Friday, January 10, 2020

Blogging

photo courtesy edgetech.com


Blogging started for me with the discovery of sewing bloggers back around 2007. I had belonged to sewing forums for some time and it was natural curiosity that made me click on that first link to a blog. I am 99% sure it was The Sewing Divas.  I was hooked. I found women who, like myself,  were passionate about sewing garments. Living in much isolation in the Northern Adirondacks in NY state gave me lots of time to sew and lots of time to read. These blogs were the human connection to my passion and pastime. I searched for more blogs and eventually started writing my own. Back then they were of great substance, being written out of a driving desire to share one's passion. There was no monetization, no Indie pattern makers, no fangurls, just those seeking to share their most favorite pastime. It was the era of The Sewing Divas, Gigi Sews, Summerset Banks and Lindsay T. You got quality information, high level tutorials and a place to comment, communicate and be part of an ardent community. (I've given you links, where possible, to these blogs so you can see just what I mean. Enjoy. ) While blogging was in it's infancy, it was also in it prime. Bloggers gained commenting followers. Those commentors started their own blogs. We communicated our sewing love and techniques to each other.

As more and more sewists began to read blogs, they began to write their own and the platform proliferated. There were "blogrolls" to connect each other and to not let anyone go unnoticed. Skills, fails,  fabric photos and successes were shared generously and sewing blogging grew. Everyone wanted to blog. Looked easy enough, right? That bandwagon was getting jumped on!




Enter monetization.

The sewing blogging world started to change. Not a good or bad thing, just evolving. With the promise and ability to use one's blog to sell to other sewists, it grew so quickly that it became the Wild, Wild West. Now I have no problem with monetization. I say go for it. However, what developed was blogging whose prime reason for existence was making money, not to share a passion, a skill, or a technique photo or even enjoy doing such.  This was not confined to just the sewing blogosphere. The substance of content of those early years became watered down.  The  experienced sewing bloggers continued to blog.  Sewing blogs grew beyond experienced sewists sharing. It was now cool to be blogging and a new demographic started publishing sewing blogs. Some were written by people just beginning to sew who were passionate about their new found hobby and impressive with their drive to learn. Others were written by new sewists as well but were highly monetized, lacked text and substance, usually had beautiful photos and lots of very misinformed tutorials. Many newbie bloggers stressed themselves with set schedules of posts to keep their followers coming. Many the conversation I read about "I don't know what to put on my blog".  For other sewing bloggers it was "I don't have enough time to blog. This is a lot of work and my husband wants to know where the money is. " It was a round robin Ponzi effort to get  clicks with blog tours, and other gimmicks because the belief was that if you did it right digitally,  you would be making six figures off your blog in no time. I really think if the passion came through on these blogs, getting clicks would not have been an issue. 

This growth of blogs for money invited  inevitable criticism which  gave rise to forums such as GOMI (GetOffMy Internet). Sites like GOMI were fed by the fangurl phenomenon, loyal followers of a blog who would defend with their last ounce of energy the greatness of a particular faux designer and her patterns and writings. Thankfully , Father Time has done his job and these sorts of blogs are dying out. The good news is that all of that ruckus did bring a new generation into sewing and I have seen some amazing things being made, particularly in the bag making arena. Newer sewists are really succeeding in that niche and have a really fresh, inspiring  vision. 

As often happens in a flooded market, the cream rose to the top and out of this phenomenon came many solid designers of patterns. Not surprisingly,  they were the ones with either industry experience, design school credentials or even both.  Seven Pines Design is my favorite of this genre. I've learned much about pattern drafting and design from her blog.  Sewing Adventures is another great blog for children's heirloom clothing and Kathy D is an expert and very popular teacher in the heirloom sewing world. There are many more designers who are experienced, credentialed and have survived. Those who did not have the sewing chops but did sport great ambition often found as time went on that they either had to step up their skill game or buhbye. And that is what many have done.  But their are other reasons some of those initial indie blogger/designers have moved on. 

