Can Your Blog Make You Money?

laptop.jpgA few years ago I was on a training course run by the NUJ for freelance writers. One of the subjects covered was how to make money from your blog, it was really popular among the freelancers, and for very good reasons. In this digital age it’s harder and harder to get work unless you have a great online showcase. So, the theory goes, if you’re spending all this time investing in your blog / website or social media it should earn its keep. So, how do you earn money from your blog? I stopped to think about the ways my blog makes me money and here’s just a few of the strategies I’ve tried, with varying degrees of success.

  1. Sponsored content.If a company sends you stuff for free and you write about it on your blog, that’s sponsored content. This is one of the most common ways  bloggers work for free. It’s not unusual for a craft blogger to be sent yarn, crochet hooks or books. They  might be asked to design a pattern and share it on their blog (or the company’s website) –  a great way to try out new yarns and tools – and great free endorsement for the company. Keep a note of the value of “free stuff” you’re sent, it might count as income when you complete your tax return. Ask yourself how much free work you’re prepared to undertake and look carefully at ways it might lead to a paid commission. Here’s a great post from Stephanie Lau, which shows how to credit those freebies and still create fabulous content. Most of the sponsored content on this blog is product reviews. Often I’ll approach a publisher directly and request a review copy of a new book I think my readers might like. Sometimes PR companies offer to send me stuff they think I might want to try. I’m happy with this arrangement and it works for me.
  2. Advertorial. You’ll be familiar with this if you ever read glossy magazines; when you think you’re reading a great article and suddenly realise it’s just a clever  advert. The best advertorial weaves a story  and makes you think this is a product (or products you can’t do without). If you are interested in how to write “killer” advertorial, this post is a great example of how it can be done well*. You are more likely to be paid for advertorial if you have a measurable following or can demonstrate the extent of your readership. It’s good practice to let readers know you’re being paid to write content, don’t try and pretend you just “went out and bought” that top of the range model or latest “must have” handbag, be honest and your readers will respect you more.
  3. Sidebar advertising. If there is an online shop or company you think your readers might like then a sidebar advert can be a great way to let them know about it. Decide how much you think space on your blog is worth and approach a short list of companies with your proposal. I also use the side bar to show case companies I work with as a thank you for their support. I currently have a few sidebar adverts and affiliate links (see below), I use analytics to measure how many readers click on them. I can use this to decide what kind of adverts and links are most relevant for readers of my blog and tailor content to suit.
  4. Affiliate links. There are plenty of online stores that run affiliate schemes and these can be a great way to earn extra income if you’re prepared to put in a little effort. Here’s another post by Stephanie Lau which shows just how to make affiliate links relevant to your content. Sidebar links and affiliate links can be an easy way to earn passive income (or money for doing nothing!) Once you’ve set up your links and adverts you’ll earn money every time a reader clicks through and buys. This only works successfully if you choose links and ads that are relevant to your readers. By analysing who clicks where on my website  I’ve discovered my readers are far more likely to click through to small independent shops than the “big boys” like Amazon or Love Knitting. This has helped me plan a marketing strategy for the year ahead which is more likely to bring me income.
  5. Paid Content. Unlike most  “guest blogging”, where you might be invited to write content for another  blog for free (or in return for “exposure bucks”**). Paid content actually rewards you for the work you do. There are lots of online journals and websites which pay writers. You can find lists online or get yourself a listing in online directories such as the NUJ Freelance Directory (for members only). If you are approached to write blog posts, contribute free patterns or tutorials think about how much time you spend creating that content and ask yourself how much you are prepared to give away for free.

There are literally hundreds more ways you can make money from your blog and there are lots of websites that can give you tips and ideas. You might want to head over to Kat Goldin’s blog and read this piece on passive income streams which was written with designers in mind. Also worth reading, this article from Standard Issue magazine talks about the role of “the influencer” and is well worth a read for anyone thinking of ways to make money from their online presence.

