There are millions of knitters and almost as many knitting blogs. Over the past year, I have discovered SO MANY knitting blogs that range the ENTIRE spectrum. Some are more like personal journals and others take a more professional approach, associated with a designer, podcast, yarn dyer or other entrepreneurial outlet.
Are you thinking about starting a new knitting blog? Go for it!
Or, do you have a knitting blog you aspire to improve?
Me too! Let’s do it together.
It has been nearly a year since my very first post. As I look forward to this anniversary, I have been reflecting on all that I have learned over the past year, both in terms of blogging and knitting. There have been so many valuable lessons. I have a long journey ahead and many goals for the upcoming year that I hope to share soon.
In the meantime, here are ten tips that have been the most valuable to me over the past year.
- The basics. Hosting and blogging platforms. I have a self-hosted WordPress blog. This is what I recommend for any new blog. It is the best way to go, hands down for many reasons that I won’t go into here. Trust me. One of my favorite things about having a WordPress blog is that it is so easy to leave comments on other WordPress blogs once I am logged into WordPress. (I imagine this may be similar with other blogging platforms.) I notice a lot of my favorite knitting blogs use Blogger, but I find it MISERABLE to leave a comment on a Blogger-based blog (although I do go through the hassle for some of my favorites…) I feel like a Homeland Security background check would be easier. There is just so much clicking involved. Click how I want to comment. Type in my name and URL EVERY SINGLE TIME (although I did recently discover IPad keyboard shortcuts, which helps). Then I have to click a bunch of images before I can FINALLY submit my comment. Good grief. If you have a non-Wordpress blog, it is fairly easy to import your existing content over to WordPress. This post from WordPress has some helpful information for Blogger-based blogs, and there are similar tutorials for importing other blog platforms as well (Typepad, etc.).
- Themes. Over the summer, I upgraded to a custom theme from Themeforest. Their themes generally seemed more affordable than comparable custom themes offered direct from WordPress. At first, I wasn’t sure it was worth the money, but I changed mind after I sent an email asking how I could enable a reader to leave a comment on my front page without having to click the post heading to navigate to a second page. (I am all about reducing requisite clicking for my readers!) They just took care of it for me that same day. I didn’t have to lift a finger (knitting needle?) It was like magic. Custom support like that is worth every cent.
- Read other blogs and meet other bloggers. I follow easily more than 100 knitting blogs alone, not to mention other genres. I definitely have my favorites. Over the past year, I have stumbled upon a lot of blogs shared on other sites. I love Ginny’s weekly Yarn Along for meeting new blogs. Monthly posts from My Sister’s Knitter have also been great for finding new blogs I enjoy. I am always challenging myself to keep all of these blogs (and the bloggers behind them straight). Who has a new baby and who has grown children. Who lives in New Jersey and who lives in England or New Zealand…South Africa even! I have really enjoyed meeting (virtually) so many talented and bloggers and knitters, and I am always so tickled whenever someone takes the time to leave a comment and say hello. It is almost as exciting as getting Real Mail at the post office (not a bill!).
- Organize. I organize the blogs I read into one spot (or two…). When you follow tons of blogs like I do, you have to be smart about organizing the feeds into one place. My favorite platform is WordPress Reader because it really streamlines commenting and “liking” features in the most time-efficient way. When you follow so many blogs, time efficiency is really key. Who wants to spend hours every day clicking and waiting for various sits to read? Not me! WordPress Reader really only works for WordPress blogs, and I find it works much better on a desk top, which I use much less frequently than my IPad for reading blogs. I most typically read other blogs on my Ipad during stolen moments of downtime (bathtime) via my RSS app Feedly. Up until recently, I have LOVED Feedly. There have been a few glitches lately, and I am not sure if they are attributable to an app upgrade or an IOS/Safari upgrade. Either way, I hope to sort them out soon or I might try another RSS app that makes loading individual sites and commenting more efficient.
- Take better photographs. Whenever I can, I take photos on my DSLR camera. Mid-year, I started using Adobe Lightroom, and it made such a difference. Auto-tune develop settings alone in Lightroom make an ordinary photo look SO much better. I try to take and process a bunch of photos all at once in batches. Sometimes I get caught in a bind and don’t have a suitable photo ready for a post so I use use my IPad and post-proces on Snapseed or Afterlight, both free apps. Lightroom is $9.99/month and comes with Photoshop. It’s worth the money, especially if you are trying to use your blog to generate income of any sort. As it was taught to me, not paying the ten bucks each month for Lightroom is like paying tuition to go to college and not buying text books. If you are investing the time and want your blog to succeed, spend the dough. I try to limit photos to a few per post. I notice some blogs really front load with a lot (dozen or more!) of photos. I live in a rural area that still has limited internet bandwidth, as I am sure others must. In my experience, posts with more than a handful of photos take way too long to load and suck up too much of my limited monthly data. Keep it simple. Pick a few of your best photos for a post and leave it at that.
- Content. This is probably the most important and most obvious. Aspire to write good posts that people might actually want to read. Find your voice. I have been juggling between posting twice or three times each week, which really has depended on how much time I have had available. It is probably better to invest the time to write two good posts each week than three (or more) lesser quality posts. I struggle with this myself, as often it is “time” to post but I haven’t had the time to develop quality content. As a mother of a young child who isn’t yet ready to fully entertain himself while mom works on the computer, I have made peace with the fact that some of my posts fall far short of my own standards. I know I will get their eventually.
- Canva. Even though Photoshop is included with my monthly Lightroom subscription, I haven’t felt like I have had the time to use it to “learn” Photoshop and develop some of the templates and graphics I have needed. I have found Canva to be free!!! and generally quick and easy. Very achievable (drag and drop) learning curve. Plus it’s fun. A bit of a wormhole if you aren’t careful. Canva has been great for generating side bar ads and even for snazzing up my pattern templates. I love it.
- Social media and Ravelry. Two of my big (little) achievements this past year were expanding my social media to Facebook and Instagram. I am still trying to get into the habit of posting to each and haven’t used either enough to result in any traffic. I held off on Instagram for a long time, but I actually think it is pretty fun and easy. Ravelry, as I am sure you know, is amazing for so man reasons. Super amazing, actually. When appropriate, linking posts to some of the higher traffic forums (Patterns, for instance) has resulted in a lot of new traffic for me. (Other forums don’t result in traffic but are INCREDIBLY HELPFUL.) I think one could spend eons of time in Ravelry forums, but I just don’t have the time at present. I haven’t started my own group for This Knitted Life, but I may explore that for the upcoming year.
- Take a class! Yes, there are classes to help you improve your blog. For years (AKA Beginning of Time), I have followed Christine’s blog Almost Fearless. She is a remarkable woman and offers a fabulous blogging course and focused workshops via We Create. I am slowing making my way through the course now. Christine often runs enrollment specials under $100 if you are patient.
- Pinterest. Before reading this post at House of Muses, I used Pinterest here and there to lull myself to sleep and look at pretty pictures of knitting now and again. Now I have a different strategy. I haven’t yet had the time or ability to develop a new routine that allows me to really engage in Pinterest like I wish I could, but my eyes are now open. It’s on the short list.
That’s my list! What tips and tricks have you used to improve your own blog? Please share!