This week’s guest for the series, “Before the Paparazzi,” is Cassie from one of my favorite blogs, Hi Sugarplum. I love Cassie’s down to earth approach. She has some great no-sew projects on her blog, which are such a saving grace for those who don’t have a machine or do not know how to sew. You’ll definitely want to read her tips below! Take it away Cassie
Hi all! I’m Cassie from Hi Sugarplum, and I’m thrilled to take part in this fun series! I wish Kristy had run it a year ago when I started blogging…I can use all the help I can get! I feel like I barely have my own blogger sea-legs, but I’ll share what I’ve learned thus far!
How’d you get started?
I started out reading Fashion blogs, which eventually led to Design blogs….and I fell down that rabbit hole fast and hard! They were so addicting, and full of the best ideas! I kept thinking it’d be fun to start one, but just couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to read what I had to say. Then I unexpectedly lost my grandfather, the most influential man in my life, and threw myself into home projects to avoid the grief. I picked up a paintbrush, started Hi Sugarplum (what my grandfather called me) and never looked back! Having this creative outlet has been a huge release for me, and bonding with new friends in the process was an added bonus.
What was your biggest fear?
I felt (and still do sometimes!) like such a narcissist! Having a blog just seemed so smug, like I expected people to want to read my thoughts and ideas. I didn’t even tell my closest friends and family for the first month or two! Then I came to terms with why I started Hi Sugarplum in the first place….a much needed creative outlet, a way of connecting with people of similar interests, and documenting what was happening in our home and lives. Most people are afraid no one will read their blog, I was afraid people would think I expected they would!
What surprised you most about blogging?
Like many, I was shocked at the number of people who shared my interest in glue guns and creating a beautiful home on a budget! My audience grew slowly and became interactive (comments people, leave them!!). Then many of them became my friends, good friends! Friends I rely on for blog help and advice, and life’s trials. Mr. Sugarplum loves it because I chatter less about fabric and the merits of spray paint to him now, too!
I’m also surprised at how much I love the process of blogging. I have a background in journalism/publication, and hadn’t realized how much I’d missed writing. Brainstorming ideas, photographing them and putting it all together in written form is so much fun for me. It’s the hobby my life lacked, but one that doesn’t take me away from my family! Bonus!
Do you think it’s important to post everyday?
I think it’s important to post if you have something to say, or something great to show off. I know I eventually back off reading blogs that post nothing but fluff and repurposed material.
What advice would you give to newbies?
Okay, just how long is this post supposed to be? Here’s what I’ve got, my soapbox is tall:
1) Figure out why you blog. Is it to promote your business or skill, a creative outlet, online journal, etc? That will dictate the voice, tone and purpose of your writing. Sometimes you don’t know right away, but it will evolve the longer you blog. I blog for myself, so I’m able to truly be myself. Find your reason and niche, and stick to it!
2) Infuse as much of yourself into your writing as you’re comfortable doing. This is how readers get to ‘know’ you. I don’t mean reveal your blood type and what you had for breakfast, but write as if you’re talking to a friend, in your conversation voice. As soon as you start trying to please people, or imitate other’s voices, you lose the connection people had with you.
3) Make your blog a place people want to come back to! You know when you walk in to a jacked-up TJ Maxx, and stuff is everywhere and the lighting is bad? You instantly turn around and never come back…you just know there’s nothing worth looking at in there. Same for blogs. You don’t have to spend a bunch of money to have a clean, organized and fun-looking blog! Your design should reflect your personality too, so readers feel like they get a real peek at you.
4) Comments. Make it easy for people to comment on your blog (it’s really not necessary to make people type Xr3y2K just to say hi!), so take off the word verification. Reply to your commenters occasionally, this is how friendships start.
Be a courteous blogger and check out the blogs of your loyal readers, this is how you find new blogs. Leave comments on other blogs, this is how they find you!
5) Treat your posts as rough and final drafts…this means edit and spell check! For me, those typos are more noticeable than the makeover you worked so hard on!
6) Post large, pretty pictures…this means turn off the darn flash and use one of the many free photo editing sites to make them look their best.
7) Pimp. Your blog and projects, that is. Link up to blog parties, share your projects with the bloggers who inspired you. They might just feature you!
Have fun! If you start to get overwhelmed, or have feelings of burden and obligation towards blogging, take a break! I already have a full-time job, I don’t want to feel like I’ve taken on a second one.
Most important, remember that all bloggers are just people. Everyone started out with 12 followers and feelings of insecurity. And even if that number grows, they’re still the same excited person who loves when comments come pouring in over a post. (Well, there are a few exceptions, but that’s a snarky another post!)
Also, don’t get discouraged if your blog doesn’t grow at the pace you hoped (or see others growing!). Remember why you started blogging in the first place, it probably wasn’t to see how many followers you could get!
Those were awesome tips! Thank you so much, Cassie! Be sure to also see what Type A’s guest has to say to other bloggers.