Monday, July 8, 2013

Act 1: How To Blog And Not Hate It

In this earlier post, I announced that ikatbag's 5th birthday just snuck up on me. It seemed like it should be a big deal, so I thought I'd throw a sort of birthday party for the old blog. After all, I do it for the kids, right? And the blog is a bit like a kid: needs constant attention, fun to be with but simultaneously leaves a person exhausted, a mammoth time investment, etc. So... welcome to the party - everyone's invited and maybe there'll be party favors at the end, even.

A warning before we start: this post contains some tongue-in-cheek content.

I've written posts in the past that have been somewhat facetious, only to find that some readers took them quite seriously and engaged me in earnest correspondence about them. I felt awful because these readers were so very earnest about something about which I was being so very flippant. So just in case the irony in this post escapes you, I thought I should include that disclaimer. This is also a VERY long post, incidentally. I considered breaking it up into a few, less epic posts but that would have made it look like a blog series. I generally take my blog serieses (see sidebar for some of them) seriously because I want them to be like curricula containing actual useful stuff. The content of this post, though, is going to be so tongue-in-cheek and full of hyperbole and rubbish in parts that I couldn't bestow upon it that same status. So one long post it is - with parts to be taken with a pinch of salt, okay? Consider yourself warned.

And now, let's party! I want to begin by talking about blogging. I've actually wanted to write about blogging for a while, after having been asked by quite a few people about it - you know, how to start a blog, how to find time in one's day to get online without neglecting the children, how to grow one's readership, how to open an etsy shop etc. So I started this post  -all those many months ago and let it sit on my dashboard as my thoughts distilled. There are many articles and blog posts on the internet on tips and other specific how-tos, so a person could surf for an hour or two and make their own notes. I thought it would be fun to instead write about how not to hate blogging, so you can keep doing it and not burn out (unless you want to :) - see later part of post). Note that this is not a "This Is How To Do It" tutorial; rather, it's an essay on bewilderment and the occasional flashes of illumination that could well have been titled "How I Got Here After Wandering Five Years In The Wilderness".

So.... let's begin with a friendly interrogation, like.

Some questions:
Why do you want a blog?

Actually, you only need that one question. Your motivation for starting your blog will be your motivation to keep going at it.

I can think of several of many reasons for having a blog:
  • You want to share, with the entire, boundary-less internet, private stuff about your family.
  • You want to share, with the entire, boundary-less internet, something in which you believe strongly (like your faith, or your favorite photography processes).
  • You want to share, with the entire, boundary-less internet, the things you make and do that you are proud of.
  • You want to make money.
  • You want to build a platform for launching something else: a shop, a book, a business of some kind.
  • You want it to channel people to your actual website, which is work-related, or commercial-profit related.
  • You have a lot of time on your hands and don't know what to do with it. You think blogging is a bit more fun than, say, joining a gym, so blogging it is.
  • Everyone else you know has a blog and you don't want to feel like the only one who doesn't. This is a stupid reason, incidentally, but it is real, so we must include it.
Let's dissect these!

1 Family Stuff
I have a family blog. It was my first blog and I started it on someone's suggestion that I post photos of our family so our other family members (the ones that don't actually live in our house but in faraway cities and foreign lands) get regular visual updates of our life. Even though very few people read it compared to the thousands that read ikatbag, the family blog remains, hands down, my favorite of the two blogs. I think it's because I know Mum and Dad are reading it and getting to see their grandchildren grow up even if they don't always get to hug them personally while that happens.
For that reason, there are no crafts on the family blog. Mum and Dad and my parents-in-law, who also read that blog, much prefer seeing pictures of their grandkids in action to seeing their grandkids posing stiffly in handmade outfits zoomed in on the pockets. Or -worse- some scrap of cardboard with dried glue stuck to it. Also, Mum and Dad were forced to live with my craft pursuits - and the resulting mess - for years when I was a child living under their roof. They've seen enough of that; they now want to see humans, thank you very much.

