Wow, I took a longer break from blogging than expected. And it really was needed. When I began blogging, it was five (!) years ago and life was totally different. I was working full time while my husband traveled for work. We only had one little kiddo. And the way I was spending my creative time was faaaaaar different from how I do now. Most of my projects were very small and solidly in the crafting category. For that time, that was perfect. I simply did not have the time or energy to really pursue anything different and I was just making stuff to stay sane with hating my job and missing my husband. It wasn’t like I hated life or was SUPER stressed, but it definitely wasn’t my ideal.
Flash forward to today, and things are so much better. If I get woken up in the middle of the night, it is to tend to a kid two doors down. It’s not a possible drive into town to fix a problem with the newspaper. After adding a second kid to the family and leaving my job, I have been able to work towards a goal that was always floating around in the back of my head: being a professional artist. There have been myriad roadblocks, some internal and some external, but I am learning everyday about how to move myself forward in my chosen field. With a little luck and a lot of family support, I have made some great strides forward. Today, finally, I wanted to take a bit to recap what I have been up to and what you, my reader can be expecting on the horizon.
First I should probably thank my husband. Shortly after leaving my job, we were spending sometime at the Arts Guild in Red Lodge. They were planning their annual Labor Day Art Fair, there was one booth left and Eric gave me the nudge I needed to take the last available booth. Then I spent the next few weeks working furiously to get ready. I made a few small sales, but more important, that got the ball rolling.
Late in 2014, I actually got the guts to contact the owner of an awesome local business, Cassie of Better to Gather, and offer to teach a class. She once called BTG a “place for makers”, and I don’t think there is a better way to phrase it. She and her network of teachers run classes on everything from embroidered jewelry to custom-blended perfume. I really thought her responding and bringing me on board was a remote chance at best. But in 2015, I had a Featured Artist month, taught a dozen classes and worked at four ArtWalks. Even better, I made some really great contacts and got a bit more of a confidence boost when it comes to selling my work.
A few months after that, I happened to hear about a presentation on the Montana Artrepreneur Program (MAP). It turns out MAP was exactly what I needed: an in-depth program to teach artists all the tools they need to successfully market their art. I applied immediately, got in and had a ton of fun at all the sessions. Ever since the last one wrapped up, I have been working on reading the massive book they gave me and completing all the work so this May I can become a MAP certified artist.
Enrolling in MAP was very well-timed as far as my blog goes. I was feeling very burned out on blogging and like I wasn’t adding anything of substance to my readers lives. Upon taking a huge step back. I can finally see why. When I launched this blog, it was with zero plan and zero grip on how much work writing even short posts really is. I do not regret launching when I did at all. This blog has pushed me forward in its own way. The initial rush of writing on a deadline, even a self-imposed one, was fun and kept creativity at the front of my brain all the time. But when I first brainstormed about my content, I had planned to show projects, share recipes, review craft books, and do tutorials. All on a weekly basis. Yes, I can hear you laughing at me from the other side of the internet. And don’t feel bad…I am eye rolling pretty hard over here. The major problem was I had an RSS feed loaded with “inspiration”. As much fun as it was to read all that, I think it gave me some pretty unrealistic expectations about what I could do. I failed to think of the fact that a few people I followed blogged professionally, had no kids or were not solo bloggers. Exactly zero of those describe me, but I was still holding myself up to that standard without even realizing it. It’s no coincidence that when I hit pause so many months ago, I stopped reading my RSS as well. I felt bad for not coming up with crazy, mind blowing, beautiful unique projects and really did consider totally stopping my blog.
But in my absence, I realized I have missed writing these words that are sent out to the far corners of the planet. I never cared much about the actual blog counter, but I loved looking at the little map showing where readers were located. It was so fun to see different countries light up because someone in Russia or Brazil had read my words. Reflecting on this feeling made me think about my blog’s original intent: inspiration. There are so many creative people out there who do not exercise their skills because of roadblocks. I wanted to offer people, even if it was just a few people, a tiny glimpse into my life and how I deal with real obstacles. Maybe then they will realize they are not alone and they don’t have to give up what they love to do.
Now, instead of trying to be super blogger, I will just be me. I will share what I am up to without trying to make everything a lesson or a challenge. And most important, I will plan realistically. That means a few things for this blog. First, a total visual overhaul. I want to make sure this blog is inviting and professional to my readers, old and new. Second, new organization. Over the next few weeks, I will have pages for available paintings, artist’s bio, and upcoming classes. Finally, I will be changing my blogging structure. Since I love a good picture, I plan on having a regular post that is simply pictures of the last few weeks of work. Beyond that, I am still planning. I know maintaining an online presence is important, but I just need to keep repeating to myself that quality is key.
So to any of you out there who are reading this, thank you. I really do appreciate every click I get and every word scanned by someone else’s eyes. And I hope you are all excited for this next step in my career.