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!