Creativation University: Meet the Faculty Blog Series

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Registration for Creativation University is open! Over the next several weeks, we’ll be introducing you to some of our workshop teachers and seminar speakers here so you can learn what to expect from taking their live classes in Phoenix this January.

This week, we are kicking off this blog series by meeting Seth Apter!

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Sign up to take Seth’s fun and technique-heavy workshop, Mixed Media to the Max, and discover the many possibilities that mixed media offers both beginner and seasoned artists and crafters.

Keep reading to learn more about Seth and what you can learn from him at Creativation.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a mixed media artist from New York City with a passion for art, crafts and all things in between. From my own personal experience, I recognize the importance for those without formal training to have an opportunity to learn creative skills. I therefore spend a good deal of my time teaching art workshops in the U.S. and abroad.

I have had the good fortune to publish several mixed media art books and workshop DVDs through F+W Media and to write an ongoing column in Cloth Paper Scissors magazine. As a designer, I have product lines with StencilGirl Products, Impression Obsession, Spellbinders and PaperArtsy.

In a few words, tell us about the education session you’re teaching at Creativation.

I am teaching a workshop called Mixed Media to the Max. This class explores approaches to creative layering that are the basis for mixed media art.

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We will be using stamps, stencils, die cuts, paint, ink, gel pens, and more to create the complex layers that will set your art apart. The approach is creating random with abandon so that you can maximize your creativity and minimize that inner critic.

Who and why should someone attend your session?

This workshop is open to all attendees who are interested in learning the techniques that are the hallmarks of mixed media. The class is perfect for both beginners and more seasoned artists. Store owners looking to be able to show their customers varied ways to use mixed media products will leave with a full menu of techniques.

What are you looking forward to the most at Creativation in Phoenix?

I always look forward to attending this event. Being surrounded by the all-stars of the industry gives me the opportunity to connect and network with so many creative professionals at the same time and place. And, as I am a supply junkie, I love to be able to walk the aisles to see the newest products and trends. Plus, I am extra excited to be there this year to see all the changes in store.

What do you love most about your job?

I absolutely love the fact that I am able to be creative every day. No matter how hard I work, there is an element of play too, which I believe is absent in many other professions.

What do you love most about the creative industry?

There is an excitement and energy that is evident throughout the year as new ideas are developed and new products released. And, it is those products that offer many people an opportunity to play, relax, develop their own creativity, and heal.

Post-Show Seminar Throwback Series: Affiliate Marketing


So, you attended our Conference Program at the 2016 CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show in Anaheim earlier this year. You absorbed a ton of information on everything from basic blogging and social media to legal and finance management.

Over the past several weeks, we’ve been featuring your favorite seminar speakers to remind you of the knowledge you learned and why it is important for your creative business.

This week we’re doing a throwback to Sarah Crosby’s and Zoe Pedziwiatr’s seminar, How to Earn More and Establish Strong Relationships with Brands You Love Through Affiliate Marketing. Sarah and Zoe give expert tips and three strategies to increase your income through affiliate marketing.
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Most bloggers start blogging because they’re passionate about something and they want to share it with the world. Whether it’s photography, cooking, home renovation, fine art, or DIY and crafts, most new bloggers are surprised when they find out that people out there are actually reading what they have to say and even more surprised when they realize that they can make a living from saying it.

You might find yourself organically referencing and linking to products or services you use in your content (i.e. your camera and lenses, your favorite fabric scissors, the spiralizer you used to make that beautiful zucchini dish you made). Your readers are inspired by you—they want to make what you’ve made. They want the products that you recommend. You’re an influencer and you have an audience, which places you in the perfect position to partner with the brands you love through affiliate marketing.

What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate, at its core, is about a relationship between three parties:
1. Advertiser (brand with an online store)
2. Publisher (blogger/you)
3. Consumers (your blog’s audience)

The brand partners up with a blogger to put tracking links (i.e. product links, banners, etc.) on its site in hopes that its audience will click through to the site and make a purchase or sign up for a service. If one of your readers clicks through a link on your site, the affiliate link provides the tracking technology to be able to track clicks and sales. If your reader makes a purchase, you will earn a commission on that sale. Although commissions tend to be small, if your blog gets a decent amount of traffic and the product or service resonates with your audience, they can add up fast!

