Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Facebook Etiquette

Facebook Cushion12 months ago, I wrote a blog post about Facebook Faux Pas. I am revisiting this topic again because since then, some things have changed; and some things have remained the same. I still see many pages committing faux pas and I want to say hey, that is not going to help your business!

This time I am matching the faux pas with the correct action to take (as per Courtney’s request) to help businesses understand the right way to do things.

It is vital that you think before you post on Facebook. Like other forms of print media (newspapers, fliers, brochures and more) you need to give consideration to how you are representing your business in the written form, before publishing. Once something is published online, it can be difficult to retract (impossible if someone else has captured the information before you delete it). Here are some important rules to follow, to maintain a professional presence on Facebook for your business.

Don’t: Write on the wall of another business for the express purpose of advertising your own business. There is a fine but very distinct line between wishing to make a genuine connection with another business and simply posting details of your own business on their page, with the express purpose of promoting yourself. Unsolicited, indiscriminate, repetitive and impersonal posting on multiple business walls is known as spamming and will damage your reputation quickly.
Do: Make a genuine connection with a relevant business by leaving a calling card. If you want to reach out and connect with another business because you could potentially compliment and support each other, or because your business is genuinely a fan of theirs, you can tell them by leaving a calling card. You can post to the business wall with a genuine, personal and unique message for them, and let them know who you represent with an @tag link to your own business page, or by commenting as your page identity.

Don’t: Publish all your posts for the day only minutes apart. It can be hard to apply some structure to your posting timeframes, especially when we have lives to lead away from the computer and Facebook. But nothing will halt people from reading your News Feed faster than seeing 15 posts in a row, crammed into a 5 minute period. It’s just all too hard and overwhelming; no matter how useful the content you are providing. Try to allow at least 5 - 10 minutes between posts, and do no more than 3 at a time - at the absolutely most. If you have the luxury, a good rule of thumb is 1 post in the morning, 1 in the afternoon and a few at night, when people are most active. But space them out as best you can!
Do: Plan your Posts. The best approach is to pre-plan at least the majority your posts, with consideration given to what time of the day is suitable for the content, what time of day your customer is most likely to be online and what other posting activity needs to occur around it. The occasional off the cuff post will be appropriate at times, but a structured approach to your posting will be more professional.

Don’t: Air your business or personal frustrations, negative situations and arguments publically on your business page. Having a disagreement with a customer or supplier? A competitor stealing your designs? Frustrated that your delivery is late? Your likers don’t want to know about it. Avoid discussing negative issues or airing frustrations on your page. No matter how justified you may be in your argument, discussing it publically may make you feel better, but also makes you look highly unprofessional.
Do: Avoid using any negative language in your posts. Remember, if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.... or you will just hurt your own business’s reputation. If you need to have a difficult discussion with someone, have it offline.

Don’t: Forget the importance of using the English language correctly. Because you are representing a business through written communication, you must endeavour to use this form of communication correctly. Spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and using txt spk just makes you look lazy and uncaring.
Do: Check and recheck your posts before publishing. If you need to, pre-type your status updates into Word to check for spelling and grammatical errors before publishing; and make changes as needed. This small, extra step will speak volumes about your businesses professionalism. We all suffer from typos every now and again, but aim to get it right 99% of the time. You wouldn’t send your advertising off to the printers without carefully checking it first, would you?

Don’t: Allowing your photo albums to become out of date. If you are selling via your business page photo albums, it is imperative that your albums only show items which can be purchased or custom made, or that it is clear which items are for sale and which are an archive. Old photos of items not available for purchase will only cause confusion and frustration. Don’t publish photos which do not relate to the business, or reflect the business in a positive light at all.
Do: Have all photos up to date with all relevant information. It is vital that relevant information is attached to each photo; be they pictures of stock for sale, general store photos or other shots relevant to your business. Failing to list relevant, vital details such as product descriptions, prices, availability and ways that customer can place an order will surely lose you sales. Because you don’t receive notifications when people comment on your photo, it is most important to provide instructions for interested buyers on how they can contact you to place an order; and list your email address under every photo. If you have an album of supplies which people can select from to place an order, make sure you number and/or name the different supplies so that you can be sure everyone is talking about the same thing. General photos should at least have a description of what the photo is about i.e. “Staff having fun in-store - come and join in the fun too!”

