“Getting to know you! Getting to know all about you…”

Alrighty. It’s been almost a week since my last blogposting, and that’s far too long for my taste. I have a lot to update you on, and some observations that I have gleaned via my “travels through the blogosphere”.

Remember how I had to set aside that ebook I had been reading, Creating a Blog Audience by Sister Diane? I had reached a point where I didn’t want to progress further until I felt confident to answer some of the questions she was posing. At a certain point in the book, I realized that I didn’t know enough about the blogging communities that I was posting my blog for– art, craft, and business–and I really needed to do some investigating.

Well, I can say with absolute certainty that’s easier said than done. The blogosphere at this point is rapidly increasing, and the more I felt I was visiting “the community”, the more I realized I was simply scratching the surface… I felt (and still feel) that I had reached the outskirts of a major urban hub, and said to myself, “Aha! My community!” when I actually should have waited and read some more signs to realize I had a long way to go… I think that getting to know the community you are writing for as a blogger is a never ending journey… I could visit blog after blog and post comment after comment, but I’ll never reach the end. 2 or 3 years ago, perhaps, there was a finite nature to the whole experience that implied there were edges to the blogosphere community that one could reach, depending on your interest. Not so much today. It’s like saying, “Get to know your internet!” Hah! See ya in 5-10 years when that’s done…

OBIT  KERR

So at this point, I have endless numbers of bookmarks and doubled my blog subscriptions. And I have 30 open browser windows on my Mac’s dock, waiting for me to get back to read them. I keep finding great stuff!!! ┬áThe book did exactly what it was supposed to do: make me think about what it was I was putting out there, for whom, and how it fit in.

And that’s led me to realize there probably isn’t much I can add to the fabric of the blogosphere, really. What can I do but what everyone else is doing–“spins” on information that’s already been explored in depth? How many purse tutorials can a person read? Redoing what others are doing is not what I’d like to do…

So. I’ve decided to continue reading Sister Diane’s book, and hopefully I can progress forward on posting information that’s interesting to a specific overlap of my chosen communities. The book has profoundly opened my eyes to the concept that I need to recognize what my niche is. It’s made me realize that my particular “spice” that I add to the recipe of information that I post needs to be uniquely my own. It’s finding and recognizing that niche that I have to think about. And the more I explore the blogosphere, the more I realize those niches are very very hard to come by.

I find a lot of similarities (in my head) between the blogosphere and reality. In the rush of globalization that’s been made possible by mass and social medias, we’ve moved beyond embracing the whole and turned inward a bit. Our instinct is to pull in and find our diverse uniqueness that separates us and makes us distinct. The Handcrafted/DIY movement is part of that, I think. Our individuality as people was lost in the emphasis on our individuality as a culture, and now we’re trying to get it back through our creative expressions. Yes, we need and strive for social connections, but now we seek them not through our identification as part of the whole (by doing/believing the same things) but through our uniqueness that demonstrates our variation on the identifying culture. We want to belong, and yet we celebrate our distinctiveness.

Being part of any blogging community presents a quandary: belonging on the one hand, being different on the other. Being just enough alike, but not a copy.

So I’m going to move forward. I’m realizing I will never see the larger whole of my communities in the blogosphere, never truly grasp how they all fit together, who are the movers and shakers, who are the followers. And I think that means I will never really know if my blog is distinctive from the larger whole that it’s trying to identify with at the same time.

But I guess that’s ultimately like the business, art, and craft worlds, too, isn’t it? Someday, I may find someone doing what I do and doing it much better, or realize someone’s taken what I thought was my own uniqueness and is using it for their own. “Like business, like blog,” I guess.

But I can’t let that stop me, can I?

E-Books and Pondering

I’ve been reeling from a particular e-book that was recently released, written by “Sister” Diane Gilleland of Craftypod fame (www.craftypod.com). It’s called Creating a Blog Audience. It’s the “sequel” to another e-book that she published called Making a Great Blog, and when you put the two together they pack a mind melting whollop that has really made me sit back and ponder stuff. (Incidently, I don’t know why she calls herself “Sister” Diane, but it works. She’s preachin’ good stuff, lemme tell ya!)

First off, let me say that I’ve listened to all of the episodes of Sister Diane’s podcasts, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I was raving to a colleague about it one day, only to learn that she actually listened to Sister Diane, too! My friend isn’t into the podcast universe as much as I am, so to learn that she had actually heard of it was a real surprise! I download it off of iTunes (I have a Mac computer) and listen to it while I work in my studio. Makes me feel like I’m multi-tasking with the best of them, and actually getting twice as much done!

When I heard that she was releasing this book, I pounced on it and downloaded it and the other blogging book she wrote. Both come with extra “workbook” sheets that let you complete her exercises that she outlines. And those exercises have been incredibly interesting to me.3878035847_8b44d88b8d_o

I read the first book straight through, and loved it. Just to help explain the impact it’s had on me, I now have a poster on my wall by my computer that lists the “reasons I write on my blog”. It’s quite useful in maintaining my focus! I’m now measuring everything I contemplate writing about against those reasons, and it helps me figure out appropriateness, validity, and usefulness.

But the second book really made me sit back and think about stuff, and I’ve had to actually set it aside for a bit because it’s made me realize I have a lot of self-educating to do. In the second chapter, it poses a question: “What kinds of crafts do your ideal audience members like to do?” And that perplexed me. I realized very very quickly, I had very little idea of the kind of crafter/artist I was writing for. I was just “putting it out there” without any real thought behind who might actually be interested in any of it.

And that led me to realize that I don’t spend nearly enough time actually reading other people’s expressions. If I am going to write anything that is relevant and interesting to anyone, I have to know what else is being said, what they’re interested in, and provide a reason why they should read my blog in the first place.

empowering-orthers-to-achieve-successWhich led me back to my reasons on my poster. And it’s slowly starting to sink in that my reasons for writing the blog are rather “self-oriented”. I started this blog to help promote my wearable art business, and I’m coming to see that simply isn’t enough. Who wants to read a blog full of self-aggrandizing advertising? I certainly don’t.

So from here on out, I’m not only going to update you on what I’m working on, but I’m also shifting the focus away from me and more toward things that are interesting in a more practical sense. Philosophy, tutorials, interesting links… Since I’m not teaching theatre anymore, I might as well use that “bank” of resources and share them with you. Things like costume history, pattern drafting tutorials, online costume resources, material resources, small business advice, theatrical crafting materials, period styles and ornament, clothing accessories, theatrical movements, philosophies, art history… I’m excited about making this blog my classroom.

If I can help my blog audience relish their artistic capabilities through lessons, advice, examples, projects, and juicy discussions, then this blog will serve a purpose beyond simply being a tool for me. It can be a tool for you, too.

And somehow, I feel really empowered by that, you know?