Welcome to Day 7 of…

WOW what a great week full of ideas & great tips hey!! A special HUGE thanks to all of our guest bloggers for sharing their thoughts with us!! & also to all of you guys for your great comments, discussion points & further suggestions!! You have made the week awesome & I’ve learnt some really valuable stuff!!

For today I’ve tried to formulate my own two cents on the topic of etiquette, answer your questions & summarise the week… Our guest bloggers have done such an awesome job that I just hope that I’m not repeating them too much.
I’ve included quite a few topics so please bear with me because it’s really really long!! Just so you know where it’s going I’ve structured it as follows:

  1. A bit about me
  2. My 2 cents on blog etiquette
  3. Questions from the week answered (although some are answered throughout in the relevent sections)
  4. More general blogging tips and lessons

Ok… here goes….

Me, Me, all about Me:

Firstly let me give you a bit more info about me and how I got here today…
My name is Kat & as you know I blog here at Diary of a Flutter.Kat ha ha… I also am an active Flickr member & you can find me over on Flickr here. I now am a full time mum to my 2 young girls. Prior to that I did a whole bunch of other stuff in the business & corporate world – sales, marketing manager, home loan consultant…  I love to be creative, and try to be at any opportunity possible – mostly this is during the girls’ nap times & in the evenings. Sewing & crafting helps me stay sane and have something satisfying & challenging for me outside of being a mum. My husband also works away a lot for work, so it’s also particularly important for me to have plenty to do while he’s away to keep me busy… because I like to be busy!

I started blogging last May, shortly after I got into quilting. Learning to quilt caused me to discover the world of crafting blogs & the wonderful abundance of FREE tutorials. A light came on in my little life – WOW & WOO HOO – What an inspirational community we have access to out there!! – When I first started quilting my real life friends neither quilted, sewed and I knew that they neither wanted to hear about all the technical ins and outs of my creations or the latest fabric/book/notion I must have for my stash (hello… Nana Kat!!) lol….
… so I started blogging to further interact with the awesome crafty community out there, meet some other 20 & 30 something young, hip, crafty Nana’s & most importantly to have an online journal of my creations for me to keep as record (since I give 90% of it away!). And I have to say that I’ve loved every minute of the journey since – you guys are so great!!
{Interestingly enough now I have loads of friends who I get together in real life with and sew/craft etc… Not to mention that now all the cool kids I know are keeping a blog… funny how that works!!}

… Blogging keeps me accountable, it keeps me inspired, it keeps me entertained, but mostly it keeps me connected… It reminds me that there is life outside my “desperate housewife/mummy bubble” – lets clarify that I don’t mean that in any sense of a derogatory way – I LOVE my job and absolutely wouldn’t have it any other way!! But lets face it, for an extrovert like me there are times when being at home with the kids all day does get mundane, isolating & drive a girl to the internet for company… for example on days like today when I’ve had to change about 10 dirty nappies. (Sorry probably too much information LOL….)
I’m sure you know what I mean though… on weeks when the kids are sick, or for whatever other reason I might have to spend a lot of time at home with the kids, it gives me the adult company that I crave, about a topic that I love. Even if it is virtual. I’ve made some great friends on here.

All the more reason to strive for the best possible etiquette – because those virtual friendships, just like any, are important to cherish and protect.

As many of the guest bloggers have acknowledged about themselves – my bloggy voice has also grown & become much more confident over time. Over time I have also changed considerably in my direction for my blog –  now rather than just a quilting journal, I blog about all kinds of things that are going on for me – different types of crafting & sewing other than just quilting & I also now love to write about more stuff than just my craft e.g. my family, life lessons, faith etc…

Anyway these are some things that I have also strive to achieve in my blog and lessons I have learnt along the way (some the hard way)…

Blog Etiquette the Kat version:

** Commenting –  I like to comment on posts that I read because I believe that it is polite to let someone know that you stopped by & admired their work and give them some encouragement. It helps build the “share & share alike” blogging community.

In saying all this I am sadly no where near as good at commenting as I used to be and it is something that I need to get better at doing again. It is now what I would consider a weakness for me! – Now I have google reader on my new smart phone and it doesn’t let me comment from there (stoopid
– My recent method has been to only comment on the posts which most inspire or really speak to me.  But I will be endeavouring to change this by making the effort to use my computer more, and commenting more wherever possible, because I do feel that even if it’s just a 2 word “great post”… it is important etiquette.