Last week on a FB group of blogging sewists that I follow, much was said about traffic to these blogs having dwindled to near nothing. Clicks weren't getting clicked. A whole industry has developed of email marketing, SEO skill development and other digital techniques to drive those "customers" (not necessarily passionate sewists) to one's blog to make money. It appears the concept of blogging to make money and using just enough of a topic to make that palatable is failing. While it appears that way, I think if a blog has great content backed with passion, people will click. However, many are now using the quick hit of Instagram to share the love, instead. Blogging takes a lot more time. It is work. The blogging world is evolving once again. Influencers are using Instagram. Those who are passionate on any subject, from D.C. Politics to couture sewing use blogs. Some use both as they are not exclusive of each other but they are different animals. Blogging conventions seem to be on the decline. I remember when so many were jumping on that crazy bandwagon, such a bubble. 

About the same time as the FB blogettes, Look At Me Blogs arrived on the scene. Sewing blogs that had strong content became more personality centered. I think as sewists the majority of us love fashion. Didn't we all love playing dress up or sewing for our Barbies?  Sewing bloggers  have learned to be our own models and with DSLRs and a few lessons we're pretty good at making our new constructions look quite fashionable. But some of us really want to be models/sewing personalities as well! Some ache to be downright famous. I love looking at sewists, all styled up, in their completed garments. I like to  compliment them on how great they look and the amazing sewing they have just completed. They inspire me all the time to try what they just did. I get blown away by the challenges faced and overcome. But a whole segment of sewing bloggers traded text of sewing content  for blogs with twenty photos of themselves in  the same garment against 5 different bushes. It became boring after a bit.  Beautiful women with great sewing skills that didn't show much sewing anymore. Sigh.....I get that these more fashion oriented and less sewing oriented blogs appeal to some, maybe many. They are just not my cup of tea. We all have limited time and pick how we spend it. I would rather read Carolyn of Diary of Sewing Fanatic explain how she made her latest garment fit or how she struggled over a certain detail. I prefer not to watch Jane Doe twirl in front of the same grafitti covered cement wall 20 times in the same outfit and say nothing about construction.  Just me..........boring.

I think at this point in sew blogging evolution, it's a case of the strong have survived. A lot of people have stopped blogging completely. I get that. Life surely happens. Kids grow up and now want to wear what their friends wear, tees and jeans from Target.  Mom gets a job. People move, retire, even some dear bloggers pass away. Priorities re-prioritize.  That is all good and normal.  I am seeing  many newer sewing bloggers who are so full of passion for  their craft and write generously about it. Seven Pines Design , Star's Threads, Dressmaking Debacles, Sew Help Me, Cashmerette are all wonderful, informative, filled with youthful personality and sewing substance.  Two of the original four blogs quoted in the first paragraph, through the magic of the internet, are still here for your reading pleasure and sewing inspiration and I hope you take a moment to read them and be inspired. We know Meg of Lindsay T Sews is now working for Vogue and Summerset Banks has left sewing and blogging about it to enjoy a life filled with MUCH hiking with her family, which she blogs about a lot.  I applaud all those who have stuck through it all or have gone and come back, bloggers like Carolyn of Diary of a Sewing Fanatic, Tany's Couture et Tricot, Girls in the Garden, Rhonda Buss, the Mahogany Stylist and so so many more, far too many to mention. You bring such joy to my day. Thank you. You are the passionate sewists out there that inspire me  daily. I know you inspire thousands of others.  Your love of the self made garment comes through your blogs and you continue to inspire month after month,  year after year. 

I do think this platform has survived and will be all the stronger for it. We need to share with each other what is working. Sewists  need to have a place, unlike FB and IG, as fun as they are, that has substance, camaraderie, and inspiration. Blogs can do that. Any thoughts on the matter? Any great new blogs you would like to share? I am always looking for new sewists to either inspire or help along. This is my convo for the month of January. How do you currently feel about Insta now that it has been around for awhile? Does it make you feel inadequate with it's incredible fashion photos of sewn garments as it does many I have seen share on PR and FB? Inquiring minds want to know!
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I have finished my woolen boucle top. It is a very interesting garment. I got lots of compliments when I wore it. It's not 100% ready for primetime as I was not getting lucky finding closures for the pockets to match the rose gold zip which worked out nicely, BTW. But I got a great idea from a sewing friend and went down a different rabbit hole. As soon as my closures arrive and get installed I will get it modeled for you all and reviewed. It was a very interesting sew and I will definitely wear it a lot. Next, a blanket skirt to wear with my fleece leggings and boots. Happy Sewing......Bunny

41 comments:

  1. Well said! And I agree with your sentiments 100% I miss some of those old sewing blogs, and look forward to some of the ones you have just introduced me to!

