Friday, May 25, 2012

Why Craft Challenge Blogs and How to Get Started

With the invention of the internet, everyone from all corners of the globe are brought a little closer. For those people who craft, the blog world is a place to display your creations and connect with others who share similar interests. I would imagine not to long ago, someone came up with a fun idea to create a challenge blog and invite others to a common area where crafters flourish.

It is a blog dedicated to contests that may or may not give away prizes or choose winners. Challenge blogs are hosted by either an individual or a team of people. The goal is to invite people to play along with a theme or set of requirements that the hosts come up with. Since they set the guidelines, the frequency of the challenges may vary: daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.; the requirements vary: create a card, stamping only, any project, etc. In general, you should read rules carefully, so you are not disqualified. 
These are some of the reasons why joining a challenge blog might be for you:
  • meet others who have similar interests
  • share with others your creations
  • bring new visitors to your blog/site
  • gather inspiration from others (especially good for those days when you are stuck)
  • CHALLENGE yourself to think outside of the box given specific instructions
  • develop your craft resume if this is your goal (if you win, you may want to note it)
  • win prizes
For the purpose of showing you how to enter challenges, I will use examples of challenges from various blogs. One of which is Tuesday Alchemy--the current challenge blog where I am on a design team (also known as "DT"). For this particular challenge blog, the requirements are simple: 
  • You can enter anything NEW that you have made that fits into that week's theme
  • You can enter up to 3 times (or 3 different new creations)
  • You have to be a follower of the challenge blog to win the prize
  • You have to put up and mention the challenge blog's link in your blog post with the creation
  • You don't need a blog to enter, but you need to put a DIRECT link to the post (I will explain more later)
  • You have to enter within the time frame given (see below)

NEW means something you have made and uploaded online AFTER the challenge week has started, but before the deadline. 

3 times means you can submit 3 different cards, for example, for that challenge if you want, but no more (if you put in a 4th card, one of your entries will not count).

Be a follower of the challenge blog means you need to "join this site." Many of you already know what this means, but I will show you what I mean on Blogger since this is where I blog (you can do the same on any other blogging interface like Typepad or Wordpress).

  1. Look for something that looks like this image on the left (from Tuesday Alchemy blog as of 5.25.2012). Most of the time it is very apparent and can be on any of the side, top, or bottom.
  2. Click "Join this Site" and sign in if you haven't already. That's it!

Not every site will offer a prize, but some will at least choose winners for the challenge. Tuesday Alchemy partnered up with sponsors to offer digital stamp prizes. Digital stamps (or digi stamps) are cute clipart images that was designed to be printed and used in your different crafting projects--cards and scrapbooks are examples of what you can use it for. You can color it in with computer software to be printed or color it in with the supplies you have on hand (markers, crayons, chalk, colored pencils, paint, etc.). If you are announced as the winner at the end of the challenge, you follow the directions on how to receive your prize on the blog post that tells you that you have won (usually receive digi stamps by e-mail or through the sponsor's website). Some challenge blogs may even offer physical prizes like crafting supplies that they will ship to your home! For these types of prizes, you should contact the blog owner to make sure that you qualify for this prize if you live outside of their country.

You should always mention and link the challenge blog that you are entering in on the same post as your creation because it helps to promote places where you like to play and allows others to join you. All of the hard work that goes into managing and setting up a challenge blog deserves the proper credit also.

Nowadays there are so many other places where you can upload pictures, so a personal blog is not necessary to play. You can upload to Pinterest or Flickr for example, but the most important thing is to put a DIRECT LINK. It is important that you put a direct link to the project and not just a link to the general blog because it makes it hard for other viewers and the challenge blog moderators to know which project you are entering when you send them blindly to your blog. If you point exactly to where they should go, no one will question which one it is that you're entering. Here I will show you how to put a direct link using Blogger. 
  1. Take pictures of what you have made that fits the challenge you want to enter.
  2. Start a blog if you don't have one already (instructions here).
  3. Create a new post and add pictures, a title, and any other descriptions you might want to add.
  4. Locate the title (first line of words after the date) of your new blog post, hover your mouse over it.
  5. When you hit the right click button on your mouse, this menu should pop up: This was my entry for the Beautiful Butterflies challenge. You can see that my tags have butterflies on it to fit the theme.
  6. Roll over to select "Copy link address." Tap your right click button on your mouse and the box should close. Now you have copied the direct link! Don't copy anything else at this time as you will lose the link when you paste it!
  7. Go to the challenge blog and find the link widget which is usually all the way at the end of the challenge blog post. Tuesday Alchemy uses the widget (other sites may use something different, but the idea is similar).
  8. When you see the image above, click "Add your link" and this short form will drop down.
  9. URL (stands for uniform resource locator) is where you will want to enter your direct link--which I showed you how to copy before. Now that you have it saved in your computer's memory, all you have to do is paste the link to the new post. Hover over the box next to URL and right click: 
  10. After the pasting the link and typing in your information into the field, it should look like this: As you can see, the link that is displayed next to URL is not simply the link to your blog, but there are a string of numbers and words trailing it. To double check if this is the correct post with the project you want to enter, paste the link into your browser and hit enter or go. Your post should show up when the page loads. 
  11. Click "Submit link" and you're all done! Now your name should be displayed. If you click on your name, it should direct you to the post with your project that you are entering. 