Will you lose readers if you start placing adverts, accepting sponsored content and using affiliate links? Not if you are honest about it and keep your readers entertained. Telling them about a great product and then giving them a link to where they can buy it is really helpful, and if it earns you a few pennies along the way then it’s a “win win”. Take a fresh look at your favourite blogs and podcasts, take note of how they use sponsored content, ads and affiliate links. Perhaps start with a product review or  include a recommendation in your newsletter. Try to avoid the “Yes, I’m being paid to tell you about this, but honestly,  I’d tell you anyway because I love it” trap. Instead tell your readers why you think they’d  like it and how it helped you.

Do you make money from your blog? I’d love to know what works (and what doesn’t) for you.

Photo credit: Dai KE for Unsplash

*I’ve no idea if this is a genuine post or if it’s sponsored / paid for content. But it’s  perfect example of how to weave product descriptions into your blog in an engaging way.

** Exposure bucks – a fantasy currency paid by big companies in return for your time, skills and effort. Sadly banks and supermarkets don’t accept this as legal tender so be careful how much work  you undertake for “free publicity”, links to your website or shout outs on  social media. 

 

A Weekend in Pictures

Weekends are for sitting by the fire, reading books, drinking coffee and indulgence. At least that’s the plan. It rarely happens in this house! I’ve been indulging in a lazy weekend, relishing time alone with just box sets and chick lit for company.

boots-and-books

I cleaned my boots – oh that colour! These boots make me smile every time I wear them. . It’s just a bonus that my scarf is all matchy matchy! Note to self, if you decide to walk over the fields to buy the weekend papers, don’t wear suede boots!

coffee-fireside

I made a pot of coffee and sat by the fire. I read trashy chick lit on my  Kindle and I watched  Greys Anatomy (again).

fire-and-wine

I did some weeding, and when it got dark I came inside. I opened a bottle of wine and sat by the fire. I read the  papers and I watched Greys Anatomy (again).

rice-pud

I ate left overs for breakfast. I did as I pleased. I gave myself permission to step off the work / design / housework treadmill. I had the best weekend. If this is slow living I am definitely happy in the slow lane. I hope your weekend was happy too.

Here’s to Monday x

Always and Forever

mr-and-mrsThirty years ago I met this man, fell in love, built a home and made a family. We’re still together, living in harmony, wedded bliss, whatever you want to call it. As soon as I met him I knew he was “the one”. Mr T’s version might be slightly different, a beer fuelled weekend in which I snared him with my cheeky grin and my excellent aim with a snowball. It’s been hard work, how he puts up with me I’ll never know – and me – well I must have the patience of a saint!

University friends persuaded me to tag along on a weekend to Yorkshire, we stayed at the Crown. Mr T turned up (an ex student keen to catch up with friends). Something clicked and we’ve been a couple ever since. It’s a proper old fashioned love story. The photo above was taken a couple of years later when we returned for a trip down “memory lane”. I’ve watched friends fall in love, fall out of love and if I knew the “secret” to a happy marriage I’d bottle it. We fight, we make up, we disagree. I nag, he’s lazy. I can’t bear injustice, he likes to watch Dave. I can’t resist a “house” programme, he hates bullies (and wives who interrupt when the 6 Nations is on).

holding-hands

But some how it’s worked for us. We laugh ( a lot), we love (frequently) and he’s still my best friend. So this post is for Mr T. Thank you for being the most amazing, generous, kind, wickedly funny friend I could wish for.

Here’s to the next 30 years xxx

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So, British Hygge Is a Thing Now?

hygge-handsLast year’s obsession with all things Hygge in the UK fascinated me. Everyone it seemed was trying to find a way “do hygge”.  Knitters and crocheters were posting almost daily photos on Instagram of themselves with candles, blankets and knitting. If they could factor in a woodburning stove as well, and a glass of wine it seemed they must be in Hygge heaven. Almost  every yarn enthusiast I follow on social media got a book about “It” for Christmas, and my Danish friends (there is a quite a big middle aged Danish contingent in Cheshire – not sure why), were equally amused and aghast at the phenomenon. One friend showed me a clip of a knitting podcaster struggling to pronounce the word, trying “higgy”  and “higg yee” before settling on “higg”. “Well, she clearly hasn’t read the book she’s reviewing – there is a guide to pronunciation on page 7″ said my grumpy friend Trine.

