In Defence of: Design Teams (And How to Make Money from Crafting)

By Taheerah | 6th February 2016 | 52 Comments

Hi everyone, happy Saturday!

Today’s post is a bit of a different one from me.

I know many of you will have read Iwona Palamountain’s recent blog post. If you haven’t then I do encourage you to read it. It is well written and covers an issue that I know many care about: Design Teams and compensation. Judging from the wealth of comments in support of her viewpoint, it would appear she is not alone in her thinking in this matter.

For those of you not familiar with her, Iwona is an incredibly talented paper crafter and designer, who was once very active in our industry. Her cards were amazing and I loved her work. We had several things in common, both being chameleon-like in our styles and I learned a lot from mentally dissecting her cards. A while back she sadly stopped being active in the industry, for many of the reasons highlighted in her post.

Before I go any further, I want to mention that I consider Iwona (‘Chupa’) a dear friend. We connected over a lot more than just cards and I have a great deal of love and respect for her. I also want to mention that we’ve had our own private discussions on the subject of Design Teams in the past. It would be fair to say we have opposing viewpoints, but each respect the other’s point of view. As I continue with my post I want you to keep this in mind and that none of my points or opinions are personal or ‘attacks’ of any kind. At the end of the day I value our friendship incredibly highly and it’s far more important. Where I may disagree and refer to items in Chupa’s post, none of it is personal or against her.

Chupa has asked for and encouraged discussion on this topic and it is in the spirit of this that I decided that I would write this post in response to hers. There are many, many comments on her post, and as a potential lone voice presenting the opposing view I felt it was important my thoughts and response not be lost at the bottom of all the other comments.

In any debate you should always keep an open mind and consider opposing points of view, and be objective. If I’m sounding a bit academic on this then I suppose it’s because I am being academic about it – I took part in Debating Society at school, and I frequently engage in debates online and in-person with friends and peers to this day. I love intellectual debate and I always aim to present myself in a logical and considered manner.

Before I present my point of view I want to start with a few caveats. Crafting is not my main job. I work full-time and am paid well for my career. I do not have any dependants or partner or anything of the like that I need to devote my time and energies to when at home (apart from my beloved cats). I am hugely anti-establishment, and frequently campaign and fight the fight of the oppressed, the minority, the deprived and under-privileged. I am also not money-motivated in any way, shape or form. I mention all these points as I am sure that my circumstances affect my point of view. Your perception defines your reality.

Also in the interests of openness and honesty, I do want to mention that I have been very lucky to work on several Design Teams in my time, not to mention countless Guest Design opportunities. In a couple of cases I have been compensated financially and with product, but the vast majority of cases I have been compensated with product only. I have not been asked by any of my teams, past or present, to write this post. Apart from one team, no-one even knows that I’m writing it. I am not what I would consider to be any sort of major player in the crafting industry. I do consider myself a good designer. I do value myself. And I work very hard.

So, with all of that in mind, I will present my counter-argument and my view on the topic. I will be referencing Chupa’s post, so once again I do encourage you to read it.

Chupa’s fundamental argument she presents is that designers should value themselves and their talents. I completely agree on this point. Artists are frequently their own worst critic, and many of us are more talented than we give ourselves credit for. We compare ourselves, our work and our accomplishments to others out there, and it’s no wonder we find ourselves lacking if that’s what we’re doing. We should not compare our own journey with that of another and expect that we share the exact same path. If we can compare our work from a critical thinking point of view (by this I mean, to dissect the work of others to understand how they do what they do, and then learn from it) then I think that’s fine, but the moment you start to feel down about your work and lament that it is not as good as such-and-such out there, then you are setting yourself up for disappointment.

I know. I do it myself. Not so much with my work as more with my place in the industry: ‘I wish I was as popular as such-and-such; I wish I had as many followers as miss-popular‘ and so on. I’ve worked hard on myself to move away from this mentality and just do my own thing and hope others like me for me. I never was one of the ‘cool kids’ anyway. *wink*

So, anyway. I agree that designers should value themselves and their work.

Chupa speaks at length about how she spent countless hours designing and got little in return for her efforts. With a large following, a popular blog destination, respect and admiration for your work throughout the industry – and companies inviting you to design for them – I would have to disagree on calling that ‘little return’. But it depends on what you define as ‘return’.

As alluded, the most common model Design Teams use is that designers are compensated with the product required for their work. For all the teams I have worked for this has been the case. In many of the cases I have not had to use all of the product I receive. I also have not had to make more than a handful of cards per team per month. So the value of the product, in monetary terms, can often outweigh the amount of time and effort I expend. I feel I get a generous reward for my work as I am promoted by my companies in much the same way as I promote them. This in turn earns me traffic, comments and standing. To me that is fair. As I mentioned I do not have any dependants, nor is this my livelihood, so I am lucky to be in the position where I create because I want to, not because I have to. If I were pouring many many hours of myself every day into my work, and had no other source of income, and had others to support, I may well feel differently.

So, back to that definition of ‘return’. The return Chupa speaks of is financial reward for her design team efforts.

Do I believe that one way for designers to be rewarded is payment? Yes of course. Do I believe that that is the only way to be valued or rewarded? Absolutely not. Do I think it justified that designers turn down opportunities if they aren’t paid? Sure, if that’s your point of view then I don’t oppose you. Do I think it is fair that all designers hold companies to ransom and demand payment? No.

And here’s why.

Chupa’s post comes very much from the point of the individual. It comes from the viewpoint that a lot of society has these days: that the only way to be valued is through money. It sees the point of view of the designer that feels the company ‘owes them’ for their profits and success. It sees things only from one point of view – and in so doing means no empathy or understanding of the other person’s shoes.

I want to talk about the point of view of the companies. I don’t own my own business, but I speak as the daughter of a man that does. My Dad has run his own business since my teens, and he pours all of his energy into it. He works hard. Very hard. His company has fallen on hard times more than once, and on these occasions (and many others) he has not paid himself a salary. He took care of his employees’ wages whenever he could, but sometimes he could not afford to pay them either. His business nearly went under a couple of times. He fought himself out of those holes and continues to work hard to turn his fortunes around. So believe me when I say I know exactly how hard running your own company can be.

Company owners have to work extremely hard to make their businesses a success. Even perceived success can be vastly different from the financials of working for someone else. Apart from designing the product, crafting business owners have to be accountants. Marketers. Salespeople. Negotiators. And wear many other hats besides. They work tirelessly to try to realise their dream. Often it is also not their ‘day job’ either – so you can only imagine how much work they actually put in behind the scenes. Many of them have families and young children as well. They are people just like you and me. I can hand-on-heart say that none of these people are setting out to exploit designers’ talents for their own nefarious aims. There might be one or two teams out there with hard-nosed owners, and if you disagree with their methods then you don’t choose to work for them (I don’t – as I mentioned before I do value myself). But the vast majority of them are kind, generous, creative souls. They would like nothing more than to be successful enough to be able to pay you salary as well as product. I’ve no doubt of that. So why don’t they?

