A few months ago I got an email from Caroline Critchfield, someone I'd never met. Here's what it said:
This is Caroline from SewCanShe. I love your blog and all of the great advice you offer plus the sewing tutorials, of course! I'd like to feature a couple of the tutorials from your blog and send traffic your way, if you don't mind. I won't take any content from your site except for two pictures.
Thanks so much… looking forward to hearing from you!
A short and direct pitch asking permission to use photos and tutorials I'd already created. I quickly checked out SewCanShe and then I said sure. Caroline picked two tutorials to feature and posted one on November 22 and the other on December 20. Here's a screenshot of my stats during that time:
This spike rivaled the surge in traffic from other aggregators like Craft Gossip and CraftGawker (read more about how aggregators work here). It happened again the next time, too. Caroline and I started talking over email and I learned that SewCanShe is only a two-years-old. In that short time, Caroline has built a blog with a tremendous following. So impressive!
I'm excited to have Caroline Critchfield here today to explain how she built a website that gets 150,000 pageviews a month and a newsletter with 15,000 subscribers in just two years.
My website features a different tutorial every day from my favorite bloggers all over the web so there's always something new to find.
SewCanShe.com is my second sewing blog. The first one was started to promote my sewing pattern business. I posted about my patterns and wrote a few tutorials but I just couldn't drive very many people to it. I thought a lot about why I couldn't get traffic and realized that my blog just wasn't valuable enough to people.
People visit again and again the sites that provide something of value to them, whether that is critical information, a funny story, or inspiration for their next project.
I thought about what would be valuable to people like me who love to sew and quilt. This was when daily deal sites were popping up everywhere and I had the idea of a daily deal – but the deal was a free tutorial. That's valuable, right? But since there is no way in heck that I could write a free tutorial every day, I started emailing all of my favorite bloggers to see if they would let me feature their tutorials.
I simply wanted to create a website that people like me would find valuable.
Once you know what value you can provide to your readers then you can work that into a brief slogan or tagline.
Your slogan should be short and sweet and should tell people what value your blog holds for them. The tagline at the top of my website says "SewCanShe | Free Daily Sewing Tutorials." People who visit instantly know what to expect from my website: free sewing tutorials. And they know how often they can find them: daily. If they don't find that valuable, then they're just going to move on and I don't mind.
It might seem redundant, but you must tell it to people again and again. Tell them on your website, tell them in your newsletter, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest!
I use my newsletter as another way to tell people what valuable thing is on the website each day. Not everyone logs onto social media sites every day every day, and some sites, like Facebook, limit the number of fans who see our posts, so being able to reach your readers this way is awesome. A newsletter is only valuable to my readers if it notifies them of something that they would like to read about. It is only valuable to me if it leads them to visit my website. So I try to keep it full of interesting content that leads them to click and visit me.
Pay attention to what your fans are looking at and asking for. I used to get at least one email a day from people asking where the tutorial from yesterday's newsletter is. At first I answered those emails, sending out the links, and then I realized that I needed an archive. The SewCanShe site archive (a place where over 700 free sewing tutorials are organized) became another item of value that I can provide my fans.
You can make your blog better by figuring out what makes it valuable. Tell people why it is valuable enough to come see. And then grow in value and readers! Come by SewCanShe and sign up for my newsletter to hear about a new sewing tutorial every day. You'll get 3 free patterns just for signing up. So valuable!
I want to say thank you to Caroline for sharing her experience successfully growing a website. Caroline curates the web for her readers, finding great tutorials and emailing them to her subscribers, and posting them daily on SewCanShe. This particular type of content works amazingly well for her and though it isn't right for every blogger, the underlying idea of providing something that readers find valuable certainly is.
If you have any questions for Caroline about how she builds her mailing list, finds tutorials to share, or attracts new readers, please ask!