Thursday, October 22, 2020

Possible Giftalong alternative

The annual Giftalong on Ravelry is coming up, and although the volunteer mods who run the whole huge thing are concerned about accessibility (what with this situation happening), they looked into what was needed for the Giftalong and concluded that they couldn't host it anywhere other than Ravelry, because it's intrinsically built around the tools available there.

They are making some accommodations (e.g. a Google spreadsheet of participating designers and alternative places to buy their patterns for those who can't use Ravelry, increasing incentives to participate on Instagram, and suggesting that designers who want to participate but can't use Ravelry find someone else who can sign up and do all the designer requirements work for you). However, the fact remains that this year, it will be, at its core, a Ravelry event. Participating designers would have to allow sales of their patterns on Ravelry, for example. And I for one am just not willing to have my patterns be a source of income for the staff there - that's why I took my patterns off that sales channel during the summer.

So there are designers and crafters who simply won't be participating this year. And that's a problem:

  • There are designers who rely on (or at the very least, really like) the sales boost and increased marketing awareness which they get at the end of each year from the Giftalong.
  • There are crafters who like the discounts they can get on the patterns.
  • There are crafters who adore the feeling of community and camaraderie that they get from participating in the event (extra important given the world's current state of isolation; for some, it may be an issue of mental health)
  • I'm guessing there are crafters who need the event in order to be motivated enough to finish all their holiday gift knitting
So I was thinking...what if a bunch of designers banded together off-Rav to offer discounts on some of their patterns? And we'd have a central database which would list all those patterns. The database would link out to the different pages on different sales channels where the patterns could be bought, meaning that any kind of sales channel could be supported (providing the designer can set up the discount code on it). There would be info pages for each participating designer, too, which could link out to a designer's page where they list all of their available patterns, not just the discounted ones. And all participating designers would use the same discount code, which would be valid for the same period of time.

This would give designers more marketing reach than if they just did discount events individually, which could help to make up for the lost revenue and marketing from the Giftalong. We could possibly even figure a way to start up a basic online discussion forum so people can have a central place to chat about the projects they're making, or anything else for that matter. And of course we'd figure out a hashtag for social media.

I did up a proof of concept for a central database. It ain't pretty (I haven't "put the lipstick on the pig" yet), but it should give you an idea of how it could function. It runs off SQL, which presumably means that I could create some Google Forms for designers to fill out with information about themselves and their discounted patterns, get Google Forms to save completed forms to spreadsheets, and then upload the spreadsheets to the SQL database, thus hopefully resulting in a minimum amount of effort whenever updates need to be done.


UPDATE: I created surveys to try and figure out how this would best work for the majority of interested people! It would be super-helpful if people could fill them out.

Some disclaimers:
  • I am not a real programmer, I am merely geeky. I'm quite sure that what I've done to make the proof of concept work is not an elegant way to have coded it! But I thought it would be a good start.
  • The onus would have to be on the individual designers to make sure the discount code is set up properly on their sales channel for the patterns they're offering discounts on.
  • I don't see prizes as being in the cards, at least not in this first iteration. Maybe if it catches on, we could have prizes in subsequent years.
Feedback welcome!


Liz said...

I love the idea! My favourite thing about the Giftalong has always been the camaraderie and working together to promote other.

Discord is an easy space to set up a discussion board or I know some people have set up communities on Mighty Networks.

Aklori Designs said...

I love the idea. I loved your post in the GAL planning and I fully agree that stance.

I use Discord for my pattern testing and it has gone over well so I think it would work.

I also know that I can fairly easily set up free pattern codes via Payhip so I would be willing to offer that sort of prize.

Nancy Murrell said...

This is really nice of you.

Melissa Metzbower said...

Love x 1000!