3 May 2014

Quilt Blog Tips from the Experts

You started quilting.  You started blogging.  Now what?

Are you wondering how to turn the passion for your hobby into something more?  Something bigger?  Do you want to make it your life's work?  A full time business?

As a quilting blogger, you may have asked yourself, "Do I have what it takes to succeed?"
Just what does it take?

I’ve invited a few friends, peers, and mentors to pitch in on the subject.
A little Ask the Experts Interview, if you will.

Many are authors, speakers, and teachers.  Some have been featured in a variety of crafting and quilting magazines.  Others are talented pattern writers and fabric designers.  They are all gifted experts.  Each has generously offered, to share with you today, their answers to this simple question.

"What is the most important quality
for an emerging quilting blogger to possess?"

Faith Jones of Fresh Lemons Modern Quilts
There are so many blogs out there, it can be hard to differentiate yourself from the pack. Consider the focus of your blog before getting started. What is your goal in blogging? What do you want to share? It could be documenting your creative journey. It could be providing tutorials for those just starting out. It could be focusing on a particular design style or type of finished product (modern quilts, traditional quilts, children’s clothing, adult clothing, bags, home decor, etc). I’ve seen successful blogs with both broad and narrow scope, but it’s important to sit down and think about your goals before getting started.

Amy Smart of Diary of a Quilter
Courage to share. Courage to be patient while people are first finding you. Courage to try new things. Courage to not get discouraged. Courage to work hard. Courage to have confidence with who you are. Courage to not compare yourself to others.

Christa Watson of Christa Quilts
I believe that being genuinely friendly is one of the keys to my blog's success. When people leave such nice comments on my blog, I can't help but be friendly right back! I've met so many wonderful friends through blogging and I love how we all support and encourage each other. Even though the quilting industry is huge, having connections with other quilters online makes me feel like I'm part of a hometown quilting bee with hundreds of my best friends!

Sam Hunter of Hunter Design Studio 
When I sit down to write for a blog, I'm aware that the thing I want to do most for my readers is to SERVE them in some way. I look at my writing in terms of what I consider to be categories of SERVICE... Education, Encouragement/Inspiration, or Entertainment. If I can't fit my thoughts into one of those categories, I probably need to re-assess what I'm about to write. For instance, a rant for the sake of a rant is just selfish. Illustrating an argument with a rant, and inviting healthy discussion among readers - that's education. It's a busy world out there, and we writers need to respect that our readers are giving us their precious attention. I know that not everything I write will be epic - it's a worthy aim, and I'm happy when I hit the occasional one out of the park. But when I write I want it to have value beyond merely filling space just because "I haven't written for a while and I should get something out there." My readers deserve so much more than that.

Lee Heinrich of Freshly Pieced
Bloggers are almost always their own bosses—and there are a lot of advantages to that. But it also means nobody is giving you deadlines or holding you accountable for meeting those deadlines. As a quilt blogger, you also have to make time to sew in addition to your blogging responsibilities—otherwise you won't have anything to blog about! So I think a quilt blogger needs to really be a self-starter and have a lot of motivation in order to make the blog a success over the long haul. You might not always feel like sitting down to blog, but for the most part you need to be enthusiastic and the love for what you do should come through in your blog posts. If you inspire people, they'll come back for more. But if you're not motivated, that will come across in your work, and it will make it that much more difficult for you to continue blogging long-term.

Katherine of Sew Me Something Good
It's spirited and determined courage that can make you reach for your dreams and at the same time set you apart from the crowd. We all face challenges that require fearlessness and daring - that is essentially what pluck is. It is that strength of mind that will see you through - with pluck, you will pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try again - you will succeed.