Some folks have a single blog that has posts on everything from family pictures to crafts to recipes to poetry to religious documents to guest posts from strangers to copied photos of entire living rooms and kitchens to product reviews. Many of them do this because one blog is all they have time for, so they include everything. That's totally cool (and smart).

2 Speaking Your Mind (and Heart)
Some people say passionate stuff on their blogs. They discuss politics. They quote Scripture and write sermons. They compose poetry and muse about life and death and everything in between. They share opinions on the best places on earth to visit, the best times of the year to plant turnips, the best countries from which to adopt children. Some of these blogs are gloriously delightful and some are plain depressing (to me, anyway). Some are so wonderfully written that you wish the authors had books to their names so you could buy them and keep reading. Some... not so much. Either way, they are the outpouring of real people's passions. At best, they are inspiring to a huge and appreciative audience; at worst, they are the self-healing journal of a wounded soul.

3 Showing Off Stuff
Ah, like this blog. ikatbag started because I attempted to share a few simple crafts (here, go and see!) the kids and I made, way back when the family blog first began. Then I was overcome by the urge to write tutorials. And, as I said in Point #1, having tutorials on the family blog and subjecting my family in Singapore to ridiculous photos of unrecognizeable bits of fabric when they so desperately wanted to see the faces of their grandkids, was just cruel. So I started Blog#2: The One On Which I Show Off.
ikatbag has come a long way since its inception. I am happy to say that I am still overcome by the urge to write tutorials. I am also happy to say that ikatbag is exactly the same kind of blog it was when it first began. Except maybe a bit neater and with a less blinding font.

4 Money and Free Stuff
Mmmm. Blogs are good for business. Blogs are a commercial organization's friendly face to a potential market. There are so many ways to make money from a blog e.g. ads, sponsored posts, product reviews and affiliated content - opportunities that involve other vendors sharing your blogging space. You can also sell things straight off your blog - artwork, sewing patterns, ebooks, for instance. Or you can use your blog as a storefront for another site, at which your merchandise is stocked, like etsy or ebay or other online stores. Whatever the case, the success of your online business venture is hugely dependent on your readership - the more readers you have, the more likely your shop will succeed, or the more often you will land product deals and get sponsors. This also means that you now have a responsibility to those sponsors and readers to ensure there's good stuff to be read on your blog - and that it's fresh and frequent. Some part of this obligation is external - e.g. you agree to publish x posts per week in order to secure a particular ad company's business. But some part of this obligation is also internal - and harder to quantify. This is the part that makes bloggers feel guilty about not posting regularly, or incompetent for not having any new craft to share, or insecure for losing their mojo. Or feeling compelled to invest in new fancy photographic equipment and sergers and tools to make their products look perfect-er on the blog. Because, after all, you're building a reputation by what people see on your blog, right? E.g. "If they see lousy thread tension or murky photos, they won't buy my stuff!" Can you tell I've been there?

I've followed quite a few blogs since I first discovered crafty blogland in 2008. I loved so many of them because the authors made incredibly creative things and shared stories of their kids crafting with them. So many of those same blogs are now just a jumble of ads and sponsored posts. Their content is now largely roundups of other people's crafts. Of course they have every right to do whatever they want with their blogs and I respect that. And, fortunately, some of them are well-laid-out so I can still find their blog content amidst the little sponsor buttons and announcements. But I also miss the way they were because the way they were was the reason I became their fan in the first place.

Back when I was starting out on my blogging adventure, I knew that I wanted a family blog that literally chronicled my family's day-to-day doings. I also knew exactly who my audience was - my family and friends in Singapore and my family-in-law here in Minnesota. So I wrote that blog for them and took the sort of photos I thought they would enjoy looking at. 

My craft blog, though, I wasn't so sure about. I only knew I wanted to write tutorials and that I hoped my girls would someday enjoy reading it and teaching themselves to sew and craft from my tutorials. But would anyone else someday read it? I hoped. And just in case that might happen, I thought I should try to be a bit like the other blogs that were around at the time. Based on what I saw, I distilled a sort of formula (I love formulae!) for craft blog success as I saw it.

