Last summer, I participated in the Plum and June 2013 New Blogger Blog Hop, run by Beth over at Plum and June. In many ways, it was a whirlwind. It’s easy to feel sometimes that modern quilt blogging is a saturated, overly competitive field. I mean, you already figured out you weren’t going to be the next Smitten Kitchen. But the sheer number of modern quilting blogs can be surprising if you’re just starting out. It’s easy to feel like you are writing into a void–like you’re alone in a crowd of established bloggers and no one cares what you are doing and writing about.
Take heart, you of small sewing machine and small blog. Your voice and your blog are vital in this wide and growing community of modern sewists and makers. Your. blog. matters. Because someone out there reading it just might be your new friend. “How can I make blogging friends?” you wonder. “The only person who ever comments on my blog is my cat.” Your cat notwithstanding, there are some habits you can develop as a blogger that can make you feel like you are part of this thriving, chatty community.
Community-building Habit #1: Respond to comments. (via email.) If you’re a WordPress blogger like I am, this may take just a bit of extra copy-paste email address action in Gmail. But it’s so worth it to respond to even a few comments on every post. Isn’t it fun when you get an email from Rachel, or Beth, or Molli Sparkles? Sometimes a blogger’s reply to a comment can even spark a further email conversation. Be open; be willing to keep talking, if you’re feeling it.
Community-Building Habit #2: Be a Joiner. (within reason.) When Ashley emailed me in the midst of the blog hop last summer, saying “can we start a bee?” I was a little foot-draggy. I’m not…a good manager of people. But Ashley’s enthusiasm is, as you may know, contagious, and we ended up asking the participants in last summer’s blog hop if they would be interested in starting a bee. The response was quick and solid–after a couple of hours we had a baker’s dozen participants, and a whole year and a month’s worth of quilting ahead. (And I think some of the international quilters even started their own global bee!) We’re winding down now, on our last four months of Scrapbeelicious blocks, but it’s been so fun to make blocks for these skilled and creative quilters every month.
This is not to say you should say yes to everything. If you’re already feeling like you don’t have time to do your own work, you know you need to say a kind, firm, “no thank you but you guys have fun without me.” But if you’ve never joined a collaborative effort such as a bee–it’s a great way to get to know some people a little bit better. (Just ask me how I feel about the ladies in my do. Good Stitches circle.) (hint: it’s all pink and purple hearts.)
Community-Building Habit #3: Join a guild. (no, really just do it.) No excuses. We are all wallflowers who would rather sit at our sewing machines. But real-life connections can help you grow your quilting community AND your blog, all at once. There are a handful of really talented and creative likeminded bloggers in my guild and putting faces to their blog handles helped me feel much more connected to them. Plus their quilts are all so much more amazing in person. Go to a guild meeting and be nice, and I promise they will be nice back.
No local guild? Think about starting one. I have a brave friend who is starting one up in the coming month. The guild I am a member of was started once upon a time by three people who were tired of driving, too. These things start somewhere; why not with you? At the very least visit your local quilt shop, buy a spool of Aurifil, and try to strike up a conversation with the person who takes your money!
Community-Building Habit #4: Remember that other small bloggers are people too. That means when someone you haven’t yet met comments on your blog, their blog is worth a visit (and perhaps a Bloglovin’ follow, and maybe a comment on their next post). I’ve gotten out of this habit lately and it’s like missing out on a daily run–it is a great way to see what other people are up to, and a fantastic way to meet other people who are doing the same thing you are doing in the same space.
Community-Building Habit #5, and the last: Be open. (True Colors, and all.) It took me thirty years to learn this, but friendships don’t happen unless potential friends sense that you’re open to them. Blogging friendships follow this rule too. It’s easy to be standoffish and closed-off. Be open (within reason, within safety, within comfort–we’ve all seen Catfish) to other people with similar tastes, interests, talents, friends, and you’ll be surprised what develops.
PS: for more information on the 2014 Blog Hop, please click the button at the tip-top of this post! I 100% recommend participating if you are a new modern quilting blogger.