Wednesday, April 1, 2015

DIY: Starting Your Very Own Blogtasticness

 Just a few vintage blogging images from my vast library of crazy: (l-r) DIY Rock Star Apron; The Seven Habits of a Crazily Dressed Art Teacher; 12 Favorites of 2012

Hey, friends! Today I thought I'd tell y'all about a presentation I gave at the NAEA conference: Tip-Toeing into the Wide World of Blogtasticness. I've been blogging [seriously] for three years (and I say "seriously" because I did have a blog for a hot minute a couple years previous. You'll find out why that was a flop in a hot minute) and I've learned a whole lotta stuff along the way. So being the caring-is-sharing-and-sharing-is-caring person that I am, I thought I'd give y'all a few of my tips and tricks to bloggin'. 
DISCLAIMER: Look at me. Do I look like an expert in anything other than crazy to you (please don't answer that)?! I'm no bloggin' pro, howeverness, I do know a thing or two (okay, two. I know TWO things) about bloggin' and I thought I'd share 'em with you. Take 'em. Leave 'em. Put 'em in your pipe and smoke 'em (on second thought, don't. Smoking killz.). And puh-lease feel free to add your two cents in the comments. I'm sure it will be way more enlightening than whutz found here.
So. If Ima gonna talk at ya about blogging, I need to give y'all a lil back history as to why I started to blog. Honestly, I started blogging because I was as stale as a Poptart left behind on the kitchen counter: I wasn't creating and I was regurgitating the same ole art lessons. As a way to snap outta my funk, I thought a blog, where I would feature my weekly creations and art lessons, would hold me accountable. This was my way of holding my own feet to the fire; for creating deadlines and obligations for myself. This blog was started for purely selfish, "hey, stop being so doggone lazy!", reasons. The surprise bonus that I NEVER imagined: meeting you. Meeting other passionate folk who love sewing or teaching or creating or just dressing like a nut. I never imagined this twist of events and I really, like really-really, couldn't be more thankful. More on those lovely bloggin'/art teacherin' ladies above here
Okay, y'all, time for a quiz! Let's find out if this blogging thing is for you! So, grab your No. 2 Pencil and a sheet o' paper and jot down the answers to the following (yes, I'm fur realz. And, YES, I can totally see you):

1. What is your fave craft/hobby?

2. How often do you create weekly (this can include anything from crafting a superb meal for your fam to gardening)?

3. If you didn't have the job you have currently, what would you do for a living?

Okay! Pencils away. Pass those sheets forward, kids. Let's see how you did.

So, the first question asked what's your fave thing to do. Mine is sewing and creating crazy clothing. What's yours? Figure it out cuz that's the key which will open up your blog and make it unique. There are, like, ONE MILLION blogs out there. What could possibly make yours a stand out?! YOU. You are what makes your blog unique. So, find your passion, harness it and have it be the star of your blog.

My next question was how often do you create weekly, no matter what you were creating (the way I see it, if you are using your creative juices [whether that be picking out fabric, arranging your furniture, planting flowers], you are creating!). Just so you know, that time you spent creating? if you have a blog, you are gonna lose that time to blogging. I'm writing this post up right now. I chose not to finish cleaning the bathrooms I opted out of putting a zipper in a dress Are you ready for that give-n-give? Y'all better think about it.

