That is a question I ask myself quite often. Sometimes it’s worth looking back; taking some time to reflect and assess. Do you have any idea what it’s like to be in my shoes, to have the busy life of a Blogger? Why did I start a blog?! Come, let me share my story…
When was madebybarb.com born?
Yes, it’s hard to believe… October 2015 was my very first blog post; Concrete Garden Orbs. I was excited about crafting with concrete and designed this original project from scratch. Did I have any idea exactly what I was getting into?! ‘Not really, but that was the start of a ‘long ride.’ These orbs, by the way are still in my garden to this day and my blog has lasted that long as well.
How I started my blog:
I was always a ‘maker’, from day one so I assumed I had all the skills that I really needed for my own blog. As a beginner finding a domain/blog name that is easy to remember and setting up wordpress was pretty simple. I started making, photographing, researching, writing, replying, fixing, editing, collecting equipment, making, cleaning up, buying more server space, and figuring out more… I tend to learn the best from experience rather than someone preaching to me; and I find it sinks in much better. Was it the right way to start; probably not. Believing that there were specific formulas and methods to ensure fast results, seemed artificial to me. How can one person’s experience be exactly the same as another’s. Those courses also came with a pretty high price tag. What did I have to lose other than my time? And when I say time; I don’t think most people realize all the time involved.
It is quite therapeutic for me to see what I do once it’s on screen and then have such diverse feedback. One mistake; I swore as an artist I would never have the need to learn typing… arghh, I am sure you’ve found some of my typos.
I am the ‘creative mind’ behind this site, I design, make, & share the details each time. I figured that when there’s an interest on the ‘web the the site traffic will grow. Yes, and no… Before long I would realize that it’s not just good content that is needed. The search engines need to think your post is great too.
I like a challenge:
It can take many years before you see much return for the amount of work you put in to a blog. That did not worry me too much since I would be doing those projects for my own reasons and was still also active in my other jobs of illustrating and teaching. ‘Making’ and being creative is my life so it should not feel like a job. That’s pretty well true but things seem to change everyday.
Nowadays in the blogging world there is more impatience. Specific terms should be used, keywords so that posts appear in search results to the right people. You can have a great ‘product’ but if your ‘store’ is nowhere to be found it isn’t going to be good for you. Good writing skills about hobbies is not enough.
I have been forced to learn so many platforms; wordpress, adding wordpress plugins, email marketing, google analytics, google adsense, google search console and facebook groups. Gone are the days where a blogging platform was simple. Competition now is really fierce! When you hear about that certain site that is crazy successful others want the same results right away, and will almost do anything to get there. With that ‘want’ comes some unethical activity as well, it’s such a shame!
Every time I turn around now there are new things, new apps, new software, each requiring learning for these new skills. As your site grows in size, you need to have secure & reliable web hosting. That also costs money, and it goes up all the time. My time is valuable so I do not want to give all away for free.
Why is blogging for me?!
When I realized that almost anyone with enough drive to persevere could have a successful blog I thought; Ya, I can do that! Now when I look back, I often say that about almost anything that comes into my brain. I learned to think like that from my Mother, I blame her (lovingly).
My main passion is learning and experiencing all the creativity life has to offer! All kinds of media, often inspired by nature and using readily available up-cycled supplies. I get such a kick out of being creative. As a college educated illustrator we learned many aspects of art in the traditional modes. Colour photocopies didn’t even exist when I started; how old can I really be?! I tell those stories of how we did everything the hard way (before technology) and ‘walked a million miles to school’. We used film in a camera, printed on paper in a dark room and used those terms you see in Photoshop now for real life scenarios. So much of that expertise is perfect for this new media for me – hands on. I love to pass on any tips I have collected from all my decades of making & painting & sewing & building. I trust that valued connections are made even though they are through the cyber world.
Much has changed since my college days but those traditional skills still come in handy. Technology is undeniably good but the satisfaction of making something that is tangible ‘in my hands’ is amazing. It’s even better yet when it is actually for a distinct purpose or saving the environment in some small way.
