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264: How One Blogger Builds Engagement and Makes a Difference with an Online Community Event

The post 264: How One Blogger Builds Engagement and Makes a Difference with an Online Community Event appeared first on ProBlogger.

How One Blogger is Using Online Events to Build Engagement and Make a Difference

We continue our Blogger Breakthroughs series with a story from Trixi Symonds, whose Coloured Buttons blog teaches kids how to sew. She also created Sew a Softie Day.

Trixi Symonds uses her blog to build engagement and make a difference

Trixi started her blog in 2009 to post kids craft projects. After a few years, she started posting more hand-sewn, well-designed and simple projects that kids could do.

She soon discovered that kids love to sew. They feel empowered when they can make their own bag, cushion or soft toy. So Trixi decided to teach kids all over the world to sew.

The goal behind Sew a Softie Day was to have a day where people all over the world would teach a friend, neighbor, or anyone how to sew a simple softie (a soft toy).

July 16, 2016 became Sew a Softie Day. And Trixi knew she had to promote it. She contacted anyone and everyone for help – bloggers, friends, influencers and magazines. People were happy to help.

Sew a Softie Day was so successful that it turned into Sew a Softie Month in July 2018. Each day, bloggers post a simple-to-sew softie tutorial. And kid ambassadors from around the world have taught a friend how to sew or held a Sew a Softie party.

Anything you can do to get your readers to participate, gather together, and work on something collectively can be very powerful.

A day or event gives your readers focus and purpose. It creates anticipation and excitement. It’s something you could do for any number of topics.

If you need help promoting a day or event, ask for help. You’ll be amazed and overwhelmed with the positive response.

Asking for help is such a valuable but hard lesson for many of us to learn. It might take you out of your comfort zone. But put yourself out there and network. You never know what will happen. You could make a real difference in the lives of your readers.

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Darren: Hey, there! Welcome to episode 264 of the ProBlogger Podcast. My name is Darren Rowse. I’m the blogger behind problogger.com which is all about helping you start a great blog that’s going to change the world in some way, that’s going to make the lives of your readers better, but also be profitable for you. You can learn more about ProBlogger and all we do particularly our courses and ebooks over at problogger.com.

Today, we’re continuing our series of blogger breakthrough stories with a story of Trixi Symonds, a fellow Aussie who I think has been to some of our events, at least she’s networked with a number of people who have because she comes highly recommended. She has a great little blog called Coloured Buttons. You can find it at colouredbuttons.com. She’s also got another really interesting project which she’s going to tell us about in today’s story called Sew a Softie.

Now, Trixi teaches kids how to sew. That’s what her Coloured Buttons blog is about. It’s got a lot of amazing tutorials that help people to do that, but she started this day, Sew a Softie Day. Now, I had to actually look up what a softie was. A softie is a soft toy and she teaches kids how to make their own softie. She started this day to have kids around the world join in on this project. She’s going to tell us the story about why she started that and how it’s gone for her.

I wanted to feature this today because it’s not directly a way to monetize your blog, although you could possibly monetize this type of thing, but it is something that makes a difference in the lives of your readers. It’s something that I think people will grab ahold of. It’s also the type of thing that could build engagement with your readers as well. While Trixi doesn’t monetize, necessarily, she is using it to make a difference and build her blog a little larger as well. I think it could be applied in many different ways, in many different niches.

I’m going to let Trixi tell the story of her day. You can find the transcription of her story at problogger.com/podcast/264. I’ll come back at the end just to bring out a few thoughts that stand out to me from Trixi’s story. Here’s Trixi.

Trixi: Hi. My name is Trixi Symonds. I live in Sydney, Australia. My blog is Coloured Buttons. You can find me at www.colouredbuttons.com and that’s coloured spelled with a U because I’m an Aussie and it’s how we spell coloured in Australia.

I started my blog in 2009 and I was posting kids craft projects. At the time, I was teaching after school craft classes and I thought this would be a really nice way to share my projects with people all over the world. I was never really interested in monetizing my blog and it still isn’t the focus of my blog.

After a few years, I changed the direction of my blog slightly. I started posting more hand sewn projects that kids could do. I noticed there was a gap in the market for well-designed, simple projects. I could also see how much the kids in my classes loved sewing. I think they just feel empowered when they realize they could sew and make their own bag or cushion or soft toy, so I thought, “This will be just a great direction to go into.” and at the same time I started thinking, “Wouldn’t it be amazing if I could teach kids all over the world to sew?” But I have absolutely no idea how I can do that.

That’s when my breakthrough came through, and that was Uppercase Magazine had a call out for submissions for the 2016 calendar. They just asked if you wanted to submit some sort of graphic for any day of the year, so I thought, “Okay, this is my chance.” I got one of my daughters design a little logo for me. I decided I would call my day, Sew a Softie Day.

