STYLE

Crafts: Work hard, keep it simple, and other tips from successful craft bloggers

02/04/2015 01:55 EST | Updated 04/06/2015 05:59 EDT
It may look easy and lucrative from the outside, but popular craft bloggers say their work requires long hours and commitment.

The pay? Well, sure, that's pretty good — after you get established. But successful craft bloggers say they treat their work as a full-time job to attract the thousands of viewers needed to trade a traditional career for this one.

"It's a career that's never been a career," says Amy Anderson of Atlanta, who says she worked 70 hours a week last year running three blogs, most notably Mod Podge Rocks. The craft and do-it-yourself blog, which she launched in 2008, became so successful that Anderson quit her marketing job in 2012.

Her three craft blogs combined (the other two are Washi Tape Crafts and DIY Candy) bring in "over six figures," she says, from display advertisements, sponsorships (companies paying for product mentions) and her work designing DIY projects for companies such as Plaid Enterprises Inc., which makes Mod Podge.

Her tips for the novice blogger: Diversify your income streams; for instance, don't rely solely on display advertisements, which she says are losing steam. Treat your blog as an asset; invest some earnings back into it: Anderson spent $10,000 to trademark her blogs.

And find a community of similarly oriented bloggers. Not only will they promote your postings, they'll provide critical emotional support.

"People are not going to understand you," she warns. "People think I'm in some online pyramid scheme. They have no idea what I do. Many don't know what blogs are."

Sherri Griffin of Orlando, Florida, who blogs about homemade beauty and cleaning supplies, craft projects and essential oils at Overthrow Martha, quit her pediatric nursing career in 2013 to blog fulltime.

"I'm making more than I did as a nurse," she says. She derives two-thirds of her income from Young Living essential oils, a sponsor, whose products she promotes on her blog. She recommends the Amazon Affiliates program for new bloggers; when viewers click from her blog post to Amazon to buy a product, Griffin earns a referral fee. "That's my big money-maker," she says.

She warns against promoting any ol' product. Followers rely on a blogger's integrity. Griffin, who says she's "all about organic and natural products," checks out a brand before recommending it.

Karen Bertelsen, who has hosted entertainment and lifestyles shows on Canadian television, launched a blog, The Art of Doing Stuff, five years ago. She spends long hours at the computer keeping it going. Bertelsen says she makes about $75,000 a year from blogging. She's compiled a five-hour video tutorial, "The Art of Building a Blogging Career," available on her blog.

Some of her suggestions:

— Take beautiful photos that can be pinned to Pinterest and shared on Facebook. "You can't get away with only your bright, sparkling writing," says Bertelsen, who lives in Toronto.

— Connect with your regular viewers. Answer their questions and respond to their emails. They'll provide your bread and butter by sharing your posts, drawing others in.

— Keep projects simple. "Nobody wants to do anything that takes longer than 10 minutes or costs more than $10," says Bertelsen.

Gina Luker, who started blogging about her Nashville, Tennessee, home renovations six years ago at The Shabby Creek Cottage, continues to write about DIY and home improvements, pulling in a six-figure annual salary.

In the beginning, she wrote about her life, but quickly learned that readers preferred advice and tutorials. Like Bertelsen, she recommends writing about the simple "how to" projects that people search for on the Internet.

"The biggest traffic on my blog comes from very, very, very basic ideas — how to sew a pillow and how to paint a room. The basic things in life. That's what people Google. They don't Google how to make an origami peacock wreath," Luker says.

Two more tips:

— Learn everything you can about SEOs - that's Search Engine Optimization, the process by which blogs and other websites appear in an Internet search.

— And write content that doesn't get dated. Luker compares it to a good recipe: "Your grandmother's cookbook . you can still make those recipes today."

Finally, Luker gets company sponsorships because she works months in advance; companies know when her monthly DIY furniture or sewing projects will run, and can plan their sponsorships accordingly.

"Most bloggers work day to day or week to week. I work months ahead. I work more with a magazine mentality," she says.

Even though there are lots of craft bloggers, Luker says there's room for more. And if you have something to say, start a blog today — that's what she tells her two daughters, the youngest of whom is 15. Blog through college, she tells them, and when you graduate, "you won't be starting from scratch like everyone else."

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Online:

www.theartofdoingstuff.com

http://modpodgerocksblog.com

http://www.overthrowmartha.com

www.theshabbycreekcottage.com

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