Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Finished make :: 24 days of Christmas makes - wrap up!

So I made it to the end of my 24 days of Christmas makes! I've taken a bit of time off from making and blogging to recover.

Aside from the fun I had making all these things I learned quite a bit about blogging, photographing my makes and a bit about social media too.

But before I get to that here's all my 24 makes all in one place ...

From left to right
Row 1
1. Retro felt bauble
2. Wooden beaded stars
3. Candy cane reindeer
4. Crochet wreath
Row 2
5. Stitched gift tag
6. Mince pies
7. Crochet penguin
8. Twig stars
9. Beaded Christmas card
Row 3
10. Fabric hearts
11. Yarn wrapped tree
12. Crochet robin bauble
13. Chunky Hat
14. Ivy wreath
Row 4
15. Crochet reindeer
16. Holly garland
17. Scandinavian figurines
18. Pantomime costume
19. Dala horse
Row 5
20. Glittery wooden baubles
21, Cardboard trees
22. Felt tree Christmas card
23. Mini monogrammed stocking
24. Christmas tree topper

It's hard to pick a favourite, but I particularly like the felt holly garland and the beaded Christmas card.

So what did I learn from doing all this?

Writing content
Well making and blogging about it practically every day for a month whilst working and having a home and social life at Christmas time is hard! (I'm sure many of you could have told me that).

I started off putting together blog posts about 10 days before the start of December and had some days off work which I knew I could happily fill with making so I had all the best intentions to keep ahead of things but ... I got a bit lazy about 2/3 of the way through and ... well I thought I'd be OK and catch up ... but I never really did.

So what I learned (apart from the hard work) is to make sure that I plan and schedule content in advance and stick to that schedule. Oh and don't be too ambitious! So many makes in 24 days pushed me in a good way - it allowed me to learn lessons but I didn't produce my best makes and didn't produce my best blog posts - some were rather rushed and I think you can really tell especially from the quality of the photos, which brings me on to ...

Taking photos
What's the point of making something, especially if you are also giving a tutorial, if you can't show off how great what you've made looks? Well in my rush to finish some of my makes I was making them in the evening in my not very well lit living room and taking just a few photos on my iPhone which meant that there were poorly shot, sometimes out of focus with bad compositions and lack of edited.

Where I did take my time I think I produced some lovely photos. Of all of them I think the photos of the Ivy Wreath were some of the best - I took time to photograph in daylight and style the finished make (albeit by just hanging it on my door on a sunny day!)

So what I learned is to take photos during the day, take plenty of them and from different angles and to style the shots. Whilst I already knew (but occasionally ignored these tips) I've learned from my mistakes and will definitely take more time with taking photos, but also I need to set aside time to select and edit my photos, which leads me to ...

Editing photos
By editing photos I mean both selecting the best photos from all that you've taken, cropping and resizing, as well as adding captions.

If you look at my posts about mid way through December there are a few posts with a photo at the start of the post with a banner and description of the make. That was a bit of an experiment using PicMonkey and Pixlr and I really liked designing my 'style' and the final the look of these images. I decided to do this because I've seen this kind of thing on other blogs but also I found that in Bloglovin' (where I'm currently the only follower of my blog - please join me!) that the first photo on the blog is displayed in the feed and I wanted that image to be one of my makes rather than an image from Pinterest (which was the first image in some of my blog posts). I've also read that these kind of images ie ones with text descriptions are more pinnable.

So what I learned is that it is worth taking a bit of time to select, crop and resize photos as well as select a 'header' photo and add some text. This is also important when sharing these photos elsewhere such as ...

Social media
I only joined Instagram a few months ago so this was the biggest learning curve for me (I've blogged previously at another blog).

I wanted to share each of my makes every day after I'd posted the blog post (hoping I'd drive traffic to my blog). I delved into the world of hashtags tagging each of my posts with #christmas and #crafts. And ... well ... it worked.

Both posting regularly and using hashtags gained me:

5 followers, 55 likes and 4 comments

Compared to my lifetime stats of:

6 followers, 76 likes and 5 comments

So what I've learned is that regular posting and using of hashtags improves engagement on Instagram (again I'm sure that plenty people could have told me this). Also the better photos tended to pick up the likes so I need to make sure that I post the best quality photos on Instagram.

So that's what I've learned from doing all this which has got me thinking about goals for 2015 and what content I want to put together for my blog so watch this space ...

PS if you have any blogging, photo or social media lessons you've learned through trial and error it would be great to hear about them.

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