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I thought it was time for some 'small business talk' again... Today I wanted to tell you a bit more about my experiences with (written) press coverage so far: about my expectations, the effects and what I think can be the do's and don'ts... I'm really no expert but I thought maybe some of it is of interest for those of you who are also working on a small creative business and regularly encounter this 'press thing', and well, maybe it's of interest for others as well because I guess we all like a bit of looking behind the scenes...
I still remember how exciting it was a few years ago when I had been blogging for a while and people from other countries started to do some posts on my home and the things I made. For the first time I clearly started to realize that I wasn't just blogging in the void, but that the internet is a pretty powerful, international medium.
After a steadily growing amount of blog features I started to receive requests from magazines as well. To me that was even more exciting than the blog posts: besides the fact that magazines usually have a larger edition and much more readers than the average blog, somehow something printed on paper has always felt more 'real' to me. Like many kids, I used to dream about 'being a writer' and I guess the idea of a large print run with something that you made, said or wrote in it still sort of appeals to that childhood dream.
A recent publication in Chinese Little Thing Magazine
But with the requests also came the complications and things I hadn't realized you had to deal with. Like: a lot of magazines want 'exclusive deals', they want to feature you but not when you're already in a lot of other mags at the same time. So then you have to choose. Which is kind of a logical thing from their side, cause they want their content to be original (and on a smaller scale I try to do the same thing on my blog: I like my content to be as original as possible and not a repetition of what I've already seen on tens of other blogs), but it's not necessarily convenient for you. Especially given the fact that a request often doesn't mean a (publication) guarantee: I've received requests from magazines with lots of promises and demands, that after some mailing back and forth in the end I never heard back from. I've been in situations in which arrangements kept being changed and postponed. And of course not all requests come in at the same time, so you may have a deal with one but receive a much more interesting request a month later...
I've learnt that magazines often work with a very flexible scheme in which things can change constantly, and your possible feature in the mag may be a very big thing for you, but in the end it's often just a small thing for them. That's sometimes frustrating: when you've been scheduling time and preparing for a possible photo shoot ('we may come this monday but we won't be able to definitively confirm until sunday'), it's kind of annoying when it's called off the day before. Especially when you've cleaned and tidied up your whole house and have canceled your own appointments...
Of course you're always both part of these arrangements, so you're free to negotiate and express your own demands and limitations as well. Naturally it all depends on how much you want something: when the possible feature is really interesting for you, it's tempting to say yes at (almost) anything. I guess when your name is Madonna you're the one who can set the rules, but when you're just starting as an artist or small business owner your position is a bit (okay: lot) less powerful. So it's good to consider how important the possible press feature is for you and what you want to say yes or no to.
My plate in Easy Living Magazine
The consideration you have to make isn't always easy. You have certain expectations of what a certain press feature may bring you, but you never know how things will work out in advance. A product feature may end up being a beautiful page with a large picture and all the right information that you're really happy with, but it may also end up being a tiny little image with incorrect information in some back corner of the magazine. You may make arrangements about mentioning your shop or blog name in an article that aren't met in the end, but once the magazine is published there's not much you can do about it anymore.
So you have to be realistic about the fact that there's lots of things you can't control (even if you thought you had made clear arrangements), and that may be hard for us blogging control-freaks that edit every letter and image that ends up on our own blogs. When someone else is writing about you and your work, there will always be things that you would have said or written differently yourself. Or sometimes you did say something exacly the way they've written it down, but when you read it on paper it can be pretty confronting: oh my, did I really say that? Or the context in which you said something may have gone missing completely in the article.
I had a pretty funny experience with that in the interview I did for the IKEA Family live magazine. The guy who did the interview had been around for a few days and we had a lot of nice and relaxed conversations, made lots of jokes etc. Of course those long chats had to be cut down to a much shorter article, but in the English version of the article I thought the slightly joking atmosphere was kind of clear. I had for example told him that I used to be a vegetarian (the interview was about being environmentally conscious) when I was younger, but not necessarily because I was so fond of animals as lots of vegetarians are: I'm not really someone who loves pets or animals. People often find that strange, so as a joke I said: 'In fact I hated animals so much that I didn't even want to eat them.' He put that line in the article, and when I read the English version of the text I thought it was sort of clear that this was a joke, but when I read the Dutch translation that's distributed here in the Netherlands, it just bluntly said: 'I used to be a vegetarian because I hate animals'. Ahem. I even received an email from an upset animal lover who was very angry at me...
So throughout time I'm trying to learn both to make clear arrangements and let go a bit. I still think there's a lot to learn about these things, and maybe when you deal with press a lot you end up creating some sort of policy. I still have a hard time making up my mind about certain things. Like: when magazines want to use some of your photos (like pictures of your home, not product photos) for a feature, do you have to ask a payment for that or not? I let blogs use those for free, and small independent magazines as well, but then what about magazines that aren't so small and independent? And with international magazines, how do you know if they're small or big?
