I have a confession to make. Up until BlogPodium I had been considering deleting my blog.
I love writing here. I love making crafts and showing them on here to help other people do them. I love meeting other creative minds from all over the world the share this love of DIY projects.
So what’s the deal right? Why would I want to stop?
Several reasons. The first being that I felt like my blog wasn’t pretty enough to make it. By pretty I mean perfect. Because as much as we all cry foul that we want bloggers to be real and showcase behind the scenes life, we always in the end go back and Pin the pretty images. They sell. They inspire. They are the ones that appear in magazines. These are the bloggers who in the end get into publications. And I am not always a pretty blog. I will tell you when things go wrong, I won’t lie if I had a bad experience with a product in the hopes of working with a sponsor. And most of all I don’t pretend to live out of a catalogue because I don’t. We have stucco ceilings, we live in the suburbs, we have a 10 year car that has siphoned off over $1500 in repairs in the last 6 months and real life finances don’t always allow you to re-do and redecorate your home when you want to. That’s a process over time.
The second – time. Simple as that. My kids are growing up and I spend more time on my computer than I’d like. I want my time to be with them.
The third is I felt alone in being a Canadian blogger. It wasn’t until I joined Twitter that I realized how many Canadian bloggers are actually out there. The catch was most of the ones I was meeting were all Parenting bloggers and I don’t consider myself a Parenting blogger. That is I do crafts with my kids a lot, but I would lean more towards DIY/Crafts/Lifestyle because I don’t discuss parenting issues or how to raise your kids on here. Not that it’s not a great idea to follow a blogger from a different genre than yours because by all means you can learn something (God knows food blogs save my non-existent culinary skills), but reading about sensory projects with macaroni for toddlers when you’re passionately searching for designer fabric to reupholster your couch, is probably on a different end of the spectrum of the blogs you actually choose to follow. Now I follow both, in which case this is a very bad example. But the idea is that common ground is very helpful because it allows you to relate to each other.
So where were all the Crafty DIY lovin’ Canadian girls? The ones building things and spending weekends at Home Depot and Lowe’s, asking for Gift Cards to Michaels for Christmas, being really, really, really excited about the IKEA catalogue arriving every year? I had met a ton of them from the US and UK. I would read all their recaps from the Haven Conference. I’d see lots of whom were working together for Holiday themed posts or working with sponsors, all chatting in Facebook groups. They shared work opportunities that I really couldn’t participate in because of the non-Canadian companies they worked with. Here it felt like when I found a Canadian blogger who did that, they were just as perplexed as to how to build these working relationships with brands as I was. And those that did, were very few and far in between and felt like they were on an isolated ship.
Why did it feel like we were all over the map and unable to figure out how to do what the U.S. bloggers had already discovered? I mean they’re discussing DFP for blog monetization and we’re like so, anyone got a PR contact for Michael’s for some craft supplies?
The week before BlogPodium I emailed one of my blogging friends in the U.S .and I told her this and then some. I said I felt frustrated at the direction of the future of my blog. I felt like maybe this wasn’t working. Maybe it was taking too long to grow my audience. How a lot of what I put on here was starting to dig into valuable family time that I’d never get back. I was at a crossroads.
But I went to the conference. Because I wanted to see if it would change my mind. Because I wanted to connect with some of the amazing voices I had been chatting with online.
The first thing it feels like when you get there, as it has been reiterated in the many BlogPodium recaps, is that it’s a lot like the first day of school where you don’t know a soul. Well some people did and we did know each other virtually but in a manner of speaking we were still strangers to each other. I wasn’t feeling inspired, I was feeling nervous. It is daunting to go to a conference by yourself. If I could give anyone attending one piece of advice, get someone’s cell phone number before you go or arrange a meeting spot. That way you’ll have that someone or a group of people to instantly connect with. Don’t walk in blindly and then go “What’s the WiFi code for the Hyatt?” so you can tweet them and ask where they’re sitting (this happened many times). It will help with your comfort level especially if you are socially awkward like me and very nervous at the idea of introducing yourself to a group of people.