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  2. I"m glad you are still blogging about process and challenges and how you've made things work (all those painted flowers...).
    I'm looking forward to seeing the boucle top and them the blanket skirt. Anything that keeps me warm during a Prairie winter are appreciated!

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    1. The boucle top will do it. It is warm and snuggly like and old comfy sweater!

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  3. And here I thought I was essentially alone with the new, popular blog formats. I read the blogs to admire, to learn and to congratulate those people who work at the craft. I have had little time over the last year or so to read and comment on blogs but I made a little promise to myself to set aside some time for just that. I agree with you and appreciate your comments. I know several bloggers, not those who sew per se, who are so heavily monetized that the blog loads so slowly and so cluttered with ads that no matter how many times they show photos of their dining room with different centerpieces, it does not work for me. I value my time and will use it for content. Period.

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    1. Thanks for your kind thoughts and comments, Celkalee. Thank Heavens we do get to pick where our time is spent.

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  4. According to my Blogger blogroll, I have 79 blogs listed and 27 of them have posted in the last month :( So many that are defunct now when you click through. I'll start by saying that aside from the blogs you've already listed, Sunny Gal Studio (Beth) and Sewing and Slapdashery (Jen) are faves.

    I enjoy reading sewing blogs and IG will never compare to a thorough blog post for sewing content. I want to read about the sewing! I want to know why you chose the pattern, fabric, the size. I want to know what struggles you faced and how you got past them. I want to hear about the winding road to your finished garment!!

    I don't mind IG but it's so mindless and much less engaging :( I don't remember where I saw this thing or that. The algorithm is nutso and what you saw 10 minutes ago has *poof* completely vanished. Helpful tidbits placed in stories which then expire. Meh.

    I've never really been susceptible to peer pressure in general and certainly not envy. I am grateful for those traits too! It's one thing to love a garment and see something about it that inspires you but it's another to feel negatively affected by others. I just...don't. I don't even understand how people actually perceive "influencers" as having some sort of "perfection" in their lives. It actually boggles my mind. And the people who start out with *trying* to become sewing personalities the moment they start to sew? Huh. Well, alright then...

    I started sewing and blogging in 2013. I am glad that I came in when I did and I know that a huge part of my rapid improvement in sewing skills is attributable to the abundance of quality content that was available. I like the technical goodies not just shiny modeled pics (btw, those posts with 2 lines of text and 12 pictures make me rage) and I hope that people continue to blog their sewing journey!!

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  5. Ooh and I can't wait to see the top! I think mine may have to get pushed to spring (or "spring" as I refer to it).

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    1. Thanks for your thoughts. Yes, IG and its algorithms are aggravating asn they "poof" into cyberspace. I don't have time to deal with that, either. Like you, I also do not bow to peer pressure and don't quite understand those who do, but I guess it is out there. We must have had the same sort of moms!

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  6. I'm glad you are back sewing and blogging. You've always had a unique perspective which hasn't changed. You sew interesting things. IG? Some of it I like, some not so much. The big objection I have is the stories at the top of the feed. Sewers put so much more than I can read before it moves on. A pita. It's losing it's appeal with the rise of ads. Lots of ads. At least it's still politics free. Don't get me wrong, I'm a political junkie, but not with my sewing.

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  7. So yes. I have kind of let some of the monetized blogs slip off my radar; I find myself looking for a kindred spirit in the blogsphere. Some of the not-really-blogging-anymore folks I have found on other social media (Summerset has a hiking blog? How did you find that?); but I do miss the camaraderie of sharing techniques and opinions and, well, life...that just doesn't show up on a handful of instagram pics. I am glad when my feed burner shows new posts!

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    1. Me, too, I love new posts. I knew where Summerset lived and it is not far from where we now live having moved back to NH. I looked her up and her blog popped up. Her family seriously hikes all over the country, beautiful family.

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  8. First may I say thank you for the kind words and thank you for understanding what drives my blogging is the love of sewing - plain and simple. Some things in my blogging has evolved with the times - well lit posed pictures with pretty backgrounds - though I draw the line at extensive field trips for pictures! It takes too much of my precious sewing time.