Finally, I asked: if you weren't currently employed in your job, what would you be? Well, kids, I hope you said "writer" or "photographer" cuz in the Land of Blogging, there's a whole lotta that. 
Let's Talk Passion: In my pre-bloggin days, I had my life very compartmentalized. I had my art teacherin' day and my art-makerin night (if I was lucky). When I had to lesson plan, I resented that time was being zapped from my creative time. Then, one day, while grumbling over my stitching time being used for "work" time, I just thought: What if I sew a dress that co-insides with my lesson?! What if, while the kids are learning about England, I craft a Mary Poppins ensemble and read 'em some P.L. Travers' books while serving tea and biscuits. And, suddenly, I became very excited. About teaching. About creating. About blogging. When you connect as many dots as possible in your life it will feel like suddenly you've got the ball rolling and there's no stopping it. Try it. I ain't lyin.
Let's Talk Time Management: Haha! If you even knew what an Epic Time Waster I am! My hubs is prolly on the floor rolling around laughing at this very statement. But, in all seriousness, blogging is an absolute time-suck. However, if you want readers (and, really, isn't that why we blog?!), you gotta be consistent and manage that time of yours. For me, that means I attempt to blog three times weekly. And I like to have a theme. I rotate between the following: In the Art Room, What the Art Teacher Wore and DIY. If you are blogging, you might wanna consider some sort of theme. People like to know what to expect. They also like consistency. So give 'em that. If you are just starting out, blog once weekly (on a consistent day of the week so they know when to check back) and have a theme. Tip-toe into it y'all. It will feel more like a kiddie pool and less like an ocean that way.
Finding your voice: Let's face it. One of the biggest hurtles of blogging? Writing. Many folks are terrified of writing. Look, y'all. My mean-a## aunt was my English teacher: I lived in fear of writing! She always hated my "casual" tone. And works for me. Because it's my voice. It's how I talk and, therefore, how I write. But it's not for everyone. So, ask yourself: who are my desired readers? How would I speak to them? For me, my desired reader is my BFF (hello, Mallory!) and this is how I speak to her. 

Just a coupla tips: Read your blog post out loud. Does it sound like how you would speak? Also, have a no-holds-barred friend read through it. They'll tell ya the truth. 
Photo 101: Allow me to introduce you to my camera. The one that's been dropped more times than I can count, the one that's been bandaged in Scotch Tape and the one who snaps all the photos for this here blog. That's right, y'all. You don't need no million dollar camera to get decent pics for your blog. Save your dinero. Get a point -n- shoot. These types of cameras can take fab photos if you use 'em correctly. Read that lil manual. Learn how to set your camera to take high res photos. The money you save on a super cheapo camera? Spend it on a tripod! I gotta tell ya, my pet peeve on blogs is when the photos are stinky and shaky. Set that camera on a tripod (no matter WHAT you are snapping), set the timer (yes, your camera has one) and allow the camera to do the work for you. THEN, edit those babies. Crop out the background, bump up the color/contrast, polish 'em up (but try to steer clear of too many photo treatments, kay?). The result will be clear, colorful and interesting photos. All the pictures of me you see on my blog were taken this way. That's right, my hubs isn't the photographer, it's me and my camera. 
Connect with Others: Okay. So, let's pretend you're a blogger. And you've been at this bloggin' biz for sometime and, well, you ain't gettin' nuthin back from your readers. Your comment box is empty, your viewship is down and you're thinking to yourself, what am I doing wrong?! Consider this: are you making a connection with your readers? Are you listening to them...or are you just talking at them? In my experience, one way to hear back from you readers is to host giveaways (I did an entire slew right before Christmas and it was a great way to connect!), contests (for me that meant a dress-up contest), book clubs and craft alongs. The more you engage and interact with your readers, the better, y'all!

And, well, there you have it. My purely two-cents worthy two-cents. These are my lil bloggin' rules...and I do hope they help you out a bit. I absolutely love teaching, creating, and blogging, in that order. This lil set of philosophies works for me. And I hope you might gain a pinch from it as well. I'd love to hear your tips, tricks and advice as well! And if you have any questions, please feel free to ask, y'all. 
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  1. like you blog!

    good post! thanks sharing!

    1. Thank you! Cannot WAIT to check out your blog, thank you for the link :)

  2. Great advice and my children really enjoyed looking at those dresses... We may be making Marvel Superheroes aprons very soon!

    1. Oh, that'd be fun! The fabric came from a website called They had a variety of super hero fabrics. Have fun!

  3. "When you connect as many dots as possible in your life it will feel like suddenly you've got the ball rolling and there's no stopping it."

    ^SO true!

    1. Thank you! I've found it to be so makes for a happier YOU!

  4. You are a pro Miss Stephens! My favorite tip is to embrace whatever camera you have. It's true. Start with what you have as it is always good enough.

    1. Oh, girl, YOU are the pro! I do believe folks think they need a mega camera...any camera will do!


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