Wednesday, October 2, 2013

how-to // 10 things that will make you a better blogger

The first time I had a blog I had noooooo idea what I was doing. Some very good friends of mine were doing and using it as a creative writing outlet and I just wanted in the fun. The problem was, I didn't have much to write about and it didn't occur to me that it could be more of a design blog (duh!) It then became a dark, side space where I wrote some thoughts after my grandpa died. It was way to sad so I decided to make it private and forget about it. 

Three years passed by, I quit my job at a fashion house and started my job search again. I got a job as an English teacher, but felt the need to be creative. I started to participate in Spoonflower's contest and needed a place to share my work with the world, as well as my inspiration and process.  And so La Pâtisserie des Idées was born: a blog for me to cook ideas and to share those of other bakers ;) I kept it for over 2 years… it became my baby. I spent hours designing and regularly changing its layout and looking for ways to make it better and prettier. But something was missing: I wasn't really engaging many readers. Yes, some people used to stop by and comment (which made me really really happy) but I wasn't able to create a consistent interaction between my readers and I. 

Last December I decided to change blogs and started muyMaJo! after being advised it was better to have a blog under my same brand's name or close to it (for brand's recognition/building purposes). It was hard and sad, but I saw it as an opportunity to start fresh. My old Pâtisserie will always be in my heart. I sometimes look through it and realise how much I grew over 2 years I kept it ;) But again… I keep doing something wrong because I haven't been able to capture many followers nor truly connect with the few I have. 

I want to be a good blogger because I really enjoy it so I've been reading/studying about it. In April I read Melanie Biehle's Blog with Purpose e(work)book and confirmed five things I had been thinking about (but not acting on) over the years: 
  1. Keep a uniform design throughout your blog: stick to a single image size, font, watermark, etc. :: a little after I started this blog I committed to making all my images 500px wide, but have been naughty with the watermark bit (from now on I'll do better).
  2. You need to decide what you want to blog about and commit to it :: my blog is about me (my personal and professional journey as a fashion, textile + pattern textile designer), my work, and everything I find inspiring... I pretty much had this one clear. 
  3. Having an editorial schedule not only makes it easier for you to blog coherently, but also for your readers to know when to pop by :: back in May I decided I was going to write my blog in 3 languages, and blog 5 days a week: SPD RedCarpet on Mondays, Styling Made Easy on Wednesdays, Beauty Breakdown on Thursdays, Design Kit on Fridays, and Mani Sundays on well… Sundays. But that wasn't it: I also decided to commit to the #52collections challenge which not only meant creating a design a day but blogging twice a week about it too. 
  4. Interacting with your readers is essential to build that relationship I so desire :: always reply to their comments, create posts where they can have a saying, and launch contests/giveaways to thank them for being by your side. 
  5. Create valid content :: put something out there that's interesting or relevant to what your readers would like to know, learn, be informed or simply look at.
Now, let's talk about how my mistakes have made me learn some other useful things (and some things I've been doing okay):
  1. Acknowledge when you've made a mistake: your readers will definitely appreciate knowing you are human :: When I decided my editorial schedule I didn't realise I was biting more than I could chew. Blogging almost everyday of the week, plus working on a weekly collection, plus regular designing and my second job is just too much for me to keep up. Not to mention doing all that in 3 languages… I was just nuts to think I was going to pull that off! 
  2. Be consistent :: you don't have to blog everyday, but do it at least once a week. How can you build a community if you are nowhere to be found in a month and then all of a sudden you post about your latest work? It is hard to keep people interested in you, even more if they aren't constantly reminded of you. I've been guilty for this too… sorry!  
  3. Be yourself :: address your readers like you're talking to your friends… you want them to be your friends so this only makes sense, right? Let them know the real you, the person behind your work. It will definitely help them identify with you and hopefully like you more, lol (also… be funny! or at least try to).
  4. Don't be egocentric :: don't just post your work; blog about other things that interest you and your readers too.
  5. Be inclusive :: this one correlates a lot with the previous one; how boring would it be for your blog to be all about you, you, you? Make it also about the people you admire, you share something with, you enjoy reading or looking at. Make your blog a place where everyone feels included :)

So now what?

my first attempt to having an editorial schedule was a total failure, but thanks to it I learnt and now I can work on a better solution that will better suit the time I have available. I've decided I will stick with just writing in English… It breaks my heart 'cause I really wanted to reach people who speak my other two languages, but the truth is: it is way too much work to keep a blog in 3 languages - it is like keeping 3 blogs actually! I rather put all of my energy in posting quality content and blogging regularly. 

I hope these 10 tips will enlighten your blogging journey as they've done with mine. If you've find them useful, pin it! and comment below to let me know your favourite or one of your own :D

Also, don't forget to come back tomorrow to discover my new editorial schedule and how I plan to make it work this time ;)

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