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Q&A (plus 9 tips for bloggers)

Hello everyone – and happy Earth Day! I wanted to share a few answers to questions popping up lately so I made a quick video. (“Quick” is relative!) A bunch are product questions that people have been asking about…and a whole bunch were about working in the craft industry – which led me to the list below about tips for bloggers. (I’m glad I didn’t have that list ready when I shot the video or it might have been a two hour vlog!)

Watch the video below or click HERE to see it in HD on YouTube. Scroll down for the tips as well as a list of links referred to in the video!

Q&A: 9 Tips for Bloggers9 tips for bloggers

Some questions I was asked were about making a living as a cardmaker – and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer about how to get started. I’m just beginning to figure things out too, and as I said, I’m not flying solo at this. But I did think about it more after making the video, and came up with a little additional list of tips for bloggers, though, from my own experience, for what it’s worth!

  1. Start a blog. Or clean yours up. I’ve been blogging since 2007,  and it wasn’t til 2012 that I revamped and started polishing up my act. I moved my blog from Blogger to WordPress and bought a domain name. I got rid of crazy blinkie badges. I deleted posts with my ugliest cards! I started working on taking better photos. (Try searching for classes at Creative Live – they do an awesome job at teaching.) Some basics should go without saying but…let me say them: keep your blog positive and upbeat, and be sure to spell check and use good grammar.
  2. Use current products from your favorite companies. If you hope to work with company X, use their latest and greatest supplies, and create something unique with them! Use blog tags or categories to sort posts so the company can come to your blog and see what you’ve done with their product. (Especially important if you do #5 below.) Save the product you bought in the 90s for cards for your own use, and show off current supplies on blog posts. While I’m talking products – be sure to link to the company’s store or to an online retailer that sells them at regular price; I would not recommend linking to the sites that do the deep discounts. Several of those sites are well out-of-favor in the industry for undercutting sales. I know, I know. Everyone wants to get that screaming deal, but please know that it’s the full-price purchases that keep this industry alive. Do what you can to support it, especially if you hope to be a part of it in a bigger way.
  3. Create tutorials. People come to blogs to learn how to do something. Give them something to learn! After you brush up on your photography, take some great step-by-step shots and practice writing up clear instructions. Clear enough but not overly wordy. Don’t make people weed through blah blah blah to get to the important stuff! If you have friends who are writers, ask them to help you….trade them a few birthday cards to give you some feedback.
  4. A word about video. Video tutorials are great too; but they aren’t easy. They don’t need to be shot on fancy equipment; I’ve seen some good ones shot on an iphone. Learn to edit (there are free programs like iMovie, but I use Final Cut Pro) and make them as succinct as you can – respect viewers’ time and give them quality information and not a ton of blah blah blah – but they can be long if they’re filled with great content! Bonus tip: I joined Toastmasters to help me do better voiceovers, and it’s really helped. There’s so much info out there about making videos – just google for it.
  5. Apply for design teams. Start small…I applied at small digi companies first. Prove your chops in whatever venue you find yourself in; be on time or early. Follow all instructions completely. Really highlight the company’s product well – do your best work. And don’t complain if they’re late getting you the info on the next challenge….you want to have a reputation as creative, helpful, and easy to work with! You don’t have to go the DT route – but it’s a great way to get yourself seen, and to challenge yourself to craft at a new level with assignments and deadlines. If you want to work in the industry, a term on a DT might tell you if you even would like doing something “on demand.”
  6. Enter challenges. Got a favorite company you’d like to be on a DT for, or would like to create a guest post for? Join in their challenges for a few months before applying or emailing them! Let them get to know you first, and your application email will be received in a good light. (Plus you can link to those posts when you do!) Make sure you do a good job on those challenges, too – actually follow the instructions. I know, that seems like a given, doesn’t it? You’d be surprised.
  7. Keep a positive vibe. Even through frustration, turn that frown upside down! I’m referring specifically to blog and social media posts about DTs or companies. I’ve seen a number of people create complaint posts about not being selected (again) for a DT position, or not being able to get into a tradeshow, or never winning someone’s blog candy or getting free product.
  8. Share on social media. You don’t need to be on all the social sites, but you’ll need to find somewhere that works for you to reach out to new people. As I said in the video, you want to see if your work has appeal beyond your family and friends – so, for instance, if you share on Instagram and start getting some follows from folks who don’t know you, that’s good information to encourage you to keep going. Share your blog posts on various social media to get the word out about your work, and engage with the community…you’ll make new crafty friends that way, too!
  9. Build a subscriber/follower base. While follower numbers or comments aren’t the only indication of success, companies have respect for a crafter with an audience. If you’re doing steps 1-8, then #9 will follow pretty naturally over time. If you’re doing awesome work, people will want to follow you!

Know that it takes time to do these things. I spent years even getting to step one, and it was about two years after that when I began to get some traction. Heck, I’m still walking on ice half the time, but I’m saving up for a good pair of cleats!*

*I’m writing this late at night – I have no idea if that pun made any sense!

Links referred to in the video

My apologies to those who’ve been asking where to get some of the watercolor brushes and paper I’ve been using, as well as Copic wide and Copic original markers. I’ve begun a new relationship with Blick Art Materials (Dick Blick) so I have somewhere to send you for the artsy stuff!

