Over the last few weeks I have been going through some personal struggles which have prevented me from blogging. Actually, I’ve barely been online aside from occasionally checking twitter on my phone. The events that have transpired away from the keyboard have lead me to make a few big decisions, one of which will affect you guys so I thought I’d better share it with you…
I quit my day job.
Without going into the ins and outs of it, I have been really unhappy. I found myself working back late every night, going into the office on weekends and working through my lunch breaks. I felt like no matter how hard I worked I never seemed to get ahead. It was affecting my friends, eating into my blogging time and worst of all, it was starting to affect my physical and mental well being. I chose to put my happiness first and after weighing up the negatives and positives I decided that it wasn’t worth the trouble anymore.
There is this misconception in the blogging community that all bloggers are portraying these perfect lives of DIY projects, cupcakes and dressing up. Sure, these may be things that most of us share on a daily basis, but do readers really think this is the way life is all the time? I for one, don’t think you guys aren’t that naive. While it would be nice to think that there are people out there living these glamorous, super fun lives all day every day, the reality we know that’s not true. No one wants to hear about my crappy day at work, the fight I had with my best friend or the time I tripped down the stairs and hurt my ankle. It doesn’t make good reading. So generally when these things happen to me, I don’t write about them. And I think that’s okay.
Blogging is a strange commitment. It is a passion and a labour of love, but it is also a commitment in which you give a lot of yourself without any tangible rewards most of the time. It’s amazing and fun but it also comes with an expectation from your readers that you will always have time to put out content, so I’m sorry that this hasn’t been the case the last few weeks.
But anyway; I’m sure you’re wondering how my decision will impact you guys? Well, once I finish up and my job (and hopefully find something new) it will mean that I will be back, more focused and with more time to create quality content - hooray! I have 2 weeks left until my final day at work, so between now and then my posting may be slightly sporadic, but it will be there. I have some fantastic contributor writers who are coming on board and I can’t wait to introduce them to you!
Thank you for putting up with me during this down time. Being unemployed will not be easy, I know that, but with all the facts weighed against each other I am happy with my decision.
[Source: Buy this image as a Print!]
Here’s a question for all the ‘Pinners’ out there: out of all the products, clothes, accessories, designs and illustrations you pin on a regular basis, how many of said items do you actually purchase? Are you a consumer or just an image collector?
I know you love Pinterest. Over the last 18 months, as its popularity has exploded, Pinterest has become a vital promotional tool for artists, designers, online stores and online content creators alike. You probably have 20+ boards all dedicated to specific topics. Anything you could possibly wish to find has an image ‘pinned’ for you to browse over and add to your carefully curated collections. You might even check it a few times a day, lest you miss something fabulous!
I’ll admit was a little skeptical at first. I was wary of it becoming another ‘weheartit’ or ‘tumblr’ style image sharing service, where finding the original source for any given image can be a total nightmare! However the ‘pin it’ button along with associated plug ins for web browsers, webpages and blogs has made correct sourcing automatic and, for the most part, it seems to work! For online content creators like myself, Pinterest is a fantastic way to draw traffic to my recipes and projects, but for independent designers and artists is it really helping or hindering?
Recently I came across a fascinating article over at I am the Lab . It is definitely worth a read in its entirety, but the article details the opinion of one such creator, Kal Barteski (of the Link With Love campaign), who has decided to forego Pinterest altogether! I know, right! The internet just gave one big, collective gasp! ‘How could someone not be on Pinterest’ you ask? Well, She makes a fair point in the article; while Pinterest is brilliant for directing traffic to your site, how many of those new visitors actually stay and buy something? I’ll wager, not as many as you would think. It’s all well and good to get your product seen via a Social Networking site like Pinterest, but if it’s not boosting sales and keeping your business sustainable, it defeats the purpose really.
To me, it seems like cutting the advertisement out of a magazine and sticking that on your wall instead of buying the poster itself. Many people are more than content to just have the image sitting in their board rather than in their home. It makes sense in a way, especially with the ability to ‘re-pin’ a lot of people never actually leave the Pinterest site to see the original content, much less purchase it themselves. When they can share the image with all their friends and ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ over it online, I can see how people might not see the need to spend their money as well.
