The Stone Soup Challenge is a grassroots movement founded by artist Laura Bray. The goal of the challenge is for artists and crafters to help one another by promising to use a portion of their monthly profits to invest in a fellow artist's shop. To join us in helping artists everywhere and to read more about the challenge, please go to our Facebook page.

Remember! If we all contribute a little to the pot of Stone Soup, we will all feast.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

IMPORTANT UPDATE!

Unfortunately, it appears that the Mr. Linky widget isn't going to be available to us for shop listings on this post anymore. I have been trying to decide what to do the past couple days about it. I care for my three year old daughter full time and run my business, katydid designs and I really can't take the time to keep this blog up to date without having things like widgets available to me. So I've decided that, rather than shutting down the challenge completely, we need to move over to The Stone Soup Challenge Facebook page in order to continue on our journey.

Please go the page today and add your shop link. You can also post Stone Soup Challenge shop specials and blog drawings on the page. Although a bit of change, I think this solution will allow everyone to get more exposure in the end. As of today, I will not be updating this blog. I hope you all understand the need for this change and that you will continue to work on the challenge. I'll see you over on Facebook.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Business Retreat-Southern California

If you are still deciding on whether or not to come to my Multiple Streams of Income Retreat on June 13, this may help. I'm offering a 2 for 1 special on the retreat! Find a friend and register together for the low price of $150. That's a super bargain at only $75 per person! Just contact me and give me your contact info and your friend's and I'll invoice you for the special. If you have already signed-up, and want to bring a friend, let me know and I'll honor this offer. This offer is only good until June 5, so hurry! Hope to see you at the retreat!

To learn more about the retreat, visit my website at www.katydid-designs.com.

Monday, June 1, 2009

June Drawing!


Mary Lanigan Russo of Irish Photos is hosting our drawing this month. Go to her blog, The Photo Seen to find out how to win her Celtic Knot print.

(Photo courtesy of Mary Lanigan Russo.)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Technical Difficulties

I just heard that the widget that displays the challenger's shops is down. Apparently there are problems with Mr. Linky. It's out of my control. I do have the list of challengers in a Word Document, so all is not lost. I'll keep you in the loop about how to list your shops and accessing participants (so you can shop!) once I hear from Mr. Linky. Sorry for any inconvenience!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

May Winner!

I'm pleased to announce that Cara of Cara Makes won my drawing! Congratulations Cara.

There will be a new drawing, hosted by another Stone Soup Challenger, posted on June 1, so be sure to check back and see what you can win!

I still need more volunteers for future months' contests. It's a great (and free!) advertising opportunity. Don't let it pass you by!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

May Giveaway


I'm hosting the first giveaway! To win get more information about how to win this darling little, framed print, visit my blog at www.katydiddys.blogspot.com.
Hurry! The winner will be announced on May 26th!

Challengers! You may enter this contest as well, but please be sure to spread the word on your blogs, Twitter and Facebook!

Good luck!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Monthly Business Tip From Laura Bray: Endorsements

My latest newsletter should be in your in your Inbox any minute. This month, I'm exploring ways to earn income through endoresments. If you get your projects published, you will definately want to read this month's issue. Here's a taste of the article:

If you have ever had your work published, you know the pride you feel to see your project in print. But are you getting everything you can out of your publication? Some magazines and books pay you for your projects, but many don't. So do you just write-off the work to "exposure" and leave it at that? If you are, you are missing an opportunity to get paid. Many manufacturers offer artists and crafters endorsement fees for mentioning their products by name in published projects. Afterall, you are basically advertising for them! Here are some tips to keep in mind as you explore endorsements as a way to generate income in your arts & crafts business.

If you don't get my newsletter and want to read the rest of this article, visit my newsletter archives at www.katydid-designs.com.

Endorsements are just one of the streams of income I'll be exploring at my Multiple Streams of Income Retreat. To sign-up for the retreat, visit my website at www.katydid-designs.com. Early bird pricing ends on Friday, so hurry and sign-up today!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Giveaways

I'm thinking we need to drive more traffic to this blog and one another's shops. One idea is to have regular giveaways. Everyone loves free stuff and many sites increase traffic tremendously using this marketing strategy. Here's how I think we can make it work so that you get exposure to your shop.

Email me and let me know if you are interested in hosting a giveaway. (You must be a challenge participant to host.) Then, I'll tell you when your challenge is scheduled. Once your time comes, post your giveaway on your blog and email me with the link. I'll post a notice on this blog and send everyone over to your blog. It would be a good idea to require that people comment on an item in your shop or something to ensure that both your shop and your blog get exposure. You will be completely in charge of your giveaway. This blog will be a portal to your giveaway. Does that make sense?

