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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Making Videos - 30 Lessons in Blogging

After making lots of pictorial sewing tutorials for my blog, last year, I tried for the first time to make a video tutorial.
I had lots to learn about how to make a video. Initially I used my phone as the video itself, balanced on a wooden stand I had for a decorative Japanese fan!
I've also made other short videos just using my camera on the video setting and holding it steady, but a tripod would be ideal!

Once I'd made a video tutorial, I discovered that it was really easy to create a Youtube account and upload my video to that to share it with everyone.

Programmes used in making videos

For my first video I used Powerpoint, where you can insert videos onto slides. I then transferred the whole presentation into a video format.  By the next video I'd  discovered and changed to using 
Windows Live Movie Maker
which I've now made a few little videos on and am slowly learning about the features you can use, like fading in and out of each scene, adding music etc. I found Movie Maker reasonably easy to experiment with and learn. It's quite simply laid out, and I learned by trial and error. There are of course some great Youtube video tutorials out there that show you how to do each part. Any time I got stuck on how to do something, there was also a video online to help me out!

For the intro backgrounds for some of my videos, countdowns and fancy swirly graphics,  I've used free downloads from Movietools . 


When you add music to your Youtube video, you have to be careful with what music you add. 
My daughter recently made a video about Zero Waste to show at her school as part of introducing a recycling programme there. For that she used one of her favourite commercial songs, so although I uploaded it to my Youtube channel, it cannot be seen in some countries and is not montetised.

There are plenty of options for copyright free music out there if you search the internet and give proper credit. For my videos I've used Longzijun - which is a site that allows you to use their own original music ( so long as you give credit) on montetised Youtube videos.


You can link your Youtube account to your Google Adsense account if you have one. I've only just done this today with mine - using this simple video tutorial. So as yet, I can't comment on whether this is a good source of revenue or not.  I would imagine that just as with your blog, it depends on the amount of traffic you get watching your videos.

My videos

So here's one of the videos I've made. My daughter helped me make this one last year showing how to make a mini fork pom pom.

You can see my other short videos on my Youtube channel.
It's definitely something I want to learn more about and try making more.

How about you?

Have you ever made a video tutorial? Or other kind of video for your blog?
If anyone has any hints or tips on making video tutorials I'd love to hear them.  I know I watch a lot of video tutorials myself, so it's something I'm keen to learn more of.

Serviced Sewing Machines - Day 65 Use What You've Got

Last week since we had family visitors staying in our spare room, which is also my sewing room, I thought I'd take the opportunity to have my sewing machines serviced.
I've had my sewing machine for around 10 years, and my overlocker (serger) for around 5 years. I've never had either serviced, which is probably not good since I'm pretty rough with my machines - sewing all kinds of materials with them - pool salt bags, car windscreen shades, lots of thick denim...

Anyway, they came back with only 1 note of my sewing machine plate being replaced - everything else was just a basic service.

I liked that they left small fabric scraps in the machines to show they'd tested the stitches out!

Our visitors left a couple of days ago and since then I've been catching up on housework and a couple of other things. This morning was my first chance to test my machines out.

I also used my newly sharpened scissors - sooo nice to cut with them now!
I just made a small drawstring bag (using my own tutorial)

I had an initial panic when my 'reverse stitch' button didn't work the first time I pressed it!  So I grabbed some scrap fabric and just did lots of lines of straight stitching - going forwards and backwards lots.  It worked just fine - so just a minor hiccup, that I'll keep an eye out for happening again!

All seems good. I wondered if it would 'feel' any different sewing with my machine straight after a full service but it didn't!

As far as my overlocker (serger) goes, before the service it just wasn't working, The needles kept coming unthreaded, the stitching wasn't right... so I was looking forward to trying this one out!

Thankfully - this machine did feel different! So smooth, perfect stitching and no needles unthreaded!

So my machines are now back where they should be - serviced, tested and I've put new needles in too!  
All set for some new sewing projects!

My services have a 3 month warranty on them, so I'm going to make sure and make full use of both machines in those 3 months just in case there are any issues with them!

