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Blog ✓ Branding ✓ Content ✓, Now what? Blogging Small Business Advice

A little over a year ago, I participated in the Let’s Get Acquainted New Blogger Blog Hop at Plum and June. This blog hop was a chance for new, unknown blogs to get their name out and make new friends. It was a wonderful blog hop and I still can’t thank Beth enough for the opportunity. One year later, I am really excited to be back participating in round 2 of the blog hop. This time I was asked by Beth to share some advice for bloggers interested in taking their blog to the next level.

Be sure to check out the following blog posts as they are a great foundation and preliminary to what I will say today.

Heidi from Fabric Mutt: Advice for New Bloggers, Tessa from The Sewing Chick: It’s All About the Pictures, Janice from Better off Thread: Advice for New Bloggers, Jess from Elven Garden: Advice for New Bloggers

If you have read through all four posts, then you should have a really good idea of what it takes to start a blog that is fun and successful. Branding, Photos, Quality Content, etc.

Suppose you have started a blog and you absolutely love what you’re doing, but now you are ready to take it a step further and turn your adventure into a small business. What steps do you take next? Before I hop into giving you advice on how to make these steps I would like to share a little of my story and how Pile O’ Fabric came to be.

My Story

bashopWhen I was growing up, I spent a huge portion of my time helping out at my parent’s jewelry shop. By the time I was 12, I was already working the jewelry counter. Eventually, I moved from the sales floor to managing the online store which is when I began to learn graphic/web design. When I was 18 years old, I married my high school sweetheart. He, too, was learning graphic/web design and together we began to build a business. I have been a graphic/web designer for the past seven years in addition to a stay at home mom for the past four years. It has been a long learning and growing process which I believe will never end. Because of the experience I gained growing up, I was naturally very entrepreneurial. [caption id="attachment_4157" align="aligncenter" width="500"]first-quilt First quilt I ever made.[/caption]

In December 2011, I got the crazy idea to get out my sewing machine (which was in the closet for 5 years) and make my very first quilt. After that first quilt was finished, there was no stopping me! I had finally found a hobby that I really enjoyed. It was at that moment that the progression to Pile O’ Fabric began.

I was so excited about quilting I could not stop talking about it. Eventually, I could tell that my husband and sisters were sick of hearing about quilting all the time. I decided to start my own blog where I could get out all the cooped up quilting excitement and keep my family sane. In April 2012, Pile O’ Fabric was born. At first I had no real expectation for the blog, I just wanted somewhere to talk.


I participated in a bunch of online sewing events and my love for blogging began to grow to be just as much as my love for quilting. Here was the turning point, the one which I am focusing on in today’s advice.

I found myself pouring hours and hours of time (some weeks over 25 hrs) into Pile O’ Fabric, not out of obligation, but out of pure love and enjoyment. However, the reality check was that the hours spent blogging were taking time away from work and my family. It was at that point I needed to make a serious decision: step back and let Pile O’ Fabric just be a place to share my projects when I have time or take Pile O’ Fabric to the next level and turn it into a small business that can help support my family and replace my job.

I caution you to take it slow when making this decision. Really dig deep and figure out why you are truly blogging. Is it just to simply share what you love to do, but without too much commitment? When I stopped and thought hard, my answer was this…I blog at Pile O’ Fabric because I absolutely love to encourage/inspire others and to push them out of their comfort zone so they will always keep learning. I knew that I wanted to build a business with that goal as the foundation and it was at that moment I decided to move forward.

Taking the Next Steps

Once you have determined that taking your blog to the next level is the route for you then here is some advice.


dedicationBlogging as a business is not for the light hearted. It requires a massive amount of blood, sweat, and sometimes even tears. Be prepared to possibly work on one single blog post for over 8 hours straight. Or to run into problem after problem (sew through my finger, ouch!, then the sewing machine tension is off, then the video won’t record, then your computer crashes, then your blog didn’t save the changes). No small business is going to be super easy to start and run; it takes dedication and determination to continue trucking forward.