Notice that you see a red "x" next to your name after you've tried. You can delete the entry if you entered something wrong.

Deadlines for submissions should have a time frame. You can poke around the site to find this information. Sometimes you'll see when the submissions link closes: 
In this case, submission collections ends in 2 days, 23 hours, and 34 mins. 

*Note: every challenge blog's rules differ so please read carefully before playing!*

Theme Challenges

Some challenge blogs will ask you to follow their theme. If they want a wedding themed item, then make sure that whatever you make will be suitable to be used for a wedding. If they ask for glitter, then put some glitter on whatever you make to fit the challenge.

Color Scheme Challenges

Sometimes challenge blogs will ask you to create items that fit into a certain color scheme. What this means is that if they ask you to make something yellow, then choose things that are yellow to create your art work--yellow flowers, paper, etc.

Sketch Challenges

Sometimes you stumble across a challenge blog that posts a sketch. If you're new to this, you might not know where to begin and it looks a bit intimidating. Once you get the hang of it though, you may find that you prefer it. Here is an example of a sketch challenge I entered in April at  CPS#262:

The first image is the sketch from the challenge site and the second image is the card I made for the challenge. Do you see the resemblance? The basic idea is to place paper, embellishments, or anything else you may want to use on your project in the locations where the sketch shows. You can follow this strictly or follow it loosely, but in the end people should see that you were following it. You can see the white strip going down on the left, the large circle in the middle sitting on top of the rectangle panel underneath. 

Feel free to choose any papers you'd like and of course, decorate it to your taste!

Combining Challenges

Some challenges limit the maximum number of challenges you can enter but, unless otherwise noted, you can combine multiple challenges. For example, if one blog challenge is a sketch and another one's theme is happy birthday, then you can work around it by using the sketch but adding things to it to make it fit into the happy birthday theme also. In this way, you can enter 2 or more challenges with the same creation. It gets a little tricky because you need to make sure that the challenges that you want to combine will have overlapping submission times.

Even though I gave you a detailed explanation of everything (because I love details), the whole idea is to still have fun!

I have created a small list to get you started (if in the future you find that the challenge blog no longer exists, please leave me a note to update). If you know of any other challenge blogs, feel free to add it by submitting the link in the widget below to help others!
If you have other questions, you can ask them in my comments section and I will try my best to answer them here. Good luck! :)


  1. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
    You took so much of your time to show and teach me about challenges that I almost feel ashamed of it-I will try to print those explantations and follow the steps!It looks complicated until I will try and soon enough I will!You are my sweet friend-people doesn't know what friendship means anymore!I wish I could help you too,so if ,there's ever something I can do,I will from all my heart and soul! Today Dana participated at a design contest-had to draw butterflies-she took a picture of it and we will post it for you!
    Thank you again and God bless you and your family! love you,Dana+ mom

  2. Eileen, how wonderful you are! Your "tutorial" was fantastic, easy to read AND understand!

  3. thats such a lovely, detailed and useful article for the newbies..i am sure going to re direct some here :)

  4. Hi there, where were you when I first started?? Great info and an absolute wonderful tutorial. I do have a question. I have been toying with the idea to start a challenge blog myself, just a fun one, not really too worried about sponsors as they will come in time I guess. I actually tried to work out the froggy link and to no avail. I am just not so tech savie. Just wondering if you could help me set up a challenge blog and or do another blog on this subject?? Would love to hear from you...blessings Hilde


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