Have you ever had your sewing machines serviced? I was told by the shop that I should have them serviced every year!  Oops!! 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Guest Posts on Your Blog - 30 Lessons in Blogging

I've already talked about you getting your own work featured on bigger sites, but there is also the flip side of this where you can get other people to write posts for your blog. This can provide fresh content for you, and help bring new visitors and traffic to your guest's blog.

My experience with Guest Posts

I started out doing guest posts with other bloggers quite early on. It was often a swap - we both did a post for each other and promoted them to our readers. 

Then for a while, I ran a weekly 'guest post' spot on my blog where I had several great bloggers generously provide wonderful tutorials for me to showcase.  This provided something fresh for my blog and also sent some new visitors and traffic to my guests' blogs so it was  good all round!

You can see the guest post tutorials on my dedicated page here. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by quite how popular the tutorial on how to strip furniture was. Since it didn't really fit with my own sewing tutorials and posts - but once again reminded me that it's ok to go off topic now and again to add extra depth and interest to your blog!

How to get Guest Posts for your blog

Quite simply, you just ask!
As I mentioned I did a couple of swap posts at first - so you could contact your friends first and guest post for each other for a little fun.
Then when I decided to run my weekly feature, I sent emails out to lots of smallish blogs I admired, asking them if they would like to have a guest post on my blog.  Since my blog was growing quite a bit at that stage, I felt that I could offer them a decent amount of exposure by showcasing them on my blog.


Yes, it is important to set out a few rules or guidelines if you're asking for Guest Posts. You want to maintain a standard and quality for your blog, so you need to be clear about the things that you require and are important to you. Here are some example guidelines for guest posts:

  • State the type of post you want - is it a tutorial? or perhaps a chance for someone to just showcase their creations? Also mention other things, for example if the quality and number of photos are important to you, the length of post or any other details you are concerned about.

  • Set a date for the post to be published and deadline as to when you want to have the post by. Give yourself enough time to edit and schedule the post, and also time to find an alternate post in case your Guest blogger lets you down!

  • Let your guest know if they can promote their blog at the start or end of the guest post with a photo or two and a link back - or whether you want to add that part yourself.

  • Let your guest know if and when you're happy for them to repost the tutorial (or whatever type of post it is) on their own blog. I usually asked them to wait a week before publishing it again.

By setting out these rules or guidelines in advance, it makes it easier to decline an offer of a guest post that you don't feel fits with your blog or isn't of a high enough standard. 

It also means that your guest posts will fit with your style of blogging and so are more likely to appeal to your audience and in turn drive new visitors and traffic to your guests' blogs.


Guest posts are a great thing to set up if you're going to be away on holiday.  It can be a fun way to keep the blog fresh while you're away. You could schedule all of your own posts, but without you there to promote them and answer comments and questions, they won't have the same punch as usual!

Oh and by the way, I'm having a holiday at the end of this year, so may be looking for some guest posts then!! Feel free to let me know if you'd be interested! :)

How about you?

Have you done any guest posts for other blogs?
Do you accept guest posts for your own blog?
Would you recommend them?

A Round Tuit 223, Day 64, Use What You've Got

Well after a very busy couple of weeks with family visiting, kids trips and activities, things are finally calming down again. This is the last week of term for my girls and I'm looking forward to a couple of weeks with them - we're planning bike rides and science experiments so far! Can't wait!

Here's my review of last week in pictures - with my #100happydays that I'm still going strong with.


Now it's time to party - and see what you've all been up to!

Welcome to this week's linky party. A place where you can link up your posts and creations, and be inspired by others.

Tuits are very hard to come by, especially the round ones. For years people have been saying, "I'll do it as soon as I get a round tuit". Well now you can have one of your very own, and all those jobs that have needed doing will finally get done!
Here's my favourites from last week's party:
First of all, a fabulous tutorial for making your own reusable sandwich bags from fused plastic bags and fabric scraps - by Vicky Myers Creations:
Just brilliant!!

Next, a really wonderful 
DIY Cork-board makeover from Titicrafty by Camila.
My daughter was just asking if she could make her cork-board look a little prettier, so I shall have to show her this!

