31 December 2014

This year on emuse!

It’s been a big year here on emuse!

At the start of the year I had a bit of a creative spurt, and, after redecorating my living room, I needed a new project. To tell the truth, after casually blogging for just over 7 years, it was starting to feel like a bit of a chore, and I wondered whether to give it up altogether and concentrate on putting my photos on Flickr instead. I’m not sure what made me change my mind, but I suddenly decided that I would redesign and relaunch the blog instead! Shortly after making this decision, A Beautiful Mess launched their new Blog Life course – the timing was perfect, so I signed up for it immediately, and gained lots of inspiration for how my blog would move forward!

I did a complete redesign of the blog, with a new banner, background colour, buttons, favicon, About Me and FAQ pages, and social media links. The main aspect of the redesign was making the photos much bigger, and I also am making a big effort to make them better too, with better lighting and post-processing. I've also made the decision to add adverts in the sidebar, I hope that you don't find it detracts from your experience on the blog too much.

After the relaunch, I moved to a schedule of daily posting, because my head was filled to bursting with ideas for posts! I don’t know if this is a pace I will always be able to keep up, especially in some of the darker winter months when photography is more of a problem, but I’ve been enjoying the challenge so far!

One of the things I learned from the Blog Life course was to play to your strengths, and I realised that a possible weakness I have could be used as a strength! I tend to get a bit obsessed with one topic for a while, then something else takes over! So my idea of themed weeks and months works well for me. Here are the themed months I’ve had so far:
I've also had a lot of themed weeks, on themes of jewellery storage, plastic canvas earrings, the Japanese festival of Kodomo no Hi, old projects, photo backdrops, and food and drink.

I’ve started some ongoing features:

And I've done monthly roundups of what I've been up to and what's been happening here on emuse.

The big successes of the year have been craft projects that use unusual materials, or use everyday materials for a different purpose, for example nail polish, coloured pencils, erasers, lace doilies, plastic canvas or tomato puree tubes! Here are some of them:

Another hugely successful post, which came shortly after the redesign, was How to design a unique set of Russian dolls. This post came from very little – I had some photos of a couple of sets of Russian dolls that I hadn’t posted, and realised I could combine these with some earlier photos from the blog to form a tutorial. This is something I have since made a conscious effort to do – present my crafts as tutorials, instead of just “here’s something nice I made”! It’s a little bit of extra work, remembering to take some step-by-step photos, and writing the instructions, but I’m a lot happier with my blog posts since the relaunch. I want my blog to be a place to encourage others rather than to show off!

I’ve set up profiles on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, and it’s been interesting trying to work out how best to use these to promote emuse. Twitter is probably my least-used of the bunch, so I need to do a bit of thinking about how best to use it. I’m loving Instagram in particular, for posting photos from my everyday life and behind-the-scenes of my craft projects. I’ve also had a lot of success at submitting my craft tutorials to CraftGawker (77 accepted / 12 declined), and this is where a large proportion of the traffic to emuse comes from. Also, one of my projects was featured on the Make website for the first time. It’s a site that I’ve read on a daily basis since the days of Craft magazine, so that meant a lot to me!

I was delighted to be contacted by Cat of Cut Out and Keep a few months back, so look out for some of my projects appearing there soon!/*and I have now been featured as one of their Crafty Superstars! I am also delighted to have been interviewed on Adventures in Making as a Featured Maker, and a leading Australian magazine is planning to publish a photo of one of my projects. And I did a guest post for Scot Bloggers.

I'd like to mention a couple of my blogging friends who have inspired and encouraged me over the year. Marceline of Asking for Trouble always has something on her blog that makes me smile, and sometimes links to posts on my blog which makes me smile even more! It's great to know someone's reading and appreciating my blog enough to mention it on their own. Alice of Misadventures of Alice launched her new blog around the same time I redesigned mine, and I love seeing all her dolly / hamstery adventures!

I've been working hard on my self portraits, so that I can bring more of a personal touch to the blog, letting you all see what I look like and a bit of my personality. I've made it a challenge to take self portraits that are a bit more creative than I would have done before, and I've also tried to incorporate the emuse blog name into a lot of the photos.

Who knows what ideas I’ll have for craft projects over the next year, but you can rest assured there will be some original and unique ideas, lots of quick and simple projects, and plenty of themed weeks and months!

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