Embrace and Expect Feedback

feedbackNo one is perfect. As a blogger and business owner, you are going to make mistakes, possibly lots of them. I know I make them often. You will learn real quick that with blogging comes feedback and criticism. I mean, after all, blogging is about the relationship between writer and reader. You must embrace any feedback with open arms and really think about how it can help your business. Be prepared for those occasions when you get some very harsh feedback; this is just part of doing business. I am learning to try and take this feedback with the right heart and be as patient as I can. In those situations, I feel, the best barometer is to trust your conscience. If you feel you could have done better, be honest, or if you feel you tried your best, then be honest. Ultimately, try not to lose sleep over it. Occasionally, you may shed a tear or two and feel very discouraged. But, remember that there are many, many readers out there who are very thankful for you. Don’t let the amount of comments you receive be a barometer for your success. Many people may love your posts and simply just have very busy lives which often makes commenting hard.

Continued Motivation

motivationWhen you are in the thick of a hectic schedule between blogging, side work, children, home responsibilities, etc., it is very easy to lose your motivation. In fact, I can guarantee at some point you are going to feel slightly burned out. That is inevitable with really anything you do, not just work. When you reach the time of burn out, I strongly encourage a “blogcation”. Now this isn’t always easy. I often protest this very issue with my husband, “if I stop what I am doing then I will just be more behind and stressed when I get back”. No one can run a marathon when you have only had three hours of sleep in the last four days. You have to take a break. Whether you go on an actual vacation or just take some time off is up to you. During your “blogcation” take time to think back to the exact reason you started your blogging business and refocus your energy towards that goal.


reevaluateYou know how you can fold every single towel in your linen closet and make it all perfect, but somehow as time goes by that same linen closet looks like a bomb blew up? Or maybe you fold your fabric stash and order it by color then within a week you have oranges with your reds and greens with your blues? I guarantee this will happen with your business as well. You may go a few months and find yourself getting slightly lazier, or maybe the direction or focus of your blog has changed slightly and you didn’t even realize it. Be sure to stop often (maybe monthly) and re-evaluate your blog. If you are being lazy, then try to clean up your mess and get back on track. If your focus has changed, decipher if you like the change or if you strayed from your original reason for blogging. Make adjustments as needed and keep pressing onward.


monetizeHow do you make money blogging? This is the most popular question I get asked behind the scenes. Very few people pay their bills with blogging. In fact, you may find yourself working really hard for very little income. This is why it is absolutely crucial you know that you truly want to blog as a business and why it is important to take time and think hard before making that choice. Sponsors and Advertising: You need to contact them. Shops and sponsors are not usually out on their free time perusing blogs looking for ones to sponsor. You must present your blog to them. Before emailing the sponsors I strongly suggest putting together a media kit which shares all about your blog, your readers, demographics, followers, the whole gamut. Believe me, if you don’t they are going to ask anyway and it’s better to be prepared. Choose sponsors wisely. Now this will come down to personal goals and preference, but for me I only want to support sponsors who sell relevant products that I love and use and who have wonderful customer service. I wanted to choose sponsors who I would love to promote wholeheartedly. This is why I currently do not have flashy clorox ads all over. Once you take on sponsors do not promote them out of obligation (if you’re doing this you shouldn’t even have sponsors or you have the wrong ones). Promote them out of a love for them and with the hope that their business will grow because of you. Free or Paid? Find a Balance: I was recently discussing with a friend the most difficult step to building your blogging business; how much do you give away for free? Posting free tutorials brings me great joy. I love to see other quilters learn and grow from them. They can also really help the growth of your blog. But, if this is a business, at some point you are going to have to draw a line between paid and free. Drawing this line is very hard to do and is something I am still trying to figure out. With so many bloggers offering free tutorials (even myself with the BOM) offering paid options seems like a hard step to take. This is another topic you will really need to think hard about and probably seek out advice from others in your shoes. There are many paid options out there such as workshops, classes, pattern design, e-books, premium blog posts with membership, quilt alongs, etc. You will need to figure out what works best for you and your business and most likely adapt over time.

When I first began writing this post I was at a loss of what to say, but now I think I could make an entire blog series about “blogging: a small business”. I don’t claim to have all the answers, and I am definitely still learning, but if you need more advice or have questions please never hesitate to email me. To bring this post to summation I will say this… Blog with integrity, be honest, be patient, and never let yourself stop growing and learning!


