Archive-Along: Making Blog Archives in Zine Form

31 Mar 2010


My first Archive-Along project is a fairly analog method of preserving your best blog content. (I'll be talking about digital back-ups next week.) One very crafty way to create a permanent archive of your blog is to use one of the oldest and simplest forms of hard-copy-making there is: zine-making.

Consider this: your blog is, in many ways, an online magazine - published one article at a time. Your Twitter feed is also an online magazine - published one sentence at a time.

Well, why not take all that content and preserve it by creating your own self-published magazines? They might be just for you, or you might share or sell them. There are so many ways to approach it:



• You might, for example, arrange your blog posts by theme, and archive the best ones into zines about knitting or beading or crafty businesses.

• You could arrange your posts chronologically, and make a zine for each month's best content.

• If you tweeted from an event you attended somewhere, and your tweets tell a story about what you did and who you saw, why not compile them into a zine?

• If there's a really great discussion on your Facebook wall, you could archive that into a zine - and share copies with everyone who participated.



Why analog, when there's digital?

You may be wondering why in the world you'd make a paper copy of your blog, when it's so much easier to back it up digitally. Well you're right, it is (and, you should be backing up digitally, too).

My point with this post is to show you that your archives can take lots of forms. Zine-making is a great way to make your archive a crafty one. You probably wouldn't want to archive your entire blog like this, but for your best posts, it's pretty cool.

Plus, then you have an archive you can keep on your bookshelf and refer to quickly - which is nice, when you consider that sometimes finding specific posts in a digital archive takes some digging around.


Making the zines

Your zine archiving project can be as simple or as complex as you like. For example, if you're pressed for time, you might do something as dead-simple as the photo above: print out the blog posts you want to save, and bind them into a readymade cover of some kind.

Or, you can make your own cover, and try a binding method like this or this or this or this. Pop a label of some kind on the cover, and you have a hard copy for very little effort.

If you're working with shorter-form material, like your tweets, then you can go old-school about it. You can print out your tweets, cut them up, paste them to pages, and photocopy the whole thing.


Or you might get fancy about it, and use some kind of page-layout software. (I'm using Pages for Mac here, but you can also use things like Word, InDesign, or Quark Xpress.) Establish an overall layout scheme, and then copy your words and images into it. Print out the pages and bind them, and you have a lovely little archive - in fact, you might even have a product to sell! (More on this in a moment.)

The great thing about zines is their handmade, personal quality - which, as it turns out, is a quality shared by most craft blogs. What a great medium, then, to create some personal hard copies!


Zine-making can also be a fun crafty project - you can sew bits of fabric to your zines. You can glue buttons to them. You can bind in sheets of fancy paper.

...And you can invite friends! Zine-making is also a great social activity. What if you had a crafty gathering where everyone made themselves a beautiful, embellished archive of their best blog posts?

You might also find some inspiration for zine-making here and here and here.


Lastly, let me just whisper this in your ear...

If you're interested in publishing your own craft book, but you aren't sure you want to take the plunge into traditional publishing or ebook publishing, zines might just be your ticket. If you've built a blog with a strong readership, then you might find that you can produce a pretty, crafty zine from your older posts, and then sell copies in your online store.

I mean, let's face it - blog posts are plentiful and intangible. Hard to get most people interested in paying for those.

But a nicely-produced, tangible zine with cool crafty touches? One I can keep on my bookshelf and refer to anytime? That might just be a viable product.

Craftypod Zines

The Archive-Along continues...

Rachel and I will be covering lots more creative archiving ideas in the coming days, and we'd love for you to join in! If you make yourself a zine, how about posting pics to the Archive-Along Flickr group? And if you blog about archiving, will you comment here and let us know, so we can link to you on the project's page?



I love this so much for so many reasons:

- What a fun way to go back through your work and pick your best stuff! It would be a fun walk down memory lane and a great reminder of all the wonderful stuff you've done!

