When I was starting my business in San Francisco, there was a very small group of people who were in the same line of work. We had our areas that we serviced and we all made a small but comfortable living. Then, all of a sudden, a major competitor decided to move to town. Someone with brand recognition, someone who had an established tribe, a great product, and an exciting reputation. Someone who, some felt, threatened our livelihood. And then, something sort of amazing happened.

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  1. I am 100% for this style of promotion and marketing. I often feel I am more a cheerleader for handmade as a movement than for my own works. I also do this quite a bit for the podcasting/podiobooking movement, which is a great example of this type of communal promotion. Each new podiobook I listen to promotes someone else's work, and from there I discover a new author, and then another, and so on. Sometimes it feels almost incestuous the way they all promote each other, but most of the time it feels like a closely-knit family all supporting each member. And its working, several of these authors are getting print book deals directly because of the followings they develop from this community.

    I do feel it should be reciprocal to a certain degree, though. Like in the example of the podcasting, everyone promotes everyone, the successful and the not-quite-yet-successful. Nothing can turn a community sour faster than achieving success through their efforts and then just taking the fame and running, without showing any thanks or returning any of the effort. It makes people want not want to share, which turns rapidly into negative competition.

    I think there is enormous potential for communal marketing among the handmade movement. Social media like Twitter and blogging, and even word-of-mouth, can be and should be a powerful tool in our hands. I am completely on board with you!

  2. JannyPie - Thanks for the comment! I agree about reciprocity, but I also think that the person who makes the first step toward collaboration and can walk the walk, despite some negative results, still will reap the biggest rewards. Thanks for letting me know that this is also going on in the podcast/podiobook world. I think we are at the tipping point of getting it to happen in crafting, and when it does, crafting really will be community. Thanks again for taking the time to write such a thoughtful comment!

  3. Any time you put the interests of your customer ahead of your own you will win out in the long run and usually in the short run as well.