The idea was on that day, people all over the world would teach a friend or a neighbor or anyone really to sew a simple softie. The graphic was submitted and accepted. July 16 in 2016 became Sew a Softie Day. Then I sort of realized, “Okay, I’ve got to promote my Sew a Softie Day, but how am I going to do this?” I asked a few blogger friends who were happy to help promote the day. But I realized I just needed something a little bit more, so I decided I would just contact anyone, any blogger or influencer, or magazine, or anyone who’s really connected with kids or craft or sewing and see what would happen.

I sent out emails to magazines, and like I said, to bloggers and influencers, and was quite overwhelmed by the response. It was all so positive and so amazing. People were just so happy to help. I had interviews and articles posted in magazines like Homespun, Handmade, Casa Creativa, Simply Sewing. I had companies like Aurifil and National Nonwovens who were also happy to promote the event and give me supplies or prices for the event.

July 16, in that year, was Sew a Softie Day. This year, 2018, Sew a Softie Day is actually changed to Sew a Softie Month. The whole of July was Sew a Softie Month. We have bloggers each day of the month posting a simple to sew softie tutorial. Also, had over 30 kid ambassadors all over the world who taught a friend how to Sew a Softie or held a Sew a Softie party, and looking forward to 2019 to see how Sew a Softie develops and changes.

My tip is, if you have something that you want to promote or do, just ask anyone and just email. Just ask. The worst they can say is no or not reply. I sent out a lot of emails. I actually didn’t send out group emails. I sent out individual emails to different people and magazines. I actually tried to look at the person’s blog and see if there was some sort of connection, some reason why they might want to join in to Sew a Softie and promote Sew a Softie. I always was really, really polite and I gave them a way, I said, “Look, I understand if you can’t join in or it’s not good for you to promote, that’s fine.” But as I said, the positive response was so overwhelming, was so lovely.

Now, I know that if I wanted to do something, I’m always happy just to ask absolutely anybody. That’s my advice to you is just ask anybody and just see how you go. Take a big breath and just do it.

Darren: Thanks so much for sharing your story, Trixi. I do appreciate it. I love the fact that you’re using your blog for something that’s beyond monetizing. You’re actually doing something that you’re passionate about and something that’s making a bit of a difference in the world as well. That’s something we could all be doing with our blogs.

Now, a few of the things that stand out in Trixi’s story for me is, I guess the idea here that she’s created something for people to participate in. It’s getting her readers and their families active, working together in something bigger than themselves. This is something that I’ve seen a number of times in many, many cases that have been a tipping point for bloggers to grow their blogs and to find a new purpose for their blogs, I guess, in different ways.

It’s this idea of a day or an event at which the readers do something together. This can be done in many different ways. Of course, we talked about challenges on the ProBlogger podcast before. I’ll link an episode that we did on that topic in the show notes today. But anything you can do to get your readers participating and gathering together, working on something collectively, even if they’re working on individual things at the same time, it can be very powerful thing. We certainly saw this was true early of this year when we had Start A Blog day. I think it was in February, we did that.

In the month before that, we gathered new bloggers or bloggers who wanted to start to get a blog together in a Facebook group, to walk them through a course of starting a blog. Having an actual day, having an actual event was a really powerful thing. It gave a focus and it gave a purpose for it. It created anticipation and excitement amongst our readers. I think this is something that you could really do in any number of topics. Whether it would it be a how-to topic or something else.

Vanessa, my wife, has done daily style challenges with her readers over the years. This has been a week-long challenge where everyday for a week she’s nominated a color or a texture for her readers to go away and where, and then photograph themselves, and post them on Instagram with a hashtag.

These types of events, whether it’s a day, a week, a month, are really powerful ways of engaging with your readers, getting them active, getting them participating, getting them feeling like they are not the only one reading your blog–very powerful thing. It builds community and it can make a difference particularly if you are doing a challenge like Trixi’s way. She’s actually teaching kids a new skill which is a powerful thing.

The second thing I love about what Trixi says here is to ask. Such a powerful lesson, and it’s a hard lesson for many of us to learn. To actually pitch, to actually put out idea in front of another person and ask them to support is something that takes us out of our comfort zone–is something that doesn’t come naturally for me. But over the years, I’ve seen, time and time again, where I’ve asked, I’ve pitched, I’ve put an idea forward for others, and it’s amazing how many people will say, yes, they will support. Particularly if it’s something that you’re asking it’s going to have a benefit for them and your readers as well. So, ask, put yourself out there, network, and you never know what will happen as a result of that.

Lastly, do something with your blog that makes a difference. Really, this is the thing that I talk about a lot is, make a difference in your readers lives, change their life in some way, is satisfying for you but it’s also something that people will grab ahold of. They will support, they’ll share with other people, and they’ll keep coming back to as well.

Thanks again, Trixi for sharing your story. You can find Trixi’s project at colouredbuttons.com and sewasoftie.com. Really, beautifully designed sites, really practical. I love digging around on them today. You can find today’s show notes also at problogger.com/podcast/264 where I’ll also put some links to further listening and reading on running challenges for your blog, if you want to learn a little bit more about those. Thanks for listening, chat with you next week.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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The post 264: How One Blogger Builds Engagement and Makes a Difference with an Online Community Event appeared first on ProBlogger.

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