Discussion, Tech Talks

Blogging Pain Points {Discussion}

As part of the 2015 New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop, there has been a Facebook group established to allow participants a forum to ask and answer questions. Last year when I was a participant in the blog hop, the discussions were the most beneficial element of the experience for me. Many questions were raised and answered, and while I might not have been at a point in my blogging experience to benefit from all the knowledge exchanged at that point, I have gone back and referenced those discussions many times over the past year.

One of the goals of the blog hop is to help answer questions, and as part of that environment, many bloggers have supported the effort by writing thoughtful and helpful Advice Posts (go check them out!). Several themes have risen to the top when I look back over my experience last year and as I have worked to mentor the process this year. Today, I would like to touch on 5 Blogging Pain Points. If an Advice Post that has previously been written is related to the topic, I have it listed in the applicable section.

If you have a post related to any of these topics, I would be happy to update this post and our resource list! Please leave a comment or email me [jetgirl8 (at) gmail (dot) com].

Blogging Pain Points

1. Organization

I would suggest that one of the first places to start, when thinking about organization in support of a blog, is with an honest evaluation of where you are today. What are your current habits? What is the best time of day for you to write your blog posts? What works for you? What does not work for you?

I am a list maker, and one of my favorite tools is a good old pro and con list. I write them on paper, I use Excel to compare and contrast, I talk it over with my husband on walks, and I email friends to get their feedback. However you do it, make a mindful decision to set aside time from your day to think about these questions, and I think the results will guide you with selecting tools that will best meet your organizational needs.

When thinking about blogging, what needs to be organized?

  • Photography for your blog posts
  • Ideas for blog posts
  • Your work space organized (or disorganized) to best support your creativity / writing
  • Your time allowing you access to creating blog posts

A short list of possible tools and organizational strategies related are below. Not all these tools and ideas will be right for you, and that is OK! The list might not include something that you use on a regular basis – let me know in the comments what else to add to the list. 🙂

Short List of Possible Tools / Strategies

  1. Editorial Calendar – This can be physical (a monthly calendar hanging in your work space, a small planner you carry around with you) or digital (Google Calendar, an Excel spreadsheet); choose what works best for you. A monthly view of your blogging goals can be really beneficial. It can give you a sense of where holidays fall (do you want to have a Thanksgiving project done and blogged about before Thanksgiving?), it can remind you what weeks are going to be super busy in your real job / life, and it can give you a big picture view and understanding of how often it will be realistic to blog.
  2. Index Cards / Sticky Notes – These can be really handy to have around to document notes as you are working on a quilting project. I like to use index cards or scrap / recycled printing paper to jot down the fabrics I am using in a project, thoughts I have about what worked or didn’t as I am sewing, or any other inspiration that might strike as I am in my sewing room. I don’t want to have to get up and come to my computer station to do that, or I will get pulled into a social media time suck (guilty!). So having a small stack of index cards or pre-cut paper for notes like this has been really handy for me.
    Example of Some of My Notes

    Example of Some of My Notes

  3. Garbage Can – Do not underestimate the importance of knowing when to let something go. Whether it is an old post idea that isn’t going to work any more to an old to-do list that just needs to be written over, knowing when to purge is an important skill. Even purging old WIPs can be the right thing to do; but know that you can probably upcycle that to someone who might be excited and inspired to take on your old project!
  4. Notepad and Pencil/Pen/Colored Pencils – Keep a notepad with you! If you carry a purse, tuck a small notepad in there. While you are waiting at the doctor’s office, you can jot down any inspiration that might hit, doodle the carpet design (quilt patterns are inspired by our surroundings!), or review your previous lists and goals.
  5. Talk About Your Ideas – I am lucky to have a super supportive husband who listens to me talk about this hobby and blogging fairly non-stop. I also get a lot out of bouncing my ideas off of a circle of close quilting friends. A quick email can turn a mediocre post idea into something fantastic with just the right suggestion!
  6. Schedule Posts – It probably comes as no surprise to my long term readers that I am a huge advocate of scheduling posts. This is a huge organizational win because it allows me to write posts when it is convenient and then be shared with everyone over the upcoming week(s). This is clearly not for everyone, but I suggest giving it a try to see if it works for you!
  7. Set Realistic Goals – This ties in with an editorial calendar idea very nicely. By mapping out your time for a long duration of time (a few weeks, a month, a few months), it can really help you establish realistic goals for your blog.
  8. Celebrate Milestones – Don’t forget to talk up your successes! Big finishes, surpassing a number of blog posts, meeting a goal you set for yourself: let your readers know so they can celebrate along with you.

2. Time

Time and organization are very related. It is not uncommon to take steps to get organized but to still feel a crunch for getting both quilting projects completed AND blogged about.

I am guilty of sitting down at my computer with the intention to write a blog post, only to find myself 30 minutes later still catching up on my blog reading, scrolling through Instagram, or playing a game on Facebook. If social media overload sounds familiar to you, you might want to check out Rescue Time. Rescue Time is an application you can use to track the time you spend on applications and websites, giving you an accurate picture of your day. If you really need to know where your time at your computer is going, this could help clarify what you spend your time doing so that you can mindfully make changes. It can also block websites after you have spent a particular amount of time on them. Drastic, but sometimes Words With Friends (aka online Scrabble with my mom) needs to take a backseat.

