Often times blog readers ask questions that I think others might be interested in as well. I answer them on the blog. Today is one of those days.
This comes from blog reader Melissa:
“First I just want to say how much I enjoy your blog. I feel like i’m in your kitchen talking when I read it. We’ve got a lot in common too. Before we retired I was a preschool teacher, then had my own home daycare for 7 years. I don’t miss the diapers, but I miss the little ones and the contact with the wonderful parents.
When we sold our house in California we bought a 5th wheel and traveled in that. I started a travel blog then called sewingmywaythroughtheusa.com We bought a house near the beach in Oregon a little over a year ago and I started quilting. I’m now officially a Quilting Fool!! I began a new blog after we moved here and that’s the one I’d appreciate your input on. I have a grand total of 23 followers and 13 more on Bloglovin. I’m really getting discouraged. Can you give me some pointers? My new blog is seabreezesnippits.com
I know you’re a busy lady. Believe me I remember those 12 hour days doing daycare. You don’t have to spend a lot of time but I would so appreciate any advice. I don’t want to make money doing this, I just like to teach and I like to write. I enjoy sharing what I’m working on. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
I’ve gotten several questions very similar to this lately and honestly, they are quite flattering. I will always and forever just see myself as an Iowa girl writing in my journal and a bunch of others just happen to read it. I don’t feel like a “blogger”…more like little old me doing my thing.
I’ll tell you a bit how I got started and some things along the way….I was a stay at home mom from the time our second child, our daughter Kayla was born. I did things here and there that earned money but my primary job was the kids. I was on all the boards and committees that child raising brings. Then before I knew it Kalissa our youngest was going to school. I started getting all sorts of questions about what I was going to do. I had no want to do anything but continue staying home but I could see from our finances it was time….and that’s about when someone asked me if I would consider childcare. The local in home childcare was quitting and they thought I should consider it…and in 2001 In August I started doing care.
I LOVED childcare. It was a wonderful fit for me.
I was so into childcare that I got registered. In a short time I was teaching continuing education childcare classes by night…childcare by day. Public speaking was never a big deal for me…and I was chuck full of ideas to make learning fun. People would come to the continuing ed classes I was teaching and then would misplace the packets I had handed out in class. I ended up getting lots of requests for more info. That’s when daughter Kayla promoted me to start a website…then using this tutorial from my favorite kids site, Kayla built the site and I started growing it. I ended up writing a thank you note with a link to my site and DLTK’s liked by site so much that they asked me if I wanted to partner with them. I did…
I worked on the website most every minute I wasn’t doing childcare on the website. It grew and grew. I was making an income from it that matched my childcare income so I made the hard decision to quit childcare….well there went all my write offs and taxes hit me hard. Making Learning Fun, my website was then my full time job.
From there Kayla suggested I started a blog to help give me some tax relief. I had no idea what a blog was in 2008. All I knew is that Kayla thought I should have one. So that’s what we did 2009, I started this blog. Making Learning Fun is still in existence. I don’t update it like I should but it’s still there and continues to be a great early childhood learning website packed with resources.
I had no idea what I was doing with the blog and I still don’t. That’s why I am so flattered when people ask me “how to blog” questions. Like with any project I do, I jumped in with both feet. I started reading a lot of blogs…quilting ones mainly but if I had other interests, I read those too. I started looking at design, white space, fonts, all of that and I started to change my blog to mimic things I liked. I loved that Judy at Patchwork Times then blogged often. There was always something new. That’s when I decided I wanted a regular blogging schedule. I also loved the way she included more things besides just quilting….I felt like I started to know her. I liked that feeling so I started adding more things about me and the family. I figured it I liked something, someone else likely did too.
By now the blog was doing what I needed it to…it was creating expenses. I finally had some tax relief-but more than that, I realized that I had finally-finally-finally- gotten to journal. I’d always wanted to journal. I never did it. I found I love the journaling part of it a lot.
About that time Kelli was in her senior year at college and needed an internship. UGH….by now she knew that she would likely not use her degree as she expected as she had met Jason and was in a serious relationship with him. He was a farmer and would be staying near the land. She just needed a job and to do that she needed to graduate and to graduate she needed the internship so she begged me to let her do an internship for me. I laughed…what internship could I provide?? She said to build your blog. WHAT? Well that’s the road we went down.
Kelli told me to get something on Moda Bake Shop to “get my name out there”. At this time Kelli really wasn’t sewing yet. This is the project I did…..
We’ve gone on to make 24 projects for Moda Bake Shop. By project #3 I was doing it for fun and the challenge….I wasn’t doing it for anyone to “find me”.
Kelli had ideas about joining quilting groups and “getting social”….I tried that and hated it. I’m honestly terrible at being social.
