I've always thought it best to be an open book (yes, pun intended) with everyone in my life. Personally and professionally, as a writer and designer, I try to be frank (when appropriate) and transparent (when possible).
For my own businesses, Beyond Junk and SleeplessStoryteller's Bits & Baubles, it's a committee of one. So it didn't take me long to decide that I would start to share instructions on how to make some of my jewellery designs that other crafters would be able to easily replicate.
These "Take a Page from Beyond Junk" articles will appear in the sidebar here at Beyond the Junkpile. The first one, "How to Make Quartz Earrings" is live over on the left.
I hesitated only because I've been conditioned by (some) other artists to protect proprietary knowledge. Don't tell anyone the secret ingredient, source, material, fill-in-the-blank-here bit of precious information. I've written about this on my other blog.
I also know that a lot of web-based businesses, many from Etsy, are posting endless articles with little substance, strictly for SEO benefits.
So while, yes, I do want to promote my shops, I also genuinely want to share what I make with anyone who might want to try it at home. I think that's what the handmade movement is all about. I don't think I would suffer creatively from competition or gain a huge advantage by artificially inflating my site.
Don't believe me? Read about the Nash Equilibrium theory.
To other artists, I say that not sharing what you love most about your art or craft isn't going to stop someone from copying your work. Sharing isn't going to give you a sharp advantage either. Do it because you want to be part of a creative conversation.