How Not To Blog

When you end your last post “stay tuned,” you probably don’t expect your illustrious blog host to disappear for six months.

Felix/Mommy selfie time. Also, feeling the love with my @bitchmedia B-Hive mug, because we value independent media.

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I got new glasses!

Yeah, I didn’t expect that either. I have spent the last six months in a haze of not enough sleep, baking, yoga, playing with babies, and of while plenty of writing has been happening as well, there has been a lot of I don’t have time to turn this into a blog post, lets make it an instagram instead. But I have missed this space.

This peasant loaf is my prettiest so far. Can’t wait til it cools to see how it tastes. #gfbaking #glutenfree

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Over the years, I’ve talked about doing a lot of different things with Tiny Dino Studios, and I get excited about new projects and new hobbies, and make all sorts of plans that I never quite follow through on. I start out with the best intentions for a yarn dyeing business, for helping people with their handmade business, for freelance writing, for selling soap, and then I get side tracked by whatever story I’m working on and all my good intentions go straight out the window.

You’d think it wouldn’t take me years and years to realize I should put all of my energy into my writing already and be done with it, but it did.

For whatever reason, I felt like writing wasn’t enough to focus on. Those other things had the potential to bring me money sooner, even though I cared more about the writing.

I’ve spent the last few months coming to terms with owning that I want to just be a writer.

And doesn’t that make it sound simpler than it really is? There is no “just” about it.

I currently have one novel in time out while I decide if it’s done or not, another I have been working on for a year, and a third that’s waiting in the wings. Not to mention all of the scary parts of writing like query letters and synopses, and whether self-publishing a little isn’t a bad idea.

Enjoying being outside before it gets too hot. ??? Love watching the plants grow. ????????????????

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On top of that, I miss the good old days when blogs were a way to genuinely connect with readers instead of another avenue to facilitate the means of production.

I don’t want to sell you stuff.

I want to talk about my writing and complain about this elimination diet I’m getting ready to start. (I’m totally Fat Tuesdaying it up this weekend, because come Monday, I have to give up all of my favorite things: coffee! chocolate! chickpeas! tomatoes!)

Mostly, I want to share fun stuff, like this pinterest board I made for my current writing project:

I know some authors have boards and boards and boards for each of their stories. This is the first time I’ve done it, and it was fun trying to find people and places that match what I see in my head when I write.

Now, anyone want to beta read?

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It’s Time for Something Different

Some of you may or may not have noticed that I closed down my etsy shop a couple of weeks ago. I tweeted about it last week, but otherwise, I closed it down fairly quietly. It was not a bittersweet moment for me.

dinning room before

The glamour of selling hand dyed yarn and fiber lost it’s appeal about two years ago. If you’ve been reading my blog since May 2013, when we had to leave our cozy little apartment and I didn’t have a place to dye for awhile, it probably doesn’t come as a surprise. I’ve bounced around with what I’ve shared with you since then, a little sewing, a little printing, a little gardening, even a free knitting pattern or two. Each and every one of those things was so much fun in the moment that I wanted to share them with you, hoping you’d be diverted as well.

But as I go back and read over some of my posts, I have to admit, that I am less than impressed.

calbedpulloverstorage

I can tell I was just dashing off posts as quick as can be–and lets face it, they were pretty shallow.

minerva

One of the reasons I closed down my etsy shop was that I just didn’t feel like I fit in there anymore. I love the DIY lifestyle. I love making my own chicken stock and yogurt, I love processing my own yarn from a big greasy fleece. I love composting and gardening and making my own soap–but you know what’s left after you do all of those things?

A mess.

messydesk

A big fat one.

But etsy is selling a curated, tastefully simple, DIY lifestyle these day, and kind of leaving the DIY out of it. Don’t get me wrong, there are still a million, brilliant artists still selling on etsy, but most of the time those artists are buried in a sea of not-so-handmade listings.

airbenderstripes

When it comes to the fiber arts though, my competition remained largely other indie dyers and small farmers, and I was completely cool with that. What I was not cool with was the ever increasing price it cost just to get product views.