** Replying to comments – The reason I want to try and get better at leaving comments myself is that I love it so much when people leave me encouragement on my blog. It’s not always practical to reply, but I try my best to. I feel that if someone is kind enough to leave me a comment then it’s only polite of me to respond.

For the first 6 months or even more I used to go into blogger & look up the person’s email address and reply the hard way. It was a total chore and to be honest I stopped doing it. Then hallelujah one day I realised there was an easier way…

So friends – it that is you, also doing it the hard way, allow me to help you out a little… There is a setting in Blogger for you to set up so that every time you get a comment blogger emails it to you. Then (unless the person is a no-reply blogger which I will go into in a minute) all you have to do is reply to that email and BAM – it’s now super easy to reply to comments and no longer such a chore! To set up this function go to your blogger dashboard, click on settings, click on the tab that says comments – and take a look through that menu. There are some other great little gems in there to change too! If you want to have comments emailed to you then scroll right down the bottom to the box which says “comment notification email” and type in your email address.

Check out the other features on there too, to see what else you might be happy to change. One thing to consider if like me you blog using Blogger, is that many non Blogger account users get really annoyed with the hoops that they have to jump through to leave a comment on a Blogger blog (sheesh what a sentence!!). So ask yourself – do you really need to have people log in to leave a comment – or will you allow anyone to comment on your blog anonomously? I have the latter selected and so far (asking for trouble here probably) I haven’t had anyone abuse that right or leave me spam comments. I figure that if they do I can always delete those comments or change the setting if it becomes a problem…

** Are you a no-reply blogger? – This one justifies it’s own point because it is such a widely recognised problem… As above I love to try and respond to people’s comments. But I have to say that a frustratingly large portion of the people that comment are “no-reply bloggers” (including some of my close friends – hello guys – this bit’s for you!! lol…) and it’s not just because I let anybody comment on my blog – usually it’s more people who actually DO have a google/Blogger account. This means that I cannot use the above function and reply to their comments.  So if you leave me (or any other Blogger bloggers) comments regularly but never hear back – you are most likely a no-reply blogger. I know that I am not the only blogger to be frustrated by this problem/limitation with Blogger.
Do you know if you are a no-reply blogger or not? It is a simple setting that you as a blogger/google account holder are responsible for changing about yourself…To find out if you are or not:
**  Go to your dashboard, click on edit profile, then scroll down to identity & make sure that you have an email address in the box that says email address.
For more information & a picture tutorial about how you can change this if you want to, click over to Jennie’s blog and learn how.

I accept that not everyone may want to have their regular personal email address in that box. Just be aware for your own information, that if you are one of those people, you will not get replies to comments. That includes giveaways & also answers to questions that you might ask on a blog. If it is important to you to be contacted, but you don’t want to use your regular email address, then another option is to set up an email account purely for blogging purposes…

**  Linking to other people’s blogs – I’m a firm believer in using links to give credit. If you see something that inspires you on someones blog, or use a tutorial they publish, it is good manners to link back to that person when you blog about it. Simple good manners. It’s also very easy to do… Just copy in the URL of the page that you want to link to then come back into your blogger window where you are typing your post, clink the link icon and follow the instructions. It’s a good idea to test the link to make sure it works properly too.

** Photos –  Like others have mentioned I have learnt to ask permission before I display any photos of other people on the Internet – that includes both my blog & also facebook. I would recommend you do the same. It is just a really easy way to avoid any possible problems with noses out of joints!

Some questions from the week answered:

**  Using Flickr to link to your photos – There were a couple of questions during the week for more information on how to use Flickr to better protect your blog photos. If you would like to utilise this as an option too then Jennie has put a tutorial here of how to link to them.
Personally I can’t see myself doing this for every one of my photos due to extreme laziness. But I definitely do think it’s a great idea for things that I am more precious about – for examples pictures of my children, myself and my life.

** Flickr referencing – There was also another question during the week of whether you have to ask permission before linking to a photo on Flickr or whether just referencing it is enough. Hopefully Sarah covered copyright enough for you yesterday.
For me, I use the same etiquette rules for photos as I do for blogging. If it’s just linking to someones photo (which may include a correctly linked photo mosaic) then I don’t usually ask permission first – because I am just referencing or acknowledging someone else’s work, not using it.  If it’s more using that person’s photo on your blog and you are unsure of the copyright issues, then I would personally suggest erring on the side of caution – if in doubt ask permission first. Easy.

