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Saturday, 30 May 2015

Can Creativebug Compete?

Creative Video Workshops on Creativebug.com DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links.

There has been a new sponsor on my sidebar these last four months: Creativebug.com. I came upon it while doing a search for craft related affiliate programs a few months ago and was mainly impressed with what I saw. (I would only join an affiliate program if the merchant's product(s) makes a significantly positive impression on me.)

Although Creativebug is no longer a young operation by internet standards (launched in May 2012), it is still apparently working out some "bugs" — appropriately enough. (Specifically, I found the site's customer service area and FAQs extremely lacking and not current.) I'm sure that Craftsy — which only pre-dates Creativebug by about nine months, a fact that surprised me — had similar hiccups but, well, look at it now. Of course, I bring up Craftsy because that is the instant comparison that's going to be made when someone first takes a look at Creativebug.

The similarities are obvious. They are both crafting sites that offer a variety of lessons on video to feed the creative soul. Free content is available and is of sufficiently high quality. Both sites have blogs that highlight new content and promote specific learning opportunities. Both offer giveaways/contests to encourage user participation and bump up social media activity. (Creativebug actually gave away two Samsung tablets late last year when they launched their Android app.)

On the internet, free is always good, but quality is what keeps a customer. I was suitably impressed by some of the free stuff that I saw on Creativebug. I particularly enjoyed this little DIY lesson on how to create some yarn-wrapped wire words. (I gotta try this... I can envision an "eSheep" hanging on my wall!)

DIY: Yarn-Wrapped Wire Words - Creativebug.com
Image courtesy of Creativebug.com...

Having recently delved into the world of fabric design, I also found this little interview with Amy Butler rather interesting, as she talks about what inspires her.

Fabric Design Inspiration from Amy Butler - Creativebug.com
Image courtesy of Creativebug.com...

Speaking of fabric design, there is also a substantial class (I believe it's nine hours of video in total) produced in association with Spoonflower that takes you through the whole process of designing and producing fabric, led by Denyse Schmidt, Heather Ross and Lizzy House.

And finally, what would I jump into if I were to become a paying customer of Creativebug? Well, Betz White offers this class for a neat looking "flight bag".

Betz White Flight Bag Class on Creativebug.com
Image courtesy of Creativebug.com...

So Creativebug has obviously managed to recruit some big names to provide content. That's always encouraging. And this doesn't have to be an "either or" competition thing, as there is likely a niche that Creativebug can fill in the crafting arena.

There is no question in my mind, however, that Craftsy is king right now. The indie pattern support that Craftsy offers is truly one of a kind for new designers. (I know that I'm forever grateful.) Craftsy also offers the "one stop shop" experience by selling supplies and materials, most notably complete kits for some of their most popular projects/classes. Right now, the classes offered on Creativebug require you to go out and gather up your own materials. (I should also mention that the classes on Creativebug are significantly shorter than most of Craftsy's classes. Again, it could be a niche thing: some people may not want to commit to five hours of video instruction before completing a project.)


Creative Video Workshops on Creativebug.com


The most significant difference between Craftsy and Creativebug is the fee structure. Craftsy is pay as you go. You buy what you like and you have it for life. (Not to mention that unprecedented money back guarantee on classes.) Creativebug is subscription only for a buffet style feast... you have access to everything, but only for as long as you keep paying. When I first saw it, the fee was a somewhat reasonable $9.95 per month. It has now been chopped to a very competitive $4.95 per month. (Although I daresay that as a Canadian who has seen the country's currency drop roughly 20% in value against the US greenback over the past year, your mileage may vary depending on where you live!)

Not only that, where I first saw a conundrum, there is now a solution.

I had originally thought that for the monthly fee (which at the time was $9.95), I could get the Betz White class to make that neat looking flight bag, but I had better do it within a month's time. If not, as the months go by, I would end up paying more. If I decided to stop, I would no longer have access.

Along with the drop in price, Creativebug introduced a new feature that allows you to earn one credit per subscribed month to apply to "keeping forever" a class of your choice. I don't know about you, but that makes a heck of a difference to me in terms of how appealing this service is (or can be)! Now, even if I subscribe for only a month or two, I can get something of value to keep.


Watch live classes for FREE at CreativeLive!

[affiliate link]


The premise is still that the new classes added every month at Creativebug will entice me to stay. If I am an active crafter with an interest in a range of crafting such that the new content appeals to me, that arrangement may keep me around, particularly at the new price point. But if I am only interested in one thing, I now have the option to sign up and then be done with it after I've earned my single credit to keep that class. I think that works.

The matter of how relevant the new, on-going content will be to subscribers remains to be proven over the long haul. For those of us who are familiar with having to create enticing content on a regular basis, a month is a relatively short time... it will definitely be interesting to see if Creativebug manages to grow and prosper. In the meantime, it's definitely worth it to go and take a look.

Creativity is Contagious - 1 month free

To that end, shown above is an offer that even I couldn't refuse... complete access to all of CreativeBug's content for one month until June 30, PLUS you get to keep one class of your choice FOREVER (and yes, it's the Betz White Flight Bag class for me). I can't help but think, however, that they may be having difficulty drumming up business when offers like this are thrown out so soon after a reduction in price. Either way, take advantage while you can... I will definitely be taking a few days to "craft like crazy" and absorb as much content as I can! (Oh, and before I forget to mention, the promo code for the above offer is SUMMER2015.)

Having said all that, I will close out the post with a sobering thought: from an affiliate standpoint, I simply cannot recommend Creativebug right now.

9.95 sub price

You see the above banner? And the price on it? It's the only banner they have that shows a price and — despite at least two emails from me via different avenues, the last one on March 4 — the company does not apparently think well enough of itself to provide relevant, current affiliate banners or to answer inquiries from members of its marketing chain. Not responding to emails (apart from an autoresponder) is unacceptable for an online business trying to grow itself... especially when explicitly told that a blogger has a post planned to promote them. It's actually mind-boggling. I won't go to the actual trouble right now of "un-affliliating" myself, but you get the picture.

As a counterpoint, I contacted Craftsy about a PayPal chargeback... on Easter Friday:

Craftsy responded to my inquiry within an hour and a half on GOOD FRIDAY!

Now that's customer service! (And yes, the problem with the site was resolved on the day promised. Not only that, "Bob" and I exchanged yet another message over that Easter weekend.)

What do you think of that?

Craftsy

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