Don’t: Ignore comments on your page. If someone has taken the time to post to your wall, comment on your news feed item or a photo, don’t ignore it; even if it is negative.
Do: Have the last word. In the case of your Facebook page, it is best that you have the last word. Always acknowledge what they have said. This acknowledgement will help build the all important genuine dialogue with your customers, which ultimately builds loyalty.

Don’t: Becoming a stalker. If you comment (as your business page) on everything posted by another page, you will start to creep people out. While comments are always sought after and welcomed on business pages, it will become weird if you always comment or ‘like’ everything that page publishes.
Do: Comment on relevant news feed items of suitable businesses. Commenting on another page’s news feed items and photos (as your business page) will get your page name and business name out there. If you see something that genuinely interests you ‘as your business owner’ it’s great to leave a comment. They might follow the link back to your page and like you too. But as above, don’t be spammish.

Don’t: Present content as your own; when it’s not. It’s great to pass along interesting information which you think your likers will find useful, but it’s not ok to represent it as your own work.
Do: Cite the source. Always attribute photos, blog content and other unique thoughts which are not yours to the owner. A good way to do this is to thank the creator and @tag their Facebook page when publishing the information in news feed. Of course, if you are linking to their blog, website or other location, it is clear who the content owner is; but it’s extra nice to acknowledge them in the News Feed post too. Plus it lets them know that you are sharing their content and may attract them as a fan to your page, or even start a new business relationship.

Don’t: Participate in games of tagging. Some businesses play games such as ‘Tag’ which requires business pages to tag multiple other pages; and then the tagged pages are expected to go and tag more pages, and so on. The idea is that all the tagging will attract new likers across from other pages. Based on discussions and comments I have seen, it actually makes participating pages look unprofessional and annoys people who are genuine likers of your page; and it rarely attracts genuine new likers. Also, constant ‘shout outs’ to other pages just for the sake of it, following the letters of the alphabet and other gimmicks are also bound to annoy your likers. These types of activities really only seem to achieve a feel good experience for the businesses involved, and don’t do much to strengthen your image or gain genuine new likers. You might event lose likers as a result.
Do: Use @tag function when-ever you refer to another business who has a Facebook business page. If you have a genuine reason to refer to another business who has a Facebook page, then the @tag function lets them know what you have written about them, allows your likers to easily follow to their Facebook page, and also publishes your post to their wall. A win/win situation when used appropriately.

I truly hope that this helps your business. You might not like everything I have written and you might not agree. However I believe that all points made have a very real impact to your business, and I genuinely want to see your business succeed.

Update: And another thing.... thanks My Poppet for the reminder!

Don't: Leave inappropriate posts by other people on your wall. If someone has written on your business wall trying to grab attention across to their own page, if they are a competitor talking about their own products, sales and events, or if it is completely unrelated, don't leave it there! Consider what visitors to your page may think if they were to see it.
Do: Encourage satisfied customers and business contacts to leave positive feedback on your page. It's great when people take the time to tell you that they love your product/service, or have another business recommend you. This is the content that you do want on your wall for all to see!

Cheers, Chicken

P.S. I have now accidentally found myself playing Social Media Consultant and Trainer in my local town; I am now teaching Social Media Marketing for Small Business at the local Community College and doing one on one consultations for small businesses in my area too.

2011 CHA Craft Swap Review

With 37 pairs (74 participants) for the 2011 CHA Craft Swap, there were lots of people sending the craft love and receiving crafty goodness in the mail. I <3 that!

Thank you to the following businesses who sent in photos of the items they created for their swap partners. Many participants tackled items that they have never made before; creating something especially for their partner, after getting to know them and finding out what their hearts truly desired.

The quality of items produced across the board was fantastic; you can really see the genuine care and attention that has been given when creating each item.

Please take some time to visit these businesses; just some of our participants.

