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UK Handmade

If you are a UK craft Blogger looking to increase traffic to your blog then becoming a member of UK Handmade should be at the top of your to do list.  




This post will show you how and why to use the UK Handmade 'Ning' and a few tips to enable you to successfully promote your craft blog and business with the help of UK Handmade, a successful magazine and social networking site with over a 1000 members to date. 

< - - -  UK Handmade is a design led online magazine committed to showcasing and promoting the best creative talent the UK has to offer. Artists and designers from across all of the art disciplines have a place here including photography, feltmaking, jewellery, fashion and art.- - - >

What is a Ning?


Facebook, Twitter, Myspace etc are all classified as social networking sites where you find, fan and follow like minded people to chat to or to encourage traffic to your website or blog - a 'ning' takes it a step further as it allows anybody to create their own customisable social network.

Uk Handmade was founded and is run by Karen Jinks, a talented designer and crafts person that saw the need to bring together the handmade and crafting community of the UK, that has been steadily growing as a result of websites like Etsy, Folksy and other online market places that are encouraging artists and craftsmen to venture into e-commerse. Take a look here at all of the other nings you can join.  The following tips will be helpful when using any of these ning networks as they all share common elements.

Customising your Profile Page


When you join up you are given a profile page 'My Page'. This profile or page is not your shop window, it is your smiling face greeting customers at the door and inviting them inside, it is you and your personality and a record of your interactions with other members of the group.  Take some time to primp and preen your profile to give off the right impression to passers by and encourage people to make connections and investigate your blog and shops further - click here to join now. Once your application has been accepted you can begin to customise your profile and learn how to use the ning for social networking and promoting your blog.

'My Page' - make it your own!
Avatar / Profile Image 

Don't leave your avatar blank like this!If you haven't yet chosen an avatar then replace it with an image of one of your favourite creations for the time being.


A recognisable avatar is an important aspect of social networking, so choose just one and apply it to every network, website or forum you belong to. This link I found explains the importance of choosing a great avatar. (http://ukhandmade.ning.com/profiles/settings/editProfileInfo)

Appearance / Theme

You can edit the appearance of your page to make it completely unique, try to match the style with the appearance of other online networks you are part of by selecting an appropriate theme and then adjusting the font and colours of text, links and also background colours of various areas of your page.  You want the page to be readable so take care with your selections, especially the text colour. (http://ukhandmade.ning.com/profiles/appearance/edit)

Page Elements and Layout

Next you need to organise all the elements of your page and position them based on their respective importance by dragging and dropping them into position, hover over a page element title and a 'move' icon will appear for you to drag the item to it's new position.  Apart from fixed elements, items can be moved into the side bar or the central column and up and down too, as you are dragging an item you will see a perforated box appear where you can then drop it in place.  It's up to you where you position these elements but I would advise moving the rather unsightly 'profile information' box right to the bottom, it just looks strange otherwise.

Here are a list of the various elements that your page consists of.  These elements are all ready and waiting to be used - it's a waste not to!  here is a link to my profile so you can see how I have decided to arrange my page.


  • Greeting - At the very top of the page you will see some text - it defaults to 'Welcome, User' or 'User's Page', Click on this text to change it to a more friendly hello to the people visiting your page  (this is a fixed element)

  • Status - "What brings you here" update your status and let people know about your newest blog post or crafty find, this can also be easily linked to twitter, but you have complete control over which updates are tweeted. (this is a fixed element)

  • Share - You can share your profile or other members profiles on twitter and facebook. Click whilst on your own page as a quick way of updating your status on these sites whilst simultaneously linking back to your UK Handmade profile. Or click whilst on another members profile to share their content - this is a great way of linking up on other social networks and gaining followers and friends - everyone appreciates a bit of publicity.





  • Latest Activity - This shows  up all of your interactions with the network, you can edit this to limit the number of posts displayed and also the content by editing your privacy settings.  I think it is important to keep this near the top of your page in order to show visitors that you are an active member of the forum.  I would limit the number of posts to 4 so as not tooverload people, especially if you are a very active member of the network.
  • Text Box - Don't be fooled by the name, this can be a photo or your website or shop banner just click on edit and use the icons along the top to add content to this box.  You could add a short about me section here or just about anything you like - think of it as a 'sticky' blog post or alternatively use it as an advert for your blog or shop. (You need to adjust the image used depending on whether you have this in the sidebar or in the main section of your page). 
  • Discussions - This element displays the discussion you have created on the forums (more on forums later)
     
  • Friends - This box shows all of your contacts on UK Handmade.
  • My Photos - Having a slideshow or some thumbnails of your photos is a great way of advertising your current projects and work.  UK Handmade links up with Flickr so it's really easy to add all your existing images as well as uploading new images. 

  • RSS Feed - You absolutely must add your blogs RSS feed! I have also added the url address and a short message in the title of my blog feed.  I desided to only have 1 post visible to encourage readers to click the little button at the bottom left that says 'more'.

  • My Blog - This is your UK handmade blog and don't think that because you already have a blog this is redundant, quite the contrary, it should be used to actively direct traffic to your blog or shop.

    I have begun blogging on UK Handmade as a way of creating relevant and quality links to my blogspot blogs, which is great for search engine rankings.  If you don't want to write a full or new post just write up a teaser post to encourage people to click through to your blog to read the full story.  Open up your recent blog post using 'Edit Posts' in your dashboard and click on the html tab (the default is the compose tab) copy and paste a section of your post and then add a link to the full post. (This blog has a live feed of all the new UK Handmade blog posts in the left sidebar)  You can edit this page element to limit the number of visible posts and whteher to have the full post or just the detail showing.

  • Comment Wall - Your friends can add messages here - edit it to control how many get shown.

  • Groups - Within the whole network there are also groups that you can join that further narrow your interest and your likely hood to find like minded crafters to engage with.  Search the groups that are have already been created here, or why not create your own group.

Using the Forums

Take part in the forums either by adding responses to threads that genuinely interest you or by starting a thread of your own.  If you are keen to add a link to your blog then try and link to a relevant post and explain why you are adding the link.  Use the search box to find topics that interest you and don't be afraid of reigniting a post that hasn't been seen in a few weeks or months.

As with peoples profiles it is also possible to share forum threads using facebook and twitter - sharing interesting or informative threads is really useful and will add to your social networking kudos if done selctively.

Use the forums as a way of finding friends on UK Handmade, it's beneficial to be friends with active members of the group and inversely the more active you are in the forums the more people will befriend you, visit your blog, website and online shops and maybe even share your links. (aka social networking!)



Linking Back with RSS Feeds

Nings have an enormous amount of available RSS feeds. There is an RSS feed for your photos, friends, blog posts, latest activity, forum posts.  Take a look at this post for an interesting way to use all these RSS feeds.

    I would love to hear your own ideas for getting the most out of nings and any links to other nings that you have found helpful for promoting your craft blog.

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