Thursday, June 7, 2012

my Advice for new bloggers

Beth at Plum and June asked me to share some advice for new bloggers as a part of her Let's Get Acquainted! Blog Hop.  At first I was like... what would I say?  And then I figured I should say something.  Just remember to take these words with a serious grain of salt!

From reviewing the list of questions Beth sent (compiled in part from the new bloggers), it seems like the gist of it all is, "how do I write a fun blog, attract readers and basically get in on all this good bloggy stuff."  Tis a fair question, and one I'm certainly familiar with, but I think the answer is incredibly complex.

There's you and there's your readers.

So, to enjoy blogging you have to write about what interests you.  Period.  You should also only, exclusively sew what you want to sew.  It doesn't work to do projects to earn something else (readers, exposure, the feeling of being "with" the crowd, even money) if you don't truly want to do them.  It always shows.  You won't be a good writing if you're not passionate.  You won't make that incredible project if you're just fitting in.  Simply put, success in this crafty arena stems from sincere personal satisfaction and joy in your work that you can then share with others.  You need to learn to say "no" to lots of things to actually carve out your own happy trail.

That's the "you" part.

But it's not all about you.  You want readers.  Let's not talk about "why" you want readers; you just do.  They like to see fabrics in action.  They like to see projects from the beginning (inspiration strikes!) to the end (finish that binding!).  They like to hear about why you think this project totally rocks and they also like to hear the nitty gritty on your fabric fails.  You've got to be human because failures are interesting and robots are alienating.  To nail a new subscriber you probably should be posting 2-3 times a week.  Fresh content says there's a reason to stick around.

So, ask yourself then...

Do I want readers enough to make this a regular weekly thing?  It takes time!  It takes devotion.  You have to be vulnerable, genuine and friendly.  And, also, am I naturally the person who's habits and inclinations would make me a writer that the readers will enjoy?  If not, you'll be happier blogging without the goal of gaining new readers.  Remember, you've got to be "you" to be happy!

Readers Pet Peeves
These are things I've picked up that readers don't like.  It's not ME who doesn't like them, so please don't blame me!

*blurry or poorly lit photos
*more personal than fabricy content
*apologies for how rarely you write
*Captcha spam control (I just turned mine off and am not being spammed)
*saying anything bad about anyone or anything (yeah, that's a tricky one)
*too many giveaways
*feet in quilt pictures (at least it turns off some folks)
*discussing religion or politics

It's about Finding Your People

There are lots of quilty bloggers and lots of quilty blog-readers.  Don't try to be like them all!  You'll only be happy being yourself.  If you focus on developing your own style, using your favorite colors, gushing about your favorite designers, making projects that suit your lifestyle... then you'll actually draw people to you who like the real you.  And, those are the people that will stay.

The hardest thing for me still is to not compare myself with other bloggers.   There will always be people who have more followers, faster growing readerships, think up cooler events and make quilts that leave me stunned...  Well, this is actually a good thing!  Find those folks who you can follow and let them be a source of inspiration, not comparison!  Remember that they too started somewhere.  Be satisfied where you are, and then, be better.

xo,

Rachel

65 comments:

  1. Though I don't blog, I appreciate your thoughts and experiences. : )

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  2. what a great post. So insightful and full of great advice. Love the list of pet peeves, so true.

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  3. I liked this post, Rachel. True words.

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  4. I think you really hit my personal nail on the head with your pet peeve list. Couldn't agree more!!!!

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  5. I recently started a blog to document my progress as much as anything, but would love to create content others find worth following and commenting on. Thanks for this post. It came at a good time for me. I'm still trying to get the sidebar set up properly!! LOL

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  6. Nicely done - thanks for sharing, Rachel!

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  7. Thanks for the advice! I love it when your blog pops up in my reader and I count yours as one of the most inspiring and friendly. I have to agree that my biggest pet peeve with blogs is when people start a post with "SO SORRY! I'M SUCH A BAD BLOGGER, etc. etc." I usually unfollow them after too many of those ....

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    1. Wow, Molly, I so appreciate your compliment!

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  8. I'm a new blogger, and I appreciate the thoughtful, concise content of your post. I resisted the blogging urge for a couple years, until I came to the conclusion that I'm just doing it for me, no big deal. If others pop in, then that's just icing on the cake! Have a great day, and thanks again!

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  9. Perfect article, Rachel! Sometimes it seems that all the quilters in the world are producing more quilting in one week than I can do in one year. The tendency to try and "keep up with the Jones-es" is a hard one to fight. Thanks for reminding us to keep it real!

