Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tip 8 l To Blog or Not To Blog

by guest blogger, Shirley of ::Wild Blueberry Ink::

I am a sucker for a good blog. My daily blog list is long and sometimes I think if I unplugged the internet and stayed away from these blogs I would release 12 new designs each week. I CAN’T!! I am addicted I have to check them every day. Did they post a new freebie? What tutorial is posted today? Did the teach me how to make those cute little felt animals that I love? My need for knowledge - useful and sometimes not so useful - makes me log in everyday and read these blogs.

That being said, sometimes a blog isn’t for everyone. How do you know if a blog is right for you?

A blog is a wonderful opportunity for you to allow your customers inside your world, get to know you and even develop a friendship with you. However just like any relationship if you don’t keep in touch and keep that fire sparked it will die out. Therefore, the first and most important factor that has to be considered before you start a blog is your availability! Do you really have the time for it? Maintaining a blog, or at least a good blog, is a lot of work. It requires daily maintenace, research, preparation, and personality.

If you screamed “YES YES I HAVE TIME” then listen up. I am going to offer a few suggestions on how you can create a blog that will showcase your talent, products and help make you money!

1 | VISUAL - Maybe it’s the artist in me but if I click onto a blog and it is cluttered or visually displeasing I quickly click off. I am there to gather information not fight my way through a traffic jam of graphics, photos or worst yet decorations. I do enjoy a good design theme but don’t let the theme outshine your content. Your theme, graphics and background should only highlight what it is your blog is about. For example if you blog is focused on kids and family don’t pick a template that has a modern/technical feel. Something like this would be more fitting:

Template Number | 20433
Available for purchase from TemplateMonster.com

2 | CONTENT - Above all, blogs need to be interesting to read and convey a message which is unique. Your opinion is unique. Blog writing should be kept on a personal level about your opinions and your experiences. The human aspect of blogs is what makes them stand out from what else is available on the web.

Other factors also can make a blog successful. The blog does need to be informative, and the best way you can do this is by researching what you are writing about. Your blog should also be about something you have an interest in anyway, or are actively involved in. Writing about something you know nothing about will make life really difficult and could make it extremely boring too. Be an authority on your subject and try to give something unique that people are unable to find elsewhere. Uniqueness not only keeps people reading and coming back, it will also do you wonders when it comes to getting found in search engine results.*

A few ideas for content that can keep readers coming back:
a | contests - people love free stuff! This is a great way to get your product in the hands of someone who would never consider purchasing it - that is until they win it and fall in love with and decide they must have MORE!
b | tutorials - teach people something. You don’t necessarily have to teach them how to make those awesome bottlecap magnets you make but if you did don’t worry 9 times out of 10 people would much rather purchase the item. When I decided to start making collage sheets my intention was to use the artwork to make my own pendants and sell them. One saturday I purchased all the necessary material and sat down for a crafting extravaganza after 2 hours I was frustrated, confused and annoyed at how crappy mine looked. I decided that day my destiny was to be the artist that enables all you crafty ladies to make those beautiful pendants.
c | showcases- feature other artists you love. Trust me if you show love, love will be shown to you. Whenever someone features me on their blog I blog about it, I facebook it, I tweet it and in turn my followers retweet, refacebook it and sometimes reblog it.
d | life stories - don’t get to personal but do share some of your life on your blog. This will help your followers connect with you and a connection means you are a name they will remember. If they need 50 scrabble pendants for their daughter’s soccer team they are going to call you because they remember that last week you were boasting about how your daughter’s socceer team just one the championship.
e | inspiration and creative process - elaborate on your process. Do you work at night when everyone is asleep? Do you have your own studio? Don’t be afraid to share.

3 | TECHNICAL - this section may go over a head or two but I beg you to do your best to follow along and if you have questions PLEASE ASK!!!

When picking your blog be sure to look at all the different blog publishers and choose the one that fits your needs best. A few of the most popular ones are: Blogger, TypePad, and Wordpress. While I chose wordpress for my publisher I usually recommend newcomers use blogger. It is a great site for those who are not interested in paying monthly fees but want unlimited features. It is also very user friendly and best of all it controls spammers for you. I have personally never used Typepad but from my research I feel like it is a tad expensive for a beginner who has not yet committed to blogging.

Once you have your publisher chosen goolge FREE TEMPLATES. If you find one that you like but would love to personalize it don’t be afraid to ask someone to do that for you. It is fairly inexpensive but the smallest details can set you apart. If you want to take the extra step and have your blog match your website or have a blog design that is strictly your own shop around. There are some great Etsy Sellers who do this and they usually offer great packages. I am personally a fan of Studio 71(here is some of her work)

I also really love the work of Graphic Designer - Altered Hope

Now that your blog is up and running you need to do two very important things - TRACK and PROMOTE. If you choose blogger than google analytics will help you do that. It will tell you how many hits you get, how they found your site, even searches they did that led to your site. This will give you a good idea of what is popular on your blog and also help you set prices if you decide to sell ad space. Another good tracking site is Get Clicky.

To promote your blog get involved with other blogs. Comment and leave your link. Include your link on email signatures, business cards, shop announcements, facebook pages. Create badges for your blog so others can post them on theirs.

4 | MAKE MONEY Once you have your blog setup look into google ads. This is one of the easiest ways to make money and requires you to only post some code ONCE. When you have a good following sell ad space on your blog. Some blogs will have 15-20 ads on their site and each ad will pay $75 and up a month to be there.

One last opportunity is Link Share. They offer an affiliate program that will help you make money just from referrals from your blog. All you do is submit your application and then add the companies you want advertised on your blog. You can search by industry or companies. Some companies will even pay you a commission on what is bought from referrals.

I hope this wasn’t information overload. I would love to hear your thoughts and please link me to your blog!!
| Shirley |

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