The other day a new craft blogger said to me, "Only a handful of people read my
blog and I don't know who they are. I have only 64 likes on my FB page. How and
with whom does one actually begin?"
really made me think. How do you break into the crowded scene of craft blogging
and get noticed?
To answer this
question I think it’s helpful to look at someone who came out of the starting
gate recently and has really made a splash. What are they doing right?
blog is a great model.
Laura began her
blog, Behind the Hedgerow, 9 months ago in January of 2013. Her tagline is
“simply, a sewing blog” and she writes about sewing clothes for herself and her
In that short
time Laura’s gotten a magazine feature, won an online sewing contest, guest
posted on a well-known site, and gained an engaged and loyal following. Less
than a year into blogging she averages nearly 1,000 pageviews each day.
How did she do
it? Why has Behind the Hedgerow taken off?
carefully at Laura’s posts we can draw out a few key factors that have made her
blog gain traction. Before we begin, I want to say thank you to Laura for
agreeing to be a part of this post and for sharing more of her journey with me,
and with you.
A craft blog
post is a combination of words and images. A great craft blog post excels in
both areas. Let’s think about words first.
fundamental thing you can do to make your blog successful is to create posts
that are valuable to other people. What do you know that you can share? But
it’s not enough to just share. Sharing well means writing and rewriting before
publishing. It’s time-consuming to write well and it’s laborious.
are meticulously composed, with a conversational and friendly style. About
writing, Laura says, “In high school and University I was
writing non-stop but since being at home with the kids the habit has slipped
and it’s only now that I realize how much I missed it! The mental process
of organizing my thoughts is invaluable… Having said that, it’s still a long
process for me. I’m not someone who can just sit down and bang out a blog
post. Each phrase and sentence is considered.”
The words you
write need to express something of substance, something more than a simple
show-and-tell. Let’s look at the most recent post on Behind the Hedgerow. Laura
is reviewing the Skater Dress, a little girl’s dress pattern by Kitschy Coo. One
approach would be to write a post that essentially says, “Look what I made!” to
which your audience can only say, “Great job!”. Let’s see how Laura shared this
She begins with
a story of getting her kids dressed in the morning before school. Getting kids
dressed quickly and without a fuss is a pretty universal issue for parents. Did
she solve the problem? This narrative hook makes us want to hear the whole the
Next she tells
us how she chose this pattern. She says she’s trying to get more comfortable
sewing with knits. Laura’s great at sewing and yet she’s still learning. She’s
not perfect and that makes us feel at ease.
shares detailed and helpful pattern notes.
This post is so
much more than, “Look what I made.” Reading it puts us in Laura’s company. Her
words make us feel less alone and get us motivated to make something ourselves.
many pattern review posts like this, but her most popular posts are top 10
Top 10 Autumn
Selfish Sewing Patterns.
Top 10 Gifts to
Sew for Children.
Top 10 Awesome
The internet is
vast. Curating the best of what’s out there is a valuable service you can provide
for your readers, and it shows your style and point of view. Top 10 Tried and
Tested Free Kids Clothes Sewing Tutorials? Even I bookmarked that one, and I
don’t sew kid’s clothes!
“My Top Ten for
Tuesday lists always get lots of attention,” Laura says. “It’s easy to get a
little down about this. Everyone wants something for free as opposed to just
the creative inspiration from something I’ve made. But, really, it doesn’t
bother me. No matter how and for what reasons someone lands on my blog I’m
happy to have them and I’m happy for them to find something useful and
List posts, or free tutorials, are most likely to get pinned and shared. They
serve as anchors to draw in new readers and they position you as a tastemaker.
turn now to visuals.
A great craft
blog post features great photos. Like writing
and rewriting, taking pictures and editing them takes time and is worth every
If you have a
craft blog there is no excuse for bad photos. You don’t need a fancy camera or
a beautiful home or expensive photo editing software. Learn to use the manual
setting on your camera. Go outside. Edit with PicMonkey. But figure it out.
Let’s look at
one of Laura’s posts from August. Here’s the first thing we see.
Do you know how
many photos you have to take to get one like this? My guess is at least 50. But
it was worth it!
Note that the
picture is big. It’s the full width of her content section. Images are a
fundamental component of every post. Don’t show small pictures!
contains 11 photos, ending with this one.
tell an engaging visual story. We are temporarily transported to Laura’s
backyard in Brussels and we don’t want to leave.
So far we’ve
- Write well.
- Tell us
something useful and interesting.
- Show us
And one final
note: publish often.
If you want
your blog to take off you have to write a lot of posts. The more you write, the
more ideas you’ll have.
“Once you’re in the that blogging zone ideas for posts just seem to pop out of
everything. At this very moment I have one tutorial post, one historical post,
one general design post, and at least a dozen actual posts that I’d like to get
new posts on her blog 3-4 times a week. The more you write, the more there is
to write. The more you create, the more there is to create. It’s a wonderful
upward spiral. You’re blog is more likely to flourish if it’s built on a base
of great posts.
A blog gives
you the opportunity to interact with the public. Comments and emails and shares
help you know that your efforts are worthwhile. Nothing is more motivating than
that feeling of success.
“I wait for my
phone to beep after publishing a post, telling me that someone’s left a comment,”
Laura says. “It feels great! In a world of small children, lots of demands on
my time and very little in the way of appraisal, to have someone stop and tell
you they like what you’re doing is a buzz I haven’t felt since leaving paid
employment when I was pregnant with my first son, nine years ago now.”
Love your blog
enough to make it great.