Change is an inevitable part of life, and so is the natural growth that comes with time. For me – specifically as it relates to my quilting and blogging journey – there has been so much growth and change! I started blogging in early 2013; I had just started staying home with my son after taking a hiatus from the corporate world, and found I missed the time alone at a computer (crazy, no?). Blogging became a way for me to stay connected outside the home, and provided me with a way to continue to apply my IT skillsets outside of a formal work environment.
…oh, but…oh! When I look back on those very first blog posts, I almost cringe. The colors! The images! Yikes! While my previous background helped extensively in working on the back end of the system, branding, photography, and content generation were three areas I had little experience in…and it showed. My images were too small and dark, the content was bland at best, and there wasn’t a consistent look or feel across any of my posts.
Since then, I’ve been through a full rebrand, have changed hosting platforms, operate under a new name, and even have a different direction…and you know what? That’s ok. As individuals, we all grow and change, and it’s only natural that our blogs will grow and change with us. I’m sure that where I am today, even though it’s so far from where I was four years ago, is still different from where I’ll be four years from now as I continue to grow.
I’m happy to join up with the New Quilt Bloggers Hop and share a few thoughts on blog evolution and design:
- Be Open to Evolve: when I started blogging, I focused exclusively on faith activities for the
family. It spoke to where I was, as a first time mom, wanting to raise a Christian family. Over time, as my family grew older and my ability to balance this new role settled in, I started sewing again. It was a hobby I had in our early years of marriage, but one that went on hold when my son was born. For a long while, I didn’t share what I was sewing on the blog – the blog was just a place for faith activities. In fact, it wasn’t until several years in that I shared the first sewing project – and the rest, as they say, is history.
- Have a Vision: while evolutionary change of a blog is good, it’s important to balance that with a vision *for* your blog. My site has evolved to become a place where I share faith through family activities *and* fabric. Each of my blog posts, in one way or another, falls under this umbrella – in fact, it’s how I came up with the name “Faith and Fabric” for the blog. It gives my readers a sense of what to expect when they click over to the site, and sets an expectation on what types of posts will be shared throughout the year.
- Create a Brand: you don’t need to be a graphic designer to create a simple brand. When it came time to rebrand my site, I spent a lot of time looking at others’ sites, focusing on elements that they did well and determining which of those elements would work for me. Elements that I carried to my site included a white, clean feel, exclusive use of three font styles, and a teal color scheme. Branding is important, as it makes you – and your patterns – recognizable regardless of where you interact with others. (Here’s an article Amy Garro of 13 Spools and I wrote on branding across various selling platforms).
- Think Like a Reader: when someone new comes to your site, what’s their first thought? If a person returns to your site to find something, can they? When it comes to content, how will you organize your historic posts? When I started off, the historic posts were just that – history. Since then, I’ve gone back to re-categorize and reorganize some of the key posts. Now, with the help of a bit of code, clicking on a category at the time of publication will automatically add the post to a category page. Here’s an example on the tutorials page; a small image quickly gives the reader a glimpse into all the tutorials that have been published, and makes finding tutorials (and patterns) a simple click when readers arrive on the site. This strategy also keeps older content new by not letting it get lost beneath hundreds of other posts.
- Be Consistent: for me, consistency is an ongoing challenge in blogging! I blame Instagram (ha!) – it’s so easy to quickly add a photo and description that most of my shares seem to happen there nowadays. I found my blog was starting to feel like a roller coaster – either I was feeling guilty for not posting and shared multiple times a week for a few weeks, or I neglected it and left it sitting for a month plus with no new content. Sitting down and creating a plan for the blog really helped me to organize the content I wanted to share, have a chance to write it up, and share it when the time was right. For me, posting once per week is an ideal sharing schedule based on what I want to share and how much time I have available to write. I also, for projects that are ongoing, stick to a release schedule. For example, I share a Farmer’s Wife block every Tuesday; this spreads out how often they’re shared, and lets me schedule them out on a more consistent basis.
Most blogging platforms have an ability to schedule posts; this was such a win when I started taking advantage of this feature! Now, I have several posts scheduled weeks in advance, and the content has stopped coming in waves – just the nice gradual sharing of one or two post per week.
- Look at Other Ways to Share: once I click “publish” on the post, I’ve learned that there are so many ways to share the post that I’ve spent so much time creating! Pinterest is a phenomenal sharing site, so I spent a significant amount of time organizing my boards into categories into which most (but not all) posts get shared. I also link up to a few link-up parties…though admittedly much less often than I used to. While I do share to Facebook and Twitter, I consider these secondary platforms. Prioritizing how and where you want to share your content will help you – as it did me – feel less daunted in the social media world.
- Keep Track of Where You’ve Been: it’s easy for me to get lost in the trenches of day to day life;
we are all so busy! I created a page called In the News where I keep track of businesses that carry my patterns, which distributors I work with, magazine and other publications where my work has appeared, podcasts and shows I’ve been a guest on, and blog tours + quilt-a-longs I’ve participated in. This page has become invaluable when I reach out for sponsorship opportunities, as it serves as a virtual resume. It’s also a nice reminder of how far you’ve come if, like me, you have those days where you feel like you’re not accomplishing enough.
- Be You: one of the hardest areas for me was to find my voice. I felt so small compared to the larger bloggers out there – a small fish in a sea of experience. I also worried about my niche; was it too small? Would people want to read about ways to celebrate Lent *and* ways to quilt with scraps? The answer is absolutely yes. The world, thanks in part to technology, has gotten very flat. There are likely a lot of individuals out there who share your interests, style, and passions. Your authentic voice and interests are absolutely shared by others, and being genuine to who you are will make your blog shine!
What ways have you grown as you’ve blogger? How has your blog evolved as a result? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.