Tessa Marie Walker of The Sewing Chick
If there is anything that I have learned from the early days of my quilting adventure, it is that nothing has stood in the way of my creativity more than fear. Fear of messing it up, fear of wasting fabric, 8time or money, fear of what others will think and the big one...fear of failure!! My advice to anyone starting out is to be FEARLESS! Now, that doesn't mean don't be afraid or have those feelings, it means to recognize the feelings and move forward anyway. Ask yourself, "what's the worst that could happen?" Probably nothing even remotely serious. You will mess it up sometimes and that is okay. You will waste fabric, but if you have been in a quilt shop lately (and I know you have), there is lots more fabric! There is no such thing as wasting time if you are doing something that you love and are learning from the process. All experiences are valuable, no matter the outcome. Any time we are creating, we are opening ourselves up to the opinions of others, especially if we are blogging about our efforts or posting on social media. I was very wary of this when I began my blog (what if someone is mean to me?), but I can honestly say that in the two years that I have been blogging, I have not had one negative comment - not one! Now, I know that doesn't mean everyone has liked my work - that's impossible, but it does mean that those that don't have been nice enough not to say so. The quilting community is very kind and supportive and we all kind of cheer each other on.

Julie Herman of Jaybird Quilts
Once you've outlined what your brand, style, mission and goals are for your blog, just start doing it and keep it up. Building a following takes time, planning, patience and loads of perseverance to achieve your desired presence in the community. Keep at it, and the yield could be far more than you considered when you first started out.

Michèle-Renée Charbonneau of Quilt Matters
The online quilting community is just that -- a community. One of the best ways to meet other wonderful bloggers and become known is to participate in linky parties. And by participate, don't just link up. I mean be a good participant -- include a link to the party in your post (not on a hidden page of your blog), comment on the host's post and visit at least some of the other participants and leave comments. Do unto others... :)

Nettie Peterson of a quilt is nice
I think you have to be true to who you are as a quilter. Quilt what you want to quilt. Show what you want to show. Love it and be proud of it. It is so easy to get caught in the blogging world, trying to keep up with the Jones', as they say, but it's a slippery slope--there will always be someone out there with a better idea, better fabrics, better colors. So be genuine in your quilts and be genuine in your interactions with others. Readers will see it, and you will be happier.

Amanda Jean Nyberg of Crazy Mom Quilts

It takes tenacity (persistence, determination, perseverance) to be a quilt blogger. There are so many hats that a quilt blogger needs to wear in a day (photographer, writer, artist) not to mention the need for good time management and PR skills! Each quilt, each blog post is just a small part of the bigger picture. The sum of them equals a brand, a style, a following. It doesn't happen overnight, it takes time (years) to develop. That is why tenacity is so essential.

Now it's YOUR turn...
What are your thoughts?
What steps have you taken in order to achieve success?
What does success mean to YOU?

Keep your chin up!
Keep On Quilting On!


amy said...

Great post Lorna! I think it's really important to be yourself, and not try to be another blogger just because you like their blog. If it's not you, it'll show! I love all the advice you've compiled here.

Vicki said...

I really love this post! Great to hear from names that I respect so much. Thank you!!

ipatchandquilt said...

Thank you all for participating in this wonderfulost. It is uplifting and will keep me on track with my quilting blog!
Hugs to all quilters out there!

Judy@Quilt Paradigm said...

Awesome post, Lorna! I'm new to this blogging thing so all of the insight shared is awesome! Thank you for putting the time into putting this together!

Jo Ferguson said...

This post would fit under education, encouragement and inspiration. It is also the kind of post that you will go back to and read again....and again. Thank you.

Shari said...

Great post, very informative!

Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

it's important to be yourself when blogging - when a blog starts to become too much of a business of promoting that person's book and line of fabric it usually turns me off and they go off of my reader - just me - but that doesn't attract me as a reader or a blog writer. I prefer a blog that is not just focused on one thing in the persons life but their life instead - combining their quilting, travel, family life, likes, dislikes - I like reading about the "whole" not just the "quilting" -- I do not like a "bragging" blog or a blog that seems to be saying "my way is the best way"

Lin's Quilts said...

Very interesting post. Love some of the thoughts that the bloggers included. Love seeing some of their reasons for blogging.
When I grow up......

Georgi said...

Love this post! I know my blog has been sorely neglected, but I want to work on that and this gives me some inspiration. :)

Susan at TheBoredZombie.com said...

Nice List Lorna et al! There's some excellent advice that really rings true to me!

