Spring, Tips & Preparations (for KCBW)

Blogging Tips (in preparation for KCBW)

The sun was shining and I actually used the clothesline today, which means it finally feels like Spring! There are many obvious benefits to the longer brighter days but two quite unfortunate downsides which have occured to me. Firstly it's too warm for the wool hat I made at the weekend. The second, and most disturbing, is that I find myself compelled to do what can ony be described as "Spring cleaning". I know. It's not usually something I would do with enthusiasm but the sun showing up dust and fingerprints had me cleaning windows at 7am yesterday and 'being domestic' for much of today. It's not just the house that has been having a blitz. I've been busy with a little behind-the-scenes work on the blog in advance of the 4th Knitting & Crochet Blog Week (my third - last time I won a prize!).

When I first joined in I had been blogging for just a few weeks and it was a great way to plan and structure posts, reach new readers and find inspirational bloggers - I am still following some of them. If you don't know about KCBW, please read the details here. Essentially all you need to do to take part is blog along next week using the daily prompts and tag your posts so others can find you.

After speaking to a few other bloggers, I thought it might be worth posting some tips on preparing for the event so that newer participants can make the most of it.

1. MAKE THE DECISION 

KCBW is something for anyone who knits/crochets and writes about it on their blog, or would like to start blogging about it. No specific experience is necessary and the daily tags mean there will be a ready-made audience for your posts - if they like what they find, they may visit again, so it's a really great opportunity. In my opinion it's also a perfect time to re-start a blog that you have let go for one reason or another. If it's something you want to do, you have the rest of this week to get ready.

2. PLAN YOUR POSTS

The topics and prompts have already been published (here) and with almost a week to write and schedule some (or all) of the posts in advance, it's possible to take part even if you will be on holiday/ too busy/ anything else that usually prevents you from doing what you want to do. I generally set up a draft for the seven prompts, a few days before KCBW. Familiar with the topics, I can then add to them when I think of something relevant. In this way the posts take very little time on the day of publication.

3. BLOW AWAY THE COBWEBS

Ok, this is a huge topic in itself but here are a few things I have already done or am in the process of doing to make CftC appealing to visitors old and new, and which might prompt you to start your own revamp:

  • How does your blog look? What would you think if you were visiting it for the first time? Do you think it will portray what you'd like it to, in terms of your style/content etc?
  • Fussy fonts and busy backgrounds can be instant turn-offs. Do you have clear font(s) and a background that works well with the layout of your posts and that is easy on the eye? If you're not sure, ask for feedback. 
  • How long ago did you decide on the header and layout? Are they still relevant? Would they benefit from a makeover? 
  • Is it easy to read your blog on a mobile/tablet?  If not, should you enable the mobile version? (Blogger 'how-to' here.)
  • Is the formatting consistent and easy to read? My old posts aren't, as a previous theme had less room for images - I am going back and changing the formatting when I spot something that doesn't look right in the new template. 
  • Is there anything to entice visitors  to read other posts? (Link-within widget, lists of popular posts, etc)
  • Can visitors 'like', 'follow', or 'pin' you? If not, would you like them to? 

4. MAKE COMMENTING EASY

Presumably you blog because you want people to read what you have written and give feedback. If you didn't you'd probably be writing a diary. My opinion on captcha /word verification is well documented, but I feel it bears repeating. Please make it easy to comment on your posts. I read lots of blogs and love to leave comments but it's getting increasingly difficult. As a reader I find this frustrating for both myself and the people who will never know I stopped by and felt sufficiently interested to leave them a few words.

During the next week I'm hoping to leave as many comments as possible and if you are using various methods of spam prevention I'd love you to consider it from this perspective which I share with many others too:
  • Firstly, it's often really tricky to leave comments from an iPhone or iPad. I don't know about other devices but it is especially difficult if the word verification image is unclear on a small screen and the first attempt is wrong or it requires spaces/deletions. It's often completely impossible to go back and retype the word. 
  • If clicking through to a blog via twitter/facebook/instagram apps on devices the same problems  can occur via the in-app browsers. If you are using social media to promote your posts, the chances are people are accessing your posts in this way and may have difficulty passing all the verification checks. 
  • If I can't leave a comment on the first attempt I have to decide to either spend lots of time attempting to retype and resubmit the comment, or I can go ahead and read a few more blogs instead. My time is limited and there are lots of blogs I want to read, so the latter usually wins. 
  • This one drives me really mad. I call it 'the belt and braces approach'. Let's say I've decided to go back and try again (sometimes more than once, but I've read a really good post or seen an awesome project and feel compelled to say something about it). Eventually I might be able to verify the word in order to post the comment, perhaps I've switched on a computer just to comment, only to find... comment moderation is also on and the comment needs approval. ARGH! By this point I usually vow never to comment on the blog again, perhaps to never read it for fear of wanting to comment, because frankly my blood pressure can't take much more.
  • How about switching word verification off for KCBW and seeing how you get on? It may take less time to deal with the odd spam comment than approving everything and it'll leave you with more time to visit other blogs and spread a bit of love. You may just end up with some nice comments :) 

