I wrote this article in March 2000 and it is still very useful today, over ten years later. Swappers and hostesses, please take a look. Hopefully this will help keep swapping your scrapbook items, ATCs and greeting card creations FUN!
SWAP Etiquette for Happy Trading
*Copyright 2000 by Kathleen Aho
Have some extra supplies in your scrapping bins? Do you want to enjoy the benefits of speed scrapping with more creativity than you can think up all on your own? Are you curious about supply and page swaps? Have you heard good and bad sides to swapping? Want to share your supplies and talent but not get burned? No one likes to have a bad experience.
Some swappers swap supplies. This can be done in Round Robin style. That means the hostess fills a large box or envelope full of something and sends it on to the next gal on a predetermined address list of swappers. Each person on the list then takes some things out and puts an equal amount of new things into the box or envelope. The Round Robin is sent on as quickly as possible...usually within three days. The goodies eventually get back to the hostess. She then keeps whatever is in the box or envelope at that point.
Another Supply Swap is for a specific item or category of items. Sticker or embellishment supply swaps and punch art swaps are common. Finished ATC cards, paper dolls and paper piecings are also commonly traded. Even pens, papers, and other supplies can be swapped. A set number of objects is expected to be sent to the hostess from each swapper. The hostess then makes sure each participant gets an equal amount or value of DIFFERENT supplies back. Many scrapbook site bulletin boards can inform you of new swaps starting up.
Completed pages can even be swapped! I have swapped 8x8 pages , recipe pages, and finished 12 x12 pages too. Makeover swaps are fun! This is where a hostess matches up two people and you send duplicate photos in to be creatively scrap-booked from start to finish by the other gal. Usually page size and journaling are pre-determined ahead of time and sent in with the photos. The fun of this swap is that you can get wonderful new ideas on photos which might have had you 'stuck' for ideas.
Also common are Page Kit Swaps. These can be joined by scrappers who use ANY size album because the embellishment accent elements are NOT glued down to any background paper. There is usually a set theme. Decide on a design, then you create your kit elements in assembly line style. You send in a set number of identical page kits and a design drawing or scan to the hostess. You receive back that same number of DIFFERENT page kits on that theme. Just like power scrapping with more creative input from other talented scrappers!!As a long time hostess of several very successful swaps, let me help you all out with some of the swapping etiquette do's --and don'ts-- that I have come across. I have participated in hundreds of swaps of all shapes and sizes! I hope my experiences will help you with any swaps you are involved in.
This is the first rule for swappers and for hostesses both. It is a cardinal rule and should be set in stone. Take it seriously. Your reputation in the scrapping community is at risk if you don't participate as expected. Word gets around who is honest and who is not. Give up the notion that you will get something for nothing. The rewards of swapping with other talented gals are great enough...there no need to cheat or be dishonest.
Don't Be Shy, Just Try!
This second piece of advice is for those who are new to swaps. Don't worry that your supplies or work won't "measure up". 95% of the time new swappers do TERRIFIC work and just need to get started. onestly. when I started swapping, I was a little unsure myself. Some hostesses screen their participants or need referrals before new people can join. Don't be offended by this, it just means they are being careful.
Don't let that stop you from being a hostess or a participant. Even I probably did not understand completely what was expected of me in those first few swaps. But understanding pals and hostesses make the learning experience more fun. If you are unsure what is expected, ask. Ask to see similar samples online or scans of other past swaps if it is a page kit swap. You should probably be in at least 5 swaps as a participant before you decide to hostess one.
Be Early not Late!
This applies to everyone involved! Nothing is worse than having to wait for your swaps! Don't make others wait!
Be Polite, Be Patient.
Sometimes online communication appears more abrupt than it is meant to be. Sometimes swappers are a day later than they should be. Sometimes the postal service is slow. This is especially true when you are swapping across country borders. Try to give your swappers and your hostesses the benefit of the doubt up to a reasonable point. Communicate politely in the meantime.
Here are some more specific guidelines for both participants and hostesses. Following these will alleviate 99% of the problems that would ever possibly happen.
As a Participant:
- Please read and reread your rules. Don't sign up in the first place if you are going to bail out. Understand what is expected in that particular swap.
- Save the rules email and PRINT it off. We all know computers crash and emails get deleted by accident. Avoid the problem by having a hard copy handy.
- Highlight the due date! Put it also in your day planner or calendar! It is a firm commitment. Honor it!
- Start early! If it is an intricate layout or piece you are making many of, start very early!