If you are interested, let me know. You can find my email address in my profile. Or you can convo me through my Etsy shop at www.katydiddy.etsy.com

I'll host the first giveaway so that you can see how it works. Check back here soon to see it.

By the way, if you are in Southern California, I'm hosting a workshop on Multiple Streams of Income. To read all about it, visit my blog at www.katydiddys.blogspot.com. I would love to see some challengers there!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Monthly Business Tip from Laura Bray

As many of you know, I send out a monthly, electronic newsletter filled with business & marketing tips for artists & crafters. You can view archived issues and subscribe here. I'll also post the articles on this blog. The Stone Soup Challenge is only effective if we are all making money and I hope this information will help you achieve success. Here's this month's article:

5 Questions to Ask BEFORE You Commit to a Craft Show

Most of us have experienced it...eight hours of standing behind our table at a craft show and no sales. All the time and money spent with no return! It's one of the most frightening and sad elements of doing shows. Many times, I have watched artists and crafters end their career over one failed show. Our work is so personal that we sometimes (often incorrectly) blame ourselves for the failure. But your work is rarely why a show fails. There are many factors that contribute to a poor show-some are out of your control and some are within your control. In this economy, it's more important to do what you can to make sure that the odds of a good show are stacked in your favor. Here are some things to think about BEFORE you decide to participate in your next craft show:

1. Remember your target market! If you sell indie style crafts, don't sign-up for a show that's going to draw a crowd that doesn't "get" the indie movement.

2. Ask the organizers how they are going to advertise. If you are paying a booth fee, they should be doing some pretty serious advertising, including newspaper ads. Ask them how big the sign for the show will be (outside the venue) and if it will be seen from the street. (This will tell you if there will be any walk-by traffic.) Again, keep your target market in mind. If you are sell primarily kids stuff, you may want to ask the organizers if they are planning on inviting any moms groups...


You can read the rest of the tips here.

Good luck with your spring shows!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Welcome Artfire!

Etsy, Lollishops, and now Artfire! Sellers from all online shop platforms and websites are welcome here. I've noticed a huge amount of activity from the Artfire sellers lately! Thanks for joining in the fun. If you don't sell on one of these sites, why not take a minute today to see if you can expand your online presence and add a new shopping venue to your business plan? Or, even better, go shopping somewhere new. You never know what you might find! Leave a comment and tell me where you have set-up shop or tell me which sites you like to shop on the best.

P.S. I'm happy to write articles about The Stone Soup Challenge. Contact your site adminstrators and spread the word about what we are doing over here!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match!

I recently received word from two Stone Soup challengers stating that, not only are they purchasing from other challengers, but they have joined forces and are "shop buddies"-all because they met on this blog! Basically, they cross-promote each other's shops. They aren't direct competitors, but they did notice that the items in their shops would be attractive to the same target market, so they joined forces. Now they are in front of twice the number of potential customers. Pretty cool and exactly the kind of ideas I wanted this blog to generate. The two shops are Sheepshape Spinning and Winemaker's Sister. Here's what they each had to say about their joint venture in marketing:

Sheepshape Spinning:
It all grew out of an etsy conversation! I had been on
Alchemy looking for yarn requests and saw a large number of stamp
requests. I knew from the Challenge that she made stamps so
I wrote to her. We got to talking about various things: her
successful Alchemy bid, my knitted animals, the challenges of selling these days, the benefits of selling patterns, etc. I looked at her shop again and realised that we might have a common customer base, but weren't in direct competition. I wrote to her and said: "Hey, I've just had an idea. Do you want to be shop buddies? We don't make the same stuff (so we're not in competition) but we make complementary stuff.
People buying my yarn might want your stitch markers, and people wanting your knit/sheep stamps and knitting bags might want my yarn! We could talk about each other's stuff on our blogs and link to each other's Etsy shops.
...And she liked the idea, and so we linked to each
other in our shops! This weekend I'll be writing on my blog about some of her items.


Winemaker's Sister:
When Elizabeth suggested we be Etsy "Shop
Buddies" I thought it was a great idea and a nice
extension of the whole Stone Soup concept. I had done the same thing
with the EtsyPaper street team during the holiday season.
KisforCalligraphy was my EtsyPaper buddy and we ended up sending each
other customers who BOUGHT STUFF!
I think our items work together really well -- she has the yarn and
roving and I have the stitch markers and knitting-themed rubber
stamps.