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  10. LOL! Feet in quilt pictures! I love them and think they are endearing. They make me think that there's a gal just like me who made a quilt and stood over it with her camera to share it with the world just like I do. I can see how if you have something against feet, you would feel differently. This was such a great post! Thanks for sharing your wealth of blogging experience knowledge!

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  11. Rachel,
    I have been blogging for four years, first as an adoption blogger and later a craft blogger. I cannot believe how much blogging has changed in that time. Both the adoption and the craft blog world have become seemingly so much more competitive. By that I mean, in general, the pictures on blogs, both popular and not that popular, are almost always phenomenal, the content is good, with really creative projects. I read one blogger with a good, but not huge, sized following say that she spends 4-6 hours a day on her blog - including email, blogging, working on crafts and photography. That is a part time job. Personally I just cannot justify devoting that kind of time to a hobby, especially not while raising young children.

    I agree on Giveaways. It feels like they are everywhere now.

    On blogging criticism - I agree - that is a tough one! I have had quite a few bad experiences with online tutorials that are poorly written. And because they are free and often written by another mom, I feel really awful blogging that they were hard to follow, poorly written, etc And sometimes (often!) I don't. But that's not helpful either. It's hard...

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    1. Blogging criticism is the trickiest thing. Most of us crave genuine feedback, but unfortunately it doesn't feel safe to give it!

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  12. well put rachel - it's definitely hardest to not compare to other bloggers or feel that your not in the loop with events.. great advice!

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  13. This is the kind of advice I need. I know I need to post often, have great photos, etc. but what it really boils down to is being genuine, letting yourself be vulnerable, and sewing what you want to sew for you, not for your blog. I love encouragement and advice along these lines, because I struggle with these things. I'm not a great writer, so it's tough show who I am when I have a hard time putting the words from my head into a blog post and have it flow. Thanks for the advice, I loved reading it!

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  14. Well said! Its hard to feel like your own person in a sea of sewing bloggers. The whole thing is a juggling act that I am still learning. But, through the process of trying to figure out how to blog, I have learned more about me and my interests than I ever suspected!

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    1. There's definitely such potential for self discovery.

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  15. Thank you for your advice! I'm a newbie blogger so these are great points for me to follow. Thanks again!

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  16. HA! I am amused by your list of reader pet peeves. Agree with some and not others, but what really surprises me is that people bother to mention these things. I think the feet thing has become cliched in all kinds of bloggy photography, but if you like it, I'd never write to tell you it bugged me.

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  17. I blog for different reasons and don't do it for profit or following, but I have had people complain to me about pictures, lack of pictures, family and not quilting content. I learned that I can delete their comments on blogger, so I do. I understand that lots of people blog to expand their experience base and to gain, I read a lot of blogs, but I try to be positive and when I learn or gain I try to tell the author, even if the comment is - I like that color combination or pattern and wouldn't have thought of it. Thanks to all of you that do blog and teach the rest of us.

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    1. Thank-you for speaking up!

      I was concerned that my post would come off as if the only reason to blog is to do all "these things". But I totally support the many happy folks that do it for completely different reasons. I was responding here to the direction that Beth had given me and hope it doesn't sound dismissive of those traveling other paths!

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  18. Hmmm, this is interesting. I do think it can be really competitive, and sometimes I stumble on a blog that has a ton of followers and I wonder how I missed them-great content, inspiring projects, etc. but the truth is, I only have so much time in the day, ya know?! I try to focus on a few, and develop those relationships and watch that artist develop over time. I started a blog to document my own work and to be part of the conversation. I barely know what I'm doing (for Pete's sake, I have a master's degree, why can't I figure out html code?!) but my goal at this point is to just share who I am as a quilter -we'll see if anything change over time. I'm also reluctant to share too much personal info on my blog, because if I return to my career when the kids are older, I just need to be aware (I'm a therapist). But it's hard not to put that content in, because I enjoy hearing and seeing other people's kids, and it's natural for me to want to share that. It can get complicated, all these issues, but I just try to focus on the huge benefit I get from sharing in other quilters lives-it inspires me and I think the connections with others who share in that enthusiasm for our art is helpful for us all.

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  19. Very nice. I do really write for myself. I don't have giveaways and I just do the projects I enjoy. It is nice when someone comments on my work. It makes me feel good. However, I still feel good about my projects comments or no as long as the person I give the quilt to is happy.

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  20. Great post. I appreciated your comment about the feet. I thought it was just me who didn't want to see that.

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  21. Thanks Rachel, thats a great post. Good advice with a really light touch.