Because they can’t afford to.

It might appear on the outside that a company is flying, with products sold out, great word of mouth and sales sales sales. But often behind those sales people forget that there are things such as operating costs, inventory costs, material costs, advertising, and many more things that I am not experienced enough to qualify. The actual product you are sent as a Designer is also a cost, one that is multiplied several times over to cover each Design Team member, and the postage costs of that as well (and we all know the cost of postage itself rises year-on-year). A product ‘sell-out’ could be because sales forecasts are so hard to predict, so companies under-order. Housing inventory is a huge expense, especially if it sits unsold. There’s no exact science to get it right, you can only build a picture based on experience. And even if companies do turn a profit, then don’t forget all those operating costs. Not to mention the fact that profit on material items can often be small. And not to mention tax on top of all that as well.

Running a business is hard. In our industry crafting companies are ten-a-penny, but to be a ‘big’ player and successful, is something that is very hard to ascend to. Consumerism and capitalism have seen to that. It is very hard being a small fish in a big pond. Companies do rely on getting the word out to get their product sold, and how else can they do that better than with designers who show off their product? How better to enthuse crafters to buy than to see how fellow crafters can use the product? Companies do value us and our efforts – they know that we do a lot for them.

In my experience, some companies do compensate designers financially. These tend to almost always be the ‘big’ or truly successful companies, and it is because they can afford to. And in my experience I’ve seen that as companies become more successful then they do move to this type of compensation model once they can. If you ever want to work for one of the ‘big’ companies though you will almost certainly have to be at the top of the game, and have a proven track record on other teams. Those same, smaller teams that you don’t get compensation for… see where I’m going with this? Those who have aspirations of the top should not forget that everyone has to start somewhere, and if that’s your aim then taking positions on these teams is hardly devaluing yourself if you’re thinking of the end goal. This is not me though. Would I love to work for a ‘big name’ some day? Sure. Is it because of the money? Not in the slightest.

I propose that valuing oneself simply by what you earn and that working for companies simply for ‘what’s in it for me’ is exactly the kind of model that has seen big business thrive and small business fail. It’s what keeps Capitalism thriving. I submit that ‘valuing yourself’ can mean and be so much more if you look at it from the point of being a part of something bigger than yourself, to helping to support and make things a success, and to factor in the relationships forged from being unselfish and giving. This is not the same as being a doormat and allowing yourself to be exploited or devalued. It is, however, something that I know not everyone is in the position to do. That is fine. I don’t expect everyone to be as lucky as I am.

I assume everyone has heard of the concept of ‘having a skin in the game’. Unless you are (financially) invested in a company, it seems somewhat unreasonable to me to expect or demand a financial return.

I disagree entirely with the idea of some kind of industry uprising, with people up in arms and refusing to do Design Team work without pay. For one thing, it’ll never work. Crafters in many cases want to be on Design Teams and will accept the work for free anyway. But secondly, and far more importantly, in taking that kind of action the only logical outcome would be that you end up strangling the industry and all those smaller companies that cannot yet afford to pay salary to their designers. Either by them having to disband having a team altogether as they cannot get enough sales as a result of them not having the same level of established talent, or by them having to fork out what they ultimately can’t afford and pay salary, and other things ending up taking a hit financially as a result. Our industry would ultimately end up left with only large, successful companies remaining, with a lack of innovation, new players, or choice left to us, the consumer. As a part of the industry and as a consumer I don’t want any of those things.

One other point I want to counter in particular from Chupa’s post. A comparison is made a couple of times with Design Team work having similarities to slavery (the exact term used currently in the post is ‘exploitation’ – so I either took it to mean ‘slavery’ or it used to say that and was edited. I can’t remember. ETA: I checked the cached history, and it did in fact say ‘slavery’ and has since been edited). I feel this a serious affront. Slavery is a horrible, horrible stain on the human race. Slaves almost always have no choice in their circumstances or lives. Often they are treated inhumanely. Some are even beaten and killed. And that’s just in modern times. The history of slavery is an appalling one. To liken a Design Team commitment, which you choose to undertake of your own free will, and can also choose to walk away from at any time, is a comparison which only serves to demean the plight of true slaves. It is nothing like slavery. I am absolutely certain that Chupa did not intend this (and please remember, I’m not being personal here) but I feel it’s an important distinction to make, because people are impressionable and also, generally speaking, society is very ‘entitled’ these days so can often forget just how bad circumstances can actually be for others. But I digress.

I realise I’ve talked for a long time now, and I wish to bring us round and back to explaining how I feel about things from my own point of view.

I create for the love of it. For the joy of creating. For me, it’s my soul finding expression through creation of something with my own hands. I also create to better my skills. I blog to share my work with others, and to carve out my own place in the industry, and because the validation (in terms of comments or people loving my work) is priceless and good for my soul. For me (and this is my own personal feeling) the moment that I start to think of this hobby in terms of making money, or ‘what’s in it for me’ would be the moment I cease to be just an artist, and start to be a business. I actually did open an Etsy shop the other week, to sell the thousands of cards piling up here (just because I can’t keep hoarding them!). I closed it after two days, before even making a sale. The reason? It didn’t feel like ‘me’. That plus I didn’t see or want to see myself as a business. And also because the government don’t deserve any more of my earnings until they actually do something to repair the society that they’re destroying (but again I digress). Ultimately I live with the view that money isn’t important to me, and that there are many other ways that my work and teams make me feel valued. A key example would be when my Mum died last year. Every single one of my teams were completely understanding when I disappeared off the face of the crafting Earth for months, until I was ready to create again. And I’ve still not assumed 100% of my responsibilities in some cases (which I do feel bad about) and still they have been totally supportive and not pressured me at all. Because those company owners – they’re just like you and me. They care. And if you truly value yourself, and your place in this world, then I believe you look past the dollar signs and to the other things that truly matter instead.

So, the title of my post promised you a bit of a guide to how to make money in this industry (if you do want to). Here are a couple of ways:

YouTube Videos
People can earn a lot of money from YouTube videos. The biggest names in the industry all make part of their income from this method. I personally tossed and turned for months (no exaggeration) over whether to enable ads on my videos. Ultimately I decided to do it, as I felt people can always skip ads if they want, or use ad-blocking software to not see them. The truth is I make peanuts on my videos compared with the big names, but I have had two payments to date.

Affiliate Links
Another way to earn some money is to be affiliated with certain companies and therefore earn a commission on any sales generated by you. Again I took a lot of time and soul-searching over this before I decided to go down this route, and again I make peanuts compared with others, but it doesn’t bother me. With both this and with videos the only reason I enabled them was to try and make a little dent in some debt I owe.

Teach a Class
Craftsy, Skillshare and a couple of other places allow you to record classes and make money from people who sign up. Not for me personally, just for the sheer amount of work involved – and only the big names do well from this anyway. Teachers and Guest Teachers for Online Card Classes are compensated too (and I’ve been lucky enough to be invited as a Guest Teacher on one occasion, and I said ‘yes!’ before even knowing that was the case!).

