Sewing-sphere Trend: Fabric Store “Networks”
Occasionally I like to
rant point out some of the blogging trends that I see going ’round the online sewing world, although this one I’m kindof ambivalent about: Fabric store “networks” or “blog teams.” First of all, that sounds so ambiguous! They’re just avoiding saying the truth: advertising.
If you haven’t noticed this blogging phenomena, basically fabric stores that have a website they can sell from (I think all the ones I’ve encountered so far have brick and mortar stores also) create their own blog. Then they enlist a selection of “established” sewing bloggers, possibly from anywhere in the world because of the magic of the internets, to sew projects from their fabric (the fabric is given to the bloggers for free, I believe there is no other compensation) and write up a post about that project. I am not saying that is bad, I really don’t care what these fabric stores do, but just to play devils advocate here are some things to think about:
- Meaningful advertising for small businesses targeting their prime customers and allowing them to find new customers that won’t be able to visit their stores in person.
- Product testing. It’s really hard to buy fabric online and know exactly what you’re getting. These bloggers can basically test out the fabric, tell us how it drapes and wears, and show an example of how it looks as a finished product.
- Style points. I assume the people that actually work for these stores are picking bloggers because they make stylish things. There are some people out there who can make just about any fabric look good, which in turn makes the stores look good! Having stylish blogging “collaborators” also helps give us less-naturally-stylish folks ideas of how to use their fabrics.
- It’s possible that these blogs could bring in people that are new to sewing, for instance women that like style blogs or whatnot. The stylish bloggers point above definitely feeds into this.
- Free fabric for some bloggers. No, it’s not benefiting many people, but it’s got to be a benefit to these few people.
- It’s entirely possible that there will be bad reviews of the fabric along with the good.
- Is it really working out for these stores? I’d be interested to hear from a business stand point if this is actually drawing people in or if it’s just another advertising expense.
- Are we getting honest opinions? Free fabric makes most sewers really happy, heck, fabric we spent lots of money on usually makes us happy too! So how can we really tell? If they are truly honest bloggers they’ll tell us when expectations weren’t met and why. But I always get the impression that sewers blame themselves long before they blame the fabric or the pattern. That’s not honest in my mind. However, for a lot of people honesty in sewing reviews seems to come with experience too; the longer you sew, the more you know, the better you can judge a project’s outcome.
- This is really similar to the pattern testing issue that swept around a while back (which actually kindof pissed me off that some pattern makers were getting so upset about people questioning them. If you’re in business, you’re making money off of us, so we have a right to tell you when we’re not happy about what you’re doing. You also have a right to not change a thing… unless it’s unlawful… but that’s a different issue! Also see my point about sewing cliques below). Are these people being fairly compensated for their time? Yes, fabric is usually more expensive than a pattern, but time is even more expensive than fabric if you break it down. At least in this instance it’s very up front that to get the free fabric, the bloggers are expected to blog about their finished product. Everyone knows it’s advertising. Transparency is good, everyone should get with it!
- It’s more advertising on top of the all the other advertising we’re bombarded with on a daily basis.
- These “networks” are very selective. Obviously for good reason: they’re businesses and they want to put a good face forward. But I really feel like sewing blogs are somewhat cliquey, there’s no two ways about it, and this just adds to it. And every time I read a dissent on that point of view, it’s always from one of the popular bloggers who are already part of the clique, so of course they don’t get it. I’m not going to try to change anyone’s mind on that point and you’re not going to change mine, so don’t try.
- These people are more than likely not sewing professionals.
- I’d chance a bet that these bloggers get major stressed out over these projects since there are deadlines and expectations. Stressed sewing isn’t fun sewing. And all sewing should be fun sewing unless you’re getting paid for your time.
Like I said at the beginning, I don’t care what these people do with their time and money and fabric. I follow along with a couple of these so called “networks” (the terms they come up with feel so ambiguous, I can’t help but put them in quotes) just because they’re good inspiration sources and I like reading about sewing, that’s why I follow any blog. I don’t like buying fabric online if I can help it because feeling the fabric is key for me, so they’re probably never going to pull me in, especially when we’re talking about expensive “designer” fabric (side topic: that’s such a meaningless word nowadays. Everyone’s a designer. People who design paper clips are designers. We need more vocabulary apparently).
What do you (honestly!) think about these “networks”??