The Craft war on hobbyists ! Apparently you should charge for everything you create...


Do you believe that people in Design Teams should get paid on top of receiving free products for their time ?

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The big debate of getting paid to make samples for Craft and Hobby Companies

There is a rumble of discontent across the Craft and Hobby industry regarding Design Teams; a misnomer because people who create samples are not designing per se something from scratch but make something out of supplies given to them for free. A home décor stylist will happily arrange a room in a tastful manner picking all the elements : furniture, accessories, wallpaper, paint, etc... but she/he is no carpenter for example or has designed the elements picked.

-If you join a Design Team you have put a few designers out of a job, apparently...

The discontent is because some hobbyists who have decided that they want to share their passion on their blogs, have the audacity to join Design Team where they can get free products in exchange of creating some samples and posting them on their blogs: something they were doing anyway (this point being very important) and totally unpaid.

Now if you love a company and their products you probably already have an 'evangelical' attitude posting what you've made on your own website or blog.

Apparently if the company in question, which happens to like what you're making and decides to give you free products in exchange for your time, you have become a craft pariah and have put 10 designers out of work.

I'm sorry I don't buy that. If the industry and the designers in it who have decided to give it a go as a full time job are so sensitive to this form of 'pro bono' work then they would make sure that nobody show their own creations on their blogs, upload tutorials on youtube and even stop paper crafters selling their cards for charity at a local church.

-It's not 'free' it's a barter, get it...

Incidentally there's always been a form of 'work for free' in several industries: the internship. Either as a first jobber/school leaver or because you've decided to change your career you so want to get that place in a company that you offer your service for free for two simple reasons: you hope that if you're good enough they'll employ you part-time or full time; second reason is you have something to put in your resume/cv and you're learning the ropes.

Now going back to the freelance designers who are asking companies to pay everyone who give a few hours of their time per month to create something the company can put on their own blog to further promote themselves, it's a nice idea on paper and commendable, don't get me wrong, in an ideal world that should be the norm but it ain't going to happen.

The Craft and Hobby industry by its very nature like the Entertainment industry is ephemeral and doesn't have a one level playing field. That's why you have actors working as waiters until they make it big or have a break and even when they 'make it' they're just as good as their last job.

-Make yourself a well known charismatic brand from your work...

For a freelance designers it's tough out there, the trends change continuously and keeping abreast of the latest fad needs good planning some of them have relied on working as sample creators because their big name means that any company associated with them will get extra kudos, especially that some designers have almost a 'celeb' status. Basically to use the hollywood analogy they (actors, A-lists, etc..) are becoming testimonials to the brand and give extra brownie points to the product.

-Unless you work for a company, freelancing is not a good walking stick...

Some designers come straight from Art Schools and obviously want to do for a living what they like as it's their passion. But like anyone leaving Medical or Law school there's no guarantee out there they will get the job of their dream. The problem with the Craft industry is that their products are the first thing people will cut out of their budget when there's an economic downturn. Crafters will change their priorities and cut where they can, that's why since 2007 many companies have gone under. It's a shame but that's the awful reality.

Since the inception of social medias (Facebook etc..) the craft and hobby companies still left standing have had to also cut their workforce and trim their marketing budget (hence the demise of many craft magazines too). The only way they can keep afloat and keep the few designers they've employed either on a contract or full time basis is to barter enthusiastic amateurs' own time with free products.

-Design teams bring amateurs crafters out of their shells and might be the new trend setters in the near future...

Let's be clear again that this form of barter is not an ideal situation but it's a great stepping stone for the unknown crafters to get recognition and get their names out there. I've seen a few of them joining Design Teams and being very unsure of their skills just to have published gigs on craft magazines (again what's left of them) a few months down the line. They shouldn't be ostracised by those at the top, besides these people who are crying for the companies to pay everyone equally at times forget to mention that even themselves started at the 'bottom of the ladder' and had offered their services for almost nothing. It's amazing how they have sudden lapses of memory and are crucifying the very same companies that have helped them standing where they are now.

So to wrap this up with a lovely crafty bow, I'd like to say that Design Teams are not for everyone especially for people who want to get an income straight away from their designs, there are other options out there but for those amongst us who are hobbyists DT are an invaluable opportunity to show our dedication to the companies we like and help them along the way including the designers who are employed there.

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Comments 5 comments

Fiona Jean Mckay profile image

Fiona Jean Mckay 6 months ago from South Africa

Personally I don't see what all the fuss is about - whether you are being paid cash to join the design team or paid in products, there is not so much difference really. In fact, the guys that are receiving the products instead are losing out a little because they are not getting paid for their time. I personally have no problem with others getting free products in return for being part of a design team - the way I see it, if I have done my job right, you will choose me to design for you anyway.

viveresperando profile image

viveresperando 4 years ago from A Place Where Nothing Is Real

Getting the product for free is sometimes the only way a freelance designer can afford to continue to do what they love at times. In no way does it mean they do not have talent at all. Unfortunately in any field of work, there is always the risk of someone new coming in.

Jamie Brock profile image

Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas

I totally LOVE that companies are doing's a win/win on both parts and I have often wondered how one would go about getting involved in something like that. Personally, I would be thrilled to be in such a partnership. I don't have a lot of money to spend but feel like I have lots of potential if it weren't for my financial situation... This is why many of my crafts are frugal, made from recycled materials,etc.. I just love to create because of the feeling it gives me.. it's not about money or anything like that, though it is nice to make profit, I don't expect it. What a wonderful hub! Thank you so much for sharing :)

Ann Kristen Krier profile image

Ann Kristen Krier 4 years ago from Winston-Salem, North Carolina

I used to think "NOTHING" for free, ever. However, after writing two books for the industry, and having a large amount of work published, the the bottom line is that this is not something you can make a living at unless you acquire licensing, royalties or create an original crafting fad that takes off. There is a LOT of creativity out there and those that succeed, never give up. We've all had ideas approved and contracted through to the 'end' product, only getting them killed as a result of some new fad. I have had ideas literally stolen and done oversees - that hurts... Getting 'free' product is not so bad if you want to dabble in design, but don't expect to get rich. Design Teams help you build a resume which may give you credibility later... or maybe you just want to indulge your passion and there is nothing wrong with that. It helps both parties - the manufacturers and the designer. Two years ago, if you asked me to be on a 'team' I would have laughed and followed with a quick NO WAY. Today, I am on my first ever design team and LOVE it. It's liberating.... good article.

Leslie Rahye profile image

Leslie Rahye 5 years ago from Stephenville, Texas

really my vote is a depends...I design for several design teams on several continents and love being compensated with exposure, product and opportunity. I do feel that if items I produce get published in print that I should be compensated for that--either with MORE product or money.

That being said, there are some magnificent opportunities that I have had by being on these design teams. My blog following and facebook fan page following have increased. My blog traffic has increased. Attendance at my live shows have increased. The number of people watching my video tutorials and replays have increased. My social networking has increased in the promotion of myself as a crafty designer.

As a result of my designing for these teams, my work will be at THE BIGGEST CRAFT NETWORK OPPORTUNITY IN THE US this winter--CHA. These teams are bringing our art to the convention and sharing it with other designers and companies. It's our chance to inspire even more! Again, an opportunity that without being on product-compensated teams I would not have had this year.

I agree with Fab 100% read the call, determine your degree of love for this product, if it's not for you, don't judge, just don't apply. Just because some of us CHOOSE to work for product does not mean were are inferior. It just means that we accept the conditions of the agreement to promote a product we love!

Well written Fab!

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