Become an Illustrator
If you can design your own stamps then you can make royalties on the sales. But bear in mind you have to be skilled to do this and also people have to like what you design for it to sell well. 🙂 But it is very fulfilling, especially when you see other people using your designs! I’ve not tried this one myself, but if I did it would be for the thrill of seeing others use my designs rather than any financial benefit.

Start a Business
Either a retail company, or a crafting company, or your own business selling your designs/commissions. This takes an incredible amount of work to be successful in, but I suspect would be incredibly rewarding.

Invent a Product
The MISTI is a perfect example of invention and innovation becoming a success story. But it is incredibly hard to be a successful inventor!

Work for a ‘Big Name’ Crafting Company
The biggest/most successful companies tend to compensate financially, as a general rule (I can’t speak for all of them). I know the level of compensation varies, but if you want to go down the ‘earning money for Design Team work’ road, then this is the only way to do it.

If you’ve made it this far, then I want to thank you sincerely for reading my post. I’m not expecting you all to agree with my point of view (in fact I’m expecting to be somewhat lynched or at least strongly disagreed with), but I hope that you will at least understand my points, keep an open mind, and think about things from both sides of a debate. Thank you all for your support, your love, and your understanding. The crafting community and industry is one of the best I know of, and it’s entirely down to people like you, people like me – and yes, people like company owners too.

52 thoughts on “In Defence of: Design Teams (And How to Make Money from Crafting)”

  1. I did not know there was a “huge discussion!” but I have wondered how to make some money at what I do. I make cards because it gives me a creative outlet, which I only vaguely knew I needed unril I was nearly 60. In the 2 years I have been playing with paper and stamps, I have spent a ton of money. Since I live on a limited income, it would be nice to be able to recoup some of what I spend. I think being paid in product sounds wonderful! But…I am way behind on computer skills, the only think I put on Etsy is in my daughter-in-love’s store as a fund-raiser for her for a mission trip, and I am unwilling to even think about setting up a space with proper video lighting and equipment in order to get set up on YouTube. So, unless I can find a market for the cards I make, I will continue to make them for family and friends and donate the leftovers to charitable causes. I have no problem with affiliate links for those who donate their efforts for others. The crafting community (especially cardmakers) seems to me to be about genuinely inviting others to learn and grow, mutual support, finding ways to give back, and not so much on how much money they can make. Getting started can be crazy expensive, but lots of bloggers also offer tips on how to stretch supplies, which they do not need to do if they were really only about the bottom line. While I do admire the skill and creativity of others, I appreciate more all the free insturction and ecnouragement I have received from this community. Certain bloggers (ahem…) have been over the top helpful in response to queries. (Thanks, T!) Sorry if this is disjointed, it’s very late for me to try to be thinking!!!

  2. Hi, Taheerah! We haven't met, and I'm not saying that I agree entirely with either you or Chupa's perspectives; however, Chupa did say that DT's were requiring a much more extensive amount of her time (i.e. creating videos, extra posts, and whatnot), and that can simply not be compared to creating a few cards for product.

    I'm a scrapbooker, and I often was asked to make a page with the product provided. A scrapbook page takes far longer than a few cards, especially when the product, most of the time, wasn't designed with a scrapbooker in mind. I was also expected to create an additional couple of projects. It was stressful many a times and exacerbated with only a very short time (I'm talking days.) to create before a release.

    I was on one of the teams Chupa designed for. I bent over backward for it. I never missed a project or extra commitment. I always commented on other designers and entries for challenges we offered. And I was fired, along with the entire team, but I was fired and just weeks after my son was born, too. Talk about sending a person into a bit of depression. I loved what I did for that team, which is why I went over and above, but where did it get me? Absolutely nowhere. Followers come and go; comments can often be critical; and recognition in the papercrafting industry is fleeting. If I had received monetary payment for my efforts, maybe my thoughts would be different. It was my first "real" opportunity for product payment, and I was thrilled to accept; but having been around for quite some time now, I'd have to really think about doing it again, especially when you're expected to use so much of your own product, which requires a major financial contribution, to produce projects.

    There also hasn't been such an understanding to one's personal life on a number of teams I've been on. Needless to say, I'm no longer on any of those teams, but in so many other ways, the industry hasn't been as kind to me.

    All that said, I totally agree that what you love to do doesn't necessarily need ANY form of payment. My Mom will completely disagree with you and has countless times asked when I was going to start making money with all the time I put into papercrafting, but I do it because I love to do it and for no other reason. And I know that I'm far more talented than lots of people that make it big, but do I want to jump through all the hoops they do and sacrifice time with my family and just being alive to do it? NO! I never will, but that's me.

    Obviously, everyone has different motivations in and opinions about the industry. We appreciate you sharing yours.

  3. To each his own. That's the blessing of living in a free society. We can voice our opinion and try to effect change. But reality stares us in the face and we must earn a living at the same time. Two ends of the same stick. Freedom on one end and necessity on the other. It is possible to balance the stick. But it requires two things: one, seeing the possibilities and two, working hard to achieve them. If/when one sees self as a victim, one is already defeated. On the other hand all the faith and hard work in the world will not ensure success. Much is in the hands of fate; or for those who believe, in the hands of God.

  4. I applaud you both, it cannot have been easy to put words to paper, and with such eloquence. I am just a hobbyist, who daydreams about being on a team! Thank you both for sharing your insights, but above all your talent and inspiration 🙂

  5. So glad you wrote this post and even more glad I read it! I must confess – these words "….and still they have been totally supportive and not pressured me at all. Because those company owners – they're just like you and me. They care" made my eyes wet, because it's so true and so important to know that your team will support in hard times. the teams that givving you love is more important then teams that gives you money. Of course money is a pleasant benefit, but I always accept it as a benefit or compliment, not the main aim of what I do. I think everyone started crafting dreamed of become a part of DT, moreover of a manufacturer DT but not because they pay, but because your talent is in a stage when you are able to be a part of the team and inspire more people with what you do. Getting supplies for free is a great opportunity to play with the product you love (you will not work with manufacturer whoos supplies you dont'like, right?) and share your creation with other helping manufacturer to sell their products. All we do is our own will – if we feel good working this way now – it's your way, if something change – it's the way to go too…all changes and it's important to stay ourselves and not torture yourself, just enjoy! Thanks Taheerah, once again! P.S. Sorry for my English (hope all I wrote is understandable) x

  6. This was a well thought out post. I think people expecting compensation however are expecting some payment not a full salary which to me implies a living wage. But by being on multiple teams a living wage might be attained. I'm afraid I still disagree but it was an excellent post.

  7. Hello, T!! What a well thought-out post! I can see both yours and Chupa's points and can relate to both sides based on my past experiences. I think there really aren't any right answers and it all depends on each individual as to how one perceives what fair compensation is. What I do know is that I set out to learn and enjoy paper-crafting when I started blogging. To me, it's all about choice and balance. I am much happier when I examined my intentions and "goals". Thanks for sharing your insights!