When I was really having fun with dyeing yarn and doing my yarn club, I could make a couple hundred dollars or more a month off my web sales, after etsy and paypal fees. Not enough to live off, but a couple extra trips to the grocery store if need be or a part for the car, that sort of thing. A couple of years ago, etsy introduced search ads, which allowed you to put your product at the top of the page when someone searched for the keywords you used on your listings. You could cap how much money you wanted to spend on search ads each week, and I thought it was effective. I put my reasonable cap on and saw an increase in sales and in page views when I used them.

tiny_dino_knit_before_it_was_cool_notecard

A few months ago, they switched the search adds to a bidding system which was not cost effective for a small shop like mine. The minimum cap was about $1/day. I gave it a try one month–while admittedly not doing a whole lot of other promotion–and paid about twice in fees as what I made in sales. I turned it off the next month and received hardly any page views and no sales. I don’t think I’d ever had a month with no sales since I opened my shop, but in December and January it was zilch, zippo, nothing.

I’m not blaming etsy’s new systems entirely. I have already said my heart wasn’t in it anymore, but the recent changes were the nail in the coffin of my little etsy shop. It feels like, as etsy has switched from a website where you go to find handmade originals, to where you go to find what’s on trend, that etsy is more preoccupied with selling the idea of a lifestyle rather than the goods that make that lifestyle possible. I thought etsy was supposed to be a stepping stone for launching a handmade business, but it feels to me now like it’s more concerned with nickel and diming the indie artist out of their studio space.

It certainly wasn’t the right place for me anymore.

clementines and cherry blossoms

And I feel like, while I was trying to fit into that etsy aesthetic, so was my blog. My identity as a blogger was confused. My writing was mediocre at best.

I wrote in November about sticking with Nanowrimo for the first time ever, even though I have goddamn degree in creative writing. I haven’t stopped writing since I started back in November. I’m putting the finishing touches on a draft of a novel, and hope to start searching for an agent sometime later this year. It’s taught me a lot about myself–one of them being that I tend toward caution when I really want to kick and to curse and to generally stir up a fuss.

uterus

Writing my novel has shown me that while I don’t believe in censorship, I certainly was practicing it on myself a lot, telling myself this was too controversial to write about, or that was too political. That I would write “fuck” too many times and offend someone.

carrotjuicemarla

And now I kind of don’t give a damn.

What’s this mean moving forward? I’ll still write about my knitting and my gardening, but I might also write about books or my writing. I might piss you off. I might insult you. Mostly, I hope to make you laugh, or to motivate you to live your dream. Because I have always wanted to be writer, but I never had the courage to let myself be one before.

imadeit

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Yesterday I hinted at some changes I want to make in the near future in my business, but I did not elaborate. And I apologize, I hate it when people are vague and secretive on their blogs. Usually when someone is too vague and too secretive too often I stop reading it and just look at the pictures. If the pictures seem to indicate this person is continuing to pretend they live in the magazine portrayal of their life they display online, I unsubscribe. The blogs I continue to read? The ones where people struggle. Where the writer curses. Where the author admits that sometimes life is shitty. The blogs I keep reading are the ones that are still a story in progress–still have struggles–are less a brand and more an individual.

That being said, there is something definitely to be said for professionalism and branding. One of the changes I am looking at is making my blog design, etsy shop, packaging and promotional materials all more consistent in design and tone. I’ve experimented with different yarn labels, cards, and banners over the last couple of years. I am not completely happy with them any of them and it’s time to take greater creative responsibility of that aspect of my business. In my mind, this will make my products and yarn lines more professional, more marketable, and more desirable to the consumer, thus increasing sales. I also want to prepare to wholesale some of my yarn–not that I have anywhere to wholesale it at the moment, but I want to be able to do so when I find the right place. While I plan to give the old dot com a makeover in the next year, I really don’t want to become one of those antiseptic blogs that adheres so much to a brand nothing important ever gets said. If anything, I am endeavoring to make my blog more candid, more intimate than I have in the past–and it’s not because I think it will get me more sales.

As well as being a marketing tool, my blog is another creative outlet (not one that I necessarily utilize as well as I can, but I think of it as such nonetheless. I always intended this blog to chronicle how I go about making Tiny Dino Studios a business–and how difficult and wonderful it can be. I feel like somewhere along the way I got too tired to ever really see that through. Getting back to that place and not cutting out the stuff that makes the process sticky and frustrating is important to me. I am not cheery and happy all the time. I am often grumpy and tired. Starting a creative business and building a creative business is hard, and I want to document both the hard and successful–not just the pretty.

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