Monday, January 2, 2012

Once Upon a Time The Handmade Artists Forum was Born


My life revolves around crafts and creating in any media I can get my hands on...you might say I have a serious case of Crafter's ADD; a chronic condition which requires boxes and bags of pieces and parts that could be “something” someday and a ridiculous collection of websites and books on crafts I want to try.  In addition, we were driven to connect with other like minded and creative people, but the Yahoo group just weren't for us and the Handmade Artists Forum was soon born.  Beginning as a humble page on one of our own sites, it quickly grew into a forum of its own open to anyone that created, loved, sold handmade.  We encouraged people to posts links to their various shops and blogs and offered to promote members through Twitter, StumbleUpon, and Featured Member Ads.

Before long, the member list started growing!  Imagine our surprise when we had over 100 crafters from around the world join up!  We realized that this was going to be much bigger than our little site so we bought the domain and set up the HandmadeAritistsForum.com on its own server.  Members kept coming…and coming…and coming!  Soon, we were over 300 members strong!  Andrew and I worked hard to promote our members through Twitter and Stumble and people started getting hits on their shops no matter what venue they sold on!  We began a blog to feature members and encouraged members to write up articles about their various crafts-linking of course-to their own sites.

Like any large group, there were some bumps in the road, but the members …600 members…are you kidding me???  Andrew and I couldn’t keep up, so some wonderful members decided to step in and help!  We have bloggers, twitterers, stumblers, plurkers, and facebookers (boy, created my own language here didn’t I?).  Soon we had Twitter rings and Blog rings that were attracting attention of the handmade world.  We have weekly chats every Thursday evening (EST) where we discuss anything from sales, to creative process, to life in general...there have been many chats where nobody knows quite how we ended up on some odd topic...but we just roll with it and enjoy the company of our new friends. 

Now, I have sold on a variety of sites such and each had their pluses as well as minuses.  Poor Andrew had to listen to my complaining about what each didn’t have…but what do you do?  It is hard to be seen on multi-vendor sites but even harder to get found on your own site!  Answer?  HandmadeArtistsShop was born.  Now, this shop was not on the radar when the forum began.  We are not coders and had no clue as to how to set up a multi-vendor shopping site; but if Andrew is one thing, it is tenacious!  He did hours of research into various shopping carts and hundreds of emails to an online friend who understood code. We talked about what a shop needed to have and through a lot of trial and error the HandmadeArtistsShop was born.  The shop went through many growing pains but has steadily become better and easier to use and our members are seeing sales without having to compete with mass produced or commercial supplies!  Finally, a site that puts handmade in its own category and calls it special enough for its own site!  Our shop members even have the option of filling out a short survey form and being featured in their own article on the front page of the shop promoting their Handmade Artists Shop and any other sites they would like to feature.

Where are we now?  Well, we are currently over 2400 members of the forum and over 200 Shop members.  Andrew and I have steadily increased our server size because you guys love to show off your pictures!  We have continued to try to promote our members of the forum and shop as much as we can with the help of our other members through Twitter, StumbleUpon, FaceBook, Plurk, and ProjectWonderful and truly believe that our little corner of the web will continue to grow.
   
If you are a creative soul that loves to connect with other creative, and sometimes a bit off beat, people, join us on the Handmade Artists Forum and see if you don't find yourself lost in the sea of creativity that has assembled.  Show off your goodies and drool over others talents as you connect with artisans from around the world who love to support and promote!  

11 comments:

Cari Baker said...

Hi Kimberly, You heard it straight from the... Top Administer's keyboard! LOL I joined HAF in March 2011... I know it was the best decision I made in a long time! You won't find a place on the net like HAF... HAFshop or Blog... ;o)

Cari

MakinTheBestOfIt said...

So glad you found us, Cari! We do have a lot of fun and it was a trip to look back writing this to where we started.

TamsJewelry said...

Thank you Kimberly for all of your hard work! I love the Forum and encourage all my handmade friends to join!

Colette said...

Great post! I enjoyed reading it... thank you for the hard work.

Teresa Rusk said...

Hurray for HAF!! You guys are THE best and I am so proud to be a member! Like you I have been everywhere and this place rocks!

lilmamad said...

I love reading about the shop from your POV! Such a heartwarming story about your humble beginnings and to see how much of a family it's become to everyone involved! :) Thanks for your continued hard work!

John Rasmussen said...

Kimberly, thank you very much for the persaonzl viewpoint in the development history of HAF. We appreciate y'all.

Handmade Artists' Forum and Shop said...

Lovely post honey, you have a way of writing that really puts me there LOL I remember the many (HEATED)discussions we had in the beginning, it has been an interesting journey to say the least. The sad thing is if our journey was climbing Everest, I think we just got off the bus and started looking up. :D We have a long way to go and I think the adventure will be the best part.

iKnitQuiltSew said...

Love the history lesson! I'm glad you went on and on! HAF is the very best. I'm so honored to be part of this community and tickled to watch it grow and expand!

Larissa said...

You know, it's so homey I had no idea it was that big!

Island Buzzy said...

Aloha from Hawaii! My name is Connie (Island Buzzy on Google) and RedemptionArt on your forum! I found you though Debbi at "our home to yours"..love your story, site, forum...yeah! =) Connie