This is the story of how I have survived the good the bad and the ugly, when starting my online learning platform, craftcast.com. I’m writing this post to share what I’ve learned along the way in hopes of inspiring others to start their business or avoid mistakes I made and enjoy some laughs together!
Way back in time, I was a creative director living and working in NYC.
My son would find me some mornings drinking coffee and watching recorded episodes of The Carol Duvall Show.
“I’ll leave you alone, you’re with your people.” he would say.
I told him I wanted to call up all the crafters I saw on Carol’s show and chat like old friends about crafts and all, but that would be sort of weird since they didn’t know me.
He said, “Start a podcast and call it CRAFTCAST and that way, you can call and interview them for the podcast. They’ll talk to you that way. “
He was right, and that’s how CRAFTCAST.com came to be.
Learning the ins and outs of podcasting was extremely challenging, and I learned lots of technical lessons along the way. Tears were shed, and glasses of wine consumed, but I stuck with it.
The original CRAFTCAST.com website had a blog, with a link to listen to the latest podcast, plus a box to sign up for a newsletter. That was the entire website.
Two or three years later, I got the courage to attend my first craft conference. I think Rio Grande Jewelry Supply hosted it. I don’t remember much about the weekend. What I do remember is finding myself sitting at a table having a beer with Tim McCreight and Robert Dancik, two well-known teachers and innovators, and I was awestruck.
Somewhere though, I gathered up some crazy courage and told them I was working on figuring out a way to host live crafting classes on “The Internet.”
Now, this wasn’t exactly true. I mean, I had thought about it, but how the heck could I make this work. Social media and webinar software wasn’t even a concept yet. It was prehistoric online times.
Well, they both said yes they would love to give online teaching a try.
I said great; I’d be in touch.
I had no idea how to make this idea work, but I had two prominent teachers that were willing to give it a go, so I went to work figuring it out.
I spent hours in my basement studio, determined.
My husband would come down late at night with a plate of food, concerned. I’m sure I looked like a mad professor spending hours testing and trying different combinations of hosting sites and audio software. It took a few weeks, but I finally came up with something I thought could work.
I purchased a microphone, patched it all together, and crossed my fingers.
The first class was with Robert Dancik.
The set up was I would get a link from an online “radio” site. I would give the link to Robert, he would log on, and that would provide us with the ability to talk in real-time to each other online, then others with the link could listen in.
For the visuals, Robert had given me a few dozen jpgs showing the step by step process for his teaching demonstration.
I uploaded all to my site, keeping track of each photo, their order, and their corresponding link. I found a chatbox program that was easy for all attendees to access and figured I could copy and paste the links to each jpg into the chatbox, following Robert’s lead while he spoke. Attendees would click on the link and see the photo he was referencing in their own computer browser window.
Now, how to tell people about this “class.”
Even though I had never sent out that podcast newsletter, 4500 people had signed up for it.
So they all got an email about how to sign up for this new online class.
Of course, nothing was automatic yet, so every time my laptop dinged from Paypal announcing another signup, I was ready with a ‘copy and paste’ response, sharing the links needed to join the online event.
Then, one more little challenge.
I needed to record the class, and there was no way on my computer to record while simultaneously hosting the class.
I figured out that if I started the online “radio” session class on my computer downstairs, I could tell everyone to hold on while I ran up a flight of stairs to my husband’s PC, logging in to the class, and turning on his desktop recording software.
When I got back to my computer, Robert was laughing, having heard me manically running up and down the stairs.
And so the class started.
Eighty people were in attendance!
I carefully copied and pasted each jpg link into the chatbox.
But now attendees seeing friend’s names in the chatbox, started typing to each other, thrilled to be chatting and saying hi. The chatbox feed was moving so fast I struggled finding a space to copy and paste the jpg URLs. I was building up a sweat.
“Hey, everybody, you’re going to have to stop typing to each other.” I said, mopping my face with my sleeve, “or I’ll never get these jpg links in the chatbox!
Robert laughed, and the class went on without a hitch.
When we finished, I said my thank you’s, logged off, ran upstairs, and saved the recording.
It worked, and everyone loved it.
I was exhausted but ecstatic.
Today online webinars and online tutorials are ordinary vocabulary words and experiences — no need to run up and down a flight of steps.
Now there are lots of other issues, security, privacy, streaming speeds, and browser issues, to name a few.
Like I said at the beginning of this post, I have survived the good the bad and the ugly.
But the good outshines it all.
CRAFT CAST, the podcast has had almost a million downloads, and the website’s online videos have had thousands and thousands of views and downloads from people around the entire world.
People have connected and expanded their skillset, and teachers have shared so generously. I owe them all so much for their willingness to play with me.
When I was eight and a Girl Scout, I earned the PenPal badge.
The requirement was to make friends around the world by writing letters to other girls your age. I wrote to a girl in the UK and one in Australia. We would share our love of making things and sometimes include an Instamatic color photo of what we had made.
The beginning of CRAFTCAST.
I’ve always been a big believer in following your Day Dreams, no matter how the good, the bad, or the ugly shows up along the way.