5. PREPARE TO SHARE

Allow some time during the week to find other participant blogs and tell them you have visited. When someone has spent time writing a post and they can see (from their stats) that people have visited it, it's great to have feedback, especially when it's positive and encouraging. As well as making them happy, bloggers are more likely to visit your blog if you have left them a comment. Which is the perfect time to say that if you have managed to make it all the way through this mammoth post, thank you and it would be lovely to hear from you!

24 comments

  1. Sounds fun! Hoping to be able to participate in at least some of the days!

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    Replies
    1. It has been a lot of fun in previous years, I'm sure you'd get something from it.

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  2. I was planning to join in this year; last year I fell off the wagon after awhile. But I have all these projects to work upon so I will probably won't this year. My designing bug keeps pushing me on.

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    1. I think the topics are a lot less involved/complicated this year so I think it will be easier. But I know what it's like when you are focussed on something!! :D

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  3. Good points. I turned off word verification recently despite spamming I've had in the past. Nothing is more frustrating than the "not found" page that I seem to get on some blogs with verification...

    I loved last years KCBW and met lots of lovely bloggers and gained a bunch of new readers for my (then) very new blog. I'm going to do my best to join in again this year... although I'm soooo busy. Planning sounds like a good idea. That might be the best part of my weekend :)

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    1. I think planning is key plus the different format this year means that it should be possible to take part with less time commitment.

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  4. I think you've convinced me to take part :)

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  5. last year I found out about KCBW when I was on holiday and all of a sudden everyone starting talking about the same thing.

    this year you've reminded me in advance and I can participate.

    yay!

    beks
    polkadotsandsparkles.com

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  6. Thanks for all your advice on blogs. My 'thing' is more jewellery making but I do stil love knitting and crochet in particular tho' I'm not the greatest - more short attention span than anything else which prevents me completing 'adult sized' projects. I'll be checking back and blog surfing around.

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    Replies
    1. Hi and thanks for your feedback! I am sure you'll find lots of interesting posts to read :)

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  7. I'm far too lazy to blog but I really do enjoy following yours Sarah!
    So a word of encouragement and keep up the good work.
    A big fan x

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  8. Very tempted to join in this year. I wanted to last year but wasn't sure if I could find the time. I think time will still be an issue this year but it would be a good challenge.

    I completely agree with you on word verification, it's very irritating

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    Replies
    1. I think that if you can prepare the post contents - even in your head - it shouldn't take too long. Each post can be as long or short as you like.

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  9. I had not heard of that before - will definitely be looking into it! Thanks Sarah!

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  10. Great post. I too joined in a few weeks into blogging and loved it. It is quite stressful (or was) but it is also worth remembering that you don't have to take part every day. :)

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  11. This is a really good post, and I am with you on the word verification....they are extremely annoying, which is why I switched mine off as soon as I learned that I could!

    I hope to join in with KCBW and properly plan posts this time, as I left it all last minute last year and didn't blog lots for it.

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  12. I have been thinking about starting a Crochet blog for quite a while now and it looks like this would be as god time as any. Thank you for your tips and links, i'll be looking into this more now.

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  13. Thanks for this post you have got me up and joining in next week! Drafted 3 posts this afternoon and just to back to tell you it was all because of this!

    Now how can you get me up and crocheting through my ever increasing pile of WIPs?

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  14. FANTASTIC posting! I also switched off word verification - it is a real pain. I wish though I could simplify my blog BEFORE blogweek, but alas it is scheduled to take place DURING blogweek as part of one of the topics. Can't wait for that change though!

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