Blooming Soul SistasCherub KissFlowerflameJK CreationsLillipond DesignsLittle LalaLittle LassieMoobear DesignsOlive Bay DesignsPassion 4 PapercraftingporkchopPrecious Pumsrachelle rachelleradishandruthRed Dinosaurs & Pink ElephantsShelli Morse DesignTigernaight JeansVintage BubblesWell I'll Be DarnedSee You Next Year

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Can the Spam: Your right of reply

Can the Spam V3>>> Quick link to Can The Spam

Many businesses on Facebook regularly experience the frustration and annoyance of other businesses posting ‘spam’ to their walls; often with the primary goal of gaining more fans to their own pages, through self promotion.

That is,the post is either:


You have all seen it many times before:

”Hi, love your page, I <3 your awesome products. My name is XXX & my business is @mybusinesslink. We make Widgets, gadgets and other things, and are trying to get 1000 likes. Please come and visit my page and press the like button. You won’t be disappointed”.

This is how I REALLY read this comment:

Hi, love your page: greeting to not seem too rude.
I <3 your awesome products: to appear to have actually looked at my page content before posting. But which products of mine do you like exactly? It is a very generic comment which covers almost all pages – except for the CHA page of course because we don’t have products. And yes, we get this comment a lot.
My name is XXX & my business is @mybusinesslink. We make Widgets, gadgets and other things, and are trying to get 1000 likes: The real reason why you are here. Nothing to do with me or my business at all.
Please come and visit my page and press the like button: Call to action away from my page.
You won’t be disappointed: How can you possibly promise that?

Seem familiar?

If this annoys you, of course you can mark it as spam, delete and even have them banned from your page, but this doesn’t quite feel like a satisfactory solution. This is because you know they will continue on; on other pages, annoying other people. Plus you haven’t told them what you really think.

Now you have a way to quickly and easily communicate that this behaviour is not appreciated, with the CHA Can The Spam right of reply.

When you receive a spam-ish post to your wall, cut and paste the following link underneath, and let them know what you think about their businesses’ behaviour.

Can The Spam: Your Right of Reply

Further Reading:
For more information on being ‘spam-ish’ please visit Build A Little Biz’s blog and read the following relevant posts:
Spam Explained and Defined
How not to be Spam-ish

Cheers, Chicken

Addition to original post

How To Post Without Being Spam-ish:
Of course, CHA (as I am sure all pages do) welcome genuine, personal expressions of appreciation and admiration on our page! And we do like to know who is expressing their feelings. There are more professional and appropriate ways of posting to a business wall, without being spam-ish. Facebook is a great networking tool and used properly is a very important part of your business marketing plan. The articles from Build a Little Biz go into this in great detail and I highly recommend you read them both (see above).

PLEASE! Can the Spam

Can the Spam V3I consider your posting behaviour to my business wall to be Spam-ish. That is, it is either:

  • unsolicited
  • indiscriminate
  • repetitive
  • impersonal

Please cease this behaviour on my page.

Spam-ish behaviour is becoming increasing unappreciated and could have a negative impact on your business image and reputation.

If you would like to promote your business on Facebook, there are many legitimate and appropriate ways to do so. Some suggestions are:

  • Purchase ad space with Facebook Adverts
  • Ask your friends and contacts to post about your business on their personal and business pages
  • Find an appropriate space to purchase low cost advertising, which is relevant to your industry, such as blogs like Shop Contemporary Handmade
  • Start your own blog and fill it with useful and interesting information which will attract attention to your business

For more information on being ‘spam-ish’ please visit Build A Little Biz’s blog and read the following relevant posts:
> Spam Explained and Defined
> How not to be Spam-ish

For more information about Can The Spam, please visit the following CHA Can The Spam page.

Thank you.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

CHA Craft Swap 2011

Taking applications now
All items to be mailed no later than 30 June 2011

Yes! It is that time of year when we host a lovely craft swap to get your warm and fuzzy, handmade love on!

Last year was a resounding success, with over 80 participants on board, swapping lots of lovely handmade goodness.

This year, we are hoping for 100 participants. So remember to spread the word and encourage fellow crafting businesses to get on board. Post about it on your Facebook page and blog if you can! After all, who doesn’t adore getting handmade love in the mail?

Please create a hand-crafted item(s) which you would value between $30 - $50. You can send multiple items to bring it up to this value if you like.

