Subscription Kit Clubs have been around for a LONG time. Ask any seasoned crafter, it’s pretty likely they can name off several that are now long out of business. Personally, I’ve been scrapbooking since my very first Creative Memories crop back in High School. I still have a stash of those border shape scissors that I pull out for my kids to use at craft time (never could cut a straight line with those things). So, in the 15 years that I’ve been scrapbooking, card making, and generally crafting, I too have seen a lot of companies come and go. However, the number of options available right now can be overwhelming!
So, how do you wade through so many companies that offer kit clubs? What used to be a simple matter of choosing between 3-5 companies is now a daunting task. I’ve talked to several people over at my facebook group about which kits they enjoy using and why. A lot of their choices are related to their personal crafting style. I did find that some people are intimidated by the commitment to a monthly kit, while others enjoy the surprise of new products arriving at their door.
For me, the choice was really difficult. I researched for months, looking into reviews, searching for unboxing videos on Youtube, and sifting through years of “past kit” pictures. After a while, this just became so overwhelming that I latched onto a brand new kit club that promised a “curated to you” kit that would perfectly match what you wanted in a kit club. Needless to say, that didn’t work out so well. However, it did give me perspective and allowed me to figure out what I was looking for in a subscription kit club. I narrowed it down to 5 important questions, once I answered those questions, I pretty quickly found a kit that fit my needs.
So, if you’re trying to figure out if you want to join a subscription kit club, ask yourself:
Why do I want to join a subscription kit club?
I know this sounds obvious, but sometimes putting your thoughts down on paper helps you to narrow down your objectives. Your answer to this question could be that you want to try new products or that you have limited access to craft supplies or even that you just don’t have time to shop for craft supplies. For me, I wanted to join a kit club because I liked that every part of the kit was coordinated already. I was bored with just sticking to one “line” of papers just to make sure things matched. I was also intrigued by the idea that some of the kit clubs offered exclusive items that they created themselves and weren’t available in the local craft stores.
Now that you have an idea of your goal, you can decide if a subscription kit club will help you achieve that goal. For some people, the convenience alone of having a full kit sent to you every month is worth joining. For others, it’s the motivation to use up last month’s kit before the next one comes. And at this point, some people realize they don’t really need to join a kit club to meet their goal. If you’re ready to pick a kit club now, ask yourself:
What is my budget?
This one is probably the biggest determining factors in what company you join with. I’ve seen kit clubs from $15 on the low end up to $50 on the high end. If your budget is $50+ a month, this won’t help you narrow down much, but for someone with a smaller budget, it will. Decide ahead of time what you’re willing to spend every month on this subscription kit club and stick to it!
What are my must-have products?
Now that you know what you’re willing to spend, take the time to evaluate your stash. Yes, I’m talking about that drawer, closet, or room full of supplies you already have. Are you overloaded on paper? Do you have too many stickers? Are you busting at the seams with embellishments? Which supplies are you running low on or use most often? Once you’ve taken a quick visual inventory of your stash (small or large), you can decide what products you really want to receive more of on a monthly basis. If you’ve just begun crafting or have used up most of your stash, a full kit with paper and embellishments would be useful! However, if you’re hoarding paper like there’s a shortage, perhaps limiting yourself to an embellishment kit would be best. Perhaps, new products will inspire you to use that stash!
What products do I want to avoid?
We all have at least one product that everyone else seems to love that we just can’t make work. Either because we don’t like the look it creates, it’s too expensive, or we don’t have the tools to make it useful. Most of us have scoured Pinterest boards, Facebook Groups, and blogs to find inspiration. We’ve seen a variety of techniques and products in action. Take note of what product(s) you would NOT want to see showing up at your door every month. For me, this was die-cut templates (I don’t have a die-cutting machine), distressing tools/products (not a look that I like on my layouts), and metal embellishments (not really sure how to use them). Now that you know what you do want and what you don’t want to see, you can answer the last question:
What is my crafting style?
Really think about what appeals to you about crafting. The colors that you prefer and patterns that catch your eye are a big clue to the style that you prefer. For example, if you love bold colors and lots of sparkle, a kit with a shabby chic style is not going to work for you. Think too about the types of projects that you do. Are you full on 12 x 12 layouts only or a smaller size? Are you mixing it up with pocket pages, planners or journals as well? Do you use mixed media materials on your projects? To answer this question effectively, go through your latest projects and see which pages really appeal to you. Quickly pick 5-10 favorites and see what they have in common, this will help you define your style.
6 Tips for Choosing the Right Company
Now that you know your budget, your must-have products, your no-go products, and your crafting style, it will be easier to narrow down your options. Chances are you still have 3-5 companies that really appeal to you, so let’s refine those options.
Consider these six tips when researching the companies further:
- Know the cancellation policy.
- While you may be excited to join the kit club now, circumstances may change down the line and you need to be prepared. Know the rules and requirements to exit the subscription.
- Consider the company’s longevity.
- This is especially important with new kit clubs. If this company is brand new, keep in mind that you are taking a chance on an untried entity. While that may not be a problem for you, expect some kinks while they establish themselves.
- Weigh the good vs. bad reviews.
- No company is perfect and there will always be someone ready to complain, so don’t let one bad review push you away from a company. If they have far more glowing reviews to just a few bad ones, it’s still worth trying out. However, if the bad reviews are consistent issues unaddressed over time, take that into consideration.
- Review previous month’s kits.
- All craft/scrapbooking kit clubs should have photos of previous month’s kits on their sites to give you a good idea of what to expect in your kit in the future. Be sure to read descriptions as well as look at the pictures. If these kits consistently contain your no-go products or don’t offer your must-haves, they could be a waste of money for you.
- Pay attention to additional fees.
- Most kit club subscriptions allow you to add-on extra products to your kit with reduced/free shipping for the add-ons. That’s a great benefit! Be aware of shipping costs and taxes, however. High shipping fees can push your kit price out of your price range, so make sure to add those figures into the total.
- Evaluate the price vs. value of products
- It’s easy to get caught up in all of the pretty things! Keep in mind that you should be getting your money’s worth too! If the kit doesn’t offer enough value, it’s a waste of your money. This is why my “curated kit” bombed big time!
When you’ve sorted out the facts, compare your favorites side by side and pick which one meets your needs best. Don’t be swayed by friends who’s style/preferences may be greatly different from your own…or those persuasive and overly excited “team members” that may receive free products for their endorsements. Once you’ve signed up, sit back and enjoy the happy mail each month! Let me know in the comments if you think of any additional tips that might help a fellow crafter!