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Ning Ends Free Social Network Offerings

Social network host Ning announced this past week that they will be ending their free level of service and transitioning to paid-only offerings.

Ning is a platform which allows users to create social networks in a way similar to services like Blogger & Typepad host blogs. Up until now, the company has offered a free level of service along with paid upgrades for additional services and service levels. On May 4th, Ning says it will be announcing a new fee structure that will not have a free option. Users of the free service level will be given 10 weeks to transition off of Ning to a different provider or upgrade their service.

The free level of service at Ning has been a popular host for small scrapbook hobby groups to utilize to congregate online. (A search of the term “scrapbook” on Ning yields 114 results, although not all those results are craft-related.) The majority of these groups have fewer than 50 members, and many of them have less than 20 users. Even a small charge will displace many of these boards off of Ning to other services, according to many of their owners.

Shawn Lahr, who owns the Nuts About Sketches board, summed up the situation of many of the free Ning network users:

I’ve had the board I believe 6-7 monhths. [sic] I think it has 30 or 40 members. It’s a board for my sketch site. I can not afford to pay for a message board, so they’ll have to delete it.

Several scrapbook companies also use Ning to host social networks. Among these are Pink Paislee, Unity Stamp Company, Graphic 45, and Reminisce. These companies, however, typically are already paying for some level of premium service from Ning, and so will not be as affected by the new fee structure.

As Pink Paislee’s Rebecca Cross told Scrapbook Update:

We use this community to interact directly with our consumers while providing them with a place to share their Pink Paislee projects and we are convinced this is an integral part of our marketing efforts. We were one of the first manufacturers in this industry to launch this type of community and we will continue to support this portion of our website for our fans.

One complaint of both the free and premium users of Ning has been having their boards overrun by spammers, a concern voiced to Scrapbook Update by Graphic 45′s Candy Rosenberg. The fee structure changes may be the last straw to push those users to go elsewhere.

So where else is there for displaced Ning users to go that offers similar services for free? The following options are among the ones that Scrapbook Update has found being discussed in various places as replacements for Ning’s free service level:

At least one scrapbook group with 1500 members, Jennifer Bliss Community, has already begun the migration to the Spruz platform. [Note that the above are not recommendations of Scrapbook Update but just sharing suggestions made in other resources.]

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CHA Winter 2010 News Briefs

Here’s the briefs on all the news you need to know for CHA Winter 2010:

Weather:

The good news is that as the week has gone on, the weather forecast for Anaheim for this weekend and next has improved quite a bit. The chance of rain through Friday is 80-90%, and after that the chance of seeing rain throughout CHA week will be 0-10%, with the exception of 40% on Tuesday, when scattered showers are forecast. Temperatures are forecast to be somewhat comfortable during the day with highs in the 60′s. However, it will be quite chilly at night with lows in the mid-to-low 40′s. So if you will be out-and-about after dark come prepared with some layers!

Graphic 45 Booth Giveaway:

If you drool like I do over the beautiful samples every time you venture near Graphic 45′s CHA booths, you’ll love the giveaway they are running at CHA Winter 201o. At 1:30 pm each day of the show they will give away a selected collection of booth items. Then on the last day of the show they will be giving away items in the booth from all three collections at one time! For every $100 you spend at Graphic 45 you will receive a raffle ticket for this giveaway.

If you aren’t a retail buyer or aren’t feeling lucky in the raffle, there is still a way to win some Graphic 45. At 1:30pm each day of the show 50 people will receive one paper pad absolutely free just for showing up in Graphic 45′s booth for the raffle!  Plus, Graphic 45 will have a roving secret agent out on the show floor giving out paper too…so keep an eye out and maybe it will be your lucky day!

Stacy Julian Finish Line Kit:

Stacy Julian’s popular Finish Line concept and classes help scrapbookers quickly put together finished pages and albums with their pictures. Now she is extending that concept to kits! Julian will be selling a limited number of the premiere version of her new Finish Line kits at the Supershow on Saturday in the Treasured Memories booth (#553).

As Julian explains on her blog, each of the kits will be themed to a certain project:

I love the idea of personality and will therefore give each of my kits a distinct personality and a name. This first kit, just in time for Valentine’s Day is specifically designed to help you scrapbook a big stack of everyday snapshots depicting love at home.

The first kit is called “Complete Bliss” and is themed to be used with photos like those Julian keeps in her Library of Memories organization system drawer called “All About Us” under a tab called “Together Forever”.

Live Reports from CHA!

Scrapbook Update will be reporting live from CHA via several methods:

Paperclipping Roundtable will also be doing a taping at CHA. Stay tuned over the weekend to the above outlets and the Paperclipping Roundtable home page for details on the location as soon as it is available to us!

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