Discussion

Cultivating Community

CultivatingCommunity

Through co-hosting the 2015 New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop, I have been afforded a unique opportunity as a mentor. One of the main reasons I wanted to co-host the blog hop was because I believe so strongly in the power of community, and I was excited to be able to introduce others to the online quilt blogging community. We are just wrapping up a two week break in the blog hop which has afforded me a bit of time for reflection, and I wanted to share some of my current thoughts regarding community.

I believe that we all choose to blog and read blogs because we are interested in community. Community offers a sense of belonging. When you find a tribe of like-minded people, it feels good to see what they are doing and to get feedback on what you are doing. However, when I first started my blog adventure, it sure felt like I was writing blog posts that no one else knew about and it left me wondering how to interact and find a community.

I was lucky enough to stumble into the 2014 New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop hosted by Beth @plum and june and I learned a lot about blogging and specifically about the online quilt blogging community through the discussions in the group. I learned about linky parties (and how to join them), I learned about leaving and responding to comments, and I learned that there are definitely others like me looking for connection.

I think that local quilt guilds can be an excellent way to find community. I just happen to live in a pretty small mountain pass town far enough away from major cities with quilt guilds that interest me. I do have a local quilt store that I frequent, but most of the quilters in my area have a much more traditional style and interest than I do. Which is not to say I have nothing to learn from them! They just don’t happen to really formally organize in a way that works for me.

For me, the heart and soul of what makes my online quilting community is the process of leaving and receiving and responding to comments. Just over a year ago, I began an almost daily practice of taking time to leave meaningful comments on other blogs and in turn, responding to the comments that are left on my blog. It has been a work in progress, but today I feel that I have a community of quilters who I count as friends, mentors, and confidants.

community interaction

I believe that it is not the size of my community that counts; what matters most is the quality of my interaction with my community. Just like learning anything new, learning to leave comments that elicit conversations and interactions takes some time to develop. Because I chose to take the time to cultivate that as a skill, it now takes me much less time when reading blog posts to write a comment. I clearly remember having a blog post up on my screen with a beautiful quilt and wondering how to say something better than, “Wow! Amazing! Beautiful! Congratulations!” (Hint: let the quilter know what you love about the quilt, what detail really catches your eye, ask a question if it is not in the post and you are curious, and it still never hurts to let them know you think their work is awesome!)

I have found that the time and effort I invested into leaving comments has paid off. For all the comments I leave, the occasional one that will spark a back and forth conversation makes it all worthwhile. Some of my favorite blog posts have developed out of email conversations that started as a comment on a blog post. How awesome is that?!

As a quilter and blogger, what is it you want from your community?  More followers, friends, comments, free stuff, money? Different goals, different time allocations, and different styles will all result in cultivating community. Just because putting effort into comments and online interaction to promote individual one-on-one conversations works for me does not mean it is the right tactic for you. Below are some thoughts and ideas for you to consider as you explore your own goals and methods.

  1. Give more than you get. Taking the time to get involved in the established communities can help pay off in the long run. Investigate Facebook Groups (Late Night Quilter’s Club), linky parties, Instagram, and other locations to get a feel for the lay of the land, so to speak.

    You’ll have no semblance of community unless you’re an active community member in other spaces. – Mitch Joel

