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This Week’s Episode
In this week’s episode, I share five tips for hosting a successful crochet-, knit-, or make-a-long (also known as CALs, KALs, or MALs, respectively). For ease of communication, I’ll refer to these as C/KALs hereafter in the show notes.
5 Tips for Hosting a Successful Crochet-, Knit-, or Make-a-Long Online
- Test or tech edit the pattern before the event
- Engage sponsors and supporters
- Seek out a co-moderator
- Choose an appropriate length
- Share the projects
Why Host a C/KAL Online?
There are many great reasons for hosting a C/KAL online. First off, they are incredibly fun! As a designer, C/KALs can generate interest in a particular pattern or your whole portfolio. As a yarn company, C/KALs can bring some attention to or highlight a particular yarn. C/KALs can help you engage with fans and introduce new people to your work online, and they are a great way to build community.
Here are a few tips I’ve learned from the ten or so C/KALs I’ve hosted for myself and on behalf of other companies online.
1) Test or tech edit the pattern before the event
Whether your C/KAL is free or paid, getting it tested or tech edited before launch helps you avoid disappointment, anger, and possible social media disasters related to errors in the pattern. (Similarly, if you are another designer’s pattern, you may want to try it out before launching your C/KAL.)
If possible, you may want to consider having the pattern both tested and tech edited. A tech editor looks for mistakes, inconsistent formatting, and non-standard language, while testers may highlight points of confusion to the typical crocheter or knitter when reviewing the pattern. Since many C/KAL participants may be beginners or casual crafters, feedback from testers may allow you to make the C/KAL experience more pleasant all around.
2) Engage sponsors and supporters
If you’re using giveaways or other incentives to encourage participation in your C/KAL, engage prize sponsors. Sponsors can also help spread the word about the C/KAL and introduce your work to another community.
Since sponsors may be more generous than you would imagine, approach one at a time to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Consider adding “an easy out” to your request (such as a deadline for responding to provide a prize). Ask for prizes you feel good about promoting so this sponsorship can be a win-win-win situation (for your company, the sponsor’s company, and the participants).
Other supporters may help spread the word about the event. You may want to engage bloggers you know, or “news” bloggers like About.com’s knitting expert, Sarah White, or crochet expert, Kathryn Vercillo, or the appropriate editor at CraftGossip. And, of course, you can reach out to any other individual or company involved in the creation of the pattern or sample, such as the designer, yarn company, hook/needle/tool manufacturer, tech editor, or testers, to help spread the word in their groups/communities on Ravelry, Facebook, and G+.
3) Seek out a co-moderator
Participants can get anxious if you don’t respond to questions quickly, so having a co-moderator is very helpful, especially for long running C/KALs or if you work another job and/or have family responsibilities. The co-moderator doesn’t necessarily need to “have all the answers,” (though that helps!), but if s/he can allay concerns or respond while you’re sleeping because s/he’s in a different time zone, it will help the C/KAL run more smoothly.
4) Choose an appropriate length
Consider the amount of time a typical crocheter or knitter will need to complete a project as you set your schedule. I usually add some extra time to that to allow for greater participation. Even people excited to participate may have other projects to finish up, or have to wait for yarn to arrive before getting started. A C/KAL schedule that’s too short can hinder participation if people don’t feel they can finish in time to qualify for prizes, and enthusiasm can fizzle out fora very long C/KAL.
5) Share the projects
I usually share selected pictures of completed projects on my blog at the end of a C/KAL. (Here’s a sample post from a CAL for my free Chubby Sheep pattern.) This can be exciting for C/KAL participants who aren’t bloggers. It also highlights the featured pattern (or yarn or tool) again for your audience.
Consider promoting C/KAL-specific tags (on Ravelry) and hashtags (on G+, Instagram, and Twitter) so you can easily find projects. I ask participants to post a picture of a completed project for a chance to win a giveaway prize, and I often request permission to share those pictures from within that same thread.
What tips do you have for hosting successful C/KALs? Do you have questions about hosting C/KALs? Leave a comment below, Tweet me at @cyeshow, or leave a message at 646-713-8973. (You can call me for free through the Contact page.)
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