So, since I've written blog posts on IndieSpotting, Craftgawker, Craftopolis, and more, they've upgraded, updated, and changed their policies. This blog post will give you a quick rundown of what's changed on my recommended sites and why you need to be aware of it:
If you're not familiar with this site, visit the above link and check out my older Hotlist post giving the ins and outs.
This site was originally intended (apparently) to be a showcase for artistic work without being a "marketing tool." Here's more straight from the owners:
"Our ideal submission would link back to an art or craft blog post, which would discuss the item, provide tips on how to make it, or present a DIY guide. The key component is the content on the page. If you only post an image and link to an Etsy listing, we will decline it. If you provide more details about the item, we'll most likely accept it.
We won't require a blog post with a tutorial or DIY guide for acceptance, as some message boards have suggested. That's the ideal submission. All we want is a blog post that is more than a photo and a link back to your shop. Just tell us something about the product, why it's unique, why we should get it or make it."
So what does this mean for you? Well Craftgawker is still a place for artisans to get free publicity, but not to drive traffic directly to your Etsy, ArtFire, or other shop. Instead of providing a link to your Etsy item listing and a photo, you now have to add more content to your submission and use a non-commerical link in order to be considered for inclusion in the gallery. For example, if I write a blog post with a picture of my item and describe it I can be considered for inclusion. If I post the picture on Flickr and describe the item, my Flickr link can be considered. If I write a blog post that just says my item is for sale on Zibbet and post a picture, I've got no chance now of inclusion. For examples of what's being accepted now, the best thing to do is to go to their site and check out the current front page.
I personally understand the rationale behind the change, but I think anytime you are asking artists to showcase their work, you are going to be essentially providing a marketing tool for them. In a way, Craftgawker has made itself more like Flickr - a place where promotion can be done, but must happen discreetly.
You'll have to forget most of what I've said previously about IndieSpotting. On May 15, 2010 they completely redid the website, got rid of the Craftgawker-esque gallery style, and came up with something that looks like it will actually be much better. Here's why they changed it:
"For the past year, IndieSpotting has been a photo gallery showcasing fantastic indie and handmade goods available for sale online. It’s been a place to be inspired and “window shop” for unique, one-of-a-kind and cool products.
We recognize the passion behind the handmade movement – from the people who make a living from the goods they sell, to the consumer who appreciates the value and quality of an item made with skill and care, to the crafty person who simply enjoys the feelings of satisfaction that come from making something with his or her own two hands.
That’s why we’ve reinvented IndieSpotting, to become a community that appreciates handmade and to foster communication, inspiration and relationships based on this shared passion."
Here is a quick rundown of the main features available with the new IndieSpotting.com:
1. Shop - This section appears to have mini-curated galleries of items following certain themes chosen by staff. According to IndieSpotting, they pull items from Etsy, ArtFire, 1000Markets, and other venues. Readers can submit their ideas for themes and theoretically could ask that their item be included, but that seems to be the only way to get involved with this section of the site from what I can see. I do not think the themes are announced ahead of time and then submissions are asked for - I guess you must either come up with a theme in which your items fit OR just be spotted.
2. Make - Just like it sounds, this section is for DIY tutorials. Pictures of the finished products are shown in the same mini gallery format with links to the tutorials below. You can submit your tutorial that you've posted on your blog or website for inclusion on the IndieSpotting site.
3. Win - The giveaway section is both for IndieSpotting hosted giveaways and outside contests. Giveaway items can be submitted for inclusion as well.
4. Meet - This is the Shop Showcase category of the site where artisans are given very brief features, complete with links to their shop items and a gallery-style collage of their work. You can submit your shop for consideration and must include a brief bio about yourself to catch the interest of the site operators.
5. Inspire - This is the Why Handmade part of the site, which includes guest posts from readers. Anyone who is a part of the handmade community is welcome to submit a guest post for consideration.
IndieSpotting is really a whole new site now. The best thing to do if you're interested in promoting with them is to visit them directly and check out the changes.
Craftopolis has had a makeover too since the last time I wrote about them. They still have the treasury clock and treasure hunt but they've added Google Analytics data in order to show users even more information. The main benefit of importing your Google Analytics data is being able to see if you're in Treasury East via Treasure Tracks. Since Treasury East is not flash-based, the only way Craftopolis can track whether a certain user is included is if someone has clicked on your item from the treasury. They show a small thumbnail of your item and a link to the treasury.
The shop lovers feature has also gotten a facelift. It now shows item and shop page views on the hearts calendar so you can see some of your Google Analytics data right from their website.
Here's the catch - you have to make sure that if you track more than one website in your Google Analytics that your Etsy site is the one Craftopolis is using. Mine defaults to my blog information and I have to manually select my Etsy shop from a drop down list. Also, if you don't have Google Analytics information for your shop or you don't trust Craftopolis to not store it, you won't be able to use these new features.
Check out the new features and new direction of these sites and let me know what you think in the comments. Found any new great sites? Make sure to leave a link in the comments as well.
Until next time,