PHEW!! It’s been a crazy 9 days. I went from having a blogging idea bouncing around in my already-jumbled brain to having a Brand New Blog (YAY!) up and running, and building my little community of Fellow Obsessed Yarn Stashers. I’m posting this as much for me as to hopefully help others start out to do the same thing. I want to document and remember this chaos for all time! Now, when I say “chaos” and “crazy”, I mean that in the best possible way. This has been an incredible challenge, but more than anything else it’s been FREAKING FUN!
So, if you’ve been thinking of maybe starting your own craft blog up, I say DO IT! Don’t hold off, don’t wait, don’t wonder if you can do it, because I can tell you, you CAN! Now, just to set the record straight, I didn’t leap headlong into this as an absolute newbie. I have made half-hearted efforts at blogging in the past, and was already sort of in-the-know on some very basic techy stuff, a teensy bit familiar with free graphics products like Canva, and am a die-hard social media tragic. All of that definitely helped me, but even so, I had to start somewhere, and it’s been a very steep (but fun, in a brain-melting fashion) learning curve.
Without further ado, and keeping in mind that I’m writing this with a particular focus on craft type blogs, here are 9 things I really wish I’d known a bit more about 9 days ago when I started this mad journey.
*Disclosure – there may be affiliate links on this page. If you click these and happen to buy anything I get a small commission, at no cost to you, which helps to offset the costs of running this blog. I only ever link to stuff I know, use and absolutely love.
1 Blog About What You Love
I know this bit of advice is in every article you will probably come across on the subject of setting up a new blog, but there is a very good reason for it. It’s absolutely vital. Now, I’m not saying you have to be an expert on the topic or niche, but you have to love it. Loving your subject matter is what will motivate you to stay up until 3am getting that Pinterest image *just* right. It is what will make you dig down deep and keep going after posting something you’re so proud of and not one single person seems to notice.
It’s what makes this all so much fun. (I did mention it’s fun, right?). It might be a hobby you enjoy, or it may be a sport, lifestyle choice, travel, parenting, making fishing flies (are they still called flies if they’re crocheted?) or how to transform old cabinets into awesome kids’ kitchens. Whatever it is, if you love it, that will show and your community will adore you for it and keep coming back for more.
2 Do Your Research
When you’ve decided what you want to write your blog about, let your mouse do the walking and do some stalking! Read every blog on this topic you can get your greedy little eyes on, and soak it up. What appeals to you about each one? What makes them so popular? Examine everything from the writing and “voice” to the layout, graphics and more. Make notes. Yes, there will be an exam.
Stalk them on social media and see how they interact with their readers. When, where and how do they update their social media? Offer to go live with them for a week to soak up knowledge in return for doing housework. OK, that last one might be overdoing it, but you get the point.
3 Be Willing To Spend Just A Little Bit
I know, I know, we’re all broke and can’t afford to spend on something that may totally crash and burn. Hang on, it’s not going to crash and burn, you’re going to rock this, so bite the bullet and find a way to scrape together a few pennies to pay for some reputable services.
I have spent less than Australian $50, but that got me self hosting (from GoDaddy), an amazing customisable theme which I had previously bought (Divi from Elegant Themes), and a few images I just had to have. There are free options out there, but trust me, a tiny investment now will pay you back tenfold down the track. I’ll talk more about the mix of free and paid services I’ve used in another post.
4. Mingle and Schmooze
This kind of goes back to doing your homework and research, but it’s so important. Check out blogs about blogging, and trust me, the internet is drowning in them! For the small price of $0 and just subscribing to their page, you can get some amazing blog-building resources including tutorials, lists of free services, and more, not to mention the wisdom and experience of others who have Been There and Done That. Ask them questions! Follow them on social media, too. Engage with them, pick their brainy brains for all you’re worth!
5. Social Media Is Your Friend
The first thing you want to do after deciding on your blog name and getting hold of your custom domain is to go and make sure you’ve sign up for all social media platforms in that name. You don’t have to go nuts and start using them all at once, but nab that name so no one else does when you start growing faster than my kids outgrow shoes!
As I’m talking about craft blogs here, visuals are so important, so I recommend focussing initially on Pinterest (oh, oh, how I love Pinterest), Facebook and Instagram to get started, because that’s where all the oh-so-pretty pictures get shared. Once you’re signed up actually start using them! Invite all your friends to support you to get started, then start following others in your niche and commenting and interacting heaps with them. You’ll make new friends and influence people, I promise! Then, once your blog is up and running you can start sharing your stuff with them. It’s a win-win.
But don’t forget about Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and others – sign up now and just set them aside to use when you’ve got a tiny bit of sanity back in your life.
6. Carry a Blogging Notebook
Yup, I’m taking paper made from trees and a pen, kind of notebook. Make it a pretty one, just for fun, and never leave home without it. Trust me inspiration for an idea for The Most Viral Blog Post Ever will hit you while you’re sitting on a train or having your teeth drilled, and if you don’t write it down you will forget it. I have sections in mine for overall site ideas, marketing ideas, post ideas, projects I want to crochet or weave, places I saw something amazing I want to share and more. It’s also handy for jotting down phone numbers and shopping lists.
7. Be Prepared To Spend Hours Blogging
This is not a quick project. It takes time. Lots and lots of time. Just as an example, in the last 9 days I have probably spent 90 hours on this, and that’s on top of my nearly full time day job and some half-hearted attempts at parenting. I know, how is that possible? Well, 15 hours a day on weekends, up until 3am… shall I go on? To be fair, I sort of have no life outside of work, family and this blog, which helps. It also doesn’t feel like work to me, because I’m having so much fun! This is more of a warning – this can eat up hours. Embrace it. Teach the kids how to make you coffee and bring you snacks. It’s worth it!
8. Don’t forget to craft
As I said, I’m talking about craft blogs here, so I’m going to assume that you actually do the craft you want to blog about. Don’t stop doing it. I am so, so guilty of not following this rule, and I’ve regretted it. I’ve managed a few tiny projects here and there, but my poor yarn and crochet hook have been sadly neglected. Here’s why this is bad – I need my projects for content! How can I have a craft blog if I’m not producing patterns, ideas and tutorials? There are only so many “roundups” and posts about setting up a blog one can do, you have to remember your audience and why they’re following you. They want to see, smell, taste and read about your craft!
Here’s one little cutey I did manage to come up with in the last 9 days. I was so tired and befuddled I hardly remember making her, but I luvs her dearly.
9. CONTENT CONTENT CONTENT
This last one is the doozy. The Queen of Tips. The Top of the Tips. The Big Kahuna. You’ve got to have content. Most people would say that you should have 10 – 15 solid blog posts up before you go live, but I didn’t do that. I’m impatient that way. But I probably should have.
If you are impatient like me then, by all means, go live with 1 or 2 posts, but at the very least have some half-formed post topic ideas lurking in the nether regions of your brain. Write them and publish them as soon as you possibly can. People will NOT come back to your blog if there’s nothing to read or see. Would you?
So, there you have it. 9 Helpful Tips from 9 Days of Blogging. I will go into much more detail on each one of these in future posts, so do be sure to sign up for the Stashing Yarn newsletter so you don’t miss any of it. I’d hate it if you missed any of it.