So, why are the English (and it does seem to be a thing I’ve noticed among English friends rather than Scottish or Welsh), so obsessed with this idea? Have we fought against cold, wet winters for so long that the sudden idea of getting cosy and embracing winter is appealing? I am usually immune to trends and fashion (I still wear boot leg jeans and my phone is 8 years old) and so I have observed the growing interest in all things Scandi from a distance. I watched Borgen, but I’ve never seen the Killing or the Bridge. I’ve been to Copenhagen and loved it, but the idea of deliberately trying to”make” or “do” Hygge had never occurred to me. Then,  I posted a photo on twitter and someone commented “That is so British Hygge”. I think it was meant to be a compliment.  Here’s the offending photo.

woodburner

It seems I am the epitome of British  Hygge without even realising it.  I’m still not sure if it’s a compliment or an observation. But my immediate reaction is one of  denial. This is just what I do, I work from home, I have Reynauds, I need to be warm. The woodburner is our main source of heating, this is just our “normal”.   In an effort to discover more about this new phenomenon, I googled “British Hygge”.  Try it for yourself, you’ll be swept down a rabbit hole of blogs, articles and page upon page of advice for how to bring the H word into your life.

There is even a helpful blog, full of tips and advice on creating a cosy existence the British way.  Eager Brits have stolen the frankly, untranslatable concept of Hygge and created a version for themselves in which the deliberate act of making yourself cosy is celebrated. It seems the antithesis of what my Danish friends have tried to convey. One said “Hygge is a feeling of bliss and contentment you get when everything is just right, it is a state of mind”. The lovely Trine, a 63 year old Dane who has lived here for almost 40 years told me that “Hygge happens”, you can’t buy it or make it. “It’s a state of being” she told me, not a product you can buy or make at will.

So has Hygge been hijacked by the British media to sell us an idea. Is it the “new mindfulness”? Or just a publishing ploy  to make us buy self help books disguised as  how to be Hygge? Or is the fascination with all things Nordic part of a wider desire to find happiness and contentment in the every day? I’m still unsure.  My first encounter with the term came in 2015 when I read Helen Russell’s book “The Year of Living Danishly”. I am drawn to books about ex pats (maybe it’s my innate curiosity about other people’s lives, or maybe I’m just plain nosy), and Helen Russell’s account of trying to fit in to life in Denmark, while her husband worked for Lego is engaging and amusing.  If you really want an insight into Danish life and values, forget the “how to” books and read this instead.

gathering-wood

As for me, I shall live the life I’ve always lived. I shall remain satisfied with what I have and   enjoy the simple things.  I shall spend time with people who make me happy, who value me as I am, not for what I can do for them. Above all, you will still find me hunkering down under a blanket, warmed by the fire in a room lit by candles and soft lighting until Spring. Then I shall leap forth, weed the garden, marvel at the spring bulbs and embrace  the daylight. If that makes me the epitome of British Hygge, then so be it.

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New Post: Time to celebrate

Photo credit: Leanne Dixon for Tailormade Publishing

Photo credit: Leanne Dixon for Tailormade Publishing

Hi there, over on Granny Cool, you can read all about my latest designs for Inside Crochet magazine. Click here for the full story and while you’re there, don’t forget to subscribe to my new blog for all the latest news and updates.

Tracey x

Learn to Crochet Workshops 2015

7th March 2015 Gallery Artemis, Cockermouth Cumbria – Learn to Crochet for Complete Beginners

I’m pleased to announce my first confirmed date for 2015 will be in my adopted home town of Cockermouth, Cumbria.

Gallery Artemis is a contemporary gallery and art space which supports local artists and makers and sells a range of jewellery, decorative pieces and paintings by local artists.

The class costs £45, which includes all the tools and materials you’ll need on the day. In addition to the basic skills and stitches, you’ll take away a kit to make a pair of wrist warmers.

The course runs from 10am until 4pm, with a break for lunch. All refreshments are provided, but please bring a packed lunch (or buy from one of the many delicious eateries on or near Main St).

