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The Case for Advertising

iconIt is an unwritten expectation that if you are paying to access a website, you do not see advertisements. On the Internet, free stuff has ads, paid stuff does not.

I think this is short-sighted, and here's why.

In the office last week, there was uproar when I proposed trialling advertising at Wardrobe and Foundations. Uproar for exactly the reasons stated above. You don't have ads unless the site is free, right?

I'm glad to say I convinced my team otherwise, and as we launch advertising at Foundations Revealed today, here's my reasoning for you, too.

 

finished pattern

"On all pieces I placed the grain line perpendicular to the waistline. This gave the greatest stability at the waist,
and on some of the curved panels it provided a little bias over the hips."
Competition winner Kelly Cercone walks us through the 1913 E. F. Hume Corset (Feb 2013)

 

Ever since I launched Your Wardrobe Unlock'd back in 2007, we have received regular emails asking to be put in touch with suppliers. Readers want to know where to get 4mm steels or a crinoline kit. They want to know where they can go on in-person courses, or what events are in their area. You can see it all over Facebook communities - people want  to make connections.

Meanwhile, many costumers and corsetieres email us wanting to know how to market their work and get the word out there. They are working hard and trying to make it pay. They’re selling supplies, they’re running courses, they’re putting on events and they’re designing patterns, but advertising is out of their league. The big sewing magazines or websites are hellishly expensive, multiple hundreds of dollars even for a tiny classified ad buried in the back pages, and their reach is too general. They need a highly targeted marketplace where they can get in touch with the people who want what they’re making.

 

Figure 20: The Winter Rose corset. “More and more and more” is what I'm always thinking with my corsets... More refinement, better quality, a nicer lightness of touch... It is taking time, but it's wonderfully satisfying (and horrifically infuriating!) trying to get there.

"The Winter Rose corset: 'More and more and more' is what I'm always thinking with my corsets..."
Towards a Distinctive House Style, Jenni Hampshire, Sparklewren Bespoke Corsetry (Dec 2012)

 

I set up a trial advertising feature on Foundations last week, and when the team objected, I cut it back – but it was still there.

That same day, I received an email from Laura. She's a costume maker who has just launched a corset pattern and a sewalong to help people less experienced than she into corsetmaking. She was reaching out to make connections. She has 700 followers on Facebook, and she’s trying to make it work.

That night, after I replied, she submitted an advertisement for Foundations under my trial scheme. This is the ad that threatens to so offend the unsuspecting Foundations reader:

 

Eventide Ad

 

Is it really so offensive to paying members to support and connect our community in this way?

This ad is sitting in a folder, pending my approval. (Yes, I get to vet the ads that appear on our sites.) Now: do you want me to turn down Laura’s ad, or do you want to support, connect, and strengthen your community?

 

One more story.

A couple of weeks ago I visited the International Living History Fair, where a lady in a beautiful Tudor costume caught my eye. She told me all about the historic and vintage underthings on her stall, with her partner(?) looking on proudly as she summoned up her courage and dared give me, the punter, her spiel.

She handed me her card and I recognised the name – Jo Lawler, the Seamly Woman, is one of our members at You'r Wardrobe Unlock'd. I introduced myself, and we had a lovely chat. I told her that what I love most about running these websites is not just giving people sewing instruction, but supporting them, championing small businesswomen like her to put themselves out there, by become writers, for example. She seemed a little overcome. “We need a champion,” she nodded enthusiastically, and I know exactly what she meant. It ain’t easy making a living doing what you love.

 

image 7

"I usually triple stitch each bead to ensure that it is secured firmly.
I also catch the coutil layer with at least one of the three stitches in each bead if possible."
Flo Foxworthy, Embellishing with Rhinestones and Beads (Dec 2012)

 

Now: would it be so terrible to let Jo tell you what she does in a space under our articles at Wardrobe, or to let a corsetmaker tell you about her new pattern? Would it be so awful to let her supply what you need to do your work? If she decides to give a lecture or a class, do you want to know about it?

Jo’s business card is still sitting on my kitchen table right now. I want to help her. I think you might like to help her too.

And in return for helping relevant businesses move forward in this way, could we not ask for help with that core funding we need to keep Foundations and Wardrobe going at this crucial moment?

 

If you have a small, relevant business that you'd like us to champion, we're now offering promotional opportunities for varied budgets. Get the exposure you need, and help us survive!  Find out more and browse options and prices.

Right now we have 653 members. We need 750 to survive beyond the next seven weeks, and 1000 to pay our taxes at the end of the year and keep moving forward and improving our service comfortably. If you see value here and you want to support this project, SIGN UP HERE, and share this post on social media!

I still think this project is worth saving. I hope you do too.

 

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hypraktv  
  Ads? Yes, please. But I don't think that is what you are doing.

As someone who just makes corsets for herself for fun and costuming, I would prefer to support those who are trying to make a business out of something they love. But those people are hard to find.

These sites were started to share hard to find information of interest to a specific group of people. We pay our subscription for that information. I think "places to find supplies/patterns/classes" is part of what we subscribe to learn. By charging sellers to place their information on the site you guarantee that they are serious about providing quality goods and services to your subscribers.

If you don't want to have "ads" on the sites, have a "brought to you by seller A, company B, and subscribers like you" section on the side of the pages.

I say again: relevant ads? Yes, please.
 
 
deuxlunes  
  I have absolutely no problem with vetted and well selected advertising. I would like to find information about companies that could help me with my corset endeavors at FR. I generally only dislike the almost random ads that are pushed on me by google and their ilk. As an analogous example, my favourite music magazine has extensive advertising, but the editor only permits advertising for music. Sometimes a well placed ad in this magazine has been almost as helpful in turning me onto a great new band as the writing itself. Since I personally know that the editor approves these advertisers with great care and their financial contributions allow me to receive such a great publication I do not mind their presence at all. And I will feel the same once advertising commences at Foundations Revealed.  
 
