In the past week 2 things have happened that have made me realise that things are changing in this place that I love so much and maybe that’s both a good thing and a bad thing. When people ask me what I do and I answer “I’m a blogger and a quilter” (which is my answer more and more these days) there’s a lot of questions that usually follow the answer. The range from “what is that?” to “so, you can make money doing that?”. I try to demystify blogging when I provide answers and help people to understand that while what I do I love (it’s in my top ten of things in the world that I love) that it’s also a job if you want to do it with the level of focus and commitment that I do it.
There’s heaps of people that love to blog and love to blog as a hobby and that’s awesome. I’m grateful that there’s so many of us out there that love the medium and dedicate their time to it because it keeps it alive. However there’s also a small (well maybe not so small these days) portion of people that want to be able to provide a steady stream of good quality work. People that spend their hard earned money on making their blogs something that you want to read and come back to again and again. A place where you go to find out the answers to thing, to be inspired, to be encouraged and to connect with someone.
To run one of those types of blogs takes a massive commitment of time, money and a big slice of that person’s being. Projects aren’t cheap to make. Think about all the supplies that are needed to make a project – sewing machine, cutting utensils, fabrics (oh the fabrics!), quilting services (if you use them), wadding – the list goes on. There’s a reason most people only make a handful of quilts per year – they’re not cheap! They cost time away from other things (like your family and friends) and money.
Now think about the blogs you love to read in the crafting niche. What’s one thing they have in common? The depth and variety of projects, right? To be able to do that the blogger has to be able to pay for all of those things and more. That money has to come from somewhere and for a lot of us we pay for it out of our day job. However, to be able to deliver a blog to a certain quality that we’d like a lot of us make the decision to take on Sponsorship.
It’s a tricky line to walk – too much sponsor placement and people switch off and don’t come back. You find the community you’ve worked so hard to build and connect with has left you and the thing that you were doing because you loved connecting with people, inspiring them and sharing your passions has soured. Not enough sponsor placement and you start to struggle to maintain the quality, variety and depth that you’ve worked so hard to develop and provide for people.
To do a blog well, it’s a huge investment. There’s IT costs (hosting, domain registration, design elements, software), learning and development (courses, books, one-on-one mentoring), project costs, photography equipment (blogs are visual mediums after all), time (it takes on average 2 hours to write and prepare a simple blog post – when it comes to making a tutorial that can be a whole day of work – and that doesn’t include responding to emails, interacting on social media, developing content plans, brainstorming session, making projects, going out and getting decent photographs) and supplies (photo props, stationery, business cards) – the list is long and it all adds up.
Some of us are lucky that we have day jobs that can provide some financial support, but those day jobs impact on how much time we can devote to running a successful blog. I spend, on average, 6-8 hours a day working on things that go into making my blog. That’s sewing, photographing, social media, content generation, emailing, design, etc. etc. That time is on top of doing my day job, being a wife, a mother, the household maintenance and trying to maintain some sort of life. That’s on a good day – some days (remember Sewvivor?) I worked 14 hours in a day to get things done.
Please don’t mistake this for complaining – it’s not. I love my blog. I thrive on the work and it’s not “work” it’s my passion. But just like marriage is about love, there’s times when it takes commitment and work to make a blog survive and thrive. I’m very lucky that I’ve found my passion and I’m able to share it with people through this amazing medium. I am grateful for each and every person that finds something they can connect with on my blog and that want to see what I make and do. I never stop thinking about my readers. As much as this blog is about my expression I try to let that expression come out in an entertaining way so others can do what I do with blogs – read them for inspiration, information, escapism and to experience someone else’s unique take on life.
I’ve been blogging for a long time and I’ve seen the debates pop up on blogs over the years about what’s the right answer when it comes to sponsorship and I’m yet to see someone hit on the magic formula that provides bloggers with an income to keep doing what they want and for all their readers to be happy. It’s a fact of life – everything costs money – and to keep blogs free for the readers bloggers often look to sponsors to help support them in what they do. It’s like magazines and television having ads.
I don’t think I’m yet to hit on a formula that works for my corner of the internet. I look back on the past month and I think it’s way too heavy on sponsored content and it’s been way to long since I posted a completed project or shared a tutorial. It doesn’t make me happy to see my blog (or social media) look like that. I too don’t like it when blogs move from being personal places to places where there’s sponsorship upon sponsorship. But I do think there’s a happy medium and I’m working to find it, I just hope that you’ll give me the time and space to find that happy medium safe in the knowledge that I’m working to keep you entertained and not overloaded on sponsorship.
With all that said, it’s not blog sponsorship that’s leaving a sour taste in my mouth. I stand behind my decisions and I’m so very grateful that there’s sponsors out there that want to help me to be able to continue to do what I love. It’s the fact that in the past week I’ve started to see traffic being referred to my site from GOMI (Get Off My Internets) and people are providing feedback without leaving their real details.
GOMI disappointments me on a number of levels, none of which have to do with my blog, it’s more about what it says about the people that are reading my content. I like to think that one of the reasons people come to my blog is because I work really hard on making this a positive place. I try to make this an uplifting experience for my readers. I try to encourage the better sides of humanity. I know that we all slip and I am far from perfect, but in this space I like to encourage us all to be better people; to work on making ourselves the best possible version of ourselves.
GOMI is the antithesis of everything I stand for, both on my blog and in my personal life. It’s for people who want to tear down instead of building up. I have struggled for a long time to understand what it is about the internet that brings out the worst in people and I’m still struggling with an answer. Is it the anonymity? Is it the speed at which we interact now? (There’s no time filter that there used to be when we’d have to write a letter to voice our unhappiness.) Is it that we’ve all forgotten that at the other end of the keyboard is a real living human being who, just like you, has feelings and deserves, at the very least, a basic level of respect.
