Craft Blogs: How to Start and Maintain Successful Blogs for Craft Businesses
Blogging can be a great tool for any craft business, no matter how big or small. A blog can stand on its own or it can be a component of a larger web site. If you don't have a web site and aren't interested in starting one at this point, a blog can still be a valuable tool. If you do have a web site that does not include blog, consider adding it there.
Keep in mind that blogging should be only one of a handful of promotional components for your business. It can be easy to focus all of your efforts on your newest undertaking, but don't neglect your other marketing campaigns. These other campaigns such as those through social media and mailing lists will still be important.
Above all, when you have a crafty blog, do not just post about your own listings and sales. If you follow crafty Facebook pages and Twitter feeds, I'm sure that you have seen people do this before. It is just as tedious and ineffective on a blog. You can post about listings and sales, but you need other features as well to mix it up. I recommend limiting these posts to 1-2 per week at the most.
The other key component for your blog is everything in moderation. Even the best blog features should only be used so often. Rotate topics and features throughout each week or month.
Finally, don't get overwhelmed, especially if you are just starting out in the blogging world. Start with what you can and build from there. It takes time to learn everything and get into a regular blogging routine. Do not feel that you have to follow all of the ideas in this hub. I certainly don't include all of them in my own crafty blog. Pick and choose what makes sense for your work and your business. Also consider what you will enjoy writing about regularly.
Best of luck!
If you have not already chosen a blogging platform, here are a few to consider. These are some of the most popular options right now.
- Blogger: I joined Blogger shortly after I joined Etsy because that's where many Etsy users have their blogs. Is it the most sophisticated blogging program out there? No. Does it serve my needs for my crafty blog? Yes. I've found that it is helpful to be on the same platform as many of my Etsy teammates.
- Wordpress: I haven't used Wordpress personally so I can't express a lot of opinion on this site. For a comparison of Blogger and Wordpress, check out this article. Wordpress has options for web site designs while Blogger does not.
- Livejournal: I feel like I have to give a shout out to Livejournal because it's where my personal blog has been online since 2002. Even though I spend a lot of time on Blogger now, I still enjoy a lot of functions on Livejournal more. There is a fair amount of Etsy and general crafting presence there as well as a stronger overall community than Blogger so it isn't a bad place to get into the crafty blogging scene.
The basic blog functions for all three platforms are free. For those who are skilled with HTML or are more ambitious with designing blog layouts, all three of the above platforms offer a variety of options for customization (some of which are free, some of which are not). I have not fully explored this with my personal or crafty blogs as it is not where my passion is, but you can fully maximize your blog's potential with a very customized layout.
As mentioned above, you can also have a blog through your own web site. Some web site hosts provide templates for this. If you are working with a web site designer and have not discussed this topic with them before, bring it up sometime.
Ideas for Posts
Here are just a few ideas for crafty blog posts and/or regular features. Do not feel limited by this list. Most crafty people come up with new ideas on a regular basis. Blog post topics and features are no exception. I am constantly amazed by the posts that I read on my favorite blogs. Basically the sky is the limit.
- Giveaways. A giveaway of one or more of your products can be an excellent tool for attracting new blog followers and gaining new shop fans. Generally a gift certificate or an item that does not need to be fitted (i.e. a pendant necklace, a pair of earrings) work well for giveaways. If you offer a custom item, consider how much time you will need to put into the finished product.
- Features. Featuring other Etsy products on a weekly basis has been one of my most successful blog features. I consistently gain more blog followers through this than any other feature. I have a couple features that I do every month and then I mix other topics into the rotation. Some bloggers make their features into a contest. Other bloggers frequently pick themes based on their own new listings (i.e. color combination, materials, etc.) If you are part of a team or teams on Etsy, consider features that include your teammates. The two most popular features that I've seen are Monday Mood Boards and Friday Features. Make sure that you contact sellers that you feature. They will enjoy the notification and may promote the post for you.
- Work in progress/sneak peeks. Readers enjoy a look at your creative process. If you don't want to make separate work in progress posts, consider showing some pictures of how your piece involved when you share the listed item on your blog.
- Inspiration. Many artists are fascinated by the inspiration process. Show the world what inspires you. Consider color combinations, natural landscapes, and architecture.
- Personal. People enjoy seeing the person behind the art. Share a little about what else is going on in your life. Personally I've found that people love seeing pictures of me, my husband, and my cat above about anything else.
- Studio/workspace. Share some photos of your studio and workspace. If your studio is really messy, consider this an incentive to straighten it up before sharing it with the world. Consider other aspects of your creative process, such as your photography shooting space. Other artists may gain inspiration from your own great ideas.
- Tutorials/free patterns. Even if you sell patterns, you may want to share tutorials or free patterns for other crafty endeavors or simpler items. They don't have to fit into your specific product lines if they fit into the crafty spectrum of your blog.
- Advice. Your advice can be about anything related to creating, Etsy, marketing, blogging, etc.
