How to start a craft blog?

Firstly, the most daunting question for me when I first started out was “How do I start a craft blog?”. If you’ve visited the “About Us” page, you’ll know that I was very confused with regard to the direction that I wanted to take my craft business.

Rawcraft was created originally as a multi-vendor “marketplace”. However I wanted to be able to control the quality of goods going out but this proved impossible and as a result, I closed down the marketplace and focused on being a pure eCommerce site. Above all, holding stock was my biggest issue as suppliers were unreliable and and the cost of holding stock were prohibitive. At the end of the day all I wanted to do was CRAFT: develop patterns and focus on my digital cutting patterns for my Etsy shop – not count stock and package parcels!

So where to from there?

So, I took a step back for over a year and finally took the leap to start a craft blog again. I thought that with my experience this should be easy… Oh my goodness – was I wrong!

There is just so much information out there on how to start a craft blog that eventually you just suffer from information overload and end up nowhere! The “experts” give you snippets and teasers but at the end of the day, no real (free) information that you can put into practice! Even with my experience I spun my wheels for a few weeks.

This is where I decided to come in – redevelop the RawCraft site and start a craft blog on a budget,. Hopefully you’ll follow my journey step-by-step.

The helicopter view – I’ll deal with each of these topics in much more detail in later posts:

  1. Decide on your niche:

    Most bloggers agree that deciding on your content niche is the first and most difficult step. It’s much easier to write about something that you love than force content out about something you have little or no interest in.

  2. Decide on a domain name:

    One of the more difficult aspects of my challenge was to change the domain name. I had the domain “rawcraft.co.za” but that I wanted my blog to be GLOBAL and I felt that the ‘.co.za’ restricted it to just South Africa. Our local craft market is very small, especially if you leave the Afrikaans-speaking community out of the equation.

    Try and get a top level domain (.com if you can) and steer away from the ‘spammy’, cutesy extensions. These do work in some instances however.

    Why a your domain name is important:

Remember that if you’re serious about starting a blog, your blog name is important for the following reasons:

    • indicates to your readers what you’re about right up front (it’s often the first impression they get)
    • tells Google and other search engines what you’re about (and gives you traffic accordingly)
    • gives you a framework and focus for your blog
    • advertises your blog and its existence through its name

I have a portfolio of over 20 websites that I’ve created and manage. The easiest way to come up with a name is just to brainstorm. Namecheap and GoDaddy both have good domain suggestion tools.

  1. Set up your craft blog online

    This is where the magic happens but it’s a LOT easier said than done and many would-be bloggers fail at this point. The choices can be overwhelming and the technical aspects can also be challenging. There are many “how-to” posts out there that say:

    1. Choose a hosting provider (normally Bluehost as they pay affiliate commissions but they’re very good – I’ve used them myself for over 12 years and the price of $2.95 per month as a introductory offer is really great!),
    2. Register your domain name – the 1st year is free if you sign up with Bluehost. Link your domain domain to your hosting account,
    3. Install WordPress (this is free and I can’t stress enough why you should do this and not the Wix, Weebly or other site-builder route – but more about that later),
    4. Choose a free WordPress theme and install this,
    5. Start blogging – aim initially to do at least 10 really informative posts around your chosen topic.

    The REALITY is that there is a lot of information missing here – especially for the uninitiated. The devil is in the details when looking to start a craft blog or any type of blog actually.

  2. You can’t start a craft blog without social media accounts

    Create your social media accounts before you publish your blog in order to make sure the accounts aren’t taken. Play around with the variations slightly. Keep things simple – Focus on 1-2 social media platforms at a time on your blogging journey. The key to being a successful blogger is to master social media marketing.

    Most of your audience is most likely only on 1-2 social media accounts (ex. Instagram and Facebook).

  3. Set up a Google Analytics account

    This is extremely important step in starting a craft blog. Google Analytics is an amazing free tool for bloggers. You get key insights from your blog such as demographics, # of page views per month, articles your audience is visiting the most, and a lot more. From here you can monitor how your audience is reacting to your blog posts and which posts you’re receiving the most traffic from. This is really helpful because once you know what your audience likes to read, you can replicate it.

    To set up Google Analytics for your website, click here.

  4. Branding

    Once you’ve decided on your name and your focus, then it’s time to get VERY creative! Design a logo that is easy to read and is memorable. For your website, use complimentary colours – many themes have the colour themes already built in. The branding from the original Rawcraft site and my logo had been done so this made life a little easier. Use your logo on EVERYTHING – the more your put it out there, the more people will recognise your “brand”.

  5. Write a really good “About Me” page:

    Your audience wants to connect with you – the want to know who you are and why they should listen to you. If you present your site as a nameless organisation in cyberspace, they will pass you over.

  6. Create a “Contact Me” page:

    Make yourself accessible to answer questions and connect with your audience.

  7. Write at least 10 really good blog posts on your topic:

    A blog is largely blog posts or articles and since this is the case your blog posts need to be really good and need to solve the reader’s problem. What is a high-quality post? A post that solves a reader’s problem by telling them what to do, giving resources, freebies, and being as helpful as possible.

    Break up long paragraphs into 2 sentence paragraphs, include photos, and add affiliate links where relevant.

  8. Create FREEBIES:

    Your email list is a fundamental part of blogging, however nobody wants to be on another email list. It is rare that people will sign up for an email list just to sign up for someone’s newsletter. You need to give something of great value to them in return for your email.

    A great freebie will quickly solve a person’s problem either it be a printable, short guide, course, or free pattern. Make it quick and packed with value.

  9. Upload plugins

    Plugins help add different features to a blog. They are incredibly easy to upload but a key thing to remember is you don’t want to add too many. Similarly I had this problem for example when I used my old Rawcraft marketplace website as a starting point for my craft blog. I had a multi-vendor marketplace installed, Woocommerce, Memberships, shipping plugins and a whole lot more as a result. It was a mess. Plugins can slow down a website and there’s nothing worse than a slow website. Start off with the right tools and you’ll be grateful later for a website that is clean and quick.

    Here’s a list of plugins my tech guy recommends.

  10. Create a long-term strategy:

    If you’re serious about becoming a full-time blogger and working from home, you need a strategy.  I spent about two weeks after changing my domain name trying to set up my blog but I just keep doing everything without getting one thing done. Therefore it’s important to focus on just one task and eventually tick the list as you go.

    The amount of conflicting information is overwhelming and as a result the temptation to jump from one idea to the next is very strong. Bloggers call it the “shiny object syndrome”. This is where you’re so distracted by new ideas and “fast-track promises” that you end up getting nowhere. most importantly, have a clear idea in your mind of what kind of blog you want: do you want to showcase your craft and maybe sell some of it online (through Etsy or your own blog eventually), do you want to focus on affiliate income (selling other people’s products), or do you want a mixture of all 3?

The decision to start a craft blog is quite a daunting step for most people and consequently even as an experienced web designer I also ended up in dead-ends and chased some of those “shiny objects”. Above all don’t lose focus, have patience and you will achieve success.

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