It has been 6 complete months since I launched this here blog and I can’t believe how the time has flown! To celebrate, I wanted to take a break from my typical pattern/crochet related posts and share with you 6 things I have learned along the way.
When I first started I thought I had a pretty good idea of what to expect, but man, is there still a lot that I am continuing to learn on a daily basis.
If you’re a blogger or maker like me, or perhaps you’re just venturing down a new path of adventure similar to what my blog has been for me, I hope this post will be both insightful and fun for you to read!
If none of that applies to you, well, I hope you enjoy getting a deeper look into what’s been going on inside my noggin while I’ve been on this adventure. 🙂
- Patience is a virtue!
How many times have I been told that (as a kid, as a teenager, as of this morning….), yet I still have the hardest time being patient. Sadly for me, I chose this path that requires A LOT of patience.
Before I launched my first blog post, I had done a lot of research into what to expect. I was visiting other maker’s blogs like crazy looking for inspiration and realistic expectations. Unfortunately for my impatience’s sake, I was most drawn to the craft bloggers who had very VERY successful stories. I wasn’t necessarily drawn to their blogs for any reason other then their success stories. I told myself, “if they can turn this into a cash cow in 8 months, dog gone it, I have enough motivation to do it in 6”. Whelp folks… that didn’t happen. 6 months in and I am still trying to find my ground and gain real traction. But, in the past 6 months I have come to be more accepting of the not-so-successful stories.
The stories of the bloggers whose content I drool over, but it took them 5 years to gain real traction. The stories of bloggers with an origin story more aligned with mine where they were blogging on the side rather then jumping all in, right out of the gate. The stories of the bloggers who may not be making six figures blogging, but are making enough to get by and are still happy doing it. I have found that if I focus on all that, it gives me new (and more realistic) hope.
My story will not be exactly like any other bloggers (or persons for that matter), and I wouldn’t want it to be! I have a lot of respect for the bloggers out there who have really taken this whole thing by the horns and made it work wonders for them. The ones who took daring leaps of faith into starting a blog and were able to devote 40 hours a week into starting their blogging business and made it work. I chose a different path, so my journey is going to look different and that is OKAY.
So be patient my friend, don’t give up just yet. Set a goal and stick to it. I have given myself a 2 year goal. At the beginning of 2020, I will be reassessing my blog and deciding if this is something I want to keep pouring time and effort into, or if it’s time to move on. Until then, I have promised myself that I will not even consider giving up. I am focusing on my goals for this blog, and remembering that it all takes time.
2. It’s Your thang… Do What You Wanna Do…
For the first several months I was convinced that if I didn’t stick to a certain expectation of how my patterns or posts were written, people would think I was a joke. While there are certain crochet rules that probably should be followed (making sure your pattern matches what you’re doing is key), there are also a lot of standards that do not HAVE to be followed 100% of the time.
I remember working an amigurumi pattern and having the hardest time getting the stitches to be even on either side of a few decrease stitches. I had convinced myself that if the pattern wasn’t completely symmetrical, it wasn’t good enough and other people in my maker community would think I was a fool to talk like any form of an expert.
And then… my BIL bought a pattern for me to make an amigurumi fox for my niece’s birthday. I had been so preoccupied writing my own patterns for so long that I forgot what it was like to work off someone else’s pattern. It was liberating! And the pattern designer did a lot of things I would have never dreamed of. It finally hit me, I am the one taking the time to design and write these patterns, why do I feel so tied to these unsaid rules? As long as they are easy to read through and follow, that’s all that really matters, right?
So since then, I have found myself giving a little bit more grace and being more okay with things not being 100% perfect the way I would have originally wanted them to be. Putting my perfectionism aside can be such a stress relief, and as long as the pattern comes out the way I had envisioned it, does it really matter if my stitches are 100% symmetrical?
3. Active Social Media Matters
I’m going to be real with you, and please don’t stop reading here if you disagree with this next statement, but… I really don’t like Facebook. I used to like it when it was exclusive to college kids, and I was in college and therefore I was a part of this cool exclusive club. Then it changed, and changed again and changed again. One day I went on there and felt like my grandmother would probably have better luck figuring it out then I could.
That may be a slight exaggeration, but you get my point…
Any ways, I had previously broken up with FB and when I decided to launch this blog I knew that would have to change. That was honestly my biggest hangup with launching a craft blog. I just don’t feel comfortable on Facebook.
It’s been 6 months since I dove back in and boy oh boy has it proven to be a fantastic way to get recognition for my crochet blog! Can’t say I love it, but I sure do appreciate it more and have learned to accept it more into my social media routine. Instagram and Pinterest are also huge for craft bloggers.
Thankfully, I can do instagram. That works just fine for me. Take a pretty picture, post it with a short one-liner (or sometimes a lengthy paragraph) and some hash tags. Bada bing, bada boom.
Pinterest even easier! I could spend all day on Pinterest, if I devoted half the time I do to pinning things, I would actually have time to make some of the things I pin. Haha!