    Post Comments

  • Alyssa says...

    Sounds like you have some very wise children. Love that imagine it, live it, love it, or change it, well put. Thanks Penny!

    On August 20, 2014

  • Penny G says...

    Your advice could be translated into doing almost anything. I watch my children go through life and find many of these truths. One is an executive in a small public broadcasting market and one is a marketing director in a new but relatively busy civil engineering group. There are days of “wow look what I did” and days of “nobody appreciates what I did”. There have been days of “why am I here” and “I can’t imagine anything could make me happier”. Both have to worry budgets and make wise choices to insure viability of their endeavors. Both reassess their lives often and have to decide whether more commitment or less is the best path in light of their whole life plan. Both have to take pictures to sell their products. It is life. By the way I was a contractor with the Government for years and did all these things too. The end game is imagine it, live it, love it or change it. It is your life and you need to take control and no one else can see what makes you happy the way you can by looking inward.

    On August 20, 2014

  • Becky S says...

    Thank you so much for this!
    I have a baby blog but I have no idea what direction makes sense. I have an Etsy sewing shop but it seems that it doesn’t translate too well into blog-ville. I got a good response from the few tutorials I have done but my business is the sewing and I have no idea how to promote that. Would love to hear any specific ideas you may have. :)

    PS I LOVE your rainbow hex quilt. I adore quilting but seriously lack the patience and precision it requires.

    On August 20, 2014

  • Linda says...

    That was very enlightening! I have a blog, but have only written one post, and I don’t even remember my Blogger password any more. I have a lot of respect for people like you, who I believe are mostly women, who make money from their blogs. (I was going to say make a living from their blogs, but that might be stretching it a bit…lol) I don’t know how you keep it all together, especially with your health problems. I want you to know that I’m one of your biggest fans. I don’t always leave a comment, but I enjoy each and every post! My youngest child (“child” is going to be 30 in a few months), is taking a new direction in her life/career. After getting a Masters’ degree in Library Science (my daughter the Librarian…8-), she is starting pre-med classes next month. As her mom, I worry about the student loan debt, and the great benefits she has at her current job that she’s losing by quitting to go to school full-time. She sees the bigger picture, thank goodness! She’s quite the planner, and has a spreadsheet with her/their future all planned out including a potential wedding year and potential grandchildren for me. She’s my caboose baby. She has 5 older brothers and an older sister, the youngest of which are twins who will be 38 in a couple of weeks. I may forward this post to her. It may give her some more insight.

    Thanks for sharing your motivation with us.

    xo Linda

    On August 20, 2014

  • Christa Quilts says...

    Wow Alyssa – well said! You hit it right on so many points you brought up. And from the sponsor side of things I really do appreciate the steps you go through to help promote my business without being overly commercial. You’ve found the right balance :-)

    On August 20, 2014

  • Julie @ The Crafty Quilter says...

    Hi Alyssa, You have described the process of blogging so well and put into words many of the highs and lows of the business end of it. I know how much work this one blog post must have taken, let alone your many tutorials, BOM updates, etc. I, too, find that blogging is a joy, but it’s hard to justify the amount of time I spend doing it without making an income from it. I’ve considered going after sponsors and perhaps coming up with paid classes, but I have yet to make that commitment. Thank you for bringing to light the potentials of both.

    On August 20, 2014

  • Linh says...

    Hey just wanted to let you know that was a great post just starting out with my blog and hoping one day to be where you are. Thank for sharing!

    On August 20, 2014

  • Michelle @ Squeek Crafts says...

    What a great post. I will definitely take the advice and store it for later use that’s for sure. I keep nagging my husband (more as a joke) about making this more of a business but to be honest right now I love doing the projects and quilting etc because it isn’t a job. I do love fabric and color and projects all of which leads to a major addiction…maybe I will just look at doing some classes and use all that fabric I have purchased on cool things. I couldn’t image the time it takes in blogging as a job….. I already spend so much time on blogging and it’s not a job.

    Congratulations – loved the post!! I would definitely read a thread on blogging: small business

    On August 20, 2014

  • Abby says...