You go girls! As for the rest of us-check out some of the shops on this post and see if you can join forces too!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

We're on Facebook!

I just uploaded a page for The Stone Soup Challenge on Facebook. Become a fan! There is a discussion board and feel free to post links to your shops. You may also advertise shop specials etc. Just play nicely, okay? (I reserve the right to monitor the page as necessary!) Here's the link to the page. See you there!

Sneak Attack-Part II

The secret is out! The reason I wanted you to visit the Sneak Attack last night was because two Stone Soup shops were "attacked". One of our challengers, Heather from Wine Maker's Sister, was kind enough to nominate her fellow challengers. Here are the shops that were involved:
joyuna
ShamuMakes

Heather has been a huge supporter of The Stone Soup Challenge and I think her shop deserves a visit too. I have been hearing RAVE reviews about her hand carved stamps! Please show her some love, okay?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sneak Attack!!!

Attention Stone Soup Challengers! Set your clocks. Tonight, March 16th, at 7pm EST, there will be a sneak attack! I've heard whispers that we might want to be aware of it, so hop over to The Handmade Movement to find out what a sneak attack is.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Easter Candy



My purchase for my February challenge committment was Jorabeel's Candy Lights! I found them at a local shop, so not only am I supporting a fellow challenger, but I'm also supporting a small local business!

The pink lights are hanging in my daughter's room, but I'm going back to buy another set for my niece. I'm planning on packing them in one of my bunny boxes as an Easter gift.

Don't you just love this project using the Candy lights too! That's what I love about artists & crafters. They can take a very wonderful thing and make it spectacular. Amazing!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

IMPORTANT UPDATE FOR ALL CHALLENGERS!

I have found a way for you to add and edit your shop links yourself! Please go to this entry and enter your shop information. Even if you are already listed in the sidebar it is very important that you do this. I will be removing the sidebar list from the blog on March 12th. The challenge has become so popular that it is difficult for me to keep up adding the links and, in order to be fair, I want everyone to have their listing on this entry. The good news here is that I will have more time to do PR about our challenge and hopefully drive more supporters to the challenge and our shops. Thank you for your cooperation.

Shop at your fellow challenger's shops!

Please post your shop link in the comments here. Be sure to visit this post whenever you buy something for the challenge. These are your fellow challengers' shops and the whole point of this experiment is to support one another!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

This is the attitude I love!


When I was reading over the latest comments this week, I have to say that the comment I've copied below really struck me. It honestly outlines the attitude we all should have right now as we try to shore one another up during these difficult economic times. Here's what Carissa commented:

I'm in. I don't feel comfortable declaring an exact percentage, but I will commit to:

*Not stop spending money out of fear of what is going on in the economy

*As much as I am able, I will shop etsy first to find items that meet my needs. Even if that means spending a little bit more or foregoing free shipping I might enjoy through a bigger store or venue.

* Reward artists who create quality items and provide great customer service by shopping in their stores, even if it means I’m going to be spending more money than I would otherwise.

* Feature my etsy favorites list on my blog to help share the etsy love

* Blog about etsy sellers and products that I like to help other people find out about them, too.


I'm The Cupcake Factory and my shop lives at: http://carissamarie.etsy.com

My blog is: http://creativecarissa.blogspot.com


P.S. The photo is from Carissa's shop. The items shown are beautiful stitch markers! You can purchase them here.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Welcome Lollishops!


I'm pleased to announce that the online shopping venue, Lollishops, has joined our cause. Sadie Lou (the founder & leader of Lollishops) has even created a special badge for The Stone Soup Challenge for her shop members to put on their blogs.If you want to grab it, visit The Lollishop Blog.

Did you know that I send out a free monthly newsletter all about the business of arts & crafts? It's free and each month I write an article about business or marketing. In my life before crafting, I got an MBA, so I try to use it by helping other artists and crafters start successful businesses. You can see previous articles on my website at www.katydid-designs.com. You can sign-up to receive the newsletter there or you can sign-up here on the blog-there's a badge on the right. It's just another tool you can use to overcome the economy's current challenges.

