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Kicking Up Some Dust

You may notice things looking a little funky around the blog today and into the near future. Anodyne Design is undergoing a little bit of spring cleaning. And since I’ve always been one for instant gratification, I’ve been recklessly making cosmetic changes live, instead of rolling them all out out once. Unfortunately, that means you’ve got to deal with a little of my dust until I finish sprucing up the place, but it shouldn’t be long, and everything should be much nicer when I’m finished. (And if you read Anodyne Design in your feed reader, you probably haven’t noticed any differences anyway.)

Feel free to let me know what you think of the changes as you notice them. And please, do tell me if there’s anything you particularly loved or hated about the old blog that you would have to see disappear (or stay!) No blog is an island, or something like that, and you can help me to make the blog something more awesome for you.

Also, thank you to everyone who has taken the time to provide such supportive and thoughtful comments on the last two posts, about Motivation and making Connections. Joan, Carol Emma, Sarah, Kerry, Kristin, Liesl, and Emily — all of your comments have been so wonderful, but that isn’t a surprise, given what lovely blogs you all keep. I wish I could make real-life connections with each one of you.

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Getting Organized

One of the things I’ve wanted to work on for awhile is my blogging. I like blogging, but I haven’t been very good about doing it as regularly as I would like. I also haven’t been very good at keeping track of ideas for posts. So last night, while I was making the blog rounds, I ended up at Pam’s description of how she plans and organizes her blog posts (via FutureGirl) and I was inspired to give her system a try.

Today I printed out free calendar pages from Vertex42 and one of the free templates from Ahh Design to use as a monthly notes page. Everything got three-hole punched and neatly organized into a pretty binder I had laying around from the last time I tried to be organized (last January).

Hopefully this pretty new system will actually work for me, and we’ll all benefit from more frequent and interesting blogging! If you want to work on getting more organized with a planner, check out all the clever and lovely ideas in the DIY Planner Flickr Pool. Who knew there was so much planner making going on?

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New Site Design

I’ve been hard at work for the last week on the design for this website. Behind the scenes, I have been upgrading software and installing and tweaking widgets. Visually, I’ve been rearranging the layout and prettying things up a bit (I hope!). This site is always a work in progress, as I imagine most websites are, but I’m happy with the new look.  I would love to hear what you think of the new design, whether you are a new reader or a long-time lurker.

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TwitterI’m on Twitter, and still trying to figure out the best way to make use of it. So far, it seems like a good way to announce updates to my blog and shop, and to share links to cool things I find online that maybe don’t merit their own blog post. How else would you make use of Twitter? And are you on Twitter? Let me know — I’d love to follow you.

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I have stuff to do. I’ve had stuff to do for a long time, and I thought maybe I could handle that and do Anodyne Design at the same time. I can’t. I need to take care of old business before I can do new business. So, I know there hasn’t been a post since early August. And this post is to say that there likely won’t be another until I finish what I need to do. And I can’t tell you exactly when that’s going to be, but hopefully it won’t be too long.

Please don’t forget my little blog, because it will be coming back to life eventually. Keep it in your feed reader, so you’ll know when I’m back and ready to really devote my time to Anodyne Design the way it deserves. Also, even though the blog is taking a little vacation, the shop is still open and I will still ship any orders within a day, so no need to worry about that.

Sorry about this little bump in the road. I’ll be back.

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Post Shortage

Sorry about the lack of updating lately! SciFi Man and I are preparing to move, and it’s taken up most of our time, and all of my creative time. May in particular is going to be busy, so there may not be much going on around here until June. Add Anodyne Design to your feed reader (I use Google Reader) so you’ll know as soon as I’ve added fresh content!

Until then, why not visit a few of the cool blogs I’ve linked to on the right sidebar?

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You may have noticed that I added a flickr section to the left side bar. It pulls the 6 most recent photos I’ve posted to flickr. I’ve known flickr existed for some time, but never bothered to check it out. I finally got around to it (it’s amazing what you get around to doing when you’re supposed to be doing something else), and it’s become a little obsession. I didn’t realize you could join groups and post your photos to group photo pools. Even better, you can see everyone elses’ photos that have been posted to the pool. I’ve joined a bunch of crafty groups, and it’s clear that people are doing wonderful things out there. It makes me want to create more (which also, unfortunately, is on hiatus until I have less school work to do.)

Here are some of the cool things I’ve found through flickr (so far):

Are you on flickr? Will you be my flickr friend?

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Optimize Your Blogging: Finding New Readers

If you are a blogger, you often want to draw in new readers to your blog. How do you do that? I don’t have all the answers to that question, but I do have some ideas and cool tools for your blog that might help.

