Thursday, October 31, 2013

How not to get onto Craftgawker

I know I've mentioned it before, but Craftgawker and Pinterest are the 2 main reasons I picked up my craft blog again after several years of it sitting dormant.  Blame it on infant induced sleep deprivation, but for a very long time I was completely lacking in inspiration or motivation....  and then I found Pinterest, and shortly afterwards, Craftgawker.  I was inspired to start making again and I finally had a bit of time to myself.

Of course, when you're a craft blogger, the ultimate place to get your posts seen is Craftgawker. Pins on Pinterest have a half life of a little over a day, but exposure on Craftgawker is much longer lasting.  It also fairly guarantees to win you a few pins along the way too - which is nice!

I was a bit of a late comer to Craftgawker, only discovering it at the beginning of 2012 but in that time I've learned quite a bit on what kinds of images get declined.  You might say I'm an expert in rejection...

And to shake things up a bit, Craftgawker have moved the goal posts along the way too.  Many of the images that have been accepted over the last 18 months wouldn't get accepted now.  More on that later...

In the spirit of sharing 'All of me,' I thought  I'd post some of the many reasons I've been declined in the past and some of my successes too.  My current tally of accepted images is 24 out of 96 and rising.  It's not a great percentage, I know, but those 24 really count!

1.  Lighting/White balance issues

This is absolutely my most common reason for rejection.  Craftgawker love nice, bright, light images with good contrast.  So often I submit an image thinking that the lighting looks spot on and then it gets rejected for lighting or white balance issues. I was convinced that this cold porcelain rose was light enough, but then it got declined.  If in doubt, make it lighter.


Of course the photo needs to be well lit before editing it.  I doubt there are many images that get onto Craftgawker using the flash on a regular compact camera.  My successful submissions have been taken outside - in the morning sun, on the windowsill - or right next to it.  A couple of mine have failed because I took them at the brightest, sunniest part of the day and everything just looked  a little 'washed out.'

2. Flat Lighting

Flat or dull lighting is another very common reason for submissions being declined.  I'm reliably informed that flat lighting means 'even front lighting of a subject producing little contrast, no shadows and no modelling.'  I think that maybe the tiara below was a bit overlit and so there are very few shadows.  They said that the background looked 'artificial'.  In contrast, the shadows on the candy melt daisies below don't really do anything to enhance the image.  I didn't have a second chance to submit either of these as I had to give the tiara away before I had a chance to rectify the photograph and well, the candy melt daisies got eaten...  They were nice though.

3. Sharpness (or lack thereof)

This is another major factor in images being rejected.  I don't have a fancy SLR camera but it is a pretty decent compact camera.  The picture quality is very good, but when I first started submitting images, most of my replies said that the image lacked sharpness, or were a little blurry.  To compensate, my Photoshop skills have also significantly improved since I've been submitting to Craftgawker and playing about with the sliders on 'unsharp mask' has been enough for this not to be quite so much of an issue any more.

This image of my melted Hama bead bracelet shows the photo before and after editing in Photoshop. First the levels are adjusted to improve the white balance issues and then the sharpness has been adjusted.

4. Consider your backgrounds

This little project of painting pots became a bit of an obsession for me.  I finally managed to get it accepted after the 5th attempt.  I submitted 4 images, all looking very much like the first one and they were coming back with lighting issues.  The 4th reply was a bit more helpful and said that my cup had a 'blueish tinge'. This was most likely caused by the blue paper reflecting on the white of the mug.  I changed the colour of the background and my lighting issues were no longer there. Accepted!


5. Submit an image of the finished craft

It seems like an obvious one, but on this particular project I was really getting desperate.  This was my 5th submission and I kept getting replies saying that it was unclear what the craft was.  I thought that if I showed the leaf garland and the headband, with a needle and thread to attach the two together, it might be enough to see what the DIY was. Apparently not.


6. If it can be worn, wear it

The main reason that I submitted the leaf headband so many times was because I was really resisting putting an image of myself wearing it on my blog. Over a year of gazing at Craftgawker has taught me that clothes, hats and headbands are shown far more often being worn by a person than laid flat on a pretty background.  They just look better and you can see what they are straight away. 
I'm rarely happy with images of myself and so putting one of myself on my blog made me feel a little exposed.  It's silly really, I know.  Maybe I just need to get over myself...


7. Make sure the image is actually in your blog post

Another blatantly obvious one, but it has caught me out once.  I'm in the UK and so I tend to get my rejection e-mails from Craftgawker at between 7 and 8pm, just as I'm putting my daughter to bed and about to relax for the evening.  (If it's an acceptance they tend to come through an hour or two later.)  Craftgawker are pretty on the ball with their replies and so it's possible to submit another image and get it onto Craftgawker within that short window.  It was the quick rush to look through alternative images and edit one to size which caused me to submit an image that I hadn't posted to my blog.  I can't see me doing that twice.