Often purposes for projects are for my family and with that came much explaining of how/why. Many of my friends would like to tag along on my projects so finding out I could share them easily by publishing my own platform just seemed perfect. How hard could it be?!
I’m my own boss:
Most of all my working years has been as a freelance artist plus contract teaching at an art college as well. That led me to really understand what the typical issues with learning are. I thought that just knowing what I am teaching (like how to draw perspective) would be enough. Well, yes most of the time… The other issue is trying to instil come confidence into the students (young adults) as often they believe they’ll never be able to do ‘it’. Encouragement became part of the lessons.
Sure, it sounds great to not have a ‘boss’. I can make my own hours but if I do not do the work, no one else does either. The expectations of what should get done and what actually gets done are often far apart – I am my own worst ‘slave-driving’ boss.
The best part of Blogging;
So, why as a blogger have I held on, not given up?! I love inspiring people to be creative as that makes them happy – simply. Once I have a new blog post done, and get feedback I am on a high with the many nice notes that are written. I had provided many mask patterns through the pandemic (over 250,000 downloads) and have countless thanks from people who just loved them, it really made me happy and I feel like I am making a difference in the world, if even a small one. It is my way of leaving a legacy, through a means that was not even possible many years ago.
I often hear that I have inspired someone to make a project and they have reaped some personal rewards from doing so, making it their creative outlet; it has made someones life better; their ‘art therapy’ in a sense.
To show my children (by example) and grandchild (eventually) that putting effort into something is a good thing, that following your heart and soul, whatever the personal ambition is, mine just happens to be a blogging niche. Working full time teaching and also running my site on the side used to work however right now I can’t even see that running it full time is enough to fulfill all that is expected. It’s more than just a click…
There are many conversations going on in my mind on a given day depending on what project I am working on, planning to or researching. Lately I have been losing a bit of steam, I am not sure why. I could maybe blame it on the case of covid I am just recovering from but I really do not want to open that can of worms.
How do I make enough Money?
There’s a few ways to be able to afford this blogging hobby. If you notice the links to products on amazon those affiliate marketing purchases put a few ¢ in my account. Most people want to know where they can get the supplies anyways. I sometimes have an instructional eBook that is for sale. You can then download that PDF file for your own use (print it if desired).
The other tutorials are posted on my site and are not downloadable but are free. I know some would like to download but then I would need to start a Patreon system with a monthly fee (for PDF’s of all posts)
To bring in some revenue advertisements is the other way to go. You will see ads everywhere on the internet now. If I had a choice I would not have them but it’s necessary to cover the costs of the blog. In order for more income traffic needs to come to the site. Length of time, clicks, etc all figure into the success equation.
I am told many times I need to create new posts very often – multiple times a week, emails all the time, but that goes against my own feelings. Don’t you hate getting tons of junk emails everyday from the same companies?!? I ‘respect your inbox’ which is a counter productive thought to have in this ‘day & age’ of blog success. Hmmm, so where does that leave me? These are tough decisions…
Oh Social Media:
How naive I am to think high-quality content; a well written post with pictures is enough… Nope, it needs more; to be made into videos, vertical ones for TikTok, and web-stories. Then square images for some compelling teases on Instagram. There’s now ‘Reels’ in Instagram, and on Facebook. Oh wait, don’t forget about twitter. To be honest it makes my head spin. Sure, I could hire some influencers to do it all but what do they know about my specific art forms? So many sites that you go to are not written by the originator; they are written by some assistant (freelance writing) half way around the world.
SEO (search engine optimization) has to be high so the average person finds the post if it’s not on page 1 on Google. There are so many resources; analytics & graphs of how my pages rank. I can’t even guess how many wordpress blogs are out there vying for your click!
I ‘could’ hire out, I seriously may have to… but I feel bad that my readers are not getting my words or thoughts or expertise. To me that is like if someone painted in the lines I drew and I sell it as my art. What do you think?
Would you like more downloadable tutorials? Please share your thoughts. I appreciate every one of you spending your precious time with me… I really do.