Now I know I'm not in the league of the bloggers on your list here - but I would add Willingness to Learn Technical Skillz. Yeah, blog platforms that do everything for you are great, but in my humble opinion it is important to understand what the platforms are providing, how they affect your web presence, and how to be a good administrator (security, customizations, etc). I'm not suggesting even a little bit that you need to know it all (or even know more than a little) to get started, but it really should be something you spend time with over your journey. None of is hard, but there's so much to know - it takes time. I usually try to solve one practical technical problem every two weeks. It's amazing how much more efficient I and my blog are just a year later.

Thanks to you and your contributors! :)

Daytona Damsel said...

My question to you successful bloggers is: How did you learn to customize and make your blog attractive? Most of you are young and grew up tech savy but I didn't. Did you figure it out yourself or pay someone to customize. Did you take a class?

Cloud CouCou said...

Really interesting post Lorna! I'm only into my second year of sewing and blogging now and the first was just me finding my feet with both. I can relate to a lot of what is said here, it's great advice. I hope that over this next year I'll have more confidence and knowledge to focus and hone my style :)

Julie Cefalu said...

Thanks for putting together this informative post, Lorna! And thank you to everyone who contributed! I've been blogging for several years and I really appreciate your tips and advice.
Julie @ The Crafty Quilter

MalinisQuilts said...

Just voted for you. Good luck with the contest!
Great post for blog inspiration. Is Instagram taking over the blogland?

Paula@TheSassyQuilter said...

Great post Lorna and guests! Really encouraging and inspirational. I agree with Susan that we have to learn lots of new techie things and for me its easy to try to fight that:) Basically be whiny! so okay, okay I will embrace it and try to figure out Photoshop!

Kathy @ Kwilty Pleasures said...

Well...success is defined differently for each of us. I have a good "following" in numbers (over 700), but what does that really mean? I only know someone has read it, if they leave a comment. I don't follow stats or google reports. I try to share all of me on my blog...not just the kwilter.... I have received good feedback on content, tutorials, my sense of humor and the knowledge I share. In my mind, I am doing ok in the huge blogosphere. I am an "unknown" blogger to most but if I have inspired one person with anything I have said, done, shared...then I am successful. *blogs full of self brag are quickly removed from my reader*

Lorna...you, my Kwilty friend, have always made me feel like I am part of the bloggy world...thank you for all your comments and a great blog to follow!!!!

Cynthia's Creating Ark said...

As a new blogger I know I have much to learn, so all this information is brilliant help for me. It may take me a while but I know I will get there, especially with all the help I have received already. Hoping I get over some of these hurdles soon. Thanks Lorna for all your help so far.

Karin said...

Interesting post...thanks for that. Agree with Kathy above...success means something different for everyone. I follow some very tiny blogs and thoroughly enjoy their contribution when they post. I do not think that a huge following is needed to be successful. It really depends why you have started the blog in the first place. I think someone above also mentioned the commercialisation of a blog...very difficult, I think, to do all this advertising and at the same time be true to yourself. I often feel that there is this "keeping up with the Jones' going on and I believe it is very easy to fall prey to this in blog land, I.e. How many followers one has, how many sponsors, linkies etc. Someone above has already mentioned this...I sometimes get a bit turned off by that as it changes the tone and feel for a blog. Very tricky, I think.
Anyway, great discussion...thanks Lorna

Pam @Threading My Way said...

Interesting and informative post, Lorna! I think it's important to be yourself and not to jump on the bandwagon and copy others, just because you feel you should take your blog to the next level. For me, a big part of success is enjoying what I am doing and learning while I'm doing it.

ChristaQuilts said...

What a nicely orchestrated post. Thanks for including me. It was an honor :-)

Renee said...

This post was such a good idea! I love reading each of their answers--it made me feel like I'm on the right track at least!

M-R Charbonneau said...

What a great post, Lorna! I'm so honoured to be included! :)

Daryl @ Patchouli Moon Studio said...

