Springtime Beastie Fun! CrawCrafts Beasties

Beastie Weekend Reads, Part 1

Well hello there, BeastieBuddies!

I did promise you a double dose of blogging this week, so here I am!

When I was celebrating welcoming my 500th victim follower into the fold a couple of weeks back, I really did underestimate the number of awesome bloggers I keep up with (or at least try to) on a regular basis. I started that post with the noble intention of namechecking all of my favourites. Can you believe my naivety? Halfway through, I realised that if I were to give them all their dues, I would be tapping away at the computer all day. And by the end of the list, no-one would still be reading anyway. So, in the name of delivering the best possible shout-outs, I’m dividing up my reading list into nice, bite-sized chunks, which I’ll be feeding to you every now and again on Fridays. I’m hoping you’ll find a spare minute over the weekend to dip in, and maybe stumble on a new must-read!

So, without further ado, here are my first three…

Knitting the Stash
Knitting the Stash - Beastie Reads - CrawCrafts Beasties
If you’re in any way craftily inclined, you’ll find so much to love on Melissa’s blog… Although her enthusiasm for all things woolly and yarny is really quite infectious, so even if you don’t know your knit from your purl, you might find yourself getting sucked in! What makes Melissa different from so many other craft bloggers out there is that she takes a look beyond her own works in progress, and taps into the growing community of people involved in producing the wool she knits and spins. This takes in everything from visiting farms (and getting involved in the sheep shearing!) to meeting indie dyers and pattern designers. One of my favourite recent posts was her interview with Kara Syvertsen of Second Cycle Yarn Co… It was so inspiring to learn how one woman is making a living (and saving heaps of usable high-quality fibre from ending up in landfill) by turning unwanted clothing back into beautifully presented skeins of yarn! Melissa has also been a huge supporter of me and the Beasties, so we’re happy to be able to return the favour at last!

And as if that wasn’t enough, Melissa is also responsible for producing one of my favourite podcasts. I have to admit that I’m usually more of a “reader” than a “watcher”, but I always try to make time for Knitting the Stash. The episodes are a good length (usually around the half-hour mark), and Melissa is a fun, interesting person to hang out with! Here’s the latest episode, if you’d like to meet her for yourself!

Handmade Habit
Handmade Habit - Beastie Reads - CrawCrafts BeastiesI love checking in with Shirley’s blog. I think it has a lot to do with the way she writes – her calm, warm voice just puts you at ease, and it’s like you’re meeting a good friend for coffee and a catchup. Shirley is another person who is all about handmade, and her posts are mostly about what she’s got on the go at the moment – she knits, weaves and is a super-talented illustrator. She also loves to read around her interests, and I’ve so enjoyed sharing in her library finds (or special orders)… Especially when she comes across something with a crafty theme! Lately, I’ve been avidly following her first foray into working with reclaimed yarn (the journey starts here, if you’re interested) and I also really enjoyed this post about why working slowly isn’t such a bad thing… Perfect reading for a chilled-out Saturday morning!

Daze + Weekes
Daze and Weekes - Beastie Reads - CrawCrafts BeastiesHistory was one of my least favourite subjects in school. For three years, we sifted through an apparently random selection of dry topics, in no particular order, and the classroom was always stupidly hot. I never regretted my decision to drop it at the very first opportunity – until I got hopelessly hooked on Daze + Weekes. This is history as it should be told, with high drama, tongue-in-cheek humour and frequent Game of Thrones references. It also helps that the subject matter is fascinating – there’s a strong focus on the interesting women of history here, and it really makes for great reading. I think Joan, Minx of Wales gets my vote for favourite recent feature, or if you will insist on remaining in the present day, why not join Weekes at that most hateful of modern inconveniences, The Group Interview? She will also, very considerately, provide the soundtrack for your weekend lounging – on her sister site, weekesmusic.com, you’ll find the first two luscious, dreamy tracks from her upcoming album, AND a link to a curated mixtape playlist on Spotify. That should keep you all out of mischief until my next post on Tuesday!