  2. Answer questions for your audience. Have you noticed something missing from the conversation and find yourself asking a question over and over again when you leave comments? Make sure you include that information when you write your own posts! This is especially fundamental if you have asked your audience a question – make sure you follow up and let them know the results.
  3. Involve your readers. If you feel like you are struggling to get reader interaction, consider ways to engage and involve your readers. Ask a question for them to answer, put up a poll, or host a giveaway. Pay attention to the posts that to generate your most feedback; that is the way your readers subtly vote and let you know what is working
  4. Focus on content. Looking back on my older blog posts, I can clearly see an evolution of my writing style, photography, and posts. I love that blogging allow that journal like process to happen and helps you learn what does and does not work. A post does not have to be “perfect” to be published, and what works best today might not in 6 months – that is OK! Just keep focusing on what you are doing and I believe the rest will evolve along with you.
  5. Reach out. Don’t be afraid to write an email to someone if you have a question you think they can answer. Not all emails will get answered, but I have cultivated friendships and found mentors by taking the bold step of writing a quick email (note: shorter is better for an initial contact!).
  6. Collaborate. Reach out to another blogger to see if you could guest post (there are some sites that are set up for that kind of work like Sew Mama Sew, Moda Bakeshop, etc.) or collaborate on a project with them.
  7. Engage with the online industry. Pay attention to what manufacturers are really active on social media and use that to your advantage! Tag them, reference them, promote them, and often they will return the favor!
  8. Leverage social media. Right now the hot platform for quilters seems to be Instagram, but if you are an avid Facebook or Twitter or Google+ user, research ways and invest some time into utilizing those platforms to cross promote your awesome blogging and quilting work.
  9. Recognition. Did you get some great advice or input? Make sure you let everyone know and thank the person who helped you out (a link back to them is awesome thanks). Recognizing people who are actively participating with you provides great feedback and is a great way to cultivate community.
  10. Comment. I said a lot about this earlier in the post, so I will try not to overemphasize this here. Taking the time to comment on blogs that provide you inspiration and whose writing style you admire is worthwhile.
  11. Reply to comments. Just like making comments, learning to respond to comments is a process. Try to build a conversation if you can. Not all comments lead to a back and forth conversation, but it sure is fun when it does!
  12. Commit, communicate, and follow through. There are lots of fun options for interacting available: quilt swaps, quilt alongs, mystery quilts, link ups, etc. When you choose to join one of these activities, truly commit yourself to the process. Communicate and engage with the media platform (many mini swaps are held through Instagram right now), and be sure to follow through. Life happens, and we are all forgiving of that when there is open communication. Looking for great opportunities like this? Check out Quilt Along and Half Square Quilts (at the end of every post, Tessa makes a list of all open craft swaps she can find).
  13. Consider the aesthetic of your blog. Looks are not everything, but make sure your site is easy to navigate and use. Not sure how you stack up? Ask some people to review your site for you!
  14. Real life. Take advantage of conventions, retreats, classes, and shop hops to get to know some people face to face. Putting a face with a blog helps take the online interactions to the next level – really and truly!
  15. Be you. Above all else, remember that all of these ideas are just that – ideas. Be yourself and do what works best for your time, effort, and energy.

Have you noticed what makes your community grow? What other options could be added to this list? What makes you feel like part of a whole, and do you have any new ideas for healthy communication and interaction to feed the community?

I typically respond privately to all blog comments, but due to the nature of this kind of discussion post, I will be replying openly to your comments here. I hope you have time to read some of the comments as often one of the great values of the community is the wonderful discussion (and additional suggestions!) that can be found below in the comments.

62 thoughts on “Cultivating Community

  1. Mary says:

    Thank you for your posts. I always enjoy seeing quilts wnd hearing the quilter tell the story behind each one. I appreciate your honesty and sincerity in sharing about the process, what might be new to you, and the personal background or feelings about your work, quilts, and the quilting community. Also, I hope I’m relaying my thanks for saying more than the usual quilt posts. I began quilting many years ago but can’t say how many quilts I’ve made except I know it’s not as many as I would like to be able to say I’ve made. I guess I fit in the traditional category in most ways except I have to use more fabrics than a pattern calls for, or use an unusual color, or just move on to the next project because my mind has a new idea. I joined a guild when I had to meet the requirements set forth by the guild as it was linked to a museum. Now I belong to more than one guild as I can participate in different ways but also absorb different things from each guild. I think the best part of each guild has been the quilters I’ve met and the wonderful friendships I’ve made and know I will continue to make as the guilds change and I change. During the past year I have been part of a group whose members wanted to explore more modern quilts. I have gained so much from these new friendships. I like reading about the new people who have entered your life as a result of your quilting, your blog, and your openness to meeting new people and experiencing new situations. Perhaps it would be possible for you to issue an invitation at the closest guild and suggest a meeting of anyone who would be interested in exploring a new technique. I’m always surprised when I say I’d like to learn about something as many times there’s someone else who would like to, too. I hope you don’t mind my suggesting this as I think you have so much to give and there must be some quilters in the guild who would be receptive to a new opportunity. One other thing – thank you for not posting every day. I think that is my biggest pet peeve when bloggers think they have to post every day. I admire them for doing so but I don’t think it’s necessary. Again, thank you for all you do for all of us quilters.

