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Archive | July, 2008

Design Teams: Some Things Never Change

Some of my earliest readers might remember one of the first posts I did for this site in 2005 (back then it was still named Inside Scrapbooking), titled All Work And No Pay. It was about the use of – or rather abuse of – design teams as free labor for marketing work by stores and manufacturers.

Well, now a new “employer” has joined the list of those lining up for the free labor of scrapbookers who are anxious to put the moniker “design team member” after their name: blogs.

Yes, I’ve come across several blogs recently that have or are “hiring” themselves design teams (and I’m sure there are probably more that I haven’t come across). The business model of these sites seems to be to promote their owners and to earn ad revenue – a professional blogging model of business. (It’s easy for me to recognize that model because my business is also built around it of course.)

The Effers of course did this quite successfully with their site but they were a group of friends who co-founded a site, not one owner using the free labor of others to promote her site. There is a big difference.

The most recent call I found for a blog design team is still ongoing: Pink Sketches. Based on the owner’s other websites, she seems a master at (self)promotion, running an etsy shop and a website she seems to be trying to commercialize. Which is fine – until you start trying to take advantage of other people’s free labor to do it.

Kelli (nowhere on her public sites does it say what her last name is so I won’t reveal it even though I know it from communicating with her) lists these requirements of the design team members:

  1. Make a layout every week using that weeks sketch
  2. Post links to the site on your own sites
  3. Have a digital camera to take photos of your layouts
  4. Use your own materials for layouts
  5. Participate in designer chats & meetings once a month
  6. Design your own sketch to be used on the site (not a must)

The only mention of any benefits to the design team members is requirement #7: Have a great time and love for scrapbooking and meeting new friends!!

Did I mention that all this work and requirements are for a site that is brand new and hasn’t got a single piece of posted content yet? I contacted the sites owner Kelli to ask if this wasn’t possibly a bit much work to expect of people for a new site with no “cachet”, no return in exposure for the designers.

Her response:

While I understand your issue with the call, the only purpose to my site is for scrapbookers to chat, have fun and share their work. I believe people participate in sketch challenge sites and other design teams to share their layouts and gain exposure. The only reason there are requirements for the team is so I have some kind of organization with the site.

I’m sorry if you think it’s a problem, and I can not speak for other sites, but my site is strictly for having a good time and sharing layouts with others.

The response is great PR work. I wonder what Kelli’s day job is.

Do with this one what you will designers. I guess if any publicity is good publicity, I just did Pink Sketches a huge favor. Whatever…that’s not the point.

Just be aware that there is another type of “employer” out there competing for your free labor. And don’t let the rainbow smiley explanations of “we’re in this for fun” blind you to the fact that a blog format doesn’t mean there isn’t necessarily something more in it for them. Make sure there’s something in it for you too before you give them your efforts.

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[Digital Pick] Designer Palettes by Gypsy Chick

gypsy-chick-designer-palettes

Here’s a digital pick that is intended for digital designers and might be of interest even to paper scrapbookers…Designer Palettes (July 2008) by Gypsy Chick at ScrapArtist.com.

This tool contains 25 palettes of 5-10 hand-coordinated colors of the latest trends. The palettes are jpegs, and the tool also includes an e-book to teach how to create palettes yourself.

If you want to keep up on the latest design trends in color, or you’d like to shake up your style or add a new tool to your “fighting scrapper’s block” arsenal, check it out!

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[Polls] New Poll: CHA Summer Moves to Orlando?

Here’s a new poll to collect opinions on the relocation of the CHA-Summer show next year to Orlando.

Please note the exact wording of the question before you answer…it is only asking for opinions about the new location of the show, not the new format with the added consumer days. I will be polling separately for opinions about that (because I know a lot of people have strong opinions on that which may differ from their feelings on the location itself).

Feel free to add comments below after you vote to explain why you feel the way that you do about the show’s move!

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More Details Emerge on CHA-Summer 2009

Mike Hartnett at CLN Online is reporting more details about CHA-Summer 2009 in the July 27th  edition, based on an interview with CHA CEO Steve Berger. Here’s the high points:

  • The venue for the show is in fact the Orange County Convention Center
  • Costs will be comparable or less than the Chicago venue for exhibitors
  • CHA has a one-year contract in Orlando with an option for a second year
  • The move was made in an attempt to revive a show with seriously declining numbers, and after polling of attendees showed a preference for Orlando as an alternate location
  • Exhibitors will have the option of exhibiting for the trade show, consumer show or both.

