Wednesday, March 30, 2016

I Love Craftsy ~ An Honest Review

I discovered Craftsy because they were sponsoring Stitches West in 2013, and soon after I signed up for my first class which is Amigurumi Woodland Animals with Stacey Trock. That class started a chain reaction, and in the past few years I've purchased over a hundred classes and I've been so, so in love with all that I'm learning.

Reasons why I love Craftsy:

#1 - Learn At Home

I'm a mom of 2 little ones, and it's just not easy for me to get out of the house, especially to take crafting classes, which may be far away. With Craftsy, I can take classes at home when the kids are napping, or even playing quietly, any time I want to. And although the teacher is not watching over you directly ... I do find that I can ask the teacher questions when I need to, and lots of times other students ask what I'm thinking of asking, and I get to read the responses. If necessary, I can post a picture and the teacher will respond to you personally. It's a very rare case when I wish I had someone to watch what I'm doing and help me.

#2 - Rewatch Anything

It's a common problem for me ... I learn a technique in an in-person class, perform it in class, and after I get home, I forget how to do it. I so wished I could have filmed it when the teacher was teaching me in class! But that's usually not possible. With Craftsy, I can rewatch any technique I want, however many times. There are so many things that you do once, then you forget how to do it, so with Craftsy as long as I know where to find the technique, I can go back and rewatch that class. However ... this does lead me to one of the areas of the site I wish they'd fix. See "Things I Wish Craftsy Can Improve On."

#3 - Price

I'll admit it, Craftsy isn't cheap per se ... an average class costs $20. Although for many hours of instruction that you can rewatch as much as you want, it's definitely not expensive either. some people complain that they can watch videos for free on Youtube, which is true. But I love Craftsy's class structure and organization. It goes into much more in depth, and you are usually taken through a progression of skill level. Sometimes you don't even know what you don't know, so there's no way to look for it on Youtube. In addition, a lot of these teachers are world-renowned crafters, so if you take a class with them in person, it can get much, much more expensive. Craftsy classes go on major sales quite a few times a year, so that is the best time to pick up classes in bulk. In fact, I don't even recommend paying full price for any class, unless for some reason you must take it immediately. Wait for the sale, they can be pretty incredible.

#4 - Customer Service

Most of the Craftsy classes are really, really excellent. Once in a while though, you get a class that's less than stellar. It's bound to happen. (Read the reviews, they're usually very honest!) In the few times I've complained about a class, Craftsy contacted me personally and gave my money back, every time. I didn't even have to ask for it. Also, whenever I had an issue with the site, I always get a reply very quickly, and they really work with you to resolve issues.

#5 - Class Variety

My main interests are knitting, crocheting, quilting, and sewing. In all those categories, Craftsy has pretty much any class you would want to take. Almost any technique I can think of, they have a class for. This wasn't true in 2013 when I started using the site, but over the past few years they've seriously increased their offerings, and now for those aforementioned categories, you really can learn anything you want to learn.

And because I love and use the site so much, there are of course a few things I hope they can improve on in the near future:

Things I Wish Craftsy Can Improve On:

Easier way to navigate and save students' questions & responses

There are a lot of gems hidden in the student questions & responses, but it's not really easy to search through them, and it's not easy at all to save the responses. In fact, if I wanted to make a note of something someone said, I'd pretty much have to copy & paste it into some textfile somewhere. Not a good interface.

Create a profile of topics I'm interested in so I get alerts

Craftsy has realized that I like knitting ... and I get a lot of alerts for new knitting classes. But I also have a large amount of crochet classes, and sewing classes, and quilting classes. But to date I've yet to receive a single alert for new classes in those categories from Craftsy. I want to hear about new classes as soon as they come up, instead of having to poll the site on a weekly basis.

Easier way to get to free classes

Craftsy has a lot of really great mini classes, that are also free. And I mean, really great, sometimes I can hard believe the free content in those classes. Much better than a Youtube video, for sure. But they certainly don't make it easy to find, or advertise these free classes at all. In fact, if you scrolled through a list of classes, the free ones aren't even listed. You have to specifically filter "Free Classes" to find them.

Search your notes across classes

As I mentioned it's great to be able to rewatch techniques. Craftsy has a way for you to save a video note, so you know exactly where to go in that class to find techniques ... but what if I can't remember in which class the technique was taught? Say I'm watching a bead knitting class, and the instructor showed a great bind-off that I saved a note on. I wouldn't immediately connect a bind-off with bead knitting, so if I wanted to find out how to do it later, I wouldn't know where the technique was, without clicking through all my classes and checking my notes. There has *got* to be a better way to do that!

This is my completely unbiased review. I certainly was not paid to write this, nor was I asked in any way, shape, or form. I just want to share the love of Craftsy ... after all, the more people who sign up to take classes, the more classes they can offer, and the cycle will continue!

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