|My second quilt -- a play mat for my nieces with matching soft blocks -- made with random Joann's fabrics, store bought binding (I really had no clue how to bind a quilt at this point), and an indoor, poorly lit photo on a beige background. Yikes. A girl has to start somewhere...|
1. Know who you are. In business, they call this "branding yourself," and if you run this phrase through a search engine, you can find lots of good advice on the subject. The main idea is that you need to have a clear idea of what you want your blog to be and how you're going to stand out from the crowd. When you're just starting out, I think it's a great idea to look at the blogs you love most and figure out what makes them so attractive to you. A lot of those ideas can be easily adapted into your blog and repackaged with your own sense of style.
|I Spy quilt made with charm squares from my first fabric swap through Ellison Lane Quilts. The piecing isn't perfect, but I had finally discovered how to make my own binding. Bear soon adopted it as her special bedtime lovey quilt, and I have to admit, I still love this one!|
2. Make it a personal space. It can be difficult at times to walk the line between too much and too little information. A blog with no personal details at all can seem a bit cold, which makes it hard for you to relate to the writer. On the other hand, if you're running a sewing blog, almost every post really ought to relate to sewing in one way or another. There's a balance in there somewhere, and only you know exactly where it's going to be. Part of that balance will also involve your family's privacy. Everyone has a different take on this question, and the answer is completely up to you. I made the decision way back at the start that I was not going to ever include my daughters' names or faces in this online space. While I could never write a blog without mentioning my Bunny, Bear, or Mouse, I want to let their personal identity be theirs to keep for now.
|This was the first time I had ever made my own purse and wallet. I had been terrified to try making bags and pouches before I started last year's Zakka Along, but now they're one of my very favorite projects to sew.|
3. Provide quality without neglecting quantity. Let's be blunt here: your blog needs to look good. I'm not saying that you need to hire someone to give you a full media makeover, but you definitely need to give some thought to your blog's appearance. Here's a checklist to get you started:
- Do I include a good mix of pictures and text?
- Are my pictures well-lit (preferably using natural light), appealing, and in focus?
- Are my grammar and spelling correct?
- Is my blog header clear and in focus?
- Do I include information about myself and ways to get in touch with me through email or social media?
- Do each of my blog posts have a point or am I rambling too much?
|Last year I discovered paper piecing and pillow making, and I was hooked. This may possibly be my favorite pillow yet, but it's got plenty of competition after all the ones I made this winter. Did I mention that I just bought the book Pillow Pop?|
4. Make connections. If you don't take the time to connect with other people in this community, you're going to be talking to yourself. And if you're going to all the work involved with starting and maintaining a blog, then you obviously want to do more than hear your own voice. Here are three easy ways to get out there and meet people:
- Join Flickr. It's free, and it will give you the chance to join groups of people who are sewing the same kinds of things you like to sew.
- Join a blog link up at least once a month. If you join nothing else, do the Small Blog Meet at Lily's Quilts which Lynne holds on the first day of each month and the Let's Get Acquainted Monday Link up at Plum and June. That was the launch pad for my blog, and I can't recommend it highly enough. If you can link up more often, there are events for almost every day of the week. You can find a list right here. On a side note -- don't let that certain party link-up day become a looming deadline that hangs over you every week. If you don't finish a project in time, it's not the end of the world.
- Comment and respond to comments. This is huge, and yet so many people don't do it. If you want to connect with others, you've got to start talking to them, and when they talk to you, you've got to talk back. It's good business, good manners, and good encouragement for everyone involved when you take the time to comment and respond with other bloggers who have taken the time to hear what you have to say on your blog. You'll be surprised at the friendships that come to you along the way.
|If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I don't think I would have believed that I could make an improv quilt. Both my Heather Ross quilts will always be special to me for so many reasons.|
5. Be yourself. Everyone says this, but I think we forget what it means. It doesn't mean that you have to be just like that popular blogger you adore who's so clever/hilarious/creative/inspiring/fill-in-your-word-here. It doesn't mean that you have to be absolutely crazy about the latest sew along or modern fabric line because everyone else is jumping on the bandwagon -- though if you are, feel free to stand up and cheer. It means that whoever you are and whatever you like, share that with us. If you love 1930's flour sack prints, why hide it? If you want to make a Civil War quilt out of modern fabric, don't ignore the urge just because you think it's not the modern quilting thing to do. And if you have a passion for solids instead of prints, bring it on! You don't have to fit or break the mold, and you have nothing to prove to anyone except yourself. If you love what you're doing, it will come across loud and clear to all of us out here. And even if we don't all share the same style, we can certainly relate to the joy behind it. So be yourself. We'll love you for it.