Quick and Powerful Ways to Improve Your Blog
Your blog is your home on the internet.
While social sites might be great for connecting with customers and sharing exciting news, your blog is often the one outlet you own.
You are the one who decides how long (or short) each post is and you get to decide what, when, and how often you post.
So much flexibility can be a blessing and curse.
To help you make sense of your options we talked to some of the independent craft industry’s most successful bloggers and asked them how they built such impressive blogs. They were generous with their time and offered up ample insights on how they’ve increased traffic to their blog, grown readership, and kept their blogs vibrant and vital.
Hi! Can you tell us who are you and what you make and where we can find your blog?
I’m Kim Werker, and I’m like a camp counselor for grown-ups. I teach workshops that help people start to make stuff when they don’t know how or where to start; I lead a project called Mighty Ugly, which is about making ugly stuff on purpose as a way to confront the creative demons that keep us from having fun making stuff; I teach crochet; and I work as a freelance writer and editor.
Hi! My name is Bonnie Christine. I’m a fabric designer for Art Gallery Fabrics, surface pattern designer, teacher, blogger and creator of the Roost Tribe. Come join me in living an extraordinarily creative life at goinghometoroost.com and instagram.com/goinghometoroost
Hi! I’m April Bowles-Olin, the creator and owner of Blacksburg Belle. I help creative entrepreneurs build the businesses of their dreams online. You can also find me behind my DSLR, knitting while binge-watching Friends, or engrossed in a watercolor painting.
1. Let’s start with the basics. Why blog?
I don’t think there’s any one reason to blog, but I’ll tell you why I blog, and what I’ve gotten out of blogging for over a decade. I blog because I have something to say, and I love saying it through writing. I blog because I love connecting with people, and I’ve made some fabulous friendships and professional connections through blogging. I blog because I love helping people have more fun making stuff, and blogging is a way I can share links, tips and tutorials to help them do that. Those are all reasons I write an individual blog post, but there’s a bigger, more over-arching factor too, which is that as a whole, a blog is like a living portfolio of my work – it’s a regularly updated display of my writing, my teaching, my books. I’m currently working on a freelance writing/editing contract that I was approached about after my client spent two hours reading my blog. Score!
I want creative women to have the tools and information they need to succeed in the craft and sewing industry. One part of how I work to achieve this mission is to write and publish posts on my blog about industry news and about my own experience working as designer. These posts, and my weekly newsletter which drives traffic to them, spark discussion among people in my community and through those discussions all of us are able to grow our businesses. For me, the blog is the hub of this conversation.
I like to say – if you’re not online, you don’t exist (or at least, your product doesn’t!). Blogging is a great way to maintain a ‘living brand’. It provides a place where you can build community, and truly engage your followers.
Your blog is your online home, the place you can connect with your target market on your terms. You’re in total control which means that every decision can help you connect with your ideal customer. It’s one of the cheapest (and most effective) ways to market your creative business.
2. There are so many ways to run a blog. We’d love to learn more about how you handle yours. How frequently do you post? Is there a target others should aim towards?
I’ve been all over the map about posting, and I’ve found that a regular schedule is not something I’m able to keep up for long, because my blog is not a direct source of revenue for me – I always prioritize paid work over unpaid work. For me, I try to post at least once a week, and sometimes I end up posting several times a week. How frequently to post depends on the blogger’s own situation, schedule and reasons for blogging – if you’re just starting out, be sure to take all of those things into account when you’re figuring out your blogging schedule! But no matter what that schedule ends up being, it *is* important to blog regularly, whether’ it’s twice a month or four times a week. A blog that’s languished for months indicates a human who’s not engaged with the work the blog is related to.
I post 2-3 times each week. My goal is to publish a new post Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with an even content mix between sewing tutorials, blogging advice, and small business strategy. I think in order to build readership and interaction with your community you need to post on your blog fairly frequently – at least once a week. If that seems too often for you, it might be better to not have a blog but instead to publish a series of articles on your site and have them archived without dates. Instead you can use Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Periscope or another social media channel to keep your community up to date on what you’re working on.
I spent 5 years blogging 2-3x a day. It really helped give me a jumping off point for the rest of my career. Though I post less frequently now (2-3x a week), I strongly believe in the power of consistency.
If you’re blogging to promote your creative business, I recommend publishing once a week. With a weekly schedule, you’re consistently publishing new content but you’re not overwhelming yourself with a demanding schedule. I post a new blog post every Wednesday and it works really well for me and my business.
3. Some bloggers use a content calendar, others only blog when they feel like they have something to say. How important is consistency to sustaining an audience?
I’ve read a lot of blogging advice that says you absolutely must have a regular posting schedule, but I live to break rules. That just doesn’t work for me, and I figure it’s better to blog at all than to set a rigid schedule and end up a ball of stress who hates herself and never blogs.
I think there’s a way to find a happy medium between being completely scheduled out with a content calendar and only posting when you feel you have something to say. If your blog is monetized through sponsored posts, of course you’ll need to meet your sponsors’ deadlines. Otherwise, I think you can put one post a week on the content calendar just so that you’re sure to get something up on the blog, and then fill in with more spontaneous content.
You nailed it – consistency is everything! I have found that you have to have a healthy mix of posting because you need to, but also because you have something to say. Authenticity is everything, so be sure you’re not forcing yourself to do something you don’t want to do, but at the same time, keep inspired to blog to your audience.