Also: some magazines generously send you one or more copies of the magazine with your feature or product in it, while others don't even let you know if they've published it or not, or don't want to send a free copy. I can imagine they can't send free copies to everyone, but when you've really collaborated with them on a feature I think the least they can do is send you a copy. But what to do when they refuse: cancel the whole thing?
In the end of course press coverage isn't meant for you to add some pages to your scrapbook, but you hope the publicity will have certain results: that more people will see your work, that they will find their way to your blog, that they get to know your products and hopefully will buy them... So then the big question is: does it really 'pay off' to be featured in a magazine?
Well, here's my answer: I really don't know! I know this is not a very insightful answer, but it's my personal experience that you just can't know what to expect. I had some big press features of which I expected they could lead to a lot of sales or many more blog visitors, but nothing very significant happened in the weeks after the feature. Then there also are days when all of a sudden I have lots of sales or periods in which the amount of readers of my blog grows without me having a clue why that is. When for example my pitcher was featured in the Oprah magazine many people said: 'You'll have such a busy time once that magazine is in the shops', but I really didn't notice that much of it. In fact in the next weeks I only had one or two clients who told me they'd found my work through the Oprah magazine. On the other hand now, four months later, people still comment on the Oprah thing, so maybe it still has some sort of slow ongoing impact. My shop has grown a lot this last year, but it's hard to point at one thing that made that big impact. I'm sure press coverage is helpful, but I have no idea to which extent.
That leads me to end with a little comparison: is a magazine feature really that much more 'real' than a blog post, as I suggested I felt it earlier? I guess being in a magazine in a way is more of a recognition: it's harder to get a magazine feature than a feature on one of the many many blogs out there, and most magazines will have more readers. Also, it'll probably make more impact on your grandma or neighbour when you can show them a feature in a well-known magazine than a feature on an incrowd blog with lots of followers.
But when it comes to direct impact, I think a simple blog post about your work may sometimes be at least as rewarding. Craft and design blog readers are usually already familiar with blogs and buying online, so when they like what they see I think they're more likely to stick around than people who flip through a magazine and see a little image of your work among the many other things in a magazine. Good blog features are often detailed and well-composed, so you'll get short-lasting but usually also undivided attention from a limited, but specifically interested group of people.
Altogether I'm really happy with some very nice magazine features, especially because they often include beautiful photos. (and yes, also for scrapbook purposes: it's just really fun to have a Chinese magazine with your house in it!), but online features about your work are often much less complicated and can also lead to very nice things!
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I'm lucky to be chosen as Etsy's featured seller from now up to friday afternoon! This means that I've done a nice interview about my work, working process and experiences with selling on etsy, and hopefully it also means that I'll have some busy days selling things (?), so it may be a little quiet here for the next few days or so.
Also a big hello and welcome to everyone who came here through etsy and visits my blog for the very first time! Have a look around, I hope you enjoy this blog... If you'd like to have a peek into the home and studio where I make my work, you can have a look here, here or here. A little bit about my working process (and how my studio sometimes looks in the middle of that) you can find here.
To celebrate the fact that I'm a featured seller I'll have a special offer during these two days: sets of six postcards will be $7 instead of the normal price of $10, and the sets of twelve postcards will be $13 instead of $17. This offer will end on friday night.
I've been adding lots of new things these last few days (maybe you already noticed) and will be putting more things online during these next two days, so if you're looking for something specific, it may be worthwile to check the shop every now and then!
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Belgian interior decorating magazine Feeling Wonen recently did an article about interior design blogging, and they included my blog in their recommendations (see below). What a nice honor! And so nice to see a photo of this home on their cover...
And speaking of magazines: the new issue of 101 woonideeën magazine is such a treat! It features a few beautiful homes, of Fifi Mandirac and Sandra Jongedijk among others. This picture of textile designer Sandra Jongedijk's home is such a feast for the eye! I love the different levels with the little stairs... almost as though the living room is 'on stage'.
101 Woonideeën Magazine also had a very nice do it yourself post about creating (decorative) plates by using vintage plates. They used templates and spray paint (so the plates aren't meant for functional use, just for decoration) to create the beautiful plates below. Nice, aren't they? (and something you all can do at home)
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She's assumed to have an influence that reaches from making people run to the stores for a previously obscure book to convincing people to vote for a certain president candidate. She even made Tom Cruise jump on her couch... (or maybe that was just that one thing beyond her influence? ;)) Anyway, right now she says you should all buy my products... Well sort of, cause my pitcher is featured in the current issue of O, the Oprah magazine.