Please create an item for an adult (and not a child); your item is a gift for your swap partner.

Please ensure that your item is in the post no later than 30 June 2011. If you have any issues meeting this deadline, please contact the CHA and your swap partner to advise.

Make sure that you check out your partner’s website to get an idea of who they are, and what they might like.

You will need to contact your partner via email to get their postal address. Take this opportunity to get to know someone in the industry!

It is really important that people don’t miss out because their partner doesn’t follow through on their commitment. Therefore we ask 3 things of you:

1. Only sign up if you are committed to your participation and to creating quality items for your swap partner to enjoy.

2. Only sign up if you are able to post your item no later than 30 June 2011.

3. That you supply AT LEAST 1 of the following: Facebook page address, blog address, website address to ensure you are contactable and legitimate.

CHA cannot take responsibility for people who fail to follow through on their swap.

To get on board, sign up by completing the below online form. Then wait for us to email your swap partner details through. Once you receive them, make contact and get to know each other. I know that last year’s craft swap helped many participants make new, genuine connections with other handmade businesses; and some friendships bloomed too! How nice.


Some images from the 2010 CHA Craft Swap

Craft Swap Collage

Have fun!

Cheers, Chicken

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Build The Community: WINNERS!

Shop Handmade Australia Final basic 150A massive thank you to all the businesses that rallied to spread the word about
Shop Handmade Australia.

This brought many more shoppers of Aussie handmade to the Facebook page and blog, which is so important for the success of SHA; and in turn brings valuable exposure and selling opportunities to the businesses who are featured.

I am very pleased to announce that the following businesses have won 1 month’s worth of blog sponsorship on the Shop Handmade Australia blog valued at $20 each:

Candice Lee Accessories

Selkie Smith Design

Calamity Bolt

These business have won space to add their business button to the blog as well as 4 Spotlights over the course of May 2011.

Again thanks to everyone who has support CHA in promoting it’s new sister site Shop Handmade Australia!

If you are interested in advertising your business for just $5 through meaningful and easy to read promos on the Shop Handmade Australia blog and Facebook page, please click HERE for more information!

Cheers, Chicken

Friday, April 29, 2011

Build the community and WIN @ Shop Handmade Australia

Win logoHelp us attract more handmade shoppers to SHA and WIN a month’s FREE blog sponsorship worth $20!

At Shop Handmade Australia (CHA’s sister site), we connect handmade buyers and sellers via a mutually beneficial dialogue of quick and easy to read promos. Offering valuable information about handmade makers, special events, sales, discounts and competitions, the old adage ‘The more the merrier’ certainly fits.

Get involved:
Please use your business’ facebook page to help us grow the community and you will go into the running to win a month’s FREE sponsorship on the Shop Handmade Australia blog worth $20! There are 3 spots to be won!

What do I do to enter?:
1. Cut and paste the following shout-out as your status update using @tag + link:

If you love buying Australian handmade items, you can access all the latest information about Aussie designers and their sales, discounts, new season releases, special events, competitions and more by liking @Shop Handmade Australia. PLUS just by being a part of the community, you can access special benefits just for SHA followers! Follow the link and ‘like’ SHA today!

Attach a link to the SHA page to the status update: http://www.facebook.com/ChickenInkCreative#!/ShopHandmadeAustralia

2. Comment:
Post a comment on the bottom of this blog post to enter, stating that you have spread the word via your business page. Be sure to paste the address to your Facebook page for verification purposes.

The prize:

  • A 150 X 150 button on the Shop Handmade Australia blog (static or moving images are welcome)
  • If you are a handmade bricks and mortar store or market, you will receive an automatic free listing in the Shop Handmade Directory and free promotion of any events you may have (up to 4 times per month).
  • If you are an online business, you can request information such as a store spotlight, special event, discount, product launch (and more) to be published to our blog and Facebook page up to 4 times during the month.

That’s it. Thanks for helping!