    1. Hi Mary, the closest guild is about an hour away from me, which does not work well for my current lifestyle. 🙂 I have, however, started to cultivate closer relationships with women in my town and I can envision it slowly turning into something more. But I am also okay with the slow steps to building trust and relationships right now. Thank you for the suggestion, I am actually itching to have sewing groups and more in person relationships, but it hasn’t worked out… yet. I am definitely not giving up on the idea, though!

      I do post almost every day. And it is not because I think I have to, but because I am very active and busy with quilts and the online quilting community. I have backed off a bit on my posting schedule recently, but honestly I am behind in blogging about some projects. I do strive for a balance, but you are going to see me show up in your feed fairly often.

  2. I KNOW when I started blogging that I was writing blog posts that no one else knew about! It has grown, but I am happy to stay small. As you say, it is quality of community not quantity.

    1. My husband and parents did not even really read my blog! I have to say that my husband now reads all my posts (and even checks on my IG feed from work to see what I am up to, which I think is pretty cool), so even that has changed a bit. I am really glad you are part of my community. How did the trapunto class go?!?!? 🙂

      1. My mum occasionally reads mine, I think. Well … she did when she was teaching Indigenous women to sew.
        The class was great, but now I have to finish the sample piece and lock in what I learned.

  3. MoniqueB says:

    I spent months anonymously reading (stalking) blogs until I ended up with an absurd amount that I was trying to follow. I was silent because I knew so very little. I taught myself to sew using blogs and Youtube videos. After awhile I realized I was spending all of my time reading about doing what I love rather than actually doing it. So I started to purge blogs. Blogs that I found myself just skimming. I slowly weeded down to a figure that I find manageable. I still have a lengthy list of blogs in my Bloglovin feed but there are certain ones I find I always read every post. Others I am fine to ‘mark as read’ if the topic doesn’t interest me. The blogs I always read, those are the ones I now post on fairly frequently as I feel more confident in what I have to offer. Even when it is a question since now I know how to ask. The lingo isn’t as intimidating and confusing as it once was. Bloggers provide a huge service to those just taking baby steps into the wonderful world of sewing/quilting. Just recently I have begun to find myself thinking, “I bet Yvonne would know how to do that” or “I wonder if Barbara would help me figure out how to transfer that embroidery pattern if I sent her a message.” I find myself beginning to rely on bloggers who I admire or respect for their humor or their work and often both. As the only thanks I can give, I have begun to try to let them know that I’m here.Their effort is not wasted and they aren’t talking to a great empty space of nothing. So, thanks Yvonne. I appreciate the help you have provided to me as I have gone on my journey to feeling confident enough to comment and question and put away the fear of appearing foolish or ignorant.

    1. Wow, Monique, thank you! I am so inspired by people who are able to be so self reliant and self taught through blogs and YouTube. I am becoming more adept at doing that myself, but I really needed some in-person classes and demonstrations when I was starting out. And especially when I started to learn free motion quilting. As I said, I find your path so inspirational!

      Learning the lingo and how to interact can be intimidating, and I am so glad to hear that you feel confident in commenting and asking questions now. And the fact that you are starting to think about particular people when you have a question – yes! I love that feeling and I am so excited when it happens and I can send an email to that person and ask.

      Lastly, I want to say that the online to actual sewing balance is something that I think anyone who participates in the online community thinks about and re-balances on occasion. I, too, occasionally think about the blogs I follow and why. Sometimes things change. I really appreciate that you do follow along and are part of my journey.