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  22. Great advice Rachel! You nailed it with that last line - perfect.

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  23. Such good advice. This post right here is exactly why your blog is so amazing. Because you actually do what you say. I agree with all of the pet peeves, those thing do drive me a bit nuts. I suppose feet with shoes are better than dirty feet with no shoes :) Thanks Rachel!

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    1. I'm laughing because I had feet in a photo for like the 2nd time ever last week! LOL, thank goodness you all are still reading ;)

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    2. Funny... I was going to tell you that the spam word verification thing was driving me nuts... But I did not want to be rude... I read most blogs from my phone and could not type the codes in properly so I avoided leaving comments.

      I wish I had time to enter the giveaways but there are just so many it bogs my crafting time down... I usually look at them for ideas of new fabric but hmmm maybe I should just use the stash I already have.

      As you know I love your blog and always look
      Forward to your witty posts. This is another! Good advice. I only have 35 followers and have come to the realization that maybe that is just where it will stay because I would rather see than blog!!!! Especially when there are so many fantastic blogs already written by others!

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    3. Oh and I was admiring your feet in the picture the other day and laughing how youade them look cute and on purpose... And how normally I do not like feet in the pics!

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  24. I love your advice I wish I'd had some when I first started blogging.

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  25. Thank you, great advice! I too need to try and remember to make things because I want to, not for my blog. You forgot the "music on your blog" pet peeve. It's getting better but I still hate when I am surfing around and get blasted by someone's music choices forced upon me. I get out of there ASAP. :)

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  26. This is great advice! I think that you are right about deciding on an individual basis how much of a priority is it to grow a larger readership. Writing fun and relavant posts, taking great pics, and of course making the actual projects can become as intensive as a full-time job. It's easy to burn out. I think it's good to be honest with yourself upfront about how much time you have to actually invest in blogging versus how many readers you think you would like to attract. You may not be able to grow a large readership immediately, but posting consistently over the long term can really help to steadily create a follower base.

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  27. Thanks for the great advice Rachel, I have been thinking about starting a blog for awhile now, so will keep this post in mind if i do start one! Only just got organised with a blogger photo and Flickr account so am feeling a bit more computer organised!Sharing myself publicly is always a bit scary for me but I will take that leap one day!

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  28. If you're going to show feet, wear cute shoes I say! And I'd rather see feet then pets on fabric and quilts. Oh, the fur! Thank you for removing your capcha. They are the devil and I am not a robot. Oddly enough after posting about removing capchas during the Sew, Mama, Sew giveaway week my blog got one spam comment. Google is so awesome though: I got the email telling me I had a new comment, but when I logged into delete it I saw it was never publicly posted. Google has wicked anti-spam bots. Just thought I'd share.

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    1. I had the same disappearing comments happen to me a few times. Awesome!

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  29. Great advice Rachel! Ive started blogging in March and I'm still learning the ropes about this whole blogger thing. Initially I thought to be able to get readers to visit my blog, I'll have to write new posts about my new projects / wip often. Not long after ( a month, I think ) i thought to myself that it's getting abit stressful if I were to go along that route and that was not the plan when I wanted to start a blog - chronologise my work and to have fun blogging! Thus, I've decided to update my blog once a week and I couldn't be happier! Like you've mentioned, I am keeping it real, doing what I love at my pace and not rushing into new projects to keep up with other more experience quilters. I love receiving comments/advice and I do have followers though not many but am still happy as they do cheer me on whenever I do have something to share.
    Thanks for sharing this wonderful post with us, Rachel!

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    1. Sounds like you have really found your groove!

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  30. Thanks for the great advice Rachel! Your blog was one of the first I stumbled upon and I am always glad to see new posts! I have been giving thought to starting my own blog...just a thought or two...and I appreciate any and all advice! (Especially from a blogger/quilter whom I admire so! :) )

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  31. great advice. i agree with those pet peeves! i blog for myself and i love it. i keep blogging because of all of the amazing people i have met, you included! xoxoxo

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  32. what?! people don't like feet in quilt posts? woops, i had no idea! :) this post is spot on for a beginning blogger, and one whose blog is growing too (easy to get stage fright once you have a bigger audience). it's sort of a difficult thing to really keep your own voice when you start thinking people might take it wrong, not get your references, etc...but i've tried to keep the "it's my blog, i can write how i want" type attitude (within reason of course...i try to keep my language a bit cleaner on the blog!). the "criticism" issue is huge, though - it's incredibly difficult to critique something without being rude, since everyone seems to know everyone. anyway, i always love your posts and i don't mind feet at all! haha.

