Tag Archive for craft blog

Craft Buds 2012 Year in Review + Link Party

Each year, we are inspired by the changing of the calendar to take a look back at the year and remember the everyday moments that stand out, crafty and otherwise! If you were around, you might remember our 2011 Year in Review and Link Party, which was so much fun that we’ve decided to do it again!

In 2012 at Craft Buds, we made:

– Valentine gifts like the LOVE T-shirt and cinnamon heart sugar cookies

– Delectable treats like cookie dough frosted brownies

– Gifts for kids, like the felt flowers button snake and child’s cape

– Sewn storage solutions, like the e-Reader sleeve and car trash bag

– Super simple fabric corner bookmarks and last-minute gifts

– A shortened belt and frosted cupcakes

A pleated pillow, and many of you sewed along!

– A big deal about craft book publishing, including design/layout, a unique book concept, hosting a book launch party, and craft book photography

– A new video series and kicked it off with a chat about writing sewing patterns

 

2013 New Year’s Goals + Giveaway!

What would you like to learn how to do (or do better) in 2013? We invite you to link up your 2012 recap and/or 2013 resolutions here, whether they are craft-related, family, work or personal goals. If you don’t have a blog, we’d love to hear your goals for the new year in the comments!

To play along, add the direct URL to your blog post in the inlinkz tool below. That’s it! If you feel so inclined, visit another person’s post and leave a kind word.

As a thank you for linking up, we’ll give away a 3 months of free advertising on Craft Buds to one lucky blogger that adds their link below! Just add your post by 1/3/13 to be eligible to win.



If you’d like, grab a button for your post here!

Craft Buds

Pinterest Tips for Craft Bloggers

Like Flickr, Pinterest has become a creative playground for those seeking DIY inspiration, recipe ideas and images that can help inspire their personal style. If you have a personal Pinterest account, you are probably already aware of this tool and how it can help you grow your handmade business or craft blog.

According to Cision, though Pinterest has only 7% of the users that Twitter has, it produces about the same amount of referral traffic (i.e. visits to your blog or handmade business site from Pinterest). This is huge, especially for crafters who are a key market for this visually inspiring social network!

If you’d like to learn to use Pinterest to help promote your handmade business or creative blog, here are some simple tips gathered from around the Web, as well as some general social media advice you may not have thought of.

Add a Pin It Button to your website and individual posts.

You may have added a Pin It Button to your personal Internet browser, so you can pin content while surfing the Web. The Pin It Button for websites is a little bit different than this. It’s a handy little tool that you can add to your blog’s home page as well as each post. If you use Blogger, check out this handy tutorial from BloggerSentral on how to add the Pin It Button to each of your blog posts automatically. There’s also a counter to show you how many times a reader has pinned your page. WordPress bloggers can download a plug-in to achieve the same result.

Describe your images.

This may seem self explanatory, but the search engines will not automatically see a photo of your quilt and know what it is. So instead of labeling your photo “My first one,” make a practice of using descriptive keywords for each image that you pin from your site. You might say, “Baby booties sewn with felt scraps” or “Cashmere sweater with mohair,” for instance.

Pinterest Tip: If you run an Etsy shop or other online business, it might even help to list the price for the items you pin from your shop, like “Designer fabric fat quarters, $2 each or $10 for six at [Shop Name and URL].”

Pinterest-Tips-Hashtags

Use hashtags.

If you read our Twitter Tips for Crafters, you know that hashtags (#craft, #sewing, #recipes) are keywords that can help others find your posts. In the same way, keywords with hashtags can help Pinterest users to find you. For instance, if you search for the term “cake pops” in Pinterest, you’ll come up with several boards and businesses that sell cake pops. But the easiest way to find cake pop tutorials is to search for #cakepops.

Pinterest Tip: Try a few searches for craft tutorials or handmade products, and see what you find out. If you notice a lot of search results coming up on the top of the page, see what method those crafters use in their descriptions.

Describe yourself and your crafts.

Add descriptions to your About section, and use specific keywords in your Pinterest board names. For instance, a general board like “Crafts” will not be as specific as “Paper Crafts” or “Handmade Wedding Invitations.” Target your keywords to the reader you’d like to find you, and don’t be afraid to create a larger number of more specified boards.

Make friends and interact.

As a craft blogger or handmade business owner, it’s important yet humbling to realize that the whole world does not revolve around you and your pins. There are millions of creative people who have talented content to share (much of it for free!) and if you are genuine and supportive, leaving comments on other people’s pins, people tend to respond by being support of you as well. This is true with any type of social media! If you are only in it to support yourself, it ceases to become “social.”

knit cowl free pattern

Try something new.

