Monday, May 9, 2016

Top 10 Tips: Blog Organization

It's time for another Top 10 Tips List! After nearly 6 years of blogging, I've cobbled together quite a few (hopefully) helpful tidbits to help you organize yourself as a blogger. This includes both physical organization on your blog (layout, white space, text style) and behind-the-scenes (scheduling, writing in chunks, etc).


 I hope this is especially helpful to those who are just starting their blogging journey. There's a lot of talk out there that blogging is dying, but if you're reading this, you're probably thinking the opposite, like me! Blogging is alive and well, so let's keep blogging!

One more thing: I blog about sewing and quilting, but this list could apply to any blogger. Enjoy!

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Top 10 Tips: Blog Organization

1. Keep your layout simple. The draw of your blog should be the content (if indeed you are trying to draw an audience of some kind). I always "blog for me" but as time has gone on, I blog for you, too! I want my blog to be a pleasing, calm space. White space is modern and freeing. Too many links = distraction. Have you ever visited a popular blog, only to be bombarded by lots of text, ads, and pictures, with no place to rest? I have, and I don't return. I have a lot of buttons on my sidebar right now, but I keep them all on one side. Oh, and don't forget a search bar! Make it easy for people to find what they are looking for. 


2. Break up your text with a photo (or two). For example, I've included pictures of quilts I've recently thought of for one reason or another in this post. I've often heard bloggers remark that "every post needs a picture!" I haven't *always* followed that advice, but now, I think it's necessary (for two reasons):
  •  Some people will come to your blog looking to read (like me - I love to READ blogs), while others are mostly looking for visual stimulation (well-lit pictures and well-crafted tutorials). If you write a lot in a post (like me - example #1 being this post), it only makes sense to give your readers a place to rest their eyes. 
  •  Picture organize your post. Often, I place pictures in a post before I even start writing, so I can write around them and relate to them.

3. Use captions, numbers, titles, bullet points - text features to help your reader along as you write (especially if you're prone to writing long posts like me!). My numbered and sometimes bulleted Top Ten Lists (see #2 above) help my readers stay organized while I present a lot of information at one time.


4. Experiment with fonts and text styles - but remember, less is more. I bold the important points when I write Top Ten Lists like this; it makes them look more polished, and it helps readers find the essential information fast. Using italics or using a larger or smaller text size can help emphasize a point you want to make. All of this is fun, isn't it? :) After all, blogging is like having a conversation. Some text doesn't translate well, but do your best to craft your sentences and words in a user-friendly manner.

5. Look to other bloggers for advice on physical layout. Check out other websites - what do they look like? What feel do they have? How have they organized their links? How do they break up text? Where do they place pictures? Two craft blogs that include a lot of written detail + great photos are From Bolt to Beauty by Michelle Cain and While She Naps by Abby Glassenberg - I suggest you check them out if you haven't already!

 

6. Create a posting schedule. This could be as simple as a post-it note or quick jot in your planner for the week. What are you going to post about? When (approximately)? Some pro bloggers create calendars of months ahead to plan their posts. If you have a schedule, you might be inclined to stick to it.

7. Break up writing your posts over time. It will make everything easier and more manageable. For example, right now it is April 6, 2016 at 9:36 am, and I'm writing a few points of this post. Later in the month, when I'm ready to post, I'll go back and add pictures from my archives or those I've edited, and I'll run through the whole post to check for mistakes.

...Like now - it's May 9, 2016 at 11:01 PM, more than one month later (I waited longer than I thought!) and I'm editing! Another example: I often edit photos while I'm watching a TV show or movie, and I'll write a post later when I'm in the mindset. Long posts like this can be time-consuming, and the only way I get them done is by breaking up the work.


8. Set posting goals. If you're going to post 2 times every week for a month, do it. Setting goals holds you accountable! Plus, if you want to post twice a week, you have 7 whole days to spread it out over. Give yourself flexibility.

9. Keep a running list of posts you want to write. You could further organize the list into tutorials, finishes, progress, events, editorials, etc. I keep track of these ideas in my planner.


10. Align your posts to linky parties. A linky party is a weekly or monthly event where bloggers can link up their posts related to a theme and see those of others. There used to be more out there related to sewing, but there still are a few. Linky parties help you meet new friends and bring traffic to your blog, too. Aligning your posts with them will also give you a great goal to strive for ("I should post by Friday night if I want to link up to Finish It Up Friday before it closes"). I often save finish posts for Thursdays or Fridays, for example.

