Thinking Outside the Blog Post

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about blogging over the past while. I love blogging, but when I’m pushed to choose a niche (or “focus” as the cool kids are calling it these days) I hesitate.

What is it about blogging I love? Also, what do I want to write about?

What I do know is I need to focus a little so now comes the hard part.

What kind of blogger do I want to be?

What kind of blogger do I want to be?

In December I had an assignment to write a post about DIY boot cuffs. I pitched the topic because I had designed a crazy-cool knitting pattern and it was going over really well. And it would have been fine. But then I got thinking…I can do better.

Thinking Outside the Blog Post

Because I’ve spent months wrestling with the idea of blogging and where I want it to take me in my career I am starting to think outside the blog post. And in this case I realized boot cuffs could be so much more than a simple post—they could be the start of a new adventure.

(Was that a little dramatic? It felt a bit dramatic.)

Here’s what I did. I had a lot more ideas but decided to start slow since this is all new to me.

It was kind of a five-step plan. I made it faux-arty in case you’re the visual type.

Thinking Outside the Blog Post

(Like this plan? Download a copy for yourself)

Thinking outside the blog post five-part plan

  1. Part 1: Plan post. OK, this step should happen inside the blog post as well but the way I thought about it was a bit different. Instead of focusing on the literal pitch (hey, I made up a cool pattern for boot cuffs so I should write about it) I thought about the audience. What about boot cuffs would make them excited? Would they like some options? What if they’re not knitters, can I expand this concept to be more inclusive? With these questions my post began to take on its own life.
  2. Part 2: Set up complimentary resources. I thought about whether this word should be “complementary” but I think I’ve chosen the right one. This is where creativity struck. In the past when I’ve posted a tutorial I’ve just laid it all in the post. But wait a second. I put a lot of work into this pattern and these tutorials. And they’re just going to live in this one place forever? Say it isn’t so! There must be a better way! I decided I could also make a free pattern and add it to Ravelry. By creating a free download my pattern could outlive my blog post. As well adding a pattern to a site such as Ravelry adds some legitimacy to it. An added bonus was by doing this I could track the number of downloads, which I couldn’t do in the blog post. For future posts I can see the value in creating a resource alongside the post…in fact it opens my mind to a world of possibilities, even monetary ones!
  3. Part 3: Post teasers on social media channels. This is an area I need to improve. I knew I was writing this post, so why keep it all to myself? Once the work was done I began posting teasers for the post—hey guys, I get to write about my boot cuffs for UsedEverywhere. Awesome, right? Because it was awesome. There’s no reason to keep it a secret. What else I loved was in the month between writing my post and it being published I could promote my knitting pattern and saw a couple hundred downloads before my post even went live!
  4. Part 4: Once post is live, promote, promote, promote. When my blogs publish I try to remember to tell people. Once. But the thing about social media is you have to keep reminding people you exist. Once isn’t enough any more. So this time I posted it everywhere relevant. Facebook, my knitting page on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ and over again. And for my efforts I got some shares. They were encouraging. Not viral maybe but pretty good for my first go-round.
  5. Part 5: Track stats like a boss. Well I’ve already mentioned I tracked my pattern downloads and my social shares. And I heard from the site owners that my post was tracking to be the most popular of the year (although it could have been a joke since my post was Jan. 2…). I’ll have to keep that in mind and remember to promote it throughout the year. Because why would boot cuffs go out of style? Oh. Well maybe they’re not so suitable for summer. But autumn is right around the corner!

Before this post my focus has been on the words. And while this is good (words are important) there is a lot more I can do to help people see the words. By planning for my readers to adding value to spreading the word…all I’m doing is setting myself up for success. So there we go! Blogging breakthrough!

Nativity Nostalgia

card-gift-tags

My latest crafty enterprise has been trying to figure out useful ways to reuse cards once they’re written on. I thought I would be able to come up with a couple ideas but in reality it was difficult. I went round and round and round…nothing really struck my fancy.

In the end I came up with four alright ideas and submitted my blog about reusing used cards over at UsedEverywhere.

And then my mom emailed me. She remembered our family nativity scene was handmade from used cards. And then she found it in the crawlspace and sent me a photo.

Wow. Now that’s a great idea!

used-card-nativity

I had enough time to plug the card-nativity into the post and I think it saved the blog.

Anyway, the more I think about and remember our old nativity I wonder if I ever knew it was made from cards…I don’t think so. If I did, I didn’t care. I liked that it was shiny, and that the windows were a bit fuzzy. Also I liked that we were allowed to play with it—within reason of course.

I like how kids don’t care about things being fancy. It’s all in the details. Texture, glitter, expressions on faces.

Seems like an important realization.