I’m a little late to the party on this one, but as I thought I’d finally find the time to finish up a Craftsy course I’d watched part-way through and then abandoned, I couldn’t escape sharing a few of my thoughts on some of the changes that Craftsy has undergone in its reimaging as the new Bluprint website. For those of you not familiar with Craftsy, it was an online craft course platform, where you could purchase a video course, watch away at your leisure, and interact with other students and the instructor through a type of integrated forum.
Originally, the pricing model is that you would buy one course and have access to it indefinitely (or whatever that means in terms of non-downloadable digital products…). Later in Craftsy’s lifetime, something called ‘Crafty Unlimited’, where you could pay a monthly subscription to access all courses on the website, was introduced as an alternative to the ‘one payment per course model’. Of course, if you unsubscribed, you would only have access again to courses you had purchased individually.
Then, something happened and Craftsy underwent a rebranding and somewhat of a change in philosophy as well, becoming what we have today known as Bluprint. In addition to the knitting, sewing and weaving fun Craftsy used to offer, Bluprint now offers additional lifestyle gems such as ‘How to Make Paper Planes and Fly Them’ and a smattering of yoga videos that I assumed were a parody when I first tried to watch one. Luckily, there Bluprint membership will also give you access to a cocktail making course that you’ll probably need to follow to wade through some of this drivel. Sorry, I mean ‘quality content to inspire busy people to creativity’.
Previous Craftsy users, don’t worry, all your purchased courses are still there hidden in the delightful new, sleek, modern and utterly non-intuitive layout. If you go to the shop, you can still purchase one-off courses for prices significantly greater than they ever were on Craftsy with all of the instructor support and interactivity removed. I never made much use of this (other than reading other people’s questions) on Craftsy but this is something to be aware of if you considered the instructor support ‘value-added’ on the course price. (I still seem to be able to ask and see questions on my old ‘Own Forever’ classes that have moved from Craftsy, just not anything I hadn’t purchased there, can anyone else confirm if this is still the case for them?)
Some courses (unless you purchased them previously) have been completely discontinued with the rebranding. A number of the Great Courses for photography and drawing seem to have disappeared, though it’s a little hard to tell because I think it has only been in the last week weeks they’ve introduced a way to browse all videos by section. They do seem to still be available as a ‘purchase for life’ course – but to me that defeats the purpose of the subscription model if I then have to pay additional to access the rest of the content. Maybe if I took the new mindfulness Great Course I’d find some spiritual enlightenment that would allow me to find my way through the opaque search menus…
However, a lot of the old Craftsy content is still there and still worth taking a look at. I did end up taking out a subscription as it came with 12 free ‘keep forever’ classes, at a subscription price that made the individual classes pretty cheap and I was interested in picking up some of the rigid heddle weaving classes.
However, should you sign up? Well… the old Craftsy content is still as great as it ever was. I raved a while ago about the lovely Basics of Digital Photography course that I can really credit with getting me started and encouraged on my adventures with DSLRs. There are a few other courses I’ve enjoyed over the years and I will still post my reviews on them in the future, in the hope that you go and hunt down the instructors elsewhere and find their work.
I thought Craftsy was great and used it a lot, so what are my problems with this new iteration? First, I’m not generally a fan of subscription models and the pricing for individual classes now is higher than it ever was (even at the rare occasion things were full price!) on Craftsy. As you can probably guess from the start of this post, it often takes me quite a while to get through a course and there’s often huge interruptions of months because I guess I don’t have a regular, easily scheduled kind of life. There’s no option of instructor support through the platform. It also sounds like it might not just be the users suffering from lack of support through these changes, but it seems like instructors are now getting a rough deal in terms of income and unfair contracts, which you can read a bit more about here.
Next, the site navigation is horrible. At every possible avenue the site has to force ‘because you watched…’ videos down your throat, including when you’re viewing your own library, or ‘what’s trending…’ I don’t care what’s trending, I just want to see what each category has to offer so I can browse. The search bar does work fine but that implies I have some prior prejudice of what I’m looking for. There is now a ‘classes’ tab which addresses some of these issues but I swear this is a very recent addition.
The final nail in the coffin for me is the whole philosophy and quality of the new content. As of course you need to fit your crafting into your carefully sculpted ‘lifestyle’ and need to squeeze your ‘wellness’ activities between being ‘out on the hustle’ and ‘building your brand’ it means that you have no attention span and therefore all information must be mashed down to some inane pureed lumps because otherwise you’d never be able to cope.
The difference in quality between the Craftsy and Bluprint courses is noticeable not just in the suddenly contracted course lengths. While many of the Craftsy courses were aimed at beginners, many of the instructors were incredibly talented teachers who brought a lot of expertise and detail to the craft table. Now, the assumption is that the viewers are both stupid and with no attention span, which is ridiculous as anyone who can manage to suffer through the whole process of making a quilt by definition has a far greater attention span than me. The philosophy seems to lean more towards trying to ‘entertain’ rather than ‘educate’.
Sadly Bluprint seems to be trying to embody a wonderful modern media trend of generating lots and lots of rapid-fire ‘content’, so it looks like there is a barrage of new courses, articles etc., without worrying about including some substance. I don’t object to them broadening the range of topics on Craftsy, but I’ve been really disappointed every time I’ve ventured out to look at something that wasn’t originally a Craftsy course and I don’t really appreciate having to wade through ‘inspirational interview videos’ and fluff articles with an average word count of 200 words of a quality that I’d only consider impressive from kindergarten child.
The good news is, now that some of the layout issues have been fixed, you can just ignore all the silly sections and the content plays in much the same way that it always did. Resuming classes is not quite so easy but, despite my dislike of the new, a lot of the content that made Craftsy great is still there and still worth watching. The change is a bit disappointing but I hope, given the generally poor reception Bluprint has had, that maybe some of this gets rectified and they find a way to look after and retain good instructors. For now though, maybe keep an eye out for offers where you can own forever courses you want, and follow your favourite instructors as they seem to be scurrying from this sinking ship.