Formula For Making Your Blog Like Everyone Else's:

1 Post photos of mugs of tea or coffee. Like this:
Accompany it with introspective prose about taking stock of life, new year's resolutions, or having a bad day.

2 Write with strange grammar rules e.g. Start sentences with And or So. Write as if you're speaking. In fact, write as if you are on Twitter and someone suddenly lifted the 140-character limit. Liberally sprinkle, in your text, the words "woot", "anyhoo", "unrelated" "excited" and "And". End your post with a short, punchy, supposedly-poignant phrase like, "And so did the azaleas." Unless you want more comments, in which case you should end with, "What about you?"

3 Have a DSLR and take moody shots using the 1/3 rule. Then increase the exposure using photoshop so that the photo is washed with light and only the eyes have any color. Also zoom in on topstitching (if present and if you've done a decent job with your needle).

4 If you have a child (a baby is even better), use him/her in all your photos as this ups the Awwww Factor and automatically makes any handmade garment look fabulous, irrespective of the fit or workmanship. 

5 Share photos of your raw materials - typically new fabric purchases - and hint at what you're going to be turning them into. Provided you shop at places everyone else shops at (I usually fail on this count) and your fabric is designer-grade (I fail again) and you remember the manufacturer's and designer's names (double fail), this builds solidarity with other fabric- and craft-minded readers. Also lament self-deprecatingly about the obscene amounts of fabric you already have and, therefore, how irredeemably undeserving you are of your newest acquisitions. Note that I have only noticed this among blogs authored by female people. Male blogging people don't usually take photos of their shopping loot and wax rhapsodic. Or share tips like, "So, check out this delicious two-by-four I got at Lowe's. I like the quality at Lowe's more than Home Depot's - the wood grain is nicer and doesn't crack in the rain and they accept 40% off coupons every third Wednesday in April."

6  Talk about how your tutorial/invention/epiphany solves some world problem. Example: "So, I've always been befuddled by garments that have sleeves. And they've always bugged me because why do we need sleeves?  Plus I heard that everyone else on the internet/world/solar system has had no end of trouble with sleeves. So one day, while cooking boa stroganoff in coconut husks over a charcoal fire, it hit me: from now on, I'll only sew dresses without sleeves! Or with sleeves that are detachable! And after using my tutorial and seeing how life-changing it is to be sleeveless, you will never wear sleeves again!"

7 On a regular basis, show your human side. Better yet - take a photo of your house before you picked up, or your kitchen sink 2 minutes after breakfast and before rushing the kids out the door to catch the bus, or your non-color-coordinated dungeon-lit sewing space.

But don't do this too often or it will look like you don't have anything else to post about. Get extra Humanity Points if you show photos of failed craft projects and ill-fitting garments in bad-choice fabrics. Remember not to photoshop any of these "human side" photos. They are, after all, about how "actually-incompetent you are most days". Don't ruin the effect by secretly showing off your photoediting skills.

8 Closely related to #7, occasionally allow yourself to experience blogging burnout (and blog about it). Burnout is not fun but it's possible to make it sound trendy. Preface it with something like, "Hey, everyone! I know I haven't been posting in 12 years! So much has happened in my life and I couldn't keep up with it all and blog, too. Anyway, Anyhoo, I'm taking a break for the next dozen years or so until I figure out what direction I want this blog to take." Then be all enigmatic by not taking an actual hiatus (that's way too radical) and lining up guest posts instead. For the next dozen years.

9 Show evidence of many different creative pursuits on your blog. Nobody wants to read a craft blog that's only about weaving three-sinnet square-knot macrame plant hangers. At least diversify to half-knots. Or four sinnets. Or, if you're really aiming high, include your grandmother's recipes, knitted socks, crocheted sweaters, tatted tablerunners, Mod-Podged lampshades, cardboard play kitchens, tie-dyed maxidresses, gumdrop door wreaths, Silhouette-cut elephant-shaped fabric bunting, reversible zippered pouches in designer fabric, raku pottery class samples, coppertooling wall murals, vintage evening gown sewalong entries, hand-embroidered bedroom drapes, wooden rocketship playhouses, fimo clay bead necklaces, the four classical symphonies you composed entirely on a hammer dulcimer and that heirloom quilt that took you only 11 years to finish. Oh, and also your children's handiwork - shaving foam sculptures of famous landmarks, paper-plate interpretations of all the world's continents, melted-crayon renderings of the NGC 2770 galaxy and curry-powder infused playdoh. This is a good way to make your readers feel that "there's something for everyone" so they keep coming back.