Creating a blog post can be a considerable time sink. There are pictures to take, pictures to edit, writing to do, and writing to edit! What works best for me is to be in my quilting space and integrate photography into the process. I keep my camera in my sewing room, and I try to remember to document my process as I go along. I then chose a different time to sit down at my computer and edit the photos. I work at still a different time to write my post rough draft. At that point I either know what photos I need to try to capture or re-create, and I come back for a final edit at a different time. For me, that breaks up into creating / photographing, evening photo editing, and either evening post writing / editing or most likely weekend post writing / editing. I have found that I do the majority of my post writing on weekends while my husband sleeps in. It is just the time that works best for me.

What works for you? If you are a sit down and get it all done at one time kind of person, embrace that and make sure you set aside enough time once or twice a week to be able to do just that!

Experiment and try writing at different times. You will know pretty quickly if it is going to work for you or not.

Another time sink with blogging is interacting with the blogging community and visiting other sites, commenting, and replying to the comments from your own blog! Again, I suggest experimenting both with when you choose to read other blogs and how many other blogs you follow. Also, give yourself permission to not read every post in your reader list. Especially after you have been on a wonderfully relaxing vacation and come home to 99+ blog posts to read. Do you really need to go back and catch up on every one?

Time

3. Posting Consistency

Quilt projects can take a long time to finish, so coming up with a post when you feel like you will only be talking about the same thing again can result in a lot of time staring at a computer screen (and yes, we’ve all thought that about our projects!). If you would like to maintain consistency and are looking for ideas, there are a few really great linky parties that I would suggest that can translate into quick blog posts to write up:

  1. Sunday Stash hosted by Molli Sparkles – This can be a really fun link up and you can literally go to your stash for inspiration for a post!
  2. Main Crush Monday hosted by Cooking Up Quilts – The invitation is to link up to anything at all that you are feeling super excited about – it can be a fabric line, a print, a project, a block, a pattern, a new tool, your sewing room, sewing machine, an entire quilt, whatever. Pretty open ended and I know that I might not ever make a particular pattern but still be crushing on it!
  3. Design Wall Monday hosted by Patchwork Times – This is literally the link up for you if you have a long time WIP that you are working on!
  4. Tuesday Archives hosted by Val’s Quilting Studio – Each Tuesday has a theme. You can search your archives for something that relates and link up!

Looking for more link up opportunities? Check out the list curated by Terri Ann at QuiltAlong.net.

My biggest advice when confronted with the realization that you have slipped on consistently posting to your blog is to be kind to yourself. I am a quilt blogger, but quilting is my priority over blogging! If my ability to post slips up… well, then it needed to slip. Don’t compare yourself to other bloggers; we are all working with different time balances. Right now I am very lucky to be able to devote most of my waking hours to quilting and blogging. Some day that might not be the case, and I will need to remember my own advice!

P.s. All of you with full time jobs, kids, quilting and blogging, I think you are super human and you never, ever need to apologize to me for prioritizing your family and quilting ahead of your blogging schedule.

4. Social Media Balance

I am definitely seeing a very strong theme emerge from these blogging pain points, are you?

When it comes down to how to prioritize how much time to devote to all the various social media platforms (your blog, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, etc.), think about your goals. Each social media platform is honed for a slightly different target audience. The time you chose to spend on a platform will naturally ebb and flow as your time availability shifts and as your goals update. There is nothing wrong with not having the time to invest in a particular platform. In fact, I would suggest that you experiment with something new for a while and then evaluate if it is beneficial for you. I added in social media platforms one at a time and am currently in the process of evaluating if I need to keep all of the platforms I have interacted with or not (honestly, I don’t understand and don’t have the bandwidth to invest in better understanding and utilizing Twitter or Google+).

If you have organized yourself and evaluated your time, I think that finding the right social media balance will fall out of those evaluations.

Sleep and sanity are important!

Social Media

5. Photo Quality

This is a topic that I continue to work on and improve for myself. I would highly recommend exploring both Amy and Ruth’s advice posts above; they have fantastic advice.

I personally am a believer in starting right where you are and evolving over time. When I started blogging, I knew that my photography was not the greatest, but it did not hold me back. If I had waited until thing my photography skills were perfect or just right… well, I’m not sure I would have gotten started yet (my photography has come a long way, but I’m no professional!).

Part of the photo quality topic is related to your goals. Are you taking product photography so you can list your quilt for sale on Etsy? Are you documenting your work in progress and in the middle of a big project? I think that the photography quality required for those two examples is pretty far apart. I love seeing honest in-progress photos in a craft room. To me, that is honest and real and not something that needs to be 100% crisp and perfect. But that is also my opinion and aesthetic. You might have a goal to have a much more crafted blog appearance and that is OK. If that is the case and you are worried about your photography, I would suggest trying to find a local class to take to improve your photography skills.