  8. Thank you for your post & as others have said–it is a wonderful example of people being friends in spite of different opinions. I suspect you 2 could even work together & be an example to our government! Anyway, I will never be in the position of you or Chupa, but I have been on a few teams & have to say–it is a choice. If you don't like the terms, you don't apply or you quit. It'd be wonderful for those of us who could spend all day crafting to have that be our job, but no company has offered that position that I know of. I get discouraged sometimes when I think a card is particularly well-crafted & it isn't chosen as a winner, but then I remind myself of the pure joy & accomplishment I feel–not to mention the uplifting comments from my on-line friends. Is the opinion of the DT members more important than my own? Certainly not! Crafting is an art & as Plato said, "Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder."

  9. 2/2 Overall, we make choices in life — and we're definitely privileged to be ABLE to make those choices (not everyone is). Considering how much money I spend on my "hobby," I would love to get free product. I have to make cards anyway — there will always be holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, deaths, etc. Perhaps I'm mistaken that DTers don't get to keep what they make once it's been posted? But if I would make the card anyway, is it significantly different to HAVE to use specific product to make the card? Perhaps I'm being naive, since I'm not at that level of blogging, youtubing, or designing — nor do I ever expect to be, frankly. So of course, I cannot speak from any place of experience. But I would have the choice of which company to design for and which companies I wouldn't. And while saying no to one might impact the chances to say yes to another one, that is still my choice.

    I understand Iwona isn't the only one who has walked away — I was so sad when Beata Johnson decided to completely disengage (selling off everything having anything to do with stamping and card-making). I never heard her story (she chose not to share publicly, as far as I'm aware, as Iwona did), but I respected her decision, as much as I miss her talent. So I appreciate that Iwona chose to share with us her story — despite it all, that was incredibly brave and, I hope for her, empowering. I have so much respect for her willingness to share with us her reasoning, even if I might not agree wholeheartedly. I'm sad we don't get to benefit from her talents going forward, but can still do so from her past.

    Thank you, Taheera, for articulating what I couldn't.

  10. 1/2 Sadly, I "discovered" Iwona late in her crafting career, so I didn't get to "benefit" from her designs and talent except in hindsight going back on her blog. So I didn't really notice as much as others may have when she stopped contributing to her blog (I subscribed via email). So I was a bit surprised to get her post and read what she had to say. I must admit, I was a bit taken aback by her argument, but also understood her perspective. I couldn't help wonder, however, how much of her dissatisfaction stemmed from her also-dissatisfying "real" job? When one part of our life isn't making us happy, it's easy to let those feelings bleed into other parts of our life. And while she enjoyed crafting, feeling dissatisfied, stressed, and likely devalued at her job simply exacerbated her feelings of stress and devaluation in her crafting life as well.

    Again, I understood where she was coming from, even if perhaps her tone was harsher than warranted. But something didn't sit well with me overall. As you note, the (accidental?) conflation of slavery and exploitation dismissed the reality that slaves don't have choice. And for many who are exploited, they don't have much power and choice either (when the only way to earn a living and feed one's children is to do piece-work for pennies, one does what one has to do). I couldn't help but think that what she was describing was FAR from that kind of reality, thus seemed a bit unfair, even if her own truth. But I couldn't quite put my finger on how to articulate that discomfort.

    You've done that beautifully. Like you, I have problems with our capitalistic, consumerist culture (even as I sit here amongst boxes of craft items that I will never have time to use in several lifetimes!) Like you, money has never been of concern (not because I have plenty, but because I choose to live simply — crafting items aside. lol) But also like you, I do not have a family and children to consider. I do work I enjoy (while not getting fairly compensated — I am a teacher in the U.S., after all), work I cannot imagine NOT doing. If money had been my life goal, I'd have become an accountant. I even took a job 3,000 miles away from my family that paid less than one nearer, because that school and those people were more pleasant than those I'd have had to work with locally (I've since returned home, tho'.)

  11. Taheerah thank you for writing your viewpoint in this hot topic of discussion. I really enjoyed reading both your post and Chupa's. I respect both of you as designers and found you opposing thoughts to be of a great interest! I am dealing with my own struggles with this industry but in the end I have to remember why I started my journey and why I will continue but at a pace I can handle. Hugs my friend ❤️

  12. Thanks for this post. Great points made in your post as well as in Chupa's. Lots to think about. Really interesting to read all of the different viewpoints from commenters too.

  13. I thuroughly enjoy being part of this crafty community. Most of the people are supportive, caring and fabulously talented. I feel inspired and blessed when I am able to take part.

    That said, most often I tend to not dive to deep. Why? As with you I have a full time career which takes up most of my time. I also have lovely family (husband and daughter) and an autoimmune disease which leaves me extremely fatigued, with a loss of cognitive function, emotional upsets and pain. Thus I have little left to give at then end of the day to anything, let alone myself.

    But every week I try to put a little time into my crafting, because I enjoy it and papercrafting sets me free from my mind full of stress and worries. There have been times I dove deeper and found myself adding stress rather than relieving it. For that reason I keep my relationship a little more superficial, I dont want to ruin or take away from the positives.

    So, though I have not read Chupa's post yet, I can say I agree with your perspective. I feel that in order to honor and value ourselves as designers (…calling myself a 'designer' makes me extremely uncomfortable, I am not sure I feel worthy of the title) then we shouldn't work for companies that would take advantage of us and treat us as 'slaves' or exploit us. We should not put ourselves in such positions and/or if we find ourselves as such we should get out of those situations. However, as I type this, I know there are others shoes I could not even imagine walking in, so I cannot claim this solution will work for everyone. That is also something I love from your (and it sounds like, Chupa's post) you are both willing to appreciate and respect the other's perspective. And that is what is the most important piece I get from both of you, you are willing to have different opinions while still honoring one another's view. Thank you both for such and fir sharing your heartfelt and honest views.

    1. My mother had an autoimmune disease Katie Ann. 🙁 Ultimately it was what led to her being taken so suddenly from us, as it masked other conditions she was suffering from towards the end. 🙁 I know how hard it was on her, and though I don't know your exact condition etc, can completely empathise, albeit as an outsider. Sending you big hugs.

  14. Taheerah, while you may not agree 100% with Chupa, the fact that you took the time to write so eloquently and in such detail in response to her post indicates your respect for her, and I know she is very grateful for your friendship. Thank you.

    Now here is my two-cents.

    “I assume everyone has heard of the concept of 'having a skin in the game'. Unless you are (financially) invested in a company, it seems somewhat unreasonable to me to expect or demand a financial return.”

    A company employee usually does not own a piece of the company they work for, but they have invested time – and they do so, usually, precisely for monetary gain. Few people have the luxury of working purely for pleasure, and is even a lucky thing to enjoy your work in many cases.

    If in fact I used the term ‘slavery’ in off the cuff discussion (I really don’t recall), then I apologise; it is not the word I would have chosen for public consumption. The error was corrected by Chupa; so by drawing attention to its accidental usage in an earlier edition of the post only draws shame upon Chupa and myself. (It also indicates that proof reading should be done before posts go live.)