  4. Lara B. says:

    Well spoken (written!) Yvonne! You nailed it! It took me a while to figure all this out too and what you wrote here will be a boon for anyone new to blogging, or for anyone who wants to strengthen the community around their own blogging life! You have a gift for starting interesting conversation, but also you work hard at it too. It takes this kind of work and dedication to build meaningful relationships. A lot of people have a Field of Dreams (if you build it, they will come) misconception about blogging, especially when they first start. Blogging rarely ever works that way. When I think about what makes me a Blogger… I don’t just think about creating projects and writing posts, but at least in equal balance to that is time spent visiting other bloggers and finding out what they are doing and leaving meaningful comments. It is a lot more fun to be interactive!

    A year ago, when I started my blog, I asked Lorna for permission (I thought you had to do that, LOL) to join her Let’s Bee Social Iinky party and that was a turning point for me. Quite often linky parties are not as interactive as one would hope. Too many people link and leave, which defeats the purpose. So finding a good link party where people actually visit each other is a big help.

    I’d like to add for your readers who want to build community, that the most interactive blogging party/linky event I’ve ever participated in was the Pets on Quilts Show, hosted by Jacque over at at Lily Pad Quilting (http://lilypadquilting.blogspot.com/). It is only held once a year and is coming up in August. You don’t have to be a pet owner to participate, because pet themed quilts are a category too. Jacque lines up lots of prizes and her party is set up to reward those who make the effort to visit all the other participating bloggers. As a result, this is a highly social party. (It also helps that pet lovers love to talk about their pets!) A large percentage of my blogging buddies are people I met there.

    1. Thanks, Lara! I do work hard at even the discussion posts like this one. I wrote a completely different version than this earlier in the week and sent it to a few people to proof read. After getting some feedback and thinking about it for a few days, I made some pretty serious edits and this post was created. There is something to be said for writing something and stepping away from it for a time to make sure it is the message or content you want to get across (at least for me, anyway – most of my posts start out one way and evolve for a while before I publish them!)

      I laughed when you referenced Field of Dreams. I actually have to admit that I DO have a bit of that attitude. I just know that the “build it” requires a lot more work than making a quilt and putting up a blog post. My “build it” is the idea of creating a blog that offers great sewing / quilting / project inspiration as well as cultivating a community around discussions like this. I don’t know if my response here is as clear as I would like, but hopefully it gets an inkling of my thoughts across. 🙂

      I agree that not all linky parties are as interactive as others, and Lorna has done a great job cultivating a pretty interactive Let’s Bee Social linky. And great reminder about the Pets on Quilts Show – I remember that from last year!

      1. Lara B. says:

        LOL, Yvonne we ALL do have a little “Field of Dreams” attitude.
        I too like to let a post simmer for awhile, usually because they need editing down in length.

  5. Louise says:

    I am not connected to quilters in my area, but find much support on blogs and forums where other quilters encourage and praise work. There are so many talented people out there and I deeply appreciate their willingness to share knowledge and support learners like me. I found your blog from another and enjoy reading your posts. This inter-connectedness is amazing to me. I’d love to draw a “genealogy” chart of the blogs I follow to illustrate the path that has led me to each. Thanks for taking the time to build community.

    1. Oh, a blog genealogy chart would be really interesting, and probably different for each person. I love that thought, especially in terms of how I was thinking about this post (you can see my “tree” reference in the leading image). 🙂 Thank you for being a part of my community!

  6. You’ve made so many good points on this topic. I have a definite disconnect to other quilters in my area, partially due to location, and even as a result of the lack of friendliness at the LQS that is close to me. When I initially started blogging, it wasn’t even about quilting. It was more of a way to get my feelings and thoughts out about being a new mom (it was under my own name as the domain). Once I picked up quilting, I decided to change my blog and try and figure out where I fit in within the online quilting community. It’s made all the difference to me, even when I can’t be as active as I’d like. I really look forward to the day when I can meet some of my online quilty friends in person – you included!