You can book directly with Gallery Artemis by phone, or if you’re nearby why not pop in and take a peek at current exhibits, which include some gorgeous fused glass piece by my friend Helen, and my own boiled wool purses. A full listing and course description is available here.

Cockermouth is well served by public transport and has plenty of local parking. It is familiar to many yarn lovers as the home of Woolfest. I’ll be in Cockermouth all weekend, so if you’re tempted by the chance to learn to crochet, but will be travelling some distance, why not make a weekend of it? I’ll be happy to point you in the direction of some great local sites for yarn lovers, such as The Wool Clip in nearby Caldbeck.

For more details, you can email me (todhunter63[at]gmail.com or contact Yvette at the Gallery on 01900 267090

Hope to see you there.

2015 Diary Dates

plush fibreMy 2015 diary is already filling up and I wanted to share a couple of events with you. The first is a brand new show in Coventry in March*, called p – Lush, it’s a celebration of everything Alpaca. Organised by a lovely group of ladies – just take a look at their twitter or facebook – their humour and enthusiasm just shines through in every post.  This is going to be one event I shall find it hard to miss.

I pasted below a couple of extracts from their press release to whet your appetite

The shows covers fibre art, luxury creations that speak to you, materials and products to make beautiful things, knit, crochet and textile design, upcycling and making. 

This is no ordinary show. It’s a chance to share your designs and products, celebrate and showcase the skills that allow you to make delicious things for the people you love: products that are soft and warm and inviting – designs that are cute and clever. p-LUSH is a celebration of the slow art industry and connecting designers: share what you love with the world, Sit-n-Knit/Hook-a-Bit to pass on the skills and wisdom that define your unique work. Think alpacas and fibres, inflatable sofas and handmade, innovation and indulgence. The p-LUSH Show has it all.

There will also be workshops and 300+ alpacas showcased in the central arena. 

If you are interested in exhibiting, you can contact the organisers for booking information via their website where you’ll also find full details of exhibitors, location, tickets etc. I’ll be posting more event details over the next few weeks. As we begin the mad rush in to Christmas preparations and shopping madness (I try, but it can’t be avoided so I embrace it!) it’s good to know that a celebration of all things “slow” is there to look forward to. In fact, I’ve sent a link to advance ticket info to Mr T in the hope that I may find a little treat under the tree – why not do the same and come with me!

Follow p-LUSH on twitter  or  facebook  for all the latest news.

*p-LUSH runs 27th and 28th March 2015 at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry as part of the British Alpaca Futurity event.

Review: Joana Vasconcelos in Manchester

Britannia 2014

Britannia 2014

I’ve been visiting Manchester Art Gallery since my student days. Mr T and I would spend many Sunday mornings “mooching” around the exhibitions, and when the teen was a “tiny tot”, few trips into town were complete without popping in to see what was new.

In recent years, the creative team behind the gallery exhibitions have brought a vibrancy to the gallery, fresh, modern and fun are words I use to describe the space to people who aren’t familiar with this “gem” (alongside the traditional pieces in the collection which are on permanent display).

I had  been looking forward to visiting the latest exhibition, Joana Vasconcelos’ Time Machine  and when I heard that a curator tour and talk by Emma Varnam had been organised as part of the “Thursday Late” series I knew this was the perfect opportunity to make a visit (I’ll be honest, the first of many, I already have plans to go back and to take the Teen when she comes home for Easter.

Big Booby 2

Big Booby 2

I’ve written quite a long piece here, although it hardly seems to do the exhibition justice. You really need to see it for yourself. These photos are only a small snapshot of what is on display – and I’ve mostly included the textile pieces – there’s much more to see throughout the gallery.

Bestie 2014

Bestie 2014

‘Joana Vasconcelos: Time Machine’

Described by the gallery as “seductive and subversive”, Joana Vasconcelos has brought her  large-scale sculptures to Manchester for an exclusive site specific exhibition which runs until 1st June. This major new show features over twenty of the Portuguese artist’s most significant sculptures, which fill the gallery’s major exhibition spaces, adorn the exterior of the gallery and can also be found within the gallery’s permanent collection in spaces across the whole gallery building. It’s a breathtaking sight to walk into the building and see Britannia in all her glory!

