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Blog Exercises: The Search for Like Minds

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.I tat. My 95 year old grandmother-in-law taught me almost 20 years ago. Tatting is 17th century lace making based upon island and coastal women looking for something to do besides fixing fishing nets for the men of the village. They got creative with their netting shuttles to make fine lace doilies, scarfs, edging, table cloths, clothes, and even bedspreads.

Tatting shuttle and thread with tatted lace by Lorelle VanFossen.After learning the basics, I headed down to my local fabric and craft shops and found they knew nothing about it except that they needed to keep a few plastic shuttles and thread around for the old grandmothers who came in once in a while looking for tatting supplies. No one knew anything about it, so I turned to books. Even these were hard to find, written 25 to 100 years ago or more, often in another language. Instead of giving up, I felt compelled to keep tatting if just to keep the skill alive.

When the Internet finally got to saturation point with enough people and information to make it valuable to the researcher, I started hunting for tatting information. Low and behold, I wasn’t the last tatter, the youngest among the ancient women familiar with the antique technique. There was a huge world of tatters out there from Australia to Netherlands, Russia to Japan, and many men!

All these tatters had felt isolated and alone, the only ones in their community familiar with tatting. Together, we represented thousands and thousands of like minds fascinated with this old lace making skill. On the web, we gathered virtually and patterns were shared, stories told, projects photographed, and enthusiasm encouraged.

My husband’s hobby is woodworking – not just any woodworking. He wants to build furniture, big and small. He isn’t interested in the DIY home woodworking projects like making planters and benches for the yard. He wants to make chairs and tables, lamps, bookcases – serious furniture. He wants to build the tools to make that furniture, too. After months of investigating woodworking forums, he finally found one not only dedicated to furniture, but right up his alley. They love to make the tools that make the furniture. These are extreme woodworking specialists, as fascinated with their tools as much as their projects.

Blog Exercise Task from Lorelle on WordPress.No matter what your skill or talent, there is a community out there for you. Today’s blog exercise is to find it.

There may be more than one group specializing in your talents. Explore them all. Create a list of all of the social media groups. Explore them thoroughly and consider sharing the list with your readers.

What makes one group different from another? Do they have different rules and processes? How do they share? What do they share with each other?

It may take more time than you have today, but schedule time to thoroughly explore these forums and social media groups. You don’t have to participate to learn about them. Read, watch, listen, and lurk. Do they look like your kind of people? A community you in which you could invest yourself?

Write up one or more posts about the groups you find and share them with your readers. Be sure and describe the value you found in each group so your readers may find a new community for themselves, or be open to sharing their opinions about the groups if they have experienced them.

Remember to include a hat tip link back to this post to create a trackback, or leave a properly formed link in the comments so participants can check out your blog exercise task.

You can find more Blog Exercises on . This is a year-long challenge to help you flex your blogging muscles.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen.


  1. Ricardo Perpina
    Posted April 28, 2013 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for your advise. I’m in that process right now trying to reach out to those like minded who want to experience the abundant life.

    • Posted May 1, 2013 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

      I’ve thought about your statement for a bit. I have no idea what “experience the abundant life” means.

      For some, it means having just enough to survive and protect their future, finding joy in living in the moment. For others it means making as much money as possible. For others it means putting away as much money as possible to create a safety net in the future when they can slow down and enjoy life. For a couple friends of mine, it means living “high on the hog,” as my mother would say, spending freely, traveling, and doing whatever you want as long as you are having fun and not hurting others.

      What does it mean to you and how are you going to find that specific group?

  2. Posted April 30, 2013 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    This has been the hardest and most frustrating challenge for me, Lorelle.

    I’m always setting time aside to find a new blog or community to settle and thrive in, but it’s been futile so far. I also can’t seem for the life of me understand what’s so attractive in Twitter. So I basically find myself writing in a “vacuum”, to myself, a lot of the time. Luckily a large percentage of the search traffic is sticking around, and RSS subscribers are growing slowly but steadily, but I feel like I’m not doing it right.

    • Posted May 1, 2013 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      Hardest? Wow!

      Twitter isn’t fascinating. It is the people you connect with, and who connect with you, that make it fascinating. Trust me, not everyone on Twitter is “that” interesting, just as not everything on every channel on your television is interesting to everyone. You have to pick and choose your connections and relationships online just as you do in real life.

      From your site, it looks like it is a safe place for you to play and celebrate information consumption – aka you are a news junkie. I love it.

      So where are other news junkies? Do you want to connect with those who live and breath the latest breaking news on whatever subject of interest that catches your eye? Do you want to learn about how they find news, the tips, tricks, and techniques of news gathering and reporting?

      Or do you wish to connect with those who sift the news and find new perspectives, twist ideas around and find connections between them that open eyes, hearts, and minds? Do you want to talk to them more about what you learn as news passes through your filter? Do you want to argue viewpoints and debate sources?

      Or do you wish to connect more with people who want a fresh perspective on the news, something you offer them. Do you want them to come sit at your knee and hear your stories? Is that your community?

      Without a clear definition of what community means to you, it’s hard to find the sandbox you wish to play in.

