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HelloCotton for Craft Bloggers


A guest post from Claire at www.clairabellemakes.com
HelloCotton for Craft Bloggers
“Hellocotton is the greatest source of inspiration and the best way to discover the latest trends.”
Inspiration is a word I came across many times when researching this post, but what is so enriching about Hellocotton (HC)?

Although many craft bloggers have already discovered the fantastic women’s only blogging site, this post will offer an introduction and review of the site as well as some blogger experiences, including top tips and favourite features.





History

HC began in Paris in 2008, with a mission to embrace talented female bloggers and promote them to a wider audience. 4 years on, the site boasts 3 million users per month and it’s still growing.
The values behind the site are that of “creativity, curiosity and courtesy” and they aim to “inspire you, inform you, connect you and entertain you”. Sounds like a big promise, doesn’t it? It certain lives up to my expectations and here’s why…..
What about other blog readers?
I’ve explored Google Reader and Blog Lovin’ but have found that both have their limitations in comparison to HC. Despite being able to categorise the blogs in your reader, neither offer such a simple way to discover new blogs and reads on a daily basis.
The layout of HC is immediately enticing with a pretty pink theme and chic layout (perhaps that’s the Parisian influence?!). The first stop for me when I joined was the Talent Directory. Here you can:


  • Search for a HC member by username.
  • Browse popular blogs by category including Crafts and DIY, Lifestyle and Food to name a few.
  • Check out newcomers to HC. If you are one of these, HC are always willing to give you a shout out on twitter upon joining.




You will see the categories on the left-handside, reading for browsing. Once you are following your favourite blogs, their posts will appear in real time in your newsfeed.

I love the versatility of the categories. If I’m having a creative day, I’ll check the Crafts & DIY blogs, if I’m hungry and want some baking inspiration, I’ll head straight to Food.
So what makes HC different to any other blog directory site?

A tool for growing readership/social media element

Since joining HC a few months ago, I have found more blogs that relate to my interests than ever before. This is largely due to the social element that the site offers. HC has allowed me to create a conversation with fellow female bloggers by offering the following features:


  • Daily headlines in each section, supports big and small blogs.
  • Comments on posts, votes/likes and sharing for social media.
  • Messages to update your readers.
  • Links to Facebook and Twitter accounts.
  • Buttons & mini-profiles for your blog sidebar with html provided.


It’s a great thrill when your post is featured for the daily ‘headlines’ for each section. These are usually based on reader choice and are typically the most popular posts of the day. I’ve tweeted HC before to nominate fantastic posts that I have enjoyed and they have resulted in a headline for that day. Reader response is at the heart of it.

Analytics tools

Currently in a Beta phase, the tracking tool has been invaluable in helping me keep up to date with blogging trends and key topics. My tracking words include pin cushion, macarons and knitted cushion. Whenever a post is published on the site which includes those words, it is highlighted in my tracking section.
When I polled my followers on their favourite HC feature, this won hands down. Some just tracked sewing or papercraft and honed in on their favourite interests.

A helpful monthly graph showing the number of articles published for each topic is displayed. If I am planning a blog post on a popular topic (I recently posted about washi tape), it is a great way to ensure that you are aware of other posts on the topic. I use it to make sure I stand out from the crowd whilst still following the trends.
Supportive community
The HC team are highly supportive (just follow them on twitter @hellocotton) and are always open to receive feedback and suggestions.
For me, HC has opened up a new community of blogging excitement, support and crafty goodness. I have discovered blogs I may never have stumbled upon and met some fantastic women along the way.
Now I’m just waiting for the HC smartphone app and my life will be complete!
claireabelle x

EDIT - Unfortunately the UK Hellocotton site closed in April 2013. The French site still exists should you wish to explore some European blogs




Claire blogs at www.claireabellemakes.com about craft, baking and life in her home city of Cambridge.

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