    Taheerah rightly admits she is very lucky not to be needing financial reward from the good work she does on design teams, but others do feel the need for financial recompense. “I don’t do it for the money”, is another phrase with potential to offend. Spending many hours each week on something ‘just for fun’ is a luxury that many can ill afford. As much as Chupa loves crafting, she would spend less hours doing it if there was not some hope of financial reward. As I said before, it is the lucky ones that can find a day job they enjoy.

    Everyone has their own priorities and thus expectations from what they do. Neither camp can be said to be entirely right or wrong – there is little black or white in this world. Nevertheless, however willingly some may be to work for free on design teams, it does seem to me that such work is a kind of exploitation on the part of the company – even if it is just a matter of accepting someone’s good will. Rewards are deserved for good work, even where they are not desired.

    To say that craft companies can’t afford to pay design team members, and thus should not, is, I believe, a fallacy. If, on the one hand, designers that can’t afford to work for nothing are told to get out of the kitchen, then perhaps companies that can’t afford to run for nothing should also get out of the kitchen and find a business that, while less fun, is more profitable?

    1. (1/2) Obviously we have differing viewpoints, Michael, hence this being a debate. Chupa and I have talked in length about many of the points in our articles and this subject, both long before the posts of this week, and since then as well. I have also taken great pains and care in my words to make it clear I am not attacking her in any way, and that I wrote this post as a counterpoint, with no malice or aim to offend. No-one else has thought that I have chosen my words in a way that would provoke or with the potential to cause offence, so I am disappointed if that is how it comes across to you. None of this is personal.

      Regarding the 'slavery' remark – I mentioned this in the interests of full disclosure and honesty. Not with the aim to bring shame or offence. Many people had already read Chupa's post in its original form and commented on it, and I saw a couple of comments floating around (either on the post or on FB, I can't remember which) agreeing with that particular sentiment, so I wanted to just bring people back to Earth and qualify it, and get them to think. By this I mean other people who had read the post and been influenced by the wording without giving it consideration – not either of you. I was one of the ones that read the post as soon as it went live, and it was a particular sentence that stuck with me. So to omit it from discussion would have been dishonest on my part. As you have seen, my immediate statement (that I was completely certain that this was not the way the reference was intended), sought to clarify motive and at no point did I infer blame or shame.

      At no point did I say that those seeking financial recompense were not within their rights to do so, or that people that do so should be vilified. Nor did I ever state that companies should not pay design team members. I merely explained why the current model is the way it is. No-one else was offended by me saying I don't do this for the money (I never used this exact phrasing regardless). And with the greatest respect, if this is a 'hobby' for me and not for money, then how does it differ from, say, someone spending hours a week playing a sport, or computer games or something? Surely there's no implied offence in someone investing their time in those sorts of things in their spare time, so why should this be different? As mentioned I have no dependants of my own or other commitments, so this work gives me something to focus on and brings me great joy in times when I have been depressed or alone. For me that is priceless.

      On 'skin in the game' – I may not own shares in my company (we do not operate like that, we don't have shares) but I invest my money in terms of travel (which covers a lot more than a quick drive to the office), as well as investing my money in other ways (books, training, software, etc – most of which my company generously covers, but I do invest some of my own money outside of this too). You can argue that this money is obviously that which I've earned as salary in the first place, of course. But I do invest more than just time in my career. I obviously get paid for what I do, but I also do work extra hours without overtime pay, or write articles or promote my company outside of office hours, etc, for free. As a company we also do a fair amount of pro bono work, with no financial gain, and only to put back into society. I guess what I'm trying to say is that there are different models of working, and some of them are not for financial compensation, and that is okay too. I am fully aware of just how lucky I am to have such great circumstances – I know this is not how the world is for a great many people. I don't discuss my finances in public, but let's just say that it doesn't necessarily result in me rolling in cash either. Would it be great if I could pay off whatever debt I have by crafting? Definitely! But turning this into a job would take the joy out of it for me, so I don't seek to make this a secondary source of income.

    2. (2/2) I mentioned that a person's concept of 'reward' varies with the individual. One person's version of a reward may be financial, for another it may be recognition, and for another it may just be for the pleasure they get by doing it. As long as an individual feels rewarded in a way that is right for them, I think that is the most important thing.

      No-one has told designers to get out of the kitchen. I believe this industry to be as inclusive as it can be whilst still being a business. If both parties are upfront and honest about the conditions of working on a team, and both parties accept that, then I think that is fair. It is my hope that as companies grow that they then put back into their teams, and indeed I have witnessed this firsthand so it doesn't seem to be a mere pipedream.

      I value you taking the time to offer your view, and obviously you love Chupa very much and would want to defend her. I love her too, very much, and would never seek to cause her any harm. We are such good friends because we can understand the other, without having to agree with everything they think. I do not wish this to become an argument; as stated right at the start, there are far more important things in life. I do hope you can take this post in the way it was intended and not infer any ill feeling from it, or towards me for it.

    3. With all due respect, I dont believe it's accurate to compare being on a design team (which is working for a company) to having a hobby like playing sports or video games. Maybe you are blurring the lines between crafting in general and having a contractual obligation to produce.

      Saying "I don't do this for the money" has an inherit implication that your friends with opposing views are in fact doing it "just for the money."

      The reality and crux of this discussion is, some folks can afford to work for free (regardless of how much they do or do not enjoy it), and others can't.

      That's a pretty sad realization. I think it's unfair that companies have allowed this model to develop to a point where you can only hope to compete and "climb the ranks" as long as you can continue to make the financial sacrifices required to be on these teams… because it is after all, a financial sacrifice.

    4. Sarah my comment comparing with sports with specifically in response to Michael's comment that people spending hours on something 'just for fun' is something people can ill afford. It's nothing to do with my key debate. I was trying to illustrate that some people can afford to spend a lot of time on something they love without it being anything to do with money, ie something can be a hobby to someone but to someone else it could be a career. Both are okay.

      Nowhere have I explicitly said 'I don't do this for the money'. I have outlined my circumstances and explained that I don't need to do this for the money and that for me this is only about the joy of creating. I have never said or implied anyone else does this only for the money either.

      Please bear in mind the context of my reply to Michael was a specific response to some of his points and trying to offer a counter argument. My actual points for my debate are in my main post, my reply here was more directly related to my circumstances and basically saying I feel my circumstances are completely justified for me.

    5. Just as an aside though – some people do make money even from playing video games – because they record their sessions and stream them or put them on YouTube and then can get revenue from ads. They actually get huge viewer bases too for some of them. 🙂 And some people can play sports and have an obligation to a team (maybe not signing a contract, but then I've not always had to sign a contract for a DT either) and then not be paid for that either, but they do spend a lot of time on it. Basically, it depends on circumstances. 🙂 My comparison was purely related to the 'spending time' aspect, nothing more.

  15. Well written Taheera – I am more with you than with Chupa. I don't know how those little companies make any decent money to live on. I have a good income, so I don't have to worry about that. I would feel bad demanding payment for my cards from the. And we all see what little profit there is in this business, as so many small companies don't survive in the long run.