10 Drop names. Recount all your run-ins with famous craft celebrities at the supermarket, the rest house toilet and inaccessible-to-the-rest-of-us-stuck-at-home-craft-moms Bloggy/Sewing/Scrapbooking expos. Remember to mention how completely floored you were at how completely down-to-earth they were when all along you'd considered yourself completely unworthy of even groveling at their Walmart-bought-but-cunningly-Mod-Podged-to-Anthropologie-esque deliciousness strappy-sandaled feet.


I've believed them all. And tried to do at least some of them.
And while I feel quite ill just thinking about just how long I'd spinelessly conformed to The Formula, there is some truth to it. It works. After playing the game, though, I think I might have discovered one small piece of wisdom to share and it is this: there is a reason for why the formula works - we don't want to be too different from other people. We like well-trodden paths, yes, even those of us who like bucking trends. Or, rather, some of us prefer to safely buck trends by first slightly embracing said trends and then running away, screaming. And some of us don't want to stop the embracing. The world is made of both kinds (and every other sort in between). It's all good.

However, I knew that if I, personally, continued blindly following the formula, I was eventually going to hate blogging. Here, then, is my own cheatsheet. Feel free to adopt any of these tips. Or not.

How To Blog And Not Hate It

1  Don't care about what other people think of your blog. If you blog for comments, you're going to be disappointed on a regular basis, especially with the advent of Pinterest. People are probably going to pin you more often than they are going to talk to you! Also people will sometimes be offensive - and not always deliberately. And then, following a crest of well-wishes and warm fuzzies, you might hit The Trough Of Taken-For-Grantedness: where you get the feeling that people come to your blog just for the (free) projects. Don't take it personally. Roll your eyes if you must but remember that blogland is FAKE. It is a mirage. It is not real life the way your family and friends are real life. If you get a nasty (and usually anonymous) comment, say, "Well, phooey. I'm going to hug my children/parent/spouse/pet/pillow now. That's real-er than you!" Then eat chocolate. Or nutella.

2  Write whenever you want and about whatever you want. If you write about something you're passionate about, you'll naturally write well. Don't be like me  - trying to write about quilting or commercial patterns and then getting writer's block and translating that into "blog burnout". Epic idiocy.

3  Don't try too hard be funny. Some people are naturally funny and some people are naturally witty and some people are blessed to be both. And some are triply blessed to be funny, witty and empathic. They write things that crack us up without taking digs at the sensitive parts of other people. If that's your gift, yay for you because you make us laugh. If it isn't, and your words are weightier, tell your story anyway, because you make us think.

4  Don't get too hung up over increasing your readership. Let's be honest: readership is a big issue for bloggers because we all like to feel that we're not speaking into a void. But if you started your blog to chronicle your craft adventures, then you'll continue enjoying it whether it's being read by 7 or 700 followers. If, however, you intend to earn money (or freebies) through your blog, including using it as a platform to launch and market a book or a business, then readership becomes quite a bit more important. And there are sensible proactive steps you can take to nudge it along the direction you want. 

One very common way to increase readership is to literally solicit it. It's very to-the-point: you run a contest on your blog and, as an entry requirement, you say something like, "follow this blog for an added entry". Tying this with other social media sites (Facebook and Twitter, for example) spreads your name and fame even farther. If this sounds intimidating, know that more of us than you think are scared out of our pants at the thought of dipping our feet in social media. See this post for reassurance. 

