A card swap is an easy way to create one card design and trade with fellow stampers to receive a variety of different cards. From being a Stampin’ Up! demonstrator in Michigan for over eight years I’ve participated in plenty of in person and online card swaps, so I have learned a thing or two along the way – especially tips for getting the most out of card swaps.
Read on to learn what a card swap is, what to expect at a swap, and tips to get the most out of your card swaps.
What is a Stampin’ Up! Card Swap?
A card swap is where a group of stampers come together to trade cards with each other. Each stamper makes a set number of cards of one design then trades their cards with other stampers to receive a wide variety of cards in return.
Think of your kid’s Valentine’s Day party at school. Your daughter trades her Cinderella Valentines to all her classmates and in return gets Valentines from each student.
Swaps are really fun but as you can imagine can also be a lot of work to prepare. I’ll share some tips below that will help you not get stressed out.
Benefits of Participating in a Card Swap
There are quite a few benefits of joining an ongoing card swap or just doing them occasionally. The biggest benefit is being able to make one card design and getting several new designs in return. Many stampers use these swap cards for inspiration for upcoming classes or ideas for personal projects. After every new Stampin’ Up! Catalog launch I love to participate in card swaps then add my favorites to an inspiration board in my studio not only for the decor but to also give my customers ideas as they attend my classes.
Receiving a variety of cards may also give a stamper ideas of new techniques they may not be familiar with, and is a great way to make new stamping friends by finding others with similar skills and interests.
Some Stampin’ Up! demonstrators use the cards they receive in card swaps as thank you cards for their customers or will give away a stack of them as an incentive to place an order. I’ve even heard of some demonstrators packaging up a pile of cards from swaps and selling them at craft shows.
Organized vs. Unorganized Cards Swaps
Card swaps can be organized or unorganized. In an organized or formal card swap you most likely need to sign up in advance and follow certain rules. Unorganized swaps, sometimes referred to informal or general swaps, also sometimes follow certain rules but are most often found at large conferences. For a general swap you may create a bunch of one design or a few designs and hold your cards up as you walk the halls between sessions. Someone may stop you and ask to swap or you may stop someone at lunch or at random to swap. General swaps can be more challenging for introverts as it can force them out of their comfort zones, but can also be very rewarding. Some general swaps suggest only trading card fronts so be sure you understand what is expected if you plan on participating.
How Big are Card Swaps?
Card swaps can vary greatly in size. For example, a Stampin’ Up! demonstrator with five team members may have an organized swap at their monthly team meeting. On the flip side, many people participate in online card swaps of 20 or so people. Some formal swaps at conferences or Stampin’ Up! OnStage may hold card swaps where each participant is required to make 50 or more cards, and I’ve heard of some people making up over 100 cards for general swaps at conferences. Depending on what you are looking for it shouldn’t be too hard to find the right card swap for you.
In Person vs. Online Card Swaps
You will find cards swaps both in person and online. In person card swaps are most commonly found at classes, team meetings and larger conferences or events. These swaps are obviously personal in nature and you can better meet and talk with stampers about their designs. Some stampers enjoy the personal interaction of trading in person, and it can also be fun and exciting too.
Many Stampin’ Up! demonstrators and other crafters have started online card swaps in the recent years where swaps are organized online. Cards are usually mailed to the organizer by a certain date where they are sorted and distributed to the other participants. Many online swaps charge a small fee to cover shipping expenses. Online swaps can be a good way to get a variety of designs from people who you don’t normally interact with in person.
Card Swaps Usually Have Certain Rules
Each card swap is organized differently and they all have certain rules that need to be followed. There may be specific design rules such as all cards can only feature current Stampin’ Up! products or you need to use a certain number of layers or embellishments. Other swaps may have a theme you need for follow, such as all the cards should be made using products from a certain catalog or they need to be all “Thank You” or “Christmas” themed.
Most swaps don’t require you to include envelopes, but many put their cards in clear envelopes for added protection. It isn’t fun to receive or pass out a torn up or tattered card.
What is a Shoebox Swap?
A shoebox swap is similar but quite a bit different than a typical card swap. A shoebox swap is usually formal, and you would create one card design and bring all the supplies to make your card in a shoebox. Think of a shoebox swap as a mini class, a mix between a class and a card swap. Shoebox swaps can be good to get people more involved in making the cards and there are usually certain themes or rules to follow.
Tips for Effective Card Swaps
Card swaps can be overwhelming so here are a few tips to make your swap successful without unnecessary stress.
Make simple cards that can be easily be duplicated. Some stampers will try to show off all their skills by creating incredible cards but it is not efficient to spend 30 minutes making each card unless you are participating in a “fancy” swap. Recipients of your impeccable cards may be impressed but will be less likely to recreate your design if it is too complex and time consuming. Since many stampers do card swaps for ideas for future classes, making simple and cute cards that can be easily recreated is usually a good way to go.
Trade with everyone. Someone will eventually want to trade cards with you that you don’t like their card. Remember to be polite and trade with them anyway. You should be happy that someone wants to trade with you, and you never know how you may end up using their card in the future.
While the swap is still fresh in your head, set aside the cards that you really like and determine how you can use that design or a modified version for your upcoming card class or personal project. For the rest of the cards decide how you can put them to good use. The last thing you want to do is have an overflowing box of old swap cards collecting dust.
If you really like a card you received let the original creator know. There is nothing better than receiving a nice email or social media message from someone saying they received your swap card and love it! Make sure you put your business card or your contact details on a sticky note in your swap card so others will be able to contact you too.
Take pride in your cards. Don’t wait until the last minute to slap your swap cards together. Your cards don’t have to take 30 minutes each to make but should be high quality and be a good representation of you as a stamper. Would you be happy receiving your own cards at a swap?
Enjoy Your Next Card Swap
Card swaps are a fun way to get a variety of card design ideas without all of the creative work. Find a card swap to participate in today and follow the tips above to get the most out of your swap.