8. Craft composition/awkward angle.

I've had a couple of these.  Once or twice I was tempted to get arty and submit an image of a craft item that had been taken at an interesting angle to show off the detail.  This was quite a long narrow card and I couldn't take a picture of the whole thing without it looking like all background and very little card.  Arty and interesting angles look great on your blog as additional photographs, but Craftgawker want their readers to able to work out what they're looking at straight away.


In this case it made sense to focus on a small part of the card, but I doubt this would be acceptable in many instances.

9. Shoot and crop carefully

This one really goes hand in hand with composition and angle.  Craftgawker now accept images that are a minimum of 275 x 275 pixels.  (It used to be 250 x 250 which kind of explains why some of the older images aren't quite so sharp.)  It makes sense to submit images that have already been cropped before you submit them so that you have more control over the final image.  Also, submitting your image in 275 x 275 pixels should hopefully prevent any loss of quality by the image being compressed further to reduce its size.  It's taken me a very long time, but I've gradually started to take photographs with this requirement for a square image in mind.  I've lost track of the number of images that I've needed to edit the background in Photoshop as I've forgotten to allow for the image to be cropped square.  The shaded areas in the picture of shrink plastic below show where I needed to stretch my image to make it square.  Thankfully the wooden floor is very forgiving.

It also should go without saying that a poorly cropped or framed photograph will also be declined.  I am yet to 'style' my images with props and backgrounds and I know that that's something I need to attempt soon.

10. Photograph previously submitted

This was a frustrating one.  I'd tied myself in knots, trying to alter that blessed painted pot.  I kept tweaking the image so much that I must have submitted 2 images that were virtually identical.  I could see the difference between the images side by side, but I imagine that when the images were received one after the other, they must have looked exactly the same, with the same lighting issues. This is also a warning not to be tempted to submit the same photo at different times.  I don't know how they do it, but they'll know.

These last 3 are new reasons that have only started coming up over the last 6 months or so...

11. Photography is preferred over digital images

This one needs very little explaining.  One of my first images accepted onto Craftgawker was a digital image of my daughter, pixelated for a Hama bead portrait.  I must admit it did feel like I was cheating a little when it was accepted.  After all, you can't really accuse a digital image of having lighting issues or problems with sharpness.  I have since submitted a couple of digital images and had both of them rejected for this reason.



I was really pleased with this Tagxedo thank you card, but the best and only decent image I had was a digital one.

12. Text on photographs

My very first image accepted onto Craftgawker had text on it.  It was a very narrow, rectangular picture of some felt balls and the only thing I could think to fill the empty space was a title.  Many of the posts at the time had text on them and I could see that it made them stand out from the others... Maybe that's why text is no longer allowed on images, other than a small watermark.

Accepted, but breaks the new rules

13.  D.I.Y tutorials are preferred

When Craftgawker first began they used to allow submissions from commerce sites such as Etsy and Artfire.  However as Craftgawker began to grow in popularity, the number of submissions from these sites also grew and it started to turn into a marketing tool for makers, rather than a resource for crafters.  A year after launching Craftgawker, they made the decision to no longer accept submissions from commercial sites and gear the site more towards craft tutorials, ideas and inspiration.  Judging by recent feedback from my CraftGawker submissions, I'm starting to get the feeling that they are tightening up their policy a little more and they are less happy about accepting photos from sites that just talk about their inspiration for a craft item, as had been originally stated.  A tutorial or D.I.Y guide are the only projects I've had accepted for quite some time.

Neither of the posts below gave a tutorial, but they did both give pertinent information to the craft and a bit of background that might be helpful to a novice.  The most recent hand spun yarn one was declined stating that "DIY tutorials are preferred."


Accepted, but I doubt it would be accepted today

I do hope that this hasn't come across as a bitter, whiney post about how I can't get onto Craftgawker. I love the site and it's made me work on my photography and Photoshop skills along the way.  Hey, I learned how to erase wrinkles the other week - that made my day!

If you've made it this far, you're probably as obsessed with getting images onto Craftgawker as I am.  I doubt very much if this is the definitive guide to getting an image accepted, so I'd love to hear of any other reasons for images being declined?  I'm sure I'll add to this post as more reasons crop up...

Happy Crafting!


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Stephanie @ Swoodson Says said...

I've just recently heard of craftgawker, so this was a great intro to submissions! Thanks so much for sharing. Stephanie

Maria said...

Hi Kathryn,
We thought this could be useful to you, and other craftgawker submitters. The editors put together this gawkerverse submission guide about how submissions are evaluated. Hope it helps!

Anonymous said...

Hello Kathryn,

Thank you for your honest post. i was, again very frustrated because of craftgwaker. They rejected my last post six times, because of lightning issues, and at the 7th the comment was: we already submit one of your sonobe ball posts. Both posts were different but you don't have the chance to comment or contact the person who decided to reject your post!
This is very frustrating.

Don you know any alternative to craftgawker? Maybe this is the way, to look for some other websides.

Thanks again,
Perihan alias ludorn