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Colleen  
  Advertising is not a bad thing! There is NO reason why you shouldn't advertise relavent materials on your site. It's not going to offend anyone, especially when we're all so used to being inundated with irrelavent and annoying ads on every other site we visit.

Advertising Windex or Charmin Ultra would be annoying and offensive! Showing support for other corset makers, pointing people to good suppliers and giving people more ways to network is NOT offensive AT ALL!
 
 
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CrikeyAphrodite  
  At the risk of repeating my last comments: back in discussions on your LiveJournal when YWU started and on every survey ever since I've made the case for advertising so I'm all for it. Why is there this perception that the internet is any different in that way to a print publication? Is it the perception that the internet is open access and free for all? Because we know that isn't the case, we know that hasn't been the case since the earliest days. When you buy a magazine you don't get it ad free because you've paid the cover price!
Adverts keep publications in business. This is why you get free newspapers. This is why you get amazing photoshoots in Vogue. And they add value. When I buy a sewing mag I look through for suppliers I've never heard of (in UK mags anyway), in a paper I might see an offer of interest etc. They aren't evil, they're helpful. So long as they're vetted and affordable (no point being priced beyond small businesses)then they can only be beneficial.
 
 
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CrikeyAphrodite  
  on championing. I've long wanted FR to have some newsy element, what's on or an editorial column. Because FR/YWU should most definitely be supporting and championing ALL the contemporary corset makers and costumers. People should be able to find out about classes and they should be able to find out that someone is doing a fashion show or an exhibition or whatever close to them so THEY can choose who to support too. FR could've been campaigning for Snibston or any number of things. If that comes in the form of ad opportunities then it's a good step. In fact you could even do a diary page where people pay a smaller classified rate to have their class or event listed. Perhaps with a social media back-up, pay for the diary entry and an alert goes on the facebook page say a month before the date. It can link in with articles too. There are any number of options and possibilities that could be explored.  
 
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juliab  
  A good compromise would be to only have advertising on the 'free' pages if that were possible. That way the people who have paid for content get to read their articles ad free, and the people surfing around for info get to see the adverts. It's the people surfing around that are going to be the most 'valuable' targets.  
 
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Lady Anthony Dewhurst  
  I think it's a great idea. No worries here. Keeping YWU and FR up and running is a good idea, too.
 
 
sparklewren  
  Agreeing with all the above. Advertising is not a "bad" thing, it's all about usage, context, appropriateness . Essentially, it's just about communication, helping the right people connect with one another. I'm all for it :-)

Also very much like the idea of a "what's on" or editorial column, just something with its finger on the pulse of the corsetry community, as mentioned above.
 
 
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downsouth  
  A big YES to relevant ads. As long as I don't end up with endless flashing giffs of 'Russian brides for you' or similar, then I think it is a perfectly acceptable way to enhance the platform.

As long as we don't lose you!
 
 
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bobbie123  
  I absolutely support vetted ads! I definitely want to know about suppliers, courses and events. I hope the placement of the ads on the webpages is not so "in your face" as on some websites, but I want ads if they are for things I want. For example, I love to peruse the small ads in the back of Threads Magazine. I have been a YWU subscriber for many years, and I think ads would be a distinct advantage.  
 
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doriag  
  I'm new to mid-19th century wardrobe creation. I'm a new subscriber~I don't want these 2 sites to disappear! Therefore, I support well-vetted ads. Because, 1)I choose to pay attention, or not, to the ads. 2)I choose whether or not I follow up on the ad's content. 3)I don't have to scrounge around on the net trying to find supply sources for the great tutorials I've found on YWU and FR. 4)It helps support these 2 great sites. Just saying.  
 
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hyaena  
  I'm an amateur hobbyist that quietly plods along and uses this site for reference and inspiration. I don't usually speak out, but on this, I will make my thoughts known.

Ads for relevant supplies and businesses? Bring 'em. Especially those that would help a beginner along their path to creating beauty. I think all of us have 'ad blindness' by now, so unless it's one of the ads that slides over your content and blocks what you're reading (interstitial advertising), I honestly don't see them unless they tickle my interest somehow.

Hearing that this site was in danger of shutting down upset me a great deal. I did copy-paste to Facebook and hollered to my crafter friends for help--hopefully some of them signed up. My vote is 'do what must be done to keep this site going'. Even if there is a minor distraction like a small ad, it doesn't affect my enjoyment of the whole.
 
 
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Kat  
  i would be happy to see such adds and think they would be a grate benefit to the site.  
 
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Michele Haywood  
  I think the format you have put forward is tasteful and affordable. As a one woman small business in the UK it is hard to reach the client base you want to specialise in and have to diversify to survive.

I for one will be looking to place an ad in the coming months.
 
 
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madamenoire  
  hi
I dont mind ads at all,corset/lingerie/bra making stuff is hard to find and why not look for stuff to buy where you look at stuff to learn/make?
ads in mags like my favourite mag threads are a joy to read,it is all info after all and isnt that what we are searching for?
jane
 
 
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withjoy  
  I'm absolutely in favor of ads. Just like every sewing and craft/art magazine I purchase has relevant ads, you should as well!! It will introduce me to suppliers and helpful resources, give those people exposure, and send a little money to the site to keep it functioning with high quality content. It's a win/win/win.  
 
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