Hey, did you know we have a group on Ravelry? Elizabeth, from Sheepshape Spinning, started it. Go here to check it out. It's people like Elizabeth, who are working to spread the word about this challenge, that will bring great success to all of us. Thanks Elizabeth!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Featured Shop-My8KidsMom


Every now and then I'm going to feature an item from one of our challenger's shops. Our first shop to be featured is My8KidsMom. Her dedication to this challenge has been phenomenal and she deserves to be rewarded. Visit her shop and order from her today! Some Fierce Tiger Handpainted Sock Yarn may be just the thing you need to keep your toes cold on cold winter nights!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Did you buy anything yet?

This is what I bought. I made sure I told the seller why I was buying too (besides loving the item!) Here's what I wrote in a convo about the order, but you could put this in the comments too!

I just wanted to let you know this purchase was made in honor of The Stone Soup Challenge. For more information about artists & crafters supporting one another, visit this blog: http://www.stonesoupchallenge.blogspot.com/

Please try to remember to let artists & crafters know about this project! It's not going to work if we don't work together. I know of only a couple of people who posted about the project on their blogs. I've decided to reward people who mention this project and get the word out. I'll be featuring the "active" members' shops on this blog. Right now, the decision process will be up to me, but we'll get more scientific about later. Come back and see who is getting featured next week!

I know that one person has already made a sale because of this challenge (besides my purchase). Anyone else have any luck?

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Badge is Here!

UPDATE FEBRUARY 18 2009

Due to the number of problems I'm hearing about the blog badge, I've taken down the link. If you want to link to this blog on your blog. (And I really want you to spread the word!) Please use a text link for now. I'll try to get a badge that works for everyone up soon. Thanks for patience!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Making a List and Checking It Twice

Thanks to everyone for your interest in this very special project! I've added all the shops of participants in the right column. If your shop name isn't there, it's probably because you didn't leave me a link & the name of your store. Go ahead and remind me in the comments of this post. If your shop name is misspelled or if the link isn't correct, please let me know.

I will be updating the list weekly, so don't get stressed if your shop name isn't up right away! Don't forget to email me if you get a sale from this challenge. We all want to hear about it!

The badge for the challenge is being worked on right now. I'll post here when it's ready. Spread the word! It's the only way this little experiment will work.

I'll personally be shopping in early February. I had a great month in January and am excited to share the wealth!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

No More Starving Artists!


I am hearing fear in the voices of my fellow artists whenever the subject of the economy is discussed. So I've decided to do something about it. Using the folktale, Stone Soup, as my inspiration, I am creating a grassroots movement in the art community to help artists overcome their fears and give them control over their future.

In Stone Soup, a stranger comes to a starving village and looks for food. He puts a boiling pot on the water and adds a stone, telling everyone he is making stone soup. Gradually, the villagers come forward with ingredients to add to make the soup. The contributions are items that the villagers are hoarding due to their fear of starvation. Each villager only contributes a small amount, but the end result is a soup that feeds everyone.

I see the same scenario happening in today’s economy. People are hoarding whatever resources they make because they are afraid. What we don’t realize is, that by hoarding, we are just perpetuating failing economy. We need to spend money and infuse the economy with cash. I’m not saying we should spend money we don’t have, but we should continue to spend.

I've created The Stone Soup Challenge to encourage my fellow artists and crafters to spend more and support one another. The basic concept of the program is to have each artist/crafter make a promise to set aside a small percentage of their net sales each month and use that money to buy something from another artist.

The challenge will officially launch on February 1, 2009, but you can get started now. Here's what you need to do to participate in the challenge:

1. Leave a comment on this post and pledge your dedication to the challenge. Once you have committed, please go to this entry and enter your shop link. Please only link to one of your online presences. We need to make sure everyone gets a chance to place a link!

2. Blog about The Stone Soup Challenge. Link to this blog everywhere you can and spread the word. The more people who take the challenge, the better. (If someone wants to make an HTML badge that we all could use on our blogs, that would be great!)

3. Decide on the percentage of your net sales that you will spend each month. It is recommended that you spend 10-25%, but it is okay to pledge whatever amount you are comfortable with. Don't forget-net sales dollars is the amount of money you make from sales AFTER costs.

4. Each month, when you know how much you will be spending, visit your favorite online venues and spend it! Focus on buying from artists and crafters. It's these people, just like you, who need the sales right now. Be sure to leave a message in the comments area of your order, telling the artist or crafter that you are making the purchase in the name of The Stone Soup Challenge and link to this blog. That way the artist you purchased from can pay it forward.

5. To help you find places to spend your money, visit this entry to see who else is a Stone Soup Challenger.

That's it! A simple, painless way for us to help one another. I can't wait to see us change the world!