Blogging as a Business

Blogging as a business is tough. There have been lots of changes in the blog world the last few years. This is a post that I never expected to write.Blogging as a Business|Designers Sweet Spot|www.designerssweetspot.com

Blogging as a business is a tough job. There is so much competition today, millions of users write blogs. It wasn’t always like this.

My Blog Business Story

I began writing seven years ago as kind of a personal journal. We were going through a lot of financial and personal struggles. and blogging was a way to focus on the beautiful side of life and worry less about the hard things. Three years ago, I decided to get serious as a blogger and make blogging my primary business. This was never my intention as I originally began writing just for fun.

When I decided to become a business, I stretched myself to learn a little more each day. I learned Blogger, Word Press, new social media platforms, photography, Adobe Lightroom, PicMonkey, Picassa, Photoshop and other related computer programs. I learned to stage my money shots, link up to blog parties, find and work with brand sponsors.

My Blog Business Updates

Last summer I spent weeks re-writing my old content. I updated dozens of photos, added affiliate links and SEO to my old posts, along with new custom graphics for Pinterest on a total of more than 200 posts. I also redirected hundreds of blog pages to make my blog more efficient and run smoother. To make my site more appealing, I hired designers to install a new theme, and redesign and rebrand my blog and logos. I studied branding and how to create a style that would match my vision for this blog’s future.

By fall my blog was practically brand new, and I anticipated the next couple of years would include great things for me and that I would be able to achieve my business goals.

Overall blogging is a good experience, it inspires me to work harder to accomplish more. I am always learning new things, meeting great people and have come to enjoy and embrace every part of the blogging journey.

Until now.

My Blog Business Crash

Two weeks ago my site went down. Perhaps you were looking for it. My URL was completely blank for more than 5 days. You may have noticed that it now looks a little different. In fact, I have completely lost 8 months worth of new content, along with my new blue and gold theme, my logos and all my hard work. It has been a devastating loss.

Even though I have backups of my blog, my former web host failed to transfer data after I paid for them to do it. I thought I had multiple backup copies of my site. It turns out, that none of them were current or recoverable by my new host. To make things worse, the additional backup plugin I installed was never activated. It seems as though there is always something that I don’t yet know about blogging.

I am not technical, but I have learned a lot the last few years. Somehow it seems like I will never get where I want my blog to go. There are so many of us bloggers that love blogging, but can’t quite get to our end business goal to be successful. I am not alone in this frustration.

My Blog Business Future

For now, I am trying to decide how to proceed. There is no way I can re-create 8 months worth of content or I will never have the ambition to write anything new. It’s very discouraging to come back to the blog when it looks like it did a year ago, after I put so much time and effort into it. In addition, I have broken links all over the web from the posts and photos that were deleted. Right now, I have no idea how this will affect my site long term. Google does not like broken links, and generally punishes sites that have them. Honestly, I don’t know what that will do my page views or ranking.

I know I need to rebuild somehow, but it will take time. It is painful and I am disheartened. There are tons of updates that could be done, but I don’t know that I will even attempt to recreate the blog as it was. With each passing day there are new reasons for me to move ahead in yet a different direction. You will have to be patient with me while I work through it all.

My Blog Business Recovery

For now, I am concentrating on different things.  Recently, I compiled two new ebooks. Part of blogging as a business is creating content other than what is on the blog. Remember the phrase “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”? It rings so true today.

I recently began publishing ebooks, and I have several more coming soon. My first adventure was this photography book and am now releasing two more ebooks for your reading pleasure.

Photography Challenge: Improve your photography and laugh at my attempts to master the camera. |Designers sweet Spot|www.designerssweetspot.com

The 30 Day Photo Challenge is the humorous account of how I actually learned to use a DSLR digital camera. I made lots of mistakes and you can laugh at every single one of them. This story proves that anyone can become a photographer, even me. This book is $1.99 and is available by clicking on the button below:

[inbound_button font_size=”30″ color=”#ddc885″ text_color=”#111111″ icon=”” url=”https://gumroad.com/products/RjknX/edit” width=”” target=”_self”]BUY IT NOW[/inbound_button]

The next book has been my most popular blog series ever. Thousands of pins and page views have made this series a huge hit. Projects from this book have been featured on the Huffington Post, Craft Gawker, Hometalk and various other websites.

Gifts Wrapped in Glass: Crafts, Recipes, and projects in mason jars|Designers Sweet Spot|www.designerssweetspot.com

Writing this crafty book was one of the best things ever. I purchased and used more than 150 Mason jars of different styles, sizes and colors for this project.