Another way to increase readership is to Get Noticed. I prefer this method because I think it allows people to choose for themselves whether or not they truly want to be repeat visitors to my blog. It's a simple principle: if people know about my blog, they might visit; if they don't know about my blog, they will never visit. Whether they stay and become regular readers or followers will depend on whether they like what they find here but at least they came at all. Here are some practical ways to Get Noticed:
  • Post regularly. This seems to go against Tip #2: "Write whenever you want". Remember, you're reading this list because you no longer want to just blog for the sheer joy of it - you now need more readers because you've just launched your Toddler Dress Sewing Pattern Business and you want lots of buyers. Posting doesn't have to happen every day (heaven help us - as if we have nothing better to do with our lives). But not posting for six months and then popping back to say sorry is not going to bump up your readership in a hurry. People who discover you will want to know that they can get excited about coming back for something new every now and then. This is especially important in the beginning - those first few months to a year of getting your blog started are when you need to be seen frequently about town, so to speak.
  • Get seen on the internet. I remember happily doing my own thing when a couple of readers emailed me to (in no uncertain terms) order me to get featured on some of those round-up craft blogs. One of them actually wrote to the author of one of those round-up blogs and invited her to come visit me. That was one of the nicest bloggy things anyone had every done for me at the time and I still get all warm and fuzzy remembering it. So then I thickened my skin a bit and very hesitantly introduced myself to a couple of other round-up blogs, asking if they'd like to someday feature me. Most awkward thing ever, let me tell you - I was like, "who am I to try to promote myself?" Good news: this community of crafty bloggers is as nice as they say it is - nobody turned me down and everyone was incredibly receptive and helped put my name out there. It was just a start, but over time, more people became familiar with this blog and they started emailing me to ask if they could shout out about ikatbag. I was floored. I remember flagging all those email messages as if they were gold. I still occasionally - like when I've made something I'm especially proud of (and when I can squeeze in the time to remember to do it) - still write to a website or two to ask to be featured. And I still feel awkward! 
  • Get seen in print. This doesn't mean you have to publish a book. Not many of us have the time to do that AND be responsible for publicizing and marketing the blessed thing after it's published, either. Even without being your own author, you can be a contributor to no end of books, magazines and other publications. Sometimes you read on people's blogs about how they were "contacted by so-and-so to appear in their magazine" or you notice that the newest craft book features some blogger you've been following for the past year. Here's a secret: sometimes they get headhunted but often (especially before they're particularly well-known) they have to write in and submit projects for consideration like the rest of us craft plebians. We all have to start somewhere. 
  • Get seen on other people's blogs. Guest post on other people's blogs and let other people guest-post on yours, if you are so inclined. Or participate in sewalongs and craftalongs and cardboardalongs. Resist the urge to feel as if you're trying to infiltrate high-school cliques. People in crafty blogland are generally nicer (being older and no longer pubescent, I mean). I wish I had more time to organize blog parties because, practically speaking, they're excellent for networking. If you've ever wondered why I've hardly ever had guest posters on ikatbag, it's only because it's a lot of work to coordinate. Which translates to time. Which is a precious commodity in short supply when one has three small children who are constantly trying to sneak into one's cardboard stash. Bottomline: I wish I could initiate guestalongs but I know my limitations- they constantly smack me in the face, especially at 530pm when I need to cook dinner. 

5  Stick to your original motivation for blogging. If you're in it for the money (even if you didn't want to admit it initially), then plan to post good content that will satisfy sponsors and still set you apart from all the other blogs that are  also sponsored. If you're in it for the showing off, then do good work, try not to stay just a one-project wonder and take your time to create unique things in addition to jumping on the various craft bandwagons that will always be trundling through the internet.