The Rules:

  • There are 3 sponsorship packages to be won for the month of May 2011 and are for the Shop Handmade Australia blog.
  • Competition closes Saturday April 30 2001 at 8pm EST.
  • Your status update post must be the above listed text, with an active @tag and link to our Facebook page to be eligible.
  • Your comment must contain a link to your facebook page for us to view and verify your shout out.
  • The 3 winners will be contacted within 24 hours. Please make sure that your blogger profile has your current email address listed or you publish your email address in your comment, so that we can contact you to make arrangements. If we cannot communicate with you within 48 hours of the competition closing, the prize will be re-drawn.
  • Competition is only open to Australian pages with relevance to the Australian handmade industry only.

Cheers, Chicken

Saturday, April 23, 2011

What aren’t you telling your customers?

Info TabWhen I visit your Facebook page, I can tell a lot about you in roughly 5 seconds flat. From the photos lined up across the top, to the information on your wall and comments made by likers. But mostly, it’s what I can’t learn about you quickly that has me concerned.

Time after time I find that Facebook business pages have real a lack of vital business & contact information on their Info tabs. If I can’t work out who you are, what you are about, and how to contact and/or buy from you quickly, I’m outta there!

So it’s time to ask yourself… what aren’t I telling my customers?

About you/business description: Do you have a business story? A mission statement? What is your business all about? Who are you making products for? Do you do custom orders or only sell what is available in your store? Do you cater for children and/or adults? Don’t let it be a mystery. Tell them clearly and concisely what your business is all about.

Is there a bit of who you are in there too? Without going into too much detail (we don’t need to know what you had for breakfast) make sure you paint a small picture of who you are. Remind them why they are buying from a WAHM or artisan who has taken a leap of faith and is following their dreams.

Your location: where are you? In Australia? Which state? I especially find that many pages that advertise markets fail to make it clear which STATE they are. Listing a suburb without a state can be very misleading and frustrating; many people who visit your page won’t know where you are. Business lost. Make sure you make it abundantly clear what your full address is, including state.

Your contact points: Tell them every possible way to contact you when they are considering buying from you! Clearly list your email address, business phone number, postal address, website, online store address, blog address, twitter account, LinkedIn details and more. If you’re there, don’t let it be a secret!

Product information: You might have lots of lovely pictures of your product in your photo albums, but have you listed the item description, size, colours availability, price, postage, stock availability, how to contact you to order and lead time underneath? If customers have to leave a comment under your picture to ask, you have probably lost the sale. Remember that Facebook does not notify you when someone comments on a photo. So by the time you find the comment and respond, it could be too late. And this does go for people who have online stores too; sometimes people just don’t bother to go to your online store.

Oh and do you offer gift vouchers?

Payment options: Do you only accept Paypal, or do you also accept EFT and Credit Cards? People need to know when planning to make a purchase from you.

Terms of sale: How quickly does payment need to be received? How long do you ship after receiving an order? Do you accept returned products and issue refunds? If so, under what circumstances? Do you offer exchanges? It is best to clearly list this information ahead of time to save argument and confusion should an unfortunate situation occur. In fact, have you even considered it yet?

Postage: Do you offer/insist on registered post or offer Express Post? Is the charge built into your item price? Do you have flat postage for all products or does it vary? Do you charge for packaging and handling as well as Australia Post charges? Do you post internationally? What if an item goes missing or is damaged during transport? Again, think about it now and make it clear for all to see.

Now quick, go and check your Facebook pages and plug any information holes!

Cheers, Chicken

P.S. What drives you nuts when visiting Facebook business pages? Leave your comments below, we would love to hear them!

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Mother’s Day Treasury

Make Mother’s Day this year a WIN/WIN occasion!
Buy your Mum a lovely handmade gift (win for Mum) and support handmade creators/members of the CHA (win for the handmade industry)!

Check out these lovely card and gift ideas for your Mum: from $6 to $55 and lots in-between. Get in now to make sure your item arrives in plenty of time.

Links to each maker’s store are at the bottom.

Enjoy and Happy Mother’s Day!