Filled them with all sorts of beautiful things, and gave them all away.

This book, also $1,99 is full of ideas for crafts, recipes, sewing projects, home decor and much more all wrapped up in cute little Mason Jars.

You’re going to love it.

[inbound_button font_size=”30″ color=”#ddc885″ text_color=”#111111″ icon=”” url=”” width=”” target=”_self”]BUY IT NOW[/inbound_button]

 

Rustic Stenciled Sign

Stenciled sign and chair @designerssweetspot.com

This post was sponsored by Cutting Edge Stencils. Any opinions given are completely my own. If you have questions regarding my policies please see the Disclosures page.

Good day friends! Hope you are enjoying your summer. I have been working on a number of projects behind the scenes, but have finally completed one of them. This Rustic Stenciled Sign is just the thing to personalize your garage or barn.

Here in Wisconsin we often see personalized Barn Quilts as you drive though the countryside. I decided to make my own version. It’s a little different because it’s long and narrow instead of square, but I felt like this shape has more of a unique character.

Rustic Stenciled Sign @designerssweetspot.com

The sign was made from some old cedar fence boards that a friend gave me. We used three fencing boards, two on the front and one to hold them together on the back side. The boards were trimmed to 36″ long, nailed and glued together. We used a bit of old chain to hang the sign on the wall.

Corner of stenciled sign @designerssweetspot.com

The wood was very dry and rough, so the first thing I did was to sand it down a bit with a sanding block. Then the boards were stained with an English Ironstone White Stain to give them uniform color.

Generally, you aren’t supposed to use stencils on rough surfaces. However, my first rule of blogging is to break all the rules, so I did it anyway. I like the weathered appearance the rough texture gives the pattern. I used acrylic paints and a stencil brush to apply the design with the stencil. This pattern is Cutting Edge Augusta Tile Stencil.

Rustic Stenciled Sign and Chair

A final coat of satin polyurethane protects the sign from the elements. Hummmm, I may have to move it inside so I can see it more often.

Want to remember this project? Pin this graphic!

Rustic Stenciled Sign Pin

Off to work on some more fun projects!

 

 

 

Vintage Style Apron

folded apron on bench

I have been slow to complete this latest project. I am getting burned out with all of the activities going on around here. I am pleased to put together this easy to sew tutorial, but I am going to be taking a break for a couple weeks after this, including stepping away from my FB Live Learn to Sew posts for now.

There are so many big things happening here. Graduations, weddings, work on the house, planting the garden. I can’t keep up. Also I have been working on my Newsletter, which you should be getting in your inbox soon. If you aren’t currently a subscriber be sure to sign up, I am offering a FREE download of my Learn to Sew Worksheets for new scribers, you won’t want to miss anything!

This all adds up to not enough time for blogging. We are entertaining soon for our son’s Graduation, taking a school trip and have a number of weddings and parties to attend. I have been meaning to work on my ebook for a while, and I want to finish a few larger projects that I started months ago. The blog is growing all the time, and I need to spend time working on the things that help make it happen.

finished apron

So, back to the apron. I love vintage style aprons. I have been looking at them on Pintrest for a while now, searching for just the right fabrics to put together to get that vintage look. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of vintage style fabrics out on the market. I finally settled on these prints from Riley Blake Designs. They came in a Fat Quarter Bundle which you can find for only a few dollars at any craft store or fabric shop. The good part about Fat Quarters is that since they are made for quilting, they are all cotton and are easy to work with  for a the beginning sewer.

The bad part about the Fat Quarter Bundles  is that you only get a 1/4 yard of each fabric, so it did require a little creativity to piece the entire thing together and have enough fabric for the entire apron.

Here’s what you will need for this project:

1 Fat Quarter Bundle of at least 4 coordinating floral prints

1 1/2 yards 2″ wide lace trim

Matching Thread

Machine wash and dry fabrics before starting to sew. Remove salvages and block each piece so it’s square.If you aren’t sure how to do block your fabric, see my Facebook Live tutorial here.

Choose 2 prints to use to make the skirt of the apron. I used a smaller print on the pockets, and a solid print for the sash.

apron sections and pockets

Rip or cut the two prints for the skirt into 4″ sections. I left one section 8″ wide for the center panel of the skirt. Your fabric will rip the length of the piece, so it will be 1/4 yard long when finished.