6  Remember that there are many aspects of blogging that can be therapeutic at different times. I've often heard people say they blog to "stay sane while being a stay-home mom to small children". 
Um... how? 
Doesn't happen to me, at least not blogging per se (time-consuming, must check spelling, must take photos, must edit photos, most post photos, must think of fun title, must archive posts in pdf format, must moderate vituperative comments and filter off vulgar spam etc). People stay sane by doing something that's enjoyable and that recharges them. I think different people enjoy and get recharged by different aspects of blogging - some need the catharsis from talking about themselves, some like sharing the challenges and blessings of loving a child with special needs (and finding support in the process), some thrive on the sense of achievement in showing off the life-size fabric replica of the Eiffel Tower they constructed from calico yo-yos, some like the relief of seeing the checks and paypal payments from blog sponsors and shop patrons. I always know which parts of blogging keep me sane at different times of my life. Some times of the year, I am excited about sharing a new project or pattern because of the gratification of feedback and monetary returns for hard work. Other times of the year, the thought of creating anything new raises my blood pressure and I'd rather just post about my children's art projects or my newest bicultural face-off. And other times, I love writing a good, rigorous sewing curriculum much more than preparing a toy for sale in the shop. So when one part of blogging starts getting you down, it might be a good time to switch tracks to another aspect that's still enjoyable. 

See you back soon for Act 2 (because -bah - it's turning out to be a mini-series after all). Also Acts 3A and 3B (where I hand out party freebies). And now, over to you, since we're all partying together: what blogging tips can you share? 


  1. Thank LiEr for an interesting post! You raise an important point in #7 under "Formula For Making Your Blog Like Everyone Else's". I find there are lots of bloggers who try something new and blog about it (say, dyeing fabric with household/garden ingredients), but either don't bring up any failures in their attempts, or don't wait to see if their project works over the long run (say, that when they actually washed their dyed fabric a few times, the colour faded drastically). I did recently read one blogger who admitted that her project that she posted a few months prior did not stand the test of time. I appreciated her honesty.

    I also appreciate the time you put into your blog. Your frequent postings and excellent spelling and grammar do not go unnoticed!


  2. Wow. I feel like you just ripped me apart and said, "meh, it's ok, no worries". I don't mean that as a negative comment, it's just that you put into words all my insecurities! It's SO HARD to not let the pressure or void of followers get to you. It's just a stupid blog!? Right?! So why do I care so much!

    I hit a road block a couple of months ago because I just felt so inadequate compared to the "mommy craft bloggers" that somehow have time to crank out project after project and take care of their kids. How. HOW?!?! I have a full time job. At some point I just accepted that I would never be a "cranker-outer" and have felt much more relaxed since then. They can show off their perfect living rooms and perfect kitchens and perfect homes and perfect quilts and perfect kids. Fine. I was at work all day probably earning more money than them doing a job I love, not many people are fortunate enough to have a job they love, AND I get to sew/print/whatever when I go home AND I don't have to take care of any kids. Score. (Not that I don't like kids or am against them, go for it! They're just not for me.)

    So at that point I just said screw it. I'm gonna sit here and be happy with my 75 followers and they'll get the full force of my awesome patterns and tutorials and everyone else can be sad. Cause they missed it.

    Also totally true. The plebs gotta submit to the magazines. They rarely headhunt. I've just started doing this and it really is super friendly and honestly not that hard! Go for it!

    Also ALSO totally true - you've gotta send out the emails to get featured or trade features or join blog hops or whatever. They're not just gonna ask you out of the blue, unless you're already famous for it.

    Sorry for the long comment. I just SOOOO identify with this entire post. THANK YOU for writing it.

    1. What's your blog address, yours sounds like one I would enjoy reading! Also, totally love this post, it's good to know there's not something wrong with me because I hate blogging!

    2. Hayley, I'm at - thanks!

  3. Brilliant post! You are so spot on, about both the formula and how to blog & not hate it. I have no tips, despite also blogging for 5 years, I still feel like a complete amateur!

  4. Thank you for the time to write this post. Everything is spot on. I already passed, still passing through same questions, once in a while i ask why, and them here comes another post. You gave me a idea about my family from overseas to see my girls, thank you. Can't wait to read the series of "the post saga" cont.....

  5. I love your sense of humor! You posts are so relevant and so enjoyable to read. I hope that one day I get to meet you in real life (I also live in MN) and then I can write a post about, oh my gosh, meeting LIEr, and how floored I was and how utterly charming and down to earth you were. :)

  6. I only read 1/3 because this post was a tad wordy and you really need more photos. A series of guest posts riffing on yours would be more educational.