One of the most glorious things about affiliate marketing is the potential to earn passive income from long-term traffic. If you have affiliate links in blog posts that consistently receive traffic from search and Pinterest, then there’s a big chance that you could be earning money from these posts for a long time without a ton of maintenance. All it takes is some work up front.

Three Strategies to Increase Your Affiliate Income
1. Update old content with affiliate links. Take a look at your Google Analytics to find your high and medium traffic blog posts. Replace the normal URLs in those posts with affiliate links or figure out how to weave some in.
2. Add links to organic posts. These are the fun posts you plan on writing anyway. Are you referencing products? Put links in there. You never know which posts will blow up.
3. Write awesome affiliate posts. An affiliate post is a strategic, informative, product-centric blog post that strives to push your readers to make a purchase.

Start by solving a problem. What products or services are big right now? What do people want to know more about? What do YOU want to know more about? Put yourself in your readers’ shoes and think about what information pushes you to actually pull the trigger on a purchase. Write the post that you would want to read.

Affiliate Post Examples:
• Product reviews and comparisons
• Resource lists: “Where to Find X”
• Expert Info: “Best Things to Do in X”

Expert Tips
Make it personal. Figure out how to relate all this product information to your life to tell a story and make it feel organic and relatable.
Do the research. Provide all relevant information to your readers. When linking out to products, include details in your content like brand names, alternate retailers, prices, sizes, colors, material, etc.
Time it right. Consider seasonality and publish your post before expected product demand.
Use strong SEO/pinnable images. Search and Pinterest are how new readers will find you and your content. New readers equals more clicks and sales!
Spread the word! Share your affiliate post on social, add it to your blog sidebar, reference and link out to it in future posts. Keep promoting this post. Make sure to update the post with new links when relevant.

Looking to get started with affiliate marketing? Sign up as a publisher with CJ Affiliate and apply to be a part of our blogger friendly Content Certified Program. We provide everything you need—leading brands, great publisher support, resources and more!
Zoe Pedziwiatr, Content Development Manager, CJ Affiliate by Conversant

AffiliateCJ Affiliate by Conversant (formerly Commission Junction) is a leading global affiliate marketing network, specializing in pay-for-performance programs to drive results. Our network helps to create connections amid millions of online consumers daily by facilitating equitable, lucrative relationships between advertisers and publishers. Many of the world’s most recognized and specialized brands run their affiliate programs on CJ’s platform.

Meet the Instructor – Julia Benben


Registration for the 2016 CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show is open! Over the past several weeks, we’ve introduced you to some of our Workshop instructors so you could hear about their live classes and what you could expect to learn from them.

Last, but certainly not least, today we meet Julia Benben!

Has your store hopped on the adult coloring bandwagon? Take Julia’s Workshop, Color Therapy – Learn How To Use Chameleon Pens to Drive Sales In The Growing Trend Of Adult Coloring, to learn how Chameleon Pens are great additions to your product line for this growing customer base.

Plus, Julia will lead a second Workshop, Coloring Faces and Hair – Blending Made Easy With Chameleon Pens, where you’ll learn how to master difficult coloring techniques and more about Chameleon Pens’ ability to blend colors.

Keep reading for more about what you will take away from her Workshop.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Julia Benben. I’ve been in the art and craft industry for almost 20 years. I started out as an on-air craft presenter on QVC for toys, home décor and crafts, but quickly fell in love with and got hooked on the craft side of the business.

How many years have you participated in the CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show?

I attended my first Show back in 1999 when it was HIA. I have attended pretty much every year since!

What is your favorite part of the CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show? 

The MEGA Block Party! Just kidding J. As much fun as the MEGA Block Party is, I actually love the fact that I get to meet up with all the great creative and like-minded people in the industry, and share new products, ideas and techniques in person! So much of what I do with the folks I work with is over Skype or email. There is no substitute for the personal face-to-face interaction.