Britannia (2014) is made up of  brightly coloured organic forms that cascade down the  stairs from the main exhibition galleries and spill over the balconies into the atrium. Britannia is composed of many fabric elements including knitting and crochet, fine silks and cotton velvets (referred to as Manchester cloth across much of the world), recycled clothes and industrially produced textiles, embellished with Portuguese tassels, crystals and beads in a riotous patchwork of patterns, shapes and textures.hanging. Our enthusiastic curator described how this new piece, from the iconic ‘Valkyries’ series is inspired by a previous work, Contamination, which was originally conceived for the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo in 2008 and reconfigured for the historic Palazzo Grassi in Venice in 2011. Listening to the curator describe how the piece was commissioned and installed was mesmerising. I would never have thought the huge pieces were held together with zips! Pom poms, fringing, fur yarn all feature in a playful and quirky piece which really defies description no matter how hard I try.

Tutti Frutti 2011

Tutti Frutti 2011

Two of my favourite pieces, The sculptures Tutti Frutti (2011) and Fruit Cake (2011) from the series “Treats” are positioned outside the gallery  on either side of the building (Princess Street and Nicholas Street). These works, an oversized ice-cream cone and a giant cupcake, are made from plastic toys used by children to cast shapes in sand and they are truly captivating. It’s rare to see small children slow down as they approach the gallery building, but I watched mothers with pushchairs stand while their little ones simply gazed at the huge sculptural ice cram cornet.

Fruit Cake 2011

Fruit Cake 2011

Quoted in the press release I received about the event Joana Vasconcelos says: “It is a privilege to see my work go on show in Manchester Art Gallery’s remarkable spaces. I am particularly proud of the dialogue established between Manchester Art Gallery’s collection and my works, as well as the interaction between the city’s history and traditions and other realities of entirely different provenances – such as those specific to my homeland. Time Machine will certainly be one of the most challenging and noteworthy shows of my career.”

Bond Girl 2014

Bond Girl 2014

About Joana Vasconcelos

Joana Vasconcelos is a Portuguese artist, born in Paris in 1971, who lives and works in Lisbon, Portugal. Primarily a sculptor, she is renowned for her sense of scale, choice of materials and mastery of colour. A meticulous craftsmanship connects all her work which is ambitious, seductive, humorous and exuberant. She achieved major international recognition when her sculpture The Bride, a 5m high chandelier comprised of 25,000 tampons, was exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 2005. Since then her career has gone from strength to strength including recent solo exhibitions at the Château de Versailles in 2012 (where she was the first woman and the youngest artist ever to exhibit work), Palácio Nacional da Ajuda, Lisbon in 2013 and Trafaria Praia, the Portuguese Pavillion at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013.

 

Photo Credits: Pictures For Press

Off the Needles: Patience Wrap

Patience_Wrap_Dec_2013I called this design “Patience” because even though it’s very simple, it takes a bit of time to get the required length! The yarn is a combination of Rowan’s  Kidsilk Haze and Fine Lace. Both yarns are gorgeous on their own, but put one strand of each together and you get a soft, hazy yarn which has a lovely translucent quality. As always Claire Montgomerie’s eye for detail and Britt Spring’s gorgeous photography really show this design off, but I’ve chosen to share one of the photos I took before it was posted. I love the way the light shines through, in fact I think this would make a perfect wedding shawl. Light and easy to pop in your bag, but stunning when the weather turns cooler.

You can find the pattern in the newly published Knitting Collection Volume 1, which is available in most newsagents right now. Some of the projects are listed on Ravelry, but it’s not a complete list, so do look out for it in the shops.

I took my sample along to knit group to show off and soon realised it looked much better on my friend that it did on me! So now it has a new home and I’ve started work on one for myself. However, with loads of commissions, new book plans and huge garden aspirations this summer it’s unlikely to be finished before next Christmas!

 

Happy New Year

I hope all of you have a wonderful start to 2014, thank you to everyone who has sent good wishes. I’ll be back soon with news of designs, what’s been on my hook over Christmas and some a couple of new patterns for you to try out.