MD Treasury 2011 black

  1. Cheeky Pickle: Card $6
    Facebook Page
  2. Here We Go Loopy Lou: Card $6
    Madeit Store
  3. loopty Loop by connie: Card with faux case and removable flower $8.50
    Etsy Store
  4. Ragged Blossom Beauty: Eye shadow $9
  5. Apooki: Earrings $9.50
    Madeit Store
  6. Oopsidaisi: Sleep Mask $10
    Madeit Store
  7. Poppy & Bea: Necklace $15
    Madeit Store
  8. Plushka’s Craft: Pin Cushion $16
    Madeit Store
  9. Saira Rose Designs: Charm Bracelet $22.50
    Etsy Store
  10. Olive Bay: Necklace $25
    Facebook Page
  11. Body’roma: Sweet Espresso Face Scrub $25
    Facebook Page
  12. Wrapped in fabric: Book $37.15
  13. Bella Stationery Studio: Gift Pack $40
    Madeit Store
  14. Little Wise Owl: Vintage Fabric Handbag $46
    Madeit Store
  15. White Raven Designs: Charm Bracelet $49
    Etsy Store
  16. Little Bird Decor: Flower Mirror $55

Cheers, Chicken

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Chicken’s Pick: Top Facebook Pages to Follow

Love FacebookMeylah: https://www.facebook.com/MeylahFan
“At Meylah, our goal is to help creative folks succeed in building their businesses online. We know it can be tough, but with our weekly entrepreneurial advice and social networking know-how, you’ll be one step closer to success”.

Scoutie Girl: https://www.facebook.com/scoutiegirl
“Where passionate crafters, designers, & artists connect, converse, and commune”.

Crafting an MBA: https://www.facebook.com/craftMBA
“Business thinking for designers and makers”.

Build a little Biz: https://www.facebook.com/buildalittlebiz
"helping busy mums kick ass with their little home biz idea!"

Handmade Spark: https://www.facebook.com/HandmadeSpark
“design and inspire. connect and promote”.

Handmadeology: https://www.facebook.com/Handmadeology
“Handmadeology exists for the purpose of teaching artists how to successfully sell their handmade goods online, and to feature the newest handmade, vintage and supply items found on Etsy”.

Social Rabbit: https://www.facebook.com/SocialRabbit
“Social Rabbit is a social media business to help you to engage your customers to achieve your business goals through social media, and in particularly through Facebook pages”.

Market Me: https://www.facebook.com/MMMarketing
“MARKET ME offers affordable marketing solutions for businesses. From Graphic Design services & Business Branding services, Consulting services, & Marketing Services & Training”.

Women in Business: https://www.facebook.com/hellowib
“Inspiration and advice from women who've made their own success stories. A daily blog designed to help you live your online business dream”.

CRAFT Magazine: https://www.facebook.com/craftzine
“Celebrating the DIY spirit, CRAFT's goal is to unite, inspire, inform and entertain a growing community of highly imaginative and resourceful people who are transforming traditional art and crafts with unconventional, unexpected and even renegade techniques, materials and tools; people who undertake amazing crafting projects in their homes and communities”.

Go follow them all now! Oh and what is your favourite Facebook page to follow for your craft business? Do share, we’d love to know.

Cheers, Chicken

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Handmade originality in an online world

CHA Square Pledge 300You’re surfing the net on websites like Facebook and handmade stores, admiring stunning handmade creations, and then WHAM - it hits you in the face. There is your product; only it’s not being sold by you. It’s being made and sold by someone else.

If this has happened to you, then no doubt you have struggled with the feeling you get when you see your work replicated. Your stomach sinks and your blood boils. How can this be? Knock-offs of your products are out there in the market place for people to buy, and someone else is making a profit from your creativity and hard work.

Why is this happening? Why are we doing this to each other? Surely it goes against everything this industry stands for. The handmade movement encourages creativity - not copying! It also embraces the beauty and satisfaction of making something by hand; it supports the ideals of moving away from mass produced, poor quality and disposable wares, instead offering more sustainable options which (more often than not) come from our own region. I believe the Australian and international crafting community is unique and beautiful because (for the most part) it has an undercurrent of love, sharing, responsibility and support. These are things not seen in mainstream retail. But copying other’s products is in direct contradiction to the ethos of the handmade movement. Our lovely community is being damaged from the inside... by some of its own people.

