course it has happened to some bloggers. When I think of this, I feel sad about the loss of pure fun and inspiration of quilting. But being aware of this fact is the number one best tool for fighting this danger!

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  110. Thanks for the thoughtful question and what a wonderful profusion of responses. I actually do marketing for a fabric company so I am the gal on the other end hoping that wonderful, creative bloggers, sewers and pattern designers will pick up our stuff and use it! And, I am always thinking, what are the sincere ways that I can engage with sewers who are not bloggers or may not even use the internet at all. These are smart, internet savvy perspectives with a lot of balance between making sure bloggers can get what they need AND making sure readers know what they are getting into. I agree with folks who said disclosure is crucial, how you talk about the relationship with the producer makes a big difference and that bloggers working with producers is currently a big part of how the fabric/designer/blogger ecosystem stays alive. There has always been advertising, but we all make choices about how tasteful that advertising is and whether or not it is honest. Thanks to all who commented here--I struggle with these issues everyday and it is so refreshing to hear all the different thoughts on how this could/should/does work. I work for a relatively small fish, but a family-owned/run and very sincere company, so these issues are at the heart of what we do. We talk on a regular basis about whether or not we are putting a sincere, honest and down-to-earth foot forward. Hearing your thoughts has brought up a whole bunch of new ideas of how to make the relationships between producer - designer - end consumer more sincere and fair. THANKS! I am also a sewer and quilter and LOVE reading blogs/blogging, signing up for giveaways and since I have the perspective of the producer, too, I always cheer on bloggers who manage to make some kind of living out of what they are doing--sponsorship is a very important part of many designers' income and I champion that!

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    1. Susie, I was really hoping this would be a helpful and welcome discussion for marketers too. Thanks so much for speaking up! And thanks for being a part of this lovely industry!

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  111. Aren't we all a bit jealous of free fabric? To me the whole marketing thing is fine, really it's not like fabric does billboards, but when the project is for the sake of showing the fabric rather than the sake of creating something...that I think comes through, like if it weren't for the agreement that specific fabric wouldn't have been used. And keeping superlatives to a minimum, if someone LOVES everything it becomes a bit meaningless to me and a touch shady.

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  112. I appreciate honesty in blogging and I'm not sure we readers get that. I don't have a blog but I do appreciate the time, energy and effort that go into having one. What I don't like is the artificialness of some craft blogs. I understand that some bloggers are making a living (and speaking of honesty, I would really like to know how good of a living, frankly) using their blogs. But then some of them try to pretend that the blog is all about their perfect homes, husbands, kids, etc. and really, it's about their making a living. I left a comment one time that was critical and there was backlash that was very unpleasant because the blogger felt attacked. It still makes me angry and I will never, ever buy one of her products. And I'm careful about comments, I now realize the same thing you said, one is not "supposed" to be negative. But it makes for a very one-sided discussion. Anyway, I think marketing and making a living from blogging is fine, just recognize the reality of that.

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  113. Late to the party, but here's my 2 cents:

    I don't mind a moderate amount of reviews, sponsored posts, and giveaways. Especially not if they are spaced out. One blogger that I had been reading for years turned to sponsored posts and it got really bad, really fast. Pretty much every post was her writing about some product that she often had no real interest in. Now, she was honest and she didn't give falsely positive reviews but neither were those posts at all related to the things I had enjoyed reading about. Eventually she realized it and decided to move to a different model. In that post, she disclosed that she had been making enough money off those sponsored posts to make her house payment. That gave me a whole new perspective on WHY she was writing them.

    For me the keys are:
    1. Disclosure (one blogger I know has a standard one line disclaimer at the bottom of every post that says clicking any links may make her money, plus a static page with more details, it's a nice balance)

    2. Truthfulness (I need to feel that I am getting your honest opinion and that you're not feeling pressured to be 'nice')

    3. Balance with other content (are you still offering the same things that initially drew me to your blog? Good writing, great pics, frequency of updates, variety of projects, etc, etc)

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  114. I'll admit that I haven't read ALL 160+ comments, so this may have been covered.

    I own a quilt shop (a rather large quilt shop). I have invested thousands of $$$ in fabric lines that have received lots of "marketing" through popular blogs - many of these blog posts were written MONTHS before the fabric actually arrived in the shop. By the time the line actually arrived for me to sell, my customers don't want it and I'm stuck with it. Why? Because they have seen so many blog posts and projects using the fabric that it is no longer "new" in their minds and they are completely over it.

    I am now leery of lines that I see all over the blogosphere. Especially if I know that the fabric won't actually be released for more than a few months down the road. This is a downside (for me) of over-marketing.

    I don't begrudge the bloggers of their relationships with the fabric companies, but I think some fabric companies may be shooting themselves in the foot by spreading their wares over too many sources...too early in the selling cycle. It's a fine line, and something you may want to think about. But, since you are not actually selling the fabric itself, you may not care.

    If you are seriously considering this type of relationship, you might want to ask the manufacturer their expectations regarding timing as well as how many other people will be doing the exact same thing with the same fabric. Too much of a good thing is sometimes just too much.

    Thanks for asking the question, and thanks for listening!

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    1. Tilly, actually your comment is very unique. Your suggestion about asking how many others will be doing the same is quite wise. That does definitely effect how happily such marketing is received.

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  115. Well, I've appreciated reading this discussion while the kids sleep! :) I've appreciated seeing the ups and downs to sponsorship. When I started blogging, I thought from the start that I wanted to make some money out of it. I think I thought that would justify the time and money I spent on it. But I have experienced that uncomfortable feeling watching new blogs fight for readership and sponsorship from the start. And my husband is always sure to tell me he can tell when I'm just selling my wares or trying to get more numbers, compared to when I'm being me. And lately I've started to rethink my presuposition of money justifying time spent on something. Where did I get that idea from anyway?
    That said, I have a lot of respect and time for you amazing ladies with big blogs that have earned your sponsorship badges. Maybe its one of those things where time and experience = authority? And it means so much to me that I've had the chance to get to know you and others a little through this and have you follow me too. And I love free fabric. :)
    Anyway, this has been timely for my own journey, thank you! x

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