Turns One! Five Tips from My Year in the Craft Blog Trenches

5 tips for new craft bloggersEvery year, change seems to come my way in late February. It’s been four years since I moved to San Francisco, two years since I moved into my lovely Mission apartment, and one year since I got laid off from my corporate job and started this very blog. This post is coming to you late because I was sequestered in the woods on a meditation retreat, but the sentiments remain the same.

This blog has been an invaluable gift and learning process. I’ve taught myself through lots of Googling, Pinterest boards and trial and error to make beautiful things, do my own graphic design and of course make crafts and patterns. I’ll attempt to share some practical advice from my year in the paint and fabric trenches:

Get it out sooner rather than later: I can’t tell you how many times I was delayed in posting a project for weeks because I didn’t have anywhere to photograph or I needed to just edit the post. I can often breeze through the first 90% of a project, but struggle with the finishing touches. If you have just 10% more to finish and think, “I’ll finish it tomorrow.” Days can turn into weeks and before I knew it, nothing new had been posted on my blog in a while. It doesn’t have to be absolutely perfect. The wonderful thing about the Internet is that it’s a living document; it never stops being changed or rewritten. If you wake up to find a big typo in your post, no matter, fix it then. But at least you got it out there. More Tips after the jump!

Traffic is temporary, reader acquisition is lasting: I come from background in consumer products and web marketing. During times when the company I worked for got massive PR; got on TV or featured in a magazine, the traffic to the website would spike. Hardly any of these people would ever visit our site again let alone become customers. Most of the people that visit your website will never come to it again. That’s why it’s important to offer them as many ways as possible to stay in touch. Make it easy. Don’t make them hunt around the page or click on more than one link to follow you on Facebook. That’s how casual readers turn into followers and fans.

Use Google Analytics to your advantage: In order to figure out what’s working and what’s not, you first must know the people that are visiting your blog. Google Analytics can seem daunting at first, with all its charts and graphs, but it’s the best way to know what your most popular posts are, where your audience is coming from, and what you should be spending your time on.

Blog Promotion is Half the Battle: We have a finite amount of energy to spend on our blogs, especially if it’s a second or third job. That’s why it’s important to make the time you spend on it as efficient as possible. Finishing your project and post is only half the battle; you still need to promote it in order for readers to see it. Your first and easiest line of promotion should be your social network, even if you don’t have many followers at first, your Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter cult will grow over time. Next, you should look for places that can repost and share your content without having to do much additional work for it. CraftGawker can generate a lot of traffic and new followers, but they are very discerning about the quality of photography and projects that they post. Lastly, email your favorite blogs with your content and ask them if they’d like to repost it. It can be a daunting task to email the big-wigs Apartment Therapy or Curbly, but if your project suits their audience and your photography is good then they’re happy to do it. Look at your analytics to see which sources are earning you traffic and which aren’t. Sometimes it just isn’t worth spending a half an hour crafting an email to an editor if you’re not getting traffic in return for your work.

Test ad space, but it still probably won’t make you rich: Unless you’re perfectly happy with a non-monetized blog, you’ll probably start looking into advertising options soon after you start. The most widespread advertising is Google Adsense, in which you create an account and insert a little bit of code to have them serve up ads on your site. Adsense is a good place to start, but unless you have massive traffic you might only be able to buy yourself dinner with the money you earn at the end of the month. Start testing affiliate networks and programs. The better matched your advertising is with your audience, the more revenue you’ll be able to generate. Each advertiser must approve your site individually but you can choose which ones you want to work with and which ads you’d like to display. Never stop testing different advertisers, it’s really depends on the blog to find out what works for you.

I hope this advice helps anyone thinking or starting a blog. If that’s your dream, you should do it. You’ll probably have to put in a lot of money and time before you ever make a dime at it. But, there’s something about sharing the beauty you make with others that has it’s own value. Accomplishing what you previously thought impossible is fuel for the creative mind.I would not be able to do this without you, my lovely readers. I would have packed it in a long time ago without all the comments, repins and followers. Your feedback has been invaluable, and I’m so grateful for it. Happy Birthday, here’s to many more years of crafting, sewing and tutorials!

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