      When my husband returned to his life-long passion for woodworking, he spent several months digging through every type of woodworking forum, chat, blog, wiki, network he could find. He not only lurked, learning about how these work and the personalities, he paid close attention to the online groups others were linking, citing, and referencing. The more others pointed towards a group, the more he saw that group as a source rather than just a group.

      Eventually he found a group that catered specifically to his interests. Along the way he learned that it wasn’t just “woodworking” in general that grabbed his attention. He wasn’t into antiques or replacing antiques. He wasn’t into building houses or cabinetry. He found he was most drawn to those who are serious about wood. They study wood from the inside out. Learn about its fibers, strengths, types, where it grows, how it grows, how it is cut, how it is processed, its weight, colors, textures, patterns. Learn about how to take advantage of that knowledge when choosing the right wood for the right project. They make their tools. They don’t go to the closest hardware store and buy whatever is on sale. They make their own chisels, saws, wood planes, sanders, jigs, they build their workbenches from scratch, following traditional patterns but taking advantage of modern techniques to save their bodies and body parts from damage.

      They have a love affair with the craft, from the tool to the finished product. They celebrate hard work and craftsmanship. They aren’t their normal woodworkers. They are true fanatics.

      Your group will fit your needs but you have to figure out what your community would look like, then go find them. If you can’t find them, make one. However you must define that community clearly and specifically. Without that, you won’t really find the “like-minds” you need to build a support network around. You will just find those who come and go and watch the show.

      Does that help?

    • Posted May 5, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      You’re wonderful, Lorelle! and thanks for your compliments, too!

      *continues the search for like minds*

  3. Posted June 24, 2013 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Dear Lorelle,

    I’ve read this post at least five times in several evenings, before I’m brave enough to write a comment. Tatting and woodworking — really fascinating. I also read about and visited the wonderful Ravelry website — knit and crochet community (perhaps learnt about it through your blog).

    When I started my blog, it was called Janetscraft — I wanted to talk mainly about my cardmaking/origami craft. But I got distracted. I changed my domain name so that I could write about my other thoughts. Very occasionally I write about my origami these days.

    When it’s not possible to maintain several subject-specific blogs due to time constraint, I wonder what your view is regarding a general blog with various topics, like mine?

    Also, the decision I made with my change of path had to do with confidence. I felt that there’re so many talented people writing about papercraft, mostly involving sales, networking and a business plan. I did feel that my craft wasn’t going to ‘stand out’ — my craft was no Pinterest worthy! Again, as I learnt from you that I should be writing for myself, write as a hobby, without worry. It was simply my process of thinking then. I know now that I shouldn’t have worried.

    • Posted June 24, 2013 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      Fantastic! What a great example of the evolution of a site. There is you, the writer, the publisher of content, then there is your content, which could be anything but is best served when it represents your interests and specialization.

      Think about a famous television personality craft show. Do you watch because of what they are doing or their personality and enthusiasm for what they are doing? Martha Steward is about Martha Steward’s unique personality and talents for home design, decoration, and crafts in the home and garden. The world didn’t sign on to Julia Child’s cooking show to learn only how to cook. We tuned in because we were attracted to her personality, the “danger” and thrill associated with the show as anything could happen, and often did, and she was the solid and funny character, a rock in the midst of anarchy.

      Now think about those whose crafts overwhelm their personalities. This brings us to those who live as sources rather than rock stars. Both are good, but you go there for the craft advice.

      Mixing and matching topics on a single site is an art form, but not always critical to a site’s success. I’ve seen great successful with mixing and matching topics when the topics are related. For example, craft and spiritualism are often related, though different topics. If you can find commonality, then thrive with it. If you can’t, such as a client who tried to mix lawn bowling and executive personnel management – totally disparate topics for which I could not find a way to connect as the client wanted to keep them too separate from each other. Oil and water will mix only if you use great force.

      The key is that you have carved your own path. You are you and you can use your site to share your talents, which is the single topic of your site. Your social life online can dive deeply into whatever you are passionate about, so dive.

      Let you stand out. The you that is the unique, passionate, and creative you. That pulls this all together.

  4. Posted June 24, 2013 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    First of all, thank you, Lorelle, for creating the properly formed link in my comment. (I should’ve spent 3 minutes to do it myself.)

    Thanks for your thoughtful feedback. I bet people watch Nigella Lawson’s cooking program for various reasons too. On our television, it’s now full of ‘celebrity’ chefs.

    On another note, sometimes I would wonder, why are so many women willing to be naked in front of Gok Wan? His charisma? His magic touch?

    I like your distinction between a source and a rock star. Some people can be wonderfully resourceful rock stars!

    It takes a lot of courage to dive, to be open. To reveal personality involves openness. The naked truth. I always admire people who’re genuinely open in writing.

    Mixing topics is not always easy: I have to consciously checking the suitability of my posts. For example, I wouldn’t delve into details about origami, instead I would just show them for aesthetic appreciation. It’s not a perfect situation. I would also try to avoid writing something too ‘high brow’. I’m conscious of finding the right tone in my mixed-topic blog.

    I’m worried about running 2 blogs and are impossible to keep up.

    • Posted June 25, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      Don’t stress yourself. Work ahead in batches and use future posts. I run multiple sites and learned that juggling is its own skill.

      Properly formed links take seconds. Lol! You are welcome.

11 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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