Kelli then suggested trying to have free patterns on the blog…we did that. She suggested getting things published in magazines. We did that. Someone suggested writing a book…we did that. Some of the “marketing” things were okay…some I down right hated and those I QUICKLY STOPPED.
One of the things we stopped…Working with Accuquilt. It started with me seeing that they were giving away Go! cutters to bloggers. I wrote them and asked for one. They sent it…and then I thought I was suppose to love it. I used it and could see how it was useful. I did some videos for them and got free dies but there was no way I could have afforded the die cutters full price. They started asking me to do work for them and I did…but they didn’t hold up their end of the deal and to be honest, I hated the piles of dies. I didn’t have room to store them. A couple of my dies didn’t cut accurately. I ended any association with them. We weren’t a good fit.
We did a lot of things that fell into our laps….tried them to see if they were for us, if they were we kept them, if they weren’t we moved on.
Some things were suggested and we down right said NO! We refuse to travel. We could care less about market or anything that’s “popular”. We played the “fabric line” game for awhile but then remembered how much we don’t like commercialism and cut WAY back on that. This certainly doesn’t mean we have a problem with anyone who’s into that…it’s just not for us. We CONSTANTLY get questions from people asking what fabric line is that. It recently happened with this quilt…We made the quilt in 2013. I don’t remember.
We used to book reviews for companies-we did them WEEKLY. It was too much…we ended up postage poor because we were giving them all away because we couldn’t possibly sew all the quilts. We quit reviewing even though the companies at the time were throwing books at us. We thought back on who we were and what we liked….most of it wasn’t in the books. Now we do reviews only if we think we would actually buy the book if we had to pay for them with our own money.
Blogging has been so good for us…it gave us a chance to REALLY look at ourselves…If we wanted we could likely be doing more but we have no interest in more. We aren’t big into new products, new trends, the most popular quilts. We really just want to like what we like because we like it….not because there is a dollar sign behind anything. There are a lot of bloggers blogging out there for the dollar signs. We see it..often it’s hidden but it’s definitely there.
Here’s a prime example…Kelli’s sewing with recycled shirts. She bought the used machine of her dreams. It can only straight stitch and is not computerized. Can you believe that neither of us subscribe to a magazine? Being we have quilts published there, people would assume we do…we don’t.
I really don’t think I’m the best person to ask advice on how to get a blog going. To be honest, I read one blog faithfully and that’s Mary at Country Threads. Mary is my kind of girl. If I’m in the doctor’s office and am waiting, I read a few other blogs. If it’s an odd night that there isn’t enough time to start something before bed, I might read a couple blogs but I’m completely out of the loop.
I used to find linky parties and purposely try to complete projects so that I could be in the linky party. I’d fight to be at the top of the list as you can get more traffic to your blog that way…now, I can’t remember the last time I linked anywhere. I finally figured out that I don’t care if I’m popular. I don’t care if I have more or less traffic than anyone else. I don’t care about products. I don’t care about the dollar signs.
I think I finally got back to who I am and where I want to be. We took a few detours along the way but we’re back to where we belong.
Along the way, the best advice came from the comments all of you left….
-If I was sick and missed a blog post, I’d get a comment from someone asking if I was okay. That let me know you wanted regularity. I liked regularity so it was something I was happy to do.
-If I published a pattern…we got great comments. We like having our stuff published now and then as long as it doesn’t feel like a job so we do that.
-I always get comments like Melissa’s saying “I feel like i’m in your kitchen talking when I read it.” That helped me to know I didn’t need to sound stuffy and professional. I LOVED that I didn’t need to.
-When something wasn’t going the best for me, like my thyroid cancer, or the house remodel, I’d get comments cheering me on…so I knew it was okay to share my personal stuff.
-I started book reviews and didn’t know if that would work…some of you let me know it did! Some of you let me know that you just don’t read those days but didn’t mind them.
-When I felt frustrated with unkind comments, I shared them and you cheered me on…I knew it was okay to be honest.
-When we did a post about our hubbies farming, people commented that they read the post to their husbands. We knew farming posts were okay.
-When I shared recipes that were so easy and not fancy, we got great comments that people tried them and loved them. We knew it was okay to not be fancy.
-When I admitted I love thrift stores…no on made fun of me!! THANKS!! It showed me I could be myself.
So blog readers…Melissa needs your help…not mine. Please leave comments here telling what you like in a blog. Check out her blog and say what might make you more likely to read her blog over another. If you yourself have a blog, tell her things you’ve done along the way to increase your readership. Here’s link to Melissa’s blog seabreezesnippits.com Please be kind and respectful.
By the way….thanks for being our blog readers and putting up with us as we’ve found our way here…and please stick around for where ever we go. It likely won’t be any further than the thrift store…but who knows!!