General Bloggy tips (from lesson’s I’ve learnt): 

** Think about your audience – who are you writing for/to. Others have touched on this in reference to why you are blogging, and also in terms of allowing for how different cultures see things when writing comments  – but I also encourage you to think about who you are blogging to when you are writing your blog. Are they close family/friends, other crafters etc…? Use language applicable to your “audience”. For example if you have a public blog and have a large international following try and keep this in mind when writing – for example off the top of my head – phrases like “the American dream” or “Australian dream” *insert relevant country here* or any other “in language” exclusive to your culture, while sometimes appropriate, can also sometimes unintentionally alienate your readers. It is just a good consideration to be aware of your tone when you’re writing that’s all.

**  Keep it positive – I’m always really conscious of sounding negative when I write my posts. No one likes a whinger, and also as Jill pointed out, it’s often really hard to gauge the tone of the written word… So I try and be extra careful about the tone in which I’m writing so that it (hopefully) doesn’t come across whiny or negative. Otherwise it’s not enjoyable for people to read…

** Keep it real – Do you get despondent when reading blogs which just seem too perfect all the time? I know I do! The blogs I love the most are the ones who keep it real – they show some of their mistakes as well as just their best work. It makes me feel like I (a far less than perfect being) can relate to them more, and therefore I enjoy reading their blog more. So I try and do they same for my blog and keep it real. Although obviously there are some topics which you just don’t want out there for everyone to see, just aren’t relevant – or that just aren’t appropriate to write about –  in this case I go back to the previous point – keep it positive 🙂 It’s all about obtaining the balance…

**  Keep it practical – Following on from keeping it positive & keeping it real above I also feel I would like to put this one out there – keep it practical. It’s totally my own personal preference on reading – but you may find it helpful…
… I personally find that the best & most helpful posts that I read (especially ones that keep it real) are practical ones. Therefore it’s something I strive to achieve on my blog as well. Obviously not every post you write needs to be practical, but I would suggest that you consider this when you are writing your post –  whether it could be/needs to. Particularly if you are writing a post and “keeping it real”. If you are writing about something you have learnt, a post which may address an issue, challenge or even be controversial, consider whether you could make it practical so that it offers your readers that something extra, or doesn’t put them off coming back…
For example – I like to talk about topics which could be considered challenging occasionally on my blog (e.g. this week on etiquette or my post about my imposters) because I am the type of person that likes to deal with issues, learn from them and move on and I carry that over into my blogging. However I also tend to get despondent reading blogs which keep it real or outline problems in life but offer no practical solutions or suggestions on how to overcome these problems. They can instead read more like a whinge or a lecture – and quite frankly who likes to be lectured?!
So I encourage you that if you are making a post which is “keeping it real” try & make it constructive or interactive by possibly offering some practical suggestions to readers, or even asking for some solutions… It keeps it real, keeps it positive, keeps it constructive, keeps the tone softer – which in turn helps people relate to you & keeps it interesting. Just a “practical” suggestion ha ha…
**  Keep it pretty – Again this is my own personal opinion & preference – this point comes about because I am a lazy lazy reader and I also find reading really hard going at times.
Therefore I much prefer to read a pretty blog. That means one where the text is broken down into bite sized pieces with lots of good formating, pictures, and paragraph breaks. So I encourage you to think about this when you are writing your blog. Keep it easy to read, try and put in good pictures as much as possible, and keep it in bite sized chunks (she says knowing full well that this is the longest most boring to look at post that I’ve ever written – hmmmm…. hypocritical much? … whoooops….).

** Keep it Simple –  To be used in conjunction with the point above… Even though I love pretty – I am also a strong believer in keeping things simple & fairly plain when it comes to overall blog design. This is where it could get disputable 🙂 lol…
… You will notice a distinct lack of pretty backgrounds and busy flashing buttons & functions over at my blog. This is not totally because I’m fairly useless at technical blog stuff (although I am pretty terrible at them lol…). I have tried them in the past – but I actually really find that those things all distract from the writing & photo content of the post – which to me is the most important part and what I most want to feature. So if you feel that about your own blog too, then keep it in mind when choosing your background theme, colours and fonts for your blog. There are blogs that I just simply can’t read on principle because I hate the font they use or the busy background gives me a headache (sorry but it’s true). I usually believe that less is more when it comes to overall blog design.

** Labels – When I first started blogging I didn’t utilise the label option. It was only recently – after finding it frustrating trying to navigate my way around other people’s blogs that I went through and added them to all my posts and am now really pleased that I made the effort to. So I encourage you to use labels if you can…. By adding labels to each of your posts, and adding the label gadget, it allows people to easily find groups of past posts that they are interested in and make use of past posts. For example all my tutorials are now nicely grouped in one place, or all my posts about this Blog Etiquette week can be found in one click. These are really beneficial in the long term because if someone comes back to visit next month, or a year down the track, they can bring up all the posts with the same label to retry and tutorial etc… etc….