    But some things have remained - blog format similar to what it was when I began, an updated blog roll (cause you should be able to find other sewists easily), technique & fit pictures cause mmmmm that's why we sew!

    I'm starting to feel about IG like I use to feel about blogging during the height of the monetization, pretty pictures and no text timeframe. It's wearying and a little depressing. These things challenge me:
    - It seems to celebrate the photos and not the craft and I'm all about the craft, the artistry of sewing.
    - If you're good with taking a picture or selling yourself then that's what's important.
    - I hate the algorithm cause I think it's built to make you scroll longer to find the people you really want to see.
    - I'm not thrilled with stories and how they disappear in 24 hours...it's why I use them so infrequently.
    - I also HATE with a passion the reposting...so I can see an image 14x in several different stories.

    All that to say that in previous years I've blogged less and less. No process posts & jamming all of the info into one finished garment post. This year I'm going back to blogging the process. Talking about the why, the how more extensively...and then a finished garment post because that works for me. I personally think there's going to be a resurgence in sewing posts with content...I think we're swinging back that way.

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    1. Carolyn,I agree. The sewing boards I lurk on FB are showing newbie-ish sewists discovering quality blogs and just being blown away by the knowledge and depth in them. I really think a resurgence will be seen. I usually follow a similar posting routine, process posts and then the completed garment review. It just makes sense to me and I know I enjoy reading that sort of post. I am glad you are going that route.

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    2. OhEmGee don't get me started on the incessant reposting!

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    3. Thank you, Carolyn. I have enjoyed your blog for many years. And, process is the "meat" for our minds hungry for knowledge. Please keep on blogging.

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  9. IG is okay, but there is nothing like a good blog. I quit sewing around 1996 as I became a full time RN in addition to single mom of 5, and RTW was undeniably cheaper than sewing. Blogs helped me find my way back somewhere around 10 years ago, I was thrilled to find fabric, patterns, and advice all available online. Fabric stores and friends who sewed in real life were gone. Blogs are both a real resource and a wonderful dream world for me.

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  10. We also have this problem in German-speaking countries ....thats such a pity

    Susan

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  11. Interesting post- thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I find this sort of post as interesting as the sewing itself, from time to time. We are all [I think] trying to be more mindful makers, and I'm currently enjoying spreading the love via a sewing club at school [so popular I've had to spread to two days, and close my doors as I simply can't deal with the demand!] I don't see my blogging as work, post when I feel like it or when I have something to record, and treat it as fun and a sort of diary/log of my making. Annual summaries help me focus for the next year, and see how my sewing is changing. The annual SWAP helps me start in a positive, organised way, and reduces the number of impulse makes and weak choices.
    While my new job is absolutely exhausting [I need a nap for a couple of hours after work almost every day] it is also giving me space to think, space to develop my teaching, and not quite such a desperate need for the therapy of sewing...swings and roundabouts! I'm baffled by the whole monetarisation thing, and find that bloggers that go down that route quickly lose my interest- the money-grubbing tarnishes the fun imo
    Looking forward to seeing your creation

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    1. I think the "money grubbing" quickly tarnishes their own fun. When you are not passionate about the subject, it is work, dull work. You might as well be ringing a cash register at the supermarket. Hope you get some rest soon. You have been a loyal follower for many years and greatly appreciated.

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  12. You listed many of my favorites, past and present. For me, when blogs become more about the advertising, I probably won't spend a lot of time reading. Maybe. If there's real information on a technique or new use for a product, that's fine. If it's all click to buy things, probably not. And if I can't even read because so many video advertisements not even related to sewing are being loaded, I'll stop even trying to read.

    I'm thankful for those who continue to blog about their sewing. And for those who no longer blog, but left their content available.

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  13. This was an interesting post, Bunny. I'm not a fan of IG so reading sewing content blogs is what interests me. I have favorite blogs like Carolyn of DSF and you, of course, and miss others that have gone away. Thank you for continuing your informative blog that totally inspires me and many, many other passion sewists. Karen

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  14. A thoughtful post, Bunny. I am one of the "drop-outs"...life and health took precedence two years ago. But I find I miss the community I was a part of. I posted mainly about sewing, but also about what I was feeling, celebrating, cooking, worrying about, and many of my followers seemed to engage with that. I still go back to my seven years of blogging (http://fool4fabric.blogspot.com) to remember what I was doing or thinking at the time...sort of like a diary. I was never interested in monetizing or accumulating ever larger numbers of followers, rather (to my surprise!)finding a community of interesting and interested women who in many cases, became friends.