Drawing in Readers

  • One way to attract new readers is to join (or start) a blog ring. Blog rings link your blog up in a circle of blogs with similar content. This isn’t done intuitively, you have to find the right ring for you. Anodyne Design is currently part of two blog rings, Etsy Sellers Who Blog and etsyBloggers. The first ring is for any Etsy member who also blogs (obviously) and the etsyBloggers ring is specifically for members of the Etsy Bloggers Street Team. They are so many possible blog rings for you to join, and they aren’t all Etsy related by a long shot. If your blog is about knitting, jewelry making, interpretive dance or salamanders, I bet there is a blog ring for you. Effectiveness: I have definitely seen an increase in visitors who are using the blog ring “next” feature and land on my site
  • Join online communities related to topics you discuss in your blog. Not only will this introduce you to others with similar interests, but it will introduce them to your blog. For crafty types, you may want to join Craftster and start checking out their forums. You can link to your blog in your signature, and when you post on the forums, people will see the link to your forum. If you post interesting, relevant posts (don’t spam just to get blog hits… would you visit a spammers blog?) people will want to know more about you and see what else you’ve got to say. This method will require some time and interest on your part, but could really pay off. Don’t bother joining communities that have nothing to do with the topics you address in your blog, because it’s not likely to produce repeat visitors. Why would the average member of a community devoted to aquarium care want to read about your newest tote bag? (I’m sure some would, but enough to make it worth your time if you aren’t interested in aquarium care yourself?)Another community you may want to consider joining is Stylehive. This is a community where you can tag items on the internet you’d like to buy (I think a lot of it is wishful thinking. I know I tag a lot more than I could ever actually afford.) Others can see your items and tag them, too. You can link to your blog in your profile. If people like your taste, they may want to see what else they can find out on your blog.Another social networking community for creative bloggers is IndiePublic. It’s brand new, but it looks like it’s already taking off. It’s described as an “independent art and design community. If you’re an artist, designer, retailer, blogger, or just someone who gets giddy when they buy indie, we’ve saved a seat for you!” You can check out my IndiePublic profile here. And if you join, I’d love to be your friend. Finally, if you’re a member of Etsy, a good way to promote your blog is to be active in the Etsy forums.Effectiveness: Personally, I click on blog links in signatures when I’ve read a post I really like. I want to read more of what that poster has to say. I have also gotten some hits on my blog through my Stylehive profile. And I have found a lot of great blogs that I visit regularly through the Etsy forums. All these community options require a significant commitment of time on your part, though, so you’ll probably only want to do this with communities you actually want to join.
  • Join sites that aggregate blogs, rank authority, and keep on eye on recent updates, like Technorati or Bloglines. There’s lots of others out there you can check out, too. Some for all sorts of blogs, and some for specific types of blogs.
  • Comment on other blogs you like. This will get your name and a link to your blog out there for other commenters to see. As with posting on forums, though, don’t be spammy. Only post comments that contribute to the discussion–be a participant, not an advertiser. Be involved in the blogging community, and you will be rewarded. Drive-by advertise in comments, and people will know what you’re doing and not waste their time checking your site out.

Don’t Forget the Basics

All of the above suggestions are helpful, but none of them can compensate for a lack of content. If you want to keep your readers for more than 5 seconds, I recommend the following:

  • Figure out the purpose of your blog. This is sort of like creating a mission statement. Ask yourself, “is this blog for me to express myself however I please, is it an extension of my business, is it devoted solely to my deep interest in scuba diving?” The answer to that question will guide how you develop your blog.If the goal of your blog is to draw in and keep readers, make sure that the layout and style of your blog is appealing to your readers. This may mean that you can’t always fully “express yourself,” because it may conflict with what your readers are looking for. One good example of this is deciding whether or not to put music on your blog. If you hear that your readers find this a turn-off, then to keep them you should keep the music off, even if you love it. (If your blog is simply about you being you, go ahead and keep the music. You only want readers who want you in all your glory anyway.)
  • Post regularly. Everyday, or on a clearly stated schedule. Readers want to know when they can expect new content.
  • Keep it interesting for your readers–make sure your content stays related to the topics of your blog. If you describe your blog as specifically about knitting, make sure most of your content really is about knitting.
  • Post pictures. We’re used to tv. We want to see things. (Caveat: Make sure the pictures you are posting are good quality, not blurry (unless it’s on purpose!), and not HUGE. If you’ve got a picture of something you want to show in intimate detail, post a small version of the picture and allow readers to click on it to see the bigger version.)
  • Keep the layout clean. Nothing is a bigger turn-off (at least for me) than a messy blog with animated pictures, messy text, and things going on all over the place with no clear order. I’m not going to waste my time trying to decipher how to navigate your site, when then are a billion other sites that may have already made it easy for me to read.

These are just a few ways to attract (and hopefully keep) readers of your blog. Later on, I’ll post more about retaining readers once you’ve drawn them in for a first look. Until then, sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labors through these two cool tools:

  • See how many people are visiting your site and get a lot more information about them, such as what pages they are looking at and how long they stayed by setting up StatCounter on your site (it’s free).
  • Monitor mentions of your blog through Technorati, if you’ve joined, and Google Alerts (both free). Google Alerts are awesome, you simply tell Google what search words or phrases to keep an eye on and then sit back and wait for Google to email you when something new appears on their radar that meets your criteria. I recommend you plug in the name of your blog.

Please share your ideas for how to draw in readers. Happy blogging!

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My Brand Spanking New Blog: An Introduction

Welcome to my blog! I’ve been exploring my creative side a lot lately, and I thought it would be good to have a blog to document my projects. I don’t want to simply limit myself to the things I make, though, so I plan to be writing about food, books, and whatever else I feel like, too. In addition, I’ll probably be writing about creative things I see others doing, online and out in the world. I’m glad you stopped by to join me.

A few things about me:

  • I am sure I inherited my artistic sense and love of creating from my mom.
  • I have two cats, a tank full of fish, and if it weren’t for my husband, I’d probably be well on my way to having a whole zoo.
  • I am a graduate student who’s been in school long enough that I’m finally looking forward to the end. (So is my husband.)
  • One of my favorite books is The Boys of My Youth by Jo Ann Beard. You should check it out. Of course, I’m pretty excited about the new Harry Potter coming out, too.