The featured pitcher is from a small series of pitchers that I made for Huiszwaluw in Ghent a while ago, so if you're living in Belgium and want to have that special pitcher with Oprah's approval (or one of the other ones from the series), it may still be available over there!
And now I just sit back and wait for all those millions of customers coming my way... ;)
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Though I love to go on all kinds of trips and travels, I'm not the super-globetrotting-Lonely-planet-addicted type that goes backpacking to faraway areas all the time. I can say I've been to Asia cause I've once been in the Asian part of Turkey, but that's pretty much it, so the large part of Asia still lies unexplored before me. But while I stay at home, this blog does some of the traveling for me, cause this month I'm 'blogger of the month' in the Singapore interior decoration magazine Home & Decor. Good to know that in Singapore I'll still be 26 this month... ;) (oh, and maybe after all I shouldn't have sent in that photo of me sipping a margarita while I already had one too many...)
Oh and thanks all for your kind and overwhelming response to my post-birthday giveaway so far. You can still enter till thursday, but I've already decided to give away a few more postcard sets cause I'm pretty sure I can't choose just one winner. In fact after reading the first sweet comments I was almost ready to give away everything in my shop to all of you... Oh, I become such a softie when you flatter me a bit! ;)
And now I'm going to risk my throughout the years well-curated image of super-stylish minimalist design blogger (?) by showing you one of the cakes my younger sister and I made for my little birthday party... We went kind of crazy with the colorful marzipan, and when at a certain point I asked my sister 'Isn't this more like a cake for a 12-year-old?', she replied: 'No way a 12-year-old would ever want a cake like this!' (and she knows, cause with her 19 years she should be much closer to knowing what a 12-year-old likes than I do!)
I honestly had planned to make a very subtle cake with just a few carefully placed raindrops or flowers or something, but somehow once I started coloring and shaping the marzipan, the child in me prevailed! ;))
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Did I ever tell that I studied and lived in Spain for a year when I was seven/eighteen? Well, it's not very interesting to know, especially given the fact that I've lost a lot of my ability to speak and understand Spanish. But that doesn't make it less nice that my ceramics are featured in this really, really cool Spanish magazine called H magazine. And even better that I sort of understand what the underlines say... (Though it's usually not that hard to guess... You can usually be pretty sure that the lines aren't saying 'this is the ugliest stuff we've ever seen, don't ever buy it!' or something like that ;))
Well, to be honest I don't really understand all of it... Anyone who knows what 'el rasca-rasca' means? ;) (In: 'Si lo tuyo no es el rasca-rasca...')
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So nice to see my work included in the beautiful Australian art/fashion/music/craft/life magazine Frankie! Today I received a copy in the mail, beautifully wrapped by hand and with a lovely handwritten card added... Wow, this beautiful craft magazine definitely practices what it preaches!
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Like with the 101 Woonideeën feature, once again I was about the last one to know: our home is featured in the current issue of IKEA Family Live Magazine! Of course I knew we would be in the magazine eventually (I mean: I was there when they took those photos back in february...), but I was expecting us to be in the december issue, so I was pretty much surprised. I'll tell you what it's like to be real-life IKEA PR material real soon... And I hope you're not bored with my house yet!
By the way the beautiful pictures were taken by photographer Adrian Briscoe, and the styling was done by stylist Louisa Grey (plus two assistants, an art director and a writer, can you imagine a team of six people working for two days in my small apartment?)
The larger images can be seen on flickr.
PS Oh, and let's not start about that rather weird picture of us on the cover... or about the kind of funny Dutch translation of the article... Not yet!
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Besides the part about my home, 101 Woonideeën magazine also dedicated a few pages to my ceramics and etsy shop...
Though in general I'm really glad and grateful for the wonderful article, it's always, álways weird to see yourself and the things that surround you in a magazine, on television or whatever. Sometimes I see a blogger post a photo of herself (it's usually the women who do this) and then it goes like 'I know I look a little fat on this photo and my eyes seem a bit too big and my nose looks somewhat crooked and my arms seem a bit chubby and I know it's not a great picture, but this is the best I have and I hope I look nicer in real life'. It always annoys me terribly when people do that, so I'm really trying to keep myself from doing it too now (look at that full moon face! ;)) and just be proud and happy.
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Yesterday I finally got my copy of 101 Woonideeën magazine with the article on my home and ceramics, and today I took some pictures of the magazine feature. This is part one, with the pictures of my home...
The magazine pages...
And these are a few of my favorite detail shots:
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About Ninainvorm

My name is Nina, I'm a ceramics and paperwares designer and mom of Rosa and Julie. This blog is about making, living, liking, loving and so much more!

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