This is the first in what we hope will become a helpful series of posts for small craft business owners. We consider makers, suppliers, designers, authors, and anyone else trying to earn money while participating in their craft a “craft business owner.” Do what you love.
If you’re committed to having a successful online presence as part of your business, then you’ve probably started (or at least thought about) a blog. Whether your business is brick-and-mortar, online, or simply your brand, a blog is an important tool for many reasons:
- A blog is a great way to connect to your customers and the people you want to be your customers.
- A blog can help you establish your authority as an expert.
- Quality blog content will help improve your search engine rankings.
- A blog is an excellent place to announce news about your inventory, classes, publications and more.
- A blog is the perfect place to conduct market research.
It’s a lot of work to post quality content every day without becoming redundant. It is especially hard to do if you’re trying to come up with things on the fly, so planning is important.
For several years Beth and I have used an editorial calendar to plan all our posts. We use a shared calendar in our email client, but if you are on your own you can use anything. We find it really helpful to first schedule monthly posts like Block of the Month, then regular events (Free Fabric Friday, for example). Once we have those in place, we can start filling in the holes based on the availability of our contributors and the pacing of sew-alongs, contests, or other events. Although we’re usually scheduling specific posts just a few weeks in advance, we often have concepts in place several months out. For example, we might be roughly sketching out a back-to-school contest, a Halloween series, and Handmade Holidays all at the same time.
20 Proven Types of Blog Posts
While writing for your blog, you need to keep two audiences in mind: your readers who already know and love you, and search engines who will help direct more readers your way. Luckily they both thrive off the same thing–unique quality content. Need some ideas for great content? Below are 20 proven types of blog posts that you can use once a year or every week. Fill up your calendar, stick to your deadlines and publish a blog you can be proud of.
- Tutorials—The staple of most sewing and craft blogs, quality tutorials can help get your blog noticed and favored by readers and potential customers. Free patterns, how-tos, and explanations of techniques can all contribute to the success of your blog. Make sure to take good photos, edit well, and test your instructions. If possible, survey your customers and fans to find out what they’re most interested in learning.
- Contests— Contests are a great way to encourage your readers to show off their talents! Make sure your rules are very clear, the deadline is set, and the prizes are appealing. Consider asking vendors to co-promote your contest by providing prizes and help with marketing.
- Memes – Think of a meme (rhymes with theme) as a creativity prompt for your readers. There are many successful photo memes online. Question-and-answer memes have somewhat fallen out of favor, but they can still be an effective way to engage and survey members of your community.
- Polls or Surveys – Want to find out what your readers think about something? Use a poll or survey to ask them! Ask about a new product you’re considering, their thoughts about your hours, or who they think should win a contest. It’s a great way to involve people in your community and can provide you with very useful feedback. There are many free polling applications available for your blog or Facebook page. Surveys may require a paid membership to a site like PollDaddy, but the information you gather can be well worth it.
- Product Reviews – The online world is wonderful because there are so many choices. The online world is frustrating because there are so many choices. This is the conundrum facing all of us. With more products and more options, the informed opinions of people we trust are priceless. If people have faith in your authority (and you are confident in it), reviews can bring you traffic, recognition, and sales.
- New Product Announcements – Did you just stock your shelves or release a new pattern? Let your customers know! Chances are good that some of them have been waiting for the new items and others may just be happy to know what’s hot.
- Giveaways – In 2006 we started doing Free Fabric Fridays as a way to draw new readers in and engage them in our community. We still do it to this day because it brings us traffic and gives us an opportunity to ask our readers what’s on their minds. “Comment for a chance to win” will get you a “pick me” but “tell us what you’d like to see from us in the coming months” will get you ideas and insight! Plus, giveaways encourage people to jump away from their feed readers or Facebook page to your site, which is where you want them to be. Certain tools like Rafflecopter can help you manage your giveaways by allowing you to set up multiple ways to enter (visit a Facebook page, comment on the blog, Tweet, etc.), but be careful—people don’t like to jump through too many hoops and will only do so if the giveaway is amazing.