I just don’t get it. I’m proud to say that I’ve never even been on to GOMI’s website – I don’t have to to know what it’s about, there’s been enough bloggers who I’ve admired and respected chronicle their battles with the people that inhabit that place to know it’s not a place I need or want to go to. It’s also definitely not a place that will make me feel better about humanity and in this day and age if I wanted to feel bad about humanity I’d just watch the news.
I will not tolerate bullying, in any form. This is no place for trolls. If you’re going to leave a comment I expect you to provide real details about who you are. If you can’t stand behind your own comment then don’t leave it because there’s obviously something about that comment that’s not sitting right with who you are and I don’t want you to cheapen your character by doing that. If you want to say something, I want to hear it and I want to know if you’re unhappy, but I want to know from you – not from some random collection of letters. While your feedback may be valid, leaving it anonymously takes away any credibility you had and makes that feedback less relevant – it becomes less about helping you to get what you want and keeping this a place that you want to keep coming back to and more about allowing you to take a cheap shot.
Maybe I expect too much of my readers, but I like to think that birds of a feather flock together and my readers aren’t the sort of people that would condone bullying either. Whether it’s using a site like GOMI to tear people down, or whether it’s leaving a comment that you can’t put your name to, it’s not tolerated in this space.
I may not be able to make the internet all rainbows, kittens and unicorns but I can control what happens on my piece of it so you will never see me use this platform as a place of negativity and I will never allow people to treat this place as somewhere they can come to anonymously make comments about what’s going on. (Sure you can leave bogus details to get around not being able to leave an anonymous comment, but we’ll both know that you did it and only one of us is going to have to live with the knowledge that they weren’t a strong enough person to make a comment without hiding behind anonymity.)
To keep me being able to evolve this space and deliver the kind of content I want to be able to do, I’m going to take on sponsorship that feels right for me. I’m not always going to get it right (the past month is a good example), but know that I am focused on finding that balance and that this place will never again have a month like the last one where it was more sponsorship then personal content. That decision is not because of the two things that have happened in the past week, but because at my core I’m a fan of blogging and I don’t enjoy blogs where there’s more sponsor content then personal and therefore I will not let this place go that way.
As much as I’m using my blog to help sponsors get more exposure so I can continue to do what I do at the level I want to do it, I’m also committed to helping those that are unable to afford advertising get their message out there. So, if there’s something you’d like me to include on the blog please feel free to send me an email via my contact page and tell me all about the amazing things you’re doing and I’ll share it via my Community Cork Board feature on Monday’s. It doesn’t have to be business related, if you’ve got something you’re proud of and you want to share it – let me know. You might be a blogger too and you’ve written something you want to share, or maybe you’ve released a pattern or tutorial, or you volunteer and there’s something coming up you’d like to let people know about. Just let me know and we’ll work together to get the word out!
FUN THINGS TO CLICK ON
- Emma (of For My Little Monster) is fabulously creative and she’s got a new pattern out called “The Ingenious Tote” and it’s great. A perfect size tote if you’re like me and can’t leave the house without everything on you in case of an emergency. It’s got heaps of pocket storage and even has the option of being made reversible (two bags for the price of one!). You can see examples of it and purchase the pattern by clicking here.
- Looking for a tutorial on how to make your own patchwork house, then click here.
- Pip (of Meet Me at Mikes) has a wonderful post on the 20 Things to Do When You Are Feeling Slumpy. Click here to read more.
- I know the month is well underway, but I just couldn’t resist sharing this free desktop calendar from Mollie Makes with you all (the colour palette is sublime). Click here for free download.
- Looking for a strong geometric baby quilt top that you can whip up in an afternoon, click here to find the tutorial for the This Way, That Way Flying Geese Baby Quilt from Modern Handcraft.
- I’ve got a craving for shallot pancakes… click here to get the recipe to make your own.
- Looking for a fun personalised insulated lunch bag to make? Then click here to be inspired by Clover & Violet’s versions.
- If you love paper piecing, then be sure to click here to read Cassie Madge’s post on paper piecing resources and see her amazing work.
- Want to read the interview that changed my life, then click here.
COMMUNITY CORK BOARD
- Rachel (of Stitched in Color) and her beautiful daughter, Eleni, have a long road ahead filled with many trials. Eleni was born with cerebral palsy and needs early intervention treatments to try and give her a quality of life most of us take for granted. If you can spare a small amount to donate to this life changing cause please click here, every dollar you can contribute will change one families life.
- Looking for a good cause to support, Caroline (of Nightingale Quilts) is in need of help to raise some money to build a bat enclosure to help rehabilitate bats. Now, I’m not a fan of bats in the sense that movies always make it look horrible to get caught in a bat swarm, but I am a fan of keeping our environment in tip top condition and bats are important so I’m all for helping to heal them and return them to doing what bats do. Click here to find out more and donate the cost of a coffee.
Want something included on the Community Cork Board, then why not drop me an email and if it’s applicable to the GnomeAngel community I’ll share it. It can be anything from a local fate, a charity raffle, a class you’re teaching, a pattern you’ve released, a sew-a-long you’re involved in to a community event that’s happening. Be sure to send me as much detail as you can and links to any applicable websites. Click here to email me.
- Entries are open in the 15th Annual Brother International Quilt Contest. You can win $2,400 worth of Brother quilting products and have your quilt displayed at the Tokyo International Quilt Festival in 2016. To find out more click here.
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