Advice and Tech Help For New Bloggers Blog Hop 2015

Last spring I participated in The Let’s Get Acquainted New Blogger’s Blog Hop, sponsored by Plum & June.  The experience was priceless for me. I met wonderful quilt bloggers from around the world, that became colleagues and friends. I feel blessed to have met them, and continue to learn, grow, laugh, support, and share with them. 

Thank you to this year’s hosts, who I was lucky to meet in last years Advice for New Bloggers Blog Hop; Yvonne@Quilting JetGirl, Stephanie & Michelle@ Late Night QuilterCheryl @ Meadow Mist Designs, and TerriAnn @ Childlike Fascination. Check out their blogs and be prepared to be wowed!!

I have 11 suggestions that I learned along the way, as well as some great advice from several other bloggers (alum) who participated in last year’s New Blogger’s Blog Hop, before 2014. Their blogs are full of inspiration and beautiful quilty items. Check them out too.

1. Make your photos extra large. Readers love to see big photos that are high resolution and artistic.





2. Consider taking a photography class. Before I began blogging, all I knew was “point and shoot.” I learned some simple techniques, which were invaluable for making my blog look better. And, take your camera everywhere. (Thank you Christa@Christaquilts).


3. Because photos can sometimes be more important than text in quilt blogging, be sure that your text supports your photos, and your photos and illustrations support your text. Re-read some of your favorite picture books for great examples. 

4. Write in your own voice. (Another great Christaism from Christa@Christaquilts). If you’re not sure what that is, you need to figure that out. I’ve been a professional author/writer for 15 years. BUT even with those experiences, I had to figure out how to stay true to my voice within this new platform; as a quilt blogger. 

I began by reading over 200 quilt blogs. I wrote practice posts. I didn’t publish in the blogosphere until my gut felt they “rang true.” You will know it, when you find it. I promise. And you probably won’t have to read 200 blogs to discover your incredible and unique voice.

5. Try to keep your posts informational, upbeat and not too long, (unlike this post). If it feels too long, break it up into a series with parts; 1,2,3,4, etc. Readers today have so much information to read and absorb. I can’t provide a recommend a word count, but…. 

Try this exercise; Read some blogs. Notice how long your attention span lasts. When you find one that is the length you feel works, copy and paste it into a word document. Then highlight all the text, and use the word count tool. Use that number as your benchmark average. Some days your posts will require more words, some days less, and that’s okay too. There are no quilt blogging police.

6. I have broken the following rule, and sometimes it’s okay to break your own rules. Don’t apologize, from Molli Sparkles, advice to new bloggers. If your photos aren’t magazine perfect on some days, it’s fine. For example, it was a bad winter where we live this past year, and it was hard to get a good photo in our tiny condo. I’ve had a few major orthopedic surgeries, and I didn’t want to risk slipping in the snow and ice, but I had to “make it work.” Remember we’re blogging about quilts here, it’s not emergency room work. 


This was the only angle I could photograph this quilt with decent lighting. 



I couldn’t get this photo with the correct lighting no matter how many times I tried inside, without building or purchasing some type of small light shed.


7. Link and give credit to others. If you were inspired by someone else’s work, link back to them. They will be flattered, and you will feel good about yourself.

8. Don’t be a no reply blogger. I learned this from  Molli Sparkles. I reply to all comments by e-mail.Then I answer questions in the comment box, and via e-mail. One exception – if I have a large response during a give-a-way. I make every effort to e-mail everyone, but sometimes it’s hard to write back to 200+ e-mails. 

If the winner of a give-a-way is a no reply blogger, I try my best to find them. After a week, I have to pick another winner. If you do offer give-a-ways, follow-up with the winner to make sure they received their prize. 

In one instance, the sponsor of a give-a-way had a family emergency and had to go out of town immediately. The prize went out a week late. Fortunately, the winner and I were in e-mail contact, so I gave her the heads up, and it wasn’t a problem. 

9. Write about what you know about, and what you love. Another Mollism. I never write about paper piecing, or review quilting books or patterns that use paper-piecing. I am a dyslexic, lefty, which makes it a difficult and frustrating process for me. (Not everyone). I stick to machine piecing and hand applique, and leave the paper piecing to those who are in love with it, and do it so well. There’s something in quilting for everyone. 

10. Connect and participate with other quilt bloggers. Thank you Jess@Elven Garden. I belong to a guild an hour away from our home. And I participate with a small group of women who I have worked side-by-side with for over four years at Pins and Needles in Mt. Kisco, NY. Deb and Lisa, (25+ years of teaching experience), provide help, support and suggestions during our Friday morning clinics. As much as I love them, they are not bloggers. 

That said, quilt blog world was an enigma to me when I began two years ago. Leave comments for bloggers whose work you admire. If you feel uncomfortable leaving questions in the comments box, send them via e-mail.  Thank them. Be positive, because quilt blog world is a friendly and positive place, and people really like to keep it that way. 

Participate in linky parties and quilt-a-longs. Linky parties are easy and don’t take a lot of time. Be sure to comment on at least three other people’s posted links. Before the New Blogger’s Blog Hop last year, I didn’t know what a linky party was. Fortunately, a lot of kind bloggers responded to me and explained how they work and how it’s a good way to learn, meet and be inspired by other quilters. You will meet many others who are like minded.

11.  I don’t follow this as well as I should. Try your best to be consistent, (Thanks again, Jess@Elven Garden). I used to post every Monday and Thursday. 

