How to Grow Your Creative Blog

I often get emails and messages from other bloggers who want to know how to grow their creative blog. One of the biggest questions when a blogger starts out is “how can I get people to read my blog?” Today I’m sharing a few tips and tricks that worked for me, and hopefully it can work for you too!

1. Write about what interests you.
If someone is passionate about their subject, it shines through. I mainly blog about sewing, not exclusively, but it’s the main topic of conversation here. If I never wrote another blog post again, I’d still be sewing, because I love it. It’s fun for me and I want to share my projects with people who also love sewing. Your blog might move in different directions and you might want to change the conversation and that’s good too. Sewing is only a small part of my life and occasionally I like to share other things. I blog about the things I enjoy, and if others want to come along for the ride and read about it, then that is awesome.

2. Write tutorials.
The majority of the traffic that comes to Sew Delicious is via my tutorials. People love seeing a gorgeous project, but even better, they love to be shown step by step how to do it so they can make it for themselves. As a creative blogger, these types of posts are key to bringing traffic to your site. They are evergreen content – tutorials I wrote over two years ago continue to be amongst my most viewed posts. Seasonal DIYs are excellent as you can share them year after year.

3. Take great pictures.
I’m not actually that great in the photography department but over the years I’ve improved my skills and my photos are significantly better than they were when I started out. Natural light and simple backgrounds work for me. Here are a few ideas that might help.

My top photo tips for creative blogging:
– Don’t take photos at night.
– Take photos in natural light, but not direct sun light.
– Use a simple background to feature your project
– Take LOADS of photos. The more you take, the better chance you’ll grab that ‘money shot’.
– Check out Pinterest, Craftgawker and Instagram and see how people style their photos.
– Learn to use a picture editor. I use PicMonkey and sometimes create graphics using Canva. These are great for both picture editing and adding features like watermarks, text and graphics.

Make sure you always use your own images. If you wish to use an image that belongs to someone else, always seek their permission.

 4. Blog Design: Keep It Simple.
Many bloggers worry about their blog design and want to constantly update it. It’s like an extension of ourselves, a reflection upon us, our style, and the first impression that people have when they arrive at our blog.

As a reader, I actually have to say that I don’t really notice other people’s blog design. Unless it’s really bad. A strange colour, crazy fonts, auto-play videos, and heaps jammed into sidebars, headers and footers which completely distracts the reader from the content they would like to view. If a blog has any of those things it’s unlikely that I’d follow or come back to it. Be creative with your design, but allow your posts to stand out and be the star.

5. Getting to know you.
If I come across a blog with a few posts that I enjoy, I will almost always click through to the About page. I don’t want to read an essay, I just want to see a lovely picture of you with a paragraph that tells me who you are and why you blog. Give me a snapshot of the person behind the screen and if I think we have lots in common and I like your style / humour / the cute picture of your dachshund, I will probably follow you. Don’t forget to go back and read your own About page every few months just to make sure it’s up to date and still reflects you and your blog.

6. Give Me More.
I’ve arrived at your blog via pinterest / facebook / a link on another blog. I loved the post I just read. Show me more! Make it easy for readers to find other great posts on your blog.

I get a tonne of traffic through the Link Within widget at the bottom of my posts. If you scroll down you can see it – it says ‘You Might Also Like’ and then shows a selection of pictures from past blog posts. If you don’t already have one I would recommend installing it.

I also have a widget on my sidebar that shows my most popular posts of the last 30 days. It’s a great way of showcasing what is current and popular with readers. Add to that all my social media links. If I like a blog, I will follow every way possible – facebook, instagram, google +, bloglovin. Feel free to use the links in my sidebar and show me some love!

If you have written any tutorials or DIY posts, make sure you have a easily accessible page sharing links to all of them.

7. Share your work.
There are lots of ways that the people in the creative blogging community find each other and explore the blogosphere for great content that they love. Don’t be shy – promote yourself!

Link parties are a great way to share your posts. There are heaps of different ones from general craft, quilting, sewing, works in progress and fabric stash sharing parties. They are also a great way to keep a blogging schedule if you are keen to post regularly. I’ve found heaps of great blogs via link parties, many of which I have followed for several years now.

If you write tutorials there are heaps of sites that love to share them. Sites like Craft Gossip, Craftgawker, All Free Sewing, Totally Tutorials and Sew Can She (to name a few) take submissions and will feature your work. Having your posts featured on these sites can bring huge traffic and lots of new readers. They are also great sites to follow to find great projects to make yourself.

8. Educate yourself.
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve googled “how to do ________ in blogger” whether it be add a widget, edit HTML, add social media icons, share my content…the list goes on. I’m completely self taught when it comes to the tech and marketing sides of blogging. There are lots of sites around that give great advice to bloggers about growing their blogs, improving them, how to monetize etc. Problogger is a great example. For creative bloggers I find Abby Glassenberg’s While She Naps ‘Better Blogging’ posts really valuable. I also usually find what I’m looking for if I just google the question I have. There are lots of e-books and e-courses that you can buy if you want to invest in learning a lot of skills quickly.

9. Ask questions.
Bloggers are generally really kind, open and generous with their knowledge and are always keen to help. Most provide lots of options on how to contact them, so if you want to know something, just ask! Send an email! I love getting emails from readers asking a range of things like best quilting shops in Melbourne or the name of a particular fabric. Same goes for blogging advice – if you have a burning question, let me know. Sometimes asking a direct question can get a better result than spending time trawling through search engines.