Stitch the pieces together to make one wide panel. I sewed three 4″ pieces on each side of the wider 8″ panel.

Finish the side seams with a 1/4″ rolled hem. I also finished the inside seams with a zig zag stitch to keep the edges from unraveling. Stitch two rows of basting stitches along the top edge 1/2″ from raw edge. Use a long stitch, size 5 or larger on the sewing machine. Leave long threads at ends to pull and gather the top when needed.

Finish the bottom with 2″ wide lace. Zig zag the lace over the raw edge of the fabric.

front and back of pockets

To make the pockets, cut two 9″ squares from a contrasting print. Fold the top edge over 1  1/4″ and press raw edge to the back. Pin lace trim on FRONT of pocket, 1″ down from the folded edge. Zig zag stitch lace onto pocket from front side. This should catch and finish the raw edge of the pocket on the backside at the same time.

Stitch 1/4″ rolled hem on pocket sides and bottom. Pin pockets 2 1/2″ down from top edge of skirt where desired. Top stitch in place by stitching carefully over the first stitching for the rolled hem, pivoting at corners. No one will know they were stitched twice, and the extra stitching makes a nice finished look to the pocket.

Rip or cut the solid fabric horizontally into 4″ sections. Stitch sections together at short edges so you have a continuous piece. Mine measured 4″ by 56″ after sewing. Fold right sides together. Stitch ends closed and make the sash, leaving an 18″ opening to attach to the skirt of the apron.

Turn sash right side out, press. Pin to right side of skirt, making gathers by pulling up basting stitches to fit skirt into opening of sash. Pin all layers together, stitch. Sandwich  fabric over gathers and topstitch on the right side.

Here it is all in a nutshell. I am loving these little video segments, I hope it makes the entire process clear and easy to understand. Please let me know if you have any questions!

 

How to Hem Jeans

I have a new tutorial for How to Hem Jeans, it’s been one of my most popular sewing posts to date. It’s been featured on several different websites and blogs. Who knew jeans would be such a popular topic?

How to Hem Jeans - FB

I have been blogging for 6 years now. Hard to believe it’s been that long! I have hundreds of posts on this website. I am in the process of refining my brand and developing my future goals. One of the things I am working on is adding video tutorials to some of my old posts.

 

I think everyone I know wears jeans, probably all of us have had a pair or two that needed… Click To Tweet

You will need your jeans, tailors chalk (or a sharp #2 lead pencil), and a measuring tape or a ruler.

First try on the jeans (after they have been washed and dried), and roll up the hem to the desired length. I know you know how to do this!

Then, take off the jeans, and measure the amount you rolled up. It was 2 1/2″ on these jeans.

Turn the jeans inside out, matching the leg seams and smoothing out the fabric. Because denim is so heavy, you will need to work with one leg at a time. Calculate the amount of fabric to cut off by subtracting 1″ from your orgininal measurement, to compensate for the seam allowance needed for the hem.

I needed to shorten our jeans 2 1/2″, so 2 1/2″-1″= 1 1/2″ for my total.

Measure from the bottom of the pant leg and mark the distance with a piece of tailors chalk or lead pencil. My distance was 4″. Be sure your cutting line is parallel to the bottom of the pant leg.

Keeping the pant leg inside out, put the leg over the arm of the machine, turning back a 1/2″ seam allowance. Conveniently the presser foot is the same width. If you use it as a guide, you will not have to measure and it will save you time. Also, forget the pins. Pins ruin sewing machines, and you will be a much better sewer without them. They do not use pins in professional production because they would completely slow down the process. It’s the difference between sewing like a pro, and sewing like a homemaker. No pins.

Lower the presser foot and begin sewing, but do not start on the thick part of the side seam. Begin either slightly before or after the seam. Most machines will just sew right through the thick seam without a problem if they have a running start. Center your needle in the seam allowance, and continue sewing around the entire pant leg. When you get to the end, over lap the stitching slightly to lock it in place. Trim your threads, and remove the pant leg from the machine.