Here are the linky parties I regularly link up to: Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story, Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation, TGIFF, and Finish It Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.

What other organizational tips would you recommend to bloggers? Let us know in the comments!

Previous Top 10 Tips Lists:

 

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18 comments:

  1. Great ideas! I still love blogs and feel real sad that there is so much talk about blogging dying. I love the greater insight they give into people and their experiences, thinking... their lives. Other social media is a great quick fix, and is an easy way of bringing groups together, but doesn't offer the same sense of connection.

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  2. I think it's only those who have abandonned blogging for instagram who say that blogging is dying! There are thousands of us still out there. I take my photos at the weekend as i'm out all day, usually i only get a chance every two weeks or so. I then organise them into posts, every 3-4 days depending how many posts i have. I then spend a couple of hours writing and scheduling the posts for 3-4 weeks ahead. I don't get a chance to spend time at my computer every sunday and never get time during the week. I don't mind that i'm always showing stuff a month after i made it, even when i post a 3-week old photo of progress for a project that i've actually finished by the time the post goes live!

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  3. I've been blogging and following blogs for a long time. I too thought that blogging may be dying since the people on my blog list had stopped blogging. But it turns out that there has been a new group to replace them, so there are just as many blogs now on my list as they were before.

    This is a great list. I have a question though. I don't blog on a regular schedule. It isn't something I can do. How important is it to blog at specific intervals? Sometimes I blog every day, other times I can't manage to even blog once a month - it depends on how busy I am doing other things.

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    Replies
    1. I have the same question. I sit and write for short intervals so I only post every 3-4 weeks. I do enjoy reading blogs and the comments. This is a very informative blog - thank you for the time spent sharing your Top 10 Tips.

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  4. The hardest thing for me to learn was to STOP and take pictures while I was sewing!

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  5. Great list. I agree, writing a little bit at a time. I use a calendar on my blog to help me work in advance. It allows me to move posts around very easily and push them back if needed.

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  6. I definitely think having a schedule and planning several posts ahead are important for consistency. Love all your photos!

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  7. I do much of what you do RE: scheduling posts, writing in spurts, keeping a running list of ideas etc. Next to sewing, blogging is still the funnest thing I do!

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  8. These are great tips, Jess! Thanks for putting them together and I look forward to sharing this with the New Quilt Blogger's hop this year! :)

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  9. Thanks for putting this post together. Like Debbie I find blogging to be the next best thing to sewing and like you I love to READ blogs and find my own word count often runs away with me!

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  10. I'm yet another person who likes to read blogs. I even read the comments. There are some beautiful and inventive blogs out there and want to share with helping others. The one thing that gets me is more and more bloggers are not responding to comments, Even the ones asking a specific question. I have made some good friends in the blogging world, and I'm now sticking to them and not so much looking for new blogs. Every once in awhile I'll meet someone looking to be friendly and not just trying to get more income from their blog. This was a good post Jess, thanks for being the caring person you are and sharing your hard earned tips.

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    1. I completely agree with your statement. Jess is such a great example of enthusiasm and encouragement for me. I hope that is the same with so many others. I am pretty sure it is.

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  11. I am so glad you have a blog. I do not have a blog, but that means that you must keep blogging
    I always like a lot of photos that I can biggify so that I can have a better look with my old lady eyes.
    As always, you make me happy and hopeful

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  12. Great post filled with lots of good tips. Thank you!

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  13. Thanks for the shout-out and all the great tips!

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  14. #7 totally doesn't work for me. I'm a do-it-all-at-once-or-not-at-all type of blog writer. I spent 3.5 hours photographing, editing photos, collecting links, writing and editing the Bat Falcon blog post--which was long, but still, ugh. I spent an entire morning while the kids were at school doing it. I just don't have the mental capacity to have various blog posts in progress at the same time--and I did try!

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  15. I'm so happy I just discovered your blog. It's excellent, and your quilts are beautiful. Thank you for sharing these tips.

    I agree with you that blogging isn't dying. The landscape changes frequently in quilt blog world. After a while, I think some bloggers move to IG for the most part, for several reasons;
    1. They are sewing and designing more, and blogging becomes less of a priority.
    2. They are running out of ideas to write about, but not photos of their work, thus more IG posts with minimal text and lots of #'s.
    3. They don't love the journalism aspect of blogging as much as others do.
    However, the good news is that so many new quilt bloggers begin quilt blogs every year, and that's what I mean by the landscape changing.

    Question about your photography. What type of camera do you use, and what editing program? Thanks, Jess!!

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