Thursday, January 28, 2010

Imperfect Reflection


Today I read a post by Dena Dale Crain about "Blogging for Quilters." If you are thinking about starting a blog, especially hopeful that it will bring you fame and fortune and sales of your artwork, she has a lot of good information there. By her standards, though, my blog probably doesn't measure up. Maybe I should worry about this, but I don't. She asks at the outset, if you are blogging, are you doing it "properly and successfully?"

Properly? Oh, sigh. That makes me tired. Am I "keeping my present and future readers informed about what I am doing and what I am selling?" Yes, sort of. Sometimes. Maybe. Er, not so much.  "Not selling yet?" she asks, "Why not? Don't be naive!" OK, OK, I am selling. I set up an Etsy Shop awhile back and flogged it to death here and sold quite a lot of stuff, but I have not had the time to restock lately. I should probably be doing that instead of writing this.

Successfully? What? What is successful? Since I didn't have any concept or goal about what would constitute success when I started writing this blog, I can't really say if I have been successful. If it means has it opened my eyes to things I had never noticed, connected me with terrific people and opportunities, given me another creative outlet, put me in touch with my own life in a way nothing else ever has, then, yes, I am blogging successfully. If it means, fame, sales, and how many search engines access the blog daily, well, I just don't know about that stuff.

Don't get me wrong. I have no argument with Dena's advice and I think she has given this some very good, analytical thought. I was just taken aback by such a single-minded approach to blogging. At one point she says if you aren't blogging to sell something you should switch to Twitter or Facebook where you can share your personal thoughts and photos there.They are, apparently, only worthy of a couple lines and a square inch or so.

You know what I love in a blog? Someone who can write really well. That is what I aspire to. Beautiful photos that take me to another location or a glimpse into someone else's world. I love that too. Humor. The human condition, well told. Travel. The world. Food, though I am with Dena in that I'm not very interested in what you had for breakfast. But I do love those favorite recipes and a great, tasty discovery shared. Art. I love the art, but it is even more enjoyable for me when I have learned something about the artist and what makes her tick.

My blog is an imperfect reflection of me. I'm sure it could be more professional, but it is what it wanted to be. Not for everyone. I am getting old and life is short—too short not to do what I do for my own enjoyment mostly. And for the record, even when you are young life is too short. Maybe I share too much of my mundane life, or maybe not enough. Maybe I'm unnaturally interested in other peoples' lives or maybe reading about them just provides some comfort in knowing how much we are all alike at some deep level. I just never thought of blogs having to be business tools.

Maybe Dena's advice will help someone start a successful blog. I hope it doesn't dissuade anyone who won't want to follow her rules. They can follow my rules instead! No, really I don't think rules are needed for something as personal as a blog. If you wanted my advice, and you probably don't, I'd just say what I'd say about art in general—be authentic. And if you can be funny or profound or make things beautiful—bonus points.

43 comments:

  1. What about having fun? It seems humor and not taking yourself too seriously was omitted from her opinion. Remember it's just her opinion. You have a great blog and I am always interested in what you have to say.

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  2. Ignore Dena. I love your blog. not every blog has to be about selling or political statements; for some of us, it's just about sharing - art, inspirations and random thoughts.

    Blogging is a journal you are sharing - Facebook is too too inane - and cumbersome and crowded;

    You keep on doing what you're doing - you are an inspiration.

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  3. Yours is one of the blogs that gets first by me. I love your writing style as well as your art. I enjoy keeping company with you in cyberland.

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  4. I'm with Jamie on this - what about fun? And what about the info you didn't know you needed? If not for your post on those down-filled booties from IKEA, I never would have known about them and five people would not have had a neat Christmas gift.

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  5. Well that's what makes the quilting arts so very diverse. Every quilter does something just a little differently.

    I like how you blog, keep blogging the way you do.

    I like how I blog, I'm not ready to sell stuff on my blog.

    Happy quilting!
    Teri

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  6. yes, I agree Terry.

    sometimes it is about introducing people to the behind the scenes part of producing the work. The processes, the struggles with getting things to look like what you have in your mind, the parts about trying to fit making the work in amongst other responsibilities, the ways that other parts of your life influence your work, and even the parts about taking on related responsibilities so you can afford to do the work- which seems to be a Good Thing- but which also brings frustration because you are limited even further in time.

