Once upon a time, back in the days of 2009, I was working for a card and gift publisher; a lovely, independent firm that created greeting cards, stationery and gift products.
It was a great place to work, our office was within the obligatory ‘stone-throwing’ distance of a sweet shop (ye olde variety), a bakery and a champagne bar; yep – sweets, cakes and champagne – that’s all of your major food groups right there.
by 2009 I had worked there for over six years and been through a whole heap of jobs from processing the orders and helping customers to analysing product sales and juggling suppliers.
Over the years working in the industry I met tonnes of people: retailers, suppliers, buyers, artists and fellow publishers. One of my favourite times of year was when we had new products ready to launch. We’d get to visit an exhibition and show off all the new, shiny, glittered and foiled designs. We’d also get a sneaky look at what everyone else in the industry had been developing.
I’m sure you’ll remember that it was in 2009 when all of the credit crunch stuff was starting to hit. The high street and small independents were struggling; it affected a lot of our customers and in turn, it affected us. The result for our company was a need to scale back. Myself and the two lovely ladies I worked with were made redundant. It was a very sad time as I knew I’d no longer be spending my days working with some of my closest friends.
However, in true ‘glass half-full’ fashion I was also a little bit excited about the possibilities of what would come next. My first decision was to return to a role I’d had before my days in the world of cards and gifts and work as a freelance copywriter. Before all the greetings cards, this had revolved around news agencies and sports like Hockey, Rugby and Formula 1; a tad different from the gift industry.
In 2009 however it was all about websites; marketing, social media and most importantly blogging. I loved the idea of blogging, lots of folks all over the world, showing off their lives, opinions, likes and dislikes. The more I thought about it the more it seemed like the perfect medium for the card and gift world.
Over the years I’d got to know thousands of companies, big and small putting out tens of thousands of products, several times a year. With that many products from thousands of talented designers, there would always be lots to blog about. Thinking a little closer to home, I knew lots of friends starting out in the industry that had amazing products that only a few privileged few knew about.
A blog that could showcase lots of different designers and products seemed like a brilliant way to help card & gift seekers; a ‘one-stop-shop’ for fabulous card and gift products. So with little steps I resolved to create Card & Gift Blog; not the most imaginative name I admit, more of a… “does what it says on the tin.”
So the online world has introduced me to even more brilliant websites, and a tonne of talented designers all over the world. After 7 years, well over 1,200 blog posts and more than 1 million visitors I’m still not sure I’ve featured even 1% of what’s out there.
A few years ago however I also started to see possibilities that went beyond the blog. While the blog was perfect for seasonal updates I wondered if there was a way to show off the designers and brands I loved on a long-term basis. The answer was a Directory. A place where card or gift designers could list their wares long term.
At the time our blogspot home however couldn’t offer a Directory, so I hunted around for an alternative. After a bit of research I found the perfect WordPress home for the blog and its new Directory.
Now Card & Gift Blog was going beyond its blogging origins I decided it was time for a new name; once again there was lots of pondering before eventually Card & Gift Network was born; a new online hub that united a worldwide group of designers, makers, publishers and retailers to share their card and gift wisdom.
Between 2013 and 2014 I moved the blog to its new home and the Card & Gift Network chapter was live. I also set about building the Directory and this is where things went a little awry. Working in my spare time between clients and running the blog I’ve built, dismantled and rebuilt 5 directories. Hitting various brick walls and programming hurdles left, right and centre; I’m not a web designer by any stretch of the imagination so I’m learning all this as I go!
It’s not been fun, at times it’s been down right depressing, at one point “third time lucky” seemed like a charm, then … brick wall. With attempt number 4 things were so close, there was even an almost accidental launch! But now I’m on five, things are finally looking good. It’s September 2017 and the Directory is open and in BETA testing.
It’s not the only new addition to the site. There’s also a revamped School area, where card and gift businesses can learn about online marketing and selling.
In October there will be more opportunities added to get expert help and support, via coaching, consulting, mentoring and more.
Plus for the first time ever I’m creating a Christmas Gift Guide Magazine for consumers. Giving businesses even more ways to sell their lovely wares.
It’s all go, and it’s not going to slow down any time soon, so be sure to stay up to date with my progress by joining the Network below.
Card & Gift Blog Launches.
Visitors from across the world.
Fans & Followers on social media.
Card & Gift Images Submitted for Features by 1 Jan 2017.
Card & Gift Network gets a new WordPress website.
The website relaunches as Card & Gift Network.
The Trade Directory Launches