  16. Very well written, Taheerah. And I did indeed make it to the end. 😉
    I will say, I appreciate you and Chupa for being so open and honest with things. Thank you for sharing.

  17. After having read both yours and Chupa's point of view, I have to say that I totally agree with you! . I can relate pretty much to all of what you say. I certainly understand some of the points Chupa makes, but I don't agree with them. I am and have been on many teams over the last 6 years or so, some large some small companies. For me the bottom line was, that it was my choice and my freedom to join them, knowing exactly what the compensation was going to be, namely product and in a few cases a small amount of pay. There have only been two occasions where I have felt cheated, one of them by a large company that Chupa was part of too at the same time (though as the company ran several teams, she was in a different team from me). The reason was not the lack of pay, but the disorganisation behind the scenes and the false promises made before joining the team. The other occasion was similar, but I won't go into detail, as really it is irrelevant. For me the bottom line is honesty and good will from all sides. It's our choice to join a team or not, so to compare it to slavery is just silly. The fact that that was edited out of C's article demonstrates that she probably realised that her self, so good for her. I want to thank you both for your thoughtful posts and yes it is great one can be friends and yet have differences of opinion!

    1. Astrid, the reason I edited the word 'slavery', which indeed was the exact term my husband used, was because I realized it was too harsh.
      In defense of my husband's view, he truly is the wisest person I ever came to know, and he spoke from an outsider point of view. He never understood my excitement about the industry, but he always respected it and it did show in how he let me do what I did in the situation we had. He did see me break under my DT duties many times, we shared many hours talking about it, and he never understood why I'm doing it for free. Hence his expression.
      In the end, as you're saying, it was my personal choice to pursue my goals and seeing that I failed thoroughly, I should have probably quit it much earlier than I did. Much less harm having a designer disappear from the scene, than a company fold up 🙂

    2. I would never, ever deem you a failure Chupa. 🙂 Maybe you didn't come to earn megabucks for your amazing creations and talent, but the very fact that people still remember and love your work, shows me that you were indeed incredibly successful in a different way. 🙂 Even if it is not the way you really wanted to succeed, it is still something to be very proud of. 🙂

  18. I really admire that both you and Chupa are strong women who are willing to stick their necks out in the spirit of open conversation, especially in a community where most of the communication centers around what a great job we all have done creating our projects. Let’s be honest, we’re not typically a controversial community! You both did a wonderful job articulating your thoughts.

    I’ll start by sharing what I shared with you earlier:

    “My thoughts are that in order for a crafter to be truly happy on a Design Team (i.e., happy months after the initial excitement of getting asked, when you are spending hours/days on projects) you must love both the personal component (the people) and the physical component (the product). If one or more of those components is missing, then I can see where people may experience unhappy feelings. Those feelings will surface the minute they are neglecting something from their personal life in order to meet a Design Team demand or deadline.

    I’ve been on a design team where neither of those components were there, and experienced unhappy thoughts while crafting (ugh!!) I stuck it out, but when the opportunity to leave was there I took it, and as soon as I did, the unhappy thoughts also left.”

    Since then I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot. I think it is dangerous to want or expect Design Team work to come anywhere close to supporting yourself or a family. I worked in big business for 17 years before I had my family. If I translated that to my card-making time last year, I would need to get paid $954 per post. I think we all know that is never going to happen in any universe.

    Are there really large amounts of money up for grabs in this community? All the little scrapbook stores in my area have long since folded. My favorite scrapbooking and paper crafting magazines and special issues have folded. The days of companies throwing free product to crowds of screaming women at CHA are over. I could be wrong, but I’m guessing the margins are pretty slim in this current market. I don’t think company owners are being greedy and keeping bags of money for themselves. I just think that in order for these small businesses to survive, this is the business model that has evolved. An alternative would be that $15 stamp sets now cost $25. It reminds me of the argument for increasing minimum wage. Sure it’s good to argue for hardworking folks to make more money. But where does that money come from? Would that mean that we can no longer get hamburgers for $2?

    Bottom line, I think we need to analyze our intentions in being part of this community. If it’s to have others appreciate your work, then you can do that with or without a Design Team. If it’s to get free products, you can do that by being on a Design Team or winning contests. If it’s to support your family, I don’t even think starting your own business is going to help with that one.

    Thanks for the discussion Taheerah, Chupa, and all the artists who have thoughtfully posted comments!

  19. Now that I have read the other article, I have to say that everything she wrote is completely true. It is all a matter of perspective too, of course. For some designers, generous product compensation is enough. For others, financial compensation is needed. But the point that struck me the most was that although some of us are moms, or grandmas, or retired ladies, or wealthy career women who like to craft, we are still designers, artists, the TALENT. I don't mean that to sound high hat, but too many women undervalue that talent and time, and that has caused the situation we are in now. I've seen this and heard this from other friends on certain teams when discussions arise about how many individual monthly posts are too much/enough, and a popular designer points out that ten cards a month is a minimum of ten hours of work, and the social media commitment is another ten, etc. There will ALWAYS be someone who says they are just so happy to do ANYTHING at all, no matter what, because they just love to craft. Social media has changed the way the craft industry operates, and the demands on design teams have increased dramatically. Etsy shops and DIY small business have made it easier for people to take the next step and start their own tiny small business from their craft room. This means more competition. As with ANY business, advertising, marketing, promotion, PR, and talent are all part of the cost of doing business. As a designer, you have a responsibility to give the company you represent the best work possible. As an owner, you have the responsibility to increase your profits in as many ways as you can, which might mean hard choices like better quality products, better prices, more consistent releases, good customer service, better product trends, availability of products,and honoring challenges and contests when you say you will. Respecting and compensating the talent fairly, no matter how its arranged (payment or product) is part of that small business ownership.

  20. So well said Taheerah! I have read both articles and greatly admire the talent to use words to communicate each one's opinion frankly. Kudos to you both!
    I LOVE the crafting community and the passions that are shared through art, words and support for each other! It's truly an escape from the "real world" for me. Happy to be a part of it just as it is:)

  21. Thank you for a very interesting and well written article. I read Iowona's post the other day and although I can see where she's coming from, I think on the whole you have summed the situation up perfectly. I have long ago realised that I wouldn't be able to make a living from cardmaking, but it is my passion and I enjoy it too much to give it up. I am not currently on any Design Teams, but was lucky enough to be on a good one several years ago, where I was very generously supplied with product and a small fee per card made too. I am aware that this was not the norm and indeed the company concerned eventually had financial difficulties and was wound up. At the time I don't think I really appreciated how lucky I was. I now spend far more than I should on craft supplies and would welcome the chance to be paid in product and be on a Design Team again. There is also nothing quite like the thrill of having some of your work published and admired! Having said that, there is a lot of freedom in being able to create with whatever supplies you like and not having the deadlines to contend with. It all goes to make me really appreciate the work of dedicated DT members everywhere!