    I'm heartened to know that you, and many like you, still are blogging. I'm thinking seriously about resuming my blog, as I miss that camaraderie and connection. Thank you for the nudge!

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    1. Margy! I was thinking about you as I read Bunny's post! I miss your blog and would love to see you bring it back to life!

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    2. Margy, it is so great to hear from you. I know you had some health challenges that changed your life and that must have been so challenging with your vibrant lifestyle. You are welcome here anytime. Your style always inspired me and your sense of color for those of us of a certain age was truly inspiration. You always look marvelous and I am sure do right now. Thank you for following and I wish you the best. If you decide to return to blogging and/or sewing I will be one of many right there to cheer you on!

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  15. This may be a rather odd comparison, but I find IG is like reading manga or eating cotton candy, not very fulfilling. The book or blogging is so much more satisfying, often giving me much food for thought. Sometimes pictures are just pictures, not worth a thousand words. I appreciate your time and effort.

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  16. Thank you for your insights, humor and of course sewing passion! This is a great post and I'll reread it for sure. When I don't have time to sew, I read blogs for a fix. I'm grateful for the content rich ones that do the trick in time of need. Happy Sewing in 2020.

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    1. Oh, my, you hit the nail on the head. Happy Sewing to you too.

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  17. Another thought provoking post, thanks Bunny! I stumbled into the sewing blog world almost by accident. My blog had previously been mostly thrift style and then my participation in The Super Online Sewing Match opened the door to the sewing blogger community. Even though I was a long time sewist, I was hesitant to present my blog as anything other than 'inspiration' for sewing. I rarely discussed hiccups or details in my making process. As time went on, I gained some confidence and would share a tutorial on certain projects....they are more time consuming for sure. I have to remind myself to take photos along the way, and I often worry if my dialogue and photos are 'enough'. I guess I fear criticism about 'my' method or stress that someone will have a negative experience after 'following' my step by step tutorial.

    I've definitely been on a blogging hiatus...but I'm always thinking about returning to it. You've given me lots to think about!

    I don't post often to IG...I don't really use a cell phone much...but I do like it if I'm looking up a particular pattern. I like having a lot of different photos of a garment to look at before deciding if the pattern is for me.

    I would love to see Margy of Fool For Fabric come back. :)

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  18. I enjoy IG, I have made wonderful friends in the quilting community there. But I do so much enjoy reading a blog, whether it's a description of a trip to Italy or the details of an intricate sewing creation or just how someone's day is going. Such a human connection. It's interesting that I have dropped almost every blog that has monetizes - I followed a TON of home improvement/design blogs and I've let most of them go. Too much same old, same old. One of my favorites, though, Old Town Home, has really integrated IG beautifully. I really think Alex has got it right. Yes, he has sponsored content, but he's serious about what he's doing and not just shilling for some tool company. Anyway, glad to hear you are going to keep at it! As for me, I'm off to make the pizza dough from King Arthur Flour's blog!!

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    1. Oh, my, one of my favorites, too! I am big fan of their's having taken classes there a few times. Love their recipes.

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  19. I might have commented this recently on another post, but I really like the way Instagram and blogs can compliment each other. You get more of a personal, day to day perspective from Instagram, including what sewn garments people actually wear and insight into the process of making. Whereas blogs are great for technical detail and a thorough review of a pattern. I use both but I find I sometimes neglect my blog for the ease of use of Instagram.

    I definitely prefer blogs that lean towards technique and reviews, but as for those who can take beautiful garment photos - I'm just in awe! It's not an easy thing to do and clear photography can help illustrate a pattern or technique much better than words.

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  20. I agree, I don't "do" IG. I want content, not fluff. It's also why I do very little on facebook. Just enough to get a few free patterns. I love the inspiration and the how you got there, as I see on your blog. Better quality than quantitity! I also use pattern review frequently to get an idea of how things look on normal people.

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    1. Pattern review is such and awesome resource. Thank you for being a loyal reader.

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  21. Once again,Bunny, thank you for your right on insights. So grateful for your wisdom. Keep up the good work!

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