Field Report: Schoolhouse Craft’s Blogger’s Summer Camp

On Friday, Shoshanna and I headed to Schoolhouse Craft’s Blogger’s Summer Camp. We got to meet some local crafty-type bloggers (professional, aspiring, and in-between), and share a bit about what we’ve learned about blogging, from creating blogs for clients to running our own.

There were two panels, lunch, and time for some getting to know each other (and photo booth fun). Marlo from Schoolhouse Craft had decorated everything charmingly. My favorite were the little flickering campfires at each table:

schoolhouse craft campfire

campshc

Panel I: How to Make Time to Blog
Arianne Foulks of Aeolidia
Blair Stocker of Wise Craft
Andie Powers of Assemble
Megan Reardon of Not Martha (whose blog I’ve been reading for a decade!)

Panel II: The Myths and Realities of Monetizing Your Blog
Marie LeBaron of Make and Takes
Melanie Biehle of Inward Facing Girl 
Moorea Seal of Moorea Seal

panel1 panel1-close panel1-close2

Panel I ended up being more just about how to blog, what tips n’ tricks we had, what programs we used, etc. I wish we had had more work/life balance type questions, but I do think our audience was pretty curious about how it all works.

Some of the tips I shared (and some I didn’t get around to sharing) during the panel:

  • Pre-scheduling posts is my favorite way to keep the blog from taking over my life! I try to work on a bunch of posts at once when I have the time and motivation, and then I’m under less pressure to come up with new post ideas each week. I can add a new post to the schedule when I’m inspired or when something interesting comes up.
  • Using the WordPress Editorial Calendar plugin makes it easy to see what days have an article ready to go, which I have a plan for but are not ready to post, and what days need a post idea. It’s also really easy to drag and drop post titles on the calendar to rearrange publishing dates.
  • Getting help is the best! Our team at Aeolidia help me with blog posts, and each of their posts is a gift of free time to me.
  • I like killing two birds with one stone by taking my communication with clients and turning it into blog posts. For instance, if there is some stock advice we give our clients, sometimes I will edit that and share it as a blog post. Or if a client asks me a new and interesting question, I’ll research it and explain it to her, then share it with our blog readers.
  • Have a reasonable blogging schedule. We blog twice a week, since blogging is just an “extra” for us, not our main occupation. I’m sure once a week would be fine for us as well, but we have so many post ideas, we’re sticking to twice for now. As a reader, I’d rather read two great blog posts a week than two good ones and three filler posts.
  • Have a good method for saving blog post ideas, notes, research, and drafts. My fleshed-out and scheduled post drafts are all saved in WordPress, ready to finish up and post, while my ideas and notes are saved in Evernote, where I can add to them whenever I have an idea, using my phone or iPad when not on my computer.

We also talked a bit about taking and preparing photos for blogs. Megan mentioned a link she’d shared for using LAB color, and also encouraged the use of actions in Photoshop to save doing repetitive work with multiple photos. I suggested doing all photo adjustments in layers, so they can easily be adjusted, removed, or duplicated to a second photo, and Andie was quite gung-ho about using Adobe’s online services, including Lightroom, which saves her tons of time.

Somehow, during the work/life balance panel, we missed out on the best question! Here was my answer:

If you could give one bit of advice to new bloggers on how to balance life and blogging, what would it be?

I’m going to stick to the topic of balancing life and being self-employed, since the blog is really the least of my problems. I recently read an article that discussed how research has shown that there is one personality trait that leads to success: conscientiousness. That and practicing your self-discipline will get you anywhere! Yes, I’m talking about ignoring online distractions, which can be so hard when researching blog posts, right? Don’t fall down that rabbit hole!

[P.S. I have an article about self-discipline coming up on the Oh My! blog]

Photo booth with speakers

Clockwise from top left: Marlo, Blair, Moorea, Melanie, Andie, Andrea, Marie, Megan, Arianne (me!)

yayowl

Blog camp was so much fun! I’m really looking forward to the 4th annual Fall School House Craft Conference for creative entrepreneurs September 14 & 15. Tickets for that are on sale now, if you’d like to come visit us in Seattle!

All photos with permission from Schoolhouse Craft, except for the first ( by me) and the last (by Shoshanna).

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