For those featured, feel free to grab a 'featured on' button here.
Creating my way to Success
Now it's your turn:
Link up your own projects - old or new - no rules - just share your creativity and inspiration!
I'd love if you grabbed the button - then you can have your very own Round Tuit!
And of course we all love visitors and comments so do visit some of the other links!
By linking up here you're giving me permission to use photos from your post in features here on my blog.
I will feature my favourites on this post next week.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Backing up your blog - 30 Lessons in Blogging

As with any work that is important, you should backup your blog in some way, just in case anything was to happen to it. It could be hacked and deleted; or if the stories you hear are true, Blogger could delete your blog with no notice if you do the wrong thing!

Blogger Backup

There is a lovely clear tutorial here that shows you have to download a complete backup of your Blogger blog. I just used it myself as I hadn't saved mine in a while.

There are plenty of posts out there about backing up your Wordpress blog - but I won't suggest any particular one since I haven't done that myself.

Other Backups

As I've mentioned before, my sewing tutorials are the biggest feature on my blog. I've created my own backups of these tutorials. I copied each one into a document and created a store of PDF versions of all of my tutorials which are stored both in a couple of different hard drives and storage USBs at home, plus they are all on Google Drive which gives you 15GB of free online storage.  I've only used a tiny fraction of this with all of my tutorials. You can also enable offline editing with Google Drive so that you can access these documents on your computer without having to access the internet.

I'm not concerned about losing my blog work.  If anything did ever happen to my blog, then I would start again with a new blog.
Creating my way to Success has grown and developed over 4 years in lots of different ways. The blog URL doesn't match the title of the blog, there are plenty posts that I've deleted over time, but they still show up on some of the widgets, and I'm sure there are many more small 'messy' aspects to my blog.

If I had to start again, then it would be an opportunity to do so armed with lots of knowledge and experience. A challenge to create and even bigger and better blog out of the ashes.

BUT - let's hope nothing like that happens and I shall continue to learn about and grow this blog!

How about you?

Have you ever done a backup of your blog?
Is is perhaps something you do regularly?
Have you ever heard of anyone losing their blog?

A little travel around Cairns - Day 63, Use What You've Got

(yarn bombed tree in Yungaburra - Atherton Tablelands)

This past week we've had family visiting and so have spent a little time doing the touristy thing and showing them a little of Cairns.

We snaffled the girls out of school one day and went strawberry picking..

We ended up with 4.5kg of strawberries, which was perhaps a little excessive - but all part of the fun, and they did all get eaten!

We also visited the botanic gardens  - which has some amazing plants, including this palm tree completely covered in cactuses!

It's good to have visitors now and again to remind you of all the beautiful and fun things to do in your area - that you may have forgotten about!

How often do you play the tourist in your local area?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Going Off Topic With Posts - 30 Lessons in Blogging

It is important for your blog to have a focus. That was the first thing I wrote about in this blogging series (you can read that post here).  However - to blog about something that isn't 'on topic' for your blog?  Would you? Should you?

My experience

My blog is about sewing, upcycling and learning how to use those to gain success - so motivation and blogging posts too.  I try to post things that are relevant to the main theme of my blog - and add a few photos and comments here and there about what I've been up to.

I do think in blogging, it helps to share a little of who you are with your readers. If you have a 'blog' rather than a 'website' then it's more interactive and people like to know who the person behind the blog is.

It was only about a year ago that I finally started doing this. I added my picture to my profile and began to share more of what I was up to outside of blogging on Facebook, Instagram and also on the blog itself. Since then I really feel like I've connected with more people and that my blog is more 'me' than a separate entity (if that makes sense).

I used to be quite wary of posting things on the blog that were different. That was until a particular post last year. I shared a recipe for Cheesymite scrolls - an Australian recipe I make for my girls quite often for their school lunches. I was hesitant to share a recipe as that's not what my blog was about. However - when I saw how many people came and read the post, I was pleasantly surprised. 

I sometimes wonder what 'should' be posted where. For example should you just post articles and tutorials on topic on your blog, and use social media like Facebook and Twitter to share a little of your personal life?  In the end, I don't think there are any rules.  Your blog should have a focus, but it should also be more personal than just endless tutorials or facts and for that there has to be a variety.

Nowadays I do share the occasional recipe or post about places I've been or things I've done. It doesn't seem to harm my blog, on the contrary, I believe it has a positive effect.

How About You?

Do you share a little of your personal life on your blog?
Or do you think you should restrict that kind of thing to social media?

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