Sunday, December 28, 2014

So, You Wanna Be A Blogger?

Can you believe it's already the last week of 2014?!! The New Year is upon us and the time to make goals and resolutions for 2015 is at hand. If one of your goals for the new year is to begin a scrapbook blog - or, perhaps, to improve a blog you already have running - then today's post is for you! Scrapbooking is so much more than just paper and stickers; it's really a whole community and having your own personal blog is a great way to get plugged in. Grab yourself a cup of coffee and get cozy - this post is chalk full of advice from some of my favorite scrapbook bloggers! 

1) Blog Design Matters … A Lot!

Personally, I think having a blog that looks professional and is easy to navigate is important no matter what you're writing about …. but when your primary topic is art and design, it's extra important to have a blog that looks good. A quick Google search for "free blogger templates" will yield dozens of designs, most of them easy to install. You can also peruse Etsy … the average cost for a pre-made blog design with simple customization is about $30 but if you do a bit of browsing you can find great pre-made designs for as little as $10 to $15. Theresa from the Always In Bluhm shop helped me design this blog, but there's also Kreated by Kesley, Brand Me Beautiful, The Blog Shop and Li Drake - just to name a few!

Danielle, who blogs over at Pics & Cheesecake, says …

"I think the design of your blog is very important to get and keep visitors and readers. It must be "easy" on the eyes, no screaming ads and a basic, easy to read font. Some fonts might look fun but you don't want your readers to have a hard time reading your posts. People also want to have easy access to the post they are coming for so avoid unnecessary links that force people to click on a bunch of things before finally being able to read your post in its entirety. People are lazy (including me lol!) and if they arrive at your blog and have no idea where to go, they probably won't stick around to find out. Before you start blogging, I recommend visiting a lot of blogs to see for yourself what elements on these blogs make you want to come back, what makes them easy or hard to read, what bothers you as a reader. Keep all these things in mind when you start a blog yourself."


2) Take Good Photos Of Your Work

If you're hoping that your blog will lead to design team opportunities it's absolutely imperative that photos of your layouts and projects be clear, crisp and in focus. You don't need a fancy camera; a simple point-and-shoot will do the trick. Find a spot in your home where there's a large window or a glass door. Turn off your camera's flash - natural light is always best! Place your layout on the floor, stand over it and a snap a photo. Use photo shop or another photo editing software (I use iPhoto) to crop the picture down so that only your layout is visible. It takes a little practice but eventually you'll get the hang of it. I like to include several photos of each project - one showing the full layout or card and a few other close-up shots focusing in on specific details.


Ashley, who blogs at Ashley Horton Designs and The Cut Shoppe, says …

"Hi, my name is Ashley Horton and I'm stopping in today to share some blogging advice with you. There are so many social media outlets these days that sometimes I feel like my blog gets lost in the crowd. But if you want to keep interest going on your blog, make sure you feature well photographed layouts or projects and include information about how you created your projects. I like to edit my photos in PSE and crop them to a square before sharing them on my blog."

Danielle says …

"Most people are more interested in pictures than in reading what you have to say - that is the honest, hard truth. So make sure the photos of your projects are sharp and taken in daylight. Besides that, I also photoshop all of my projects to get them crisp and clear."

3) Blog Often .. About Things You Care About

Whether you're trying to increase your readership, get exposure to snag a coveted design team spot or just hoping to meet new blogging friends - consistency is key. True, everyone is busy … but if you want to reap the benefits of blogging, you have to blog often. Start by committing to blog once a week and work your way up to blogging three or four times a week. An easy way to accomplish this is by writing several posts all at once when you have spare time or are feeling inspired, and scheduling them to go live on specific dates. That said - don't get sucked into the habit of writing crummy blog posts because you're falling behind schedule. People can sense passion from a mile away and authenticy is important. Blog about the things you truly care about and projects you're genuinely proud of.

Jennifer, who blogs over at Jennifer Grace Creates, writes ...

"My biggest tip with blogging is to blog whatever YOU want to blog. If you want to blog scrapbook sketches everyday for a week then go for it. If you want to blog a life story instead of a crafty post then don't hesitate. When you are passionate about your topic then it shows and more people will come to read it! I hold bi-annual events and I wanted them to be on a range of crafty activities - I was worried because at the time my blog was mainly for scrapbooking and I thought my regular readers wouldn't enjoy the other crafts. I did it anyway because I wanted to have fun and enjoy the event. My scrapbooking readers managed to find inspiration from all kinds of things - eg. if I make a 3D felt doorstop then they dig out a forgotten felt embellishment to use on their next page. And I gained new readers who like home decor, card making etc - plus the other crafty posts are the ones which get pinned and revisited more often! Mixing things up keeps me interested which makes posts more entertaining. It's a win win all around!"

Danielle says …

"You'll get more followers along the way when you post on a regular basis. If visitors come back after two weeks and there's still nothing new, chances are low that they will stop by again."

4) Be Visible + Leave Love

There are thousands of scrapbooking and paper crafting blogs on the world wide web. If you're just blogging for fun and aren't concerned about how visible your work is - great! Keep on keeping on. But if you're trying hard to make name for yourself and don't want to get lost in the crowd, then you have to make an effort to reach out to other bloggers and be a visible presence in the scrapbook community. Find a handful of blogs you enjoy reading, visit them frequently and (most importantly) leave comments! Sites like Blog Lovin' are a great tool to use to keep track of your favorite online reads. You can also participate in challenges (there are hundreds of fabulous challenge blogs out there) and sign up for blog hops. Bottom line - if you want people to visit your blog, they have to know your blog exists.

Ashley says …

"I think another important way to gain readers and commenters for your blog is to be a reader and commenter yourself. Most bloggers love to have comments and will return the favour if you regularly comment on their blog!"

Danielle says …

"Don't feel disappointed if it's hard to get readers or followers. In the end, I just love having my own little place on the internet where I have all my projects collected."
And that's a wrap, folks! I hope this post was helpful and provided you with some inspiration and guidance. Huge thanks to Danielle, Ashley and Jennifer for taking time out of their busy schedules during the holiday season to send over their ideas and suggestions. Be sure to visit their blogs to see their advice in action! xo

7 comments :

  1. Yep, yep. My aims for 2015 are to work on consistency and photography. Thanks for reaffirming this for me!

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    1. Glad you got inspiration from the post, Laura. Looking forward to seeing more of your projects in 2015 :)

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  2. Stephanie, your suggestions are very friendly and interesting, thank you! I'm agree with all points.....yes, maybe could be busy but I think that is a great satisfaction overall from the human point of view.
    sorry for my bad english, best whishes for a super new year!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Francesca - happy New Year to you as well! :)

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  3. I have CONSIDERED getting a blog.....we will see. Thanks for all the awesome information on them!!

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  4. I saw your post and just wanted to say thank you for including my link! I appreciate it. :) Happy new year!

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  5. Hi Stephie,
    Great tips you have there. I think they even can be applied to any blog niche. I agree that blogging often is important, that's why you need to choose topics you care about, like you stated. Otherwise, you'll get burn out sooner rather than later.

    Also, thank you very much for mentioning my shop (The Blog Shop). I really appreciate that.

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Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! xo