Have a great weekend, everybody!
Boozy Barfly Beasties - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Heights of Abraham Cable Car

So, What Have We Learned?

I love it when a plan comes together.

Last week, I thought I would try my hand at seeking out some Dublin-based blogging events. I was expecting to find something to look forward to a couple of months down the line, so you can imagine how lucky I felt when I found that one of the main events in Ireland’s blogging calendar was happening that very weekend, in a hotel a mere stone’s throw from Beastie Towers! SCORE!

So, Explorer Beastie and I packed our bags and spent last Saturday at the 2016 Irish Bloggers Conference. We heard from loads of different people, and I thought it might be fun to share some of the things we learned with you all. Plus I’m more likely to remember it if I write it all down.

Now, if you’re all sitting comfortably, let’s launch into…

The Monster Guide to Blogging Bliss!

And we’ll kick off with…

Hint No.1 - Be Positive (CrawCrafts Beasties)Entertaining complainers are as rare as virtuoso musicians and masterpiece-painting artists. Who wants to read a series of rants about the fact that no-one is visiting your blog? If you’re blogging, chances are you want to share something you’re interested in or passionate about with the world. Talk about what you love with enthusiasm and humour, and people will surely come back for more.
Tip No. 2 - Be Yourself (CrawCrafts Beasties)…Even if what you’re into isn’t popular. Talking about something you genuinely believe in will win you more loyal readers than slavishly hopping on every bandwagon going.

And while we’re on the subject of readers…
Tip No.3 - Join in (CrawCrafts Beasties)Don’t be shy! If you like what you read, say so. Start conversations. Reply to your comments. Join online groups based on your interests and pitch in on the forums. And if you’re sharing links to your own online places, don’t just drop them in there – ask for feedback, or tag someone who you think will enjoy it.
Tip No. 4 - Check your stats (CrawCrafts Beasties)Ah, something I need to be doing more. But it makes sense – for example, by finding out when most of your readers tune in, you can tailor your posting habits to ensure that your words of wisdom reach more people. You’ll also start to notice patterns in what appeals most to your readers, or what draws new ones in, and you can use this knowledge to plan what to talk about next. And that just makes everything easier!
Tip No.5 - Be consistent (CrawCrafts Beasties)Being consistent doesn’t mean that all your posts have to be exactly the same. But your regular readers will come to expect certain things from your blog, and being consistent in things like your tone of voice, what you talk about and when you post will set them at ease before they’ve read a word. You’d all be pretty freaked out if the BeastieBlog morphed overnight into a foul-mouthed diatribe on contemporary economic policy, wouldn’t you?
Tip No.6 - Take good photos (CrawCrafts Beasties)I can’t claim to be an expert photographer, but nothing detracts from your blog more than pictures that are grainy, or that have been squished and stretched until they look like something from the world’s worst hall of mirrors. Always start off with high-resolution photos – you can make big pictures smaller, but you can’t unshrink small ones!
Tip No. 7 - Be upfront about ads (CrawCrafts Beasties)Ah, can there be anything more annoying than reading an entire article, only to find out at the end that it’s basically just an advert? If you’re doing a sponsored post, be a good human and make it clear from the outset… Your readers will trust you more.

And finally…
Tip No. 8 - Hang in there! (CrawCrafts Beasties)One thing that a lot of the bloggers (and other speakers) at the conference had in common was persistence. They all made it clear that any success they’d had didn’t just happen overnight – more often than not, it was the product of long hours, hard work and a few people along the way telling them that their ideas were terrible. So keep going – you never know what’s around the next corner!

Thanks to the Irish Blogger Association for a really interesting and informative day out. And if you have any blogging tips of your own to share, let us know in the comments!

We’ll be back on Tuesday with a new Beastie for you to meet… In the meantime, have a monster weekend!