Sewing Influencers - Part 2: Am I a Sewing Influencer?
Reminder: I am not a lawyer and you should not consider the contents of this post to be legal advice. Please seek out a qualified legal expert if you need to pursue this topic with more depth in relation to your own business. Thank you for reading and I hope we all learn something!
If you missed Part 1 of this series, I recommend starting at the beginning!
So what does it mean to be an influencer in the sewing community?
From dictionary.com: An influencer is “a person who has the power to influence many people, as through social media or traditional media.” In our sewing community, that broad definition applies to anyone with a blog, Instagram or Facebook account, or a YouTube vlog where products and/or services are shared with the followers of the account.
By this definition, you might be an influencer and didn’t even know it!
Discomfort or dislike of the term “influencer” was also something that people shared with me in my Instagram DMs when I brought up the issue of advertising. You are not required to define yourself by this word if you are active in the sewing community, but like so many parts of our changing media culture, it’s probably here to stay until a new buzzword comes along.
Does marketing exist anymore without influencers?
There are some transactions or marketing tactics that I am leaving out of this discussion because the nature of them is more traditional and clear. These include:
-Sewing businesses such as a fabric store or pattern company sharing their products on their own marketing channels (business IG/FB, business blog, business website, etc). If a sale takes place, the money goes directly from the consumer to that business.
-A professional in the industry teaching a class and encouraging registrations for the class through their own website or another website. The professional may also be an influencer in their own right, but teaching a class is a very traditional means of transferring knowledge from one person to others. For example, I am teaching a sewing class at a local fabric shop. My teaching partner, Loni, and I pitched the class idea to the fabric shop and chose our own patterns based on skills we wanted to teach. I am teaching as a visiting instructor to that shop.
There are, of course, nuances to this traditional marketing, and I will expand upon situations in which sewing businesses and sewing professionals have also evolved to incorporate influencer marketing.
Now, let’s answer our original question.
Who is a sewing influencer?
If you are sharing your favorite products, techniques, skills, or knowledge through a media platform, then you are probably a sewing influencer. Even if you do not have any professional relationships with a craft business and have never received any products for free—you are still, by definition, a sewing influencer.
Here are a few examples of a business interactions in the sewing community that may require an influencer to provide additional information to their followers when they share this information:
Pattern Tester: A pattern tester is a paid or unpaid person who sews an unreleased version of a sewing pattern and provides feedback to the pattern designer. In return for their assistance in improving the pattern, the tester often receives a copy of the final pattern for their personal use.
Sample Sewer: A paid or unpaid person who sews a sample cut of fabric (like a printing strike-off) or sewing pattern so that a business may show how their product looks when sewn
Content Creator: A person who is paid in money or goods to create media content either for a sewing business’ own media channels or to share on the content creator’s personal media channels.
Affiliate links: A referral link to a product or business in which when a purchase is made through that link a small commission or benefit is added to the account of the referrer. For example, I have an Seamwork referral link on my blog and have received one free month of Seamwork when a blog reader used my link to sign up for their own Seamwork account.
Can you think of other examples in which a sewing influencer receives money or goods in return for working in some manner for a sewing business? Please share them in the comments!
We finally are getting to the BIG question. If you have a business interaction, agreement, or contract with a sewing business, how do you know if and when you need to disclose that information on your personal media channels? For that I had to learn some American history!