On a key issue of concern to many – will there be retail sales mandated or allowed at the consumer event? – Berger had this to say:

While CHA can not dictate what exhibitors do, CHA envisions and recommends that manufacturers host make-it/take-it projects, and education and projects sheets that avoid competition with retailers. Savvy manufacturers will explore partnerships that best highlight their products and retail partnerships to maximize product exposure to the general public and drive consumers to local retailers.

If you are a CLN subscriber or work for one, you can read the lengthy article for more details in CLN’s Business Wise column.

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[Positions] Available Scrapbook Positions

The following scrapbook-related positions have been listed on Monster.com in the past week:

Online Marketing Manager: CK Media is looking for a full-time Online Marketing Manager to be based in their Golden, CO offices. This position includes responsibility for email, search engine and other online marketing programs to promote the company’s websites, publications and events. This is a management position, reporting to the Vice President/Online, and managing the Online Marketing Coordinator position.

Qualifications include a Bachelor’s Degree and 3-5 years relevant work experience, excellent presentation skills and proficiency in Word/Excel/PowerPoint.

Compensation is $45-50k per year, plus bonus, full benefits package and 401k match.

Graphic Designer: Colorbok is looking for a full-time Graphic Designer to create products for its scrapbooking operations in Dexter, MI. Qualifications include a Bachelor in Fine Arts or Graphic Design, 1-3 years experience in consumer product design, and knowledge of Photoshop/QuarkXpress/Illustrator/Freehand (all for the Mac).

Instructor: Butler Co. (PA) Community College is looking for part-time instructors for the Spring 2009 for non-credit classes in their Hermitage and Greenville locations. Topics include Digital Photography and Scrapbooking.

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A Few Facts About CHA-Summer 2009

I want to try to clear up a few things about the information about CHA-Summer 2009, because I’m seeing a lot of complaints and speculation online in various forums and much of it has little basis in actual fact.

The only thing that has been announced by CHA about their new plans for CHA-Summer 2009 is the move to Orlando and that there will be two days of consumer show. There has been no definition created by CHA yet of what exactly “consumer show” will mean, and in fact CHA is in the process of holding a series of conference calls with CHA members to try to define that.

There is actually precedent, especially in the consumer electronics industry, for consumer shows that are display only, with no sales, to show off the latest and greatest products. So we just don’t know yet exactly what that part of the event will entail. No assumption should be made yet that CHA’s definition of consumer show will be something like a Memories Expo or Creating Keepsakes Convention. It could mean no consumer sales, or those days could conceivably even get called off based on the conference call feedback from members if that is negative enough.

I definitely see why a lot of people can’t imagine this turning out to be a good idea no matter what the specifics end up being, but no specifics have been set. We’ll just have to wait and see.

I’ve heard a lot of talk about the undesirability of Orlando as a home for the event. It’s understandable of course that people local to Chicago would be upset about the venue change but I’m also hearing complaints about the Florida heat and concerns about safety in Orlando that I would like to address.

Most of you know that I live in Florida – about two hours outside Orlando. I frequently travel down to the city both as a tourist and to attend conventions (both scrapbook and other types). Orlando’s tourist areas are safe – or no more dangerous than any other tourist areas, such as the one around the convention center in Anaheim. Orlando has a reputation as a city with problems but those problems – the soaring murder rate, etc – are rooted in the city’s low-income residential neighborhoods. As long as you don’t plan on sightseeing in those neighborhoods (far removed from the tourist areas), and observe basic personal safety precautions like not walking alone after dark in the tourist areas, you should have no concerns.

As far as the heat, my experience when attending work-related events in Orlando has been that I am barely outside except to walk from the car to the convention building and then from the car into the hotel – only a few minutes a day, so the heat outside doesn’t matter. And I know the south has a reputation for being backwards, but Orlando’s hotels and convention centers do actually have that new-fangled air conditioning thing. Honest. And we use it – Florida’s carbon footprint isn’t very earth-friendly in the month of July. I’d actually advise bringing a sweater for when you are indoors, in fact. We set our thermostats to polar bear friendly temperatures. Just because we can.

Orlando has a lot of competitively priced convention space, abundant affordable lodging, and is one of the cheaper airline destinations in the country. It’s a very popular convention destination year-round, for a wide variety of industries.  Why shouldn’t CHA take advantage of that? They may even be trying to attract more international buyers to the show by scheduling it during the traditional summer vacation period in Europe, and in a popular (and currently very affordable) vacation destination for those buyers. Attracting those buyers might inject much-needed life into the show.

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