This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend Sewing Summit, a sewing conference in Salt Lake City, run by my friend Erin. I had such a lovely time, I neglected to take a single photo, but I thought I would share a few take aways, along with my presentation – Tips for a Successful Blog.
I learn something at EVERY conference I attend and Sewing Summit was no exception. I could write several posts, but I am just going to cover a few fun highlights for now…
- When attending a conference, stay at the event hotel. Sure, staying at home helps keep things affordable, but you miss out on so much great networking, your subject to the ins, outs and pressures of regular life and you will end up missing something.
- If you don’t have a beautifully sewn handbag or tote, you’re going to stand out at Sewing Summit (they are like cardigans and ruffles at SNAP!). If I would have remembered my camera, that’s what I would have shot…all of the great bags.
- Beautiful, modern quilts inspire me just as much as a gorgeous photograph…In other news, who’s going to teach me to quilt?
- Speaking of photographs…Few brightly lit windows and little space are NO excuse for bad photography. I will be working on this…
- I will always be a better speaker than writer…darn it!
Five Tips for a Successful Blog
Step 1. Branding
Branding is often overlooked, but it is one of the most important elements of having a great blog. How you brand yourself will not only distinguish you from the millions of other blogs, but it will help determine your reputation, reader loyalty and project recall.
There are three things to consider when it comes to selecting a name for your blog. Choose something that is simple, functional and memorable.
Is your name simple, functional or just downright different? What’s the most unusual brand name you’ve ever heard?
Looking for a bit more detail? Check out this short post on selecting a name for your brand.
There are a number of things to consider when selecting a design for your logo and site…
Selecting a logo that looks like what you’re going to write about, is a great idea. Not only is Made by RAE’s name a pretty descriptive, but looking at her logo it’s pretty clear what she’s blogging about too.
Another thing to think about when selecting a logo is the number of different ways it will be used. Select a logo that would look good in black and white, as well as any size. Not only are both of the names and design of The Sew Weekly and Sew to Speak perfectly descriptive, the color and size works well in black and white and in different sizes.
Step 2. Site Platform and Design
There are many blog platforms available for your use. Each tool has its pros and cons in terms of ease of use, functionality, customization and cost.
Briefly, lets look at some of the reasons you may want to select the Blogger or WordPress platforms…
Google has created a pretty simple interface for bloggers. The drag and drop functionality makes it easy for bloggers to install simple design and move around basic widgets, while Google maintains the more serious upkeep like development and hosting. Best of all? Blogger is completely free.
WordPress is a bit more technical, but with that comes increased functionality and an amazing array of open code to utilize in customization. This provides bloggers with more room to grow and optimize their site for traffic and monetization.
Still unsure as to which plat form is best? Stop by and read my post on how to decide between Blogger or WordPress.
You might also choose to peruse the blogging tips archives for tutorials on both Blogger and WordPress, along with social networking tools.
I cannot over-emphasize the importance of having plenty of white space on your blog. One blog that has this down is A Lemon Squeezy Home. The white space makes it so much easier to scan and read.
Don’t think that white space has to literally mean the space is white. Whipstitch is an amazing sewing blog and it’s background is actually green.
It’s also entirely possible to incorporate advertising, while maintaining a less busy format. A great example of this is The Idea Room.
A great design is important, but the most beautiful site in the world is pretty useless if you can’t find anything. A well organized site, like No Biggie, encourages visitors to stay a while and look around. Kami has utilized Inlinkz to organize her projects by category. This is a great simple fix if you’re looking to create thumbnail lists.
In addition to a well organized site, make sure that your contact information is easy to find.
There are a few final don’ts that you should be aware of…
- Don’t install music or sound
- Don’t use pesky word verification on comments
- Don’t use multiple or hard to read fonts
- Don’t use white text on a dark background
Step 3. Content
Step 4. Promotion
- Use the keyword in your title
- Your title should be 70 characters or less
- Use the keyword in your URL (a great WP plugin to help with your links is Pretty Links)
- Use the keyword in your first paragraph
- Use words similar to your keyword phrase throughout your content (but only use them when it makes sense)
- Link to older posts within your site
- Utilize headers containing your keywords when possible
Despite the two hours we had, we ran out of time to discuss monetization. It’s more of a result of successful blogging than a tip to successful blogging. For those interested in monetization…
Sigh…And thus ends what’s made for a very, very long blog post.
I didn’t get to meet many of your and I clearly didn’t take many photos. I’d love to have you share/link up your Sewing Summit posts so that I can read through them…