How would you describe a live workshop at the CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show to someone who has never attended before?

Workshops are well worth attending for your business. They give you an opportunity to learn new and creative things about craft products and projects. Also, they offer a chance for you to chat about industry trends as well as what is working for your peers! Between seeing new things, finding out what is on trend and connecting with your industry counterparts – and doing it all in one place – they’re very efficient, and fun!

Why should buyers and creative professionals take your workshop?

Buyers need to understand the hands-on experience of the products and projects their customers are buying. This knowledge makes them more capable of troubleshooting, understanding the key benefits and structuring selling to the end user; plus, it gives them ideas on how to cross promote with other products that they currently sell.

How does your workshop relate to emerging trends and the current state of the creative industry?

We really keep a close eye on what is trending by following social media conversations and talking to all our buyers and distributors. This helps us create projects that are timely for what the customer in your store is looking for!

What is the best advice you can offer about attending the CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show, whether someone is attending for the first time or is an industry veteran? 

Get in there and TRY some stuff! Don’t prejudge an item by what others might have said. Experience products for yourself and make your own call on what you like and dislike about items. I hear people chatting in the aisles, “Did you see anything exciting”…“No … not really” – that is their view. I know when I walk around, when I really take the time to look, I find cool, creative and innovative stuff everywhere. You just have to be open to it and take the time to look closely.

What do you love most about the creative industry?

The creativity, innovative ideas, pioneering spirit and dedication of the people involved.

Where do you see the creative industry in five years?

Chugging along and coming up with new stuff every year. As technology and trends change so does the sort of things people do for crafts and creative outlets.

What do you love most about CHA membership?

Nadine. The staff is great to work with!

Register to take Julia’s Workshops, Coloring Faces and Hair – Blending Made Easy With Chameleon Pens and Color Therapy – Learn How To Use Chameleon Pens to Drive Sales In The Growing Trend Of Adult Coloring, and our other CHA MEGA Conference programs before they sell out!

Thanks for tuning in for our Meet the Instructor blog series! Click here to read all of the blog posts in this series.

Meet the Instructor – Tracy Weinzapfel


Registration for the 2016 CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show is open! Over the next several weeks, we’ll be introducing you to some of our Workshop instructors so you can hear about their live classes and what you can expect to learn from them.

This week, we meet Tracy Weinzapfel. Her Workshop, DecoArt Americana Artist: Wood Art Panel, will empower you with techniques for mixed media projects using DecoArt’s newest products on wood, canvas, art journals or other surfaces. Learn more about Tracy and what you’ll take away from her Workshop below!

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Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hi, I am Tracy Weinzapfel, the Education Coordinator for DecoArt, Inc. I am proud to be part of such a great company doing what I love! I am a published multi-medium artist who enjoys sharing my passion with others! I have a unique and personal approach to education and my classes are fun to be in (or so I have been told!). My work and art studio have been featured in multiple publications.  You can find out more about me and my work at www.tracyweinzapfelstudios.com.

How many years have you participated in the CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show?

I have been participating in the CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show since before it was the CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show! I have over 10 years of trade show experience in the arts and crafts industry! (I know, hard to believe since I look so young!)

What is your favorite part of the CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show?

My favorite part of the Show is being part of a team and networking. The Show is a great opportunity to meet your retailers, fellow manufacturers and artists who come together for the good of the industry.

How would you describe a live workshop at the CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show to someone who has never attended before?

I try to make all of my workshops technique based and product informative. I want people to leave feeling like they can and will use the products they see at the Show.

Why should buyers and creative professionals take your workshop?

Product knowledge and FUN are the name of the game in my workshop. I want everyone to feel that I was personally engaging and answered any and all questions. I love when people walk away saying they can do what we did when they get home and incorporate the products we used in their stores, studios and homes!

How does your workshop relate to emerging trends and the current state of the creative industry?

I am fortunate to work with some of the latest and greatest releases from DecoArt and other partnering companies. CHA is a chance to play with products before they even hit the stores!

