(My first-ever blogged sewing project.)
When I was a child, I loved keeping diaries. Sometimes I’d write poems, or chronicle what I did that day, or wax about my first crush on a boy in Algebra class named Derek. (I ended up marrying a Derek!) I was particularly into composition notebooks because that’s what my hero Harriet the Spy used. Like Harriet I wanted to be a writer when I grew up, and composition books seemed more “writerly” than Hello Kitty diaries with locks on them.
I have a couple of boxes in storage that are full of those diaries from different periods of my life, and every so often during a spring cleaning I go back through some of them. Not only are they a window into my past but sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised to find something that has potential to be a real piece of writing.
It struck me recently that I never do this with my blog entries. When was the last time I went back and read through my own archives?
I’ll admit that I often forget to reflect on what I’ve enjoyed or accomplished in the past because let’s face it, blogging (and even more so social media) is all about the now. Instagram is all so… instant.
So today I’m thinking of ways to value what you’ve previously worked at.
Tend Old Blog Posts
If you blog, there’s a good chance you have some oldie but goodie posts hanging out somewhere deep in your archives no one can find. These might not necessarily get pulled out by a “related posts” or “favorite posts” widget into your sidebar.
Why not curate an intentional list of these in a menu or sidebar? They might be:
- A favorite project of yours that really shows off your skills or changed your sewing life.
- A hot topic or opinion that generated a lot of discussion.
- The story behind your blog’s name.
- Your five favorite pattern reviews.
- Your most-visited tutorials. You can look at stats to see what those are.
- The post where you wrestled with pants-fitting. I LOVE THOSE KIND OF SEWING POSTS. I’m certainly not the only one who does. I’ll search through your archives to find them! I glean a lot from others’ fitting processes.
It doesn’t matter how often some of these posts are still visited, of if your blog mission has changed. I love going back and reading what sewing bloggers consider to be their favorite projects and seeing how they evolved. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about! We all love a good story.
And if you have a particular post or series that readers visit often, tending these is just as important as creating new posts. For example, my Bra-making Sew Along posts are a couple of years old but still the most-visited on my website. A few bits of information are out of date but most of the actual tutorials are timeless and useful to first time bra makers.
So I’ve been tending these by fixing grammar mistakes, updating links or information. I’m also in the process of re-editing a few photos (because I’ve learned so much about photo editing since then!). I leave the comments open so readers can ask new questions.
Create a Portfolio
Another way to highlight past favorites is through a photo portfolio. And if you blog or use Instagram you probably have a mile of them you’ve forgotten about!
I created one for the purpose of highlighting professional work (it’s a work in progress), but you don’t have to be a pro to have a portfolio.
Even if it is just for you and no one else, a digital portfolio is a wonderful way to cherish your previous hard work, and a healthy self-reminder when you ever feel as if you can’t keep up: you create more than you think you do.
Of course you can create off-blog portfolios in Pinterest or Flickr but it’s easy to add one straight to your blog, especially if it’s a WordPress blog.
Both self-hosted and wordpress.com blogs have a built-in gallery creator. To use this you would need to create a separate page for your portfolio, then use the Media Uploader to create a gallery that you insert onto that page.
If you want to get fancy and have those gallery photos open into a big lightbox, you can turn on Jetpack’s Carousel.
Those with self-hosted WordPress blogs have even more options. Many WordPress themes offer their own gallery page templates which may offer more advanced features than the standard WordPress gallery.
The super tinkerers out there might want to try a gallery plugin. These are good options for those who really want a professional portfolio and better image management. Photo Gallery and Envira are two of my recommendations.
You can even curate Instagram photos into a gallery! Some full-blown gallery plugins offer Instagram integration but there are simpler options, like Enjoy Instagram, that only focus on Instagram. This lets you curate a portfolio from of a particular hashtag.
These are just a few ideas for valuing your past work.
By digging around my blog, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by some things I’d forgotten about! It’s fun to go back and read that the first entry I ever wrote, if only to remember how I came up with this blog name. (My friend Hannah helped me out with it, because I’m terrible at titles!)
By the way, it’s probably obvious I recommend WordPress for blogging! For beginners I recommend starting with wordpress.com which is easy to set up and make pretty. (Blogger has way fewer options in creative layout and comment moderation, and Google doesn’t seem to spend time improving it as a web product.)