    1. Thank you, Diana. There are actually 2 quilt stores in my small town, but I will never set foot into one of them because the owner is so rude. I am amazed she has been able to stay in business, but I guess it takes all kinds. I can understand your comment about trying to figure out where you fit in the online quilting community. Sometimes it can feel so big and overwhelming, ans sometimes it can feel so small and isolated. And then there is the whole “style” of quilting question, and at this point I guess I will just make quilts and worry about that later. 🙂 I sure hope I can make QuiltCon 2017 financially feasible so we can meet!!

  7. Christine Sherman says:

    Everything in this post is so true! I also live in a small area and really don’t know anyone or have local things to join in on. Creating my blog has been such a blessing for me. Although it hasn’t been tended to the way I’d originally planned, due to my health stuff, I’ve made priceless friendships. I also fully believe in taking time to comment on others posts. It amazes me that a giveaway can generate so many comments. Other times, only a few. I think we need to be supportive at all times! It’s all about giving and caring…for me anyway 🙂 Great post Yvonne.

    1. I have to say that life rarely goes the way I plan either, Christine. I really admire your spirit, optimism, and creative spirit as you have worked with your health. 🙂

  8. Jan o says:

    I like how you write thought-provoking posts on Saturdays. Like you, I participated in last year’s New Quilt Bloggers blog hop through Plum & June, and “met” some great new friends. I heartily endorse your suggestion to comment thoughtfully and respond to comments. It takes time to develop and cultivate relationships, but the blogging quilting community is a wonderful place to find like-minded friends. Thanks for another thoughtful post!

    1. It does take time to cultivate relationships, and I think that knowing that it takes a while to figure out and navigate the waters helped me when I was getting started. I am glad to know you enjoy my discussion posts – thanks! 🙂

  9. So nicely said, as usual. 😀 We’ve had so much family drama going on the last few months, it’s been nice to to have an escape into the quilting community. No one makes demands, asks for one way favors; it’s all very supportive, inclusive, and oh so needed.

    Also, I love when I go to comment on someone’s post, and see you’ve already been there. 😀 Just like running into an old friend at the grocery store.

    1. It is fun to see who has already visited a site in the comment threads – it really is like bumping into a good friend at the grocery store! 🙂

      1. I agree with both of you! I want to be part of the grocery store crowd, too! Life is hectic right now (though I don’t have as much craziness in my world as Sarah does – I hope things are better now, Sarah!), but after the move, I’m truly excited to create a morning routine that takes me to the “grocery store” so I can bump into all of you.

  10. Lol! I thought I was the only one who noticed ‘friends’ names in the comments! Great post again, Yvonne! The online community is my only sewing community too, or pretty close to it. There is a teeny-tiny LQS here, run by an absolute treasure of a woman, but no one who quilts like I do. I love the community that I have found on blogs and IG. It’s like having friends to sew with, get help when I’m stuck, and share my love for all things fabric. That being said, I don’t have nearly enough time to read all the blogs I follow, so I miss lots, or sometimes read 6 or 7 posts by one person all at the one time. Still, some is better than nothing!

    1. Finding the balance between online and real-life activities can be tricky, and I definitely know what you mean about finding yourself catching up at times. And noticing things like who has commented before or connections between online people is a fun way to keep the feel of community even when you are alone one one side of the screen. I like the thought that Louise had earlier in the comments about a “family tree” of relationships between bloggers, and I feel like sometimes I can see and sense the new branches forming by reading posts and seeing new interactions develop. 🙂

  11. Brenda Ackerman says:

    Yvonne, I gained even more appreciation for you, your post writing skills and several thoughts on improving my own blog. Which even though I have had a blog for several years, I have posted very little in the past 4 or more years. Health issues, moving several times and sadly loosing interest also were the main reasons. Yet, in the past month alone, I have found the enthusiasm to begin reading blogs once again, which in turn quickly sparked my interest to start sharing on my own blog also. Already two posts in the same week. My husband has always supported my quilting in every aspect and is going to be helping me to make some changes on my blog format and is interested in learning how he can help create and design patterns. I am getting excited more everyday.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and insights today on taking the initiative to be involved in comments on not only our own blogs but on comments on others blogs also. It is really easy to just make that wonderful comment and close out, but when you confront yourself about how many hours you yourself have spent on a project and apply that same concept on others projects; asking questions, pointing out specifics are very important factors. I know I am going to make this a top priority and really go that extra distance whenever I can commenting.