    So funny. I will come back and finish when I have a bit more time.

  7. Yes! Yes! Yes! Great advice! Thanks for always keeping it real LiEr! :)

    I also live in MN and would love to meet you and tell how down-to-earth you are! Just like Olga! : )

  8. Ha ha! Loved this and looking forward to Act 2 very much!

  9. I enjoyed this ... and that thing about the cup of coffee! I realised that my coffee often slips into pictures of my projects, as I always seem to have a cup half finished! Funnily enough I find it comforting to see it there in other folks' pictures too.

    Okay and just because you said we need to be able to self-promote a little - I'm going to share here a tutorial that I'm proud of, so please check it out if you like:

    Now time for another coffee as this one's about cold after all that reading! ;-)

  10. Great post. My main tip (besides the ones you have listed) is to pick a few grounded blogs (yours is on that list, for me) that will help you stay grounded - even if your reasons for blogging are not identical.

    I started blogging literally days before getting pregnant with baby #3. In those early days, it made the difference to me between watching the clock and not watching the clock. Comments from blog friends were HUGE at a time when I was incredibly sleep-deprived and had a husband who was sometimes gone more than he was home.

    Now my kids are incredibly engaging to talk to, DH is traveling less (for the moment), and we are about to move across the country to sunny California, where we will hopefully spend most of our days outdoors. I'm curious to see how my blog evolves accordingly.

  11. I am leaving this post with much to think about. I am guilty of some of these.

  12. Great post! I have felt a bit flat about blogging lately and have thought about stopping but who would I show my creations to if I quit? I need my small group of online friends!

  13. Great post! looking forward to part 2...

  14. Great post! Your blogging formula was pretty funny :)

  15. You have put in words why I feel so guilty when I unsubscribe to a blog. And you have defined why some blogs are like my mind candy! Yours is My Nutella. Keep on keepin' on!

  16. I am taking in every word of your post and every comment. I am about to start blogging for my quilting guild. Looking forward to part 2 and any others that may follow.

  17. I absolutely love your blog LiEr. I only recently discovered blogs and I totally relate to a lot of these comments. I'm often left wondering at the slick, glamorous homes people show off on blogs, that were decorated on a budget of $5, and full of re-purposed thrift finds that always look incredibly chic. How do they do it, especially when they have kids. Is it smoke and mirrors?

    By the way, I think you are incredibly funny. You have a lovely self-depreciating wit that brings so much humour to your blog. I would buy any book you chose to write.

    Something that I find very funny is that my friends are always praising me for being so crafty and coming up with such great projects to do with the kids, but most of them are things I found on your blog! I always share the secret, and point them at your blog.

  18. I love this post so much! Hilarious! Only one thing in the formula you forgot, self portraits of your feet in interesting settings ;). Kidding aside, you offer very valuable advice here. I would only add, seek out other bloggers, send those you like and admire an email. My first year of blogging was very lonely, now a huge reason I blog is to stay connected to the wonderful bloggers I've met along the way.

  19. Lier, this was such a good read! Oh I love your writing style and nutella references! I am most definitely looking forward to part two. I love your blog and I hope you are around for another 5 years ;)

  20. I can only imagine how long this post took your time and energy! Thanks a lot!
    Finally someone who does not have ready-made recipes and shows its authenticity! I can not wait to read more!

  21. What a useful, thoughtful, genuine post about blogging. Yours is one of the very few I have kept up with -- not because I have even a smidgen of your talent, but because it just strikes the right balance.

    It is such timely advice for me. I have had a family blog for years that I don't pretend anyone who is not a grandma would care about. I have tossed around the idea of a public one for a long time, tried a few different approaches and dropped them for various reasons. But I keep coming back to the fact that I have tons of stuff I think other people might find useful. It is an eclectic collection, but it is all stuff I love and have created at different points in my life. Plus, it is fun and seems just right for now. Thank you for such thoughtful insight about this blogging venture

  22. Hi! Love ur blog, needing advice...just starting my blog. I've been at it for 2 months, using as a platform for the Etsy store I hope to open. I'm working on emptying my nest (well getting her off to college at least) THEN I'll have time to do it! I would be so flattered if you would critique my blog (

    I also have a question... I'm getting a lot of views (731!!!!) this is good right? Seems amazing to me...
    My question: how do I get them as followers!?


