TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Friday, March 30, 2012

C&T Publishing Goes Solar!

Press Release - contact Megan Scott, C&T Publicity Manager

C&T Publishing caters to the quilting and craft community, publishing wonderful how-to and other books.  I am on their mailling list and received this email.  I thought it was so wonderful that I had to share it here.  Making a commitment to go green is a huge financial investment and I heartily applaud them for their efforts.

Visit their site and support them in their good work:  C&T Publications


C&T Publishing Goes Solar!

Solar panels on C&T's office roof
          Concord, CA, March 29, 2012: C&T Publishing is thrilled to announce the completion of new solar panels installed on the company's office roof. After extensive research, negotiations, and permits, the new solar system will soon be generating 29.9KW of power, which will provide at least 95% of the power consumption for the publisher's 12,500 sq. ft. building.

In keeping with C&T's commitment to the environment and reducing their carbon footprint, the publishing company is proud to be powering their offices with clean energy from the sun.

"As a book publisher, with paper a core part of our business, we are concerned about the future of the world's remaining endangered forests and the environmental impacts of paper production," says Todd Hensley, Chief Executive Officer. "We want to do everything in our power to reduce carbon emissions and help fight global warming."

The company is a certified California Green Business (greenbiz.ca.gov) and adding solar panels is just one of the many steps C&T has taken in their on-going effort to "go green".

Here are a few more of the environmentally-friendly office policies C&T Publishing has adapted:
  1. All catalogs are printed on recycled paper with high post consumer waste content.
  2. Adopting strict printing policies has drastically reduced paper usage.
  3. Reduced water usage by installing low-flow toilets.
  4. Cut electricity use by switching to fluorescent light bulbs.
  5. Set up an extensive recycling plan
  6. Adopted green standards in warehouse operations.

About C&T Publishing

For 28 years, C&T Publishing has been the industry leader, providing exceptional books and products to the quilting and fiber arts markets worldwide. C&T Publishing's books and products are available in bookstores, quilt and fabric stores or from www.ctpub.com, or 800/284-1114.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Face It!

Just some of TAFA's members who have done some pretty cool faces!  Come visit!


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

TAFA Team: Old Blog, New Look!

I just spent the last few days revising our Team Blog for TAFA members who sell on Etsy.  On the old one, we had all of the members broken down into categories with tabs at the top where their Etsy minis were visible.  But, it didn't seem like people were exploring the shops, so I felt like the blog needed a new look.  

As I was working on it, I tested out Blogger's dynamic view.  It gives you several image rich ways to look at the posts.  I had thought of using it before, but it does not support widgets, like the etsy mini, which is so important to drive people to the shops.  Here is our mini for our TAFA Team:  

The mini can be controlled to feature different members and when you click on an image, it takes you right to that listing on Etsy, an excellent tool!

There are other disadvantages to this template, too.  You can't personalize it with a banner and although it does support a few sidebar links, you can't install all of the other tools many blogs use today (mail list form, widgets for facebook, any videos, etc.).

Mosaic view of the Dynamic Template

In weighing the pros and cons, I went with the dynamic template because it seems like most social media platforms are going for the wow factor with images.  Pinterest's success points in that direction.  So, maybe having minimal information with the link to the member profile will be the way to go.  Members who want to promote themselves further on the blog are welcome to submit posts which means more of their images would be there.  

So, what do you think of the new look?  I am very interested in feedback on this.  If any of you have experience with using the the dynamic template, I would like to know if there is a way to enable codes so that they show up on the posts.  

And, feel free to leave comments over there, ask the members questions, and read their member profiles.  Of course, shopping from TAFA members is proven to make your day a better one.  You will feel good doing it!  


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Pinterest- To pin or not to pin? THAT is the question!

We launched TAFA's new site mid-January, then I was gone for a month.  When I got back, I jumped into working on the site again.  Members have been slowly adding their profiles, but so far, not even half of them are up yet.  I have the site on Google Analytics and absolutely LOVE the Real Time view, where you can watch who is there, what pages they are looking at and from what country.  I started to notice a lot of views coming from Pinterest.  We have a closed group on facebook for members, so I asked if anybody had been pinning us on pinterest.  Virtual hands waved, "Me!  I am!  I am!"

Well....  that sure opened a can of worms!  Pinterest has been generating heated discussions all over the web due to its user policies.  I'm not sure that I understand all of it, but there are weird contradictions like, "all content belongs to Pinterest", then, "Make sure you only pin your copyrighted material", then, "Don't post just your images."  Huh?  How can you pin only your copyrighted stuff, but then not make your boards all of your own products?  More sinister, "If there is a lawsuit, the pinner pays ALL legal fees" and "Pinterest may sell any image on the site".........  I'm not quoting here, just interpreting phrases that I have seen over and over in articles posted around the web.  And, there's more, much more.  Serious stuff!

For those of who don't know what Pinterest is, it's what we call a "curating" site.  You can create boards of things you are interested in: travel, hobbies, health, fashion, etc.  The layout is beautiful, visually entrancing.  You can go on any website and instead of bookmarking something that you like, you pin it and it links back to that page (supposedly).  So, it's a handy way of keeping track of things you see and want to re-visit in the future.  Everything you pin gets sent to the front page and other people see it.  If they like it, they can re-pin it to their boards.  What that means for those of us who have something to sell is that the viral potential is immense.

To give you an idea, I made some boards on my page for TAFA products:

If someone likes the content of your board, they can follow the whole theme and see new items in their feed.

Well!  Sounds good, right?  Fun!?  Pinterest has been around for awhile now and is still by invitation only.  You can request one....  But, it's taken off like wild cakes in the last few months.  Millions are using it and if I remember correctly, it has passed Google+ in users.  Wowzers!