Several months after I began blogging, my part-time job outside my home picked up, and I received more paid writing assignments from Make Modern, a new quilt e-zine from Australia. I am trying to get back on a regular schedule and set up posts in advance. But, as I said before, we are quilt bloggers, not emergency room doctors and nurses, and I’m not going to berate myself for increasing our family income. Priorities and life balance rule here.

A great example. We don’t have kids at home anymore, and a lot of quilt bloggers do. God Bless you working moms because I am in awe of you all. You know where your priorities are, and so many of you never cease to amaze me at how you juggle it all. Quilting, blogging, designing and taking care of all your kiddos, husbands, pets and your home. I promise, If you go for 10 days without a post, the world won’t come to an end, and readers will forgive you for it. They will even stick with you. Thank them.

You are about to begin an amazing journey. I wish you all the best of luck. If you have a question, feel free to ask and write me at acbeier71@gmail.com. 

Displaying 2015 New Quilt Bloggers Button (300px).png

Most of all, have fun!!

Happy quilt blogging!!

Advertisements

Building Your Fabric Stash Without Breaking Your Budget – Part 3

For the last week I’ve been researching fabric prices, sales, deals and give-a-ways offered by brick & mortar and online stores. These are great ways for those of us who love to purchase fabric to stretch our dollars and not get into credit card debt.

Below I’ve listed 27 URL’s of some of those stores, some of which I knew about and others that were highly recommended to me by other quilters and bloggers. I signed up for many new newsletters that will come to my e-mail inbox announcing to me about sales and deals. One to check out right now is  http//:christaquilts.com because Christa is dissolving her online fabric store over the next 6 months in order to make more time for challenging herself in new areas of the quilting world. 

On another note, do you know how much willpower it took for me not to sneak in a fabric purchase? Well I will be honest here, I did make two fabric purchases, but I kept the total under $20. I couldn’t resist these little lambs or fabric with printed text of all different coffees. 

One other suggestion to save money on fabrics and notions; gift certificates. The holidays are coming, and family and friends are looking for suggestions, ask for gift certificates. 


List of Online and Brick & Mortar Stores That Have Great Sales
www.cutsofcotton.com – Great choice of contemporary bundles, and solid fabrics.  Can shop by designer or colors. Fairly priced.
http://surlystitches.com – (Also called Surly Sheep). Nice assortments of color wheels options. Five-piece bundles start a $6.00.  Also carries clothing patterns. They sell from Etsy and from their own web site.
http://stashfabrics.com/blog – Nice assortment of contemporary fabrics. Can be purchased through Etsy.
http://www.southernfabric.com – Wide choice of fabrics, pattern and notions.  Lots of choices, and sales.  Modern and contemporary fabrics.
http://www.connectingthreads.com – A wide variety of fabric at amazing prices.  Free shipping for orders over $50.
http://www.intrepidthread.com/ – A wide variety of fabric choices. Lots of sales and offers.
http://www.pinkcastlefabrics.com/ – Huge selection of fabrics. Great sales, a monthly fabric clubs. Every season they offer a retreat.
http://www.fabricshack.com/ – Stumbled upon this shop and was amazed at how much they offer.  The customer service is outstanding.
http://www.fatquartershop.com/ – Have been a fan of theirs for a long time. The offer lots of great sales and deals of the week.
http://www.larkcottons.com/ – Discovered them recently.  They have a lovely selection of fabrics and good sales and features.
http://www.contemporarycloth.com/index.htm – Large variety of contemporary fabrics. Owner donates 1% of net sales to various charities.
http://www.greenfairyquilts.com/ – Good sale opportunities, especially with Moda and Riley Blake pre-cuts.
http://www.fortworthfabricstudio.com/ – Great variety of fabrics.
http://webfabrics.net – Huge variety of fabrics.  Great customer service and return policy.
http://www.christaquilts.com – Great weekly specials.  I spoke to her earlier this week, and she is dissolving her online fabric store over the next 6 months, in order to create more time to challenge herself in new areas in the quilting world. 
http://www.hypernoodlefabrics.com – Specializes in very hip, retro fabrics. Prices are kept low, and specials and coupons are offered. Customer service is good. No returns on fabrics, except if the shop made an error in the order, and must be addressed within three days.  Check their FAQ page.
http://www.moonafabrics.com – Specializes in art gallery fabrics.
http://www.freshmodernfabric.com – Modern fabric sold through Etsy.
http://www.hancocks-paducah.com – Wide variety of fabrics, fairly priced. Web Sale Fabrics and really well priced.
http://www.americanquilter.com – A lot of good deals on fabric. If you become a yearly member, you receive fabulous discounts on fabrics all year.
http://www.shabbyfabrics.com – A great, almost exhaustive variety of fabrics from many manufacturers at great prices.
http://www.thequiltinggarden.com – Lots of good sales.  They offer a lay-a-way plan.
http://www.thequiltedcastle.com – Great variety of fabrics and designers. Prices are very reasonable.
http://www.bearcreekquiltingcompany.com – Fair prices and a nicely priced clearance center.
http://www.theclothparcel.com – Great fabric selection and prices.
 
http://www.cottonblossomfarm.com – Features lots of designers and various types of textiles; not just cotton.
http://www.etsy.com/shop/BobbieLouFabric – Wide variety of contemporary and modern fabrics.  Only sold through Etsy.
I will update this list every six months.  If you have a suggestion, please leave it for me in the comments box.
Have a great weekend!!