Here are my best tips and tricks for sewing with denim:

  1. Use a heavy duty needle for denim fabrics. I have broken more sewing machine needles  than I can count by sewing jeans. Denim is by far the heaviest material I ever work with. Recently I noticed you can buy packages of needles just for denim, what a great idea! Pick up a package or two to have on hand when ever you need them.
  2. Always use a new needle for each pair of jeans. Needles get dull very quickly on fabrics like this. It will save you lots of headaches if you use a new, sharp needle each time you sew with denim. It may seem like overkill, but you just have to trust me on this one.
  3. Purchase 100% cotton thread for working on jeans. Thread that is designed for machine quilting works well, it’s strong enough to hold up during sewing on denim. I use black or navy for hemming, you don’t have to match the gold top stitching that most jeans have, in fact I think it looks better if you don’t.
  4. Don’t bother with pressing your jeans. Denim is heavy and hard to work with. After you have hemmed your jeans, wash and dry them as usual. They will look and feel great. The new stitches will blend in with the fabric like they were always there. Besides, pressed jeans are just weird.
  5. Help your friends learn to hem their own jeans, I am sure they will be grateful for your help!

That being said, it’s time for the tutorial! I had fun putting this video together, hope it helps you hem your jeans!

 

DON’T FORGET TO PIN THIS POST!

How to Hem Jeans

Why You Need to Learn to Sew

Quilted Hexagon Table Runner

You may have noticed that I love to sew. I have dozens of sewing projects in my blog repertoire, sewing is one of my favorite things to do. Here’s why:

Finished fabric stack

 

  1. Believe it or not, I can sew just about anything cheaper than I can buy it. The only exception is with specialty items like winter coats or sequined evening gowns. Most of us already own a coat and few of us actually wear evening gowns. I suspect most people today would like to learn to sew to save a few bucks here and there, alter the clothes they already own or just for their own knowledge. At any rate, learning to sew will save you MONEY.

Kids Travel Pillow

2.  I can sew faster than I can order things online and have them sent through the mail. You would be amazed at how quickly you can make things at home that cost a considerable amount of money to buy in a retail store. I often go shopping and come home with nothing except photos in my phone of things I want to make, or ideas for those I can make cheaper than I can actually buy them.

Cutting out the tree appliqué

3.  I can whip up gifts at a moments notice. This is a huge benefit of sewing. Once you have a stash of fabric and supplies built up, there is no stress in putting together a last minute gift that is unique and special because you made it just for them.

designerssweetspot.com

4. I can sew my own clothes or make clothes for others. Let’s face it, it’s really hard to find things that fit, that in your price range and look really great. It takes time and a bit of patience to sew your own clothes, but it is well worth it. You will be able to make better fitting, longer lasting garments than you can buy in the store.

DIY: How to Hem Jeans

5. You can alter or repair the clothes you already own. Even if you have no time or desire to sew your own clothes, by learning to sew you can repair the ones you already have. If you pay someone else to hem slacks or skirts, shorten sleeves, repair worn spots, or replace zippers it is far cheaper to learn to do this yourself. You can even get paid by your friends to do it for them! Plus, it’s fun!

designerssweetspot.com

6. You can sew fun projects for your home decor. Let’s say for example, you see a cute pillow that you love in the store. Small decorative pillows run anywhere from $13.00 on up. You can make one your self for less money that you will like better! Not to mention, it’s easy to cover an old pillow with a new cover that you can make yourself for free!

I can even leap over my sewing machine in a single bound. Well, not really.

But, you know what I mean? Sewing and making my own stuff is part of my Homemade Super Thrifty existence, without it life would be very dull indeed. And expensive!

I am hoping that you love to sew too. But, perhaps you never had an opportunity to learn?

Here’s your chance! I am starting a new sewing series call SEW FIRE. I chose this name because I am passionate about sewing and can teach you to sew IN A FLASH. When I went to Googled this title, I discovered an article about a tragic fire in New York’s garment district  in 1911. Hundreds of young women lost their lives trying to escape from a building where they were seamstresses. This really touched me, and I decided that SEW FIRE was also a way to recognize the garment workers who sew for pennies in deplorable conditions even today. I have been inside similar buildings in the garment district of NYC, and let me tell you, they aren’t pretty. I fact, many of them are downright scary. I can’t imagine being trapped in one by a fire. If you would like to read more about this tragic fire, click here.

This Sew Fire series is for those of you who have never sewn a stitch in your life, don’t know how to turn on a sewing machine, or even thread it. This series is sewing from the VERY, VERY BEGINNING.

You are going to love it! I am doing weekly videos on Facebook Live and posting additional tutorials here on the blog and my You Tube Channel.

Here’s the introduction teaser video:

Join me on FB live Monday and Wednesday mornings, 10:00am CST for the Sew Fire series!

I am really excited about this, and I have much more in store for you here on the blog including some free printables that I am working on!

You won’t want to miss out! Sign up for my weekly newsletter in the side bar for all the updates!