I get asked about this a lot, and I was over commenting on a friend’s blog about starting up a crafting community when I realized I wasn’t just writing a comment… I was writing a blog post, so I decided to post my response comment to her post here. These are just a couple of the different thing I have learned about building a successful online crafting community. Hope they help someone who is thinking about getting into the insane online world of crafts!
First off, it is important to remember that the crafting community is fickle and full of fads… sometimes people are really into scrapbooking, and then two months later they are totally into knitting. This is just the way the crafting community has always worked, and you should remember that if you are really in it for the long haul. It might be a good idea to make your site so that it can conform to these changes.
The next thing, and I can’t stress this enough… use a GOOD piece of software when setting up your message boards. When I first started, I used the first free thing I found, and then ended up losing a lot of my board when I converted over to a more user friendly, paid message board software. I recommend Vbulletin. It is a little costly, but I love the way it makes a site feel. The look is completely customizable, and out of the box with no modifications it does pretty much everything you need it to do.
Another important thing to remember is the value of a good gallery on your site. When people are crafting, they want to be able to post pics of their work! They are proud of it! And LET THEM… but remember this takes up a LOT of space… so watch your data plan from your webhost. I once started using WAY too many resources and got into a whole heap of trouble. 🙂
Please PLEASE don’t start a crafting community unless you are passionate about your craft! Don’t say to yourself “Well, I had a brother’s sister’s friend who is really into sewing, so that must be the “it” craft right now… I better get on this bandwagon.” If you do this, then you are wasting yor time, and you are wasting the time of anyone who accidentally stumbles upon your crappy site.
And, finally… (I think this is the most important one)
Remember that women are catty bitches that will turn on each other in the blink of an eye without so much as a shred of guilt. They will fight, yell, call each other names, and just be plain ugly. Be prepared to moderate this. If left to their own accord it will end up like Lord of the Flies, mommy style.
I hope that helps anyone looking to start an online crafting community!