    Engage with the online industry is one of the factors that both hubby and I have discussed. I am so glad that you brought that up, we are not sure where to begin, what types of questions to ask or even who to contact at all. I am beginning to write down thoughts and ideas and begin searching. Would you mind if I contact you with questions I may have and am not sure which way to go? I again, appreciate all of your thoughts and suggestions you brought up today. I hope that you have a wonderful day!

    1. Loosing interest (loosing sewjo) does seem to happen; I have gone through it on more than one occasion as have my close quilting friends. I am glad to hear that you have renewed enthusiasm right now and I so appreciate your thoughtful comments on my blog!

      I believe you have my email address (if not it is on the bottom of the right hand sidebar of my blog), and you are certainly welcome to email me questions. I will do my best to respond one way or another. Connecting with the online industry – by this do you mean manufacturers or just other quilter / bloggers / designers?

      I hope you have a great weekend, too. 🙂

  12. sally says:

    Full of such good advice, as ever! I do very much appreciate the online community I have found. Though sometimes I feel I’m a bit too much in between communities! Not completely part of the quilting community by any means, but not completely part of any other either.

    1. I think that I can feel stuck between communities sometimes, too, Sally. I don’t really feel like a wholly “modern” quilter, but I seem to have found online friends who align with the modern movement. I also make quilts to sell sometimes, and I feel a bit weird about talking about commissions and the things I do to try and grow the business side of quilting on my blog. There are definitely odd boundaries that we all dance along, but I am thankful that so many wonderful friends like you have emerged into my life because we all took a deep breath and tried for a connection.

  13. Jasmine says:

    I love your quote about quality community. I think I would much rather be a smaller blog with close friends than a huge blog. (But having more than 100 followers is so much fun.) Like you said, it is about your goals for your blog.

    One thing that I have really enjoyed is not only responding to comments, but also clicking through and commenting on their blog. I try to do that every time someone new comments on my blog. This has been a great way to make new friends. I am more likely to follow a blog if I have a connection with the writer (even if we don’t have the same style).

    While I don’t currently belong to a guild, I have found great enjoyment in clubs at my LQS. Teaching classes at my LQS is also so enjoyable. Connections with other quilters are so rewarding.

    1. You make a great point about clicking through to comment on the blog of someone new visiting (and commenting) on your site, Jasmine. I have noticed recently that a lot of the “new” names I am seeing on my blog in the comments do not have blog URLs associated with them, though. I don’t know if that is super exciting because I am engaging a new audience and getting them interacting, or if the way my comment system on WordPress is set up is less than ideal and hard to populate with information. Regardless, it is a trend I have noticed recently.

      Teaching classes is another great thought – you don’t just have to participate, you can lead! 🙂

  14. Very well written and interesting post, Yvonne. Filled with helpful advice. I am in a rural setting, with no quilt guild nearby. I am so appreciative of the online quilting community, without which, I am certain I would be so alone. However, I just recently started actively seeking out guilds in my province that may be interested in having me teach a class or do a trunk show. Looking forward to meeting some quilter’s in real life and hope that I enjoy their company even half as much as all the wonderful friends I have connected with online. Thanks so much for being a part of my quilting circle. You are a treasured friend!

    1. Have I told you that my mother’s name is Lorna? I felt an instant connection to you because of that, and it is always a delight to read your posts or get a comment from you, a little extra good karma. 🙂 I definitely think that the online community helps a lot of us fill in the gaps of silence that we would have without a vibrant group of active quilting women around us. That being said, I am always excited to think about meeting up in real life and in person sewing events, and I hope that your new adventures work out well. I also look forward to living a bit vicariously through you that way – another benefit of blogging!