Once you’ve established a presence on Pinterest and found a group of other users to interact with, try one or more of these ideas to grow your reach.

– Link your Pinterest profile to a Facebook or Twitter account, for automatic sharing of your pins.

– Start a user-generated pinboard, where others can add pins to projects they’ve made from your tutorials.

– Create a video gallery and promote videos related to your niche, whether that’s jewelry making or DIY desserts.

– Host a Pinterest contest, following these tips from Command Partners.

– Track your traffic generated by Pinterest with these tips from Mashable.

– If you are running Pinterest for your company or organization, create a more personal feel by creating a pinboard for “office life” where you show the events you attend, projects you’re working on, and more. This gives a more personal feel and can help bring more of an actual face to your brand, which is especially important when it comes to handmade businesses.

Play by the rules.

It’s common Pinterest etiquette to always check the source of pins before repinning, which will help you avoid copyright infringement. For instance, if a pin links back to the direct image of an URL (an otherwise blank page), the owner of the photo is not getting credit. Also, if you pin an image from a crafty round-up, the owner of the image is also probably not getting credit. To be on the safe side, always go to the original post on which the image appears before pinning.

Many bloggers will let you know if they are “Pinterest friendly” or if they’d prefer for you not to pin images from their blog. When pinning items from an Etsy shop or online seller, do not pin an item to your board of things you’d like “To Make.” It’s better to pin a free tutorial for a related project than to tell a seller you’d rather make than purchase their handmade items.

Enjoy these Pinterest tips, and please let us know in the comments if you have any questions or tips of your own!

From Blog to Book Deal: Q&A with Jessica Levitt

Please welcome Jessica Levitt to Craft Buds! Jessica is a first-time author of a new book about modern quilting. You may have also read her popular blog, Juicy Bits, where she shows of quilted creations and her fabric lines.

The book is titled Modern Mix: 16 Sewing Projects that Combine Designer Prints & Solid Fabrics (Stash / C&T Publishing) and includes 7 quilt projects plus 7 Quilts + pillows, bags and gifts.

Jessica Levitt

Jessica, you must be thrilled to see your first book in print. Was this the fulfillment of a long-standing dream, or something that just transpired over time?

Yes, I’m absolutely thrilled, but funny enough, it was never my dream in life to write a book. In fact, in school I kinda hated writing. I was never bad at it, but it wasn’t my thing and I have a degree in engineering so I didn’t have to do that much in college. But when I started my blog, all that changed. I love writing there because I can write like I’m having a conversation with my readers. And it’s so rewarding to be able to share all the work, that I would do anyway, with the world. So, now I’m hooked. And the idea of making beautiful projects and having a real, live, printed book in my hand that I wrote is amazing. I can’t wait until I see some of the projects people make from my patterns!

Pebble Road Quilt

Can you tell us about the process of pitching your book? How did you go about choosing your theme and communicating that vision to a publisher?

Certainly. The theme of my book was pretty obvious to me since I love modern quilts and sewing projects that use solid fabrics. I wanted to show readers many different ways to use them in their projects while still enjoying their favorite prints. Although quilting is my first sewing love, I knew I didn’t want a book that was only quilts because I love variety. I think it’s nice to have a cohesive theme that neatly ties all the projects together and makes your book different from all the general sewing books out there, but I do know it’s not 100% necessary. If you simply have a distinct style of your own, that can be enough.

When it came to pitching the idea to a publisher, I treated it a bit like a book report. I know every author does a totally different type of proposal, so this is just one approach, but it is important to know the publisher’s guidelines. For mine, I wrote a summary introduction of the book concept. I had the potential projects already divided into chapters. I completed one full quilt top (the one that ended up on the cover) and wrote out the full directions for it, including illustrations to show that I was capable of writing clearly. For the other projects I included computer sketches or pictures of similar previous work that I had done with a short description. The publisher had a couple of questionnaires to fill out, and I also included a small photographic portfolio of my work to give them an idea of my style and potential.

I sent all this information in as a hard copy, but I think many publishers prefer them electronically now. Then it becomes a waiting game. In the end, they didn’t want to include every project I pitched and I was free to alter some as needed, so the final book didn’t look just like the proposal. For some projects, they even asked for more information, like fabric selections, etc.

I was reading about your trip to quilt market when you pitched your fabric line Timber to several manufacturers, and you said it was a bit nerve-wracking. Did you feel that way with the book as well?