Best wishes and joy to you all.

Tracey x

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  • Cyanotype and crochet. One quick snap from today's workshop with @hannahlambtextileartist . Always good to step out of your comfort zone. @prettypatches_mag this may find it's way into new stitched pieces and I found a use for my extensive doily collection!!
#cyanotype #hannahlambtextileartist #saltaire #print #crochet #crochetgirlgang #igcrochet  #printing #alternativeprocess #sunprints #textileart #blueprints #stitchcraftandscissory #bakingandmaking #patchworkandplace #workshop Is it ok to have needle case envy? I'm having all kinds of crafty fun and frolics here in Saltaire, but instead of photos of early cyanotype experiments. I'll just leave you with this, it belongs to another lovely lady on the course. I think she'd notice if it fell in my bag!
#bakingandmaking #needlecraft #embroidery #ecoprint #textilesdesign #stitchcraftandscissory #slowstitch #theartofslowliving #textlearts #needlecase h Wind dropped, sun came out & I pulled on my new wellies so I could fill the log basket, pull leeks for soup & then get back to my knitting. Going offline for a couple of days as I'm off to Saltaire for a stitching workshop with the very talented @hannahlambtextileartist . See you all next week.
#sealsalt  #wearingseasalt #bakingandmaking #mysimplething #slowliving #thisthingcalledslowliving #theartofslowliving #searchwandercollect #winterstories #makingwinter #thewayweliveinthecountry  #howweliveinthecountry Books and coffee. Who cares it's too wet for a walk. Today's priorities: reading, knitting & coffee, lots of coffee... then baking...
#coffee #caffeine #coffeelover #booklover #booksforcooks #booksaremybag #bibliophile #booksandcoffee #theartofslowliving #slowlived #thisthingcalledslowliving  #bakingandmaking Throwback. One of my earliest published paterns, back when I wasn't sure my dabbling in design would come to anything, Knitting magazine commissioned these & my sabbatical turned into a full blown career change. I've never regretted my decision. Knitted in Debbie Bliss Rialto 4 ply I still wear them, sadly the gorgeous wellies are no more (link to story in profile).
#yarnlovechallenge #knitlove #socklove #sockknittersofinstagram #toeupsocks #tbt #throwbackthursday #littlestoriesofmylife #thisthingcalledslowliving  #theartofslowliving #slowlived #bakingandmaking #nestandflourish #livesimple #ilsejacobsen #myredwellies "Holding small things in your hand while wearing wrist warmers" 
Today's #yarnlovechallenge is "currently wearing" & as I don't do selfies you'll have to make like this is radio and imagine me in my handknitted socks, hat, scarf, jumper and of course wrist warmers as I try and get the veg patch into some kind of order before spring planting!
Lovely photo of my hands by my lovely friend Andrea Ellison x
#britishwool #britishyarn A hand made home. Joining in with #yarnlovechallenge today. Our home is filled with hand made "stuff", knitting, crochet, pottery, wooden furniture made by Mr T... it's all pretty understated ... no garish brights, few pastels but plenty of neutrals and texture in natural materials.
#britishwool #britishyarn #knittersofinstagram #crochetlove #slowliving #thisthingcalledslowliving #bakingandmaking #interiordesign #crochetcushion Beside the sea. Today's #yarnlovechallenge prompt is "out and about", so here's me on the beach in all the hand knits (&crochet) again. 
#knittersofinstagram #crochet #britishwool #britishyarn #slowliving #thisthingcalledslowliving Spring has sprung (at least it's trying) which means a harvest of salad leaves for lunch - because you'd  be surprised how many common garden weeds are edible and delicious! So weeding is no longer a chore - it's a means to free food for the table!
#forestgarden #ediblegarden #gardenersofinstagram #eatweeds #saladcrisis #slowliving #thisthingcalledslowliving #theartofslowliving #slowlived #mysimplething #theslowdowncollective #thewayweliveinthecountry #howweliveinthecountry  #seekthesimplicity #bakingandmaking #backyardgarden #foodforfree #foraging
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