Personally, it makes me kind of sad. The internet has given us unlimited opportunities to fill our homes and hearts with amazing independent designs and we are squandering this gift. Never before have we had such easy access to beautiful, unique products from all over the world. I am a big believer in supporting independent creators, it’s one of the reasons I started my ‘Oh Etsy’ series. I love the feeling of having something a little unique in my home. When friends ask me where I found an art piece or piece of jewellery, I adore being able to share an artist in another country, with someone who has never seen them before.
We need to support these independent artists and nurture their talents. These artists don’t put their heart and mind into manufacturing something wonderful for it to be viewed on your iPhone, or your tablet, OR your High Def monitor. They worked hard to create something beautiful and new to be seen and felt and enjoyed in person!
I am the Lab has started a brilliant campaign which I have decided to take part in, and I hope you will too. It’s called the 1AM Promise. It’s a simple promise to purchase 1 handmade item a month. It can be as big or small as you like, but if everyone were to buy just one handmade treasure a month we would be helping to support an independent creator. Everybody wins in this campaign; artists get their creations out into the world and you get something a little special to love and keep as your own! I’m proud to say that my regular visits to Etsy means that I already probably buy more than one handmade item a month as it is. But from now on I will be making a concentrated effort to ensure that it is something fun that I do every month (and who doesn’t like buying presents for themselves?) I will be sharing my 1 item with you each month, as well as a new series coming up, featuring artists and independent store that I love.
Pinterest isn’t a negative service, but like most things on the internet it can be misused by not realising its full potential. I hope if you’re not already, you’ll not only Pin responsibly, but also think about supporting independent creators. Perhaps you’ll even take the 1AM Promise with me…
So, this sounds pretty basic, but I know so many people who don’t do this. Listen to the people you care about; what do they like? What are their interests? And I don’t mean just around Christmas or birthdays, I mean all year round. If a loved one mentions that book they’ve been wanting to read or that hobby they’ve been wanting to get into, I open up the notebook app (or even a draft message) make a quick note in my phone. Something like “Tom - Carl Sagan book” and save it for later. The best thing about doing this is that it just looks like you are sending a text message so your target is none the wiser and you have a handy reminder for later.
Speaking of which…
2. Set Up Reminders
In your phone, on your computer, in your calendar. Put a reminder in for the most important people’s birthdays. Not just for the day itself, but a few weeks in advance. This way you will know that birthday is coming up and have ample time to plan what you want to buy for that special someone. Especially if you are like me and you do a lot of your shopping online, you will appreciate the extra time when there is a 2 week wait on shipping!
3. Use Online Searches
And I don’t mean Google; sites like Ebay and Amazon are a veritable treasure chest of items you’ve never even thought of! Whenever I am stuck for gift ideas I head over to Ebay and start searching topics that my recipient might enjoy. Try names of television programs, hobbies, favourite actors or even general items like ‘leather bag’ and see what comes up! I can’t count how many times this has saved me when I was out of inspiration!
No, you wont. You’ll forget and then when it comes time to buy her a gift you’ll be sitting there thinking ‘now what was that thing I saw back in June…?’ Bookmark that shit! And don’t let your bookmarks get lost in between links to funny pictures of cats… I have a ‘Buy’ Folder set up, with sub-folders for each of my family members/housemates/close friends. I save anything cool I see in these folders over the year, so when it approaches Christmas or Birthdays I can just open up the relevant folder and browse a ready made list of gift ideas. Just remember to name your bookmarks as what they actually are, (ie: ‘Owl Measuring cups from Anthropology’) instead of the default name so that if you come across a broken link when you come back, you can Google the item and try to find it elsewhere.
So there you have it. Nothing ground breaking or crazy, just some simple ideas that will hopefully help you get through this festive season.
Happy New Year everyone! Generally I don’t make that many New Year Resolutions. I tend to re-evaluate my life around my birthday and make a bunch of goals for the next year from then, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t partake in New Years Resolutions as well. It’s hard to stick with your resolutions year in and year out, generally, most people will have already failed their resolutions by the end of January. Not that I’ve always completed my resolutions every year, but here are some tips that have helped me when I have ;)
Lets face it, you’re not going to fulfill 10 resolutions this year. I’ve made this mistake before, trying to make too many resolutions or tried to make resolutions that were simply not realistic. Choose one or two things that you can realistically achieve in a year. Try to choose something you really want to do.