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  33. Great advice! I'm one of those that compare myself to everyone else, I need to stop that'

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  34. Such a fantastic post, Rachel. Thanks so, so much for the advice!

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  35. As a new blogger I'm always listening for tips. I tend to post my fabric then get so caught up in the project, my next post is a finished piece. I am going to try to do more progress updates. I always like to see the in between stages when I am following someone else's blog. Great post, Rachel, as always!

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  36. I think you are right on. Successful bloggers in this realm are both genuine and kind.

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  37. Awesome post! I've been blogging for nearly a year, but it's only been the last few months that I have become a more involved blogger - leaving a comment when I read a post (most of the time) and replying to my reader's comments. I have gotten to know quite a few fellow quilters around the world by doing this, and it's made the whole blogging experience so much more fun! I wish someone had told me at the beginning to concentrate on making friends rather than building readership - but now its the reason I blog :o)

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    1. Jess - I completely forgot that part. You're right - being friendly is HUGE in growing readership.

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  38. Thanks, Rachel. This is great advice (and I love your honesty!). I've been reading all the posts this week and will be using the tips to (hopefully) improve my blog. (Of course, I read your posts anyway.)

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  39. I think this works for life in general- be yourself!
    And I don't mind feet in photos-epsecially cute baby feet. Or bunny feet...

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  40. Nice post. My blog hit five years last month. I have had the best time over that five year period. Met fantastic people in real life that I never would have known without the blog and I've learnt and done so many things that I never would have otherwise. It's been a great ride, no matter how many followers I have! (Oh. And I am so grateful for the anti-spam turn off. I have had mine off all year and have had no problems at all.)

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  41. Thanks for the good advise, I agree with making the blog for me, not for a reader count. I've been reading blogs for about 8 years now and the ones that I enjoy daily are the ones where I've gotten to see and know the blogger's personality through their writing.

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  42. Thanks for the nice post. I really liked the way you've mentioned to find your own voice when blogging. I think that is the hardest thing to do. The feet thing I find very petty, why are you looking at feet when there is a quilt to look at? I'm much more annoyed by all those cat photos, and I like cats. My biggest peeve is over blogging. Too many posts a week just makes me feel bad about how little time I have to create or blog and I usually stop following. The people behind blogs have the courage to share with us, maybe we should be better readers, be grateful and just enjoy them.

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  43. Some good advice, but there's one point I have to disagree on. "Never say anything bad". I keep it real and I say if I don't like something, without just slagging that thing off. Lots of my readers have said that it's a refreshing change from the "everything is wonderful" attitude of the vast majority of bloggers

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  44. Thank you for sharing your thought/advice...sometime we tend to forget that everbody start from nobody to somebody, and I fully agreed that we always need to feel gratitude with what we have and do at all times...:)

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  45. hehe I often feel like a square peg in a round hole!!
    ps. I dont mind the feet, as they're quite often mine xx

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  46. Sometimes, I wish I had kept my blog private until I got a handle on the vulnerability aspect. That scares me. The feedback from strangers is priceless.

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  47. Thank you for the advice and insight. I especially liked the pet peeves and I would add "Proof your posts and comments for grammar and spelling errors and left out letters and words". Those kinds of errors slow a reader down, cause them to go back and reread for understanding, and reflect on your care and attention to detail.

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  48. Thanks for taking the time to write this. I think it's very important to not compare yourself to another because you will always come up short. You have to see where you're at, where you would like to be, and take small measured steps to get there.

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  49. Thank you so much Rachel for this great advice. When I started blogging a few short months ago, I did not realise just how big a learning curve I was about to embark on. I had absolutely no idea about ‘pingbacks’, ‘swaps’, ‘blog hops’, ‘buttons’ ‘link backs’ or the importance of good natural light for photographs etc. By contrast, I now have a facebook page, flickr, twitter, pinterest, instagram and a blog – all within a few months! And, if I’m honest, I have found it a bit heavy going sometimes, but I’ve learned so much from the generosity of others, like yourself, who post about their experience and for that I am very grateful.

    There are times when I feel that I am ‘not enough’ – it can appear as if everyone else is like super woman or something, churning out quilts by the dozen and I can’t keep up! I do sometimes feel pressure to post more often than I can physically manage to fit around work and my ‘other’ life. I am still working on the balance and learning as I go :)

    My main reason for starting a blog was to share, perhaps even to inspire and I have met some amazingly talented, friendly and generous people along the way. I’m finding my way, I guess, and am enjoying the path I’m on. Thanks again for taking the time to write this post for all us newbies x

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