What is the best advice you can offer about attending the CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show, whether someone is attending for the first time or is an industry veteran?

Network, be open to new techniques and take every booth/workshop as an opportunity to learn. Even if you have seen the products, there may be new ways to incorporate them in your business.

What do you love most about the creative industry?

The people! I am fortunate to work with people I love and who genuinely have a sense of team at DecoArt, Inc. It is hard work, but so worth it for the paths you cross in this creative industry.

Where do you see the creative industry in five years?

That is hard to predict as I will be sipping a margarita on a beach with a paint brush and canvas………..

What do you love most about CHA membership?

Seeing the latest and greatest products! It is exciting and never gets old when I go to each and every trade show that I am lucky enough to be a part of!

Register to take DecoArt Americana Artist: Wood Art Panel and our other CHA MEGA Conference programs before they sell out! Stay tuned on the CHA blog next week when we meet Cathy Andronicou of Chameleon Pens!

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Meet the Instructor – Marilyn Gossett


Registration for the 2016 CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show is open! Over the next several weeks, we’ll be introducing you to some of our Workshop instructors so you can hear about their live classes and what you can expect to learn from them.

marilynThis week, we meet Marilyn Gossett! In the spirit of the Show’s 75th Anniversary, Marilyn will help you create amazing event signage using a variety of mixed media along with Deflecto message holders and frames. Sign up for her Workshop, “Create | Display | Enjoy™” with Deflecto, to experience this fun filled session complete with cupcakes and inspirational ideas to use for any celebration!

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am Marilyn Gossett. I have worked in the craft industry for 25 years as a freelance designer, product developer, consultant and teacher. I am a wife, mom and guardian of two fur babies.

How many years have you participated in the CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show?

23 years off and on. I joined as a CHA Designer the first year that CHA opened up the category for membership.

What is your favorite part of the CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show?

My favorite part is seeing all of the new products and designs. It is inspiring and overwhelming all at the same time. Almost equal to that is seeing old friends and catching up!

How would you describe a live workshop at the CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show to someone who has never attended before?

It is an exciting opportunity to get hands-on knowledge of the product and a fun time; Plus, they will have a finished sample to take back to their store or business!

Why should buyers and creative professionals take your workshop?

Deflecto is new to the craft industry, but has been around as a worldwide office supplier/manufacturer for many years. We provide innovative storage products and craft surfaces to showcase any medium and support all craft supplies. We are planning new products all of the time. It is great to have access to new surfaces to be creative with.

How does your workshop relate to emerging trends and the current state of the creative industry?

Deflecto has product appeal to many different genres of art: photography, paper crafting, and general crafts; and, who in this industry doesn’t need innovative storage solutions, surfaces and displays?

What is the best advice you can offer about attending the CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show, whether someone is attending for the first time or is an industry veteran?

Pack a pad and pencil for taking notes; attend some workshop, and visit all of the make-n-takes for business education and fun!

What do you love most about the creative industry?

New products, kindred spirits and lots of fun!

Where do you see the creative industry in five years?

I see a resurgence of grassroots companies starting up in the United States. People are looking for less clutter, more useful and repurposed items. Paper crafting will take on a new edge with the introduction of 3D printers. People are always looking for faster and easier ways to create something they love; handmade gifts, memory keeping, and home décor all seem to be trending with a down-home appeal and return to simpler days. Burlap will be around for a while. Parties will never go out of style!

What do you love most about CHA membership?

One word – ACCESS!

Register to take “Create | Display | Enjoy™” with Deflecto and our other CHA MEGA Conference programs before they sell out! Stay tuned on the CHA blog this Friday when we will meet Yana Smakula!

 

Meet the Teachers at the MEGA Show- Gail Green


Registration for the 2016 CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show is open! Over the next several weeks, we’ll be introducing you to some of our Workshop instructors so you can hear about their live classes and what you can expect to learn from them.
GGrenThis week, we meet Gail Green of Gail Green Designs! Gail will be teaching two Workshops in January: Color Your Canvas with Mixed Media and Mixed Media in Motion. Sign up for these classes to learn one-of-a-kind mixed media projects that can be for adults and children, and for a chance to win raffle prizes!