  15. Helen says:

    Well said Yvonne . I blog exactly to keep an online diary and to be involved in an online community . Which I am at its most basic level and at a higher level some of these comments to blogs and answers have begun to progress to friendships . And you are exactly right – the more you put into something the more you get out of it .

    1. It is hard to quantify community or relationships, and it takes time to navigate and learn something new. I think that is the biggest lesson I took away from my experience in the blog hop last year; time and patience are virtues that will help you stick with something, and while you are waiting, continuing to be yourself and do what you love (quilting!) will help keep things working in the background.

  16. Hehe, I also love seeing my friends in comments above me. 🙂 All of this was very well spoken. Thanks for a post that will surely affect the way your readers think about community. I’m lucky to have a wonderful guild and many local sewing friends but the online community is the one I interact with every day. I agree – one of the most important parts of blogging is responding to comments and developing relationships with readers. I always respond to comments unless it’s a giveaway! Also it might take me a couple of days, but I do it! 🙂

    1. Giveaways are a bit too difficult to wrangle, and I really do try to put a note in giveaway posts setting the expectation that I won’t be able to respond to all comments. I think it is really awesome that you have a great guild and local sewing friends and are still so active online.

      And hooray – I am so glad you can comment here again!

  17. Thanks for this comprehensive post and the interesting conversation that’s going on in the comments. You are a very encouraging and thought provoking mentor ☺

    1. You are more than welcome; these posts help me as much as anyone else! And the conversation in the comments are always the best parts of these discussion type posts. I love how people begin to play off of and respond to points that others make here. 🙂

  18. Sarah Goer says:

    I love your detailed list of ideas for connecting. Thank you! I’m having a great time being a part of the 2015 New Quilt Bloggers and really appreciate all your work for the group!

    1. You are quite welcome. I am glad this year’s blog hop is beneficial; we co-hosts this year had some pretty big shoes to fill. 🙂

  19. I find that the technique of ‘reflecting back’ helps when trying to think a good comment on a blog or IG, and start a line of communication. So I might say ” I remember when my son loved boats…” and share a very brief, upbeat story. I really feel that the community and interactions that grow from sharing ourselves are so essential to our lives, today. People shouldn’t feel that their lives and experiences are less valuable than the blogger’s, and should share 🙂

    1. That is a great technique for how to write great comments that are more likely to inspire a conversation, Lori! And I have to admit it when I really find myself feeling connected to a blog post because of the way it causes me to reflect and remember experiences from my own life. Pretty darn awesome the connections we can form that way!

  20. You know,Yvonne, it has taken me this year and a half of being part of the 2014, and now 2015 New Quilt Blogger Blog Hop to be able to take advantage of all of the wonderful advice and techniques and friendships! I just wanted to thank you for all of your comments over the past year, and to thank you for doing such an excellent job supporting these new bloggers… what a treasure this online community is! And, I want new bloggers to know that it is ok if it takes longer than you’d like for your blogs to be what you want… It’s the content and community that matter the most!! XX!

  21. Kaja says:

    Another great, thoughtful post, Yvonne: you are really good at summing up this sort of stuff. I too have no quilt group within reach (I’m near a fair-sized city or 3 and have tried various things but not found anywhere right for me) and blogging for me is mostly about connecting. I think we are all lucky that this is such a warm and open community, where people are (mostly) very open to building friendships – and it’s up to us to put in the work that keeps it like that.

    1. Thank you. I think that beyond needing to drive so far to get to any guild meetings around me, I also struggle a bit with my introverted nature and how easy communication via the internet makes things for me. I don’t know if that resonates with you as well, but I was just thinking about that for me.

  22. Well thought out advice, and I’m sure a true reflection of your past year. It’s one thing for new bloggers to read things, and quite another to see how true they are. This all makes a difference in the depth we get involved in the quilting community.