    Thank you Alyssa for a great post. I am new to blogging only set up my blog in January this year and did not even tell anyone till March. I only have a handful of followers and have no idea if or where I will take my blog but your post has really giving me something to think about, you are very inspirational. I love your blog and your Skill Builder BOM has really improved my skills which was one of my personal goals for the year.

    On August 20, 2014

  • Marianne says...

    What a fabulous post….very informative and well said. Thanks

    On August 20, 2014

  • Vera says...

    I have no intention to go into business part but it is still interesting read. I love your blog. You are great motivation. Your hard work is truly inspiring. I also love the series and I actually started new blog due to the advices given. Thx.

    On August 20, 2014

  • Melissa says...

    What a great post! I have been wanted to do blogging as a business, but to also help grow my long arm business that I am starting. It really has been a lot of work and is definitely moving a lot slower than I had originally hoped. Thanks for providing additional inspiration about trying to meet my blogs. Also quick question, do you know anything about blogger adsense? Thanks again for such a great post!

    On August 20, 2014

  • lisa@hilltophouse says...

    Thank you many times over, for this fresh and real offering of such good clear advice. what you have said really rings true for me and I appreciate your reminders to keep our heads up and remember we will make mistakes and this is going to be a challenge!

    On August 20, 2014

  • Jess says...

    Really great post Alyssa – I love how upfront and honest you’ve been about the whole sponsorship thing – that’s exactly my approach to it all.

    On August 20, 2014

  • Mary Helen says...

    WOW! What a wonderful post. I think that you should seriously consider an online class to help people like me get started with a small business. I would certainly pay you. I have been taking classes on Quilt University and what you put into this blog is certainly on par with some of those classes. I really don’t know how you do it all. I have enjoyed the BOM and feel like I’ve sort of gotten to know you. You are a lovely young woman. Don’t ever doubt that. Thanks
    Mary Helen

    On August 20, 2014

  • wombatquilts says...

    Thank you so much for this post. It has given me a lot to think about.

    On August 20, 2014

  • Alyce says...

    Inspiration much?! Thank you for sharing your experiences and your wisdom. I too get such a thrill from the blogging side of “quilt blogging” – fiddling with your website, making improvements, learning, writing, etc. I have to remind myself to get off the computer and sew sometimes! I too would love to hear more from you on all of this!

    On August 20, 2014

  • Kristy @ Quiet Play says...

    Great post! Glad you shared the small business side of blogging advice – especially in relation to quilting. Not so much about that out there!

    On August 20, 2014

  • Lorna McMahon says...

    Thank you, Alyssa, for sharing your knowledge gained through years of experience. This post will be one I have bookmarked! Very useful info. (And nice pics, too!)

    On August 20, 2014

  • Linda P says...

    Thanks for all the information. I’ve been blogging for over 4 years and there is some new information here that I can use. Thanks for sharing!

    On August 20, 2014

  • Adrienne says...

    Thank you so much for this great post, really makes me stop and think. Not sure about my next steps, but it is so great to know folks like you are out there and will share their knowledge and experience.

    On August 20, 2014

  • Janet @ Quilting Revolution says...

    Excellent post. Thank you for taking the time to write it. It’s interesting how you end up connecting with other sites. I found you through a BOM Link of one of your participants that was linked to another blog. Curiousity, a google search and a few hops later, I’m here. I’ve “Liked” you on Facebook and linked back to your site. Will add your button to my blog as well. Good luck to you and thank you for the inspiration!

    On August 20, 2014

  • Rebekah says...

    Thank you! This was excellent! Your genuine love for what you do shines through this post.

    On August 20, 2014

  • Julie Beard says...

    Wow you really do focus on help beginner quilters like me. Love your tutorials they are so simple. I love to win that fabric bundle to help grow my stash. Thank you for the opportunity. Julie714@adam.com.au

    On August 20, 2014

  • Jeifner says...

    I would love a whole series on blogging to business. You’ve got a lot of info to share and gold nuggets of experience.

    On August 20, 2014

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Alyssa Lichner from Pile O' Fabric

Welcome to the Pile O’ Fabric blog, my name is Alyssa Lichner, I live in sunny Gilbert, AZ. I am a freelance web and graphic designer turned avid sewist. I write modern quilting tutorials and share techniques and inspiration here at Pile O’ Fabric… Read More

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