A beginners guide to starting a craft blog.
It seems that writing a blog has become de riguer when it comes to selling your craft online. However for many crafters the idea of blogging may seem technically challenging, timewasting or you may just believe that you don’t have anything interesting to say – so why bother? This series of posts is a brief introduction, hopefully dispelling your worries, exciting you about the prospect of a blog and answering a few technical queries too. We will talk about what a blog is, why it’s a useful marketing tool for your online shop and a few tips to make your blog more successful – or at least begin to understand why it is not already drawing in the readers in their 1000’s!
At the foot of this post is a really useful list of all of the free blogging platforms available to you.
Please get involved and ask any questions on whatever aspect of blogging you like – even ones you think are stupid, everyone has to start somewhere and there are bound to be other crafters thinking the exact same thing. Perhaps you think blogs are a big waste of time ? Or maybe you have a really successful blog and you want to tell us about it – leave a comment or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can get you involved.
“So what is a blog?”
Lets start today at the very beginning! Blog is short for ‘web log’, it is an online public diary, a place where individuals, groups or organisations can very simply share any piece of information they like, as regularly as they like. From a few simple words to a huge piece of social discourse, or even just an image with no words. There are no boundaries or standards, blogging is available to everybody and anybody who can type. As a result there are millions of blogs out there that make up the ‘blogosphere’, that thronging mass of online humanity, complete with all its weird and wonderful varieties (albeit a much more concentrated version)
Blogs are often favoured over websites by crafters who use market places like ours to sell their work as it affords them a bit of free online space to share more about themselves and their work – it’s an economical way of starting off and helping to build an online presence.
“and social marketing / SMO – what’s that ?”
Blogging falls into the realms of social media (twitter and facebook etc), or when used as a promotional tool – social marketing or social media optimisation (SMO). SMO is the process of using social networks and blogs to engage with your target audience. ‘Engage’ meaning, getting on their wavelength and giving them something great to remember you by and something fun to interact with. It can be as simple as something to read, a post they will enjoy and share with their own network of friends on and offline. Using these networks is a way of letting your potential customers know more about the continuing background story of your business – an ear to the door of the staff room and a peep into the workshop, all the interesting happenings behind the scenes as well as the latest news and promotions.
Through the content you share and the updates you make you are building a relationship with these readers, fans and followers increasing the chances of them sharing with their friends. People trust word of mouth and that’s why the biggest businesses now have social media departments – whole areas of their business dedicated to getting their messages across in an informal, friendly way – it’s a little like the ‘I’m not wearing any make-up’ make-up, if you get it right it is flawlessly natural. Not even high court super injunctions can stop people sharing gossip on twitter, so you can see why these businesses care.
“That all sounds like typical marketing waffle – it doesn’t explain what I do when I start a blog, do I need to know anything technical or have a degree in marketing?”
No technical know-how required. The content is what’s important and most blogging platforms give you easy ways to style your blog to make it look professional – you just have to follow very simple steps and they all have lots of help pages and resources. The only caveat to that statement is that it’s a good idea to brush up on your photographic skills, as craft blogging can be quite a visual affair and good sharp images are a definite plus on any blog.
“What sort of blog do I need?”
What sort of blog you want? It’s your blog and the ‘feel’ of your blog needs to come from you, or a concentrated version of you at least. Read other blogs to find this out – is it the look of the blog that you like or the content, what is it about a blog that makes you inclined to read or subscribe to it. Subscribing to a blog is using a feed reader like Google Reader or having a blog post delivered directly to you via email. This is what every blogger wants – lots of regular and loyal readers who come back over and over and leave comments or share the posts, building the readership and the ‘link juice’ to help their posts appear in google searches (see this post on ‘growing your network‘). That is the goal of blogging (isn’t it? let me know if you disagree!), once you have achieved that goal you will be organically driving good targeted traffic to your shop. (in internet speak organic traffic means FREE traffic and ‘targeted’ means, a customer who may actually buy something!)
“Help – I need links”
The following is a list of the most popular blogging platforms available for free.
Do you already use any of the above, do you have any others to share? – we’d love to hear your critique of these blog platforms listed above, positives and negatives :)
Next time we will be talking all about what’s stopping you from blogging and how blogs can help to motivate you and improve your crafting – and also how not to get addicted! If you are looking for a bit of reading in between, take a look at ‘Craft Blog UK’, which I also write – it has lots of useful tips for craft bloggers.
Remember please ask a question, we are all ears!