  22. I do have to go read the other argument, but it must be the time of year, because I have seen several posts this week in blogs I follow about how they blog and do all this work and aren't appreciated. I totally agree with your perspective. If you don't enjoy it, or are doing it for the cyber love, you should stop. I think it is extremely difficult to make a living doing this and you stated many reasons why, so if that is your goal you have to totally put in endless work. And I agree many of us that craft for the love of it, and spend too much money on it, would definitely be happy to be on a DT just for product, even that cuts into a small companies profits. Anyway, I applaud you for presenting an opposite view, and I agree with you.

  23. I loved to read both sides of the argument. Both are extremely well written and articulate very fair points of view. I have never worked on or applied to be part of a commercial Design Team (I am on a challenge DT). This has only been for two reasons – time – I would nerves be able to commit enough time and would run myself ragged trying to, and also self effacement. Exactly what your article says not to do , I do. I compare myself to others and think there's no way I could match up to that! What I'm saying is, compensation never entered into it. A couple of times a very big company – one might say a one stop shop for paper crafting 😉 – has sent me a new die or stamp set ahead of release and my excitement was off the charts. I spend most of my spare money on crafting stuff so being compensated in product for me would be amazing. However I have an extremely well paid job, as does my husband, so I do agree it is about perspective. For me I adore making cards, and like Vicky above, I love the recognition. When a stamp company comments on one of my cards I made with their product on IG or Facebook, I get giddy. I have noticed things getting very commercial and legal recently with people saying oh so and so didn't declare they were sent this stuff, where's their integrity. It's a real shame. Most of those crafters have spent years, and years building and building what they do. Many before the advent of social media. It brings in an element of negativity. I just love to craft, I love to collect and I love the crafting community. I love my Design Team and the support and encouragement I get from them too. Thanks for voicing this side, both you and Iwona are awesome.

  24. This was a very interesting article. I have not read Chupa's article yet but I will next. I agree with most of what you said. As a card designer, I always feel very honored when a company invites me to be on their design team (usually after I've applied). I have worked for companies who are very generous with their products as compensation, and that has made all the difference. When a company gives you access to a large percentage of their product, then it's easy, and a joy to design. I am quite comfortable with the idea of being compensated with the company's product, but I am NOT comfortable when I am the one who has to pay to purchase product because the demands of the team outweigh the product compensation. This is where I think tensions arise. As a designer, my point of view is that I will spend hours working on projects that will be used for a company's promotional material. I purchase all of my own paper, pens, copics, die cutting machines, adhesives, ribbons, embellishments, watercolors, acetate, embossing pastes, whatever is "on trend" and whatever the company owner asks for, as in, we'd like to see more shakers, or we'd like to see watercolor backgrounds. In addition, I also shop for the best deals on these products, order online, teach myself these new techniques if I haven't tried them before, practice, blog hop to win products, comment, vote, photograph, edit, write my blog, find, add, and correct links, track down product names and photos, pour through a high volume of facebook posts from private DT groups to find info, and arrange social media posts. It is a HUGE commitment of time and effort. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining. I have LOVED the Design teams I have and am a part of, and I have dreams to work for a few favorites that I would do all of this and more for just to have all of their products. However, when you are invited to a design team and are handed the post schedule you have no control or input over, have an increasing (or surprise) workload month after month, are given one small die or stamp and are expected to make a dozen cards out of it, and have to buy $50 or $100 worth of materials (including the company's own product)just to get started, then designing DOES become more of a business arrangement that leaves designers unsatisfied.

    So, Taheerah, I understand the needs of small business owners who "wish" they could pay their designers more. But if I were an actual employee of the company there would be certain expectations shared between us. Please remember that ALL designers are real people, not machines with endless deep pockets. We all "wish" we could spend more on your products too. Sometimes we feel pushed to the limits, creatively and financially, when expected to create endless cards and projects on a bare minimum of product. Imagine being part of a design team when 20 or 30 designers are all given the same two stamps and a die and asked to create 8 or 9 cards a month out them. The BEST company owners are the ones who understand the people that design for them, and the amount of commitment they really have for your company. I know owners who do exactly that, and I know other owners who expect the $10 of product they give you is fair compensation for the 20-30 hours of work you do for that $10 product.

    That's my input in this discussion. It IS a worthy discussion to have in this growing and changing craft industry.

    Take Care! Have a great day!

    1. Thanks for adding your voice to the discussion Michele!

      I completely agree with you in the scenario you described – companies that expect you to purchase their product in order to create with it are a definite no-no for me. And you need enough product from your companies to be able to think and make creatively, not just the bare bones.

      I can also appreciate what you said about schedules and being asked to create specific things. I have never experienced either of those (I get to pick my post dates and have freedom over what I create), but I can understand where you're coming from. To me it sounds that those types of companies are the ones you make a choice not to work with, and improve your 'nose' when coming to choose other teams in future. I'm very grateful that I didn't have this situation present itself with me.

      This is what I alluded to when I mention that you have to choose your commitments with care. The good thing is that if the company isn't a fit for you (or vice versa) then you can walk away. 🙂

      Thank you for your insights! I hope your crafty future is filled with only positive DT experiences from now on! 🙂

  25. I also love both posts, and agree to both in that this is a personal point of view, and it is your own definition of "return on value" for your time.

    I am of both worlds, I have a professional career of 24yrs, that I also believe I am well paid for..though I also have a household family, choosing to marry, adopt the most wonderful boy, and I also care for my challenged (and chellenging -love ya mom) mother in our home. I also am not driven by monetary gain, though not recognition either, though it is a bonus. So this is KEY, if you are already well paid, your point of view is most definitely skewed as you do not have the extra stress and worry of the heavy burden that day to day bills and finance, and unexpected expenses bring when ends meeting is a real focus. So most definitely someone well paid and someone that need the extra income, are worlds apart.

    I choose all the things I do in my life and have come to terms with the pros and cons of my decisions. My drive is to inspire others and promote the love I feel that I put in to my projects. I also love the community and spend extra time with other crafters, taking classes, and doing what I love, craft for inspiration. It is always good to stop and re-evaluate your choices in life, the directions that you take, and the affect on others that thiese decisions have. I have done this quite a few times. So I agree with both sides, well written and both from the heart. I also agree that there are opportunities out there that take effort and time to explore, like classes, affiliate links, etc that Taheerah has mentioned. You want something bad enough, you will focus and make it happen and find a way.

    Kudos to two friends coming from differnt directions to enlighten each other. Most of all do what makes sense in your life, and hopefully you will settle in and find a way to do what you love, and still be able to balance the rest of the crazy life that we call life.

    Cheers wonderful community and "Chupa" and Teheerah!
    Love you both and look forward to seeing more from BOTH of you.

  26. Girlfriend THAT was extremely well written! Thank you for sharing the "opposing side" — both your posts have interesting information. All said and done, I will continue to be on non paying DT's just for the validation. I love card making, and I love comments . 🙂

  27. Taheerah, what a great post. I read Iwona's post and while I agree with some of her point, what you wrote is more me.