To add labels just type words into the box down the bottom right of your blogger post window when you are first writing you post. You can also go back and add them to past posts simply by clicking on edit posts, typing some labels into the label box, and pressing publish post. Easy.
Then when you are on your Blogger design page go to add gadget & find the label gadget & move it around to where ever you would like to put it.

**  Proof read & spell check – ok you might not believe this – I told you I was learning a lot this week!! – I only just found the spell check function tonight  after 9 months blogging – DUH Kat!! Ummm….. so anyway – now that I have found that function from now on I will spell check my posts. In case you are like me and also don’t know about it – the spell check button is the button in your post compose window to the far right – the one with the ABC & a big green tick. Yip – useful function hey!!

** Flickr Photo Sharing & Copyright control – It wasn’t asked but I just thought I’d put this in for those who might be new to the idea of using Flickr to store/share photos.
… I’m not a Flickr expert. But from a beginners perspective let me tell you briefly about it…
Flickr is great. It is more than just a place to store & share your photos. Love the blogging world & the inspiration & community that it brings? Then you will love Flickr!! The Flickr crafting community (which is the only part I have delved into) are friendly, inspiring, and very helpful. There are tutorials, help/support groups & networks, virtual sewing bees & swaps, and eye candy galore. If you are not a member yet then I would recommend you take a look… I have made some really great connections through Flickr.

At the time you set up your Flickr account you also get to set up your own copyright rules for your photos. For example you can choose “all rights reserved”, “commons” etc… – all the things Sarah was referring to yesterday. As I publish photos of my family I choose all rights reserved by default over on Flickr, because then I don’t have to think about it too hard. This means that someone can’t just right click & save my photo. Which is why I really should get into the habit of linking to Flickr for my bloggy “life” photos…
So in short using photos in your blog that are linked to Flickr (as Jennie discussed doing in her post) is a good way to ensure better protection of your photos. Everybody has different solutions about what is best for them to do here. So do what’s right for you.
You can read more about the Flickr community guidelines here…

** Some other possible usefuls – 
A couple of useful blogging sites that I have found recently are – Spice Up Your Blog – Best Blog Tips and Best Blogger Templates. I still have more reading to do on those sites!!

Photo gadgets which you might find useful are:
Polaroid photo maker
Big huge labs

Another site that I stumbled across this week which I am going to love using in the future is Designseeds.  This one is especially for you other crafters. It is really helpful in choosing colour schemes that I wouldn’t normally put together. Awesome site!!

Ok I’m done. Definitely the longest post ever & I’m definitely feeling the absence of “pretty” – but it took me so darn long to write that I’m giving up on the photos and going to bed instead – So I now just hope that you have a better attention span than me and made it though to the end LOL…

Thanks for a great week guys! I hope you’ve got something from it too.

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  1. Kat this is a wonderful round up of an amazing week.
    I particularly like your bloggy tips some of which I did not know, but all up a great week with lots of helpful information.
    Thank you again for hosting this week, I have gained so much knowledge and have had many of my questions answered 🙂

  2. Hi hun,
    Great job organising this week, love to see you sharing your passion!

    Neil xx

    ps. Big thanks to all of you contributing and encouraging Kat over the last few days, it has put a smile on the dial!

  3. Thanks for this series. I read all of the tips and found them very interesting. I had a lot of questions when I first started blogging and I think you answered them. It was very kind of you to help out the newbies!

  4. Thank you so much Kat for:

    (1) organising and hosting such a fantastic week of useful tips and personal insights

    (2) giving us all the chance to learn something new and to think more deeply about some important aspects of blogging


    (3) giving me the chance to write my first ‘guest’ post – I loved it!

  5. Thanks for all the effort here. I have been back a few times. It is fantastic for someone to finally address issues I have wondered about. Well done.

  6. Just found this series. I started at Day 1 and I just couldn’t stop!

    Thanks for organising and posting this – I found it really helpful!

    I have one question, though, what to do about an email address if you blog with WordPress, not Blogger? I don’t like to put my email address in an open comment, but we don’t have a lot of options… (Or I’m just not seeing the options!)

    Anyway, thanks for the series!

  7. Hi Kat, I am trying to read the blog etiquette series but all the links seem to come back to the same page – this one 🙁 Is there any way I can read the whole series? Best, Tania

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