The point I want to make is that regardless of your relationship with social media, it is crucial to growing your blog.
Perhaps you’re not a blogger and there is something else that you are convinced you dislike and therefore avoid. Perhaps you know this thing would help you achieve a goal you have (like exercise or eating dark leafy greens to help you improve your heart health), my point is to take time to contemplate the object of your dislike and the positive effects it may have. Perhaps that in you giving it a chance you’ll see it’s not as bad as you might have once thought.
4. Keep on Keeping On
While you can market the heck out of your posts on social media, the fact remains that not everyone is going to love every post you publish.
There may even be those who express their disapproval or dislike for your post. I am so thankful that I blog for the Maker community which is full of some of the kindest people I have ever encountered. However, regardless of the community, there is bound to be one person who could use a lesson in the Golden Rule.
Just because not everyone loves or even likes your post, does not mean that no one likes or even loves it. Tracking? I’ve come to accept that while not every pattern or post I put out there will bring a ton of traction to my blog, it’s bound to bring some. And really, if even 1 person out there appreciates the time and effort I put into creating, writing and sharing a pattern, thats a pretty darn good feeling.
Don’t let the negative or criticism bring you down. Learn from it, and move on. Even if that learning experience is just a better way to deal with a difficult person, it grows you into a stronger one! Certainly don’t let the negative or criticism force you to quit before you’re ready.
Now, I’m not advising against listening to wise counsel, I’m just advising against listening to rude counsel. 😉 Try to separate the two and you’ll do amazing things for your mental health!
5. Remember Why You Started
I cannot tell you how many blogger stories I have read that start out with, “I started this blog with no real expectations”…
As I wish I could sound that humble, that is just not my story.
I started this blog because I had a talent that I was not utilizing for any bigger purpose. I am a firm believer that we have each been given gifts to better the world we live in. I was driving home from Michaels one day when the thought had come to me, “what if I used my maker skills to make a difference?”
The initial thought was to create a blog that’s sole purpose was to generate more income for our family to donate towards ending child slavery and that functional items made for the blog would be donated to a local women’s shelter.
Now in the interest of total transparency, that goal has since changed a bit. The desire of making a difference is still there, but the difference I’m shooting for is a little different.
The more research I did about blogging, the more I learned that this is something many makers have been able to turn into a well paying career. My drive behind this blog is now to turn it into my career. This would allow me to stay at home with my kids (which has been a lifetime goal of mine), and donate a portion of what I make to the charities that tug on my heart strings (like ending slavery and helping abused women).
That all being said, I have yet to turn a profit from this blog, and that is okay (see point numero uno)! The main thing I need to remember is that on the hardest days, on the days I feel like giving up, on the days I get negative feedback, or no feedback at all… there is a purpose for me being here greater then myself.
When I remember that I started this because I enjoy crocheting and am pretty good at it, that I started this because I want to use it for a purpose, that I started this to achieve an end goal, to be with our kids more, I am given a refreshed view of things and it breathes new life into me.
So whether you started your blog/latest adventure with expectations like me, or with no expectations at all other then to just do what you enjoy doing… remember why you’re doing it on those really hard days.
6. Have Fun!
Last by not least, have fun with it!
At the end of the day, anything that you are doing that requires as much time and dedication as a blog will include some level of stress. In my experience, a large amount of stress usually lends way to getting burnt out and wanting to find a way to avoid said stress. So rather then stressing about your blog (or newest adventure), remember points 1-5 and have fun!
Take a deep breath and adjust your expectations, schedule, or lofty goals in order to avoid extra stress and worry.
I really do love this craft of writing and crocheting, but all the love in the world for something will not spare me stress and disappointment. In fact, I have often found that when I love something more then I should, it often times ends up having a greater chance of stressing me out and disappointing me. That should tell us something!
I would rather set myself up for success then disappointment, so if I find myself stressing about this blog, a pattern not turning out quite right, or negative feedback, it’s incredibly helpful for me to put this blog and crocheting back in it’s rightful place. This blog, my patterns or the success of either of those do not define me as a person. It is my faith, family, friends, goals and ambitions that define me. I cannot and will not allow the stress or disappointing days rip my joy away and become what defines me.
I hope you’ll join me in that and continue to enjoy what you do and remember to have fun doing it!
Thanks for joining me for the last 6 months of this very crazy and fun adventure!
What in interesting post, thanks for sharing 🙂 My blog is about 18mo but I took 6 months off while my youngest got settled in school, life etc. Just getting back into it in the last few weeks and trying to find a balance between marketing, and making / designing – I prefer to be messing with yarn all the time but also seems daft not to take advantage of the affiliate opportunities that are available these days, for books and yarn I’m buying and using all the time anyway 🙂 That said, it’s certainly it is not a route for those who want to get rich quick though right, as you point out! That’s ok though. So long as I’m enjoying it, I’ll keep on keeping on. Wish you all the best 🙂
Thanks Pam! Wishing you the best as well. This whole blogging experience has been one of the most adventurous of my life for sure, but so happy I chose to give it a go! 🙂