- It would make a great gift for non-internet folks (yes, there are still quite a few people out there who don't frequent BlogLand) I think of my mom and my aunts and uncles or even some of my close friends who just don't spend a lot of time reading blogs. Putting together a snazzy zine for them with some of my best stuff would be a fantastic gift.

- Tangible is nice, for the blogger *and* the reader. The reader loves to have the zine in their hands, read it in bed, at the beach, etc. You as a blogger will love it, because it gets you to a very intimate place with your content. So often, my posts are written quickly and -BOOM- published. Going back and reading through, picking out the best ones, and then physically laying them out and assembling them in to a zine? Well, that just makes me appreciate the work in a whole new way.

Love this so much, Diane! WOOT! :)

Awesome! Thanks for the recommendations, Jen!

Cool! This whole zine idea is percolating through my brain and generating all kinds of ideas. thanks!

If anyone would like to try publishing zines & doesn't have the software, they might like to try playing with OpenOffice, Gimp, and Scribus - some open source alternatives for some of the software mentioned & they're available for Macs, PCs & Linux :) Google them if you're interested! :) I also use Inkscape for mocking up & printing templates for paper-pieced quilting!

Oh Diane, This is going to be a fantastic series. Knowing how many irons you have in the fire these days and how many hours you put in to everyting you are doing, i can't believe you are taking on this project too. But I for one thank you because this is so needed. There is so much creative energy on the web right now, I am glad you and Rachel are helping find ways to preserve it.

Thanks, Beth! I think it would be cool, too, to see some crafters have zine versions of their craft blogs for sale at craft shows. What a unique way to draw someone into your blog!

Ooh, awesome, Tara - I would LOVE to see that!

I've used PagePlus a lot & it's easy and intuitive.

This is so timely!
I was *just* thinking about making a zine for my not-quite-blog-topical writings!
Thanks for the great resources!

Heh! You should warn them indeed. :-)

Thanks for this lovely comment, Fanie - I'm excited to see the zine you make from your blog!

Awesome, thanks, Heather! I was looking about for a free option & didn't see this one.

I'm really loving this serie about archiving, Diane. Especially this one since you're talking about something you have a great love for: zines!

I am in love with the idea of making a crafty zine of your best blog posts. I'm planning on going to a zine fair in Montreal, this autumn, and I'm defenetely thinking about making a zine out of my blog for this event. I see it as an original way to share my blog in the crafty & zine community.

Averagejanecrafter: You're so right about this being a perfect gift for friends & family. Most of the people I know "in real life" aren't bloggers. But they -are- crafty and creatives, they just don't know much about the blogsphere. Perhaps this will open a door for them. (Should I warn them? :-p)

Aw, you're such an awesome Mom! :-)

Yay, fun idea. Of course, I'm always love the zine thing and love making zines! You have some great jumping off points for zine inspiration here! I also wanted to add that Windows users can download this free layout software: Serif PagePlus

great idea, Diane! these zines are really cool, and as Rachel said, they would make a great gift for non-internet folks. My mom is one of those, and i often wish i could share my blog with her - zines on specific topics would be perfect for that!

Aw, thank you, Darlin! And I can't wait to see your archive-y goodness tomorrow.

If we lived closer, we'd have to have us a zine-making party.

I would LOVE to see a zine made from your blog! With polymer clay tile covers, please. :-)

Diane, this is so wonderful. Among all the superlatives I may have sputtered over the years, this post deserves the one about the conveyance of WONDER. I'm all atingle. I almost commented before reading the whole thing, because I couldn't wait. If I were home right now, I would have already started printing my blog posts.

When I finish my first zine, I'll add it to the project.

You ROCK wonder!

I love this idea! Zines are so interesting & this is a great way to archive those posts...

Oh, WHAT a great idea! I'll make them thin, and postage-friendly!

This is an incredible wonderful idea! I am always surprised of how much great content I can find on your blog... Thank you!