Honestly, not really. That’s because I didn’t have to pitch it cold to a bunch of publishers. In fact, my publisher, Stash Books, an imprint of C&T, approached me. Their acquisitions editor noticed my blog and asked if I was interested in writing a book. I probably wouldn’t have done it if she hadn’t made me think of the idea. So I met with her when I was at quilt market and talked about the process, and when I was finally ready, I submitted only to her. And don’t think I’m super-special or anything. They ask plenty of designers for submissions and then can choose from amongst those. A blog is a great way to get known and also to direct them back somewhere when you do submit a proposal.

I know that it often takes more than a year to publish a book. What parts of the process were you most involved with, and what has the waiting game been like?

Yes, it seems to take forever. I did the bulk of the writing and sewing last summer so it does feel like along time ago. Obviously I was most involved in the writing and sewing. I had more that 6 months to do that all that, but it’s never enough time! I think next time I’ll probably do more projects up front before I even submit a proposal, so there is less work to do. It made for a crazy, busy summer. After I sent in all the projects and text, then the editing begins. Stash is excellent at reviewing the text and illustrations to make sure they are both clear and easy to follow, and technically accurate. There are several rounds of edits, and for each one, we went back and forth, making it the best book possible. At the same time, they take the photos and start the design. I had input into both processes. Basically I gave them guidelines and lots of examples of my vision for the book. But they took it from there and did the photos and design on their own. Finally I requested changes or reshoots as necessary. It’s so cool to see the basic Word document turned into a pretty picture book, but waiting for your advance copy is torture!

Modern Mix Book

Can you tell me about one of your favorite projects in the book, and how you came up with the idea?

That’s a tough one. I get inspiration from anywhere and everywhere.

The cover quilt, called Pebble Road, actually came the from the quilting idea first. I love round “pebble” quilting like that. I wanted to make a really big quilt (it’s king size!) that had a lot of impact but that was relatively easy to piece, so I got the idea to do a stripe of circles that really pop. I love the bright Kaffe Fassat fabrics with the grey background.

Another favorite is the Diamond Strands quilt. For that one I wanted to feature large pieces of large-scale print fabrics, so I made them into vertical stripes. And, I’m usually not one to use templates, but I loved the idea of diamond shapes rather than squares because it’s more unusual.

There are also a lot of fun smaller projects. I love bags, and in this book the Essentials Bag is one of my favorite. It’s a great size for carrying a wallet and a few other essentials. I wanted something that came together relatively easy and was a fun showcase for some print fabrics.

Modern Mix bag

Do you have any advice for an aspiring author or fabric designer?

Oh boy, if someone has the answer to balance, I want to hear it. I struggle with that constantly, but when I get it right, it can be so rewarding. I guess my advice it that you don’t have to rush into anything. Figure out what your goals are, and then give yourself some time to get there. I took my time submitting a book proposal, waiting until I was ready to make it a real priority, and I’m so glad I did. I want to make sure I get enough time with my kids as they’re growing up, so that means sometimes passing up on a work opportunity. But I can’t say enough good things about blogging. Sometimes it can be a chore and I neglect it (like this summer), but it has helped me so much. There is a ton of inspiration out there as a reader, and if you get a decent following, it can open you up to a lot of opportunities. To get yourself more known, my advice is to offer something for free. I’m not talking just giveaways, but patterns, etc., that people will keep coming back to. And devote some time to communicating with other bloggers.

 

Giveaway!

Stash Books is generously giving away a copy of the book Modern Mix to one lucky Craft Buds reader. Leave a comment with something you learned from this interview for a chance to win. We’ll pick one winner on Friday, September 30th. If located outside the U.S., winner will receive an eBook. This giveaway is now closed, congrats to #23, Jenelle!

Traffic Boost: Creating backlinks to your site

If you sell handmade goods or craft supplies on Etsy, why not list your site on the Everything Etsy Directory? A basic listing is free, and takes just a couple minutes to set up!

Whether you are shopping for children, jewelry, or edibles, it’s easy to browse shops and support handmade with the directory.

Backlinks

Besides the traffic you’ll get from being listed in a major handmade directory, your Etsy shop will benefit from having another quality backlink to your site. (In non-techy terms, this means that another craft-related site is linking to your Etsy shop, which helps move your site one notch closer to the top of search engines.)

Backlinks take time to build, but they are crucial in the promotion of your handmade business. Here are some tips on effective ways to build backlinks to your Etsy shop. (This also applies to handmade bloggers!)