- Do not over commit. Do not participate in more than 4 or 5 big swaps a month. It is too much! And you had better be very organized and dedicated to do even that. Be realistic. . You being a nervous wreck is not the goal here, no matter how nice the swapping loot!
- Send nice things. A swap is not just for dumping trashy supplies or doing a poor job creatively. One scrapper's extras may be another scrapper's treasures but don't send things you know are poor quality. No bent die cuts, torn stickers, watermarked papers, items with big glue blobs or ink splotches.
- Have a tote or Bin just for each swap in progress. All your stuff will be together and no useless searching for bits or having to redo lost ones. I put a note on the front of the bin with the name of the swap and the due date.
- Send things on time or earlier. No one likes to wait. You do not want to be the person to hold up a swap for many others. The only good excuse for bailing on a swap is a family DIRE emergency or severe illness.
- Communicate! Email if you will be late. Thank the hostess. If a hostess gift was specifically requested, send one! I do not require them for my own swaps but they sure are nice! Just a nice thank you online, a sticker module or two in the envelope, or card tucked in with your swap kits is wonderful! Hostessing is harder than you think!
- Send the right amount of postage. Self address your own envelopes. Allow up to two weeks after the hostess has sent swaps out for you to get them. In Canada allow 3 weeks
- Have fun!
As a Hostess:
- Never hostess a page kit swap if you are not going to have at least 3 free hours to supervise that specific swap. Smaller sticker or supply swaps take a little less time. Hostessing a supply swap can take anywhere from one hour to three hours time to supervise. Even a ten-person swap of either kind entails reading emails, replying, answering questions, sending idea sites, going to the post office, making your own packets, and swapping out the kits or "envies" .
- Communicate! The minute any problems develop that keep you from fulfilling your duty, it is your responsibility to notify each swap participant immediately! Do not volunteer to hostess if you are having any time crunch or personal stresses.
- Decide how big is too big before you start. If you are new to hostessing, just start with a 6 or ten person swap. Sure it is flattering and tempting to just on keep letting gals sign up....but it can be too much work if you allow too many in your first swap. Decide if your swap is a round-robin, for supplies, fro page kits or for completed pages. Will you have a theme?
- Create a Rules Email that contains all the specifics the swappers will need to know:
What is being swapped? Be specific.
Is there any sort of supply NOT welcome? (i.e.. bent die cuts, mylar stickers, baby items?)
What kind of envelope should be used?
What kind of postage do you prefer? All USA?
Should they send you Stamps or money to buy stamps?
Should supplies be bagged for waterproofing?
Include your email and postal address in the confirmation emails.
Note your Thank-you gift policy if you have one.
Set a due date and make it clear what you will do with late entries.
- As you get gals signing on, print out each gals email when they commit. You will then have a hard copy with their email and the date right on it. Place these in a file folder just for this swap!! Even if you have a computer crash or other emergency, you will have the paper record.
- Keep a list of who is in your swap and their email addy for easy reference. I hand write mine on the file folder of the swap where I keep the emails from #3. I also keep an address book for swapping pals. I place their postal addresses in it as I get their envelopes.
- As swaps come in, email the sender to confirm the arrival.
- Use the bin system. Each swap I hostess has it's own bin. Label the bin. As the swaps come in to you , check them off the list (# 4) and put them in the bin.
- Keep everyone informed at intervals through the swap. Remind them of the due date. Do this each week in a month-long swap.
- Swap them all out in a timely manner. If you are waiting on "one more gal", let the WHOLE list of participants know so they do not worry. Do not wait more than 7 days past the due date to send all swaps out.
- Send out the swaps yourself. Then you know it got done. This is your responsibility. Don't let your husband mail them, or your sister....Do it yourself.
- The minute any problems develop that keep you from fulfilling your duty, it is your responsibility to notify each swap participant immediately! Because you have done #4 above, this is made easier. The only good excuse for bailing as hostess on a swap is a family DIRE emergency or severe illness. Even then, you should send ALL kits back within a month or get a trusted scrapping friend to take it over for you and apologize publicly.
- If you have a problem with someone for some reason, email them directly first. Then look them up and CALL them by phone if you need to. If both of those do not work, then ask generically and NICELY on the lists where that person is at...someone else may know.
- Thank everyone for participating. You can send a little note or goodie (like a sticker module) if you want to... At the least, send an email thank you or a written note with the envy itself.
- Have fun!
I hope this helps all who are involved in swaps to make them a happy experience! Swapping supplies and page kits can be a fun experience and a creative one! Opening a swap package is like opening a gift--a gift of the heart!