    1. As I said in the post, Julie, what I have chosen is pretty purposeful and has been slowly working to do what I would like. If someone has different goals, I hope some of the other thoughts and suggestions might resonate with their time and goal needs.

  23. Great advice. But for me, replying to comments publicly here on your blog is not the personal kind of conversations that I enjoy with other bloggers. If the reply is public, the conversation is not personal or that interesting for me. Also, some blogs where comments are replied to on the page do not include an email to the commenter with the reply and I have no way of knowing that a reply was left. There are about 2000 blogs in my Feedly and Bloglovin readers so I just don’t have time to come back and check. What are your thoughts?

    1. I agree about replying to comments via email – it is a much more personal way to interact. My only exception is for posts like this where I see that the discussion in the comments is almost more valuable than the post itself or when a great question is asked and I want others to see my response so I will both email and post a reply on a page.

  24. I loved reading this post and all of the comments, Yvonne. You have done something truly spectacular and amazing. You’re not just promoting the idea of community, Yvonne. You really are creating one without a Facebook page or a google group or anything else. You’re tying people together from afar on these posts, and I say with great fondness that I think you’re the Kevin Bacon of the quilting world!!!

    1. Thank you for the encouragement, Daisy. I think there has been some discussion centered around whether blogs as a platform are as useful and handy for community as other social media platforms these days. I think there is still huge value in blog content, and I am glad you see it that way, too. I don’t know if I want to strive to be Kevin Bacon, but knowing that I have a community of friends and seeing the interconnections between us is beautiful. 🙂

  25. Renee says:

    This is such a good blog post, and I think it does a wonderful job of articulating things most bloggers go through. I started my blog to share my projects, especially with those that had inspired me. I later used it to build a community through linky parties, and have made some wonderful friends that way. I’ve also made some wonderful friends through giveaways, swaps and bees. My community is built around people of integrity–those that say they will do something and then do it, people who reciprocate encouragement, following, comments, replies, etc, and people that are authentically kind, but don’t take shit from the haters.

    1. What fascinates me, Renee, is how it all plays out such that we do find so many wonderful people with integrity this way. Also, there are those who don’t seem to connect with me as well as others, and I find the whole thing really interesting to watch play out. I think you have such a high personal level of integrity and standard, and I am so glad to call you family and friend. 🙂

      1. Renee says:

        Aw, thanks! And I you! I’ve been told my expectations on people’s behavior is too high, but I think that is just those people making an excuse for their lack of integrity and trying to shift the blame to me. Interestly enough I no longer associate with any of those people. I’m replying here because your reply wasn’t emailed to me, now who has the lack of integrity WORDPRESS?!

  26. Lisa says:

    Hi Yvonne: There was so much to take in , in this post. I bookmarked it so I can come back. I’ve learned a lot from you and the other hosts about comments and I hope I can continue to be more invested in the comments I leave. I do blog for the connections, even though I have a well developed quilting network like the one close to you it’s pretty traditional…and therefore there are needs un met. Thanks for giving me so much food for thought. It really helps me to think about what I am doing.

    1. For what it is worth, Lisa, I don’t want my thoughts here to stress you out and keep you from leaving a comment on a site. Sometimes I still just leave a quick comment to let the blogger know I stopped by. Every interaction does not have to be amazing, deep, and meaningful. But by practicing a cultivation of thoughtful comments, I feel more confident in leaving a reply at all (if that makes any sense).

      I am so glad the blog hop has been good for you; the co-hosts love hearing that. 🙂

      1. Lisa says:

        No stress at all.: )

  27. Sandra says:

    This is a great post Yvonne. Thanks for taking the time to put down and organize all your thoughts and wise advice. I am continually amazed, humbled, and grateful over the past year for all the friendships I have made, advice I’ve received, advice I’ve been asked for, inspiration, and genuine warmth and generosity that abounds in this wonderful corner of blogland!

    1. You are quite welcome, Sandra; I hope it was beneficial. 🙂

I really appreciate the time and thought you take to comment, and I look forward to conversing with you. :)