    Actually, I think I avoid blogs such as you describe with the main focus being that it is "successful".
    Sandy in the UK

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  7. That's the first time I've read your "blog rules" - think you've got it pretty well spot on, and your blog is top of my bookmarks list (and not just because it's alphabetically arranged!) As well as the art, I think the shared humanity across the oceans and continents makes the world a smaller place. I don't have a blog of my own, so probably have no right to an opinion on what a blog should be, but ... Keep doing just what you're doing now - and thank you!

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  8. Thank you for this. I decided not to go to her blog because I knew what it would say. I am with you. I love good writing that inspires. I love beautiful photos. I love hearing about a person's life beyond their marketing strategy. I detest blogs that exist to sell their work without some insight into who they are, their pets and their idiosyncrasies.

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  9. You're doing it right.

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  10. Anonymous2:25 PM

    I started reading your blog after meeting you when you were trying to sell your house. That was a year ago. I have been a faithful reader since. I'm not here because I want to buy your work. I follow your blog because I love seeing your quilting unfold: your thought process, use of color, texture etc. The peeks you give into your personal life add character and dimension. To me you're on the right track.

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  11. I thought the same thing when I read Dena's (and many other successful bloggers') post. If one's goal is to network with the intention of selling work and gaining recognition she's spot on. If one is blogging for myriad other reasons, well then, other "rules" apply.

    The longer I'm out there, the less comfortable I am with trying to convince people to part with their hard earned money for something I'm going to make whether anyone buys it or not. I fear my life, and therefore my blog will never be "successful" in a commercial money-making sense. But as you say, if I'm looking for something else, there's hope. I'm trying FB, but it's not speaking to me the way my blog does. I doubt that I could find the depth of peership and the wonderful, deeper, conversations on FB that I do through blogs. And for an isolated, nomad type like me, what I've found in blogland is priceless, even if I never do blog "correctly."

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  12. For someone who decides to have a commercial blog, this is fine. And there are other intentions to start a blog. I was feeling a little lonely after moving from that hectic part of city into the green burb. Selling something is a nice side-effect; but what I was really looking for was response from artists who have the same aims, similar taste, interest in crafts and the knowledge I was lacking. I found friendly, even related minds. I certainly would not feel the same gratitude and satisfaction if selling would have been the main result.
    Rules? Five bloggers -- eight kinds of blogs and rules. And that's perfectly alright.

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  13. You've said this beautifully. Self expression, passing on something you've discovered or enjoyed, and meeting other interesting people are the greatest parts of blogging for me. I not much of a fan of the "marketing oneself" blogs.

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  14. I meant to add--I enjoyed your comments about the look of a blog. They were right on the mark also.

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  15. Don't change a thing!!

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  16. I agree with everyone....a casual blog is great, that's why we're here reading this. And I guess that's what I prefer because I don't read Dena's blog and now I remember why. I hope her rules get her what she wants, I think everyone gets out of their blog what they put into it, and trying to convince everyone to do it your way because it's best doesn't work.

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  17. There's no way to tell if it was a wise business decision for me to blog about the roadkill raccoon I encountered, but I found it very interesting, so in it went. I like your reference to "authentic voice", Terry; that's what I aim for. It will vary for each of us, and that's what makes the blogosphere so fascinating. Thanks for yet another well written and thoughtful post.

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  18. I agree with you Terry! This was a well written post and I enjoyed your point of view very much.

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  19. I think it is telling that you have so many comments whereas there are none on Dena's post...

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  20. Love you and your blog...I think blogs are about human connections, like minded souls, creativity, sparks and joy...as well as sometimes sorrows. New kinds of connections, friends and ways to appreciate the amazing people we are, we try to be. Keep on Terry...I appreciate you every day!!! Also, I get really good recipes now and then (ha ha...)

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  21. I like your blog...don't stop.

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  22. I come here because this Blog is about your passion, not a sales pitch for what you are selling. In my mind, Blogs and business don't mix. Keep doing exactly what you are doing and remember there are no rules for Blogging about anything!

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  23. I've been reading your blog for almost 3 years now. Yours and Gerrie's are two of my favorites because of the mix of art, family and just your everyday thoughts. Please don't change a thing.

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  24. Terry - this post was PERFECT!!!
    I have been blogging since Feb. 2004 and I wouldn't have met you online if I hadn't or any of the people above. I enjoy everything you post - it makes me feel as if I have known you forever and I truly believe if we did meet in person, it would probably feel the same way.
    I do my blog for me & having others read it is a bonus!!!

