Who: Amanda Kingloff
Craft Styling & Content Packaging
Tips For Successful Content
From Digital Content Creator to Published Author
Where: Kos Kaffe in Park Slope, Brooklyn
The Recap: We sat down with Amanda Kingloff, author of Project Kid, to chat about her vast experience as a professional crafter and content creator. For Amanda, what began as a creative outlet blossomed into a career as a craft stylist, content director and published author. With her second book scheduled to release September 2016, she knows what it takes to make the jump from online to print and we're excited to share her tips here.
How long have you been blogging at Project Kid?
"I’ve been blogging at Project Kid for two years now, but I had a lifestyle/craft blog previous to that called The Violet Hours that I started in 2009. All of that content now lives on Project Kid."
Current Occupation/Do you blog full time?
"My kids would say I do arts & crafts for a living. But I guess the more professional way of saying that is I’m a craft stylist for magazines, I write children’s craft books (my second one, Project Kid: Crafts that Go! comes out in September 2016!), and I blog at Projectkid.com."
How did you find your way into the world of crafts; has crafting always been a passion? Did you foresee it becoming a career path?
"In 2005 or so, I was working for a fine art painter and making jewelry on the side. While I was working in a creative field, I was doing very managerial tasks, so my creative outlet was designing necklaces, bracelets, earrings, etc. in my off hours. I met Katie Brown through a mutual friend and she said, “you’re going to work for me one day.” After I did a jewelry trunk show at her Lower East Side loft, and she saw my homemade displays, my handcrafted invitations, the jewelry of course, and my charcuterie platters, she said “you’re definitely going to work for me one day.” About a year later, she called me on a Monday, I interviewed on a Friday, and I went to work the following week.
It didn’t even occur to me that crafting for a living was an option…unless you were Martha Stewart or a perpetual camp counselor. But once I started crafting for Katie’s books and TV shows, I found that I loved the puzzle of it all. I loved putting unexpected objects together and making something beautiful or useful."
You shared about your process for gut-checking craft ideas, and that your son is often the final judge on whether a craft is ‘cool’. How much time do you spend developing a single craft – what does your process look like?
"It’s funny, I’ve been developing kids’ crafts long before I even had kids. (Right before Project Kid and after Katie Brown, I was the Lifestyle Director at Parents magazine for 6 years, in charge of all craft, party, home, and holiday content.) Now that I have kids, I definitely think more critically about what I’m making. While I want the projects to be cool and trend-forward, I also need them to be age appropriate, fun to make, and then fun to use.
When I was crafting my upcoming book, I made an airplane out of an acrylic paint tube and a wooden paint stirrer (Can you picture it? The tube was the fuselage and the stirrer went across as the wings.). My son Oliver came home from school and I said, “Oliver, isn’t this plane so cool?” He picked it up, spun it around a few times and said “No mom. It’s just a paint tube covered in tape. It’s really not fun. Or cool.” (He’s five.) And that was when his career of editor was born. I rethought the airplane from the ground up and the next version was on a zip line and flew across the room. The second both my kids saw it (my daughter Sommer is 3), they insisted on making one that very moment. I knew it was a winner, and I knew I had to raise my bar.
I get asked about my process all the time, and I have to say that there is no single methodology for coming up with these projects. Sometimes two random objects are lying next to each other on my worktable and, all of a sudden, I see a craft come to life. Sometimes it comes from slowly browsing the aisles of my grocery store or hardware store. But my brain really never stops working…it’s on the clock 24/7."
We spoke about your time working for TV Personality Katie Brown Being a foundational part of your education in content creation/packaging. What are some of the most important learnings you GAINED FROM that experience?
"I didn’t even know that I could have a career in craft before I worked with Katie. I had been so entrenched in the fine art world that I had my set my sights only on jobs in galleries, museums, and artist studios, too fearful to put my BFA to the test to try to make a living as an artist.
Working for Katie taught me everything in the business of lifestyle…from how to pitch to magazines, to how to develop craft ideas, to how to produce a television series. But mostly I learned how to communicate visual ideas to people that might not know what Mod Podge or an embroidery hoop is. That single skill got me my job at Parents, countless freelance gigs for magazines, and my two book deals.
