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Focus On: DIY Blogs

DIY blogs are definitely on the rise. I could wax political about the possible reasons for this: the recession, a…

Photo via Flickr user Nationaal Archief

DIY blogs are definitely on the rise. I could wax political about the possible reasons for this: the recession, a backlash against our convenience-oriented world of mass-manufactured goods, etc. By and large, however, I think it’s simply that DIY-ing is both a pleasant way to spend some free time and an activity that lends itself well to blogging.

As I researched DIY blogs for this column, I noticed that the most successful posts (those that most made me want to try my hand at the project myself) followed a sort of template. Obviously, not every great post included all of these components, but you can easily follow this formula to DIY your own DIY post:

  1. State your purpose. What’s your motivation for this project? Thrift, boredom, environmentalism, inability to find the right thing elsewhere? Also, what will you use the finished item for? Why is it necessary? Sometimes DIY projects can seem arbitrary. Avoid this by including some good reasons why we might want, say, a fabric pouch to hang by the bed.
  2. Include a “before” shot. What are you starting out with? Old milk cartons? An ugly kitchen? A pile of beads and string? Showing us the before shot sets us up to be impressed by the finished product.
  3. List your supplies. Tell us the tools this will require, the amount of fabric we’ll need, the type of paint. Break down the amounts and costs of all materials. Include any practical information that your readers can use to determine if they’re interested in trying your DIY, or if they’d rather just read about it.
  4. Take us through the project step-by-step. While it’s true that not all of your readers will duplicate your efforts, the basic idea of DIY post is something that other people can, well, do themselves! Make this easy for them by including photos and time-estimates for each step.
  5. Expand on the topic with any related general instruction you can provide. For example, if you are spray-painting old radiators, tell us what you’ve learned about spray-painting in general. If your readers don’t have radiators to paint, they can still apply those tips to spray-paint a bench or a flowerpot.
  6. Reveal the “after” shot. Arguably the most important part of a DIY post, the “after” shot is what entices your readers and makes them want to stay tuned to see how you created something so amazing. In fact, the “after” shot is so crucial, why not lead with it? Whet our appetites at the very beginning by showing us what all this sawdust and scrap metal is leading up to.

Do you like to craft, sew, build, fix, or create things? Have you ever tried any DIY projects you read about on a blog?

Browse the DIY topic page for fantastic DIY ideas on WordPress.com!

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  1. I love DIY. When I look at a blog that features a DIY project, I want to be able to complete the same project with ease. I am looking for templates, instructions, and pictures. Thank you for posting some basic guidelines for creating an outstanding blog. :)

  2. I used a power drill for the first time this week. Hung my own brackets for curtains. My honey was down with a neck spasm and instructed me from a chair. I should have caught this stellar moment in history. Alas I did not! But for a new DIY-er like me these type blogs provide inspiration and know-how.
    I appreciate your writing tips.

  3. Lovely outline advice that I wish all DIY blogs would follow! There is nothing that will turn someone away from a blog quicker (at least me personally) than promising a DIY project and then just giving a couple instructionless ‘look what I made’ photos or worse *gaspshudderthehorror!* a couple photos snagged from pinterest.

  4. For my upcoming wedding, we are doing a lot of DIY things. I’ve found a lot of inspiration from pinterest, which a lot of them directed me to blogs. Some have had good instructions and templates, but others I’ve had to figure out a way to do the things myself.

  5. This DIY blogging trend is seriously my free-time downfall.

    Might help to post an addendum of the ideal discerning DIY-blog reader though as well?
    I know I’ve gotten into some sticky situations by not reading ALL the way through a project/craft post BEFORE STARTING.

    Which might seem a pretty obvious step (like reading a recipe in full before starting to cook!), but when bloggers *don’t* follow these recommendations of yours, sometimes the things they leave out can cause the project to take an unexpected and sudden turn for the worst. Like one time where I thought I was following instructions to “easily” build a basic shelf with basically my hands, a hammer and a few nails— and just before the last few “easy” steps, a whole bunch of power tools were introduced out of nowhere. And I was already covered in sawdust and splinters when I got to that part. Power-tools-less.

  6. ive been thinking about putting together some DIY blogs and this was not only perfect timing but helpful too! It gave me some great ideas, like adding the time each step takes. Very helpful post! Thanks!

  7. Some of my posts are along the lines of DIY ideas for developing a general sense of being an artistic individual. I really like to bridge the gap between the “professional” artists/musicians and the “non”-musicians and inspire people to do artistic and expressive things. Your tips will be helpful to refer too, even with my more abstract subject matter. Thanks for the breakdown.

    1. Do It Yourself. ;-) I’ve read about some popular blogs that are DIY and it’s not a bad idea if someone needs that sort of info… ;-)

  8. Mine is not a DIY blog, but I occasionally dabble in some DIY posts – usually recipes. I find following recipes difficult so I always try to break them down into steps for others who might have the same problem.

    I did a DIY sewing project post once – I think it turned out pretty good, but I don’t think I get a lot of DIYers following my blog.
    http://huffygirl.wordpress.com/2012/03/05/save-a-dying-art-sew-your-own-throw-pillows/

    Thanks for the tips Elizabeth. I may do another DIY post just to try them out.

  9. I’m interested in writing more about DIY and resilience projects that people in Boston and other cities are doing. Part of this is a response to the recession.

    In case any of you are interested in following my blog, the address is http://katfriedrich.wordpress.com'/. I write about environmental issues, media and technology.

  10. Great advice Elizabeth! I’ve noticed the same trends in any DIY blog posts I have read, well the good ones anyway. I’m actually thinking of starting my own as I’ve begun a small renovation project in my home. I’m going to be installing a stair case from my bedroom outside to the patio using one of those spiral staircase kits. If I do decide to blog about it, I’ll be sure to follow those guidelines. They really do appeal to readers!!