  23. Thank you for this post! Funny and engaging like others have said but also very informative for a newbie blogger like me. I'm still trying to find my blogging voice, you know, deciding exactly what I want to post and not falling slave to, to... anything, really. I still lack confidence in my blog, maybe because I'm not sure I've really found my voice yet, but I'm slowly starting to reach out to try and connect with other bloggers. It's so scary! There are so many wonderful blogs out there. The encouragement in your post comes in a very timely manner, thank you again! I look forward to Act 2.

  24. I don't "blog" but I do notice all the similarities in the blogs out there. I am rather bored by all the photos of weeds/wild-flowers and grocery-store flowers. This post is interesting. I usually skip the text in blogs but I do take the time to read your writing.
    -Kim in Phila.

  25. You are so funny! I love reading your blog posts because I know they'll make me grin (or snigger).

    Oops, I'm guilty of the "anyhoo" thing...

  26. Thanks for this post. I'm avoiding putting my 4 year old to bed and stuck in a kitchen argument between hubs and MIL. your post made me smile and remember why I started blogging. I linked to your post today, hope you don't mind.
    (btw, I took a photo of a tea cozy once and it was my FAVORITE blog photo ever!! see it here: tea cozy)

  27. Thanks for writing this brilliant post! You had me cringing and laughing at the same time. I'll be printing it out and sticking it above my computer. Looking forward to Part 2...

  28. Okay, I have always thought you were funny (and a very talented seamstress) but this takes the cake. H.I.L.A.R.I.O.U.S....and so SO spot on. I am absolutely guilty of most of them! Thank you for making my day.

  29. Wow this is a good article. I will be entering blogland for the first time and this article really helps level set my expectations. Sometimes the task of maintaining a meaningful blog seems overwhelming!

  30. This is fabulous! Your "formula" sounds like on of my rants. I was a mommy blogger before blogging was cool (1998 - and now it's getting difficult to tell one from the next...Anyhoo i'm gotta run ;)

  31. I burst out laughing so hard I had to read the tongue-in-cheek formula part to my husband. His laughing comment was, "That's great!" And then you slammed me with vituperative! Vituperative? Had to look it up. Thank you for a juicy new word!

  32. Great post! I love your blog and I never comment, sorry! I hope it stays fun for you because it is super fun to read. Thanks!

  33. Happy 5th birthday, LiEr! I love your blog and I love this post. You are refreshing in the bloggy world :)

    My big tip is to be sure you know why you have a blog, to have a goal for it. Mine is to keep a record of what I make and how I try to be thrifty. If I'm feeling blue because I want more comments or visitors, I remind myself that the blog is first of all a record for me that I happen to share publicly. Works every time.
    Also? I don't care what people think. As an editor, I work with writers all the time who wish they could get published. Me, I get published every time I hit "post" and I control all the content, too. Very gratifying.

    And finally, I only share about thriftiness, homemaking, and such. I don't get into the private, personal issues - I reserve those for my husband and dear friends in face-to-face conversations. Most of the time, I'm too emotional to be rational anyway, so I definitely do not want that side of me out in public forever!!

  34. Lier, you're just to funny. I love your sarcasm! At the 12-year blog hiatus I had to start laughing and leave a comment...if you had planned for that now you know you were totally successful. Happy 5th birthday!

  35. your blog is definitely unique, always a joy to stop by, interesting to see how a 5 year old blogger thinks, even if it is with a tongue in their cheek. Lookout for that coffee mug introspective post sometime soon.

  36. I've just found your blog and I read this piece of jewellery. Just reading how you write is worth following your blog. I'll be visiting you :)

  37. thank you for posting this! Im a craft blogger newbie and all this is some real valuable advice I will be coming back to again and again! =)


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