Katie used to joke that working for her was being an intern and a CEO all at the same time, which, while agonizing at times, was incredibly valuable."
As Lifestyle Director at Parents Magazine, you oversaw all digital and print content. what are your top three rules for successful content? Does your approach change when creating digital posts as opposed to print articles?
"1. Cast a wide net:
Parents was my first magazine job and I remember when I started, I kept hearing the term “service”. Where’s the service, my editors would ask. I didn’t know exactly what that meant, but I came to learn that as a magazine with a readership of almost 20 million, the content had to have mass appeal. So if I was producing a birthday party package and I wanted to do 3 different sports parties for example, that would never fly because it didn’t cast a wide enough net. So I keep this in mind when creating content for my books and website, while still keeping the work strong, from a design-y point of view.
2. Be authentic:
Nothing works if it doesn’t come from an authentic place. So even when I talk about casting a wide net when sharing ideas, I still have to love them, believe in them, and want to live with them.
3. Give permission:
Sometimes I think too much detailed instruction can scare off a new reader, but you have to be careful not to skimp on important information. In both of my books I’ve made it a point to give the reader permission to make it their own—delete decorative steps and elements that would require a trip to a special store or exhaust an impatient child. The expert crafter already takes these liberties, but a novice might feel the need to follow the recipe to a tee.
To be honest, my content doesn’t necessarily change when creating digital vs print articles. Digital articles do tend to be a bit looser and 'voicier', but I still try to accomplish the above three principles."
After six years at Parents you left and published your first book, Project Kid. What’s the inspiration behind the book and what was it like to go through the publishing process?
"Project Kid was my opportunity to do kids’ crafts in my way. I had actually pitched a much smaller book to Artisan, but my editor said she wanted to make “the bible of kids crafts” with me. And so she asked me if I could give her 100 crafts. And after taking a deep gulp, at 7 months pregnant with my second child, I said yes. No problem.
I wanted to make an evergreen book that would really never go out of style. The book has a little something for everyone, from jewelry crafts to nature crafts to vehicle crafts. I wanted the projects to have a life beyond the refrigerator door—I didn’t want them to be throw-away construction paper crafts. I wanted them to be real sink-your-teeth-in projects that kids and caregivers could do together either in one sitting or five. And I wanted kids to feel proud of what they made…so proud that they would wear the crafts, play with the crafts with their friends, or display them on a beautifully styled living room shelf. And the second book strives to do this same thing."
We’ve noticed some influencers go beyond their digital platforms and publish books as an extension of their brand. What advice would you give to an influencer who is interested in writing a book?
"First I would say, don’t quit your day job. (I kind of detest that phrase, but in this case it’s such good advice!) It’s so much work and the process is long…especially if you are used to snapping a digital pic and publishing a post 20 minutes later. But, the first time you hold that printed object in your hand, with your name on the spine…seriously there is nothing like it.
So many people, including other publishers, told me that people were not interested in buying lifestyle books of this kind anymore—that everything was available on Pinterest. And while yes, it’s true that Pinterest is rich with amazing content, it’s unedited and goes on for days. And oftentimes, the original sources are so far removed that you don’t really know that an idea is tested and doable. With a book published by a reputable imprint, so many eyeballs have read over that content, dissecting the words, the measurements, and the ingredient/material lists, that you can feel a little more confident that what you see is what you’ll get, generally speaking. (I give you permission to ignore the afore mentioned nay-sayers. Print is not dead.)
As an influencer, you already have an acute sense of your brand and your voice. Find books that you like, see who publishes them, and then read the acknowledgement pages to see if they thank an agent. That can help put you in the right direction of who would be interested in supporting and publishing your content."
What’s been the biggest challenge in shifting your focus away from creating content for other brands toward building your own personal brand?
"To be honest, I would have to say time, or the lack thereof. It’s hard to say no to magazine gigs because I know how to do them well and efficiently, but that leaves little time for personal brand and blog growth. And I have two very young kids, so there’s that.
But here I am, having coffee with Collectively, so maybe things are a-changing? Fingers crossed!"
If you’d like to schedule a coffee chat in NY, LA or SF, send us an email to Community@CollectivelyInc.com. We can’t wait to meet you!
The Collectively Team