Summary

Blogging is a commitment that takes time and energy to maintain. Figuring out what works best for you will come with time and experience, and I hope that some of the advice posts, discussions, and thoughts here about what works for me will encourage you to explore the right tools to help you on your journey.

To wrap it all up, I think that William Shakespeare said it best, “This above all; to thine own self be true.”

to thine own self be true

21 thoughts on “Blogging Pain Points {Discussion}

  1. Cindy says:

    Wow what an insightful post. Blogging is indeed a lot of work, but the rewards outweigh it. The friendships that can and have developed because of blogging are one huge reward in itself. I have been scheduling posts which does help. Real life does come first and always will, as a cancer survivor I know how important real life is.

  2. When I started blogging I had no idea the time and commitment it would take. Since then I have learned and hopefully grown! It is a fine balance juggling ‘everything’. Life changes often, which means everything around it has to shift a little ~ flexability plays role in my blogging as well! I have learned so much from the 2015 New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop. Some has been put in to action, some I’m still trying to figure out and some I’m still working on! Thank you for the advice/tips Yvonne!

  3. Wonderful post Yvonne. You did a great job analyzing all of the Facebook entries regarding blogging pains and out them together in a wonderful concise way with helpful post links sprinkled in. I know that I will be referencing this post in the future.

  4. This is a great post Yvonne that will be helpful to so many of us bloggers. I agree with starting where you are and moving forward; like you say, if a person waits until everything is ‘perfect’ then blogging will never happen. I personally have grown a lot over the last year, but still have much to learn about all aspects of blogging. Thanks for the shout out for Main Crush Monday!

  5. Jasmine says:

    What a helpful post, Yvonne! Organizing, prioritizing, and following through while balancing time is a juggling act. I have found your advice so helpful. Scheduling more posts has helped so much with my family/quilting/blogging balance this summer. One thing I tell myself when I start to stress myself out is that I blog for fun and not for a job. That helps take off some pressure.

  6. Such a helpful post, Yvonne! I have to admit I don’t give as much thought to my blogging as you do… well, maybe on some counts. I appreciate the tips on the link-ups. There were a few there I haven’t done before! I think it is particularly important for people not to wait until things are perfect to start anything… perfection just isn’t realistic. And honestly, it’s not always that interesting to read about!

  7. bkringel says:

    This post clearly illustrates how closely you have listened to our group of new bloggers. It is as though you summarized everything we have been talking about and created a great reference for all of us. Thanks so much!

  8. Kaja says:

    I found this an interesting post, and there are some great things on the links you have provided too. Thanks for taking the time to put this all together.

  9. Jan Briggs says:

    This was a fantastic and insightful post! I have had a blog for about a year and a half now and thought I had it mostly figured out. I just started scheduling posts! It feels great to be ahead of the game a little. One of my misconceptions was that blogging took place in real time. I’m still trying embrace the idea that a project can be complete way before it is photographed and then written about. Creating quilts and creating blog content are completly different and can live in different schedules. Thank you for sharing!

  10. Great compilation of info. Yes, blogging does take more work than I ever expected and today I spent half my day scheduling posts and taking photos, etc. Thanks, also, for including my post about organization.

  11. This post is such validation of the hard work required in being a consistent blogger. Thank you for writing such a thorough commentary about the issues we all face. I think this will make excellent reading for Week 1 participants in next year’s hop!

  12. karenbolan says:

    Haha! I read the title and thought this was going to be advice about blogging about pain – you know, things that hurt. Well, organization can hurt sometimes, but this post was very nice to read. My time is so limited and it really helps to have affirmation that it’s OK not to do EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME when it comes to blogging and interacting online. It all really does take a lot of time; thanks for the reminder that it does for you (and others) too. 🙂

  13. Awesome! Thanks for sharing this! I recently started blogging again but this time I blog about whatever I want and don’t worry about perfect pictures. I post tons of pictures to Instagram so my blog is usually just one or two pictures and lots of words (cause I got a lot in my head) and lately I’ve been blogging on the bus in the morning and adding a picture and scheduling a post. Super easy and satisfying! Sometimes I just have more to say than I can get across in an IG post.

  14. This is a great post!! When I go back and read my first blog post from 2006 to how I write now, I really see the changes and the “voice” coming out. I think blogging true to yourself ( even if you are a dork lol) helps others learn too. Thanks for all the great advice!!

  15. sally says:

    Definitely a theme going on there, and would fit my blogging pain points pretty well, most of all the time one right now!

  16. Renee says:

    I think you covered everything so well! I especially liked the part about creating a space for blogging. I recently inherited my grandmother’s old sewing desk, but not sure how to make it work for any of my machines, but want to keep it for now. I think it will be my new blogging station!

  17. As a new blogger I definitely take your insights to heart !

  18. iHanna says:

    Great post! It makes me realize that I’ve been blogging for 10 years without a plan and it’s been okay, but could have Bern easier with more of a plan. And esp set days with themed posts, I think that this is something I’ll try out.

    Thank you.

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