10. Be Social.
Network with other bloggers – part of the fun of blogging is that sense of community and friendship we share. That comes about by making an effort to join conversations, reply to comments, answer emails and be approachable. Sometimes I just can’t reply to everyone (I do try!) and it’s good to remember that many of us blog as a hobby, we spend our actual day with our children or at work (or both!) so being online all the time is just not practical. But sometimes it’s that small gesture of saying hi, answering a question or complimenting someone’s work that will bring someone to your blog and decide to stick around and follow you.

Use Social Media – Facebook is a huge referrer of traffic to my blog. I’ve got a strong community of fabulous people who like my Facebook page, where I share posts to blog links, share other content that I like and show behind the scenes pictures. There is always an interesting conversation to be had. I’m also in a few blogging groups which are great for asking tech questions and getting support from other bloggers.

Instagram operates as almost a parallel universe to blogging, but I love the visual aspect and the interaction that happens there. I often link my Instagram pictures to my Facebook page as it’s a nice quick way to share to both audiences.

Twitter works well for many bloggers but I don’t enjoy using it as much as the others so I don’t spend much time on it. I have the most success with it if I share blog links several times a day, as the twitter feed moves so fast. The reason I don’t like Twitter as much as other social media is that I don’t find it as interactive or supportive. Perhaps it could be if I spent more time there, but you can’t be everywhere!

Pinterest is also a top referrer of traffic to Sew Delicious, but that is because other people pin from my site. You can’t easily control how your content reaches Pinterest, so the best thing to do is optimise your images and your blog to encourage pinning. Have great pictures, provide pin-it buttons, add text headings to feature images and have links to your own Pinterest profile available so readers can follow you. Pin your own content, but keep that to a minimum. The 80/20 rule is good – 80% other content, 20% your own content. 

Google + is one a lot of bloggers struggle with as there doesn’t seem to be much community interaction as other social media platforms. I persist with it because I’ve noticed my traffic from Google search engines has significantly increased since I started sharing my blog content there. Like it or not, Google rules the internet so if you support them, they will give you some SEO love in return.

Newsletter – social media feeds move on quickly and people don’t always see your posts. One thing people consistently do is check their email. A newsletter is a great way to offer your content directly into someone’s email inbox. It’s about as personal as you can get with online content and your posts are most likely to be looked at and read. I’m fairly new to newsletters but I really enjoy writing it – you can sign up for my newsletter here.

I’m still learning and the online world is constantly evolving. As a reader, I really enjoy blogs that are about a topic (sewing, quilting, baking etc) but also have a personal touch – I like to feel like I know the person and I enjoy personal posts and glimpses into other people’s lives.

I hope some of these tips have helped you or given you some ideas. All of these aspects of blogging have improved Sew Delicious, but some of them may not apply to you. Be selective and take the advice that resonates with you and your style. One last piece of advice – it’s just a blog! Unless your blog is also your full time job, keep a healthy balance with how much time you spend on it.

Happy creative blogging!

41 thoughts on “How to Grow Your Creative Blog

  1. Fab tips, and I'm going to take this opportunity to say thanks to you again for being so open and willing to help. My first few months of blogging would've been insane had you not shared your experiences and help. Xox. Truly someone who practised what you preached 🙂

    1. Thanks Deborah! It's important to keep it all in perspective – so easy to be on facebook and realise that 2 hours have passed! Sometimes I need to remember my own advice 😉

    1. Jess Van Den is great, I haven't done any of her courses but I used her mailing list ebook when I set up my newsletter. I also follow her Create & Thrive blog, which always has interesting info 🙂

  2. Great tips! I like your point about not getting hung up on blog design. Simple and clean will do giving the blogger time to focus on creative content. Found you on Tip Junkie! 🙂

  3. Hi Ros,
    Thanks for the great blog tips. I have just set up my blog so these tips came at a great time. I'm still working on it and lots to learn but I've got over the first hurdle of actually just sitting down to get it done!).
    I hope you stop by some time
    – Mary (a fellow Aus-based sewist)

  4. Thanks for the tips! My blog will be a year old next month and I have been having so much fun! I haven't done any tutorials yet, but I've been thinking about a couple. I guess I should get on that. I really enjoy your blog.

  5. Wonderful tips. Here's a question for you. I'm blogging about quilting and I also have an etsy shop where I sell quilts and other things I've sewn. I mention my etsy shop quite often in the blog, even when the posts aren't specifically about it…say, launching a new product or such. I'm worried about driving away readers with advertising and yet want to use every tool available to promote my business. Any advice on what's appropriate?

    1. Such a great question – I must admit I often wonder this myself. I used to have an etsy shop and sometimes I use affiliate links and write sponsored posts. It's a tricky balance, but I guess you have to think of it in terms of what you like as a reader. When you read other blogs that are promoting themselves, what do you like and what puts you off or goes too far? Consider a blogger who you think gets the balance right and then model your strategy on what they do. Remember also, there will be people who are reading your blog for the first time, so reminding people on a regular basis about your shop is a good thing. As you say, just pick the context and when it's relevant and appropriate. Good luck! xx

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