Not so quick.  Not all is well in Pinterland...  Those issues that I mentioned above have made artists really angry.  Why?  Because Pinterest can strip their images of copyrights, other users are taking the images and setting up sites inspired by Pinterest but not giving credit to the person who owns the image, and money is being made without consent and without compensation to that owner.  We had a wild flurry of articles being posted on our group with many, many arguments against using Pinterest.

The problem is that many of us long for that traffic.  Although we may not like the notion of our images being stolen, some of us would rather have a potential sale and the visibility than to be left out of the loop.  So, I struggled with this and decided that we needed to have a strategy.

TAFA has made use of social media from day one.  We have hubs on facebook, linkedin, google+, flickr and Etsy.  My approach has always been that if a large number of the members are there, we should have a presence there, too.  I went and checked my account that I had created months ago and poked around.  There was a significant number of  TAFA members on the site who were active AND I had almost 600 followers for my almost empty boards.  Well!  That told me that we needed to be there.

I sent out an email and told the members that if they wanted to be there, I would create a SAFE Board with one pin from each member who wants to be pinned.  From there, members and TAFA supporters can start with that board and know that it is OK to pin that person's stuff.  The pins link to the member profile and users can go from there to the blogs, shops, websites, etc.  The member does not have to have a pinterest account, although many do.  Here is our SAFE Board:

If you are an avid pinner and you love TAFA, this is where you start.  Do NOT pin any members who are not on this list!  We must all be respectful of the complex issues that surround this site.  

From there, I created several theme boards of TAFA products (pictured above) with other items from these members.  I will continue to build those boards and they are all SAFE to re-pin.  We really appreciate your support with this!

I also had an idea which I thought was pretty cool.  Why not do a board with TAFA members who have been supporting the site with ads?  This could potentially give more bang for their buck and serve as an inspiration for people who want to advertise on TAFA.  I set that board up, too, and really like how it looks:

The ads all link to their member profiles, but these are not necessarily sanctioned for pinning.  As the images have their business names on them, it is unlikely that anyone would steal them.  But, you are welcome to explore these profiles and visit their sites.

I also created a board for the TAFA members who sell on Etsy.  I made this one into a group one so that members can pin their own product.  It's an iffy proposition as already one of the members pinned other people's stuff.....  But, intentions are good and there is a learning curve with everything.

As you can see, there are many creative things that can be done with these boards to promote a business or feed an interest.  But, do not underestimate how serious the concerns are around Pinterest's policies.  I received an email this morning saying that the word was out on the web that the owner was meeting with lawyers to change the policies.  I don't know whether this is true or not, or even if the changes would be significant enough to put out the fire.  But, it was a piece of hopeful news.  The concept is wonderful, but when you build your business on underhanded practices, it will fall.

Interested in learning more about this issue?  
Here are some of the articles our members posted:
That is probably enough to educate anyone on the issues behind the uproar.  

What should you do?

Each person has to decide what is best for him or her.  But, if you are a pinner, educate yourself and respect people's wishes on this.  Do not pin anything that does not link back to the owner of the image.  Have a doubt about it?  Ask them.  In fact, this is good practice for anything done on the web.  Do you see an image you would like to use on your blog?  Ask the owner.  

My belief is that if you have a web presence you automatically put your images at risk with anything you post.  If it's out there, even if you have code on your site protecting downloads, anybody can copy it.  All they need to do is do a screen print and they have it.  It's unfortunate, but it does not mean that we need to condone this behavior.  Do the best YOU can to be a good web citizen.

The one solution I see is to use discreet watermarks embedded into the images.  That is probably what I will do with mine in the future (IF I can figure out how to do it quickly...).  And, I believe that for every scoundrel that is out there, 99% of the others are good people who would like to do the right thing.

Pin Responsibly!


Friday, March 9, 2012

Win a Free Ad on TAFA! $1,000 Value!

TAFA launched its new site in January and the members have been busy getting their member profiles loaded.  Each day it gets more and more beautiful!  Now, we need your help to get people to come and see them!  In the process, we will also help you grow your audience.

Here is how it works:

  1. Post the image above on your blog, facebook page, or email your list with the link to our Sponsors page:  http://www.tafalist.com/sponsor-ads  (Your email needs to have a web version so that we can see it and link to it.)
  2. Say something nice about TAFA.  Why do you think people should visit?
  3. Go to our facebook fan page and leave a comment here with the link of what you posted.  (If you do not have a facebook account, get a friend to do it for you.  We need to have these links in one place...)
  4. We will post that link on our sites giving you a public thank you: facebook, google+ and linkedin.
  5. On March 31st, we will do a drawing of the people who posted their and the winner will get a free ad on TAFA for a year.  This is a $1,000 value!  (We will use a random number generator to pick the winner.)

Added Bonus

Get half off on TAFA Ads through March 20th!  (Non-members only)  Ads are $100 a month or $1000 a year.  This will give you a chance to test TAFA at a reduced rate so that you can see if it is a good place for your future ads.  We need to raise some cash to finish our site and your ads will help us with that.

TAFA's audience tends to be educated, well traveled women over 40.  If you have a an online business, our people might just like what you have to offer.  Businesses that would probably do well on TAFA:  Etsy shops, anything art or craft related, anything to do with travel, the environment, literature, decor, pets, and so on.  

If you don't know what to say, feel free to use the above text as is or in your own words.  Let's get some buzz happening!  I happen to be passionate about anything to do with textiles and fiber art and I love the diversity of our group.  They are each doing something very special in their own corner of the world and each brings in their own special talent that makes this place a better one for all of us.

Be a Winner!
Support TAFA!



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