Once I found Lynne who was sitting with Danica and Andrea, I took a deep breath and sat down with them at their table. Then I saw Tash and Kes walk in and then we used Twitter to find Becky and Thalita. When Thalita and me hugged instantly a huge deal of my anxiety disappeared. It felt like we had known each other for years. Suddenly that feeling of being alone in a sea of 250+ people, disappeared.
Sometimes you just need a hug. I may not show it on this blog much, but I am a very sensitive and emotional person. It’s one of the reasons making these personal connections via blogging is so important to me. I want to be able to support other bloggers. I want to be able to share their creative genius and work with them. I want to be able to talk to them about their frustrations, help each other during blogging slumps and share advice and tips. Most importantly I want to encourage bloggers to connect with each other so they don’t ever feel like they’re trying to scale a brick wall and not getting anywhere.
It’s not fun blogging alone.
And I felt like in Canada, this was sorely missing. I think that’s why so many of us attended BlogPodium, because we want to make those personal connections.
So when I write my Part 2 of this recap I’ll get into the Day’s events and some of the key lessons I learned. I promise it will be a more lighthearted post than this one. I felt I needed to write this post first because I know I am not by myself thinking these things. So much so that when the conference was done, I came home and made good on a promise to start a Facebook Group to connect us all together. To keep the discussions and support going.
You’d think there was one already for this genre online? Nada. I mean how is that even possible?
So we started the Facebook group to connect us all. Canadian Home, Decor and Lifestyle Bloggers.
I registered it but let me make this clear, it’s not my forum. It’s our forum – by our I mean yours if decide to join. That and I am not a good moderator because I would totally be the one to forget do the daily share threads because my child would choose that morning to spill grape juice all over their head before picture day. So with the help of several other amazing bloggers, they will be doing that as co-admins to help make sure we’re all happy campers. By campers I mean bloggers. Where everyone who has a passion for their home, DIY’s, crafts, decor and design is welcome to come network and support each other. So that when you go to the next BlogPodium, especially if you’re a first timer, you won’t feel like it’s the first day of school.
You’ll feel like it’s a reunion.
It goes along with one of the best pieces of blogging advice I have ever read and something that was reiterated at BlogPodium. And that was from when I read Becky from Infarrantly Creative‘s Blog Story. And the advice is very simple. You can’t blog alone. You need to build a community of bloggers around yourself. Go read her story. It will open your eyes.
This experience made me do a lot of soul searching in terms of deciding whether a life online is what I want for myself right now. What it has helped me figure out is that I need to spend more time with my kids away from the computer. Because blogging, especially DIY and craft blogging, takes a lot of time my time away from them. And any blogger that is a parent can understand how hard it is to balance their corner of the internet with family life, especially when there are weeks where all you’d rather be doing is hanging out with them outside. If that means I do one post a week and a round up of notes every Friday so be it. When they’re in school I’ll have a lot of time to make stuff then. They are more important to me right now and my youngest is on her last year at home with me. I will never get this time back.
So in the end was the experience of going to the conference worth it despite my wavering state? Let me put it this way. Anything that helps you make a positive decision for your life, is well worth the experience you had. Even if that means saying Goodbye. Which I think I’d be pretty stupid to do right now, given that the next chapter of blogging in Canada is just beginning for a lot of us.
Especially when life tosses you a bit of serendipity on top of all of that.
As I was writing this post, feeling extremely vulnerable (which I realize is very mellow dramatic, I mean come on it’s a blog not brain surgery) I got an email from a woman named Emily who showed me a photo of her wreath that she was inspired to make based on my Let’s Talk About Wreaths post.
And I sat there and thought I have never had anyone do that. No one in the entire time I have been blogging has ever actually shown me if anything I had shown on here, had helped inspire them enough to think “Hey that’s a great idea, I am totally going to do that,” and had actually gone and made it. And it put the biggest nerdy smile on my face like you would not believe. I wrote back to thank her and she wrote me back the sweetest email and said it was “refreshing” to read my writing. No word of a lie I was so humbled.
So Thank You Emily, I told you your email could not have come at a better time.
And Thank you Canadian Blogging Belles and all the future Blogging Belles for finally giving this blogger her tribe.