Sunday, 21 July 2013

Advice for new bloggers

If you're popping in from Beth's New Blogger Blog Hop, welcome to my corner of the blogosphere. I'm Jess and I've been blogging about quilting, sewing and fabric for almost two years. I'm a stay at home mum of three children (8, 6 and nearly 3) and I'm a quilting addict. I participated in the Let's Get Acquainted hop last year as a new blogger, and it was a brilliant way to find new blogs - I hope you're all enjoying this years hop! 

Thanks so much to Beth for asking me to write an advice post for the hop - I've been trying to think of things I wished I had known before I started blogging, and also asked my readers for some ideas on what they would like to see in this post. The advice posts so far have been brilliant, so I'm not sure how much I can add to them - but I'll try. I've added some photos of my favorite projects too - just to break up the wall of text ;o)


First up, I thought I'd mention a few things about blog etiquette. If you're writing a blog, chances are you want people to read it and come back regularly - we all love followers after all. The previous posts in the advice series have all covered lots of great pointers on what to do to gain a readership. I guess this is a list of what NOT to do - things that many people don't like, that could turn them off coming back to visit your blog again, or from become a follower.


Full quilt on point - Retro Flowers

Retro Flowers - 2013
Be consistent

By this I don't mean you have to blog everyday, or even every week (hey, I'm probably one of the most inconsistent bloggers out there in terms of regular blogging) - but if you say you're going to do something, do it. A few people I know have started QALs, only to have the person running the QAL fail to post finishing instructions. Kind of frustrating, don't you think?

Word Verification

If you have word verification turned on I strongly suggest you go read this post by my friend Lu. I promise you, if you turn word verification off you will get a load more comments. And if you're worried about spam, it is easy to either moderate your comments, or not to allow anonymous commenters (which is what I have done and I rarely get spam comments). Word verification is a total pain in the bum - especially if you read and comment on a phone or tablet, where it can be virtually impossible to read the verification thing ;o)


Reflected Textures Pillow

Reflected Textures - made for Fat Quarterly ezine
Aesthetics

Another thing that can put people off is the appearance of your blog. Simple, clean and modern are much more visually appealing than a blog with a really busy background or too much going on in the sidebars. Same goes for photographs - bad photographs, or really tiny photos are a bit of a turn off. You don't need an expensive camera to take good photos - there is a brilliant post by Anne of Play Crafts about photography that is well worth reading. Tessa's advice post on photography is also really great, and details how to change the size of your photographs to fit your blog.

Asking people to follow you

IMO this is flat out rude, and akin to spam. Please don't leave a comment on my blog post asking me to follow your blog - to me, there is nothing more annoying and it's a guaranteed way to ensure I won't come visit. On the flip side,  if someone comments regularly on my blog, I'm pretty likely to click through to their blog and if I like what I see, I'll become a follower.


Groove
Groove - 2012

Okay, I don't want to focus too much on the negative stuff, so I'll leave it there on the etiquette side of things. Let's get a bit more positive! If you're writing a blog, chances are you want to gain more followers, right? In my experience there are a few good ways to grow your readership.

Connect

For me, the online sewing world is all about making connections with other people who share my passion for sewing, quilting and fabric. I don't have a local Modern Quilt Guild, or any friends who sew (they all crochet or knit) so it's been fabulous to be able to share what I make on the interwebs. I've made some great online friends simply by commenting regularly on their blog and vice versa. Commenting is also a great way to gain followers - as I said before, I tend to follow people who comment regularly on my posts and I know I've gained followers in the same way.

Be Yourself

Both in what you make and how you write. For me, this is a really difficult one and I think I'm only just beginning to really find my style in terms of quilting. When you're surrounded by so much inspiration online it can be difficult to find your style and work out what is 'you'. I spent a large chunk of last year joining QALs because everyone else was doing them - and most of those projects are still unfinished. QALs can be a lot of fun, and a great way to make new friends, but they are a tonne of work as well. My advice is to only start a QAL (or any project) if you're really passionate about the quilt you'll be making.


Finn's Quilt
Giant Chevron Quilt - my first published pattern :o)

Same goes for how you write. Find your voice and be genuine. For example, some of my favorite bloggers are extremely witty and clever - but I'm not especially witty in real life so I don't try to be on my blog. I write how I speak and hopefully that comes across as genuine. Part of this is working out how much of yourself you want to share - Heidi covered this beautifully in her advice post. Although my children are the number one priority in my life, I tend not to talk much about them here. There isn't a right and wrong way to do this, but I think it's a good idea to set yourself boundaries on how much personal information you put out there.

So that's it from me - the only other thing I wanted to mention is the Tech Help for Bloggers series my friend Jenelle put together last year. It is amazing series of posts, covering all sorts of techy stuff to help bloggers. I have zero technical experience, so if like me you have no idea about html code and need a bit of help, go have a look. Jenelle covers how to create a blog button (which I refer back to each time I do this) and a whole load of other really useful info.

Enjoy the rest of the hop!

xx Jess






44 comments:

ChristaQuilts said...

Great advice, Jess!

Ella said...

Fabulous advice! I need to redesign my blog. Another project to add to my to do list!

Benta AtSLIKstitches said...

Fab post, I quite agree with all the "don't s" and I'm going to check all the links when I'm at the PC rather then phone !

Charlotte said...

excellent advice!
now, please follow my blog ;-)

Lucy @ Charm About You said...

Fabulous advice! Thanks especially for encouraging people to turn off the horrid word verification! I am so in love with your Reflected Textures :)

Jess @ Scrappy n Happy said...

Great post Jess! I hate word verification too.

Pile O Fabric said...

Wonderful post !!

Pile O Fabric said...