- Interviews – Interviews with industry professionals are often interesting and can draw the attention of many new readers. But “celebrities” aren’t the only people with something insightful to say. How about interviewing a customer, one of your instructors, or a student in your classes? Everyone has a story to tell—it’s just a matter of finding the ones we can relate to or aspire to.
- FAQ – Do your customers ask you the same thing again and again? “How do you care for this product?” or “What kind of interfacing should I use for this?” or “What’s the difference between printed and woven?” Think about these frequently-asked-questions and use them as starting points for informative blog posts.
- Calendar of Events – Do you have a lot going on in your shop? Classes, lectures, trunk shows, etc.? Post your calendar of events on a regular basis so your customers know what to expect.
- Trade Show Reports – If you attend industry trade shows and events, the news and photos from the show floor and after-hours gatherings can make great content for blog posts. Just be sure to approach them from a “wish you were here” perspective and be careful not to alienate your readers with too much “see what you missed.” It’s a line we see crossed too often.
- Articles – In addition to up-to-the-moment posts about new releases and current trends, your blog needs to have some in-depth content. Make sure you make room every month for well-written and well-researched articles about your craft, your industry or your business.
- Roundups – A roundup is a list of online resources, usually grouped by a theme. For example, you could do a post with “10 Awesome Lunch Bag Tutorials” or “Twelve Great Ideas for Father’s Day.” Roundups like this are quite popular and can be very helpful if they come from a trusted source. (When we post round-ups we always ask permission to use the photo and the link. Whether for copyright reasons or common courtesy, we encourage you to do the same.)
- Link Parties – A link or “linky” party is a post in which you invite your readers to submit a link (usually back to their own blog) in your post. For example, you say, “everyone submit your best tutorial.” People use a blog widget (tool) that you’ve set up to include their link, which automatically loads a thumbnail image on your blog. Visitors can see all the submissions neatly and clearly in your blog post. There are lots of different link up options available —simply search for “linky tool” to compare them. If you’re familiar with Sew,Mama,Sew!’s Giveaway Day posts, you’ve seen InLinkz in action.
- Pinterest or Flickr Favorites – Crafters love visual inspiration, so why not round up some great photos that fit a theme? Blue quilts, clothes for boys, or pillows with embroidery, for example. Bloggers/photographers usually appreciate the acknowledgement of their work and your readers will be inspired to create!
- Videos –Are you or your staff members great on camera? Consider video tutorials, video interviews, or even videos of someone talking about the new arrivals in your shop. Set up a channel of your own and embed your videos on your blog.
- Trend Reports – If you’re completely entrenched in your industry, you’re probably aware of trends that come and go. Whether it’s about colors, styles, tools or technology, a trend report can be a fun way to summarize what’s hot and what’s not.
- Calls to Action – Whenever possible, we try to write about people and organizations working to make the world a better place through their efforts in the sewing community. Whether they’re auctioning quilts, sewing hats, or donating fabric, we share their story and tell our readers what they can do to help. You can also help charitable organizations find support by posting a feature on your blog that includes a call-to-action.
- Personal Stories – Personal blogs are usually written in first person singular and tell the tale of an individual’s life. Business blogs are typically written in first person plural (we) and stick to…well, business. Some business owners are able to meld the two types very well. They acknowledge their work in some of their posts, but they also write about their vacations, their families, and their homes. The personality of the business owner becomes as important as the business itself. If you decide to bring your personal life into your business blog, you’ll have a wealth of experiences to draw from. (Just don’t forget to take your camera wherever you go!)
- News – If you know your business very well, consider posting industry news. When a company changes hands, a new conference is scheduled, or droughts are affecting cotton crops, put on your reporter cap and tell your readers the facts and why they matter.
With these ideas you should be able to fill up your calendar with fun and interactive posts. If you can find a good balance between instruction, information, inspiration and participation your blog will be rewarding to both you and your readers.
We’d love to hear your thoughts about the types of posts you write, or those you tend to avoid. If you have other types of blog posts to add to our list, please leave them in the comments!
(This post has been adapted from an article I originally wrote for The FabShop News, a sewing industry trade magazine.)