  1. Start a blog about your handmade business, and link back to your shop as well as your other favorite Etsy stores.
  2. Open accounts with one or two social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, Flickr or Youtube), and use these sites to link back to new items in your store.
  3. Find some other handmade sellers to partner with and blog, Tweet or Facebook about their shops. Ask them to do the same for you.
  4. Ask if other handmade bloggers will add your Etsy shop to their blogroll (sidebar).
  5. Add your Etsy shop URL to your signature for posting on forums.
  6. List your website in relevant directories.

Intro To Link Building For Etsy Shop SEO from Everything Etsy on Vimeo.

Giveaway Winner!

Out of 59 comments, the winner of the Memory Miser giveaway is lucky #25, Niki. Congratulations Niki!

Proven Successful: Tools and Tips for Blogging

Today, we’re excited to have a fabulous guest blogger, Martha of Sunday Afternoon Housewife.  She’s not only a pro in marketing her handmade business (she makes these fantastic scrabble tile necklaces), but she’s recently release a free e-course with helpful tips for craft bloggers. Take it away Martha!

Sunday Afternoon Housewife

Starting and maintaining a blog is a lot of work. Success in the blogging world doesn’t come over night, and it can be frustrating trying to build up your readership. Sometimes you will feel like you are writing to no one at all. The bad news is that having a successful blog does take time, research and hard work. The good news is that with the right tools, you can create a blog which will be more successful. The following tools and tips have all proven very successful for me, and I know you will enjoy them, too! I encourage you to check them out so that you can improve your blog and see your readership grow.

Favorite blogging tools

One of the most important tools I use for blogging isn’t an online tool at all. It’s a notebook! I always keep a notebook or two handy for jotting down topic ideas whenever and where ever they strike. I got tired of having a great idea and then forgetting it before I had a chance to sit down in front of the computer and type it out. Ideas can come at the oddest times for me, so it has become very important to keep a few notebooks lying around the house and one in my purse so I can jot them down right away. After I jot them down, I’ll regularly gather up the notes in my notebooks and put them in a simple text document and keep them handy on the desktop of my computer. This way, when I am sitting down to type, the ideas are readily available.

Now, the most important tool besides a notebook is going to be your blog itself. I highly encourage you to pick a platform which you are most comfortable with. It seems to me the most popular blogging platforms for crafters are either WordPress or Blogger. I have used both, but 3 years ago settled on WordPress. I found it to be more functional and practical as my blog grew.

When you pick your blog platform and start to set up or update your blog, you have the option to add widgets to your blog to improve the look and functionality. Both WordPress.com and Blogger have widgets that help you organize your blog into categories or archives, and you can also add Etsy widgets (see an example here), and basic html/ text or image widgets. If you decided to build your own site from the ground up using the WordPress.org software, you also have the option to add plug-ins that do all sorts of fancy things from managing advertisements to showing rotating text quotes. If you want to start off without having to build your own site, but later may want to create your own later as you grow, then I highly suggest using WordPress.com. Later when you build your own website, if you use WordPress.org you can easily transfer over all past posts. I don’t know of another platform that offers this option as easily as WordPress.

woodland tiles
Another really important thing to be including in your blog is pictures. A well placed picture will catch the reader’s eye and also break up large chunks of text. There are two tools which I use for editing photos before I post them to my blog. Paint.net is free and similar to Photoshop and is great for creating text ads and editing photos. You have to download Paint.net on to your computer to use it. It is very helpful for many tasks. That being said, my favorite photo editing software right now is Picnik. It is a free, cloud based program with seemingly unlimited photo editing capabilities. You’ll find that you love it so much, you’ll probably want to upgrade to a premium account. I promise it is worth every penny.

Other tools which will benefit your blog and help it grow include an RSS feed reader (so other can subscribe to your blog), and social media share buttons. Most blogs offer widgets or add-ons for these tools, so just look for what options your platform has available. Add This is probably one of the best share tools you can use because it also tracks for you how people share the information on from website.

Free e-course for craft bloggers

Now, if you are just starting out on your blogging adventure, or if you blog needs a boost to get moving again, then I encourage you to sign up for my free blogging e-course created just for crafters! My course is chock full of tips for crafters who blog or want to blog, but need a little kick in the pants. The tips are sent directly to your inbox each day. The tips will help you on your quest to improve your blog.

Each day for 5 days you will get a blogging prompt. These prompts will help give you something to write about, to help add variety to your blog, and give you that boost you’ve been needing to get your blog up and running with more regularity.

Click here to sign up today! (It’s free!)