Wonderful post !!

Alex Palmer said...

Thanks for a great post. Ill have to check out your links when I head to something a bit bigger than a phone.
Can I just say I Love your reflected textures cushion!

Helen Howes said...

Excellent advice.. As to appearance, how about "don't make your blog pages too wide, not all of us use big screens"?

Nat at Made in Home said...

Great Advice Jess!

sewcolorful said...

Thank you for your wonderful advice. - Jen

Susan Owenby said...

I'm with you on the captchas. I rarely comment on a blog that requires me to play that silly game with the pictures I can hardly see!

I don't mind if people link me to or ask me to follow their blogs. As a matter of fact, I suggest they do! Just because they ask me, doesn't mean I have to right? I've found a few bloggers that way that I've really enjoyed and don't begrudge them for being aggressive. I suppose I would say that folks should feel out the blogger they are visiting and if they are invited to link back, they should! :)

Thanks for the insights, it is always nice to see other people's perspectives. :)

Diya said...

I kept nodding my head as I read this post! Completely agree :)

sarahquilts.com said...

So nice of you to take the time to do this! I love how willing everyone is to help each other.

Kristin said...

Jess, I loved your post today. I too hate word verifications and I wish I knew it was gonna pop up before I started writing. I will type out a long comment on a blog and have that thing pop up, get frustrated trying to figure out the word and then give up. Your projects are amazing. I noticed you live in Australia, I would love to go there some day.

Rachel Booth said...

Thanks for the advice! :) I love reading what you have to say! :)

Lorna McMahon said...

Thanks for the advice, Jess. I have to agree... It is important to be yourself, visit and comment on other blogs, and just have fun with it. Your love for quilting and sharing will shine through!

Lorna:)

Adrianne said...

Totally agree with your advice Jess! I've had a couple of those "please come visit my blog" comments lately and they just make me go "ugh". The only time I would break that rule is if someone is asking for advice on something I've posted about lately - then I think it's ok to refer them to your blog.

Nancy@OwensOlivia said...

Thanks for sharing with us Jess! I totally agree with I follow you now follow me thing. UGH

Kelly Young said...

great advice, Jess! and I love that pillow!!

:) Kelly @ My Quilt Infatuation

Judy said...

Thanks for sharing! I do have a question, though. I have been blogging for awhile and I have very few visitors to my blog. When someone leaves a comment, how do I reply? Can you walk me thrum the steps? Thanks!

Susy said...

Thank you so much for posting this! I recently just started blogging and love hearing advice from people who have been blogging for awhile. I love your blog!

Melia Mae Quilting said...

What a great post. I agree with a lot of the points you made. I love your blog header. Do you have a long arm?

Annabella said...

Fantabulous post Jess!

Patti said...

Great post, Jess! So much fun to see some of your fabulous finishes again too!

Kristy @ Quiet Play said...

Great advice - and as always beautiful projects!

Vicki said...

Oh Jess, thank you so much! I am part of this years hop, and appreciate all the advice I can get. Very helpful!

quiltswithpersonality said...

Thanks so much Jess, I really appreciate the advice. Love the projects too! Have a great day Marie

Nony said...

Thank you so much for your post! When I first started looking into the world of quilters online, I was looking for an Australian quilter's blog and yours was one of the first ones I found. I have been coming back and reading it frequently since then, because I love your posts (and your good taste) and I really enjoyed being able to see the projects you'd done in the past.

As a new blogger, my blog is still a WIP and coming together bit by bit... I hope to get it to look how I envisage it, someday! Your advice is very helpful, so thanks for the post :)

Newbie Jen said...

great advice, Jess!

Nicky said...

Haha Charlotte - she is such a tease however the same naughty thought came into my head! Oh dear!

Great advice Jess and I agree!

SueAnn W said...

well hello there.... I read a lot of blogs and I really do hate those word verifications.

I loved the modern flowers at the beginning of this blog.

As far as my ever starting a blog that won't happen because it's more of a commitment then I want to do!
(you make it sound so easy! :) )

Rachaeldaisy said...

What a great post! Lots of great advice! This is the sort of information I wish had been around when I started blogging.

Adrienne @ Chezzetcook Modern Quilts said...

Great post and even better advice. Thank you for sharing :)

Nina KK said...

I found your blog, love it ( the color theory series recently and your ideas). I mostly read in my ipad, and for me, the font in your blog is very light/hard to read and I am a big reader. I generally stretch the page out so I can read it better, but I don't have this issue in other blogs. PLEASE don't take this as mean or negative. I think yiu have awesome ideas and thought I would mention it. :)

Caroline said...

Great thoughts and tips:)

RobinSue said...

Thanks for the advice. I'm still in the beginning stage of blogging. I appreciate the link to Jenelle's site, I need all the help I can get!

Laura C @ littleandlots said...

Thank you for this advice post--It's a head-nodder (I nodded in agreement, a lot). Some really honest points that some of the other advice-posters hadn't brought up yet!

JB said...

Thanks for the advice Jess. I only ever seem to come across word verification when I've spent ages getting my big old thumbs to type a compliment on the tiny key pad - so frustrating!

wonderlandbyalyce said...

Thank you for the info and for the links provided!

Little Island Quilting said...

Am I 'witty and clever' ;-)

Katy Cameron said...

Oh yes on the word verification and the following. Had to deal with the latter recently, it did not entirely end well, I think she took great offence when I said 'no, but here's a whole list of ways you can get new readers' *sigh*

Audrey Matlock said...

Thanks for the advice and honesty :) I'm debating starting a blog, just taking my time becoming familiar with blogs, flickr, and IG. This is very helpful.
I truly enjoyed browsing your pics on flickr. Consider me your newest fan :)