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a Chicagoland artist, craft book author and magazine columnist who has been a CHA Designer member for over 25 years. Known as the “designer in the hat”, I love to inspire others with my rubber-stamping techniques; I am always exploring new things to do with stamps, ink and surfaces.

As creator of the Sweet PETatoes® art brand, I license my illustrations on products in multiple global markets, including my own line of rubber stamps with Impression Obsession. I currently work behind the scenes for a number of industry manufacturers…and wear many hats. For more information, visit my blog.

How many years have you participated in the CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show?

My hat and I have been part of the CHA Shows for at least 25 years.

What is your favorite part of the CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show?

If I had to pick just one thing, I would say being where everything creative happens and with all the people making that possible.

How would you describe a live workshop at the CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show to someone who has never attended before?

Participating in a live workshop is like being on stage with your favorite band; You leave the stage having found your voice and knowing how to play an instrument, sing, dance, or in our business, how to achieve your current business objective. The pace is fast and the learning curve high, but the experience will totally transform you.

Why should buyers and creative professionals take your workshop?

Retail stores have become experience destinations, so it is essential for the craft shop owner to continually offer their customers a great experience in the form of demos, make-n-takes and workshops!  Color Your Canvas with Mixed Media and Mixed Media in Motion will introduce you – teachers, shop owners and staff – to new products and techniques your customers and students can successfully master, which means more sales. My workshops will inspire buyers and creative professionals alike to bring that enthusiasm right back into your own workshops and stores!

How does your workshop relate to emerging trends and the current state of the creative industry?

Both workshops include mixed media concepts. One workshop is based more on the paper craft mixed media angle and the other from the textural textile mixed media perspective. New products and emerging trends are introduced in both workshops, while also incorporating the existing fascination with mixed media.

What is the best advice you can offer about attending the CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show, whether someone is attending for the first time or is an industry veteran?

Walk the aisles, talk to people, soak in all the creative energy around you…and make sure you make time to take some workshops! The hands on experience of a one to three hour workshop is a great way to learn new techniques, get familiar with new products and also let your creative spirit be encouraged!

What do you love most about the creative industry?

Everything! This is my tribe…these are my peeps. In my experience as a licensing artist in several industries, there is NOTHING like the creative industry! The creative energy is so intense at the CHA MEGA Show, you can feel it all around you–almost as if you can just reach out and hold onto it. Plus, the people in our industry are amazing. Not only are people off-the-chart creative, but they are also extremely giving, sharing and caring.

The MEGA Show is more than just a craft industry trade event. Someone once said we all come together at the MEGA Show to learn, conduct business and reconnect…but it is also the “craft family reunion”.  So many of us consider each other as an important part of our lives – as family. That is what makes our industry so unique, and such a wonderful industry of which to be a part.

Where do you see the creative industry in five years?

The creative industry will continue to evolve. Crafts and the creative process play such a significant part of childhood development and keeping seniors’ brains strong and healthy. So much pleasure and joy come from the creative experience. That need isn’t going away any time soon.

We will always find ways to adapt and appeal to the new generations that will follow. After all, we are not only creative – we sell creativity. Plus, we work together. More than any other industry, the creative industry has the ability to both individually and collectively think outside the box.  Our industry will survive and only get stronger.

What do you love most about CHA membership?

I am proud to be a member in this industry. As a CHA member, I am part of something much larger than my little niche of creative exploration. Membership gives me the ability to not only attend trade shows and conferences, but also to be directly involved in helping make our industry much more than any of us can individually imagine.

Register to take Gail’s Workshops, Color Your Canvas with Mixed Media and Mixed Media in Motion, and our other CHA MEGA Conference programs before they sell out! Stay tuned on the CHA blog this Thursday when we meet Trish Hansen, who is teaching a Workshop sponsored by Hampton Art and DecoArt!