Watercolor:

Papers:

Books:

Copic:

Well that’s about it for me today. I think that’s more than enough actually – lol. Hope you enjoyed the 9 tips for bloggers…maybe I’ll think of more someday!

22 thoughts on “Q&A (plus 9 tips for bloggers)

  1. […] and since I’ve been wanting to do a series of blogger tips in plain English after my Blogger Tips post was so helpful, I thought I’d give this one a try. I had heard of the trouble bad links cause […]

  2. Great tips. Especially this from the video tip: “make them as succinct as you can”. It’s not just about our time. I do not live where I have unlimited Internet. If the opening credits are more than a few seconds long, I close the window and move on. I get that people want credit for their work, but it does not take that long to share your name and blog address.

  3. […] and since I’ve been wanting to do a series of blogger tips in plain English after my Blogger Tips post was so helpful, I thought I’d give this one a try. I had heard of the trouble bad links cause […]

  4. Hi Sandy,
    Thanks for the tips! I just love watching your videos. Question for you. If you want to become a Design Team member do you have to have your own blog? Also, if you participate in a companys challenges, do you have to have a blog?
    Ok, that was two questions but hopefully you can answer! Thanks.

  5. Sandy: I’m impressed that you are proficient in Final Cut Pro. I have noticed great improvement in your videos. I remember looking through the OWH site and you had some great tips, but I had to wade through so much other info in the video to get to them. Congratulations on really working to improve your professionalism. And thanks so much for sharing your art with us. You’re a fabulous inspiration!

    1. Yeah there are a lot of videos I’d love to delete! So embarrassing!

  6. Thank you

  7. I have absolutely no desire to start a blog, but you nailed what I look for when deciding what blogs to follow! Thanks for the realistic overview.

  8. Very interesting listening to your ” story”. I’m kinda thinking about doing a blog when I retire. I’ll be doing some traveling in our motor home and card making / water coloring along the way. I’ve had an Etsy shop, which didn’t do so well, but like to try it again… So much to learn to get it right this time and make it work. BTW…. I love your blog and videos!

  9. Sandy, thanks so much for this info. I have so wanted to share my Copic coloring and other crafty stuff, but didn’t know where to start. Your info was right on point as always. Thanks so much for sharing the talent you have been blessed with.

  10. What an inspiration you are to all of us that do not have the confidence to play outside of the box! For some time now, I have followed your journey and have admired your energy and honesty to crafts and life itself! Your video is direct and to the point with much needed information! I am looking into signing up to be one of your patrons. Thanks so much for sharing the view from outside the box!

  11. Your positive, uplifting outlook makes you stand out from the crowd. You make everything look easy with clear instructions and videos that inspire. And when you reach beyond your comfort zone, I feel privileged to be able to watch. From simpler things I can do as a crafter to fine arts, it’s wonderful to get that variety in one blog and keeps me coming back for more.

  12. It’s so nice of you to help others out. Love the way the crafty community is nice and shares the love! Well, for the most part. But we just don’t look in those dark corners. hehe

  13. Thanks Sandy, it was great to hear about your journey thus far. I don’t aspire to be anything other than a card maker who wants to have better Copic skills, but it was certainly interesting. I really did like the great advice you gave about having a really informative blog and about acquiring good presentation skills for videos. One of the reasons I love both your blog and your videos is the high degree of professionalism you always bring to the subject at hand. Nothing is more frustrating than seeing a great card on a blog and wondering about the color combination or supplies used and having no way to find out, or blogs with really poor search engines.
    Thanks again for all you do! The crafting community is lucky to have you as a leader!
    Donna

  14. I think you hit it perfectly — we all have our own niche! Find yours… While your tips are great, it truly is finding your God-given ability and showcasing it, running with it.
    And, I’m not even on your “inner circle” but I think you’re awesome – at copics, watercolors, teaching. Thank you!

  15. I hope some of the bloggers take your video tips to heart. There are some I simply can’t watch because the voice overs are so poor. Giggling, a lot of uh’s, poorly organized thoughts, etc. Great ideas that get lost because of poor presentation skills. Toastmasters is a great suggestion to help someone build confidence and improve public speaking skills.

    1. Now that I’m a TM, I’m sadly tuned into the uh’s!! Agh! It’s so frustrating to now HEAR it when politicians and reporters are on my tv – I even yell at them to stop with the filler words. ha!

  16. Any advice for someone that terrible at blogging? I love reading blogs but am no good at creating one for myself. I want so much to be part of the craft world and have crafty friends, but I feel like that impossible for me because I have three young children and don’t have time to devote to a blog. I feel lost at sea, do you have any advice?

    1. You certainly don’t have to post a lot – it can be once a week or something, just make it regular! 🙂 And don’t feel like you have to do a pro blog – just post what you’re making, tell people about yourself. The advice above is for those who have different intentions toward more of a money-making venture.

  17. Great advice Sandy! Thanks for sharing this info.

  18. You are on the most incredible journey, Sandy! Thank you so much for sharing your valuable insights today. Your blogging tips are just wonderful. We all love learning… and you are an amazing teacher! Huge hugs! ♡

  19. Thanks for the tips.

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