Her question 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?
Laura Fisher’s 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 three children.
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?
Looking 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.
The most 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.
Laura’s posts 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 project.
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 story.
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.
Finally she 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.
Laura writes many pattern review posts like this, but her most popular posts are top 10 lists.
Top 10 Autumn Selfish Sewing Patterns.
Top 10 Gifts to Sew for Children.
Top 10 Awesome Pockets.
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 inspirational.”
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.
Okay, let’s 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 single second.
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!
This post contains 11 photos, ending with this one.
These images 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 got:
- Write well.
- Tell us something useful and interesting.
- Show us something beautiful.
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.
Laura says, “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 out there.”
Laura publishes 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.