Posted At: October 3, 2013 1:00 p.m.
by Jessica Smith
Do it yourself (DIY) blogs have been on the rise during the past couple of years largely because of Pinterest and people’s desire to make their own projects for less. Some of the more successful blogs are seeing hundreds of thousands of views per month with very loyal followers. These bloggers are focusing on relationship building to promote their blogs to respective niche groups of people.
Crazy Little Projects was launched by Amber Price in March 2012 as a way to buy her lunch once a week and pay for the cost of her craft supplies. In a little over a year, Price has 400,000 views every month and hopes to increase that number to 750,000 by the end of the year.
Price is a stay-at-home mom with four boys. She started the blog as a creative outlet for herself. After feeling burned out from her first job at an online retail store, she wanted to move on from it.
So how does a person with no public relations background build a business from the bottom up? Using Pinterest, of course! Price uses Pinterest multiple times a day as her main source of promotion.
“I use it like crazy, and it is always my number one referrer for the day, Price said. “I pin to group boards that have tons of followers and then to my own boards as well. The second highest referrer is search engines. I work hard on SEO.”
Price also uses Facebook and features on other blogs to promote her blog. She worked as a social worker for two years before becoming a mom. Her blogging friends helped her at the beginning, and she attended conferences to learn the business side.
“I just love the business end of running a blog and enjoy that more than the actual crafting, so I spend quite a bit of time on that,” Price said. “My knowledge of SEO helped a lot from owning my business as well.”
Price said she used the Pinterest boom to increase her followers. She said Pinterest makes it easy for people to visualize their projects and gives them motivation to have a home-made project.
Price keeps her followers coming back with her “Learn to Sew” series. This how-to series brought her thousands of loyal followers. She also has periodic giveaways to help readers have fun. Price even has an advertising/PR tab on her blog complete with a media kit.
In February 2010, Staci Wendland started her own DIY blog, Crafty Staci. At the end of the first month, she had 42 page views. Now she is up to 46,000 views per month. Wendland said she was naïve about the crafting world and blogs when she first started. She chose a platform and jumped in hoping at least a few people in real life would read it.
“Every month that number [of views] would creep a little higher, and I was just amazed that anyone who didn’t know me would take the time to read my little blog,” Wendland said. “I also began receiving notice from other bloggers. I was featured on their blogs, linking back to mine, and my readership continued to grow.”
“As long as readers feel like there’s something of value to discover, they keep coming back,” Wendland said. “I also try to participate in social media regularly. The challenge there is that there are so many different venues, but I’ve tried to choose two or three and appear there regularly.”
Wendland posts consistently so her readers will keep coming back for new content. She varies her projects between DIY crafts, cooking and reviews to maintain a relationship with her followers. Responding to comments is a top priority.
“If a reader asks a question, I make sure to answer it,” Wendland said. “It’s the least I can do for someone who is taking the time to read what I’ve written.”
Wendland said DIY is back in a big way. She said part of the reason is the economic downturn, as well as the advent of Pinterest, but the majority of it has to do with people finally realizing that DIY doesn’t always require a complicated pattern, expensive tools or a lot of time.
“I try to offer projects that aren’t difficult or intimidating, so readers will try them and realize they can be creative,” Wendland said. “It’s such a satisfying experience to know you made something with your own hands that you can use and enjoy.”
While a degree in communications is helpful, managing a DIY blog, Tracie Stoll didn’t learn about blogging until years after she graduated from the University of Dayton in 1995. She said blogging and website management were non-existent when she was in school. Stoll runs “Cleverly Inspired” where she posts tutorials to home improvement projects, recipes and crafts. She has been featured in Seventeen magazine, Better Homes and Gardens magazine and CNN Living.
Stoll said her communications major and digital arts minor prepared her for writing posts and taking photographs of her projects. In particular, her writing courses helped her to find her voice as a blogger.
“Blogging is so personal, and you have to make it your voice,” Stoll said. “My background helped me get my viewpoint out there. You have to connect in some way, even when you’re talking about chalkboard paint. It builds your readership. I learned all of those things in my communication classes.”
Cleverly Inspired averages 250,000 page views a month, but right before the holidays the average can increase to 450,000. Stoll said that since she is in a niche blogging community, most of her readers are moms. She said most moms aren’t home as much during the summer, but when the holidays roll around they are always looking for new projects.
Stoll operates her blog on a “meat and potatoes” format. She usually tries to post on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with the meat of the posts on Wednesday. Stoll said her younger followers tend to be on Instagram, and the older generation follows on Facebook. She encourages other bloggers to be well-versed in social media to help their blogs in the long run.
“Wednesday afternoon is the highest peak of the week to share, which is kind of random,” Stoll said. “Every time I share a blog post I share it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. My goal is not to do all the social media sites, but to do the ones I know and do them really well.”
Pinterest is a big contributor to getting people to Cleverly Inspired, comprising almost three-fourths of its traffic, but Stoll said there are some demons to Pinterest. She said other blogs would post her pictures or ideas on their blog and not give credit. In response, Stoll watermarks her pictures to help secure her content.
“You have to be willing to be a little bit ripped off,” Stoll said. “It’s your content, but if somebody else blogs about it, they’re going to post it to their site. Eighty percent of the time I get the traffic from it, but there are some times where they will take my pictures even though they are watermarked and take the credit.”
DIY Blogging Success
All three blogs started with a single idea: to have a creative outlet that inspires other crafters. These women created a brand identity to a niche group. They promoted their businesses and created relationships with their followers. Their PR experience might be minimal, but they have shown that with a little research, dedication and passion people will respond.