Being true to yourself is important to me. I create what I love and share it on my blog. For me it's a balancing act of how much to write in words and how many photos to share. I think most are visual and like photos, but I wonder how many actually read my words? It's hard to know what my readers want, because while I get some comments, I get more views each posting than I have in actual followers. So being true to myself and doing what appeals to me is what I will continue doing.
Thank you for having these other women voice their views here. They all had great things to say.

Katherine said...

Your idea for this post was a such a great way to stir the mind and start interesting conversations, Lorna. Thank you so much for the honour and pleasure of being included. Fascinating to read not only the thoughts of those that were in your post, but also from each person that commented. Hats off for being the thoughtful co-ordinator behind this fun post!

Ella and Nesta said...

Lorna, thank you for this post. Sometimes I wonder if blogging is too time consuming. It's time taken from sewing after all. But I have learnt the importance of the support you get from the sewing comunity. With this support I manage to create things I probably wouldn't have had the courage to try. Thanks to everyone for these great thoughts.

Kathy@KayakQuilting said...

Oh my, what a great post Lorna! I think it is important to have fun and not put too much pressure on yourself for "perfect" quilting, daily posting or innovative designs. Blogging should be a way to share your work and interact with others who share a passion for quilting.

Jennifer said...

I happen to agree with Karen here. Being a well rounded person/blogger not to mention being yourself just shows that you are more relate able and down to earth. With so many angles to blog from, it can get frustrating to some one else take off while your blog is still sitting idle or going no where. The best thing to do is to forget about the popularity contest that is going on in your head, and just write from the heart. You will most likely appeal to a crowed that can relate with you.
I also agree that bragging blogs and blogs that make others feel inferior are the worst. I personally had a good lesson to learn on that one.

Glinda ♥ said...

Yes, I agree with all your fans, this is a great post, Lorna and I'm checking out the blogs of some of the ladies I hadn't heard of before. For me, success is continuing to learn and enjoy what I do ... the day I stop doing either is the day I'll stop doing both (blogging and sewing) so let's hope that never happens :)

Karens Quilts, Crows and Cardinals said...

Lorna thank you for this great post and many thanks to all of your contributors as well. The words are so very meaningful coming from these ladies that have been through the process and learned along the way. I am still learning the ropes myself and I do struggle with the balance of blogging and quilting and designing, etc. I do believe though that staying true to some overall goal or mission is important. For me I do believe its is designing and teaching others the basics - seeing that light go on and the smile that says "I can do this!"...thanks again Lorna... Hugs, Karen

Catherine said...

So nice to meet the bloggers I enjoy. This was a great read.

Gamma's Sewing Room said...

I have the same questions. Thanks for the post. All of this is quite useful. I need all the encouragement I can get.

Anne said...

Really solid information from everyone,bloggers and comments. The ones that stand out is true of every profession and aspect of our lives. Figure out what you want to do, do it to the best of your ability while learning from others. I would also add, enjoy and have fun. We readers certainly do.

Leanne Parsons said...

Great post! My blog is still very "little" in terms of followers, but I consider it a success because I'm having so much fun interacting with the wonderful people in the quilt blogging community.

Kelly @ My Quilt Infatuation said...

great post, Lorna! Thanks for compiling advice from so many that I admire!

:) Kelly @ My Quilt Infatuation

Emily Carnes said...

Aw I loved reading this so much. Lots of those women are my favorite bloggers and I continually am inspired by their work and their amazing photography! I am inspired to keep working on my blog, sharing what I do, and more importantly DOING more behind the scenes as well...

Emily at backtothecraft.blogspot.ca

Cheryl said...

Wonderful post and such great advice and encouragement! Thanks for putting this together!

Michelle Bartholomew said...

Thanks for putting this post together! As a fairly new blogger it is so nice to hear what the experts have to say. Very inspirational!

Alycia~Quiltygirl said...

Thanks for this post - very nice. Sometimes I wonder how much to share? Is my personal life of interest - or is it just the quilting. And how much is too much? Love these thoughts you shared!

Lara B. said...

Great advice from each contributor! I see some things I need to work on and some things I feel good about. Thanks for posting this Lorna!

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