The internet and social media has given us unprecedented access to our customers. But it also means that our products, ideas and designs are more vulnerable than ever to being copied, because an online business presence not only attract potential customers, but also competitors who say "Hey I can make that...they will never know". Sometimes the copying is blatant; an exact replica. Other times someone has changed it just enough to be able to claim that they had no idea their product was like yours, and that it is just a coincidence. But you know your own work (or a knock off) when you see it. Your gut tells you so.

It is important to clarify that I believe common products should be considered part of the public domain: that is that no one has copyright to make cushions, T-shirts and earrings (for example). It’s how products are created and put together, and what the finished products looks like which is in question here.

For some time I have watched conversations and declarations taking place online about copying. It has been a topic on the CHA Discussion Board and other forums, and I have seen different Facebook pages tackle the issue in different ways. Some people choose to ‘name and shame’, others write to the copiers asking them to stop. Some just complain to their friends, or change products; but most despair at what to do. No matter how people choose to handle it, the resounding feeling is that copying is not a compliment, it is not cool, it is upsetting and morally wrong.

Copyright law is a massive topic relevant to this discussion, and one that I am not qualified to write about. Yes you do have rights; but no, I can’t tell you how to go about putting these things in place... or enforcing them for that matter. (You can read information about copyright posted here by White Raven Designs who did some research and kindly shared her findings).

Besides: I want to come at this issue from a different angle. One which is more suited to the nature of our industry. And that is, one of conscience. We don’t need lawyers to tell us that copying is wrong. We were taught that in school. That little voice inside our head tells us when we are doing the wrong thing. We need to listen to the voice because it is it knows the truth.

If you are copying someone else’s work, you need to stop it. Dig deep into your own creative spirit and push yourself to move past the seemingly easy answer to copy what works for someone else. Find your own voice. Find your own creativity. Your will feel so much better for it, because when people compliment you on your products, you will know that you genuinely deserve the kudos. Being in this industry is not just about the money. It’s about being creative first and foremost. It’s about following your passion. And if you can make a profit from that, then that is a bonus.

So to this end, I am drawing a line in the sand. I ask everyone reading this who runs a crafting/design business to take the CHA Handmade Originality Pledge. Let people know that you will not stand for copying in this industry, nor will you participate in it! Below this post in the comments section, declare your pledge. Tell us your business name (feel free to provide a link) and state that you are taking the Handmade Originality Pledge. Then grab the coding for the pledge badge and add it to your blog to show your support and involvement, and post about it on your Facebook page so that your customers know about your pledge as well. It will tell others that all products made and sold by you come from your own creative soul and that you have not looked at someone else’s work and decided to rip it off!

I know that this topic will elicit a strong reaction. Talk about it on the discussion thread (please leave the below comments section for pledge making only); and get it all out of your systems. But don’t be nasty, or point fingers. That is not the way of the handmade community.

Together we can let people know that copying is not going to be tolerated or accepted in our community and that now there is a way to stand against it.

Cheers, Chicken

ADDITION TO ORIGINAL POST: I just want to clarify the this pledge is NOT retrospective. If people who have copied in the past wish to make amends, change their ways and take the pledge, I whole heartedly invite them to participate. This is about drawing a line in the sand HERE AND NOW; and moving forwards with the right intentions and behaviour!
FOLLOW THE CONVERSATION: Blogger Angela of Yes, Dear has gone on to provide the customer's perspective on this topic after reading this blog post. A very interesting read. Please take a few more minutes to click through and read on.

Pledges are welcome from around the world; just be sure to tell us where you are from if not from Australia!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Pay It Forward

Craft Swap WrappingSharing the love; it’s what we do so well in this industry. And the Pay It Forward idea is a perfect vehicle to spread the love far and wide. So I am adding myself to the end of the Pay It Forward chain. Following on from Natasha from Piper + Lily/Little love: home of the small, who is following on from Bec at Little Shop Of…

So what I have to do is this: I promise something handmade to the first five people to comment on this post. To be eligible, those five people must make the same pledge & post it on their blog & so on & so forth. The rules are that it must be handmade by you & it must be sent at some point during 2011. So, who is going to join me? I will be participating with some products from my own Chicken Ink. Creative business!

Please make sure I can access an email address for you so that I can contact you to make arrangements!

Cheers, Chicken