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  25. me too, me too, me too. I thought the same thing when I read Dena's well-meaning but too seriously focused for me, post. I love your blog and Gerrie's and a wealth of others because you let me into who you are, not just what you do.
    Don't change a thing!

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  26. I get so tired of people insisting we turn social media into marketing opportunities. There are those who insist if you're not using Facebook and Twitter to market yourself, you are losing out. Whether or not a blog is successful is dependent on the blogger's definition of success. As you state, it does not necessarily include getting the most hits and making lots of sales. I know I didn't start my blog for those reasons. Mine is more in line with your definition at the end of your post: "be authentic. And if you can be funny or profound or make things beautiful - bonus points!"

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  27. I love your blog!! Although I have shopped on blogs before, that is not what drives me to blogland! Your blog is a favorite because you share yourself with us. Your art speaks to me as well as what you share about your life. There aren't really any "rules" to this - do it YOUR way!!

    Hugs! Patte

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  28. TheDailyFiber@blogspot.com6:05 AM

    it was only a matter of time before the Blog Police showed up! Thankfully there are those who share your sentiments about what makes a blog really special.

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  29. Through our blogs we are connected to people around the world who we may never meet face-to-face -- but how wonderful it is when you do, and that person says, "I read your blog! I feel like I know you already!"

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  30. Your blog is one of the few I read every time I sit down to read blogs. I enjoy it just the way it is. You are an excellent writer, in my opinion, and have great insights. I love seeing your art, how you make your art and reading about your life. It makes me feel like I know you.

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  31. What can I add? I agree with everyone's comments. I started blogging when I went on Road Trips, so that everyone who wondered where, and how, I was could check up on me. Particularly my relatives, but, lo-and-behold, none of my relatives has ever read my blog that I know of! Instead I have developed a far-flung extended 'family' of friends who share their lives with me. I think I will have to address my blogging "philosophy" in my blog one of these days. Meanwhile, I'll take your word on Dena's 'rules' and skip them. Del

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  32. I love looking at your artwork, and refer to your tutorials as needed. What you are really selling on your blog is your point of view: life in Portland, being a grandma, making your unique art. It's priceless, as the commercial says.

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  33. There are numerous people here who I have met through blogging ( a few in the flesh) We nust not lose track of the fact we are people first and we don't stop being people when we open the studio door. Well said Terry - and I will try to find a halfway decent photo of me to put on my profile, I promise!
    Above all, I OWN my blog and I won't have anyone telling me what do do with it.

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  34. I want to be entertained, inspired, and for a moment taken away from my routine and thrust into the big ole' world out there. That's what blogs are about!

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  35. Well your interpretation of Dena's post sure brought out a lot of of comments! Although I'll go and read that post now - I was taken by the thought that it seems like SHE is defining SUCCESS for other folks - when ultimately, We define our OWN success!

    Success has been the focus of Scoutie Girl Blog this week, and really enjoyed a lot of great thought provoking posts there. I've got a link to it all here:
    http://www.candiedfabrics.com/2010/01/29/definition-of-success/

    I'm off to read Dena's post!

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  36. So right - you and your blog! I read it every posting and love knowing you through your words, your art and your life. Thank you!

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  37. Anonymous10:08 AM

    I'm one of the multitudes who love your blog just the way it is. I've been reading it for quite a while, and it's one one of the few I subscribe to with GoogleReader so I don't miss any (along with Gerrie's, Rayna's and Sandy's). What they have in common is a good mix of art and life and personality... and a certain something that makes them fun to keep up with. It's not whether or not someone tells me what they had for breakfast, it is how they tell it, what it connects to, or reminds them of...Anyway, wanted to say, "love your art, love your blog."

    --Lorraine

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  38. Your blog is one of my top 3 faves; I was too sick to comment earlier this week but am feeling better now.
    I don't always leave a comment, but I always read it. I don't know how you manage to make it so interesting out of just ordinary life. Kudos!

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  39. You share your art and your life - your blog is great. Don't change anything.

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  40. Helen8:58 PM

    Please continue to tell us about "inconsequential" things, like whether you baked cookies, or had a new grandchild. That's why I read your blog. Blogs a-la-Dena that are designed to sell stuff are BORING!

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