    Like you, I have a full time job that pay me well. I never expect my card making to provide income for me in any way. I am happy when I get extra money from publication & from DT that do compensate in money, but that was never my main focus.

    I love the DT I am on. Many of the team I've been on compensate generously through their products & I am happy with that, because I get to create using products from company that I adore. I always focus myself on the joy of crafting. When I get burned out, I step back a bit & let myself recharge.

    For me paper crafting is really about personal enjoyment. I've been paper crafting for 19 years & blogging for 7 years & like you, I chose not to let myself get carried away about followers, etc.

    And, I understand from the company point of view how hard it is to keep your company afloat. Many of this company are small, mom & pop kind of company. We can't expect them to pay us in the amount like real job (with exception for people who are doing this as their full time job).

    And yep, slavery is the wrong word to use. You don't get canned or beat up here when you missed an assignment. We have the power to chose how much we want to do. Bottom line, I agree with your post whole heartedly. xo

  28. Taheerah, thanks for a wonderfully written post. I read Iwona's post a few days ago and while I definitely understand and agree with some of her points, your post resonates strongly with me. I couldn't quite put into words what I was thinking but you did it beautifully.

    As someone who is a self-employed freelance musician I know what it's like to have a job that I enjoy versus a job that will make me rich. I will never be "rich" teaching and playing music but I think I will enjoy my life much more than someone who is always changing jobs or searching for a higher paycheck. The few times I've searched out compensation (as you mentioned through affiliate links or ads) I begin to vehemently dislike crafting as I feel like I'm in a rat race competing with crafter x, y, and z and that's not why I got into crafting in the first place. If I had to depend on crafting for a living I might feel differently but for now I try to keep the joy in crafting from the actual creating and not the recognition. Of course, I would love to be more "famous" but I don't think I'd want the stress that comes from being a bigger name in this industry. Ha, I also find that I'm increasingly suspicious of some of the crafters promoting this or that product as I wonder if the product is actually good or if they just want more money from affiliate links.

    I also feel that most businesses would probably love to financially compensate their design teams but I think the majority of them simply can't afford to do that and keep their businesses thriving. I enjoy receiving products that I can use, as I choose, to create projects for a company and I enjoy helping the company grow through my creations. And while I think you should value yourself and your talents as a crafter, personally I would be really stressed with the concept of receiving payment for my cards. I would constantly wonder is this a $5 card or a $10 card…what if I feel like it's a $10 card but the company doesn't agree. I struggle enough with not being too negative about my own creations…I would not be able to do my best work in conditions like that. Currently I design for a few companies where I receive products and a few challenge blogs where there is no compensation. While I love them all equally there is definitely a freedom that comes from the challenge blogs that I don't necessarily feel on my company teams.

    Anyway sorry for blabbing on for so long…I appreciate you taking the time to write your post and I look forward to continuing to read comments and responses from both your post and Iwona's!

  29. Thank you for your post, Taheerah! Thank you for your well written post and your perspective as well. Both you and Iwona have given a lot of food for thought about what it is like behind the scenes when one takes on a DT position – it is definitely more than what one does when creating for fun. No matter what, it is a commitment one makes and the perspective one chooses to make of it will define the experience. The same can be said of the hobby itself – when it ceases to be fun or becomes stressful, why do you continue to do it? I've experienced highs and lows with the papercrafting hobby over the past 9 years and have "mentally" closed the door on it several times during that time period. After each "break", I've returned to it refreshed and re-energized. I know it's a poor comparison, but it comes back to how you are looking at things through your viewfinder (so to speak).

    Again, thank you for your excellent post this morning!

  30. Thanks for this…I popped over and read Chupa's too. Honestly, what I got out of both of your posts is that it is fabulous that you are friends and agree to disagree….how awesome is that?! Thanks for taking the time to write out your thoughts, really enjoyed reading both of your sides♡

  31. Thank you for putting a honest perspective on this discussion/ issue. Like you I agree and disagree on various points that Chupa mentions, but as individuals we are all entitled to our own opinion and to voice it too. It was interesting to read these views as a small business owner and enthusiast of the paper crafting industry.

    As a VERY small creative/stamp company business owner and full time mother, if I could pay my design team financially in money other than product then I would, I really would. Those that have been on my team and are on my team are truly amazing and have brought my tiny business and me so much joy. I value each and every one of them immensely not only as DT members but as dear friends also. I have always tried to make it clear to those who join my team that I respect and understand that this is not 'their job' and that as much as I would like them to use and promote my product I don't expect them to do it 24/7 and only within their limitations.

    As I have only read through your post the once, a lot of information doesn't always sink in my brain straight away and you probably mentioned it. I just want to add that even though a lot of small companies only send product of payment to their DT, this in itself can add up to a considerable amount of money in terms of the value of product they are sending out and the cost of postage. Often anywhere up to 6 or 7 people. In retail value terms this can sometimes value to over £100 which to a small business trying to survive as a small fish in a big pond is a lot of money.

    One more thing I would like to add to where you were talking about a business owner wearing many hats, expedinture, it not being their only job, working long hours etc etc. Some business owners don't actually pay themselves a salary, which hand on heart I don't. Mainly because I can't afford to and I can see this applying to a lot of small business owners. All the money that I make from sales, which after outgoings isn't a huge amount gets put back in to bring new product and new designs. Fortunately I am lucky enough to have a husband who goes out to work to pay the mortgage, bills etc. If I were to rely on my business to do this I wouldn't have made it past year 1!

    Anyway, like many (I assume) my business is my dream job, I do it because I love it and want to share with the world my designs and passion for the industry.

    I could blab on more but I won't!

    1. Thank you so much for offering your perspective Bev! <3 I can attest that I always felt like a valued member of your team. 🙂

      I didn't explicitly state the cost of the product and of sending it out as I felt it was already implied/implicit, but it is of course true and I might amend my post to make it explicit. Your other point, about not paying yourself salary, is not a sole story, and I know many company owners are also like this too. Thank you for validating some of my understanding and for adding your voice to the discussion! 🙂

  32. I love you. Thank you for this incredibly well written post. As you wrote, we may not agree on the subject, but there;s nothing that would make me stop respecting you, because you know that you have both head and heart in the right places. Mwah xoxo

  33. I value yours and Iwona's opinions on this subject very much. I think you've taken a lot of care and thought to make sure people know you come from a place of debate rather than criticism of her article. As someone who genuinely loves crafting and cardmaking, being on a design team delights me. I adore the fellow DT members and friendships developed, the fun, new product I get to use and have no interest in gaining a following or making a business of it. It is my delightful hobby and I'm glad to help out smaller businesses. Getting paid would be an amazing bonus but NOT getting paid doesn't reflect on my self-worth as an artist. Again, very well written and insightful!

  34. Agree with you 100 percent! Well, written. I did not read the original post yet, so I am not aware of what was said. (Will go read it next.) But all I can say is most of the time when you apply, it states that compensation is done in product. If you don't like that, don't apply!)

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