You ready for total honesty? I can’t stand the ‘I only post when I have something interesting to say’ strategy. That’s not a strategy! And, you’ll find that when you blog like that, you won’t blog often and you won’t build a loyal readership. Unless you’re incredibly motivated, I don’t know how anyone can reach their blogging goals when they only post when they feel like it.
4. Based on your experience, what are the most effective ways to drive traffic to a post?
As a craft-related blogger, Pinterest is a huge source of traffic to my blog, and I’ve seen Pinterest traffic increase significantly after I started to make sure I include improved imagery in my posts. I also post on social media about my posts not only when they’re first published, but also somewhat regularly after the fact.
Far and away the most reliable and controllable way to drive content to your blog is through an email newsletter. My #1 goal is always to build my email list. Through email I’m able to directly invite my biggest fans to read my new posts (or buy my new products, listen to my new podcast episodes, or take part in whatever else I create). Beyond the newsletter, Pinterest is a great traffic driver to a highly visual blog like those in the sewing and crafting niche. It’s important to have beautiful images that will do well on Pinterest.
Social Media, Newsletters, Giveaways, Guest Posting & of course, killer content!
You have to promote each individual blog post. I get the most traffic from promoting my blog posts on social media and emailing my list each time I publish a new post. And, at this point, I’ve built an amazing readership that tends to share my blog posts for me so I’m not the only one promoting them.
5. How do you keep readers coming back?
My email newsletter. My blog used to be where I’d write about absolutely everything, but over the last couple of years that has changed dramatically. I write about ideas and other in-depth things related to my work in my weekly email newsletter (you should get it – kimwerker.com/newsletter), and I use my blog more as a place to try to attract new readers for my newsletter. My newsletter readers are my most engaged and interested readers, and I treat them like the very, very special people they are!
Don’t be afraid to take a stand. Part of leadership is having a well-researched and informed opinion, even if that opinion is unpopular. If you consistently say something meaningful and thought-provoking in a way that helps your readers to further their own understanding of issues important to them, they will come back for more on their own.
Fresh content. It’s hard to inspire someone to keep returning to static content, so blog, blog, blog! I also try to create a refreshing and inspirational space where people will want to return to, time and time again.
By always putting out my best work. When you start posting blog posts that are so-so (or worse), your readers don’t keep that sense of urgency to read your posts as soon as you publish something new. Then you become one of those blogs that they check ‘when they have the time’ which they never do.
6. Let us learn from you. What is the biggest mistake you’ve made on your blog and how did you fix it.
Oh boy. I don’t know if there’s a single biggest mistake I’ve made. I’ve drifted off topic SO MUCH. I’ve written too much about my kid. I’ve done a terrible job actively trying to sell my products and services. I’ve posted horrible photos. I don’t think I’m a particularly awesome blogger even now. I just show up. That’s the best thing I can do. I show up, I try new things, and I try to stick with the things that work for my business and ditch the things that don’t.
The biggest mistake I made was not having an email list right from the beginning. I had a blog for 8 years before I realized that an email newsletter was vital to the health and success of my blog and business. Fortunately it’s never to late to begin a mailing list! One day I just started collecting email address and I’ve never looked back!
The biggest mistake I made was allowing a guest contributor to come on who’s content wasn’t up to par. I let it run a season and then moved on.
My biggest mistake was not putting up an email opt-in immediately. Even if you have no idea what you’re going to do with the emails you’re collecting, you should start collecting them. Every online business owner I know makes the majority of their money from their email lists, so start yours right now if you haven’t already.
7. Any bonus tips on improving a craft blog?
Bonus tip: Blogging is writing, even if your craft blog is mostly photos. Put in the (minimal) effort to make your writing clear, and easy for your readers to enjoy – this is especially important if you write tutorials. Capitalize the first word of every sentence. Run a spell check before you publish. Keep in mind that your readers are not inside your head, so your writing needs to convey your ideas explicitly.
Right now I’m going through all of my free patterns and tutorials and creating long images specifically for Pinterest. Because I’ve been blogging since 2005, before Pinterest existed, many of my tutorials don’t have Pinterest optimized images. I think once the process is done I’ll see my Pinterest traffic increase even more! Taking little steps like this to improve your blog pay off in the long run.
Original, quality photos and well written tutorials will always delight your reader.
1. Always edit. Your best work is not your rough draft and the first thing you write is a rough draft. 2. Try different types of blog posts: written, visual-based, videos. If you don’t love writing, you might take to video and vice versa. Try different types of blogging to find the right fit for you. 3. Be consistent. It’s the best way to build a loyal readership. 4. Connect with other bloggers. It’s much easier to grow your readership when you’re getting help from others. 5. Don’t give up! So many bloggers give up after a few months or a year because they’re not seeing quick results. Blogging is a marathon–not a sprint.
Get more great insights on improving your handmade business in the Make a Profit Guidebook. You’ll get advice and inspiration from creative experts on everything from improving your Etsy shop, to increasing your prices, to socializing your products and post for maximum impact.
35 Blog Post Ideas So You Always Have Something to Say
Ways to Stay Inspired + Build a Successful Creative Blog
How to SEO: A Quick Guide to Keywords for Crafters
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