If you’ve already signed up for the e-course and have enjoyed what you have learned, then you should also check out my new ebook, The Blogging Adventure. It’s chock full of 25+ more prompts, daily tips and blog writing tricks. It’s written specifically for crafters, so I know you will find each topic inspiring and you will be motivated to write!

Martha Latta

Bio: My name is Martha Latta and my business is Sunday Afternoon Housewife. I am a self-taught handmade artist who creates Scrabble tile pendants, glass tile pendants and silk screened tees. I also make lots of randomness. I travel all over the country to different craft fairs and have learned a lot from my trips and the experiences of attending many fairs. On my blog I regularly write about crafting, running a craft business, and taking a craft business on road. I also create digital tools for crafters including spreadsheets, ebooks, and free ecourses. I write on my own blog (almost) daily. I am also a writer for Handmadeology. Additionally, I’m the Regional Craftologist for Indianapolis, Indiana on Unanimous Craft. I’m also a monthly contributor on Handmade Success! As if I’m not busy enough, I’m also the founder of the Handmade Promenade, an Indianapolis-based handmade market, and The Uncommon Craft Society of Indianapolis, a meet-up community of local crafters. You can read more about me and my adventures on my own blog or shop my shop at www.sundayafternoonhousewife.com.

Promote Your Craft Blog: Linky Parties

So, you make really cute, adorable things. Your Facebook friends all seem to agree, that your crafts are, hands down, the best. But how do you get the word out about your handmade goods and find new blog readers and followers?

One great way to promote your crafts blog is to participate in linky parties. Also called linkups or blog hops, linky parties are regular gatherings of like-minded crafters who are invited to post their projects via a linkup application such as InLinkz or Linky Tools.

Linky parties happen all the time, all over the place, but you just need to know where to go to find them and when! If you need a little jump-start, hop over to the Craft Buds Linky Parties Page to see where we like to party each week.

How it Works

Some linky parties allow you to post a photo, but others are text links only. (This is generally a cheaper option for the blogger hosting the party, with annual linkup services costing around $20.) I’ve personally found that linking up with text linky parties is a great way to get a lot of hits. People are often so curious about your project that they’ll click on every link and visit every blog!

Weekly linky parties happen every week on a specific day of the week. If a Linky Party is for Mondays, for example, you typically have from Monday morning until midnight to add your project, and then the submissions list will close.

There are also a few monthly linky parties, such as Fresh Sewing Day (on the first of the month at Lily’s Quilts). A linky party may also be used as a giveaway tool (like at Lily’s Quilts), where each link counts as a contest entry.

Linky Party Etiquette

The purpose of posting your project to a linky party is to 1) get more visitors to your site and 2) find new and inspiring blogs to visit. An added bonus is creating links back to your site, which will increase your SEO (search engine optimization), making it easier for people to find you online.

With all these benefits, linky parties are sometimes used incorrectly. It’s important to read the guidelines set out by the blogger hosting a linky party, because if you don’t play nice, the party isn’t nearly as much fun!

Linky Party screenshot

Screenshot: Handmade Tuesdays Linky Party at Ladybug Blessings

Etiquette for linky parties usually includes:

1) Link to a recent project post, and not a link to the front page of your blog, your Etsy store or a giveaway, unless specifically stated by the host. The Girl Creative hosts two linky parties: Just Something I Whipped Up (Sunday) is for project posts, and Creative Girls Blog Hop (Friday) is general links to craft blog. Here at Craft Buds, we host a weekly linky party specifically for giveaways at our Giveaway Roundup.

2) Visit one or more links uploaded by someone else and leave a nice comment.

3) Link back to the host’s blog via a button or text link. This is a common courtesy, and it is usually appreciated if you link back in the same blog post that you are linking up, or in your blog’s sidebar. If you participate in very many linky parties, you may wish to create a separate page for all of your linky party buttons.

4) Follow the blog hosting a linky party via RSS or Google Friend Connect. This is not always required, but subscribing is a good reminder to link up week after week. Also, this will keep you in the know in case your project was featured as a favorite that week!

More Tips

If you are really a go-getter, why not leave a nice comment for the blogger hosting the party each week? It’s a bit of work to set up and manage a regular linky party, so make sure your host knows that their efforts are appreciated, and that you are not just looking for some free promo.

Try to build relationships with the other bloggers linking up by leaving kind comments and taking an interest in their crafts. These friendships will take you much farther than a few extra page views each week! You can check your blog stats to see how many people visit your blog from each linky party that week. Then you can tailor the linky parties you visit to that information.

So friends, who hosts the best linky parties on the Web? Do you party, and if so, where?

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