For one St. Marys woman, what began as teaching children’s embroidery classes has grown into a blog read by thousands from all over the globe.
Teresa Jones started teaching the children’s classes during the summer of 2006. Little did she know that launching an educational blog dedicated to the needle arts would shortly lead to an international following numbering in the tens of thousands.
When Jones’s brother suggested she create a website and blog about needlework to recoup some of her expenses for the children’s classes she had no idea what blogging even was. But the subject matter was familiar and something with which she was comfortable so it felt like a natural extension. So Jones created her pen name, Mary Corbet, and began Needle ‘n Thread as a basic blog with a template from Blogger and attracted four readers her first week.
“And one of them was me,” Jones said.
But she kept at it and focused on the teaching aspect and building solid content. People soon started finding her blog and responding with questions and comments. In the first year her subscribed readership grew to around 400.
Soon Jones outgrew the free template with which she had begun Needle ‘n Thread and created a self-customized template. The blog site continued to grow and over the next three years her subscribers increased to over 3,000.
“It was time for a serious face lift and entirely new layout. I wanted something clean, bright, and easy for my readers to navigate, but I had no idea how to create that,” Jones said.
That’s when her brother suggested she contact Imagemakers, an award winning design firm in Wamego, for help.
“While change sounded great I wasn’t sure I had the computer and internet skills for anything very complex. But after meeting with Dan Holmgren, (Creative Director of Imagemakers) I was really excited,” Jones said.
During that initial meeting Holmgren and Jones discussed what she wanted and needed, how she would like for it to look and work, and tossed around some basic ideas.
“The next thing I knew, the new and improved Needle ‘n Thread site was exactly what I had in mind. It was magic! From the color scheme, to the atmosphere and ease of navigation the team at Imagemakers nailed it,” Jones said.
Her readers seem to like the new site as well. From May, when the new site went live, to the first of this month, Needle ‘n Thread subscribers have climbed to over 5,500 and some days she has over 200 reader’s comments posted to her site.
From the beginning, Holmgren was impressed with what Jones was doing with Needle ‘n Thread.
“As I got deeper into her blog I kept uncovering more and more pages of unbelievable content. And it’s all quality work. She writes about and shows different types of needlework, goes into its history and discusses different cultures and their various methods of doing needlework,” Holmgren said.
That’s why Needle ‘n Thread has readers and subscribers from all over the world. The blog site receives well over a million visits a year. There were over 16,000 visits from readers in India and over 37,000 visits from readers in Europe last month. And the video section is one of the site’s most visited sections, with over 80,000 hits in the last month.
The amount of content and number of readers was a bit of a challenge for the Imagemakers’s team in the beginning. When the new blog site was first launched the dedicated server couldn’t keep up with the number of hits Needle ‘n Thread was receiving.
“We had to figure out some new ways of caching the site so the server could handle the traffic it was attracting,” Holmgren said.
Imagemakers is presently building a “community” section for the site which will allow readers to interact, post photos and get feedback on techniques. The community section is also a place where Jones hopes to eventually host online classes, stitch-a-longs and offer many more features than a basic blog would allow.
“I’m happy that Needle ‘n Thread has developed into a good teaching tool for lovers of hand embroidery,” Jones said. “And I’m happy with the new, improved site that Imagemakers created.”
And Holmgren is happy to have been involved in the new blog site.
“Needle ‘n Thread is an incredible resource for someone who wants to learn more about needlework. Teresa’s work is of the highest quality and that is demonstrated in her content. I’m happy we could help create a site that works for her and helps reflect the quality of her work and expertise,” Holmgren said.