- Personal or business goals and plans. Any business owner knows the importance of setting and working toward goals. Putting them out for everyone to read will give you accountability. It may give other crafty business owners inspiration for their own shops. You may want to share some of your personal goals on your blog as well (i.e. weight loss, saving money, etc.).
- Seeking feedback. The feedback doesn't have to be related to your art although it certainly be. Also consider crafting space, time management, photography, marketing, etc.
- Book reviews. Have you read any crafting books lately? Consider reviewing them on your blog. Consider books related to business, marketing, etc. as well.
- Other crafty endeavors. Most crafty people do not just create the products they sell. They are constantly creating other things, too. Share these adventures on your blog. For example, I made cork board coasters for a lot of family members this past Christmas and wrote about it on my blog.
- Craft fairs and festivals. You can promote your own fairs and festivals as well as sharing how they went. I often share information about my prep before shows. I also share pictures of my booth after the shows.
- Participating in popular blog topics. For example, many bloggers participate in Wordless Wednesday. Look for blog topics with link ups, such as this one. Link ups are great way for other bloggers to find your blog. Alphabe-Thursday is another popular topic right now, too.
- Share resources. Is there a great new marketing tool that you just found or an article about Twitter feeds that everyone should read? Write a post about it. I do a weekly link list round up on my blog with resources, tutorials, and recipes.
- Treasury features. Many Etsy shop owners enjoy posting their treasury features as well as treasuries that they curated. I am fortunate enough to have my Etsy items included in treasuries every week and have recently made this a regular feature on my blog. I've inspired others to do so, too. Make these posts interesting. Do not just dump tons of treasury screen shots. Instead, for example, promote items from the curators or talk about why you like the treasury themes.
- New goodies. Did you just pick up some new art supplies? Promote local stores, trade shows, or fellow crafters, such as if you bought handmade supplies (i.e. handspun yarn or lampwork beads).
- Wish lists. Wish lists are another great way to feature items from other sellers. Some people like to do this on a weekly basis. I use wish list posts for my birthday and Christmas.
- Other giveaways. Pick some of the giveaways that you really like and promote them on your blog. You don't have to promote every single one that you find.
- Recipes. You can post recipes of new things that you just tried, old favorites, seasonal recipes, or anything else that you get inspired to make. Even though blog isn't themed around cooking, many crafty people enjoy new recipes. I also believe that recipes fit into the handmade/DIY nature of crafty blogs.
- Interviews. Do you have any favorite artists that you'd like to promote or new artists that you'd like to interview for your blog? Ask them if you can interview them for your blog. Many artists are willing to do this and appreciate the exposure. If you do regular interviews that are well received, you may start getting requests from artists who would also like to be featured.
- Guest blog posts. Consider asking fellow bloggers that you really admire to write guest posts for your blog. They may be able to share tutorials, techniques, or advice for your readers on topics that are relevant to any of your usual content. Check out this great article here for more insight on this topic.
- Special discounts or incentives. Give people a reason to follow your blog. There should be content there that isn't available anywhere else (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). One special piece of content that you can offer is blog only specials.
PICTURES. I cannot stress this enough. Whenever it is possible, include pictures in your posts. People love to have visuals for just about any topic. Get in the habit of taking regular pictures of your crafty processes and before long, you'll have more pictures than you'll ever need for your blog.
Promote. Get your posts out there on your Facebook fan page, Twitter, etc. Syndicate your blog posts so that you don't have to post links manually. Please reserve this promotion for business applications. Don't spam your personal accounts with tons of links.
Teams. Share your posts with your Etsy team members. A lot of teams have regular chat threads or specific posting places for blog post links. Visit your team mates' blogs in return.
Comment. Take the time to read and comment on other blogs. They do not all have to be specifically related to your own blog. Leave meaningful comments. You don't need to include tons of links and contact information in all of your comments. If you comment regularly, it is more than likely that people will start checking out your blog.
Links. If you write crafty hubs, link them to your blog. I have a sidebar link section for this on my blog. You will generate more traffic for your hubs and provide valuable resources for your blog readers.
Tagging. If you are a HubPages writer, hopefully you already know the importance of doing keyword research, which includes using the Google Keyword Tool, and tagging your hubs appropriately. This same advice applies to your blog posts.
Scheduling posts. Unless you are extremely disciplined about writing your posts early in the day on a regular basis, it can be beneficial to write posts ahead of time and schedule them for later in the week or month. A lot of bloggers choose to schedule their posts to go live early in the morning so the posts are up in readers' blog lists when they first log in for the day.
Blog appearance. I don't want to overwhelm you with information about this particular aspect, the bottom line is that you want to make your blog interesting without being cluttered. Develop a template that fits your business and your blog. This will take time if you have never had a blog before, but start simple and work from there. Check out these free Blogger templates to get started.
Blogging tag - Starting, tips & advice | IDRESSMYSELFF
© 2011 Rose Clearfield