I know this question is bound to come up sooner or later…so here goes!!
How to start a blog? How did i start this one? And I hope I can spare you from some potential mistakes. If you’ve thought about doing the same, the best way to go is to find out from someone who has made mistakes and remembered them, and then learned how to do better next time.
I hope that is what I will do with this post. This is one of those “long stories” so you might want to get a nice hot cup of joe and settle in☕ !
What Led Me to Start a Blog?
Well, for one thing, it was the economy. If you were a teenager, at least, in the late 2000s you know that we went into one of the worst recessions. Yep, you guessed it. It was NOT a fun time. It was pretty demoralizing to hit 30 and suddenly have no employment prospects like.. AT ALL.
Now I know some people have the mindset of an entrepreneur right out of the gate…and for others it’s a transition. Me, I think I fell into the latter category. The idea of working for someone else never was something I was opposed to. It just seemed like, there weren’t that many opportunities out there for things I wanted.
Having always wanted to sell art, I got into that, but…found out just how hard that was. Actually creating art is the part that’s a walk in the park -now compare that to things you have to do to market your art…I always heard you have to have an agent, someone who helps you get into showings and galleries, in exchange for doing so they might get a percentage of what you earn on your first sale, (any art dealers come forward and correct me if I’m wrong on that one this is just what I’ve heard). Now I have sold a few paintings here and there in my lifetime, but I’m obviously talking about people who make a full-time living from it…Success there must be contingent on geography, connections and luck,
Here is a photo of one of my early “showings” from 2007. No, I didn’t sell anything….This was just an opportunity for exposure!
So it wasn’t a total loss; do you see the painting in the top center, I ended up turning that one into a light-up decoration piece later on! (So the ideas of repurposing things near and dear was already taking root.)
I had heard a great deal about the importance of marketing your work online; of course, I didn’t know where to start! After getting a tidbit from one of my cousins, in 2013 I started a shop on Etsy – a venue online you may be familiar with it (Note – This is NOT my current shop.) I thought i might go slowly, and list some prints and smaller paintings and test the waters a little. I also listed some handmade craft items at a low price point to have a little variety. This shop, in all of the year I was open, only made about 3-yep, 3 sales. Bummer!
So if you have come here looking for advice on selling art like a professional artiste, you’d be barking up the wrong tree, unfortunately. That’s not my bag…😞
Here’s an example of one picture I listed on my first Etsy shop in 2013…It too, ended up getting re-purposed, a few years later I turned it into a display piece for my post earring collection!
I’m not sure exactly how or where, but I got wind of something with regard to content marketing, and saw how it combined things like written content, images, etc., all around a niche. From there, I was hooked! Maybe this was the way to go? Instead of worrying about how I could sell art, maybe I could build a business around the marketing of my own art-related ideas and experiences? It’s like I was on this secret trail, and each trail had a clue or new tidbit, that I kept eagerly following.
How I Went From “Artist/Crafter” to “Craft Blogger”…
Well, long story short…..I did what most people did. I went with a free, “shared” platform. Blogspot I think, (and for you, if you’re not sure if you’re ready or not, you can certainly register there….Go to Blogger…like I said, it’s free, and you can at least dip your toe in the water.)
In 2010 I registered a site with a Yahoo! company. I don’t think I even remember the domain name, it was probably something like “jennifer’s art world” or similar. I displayed images of my artwork for sale, back then I don’t think I wrote any posts or material to drive traffic there…That site probably got hardly any visitors, as I knew nothing about good online marketing back then. After a year I scrapped the site and let the domain expire.
It wasn’t til I stumbled across this guy named Mike that talked about the process in a free course that I understood. I needed to have a self-hosted site on WordPress.org. Some people make the mistake of getting a “wordpress.com” domain, which you should not as it’s not going to be entirely yours.(More on that to come later)
Following his advice, I began my first “real” site, registered with a domain and all, in April of 2014.
I kind of slogged through it, just as you would a girl’s diary. I had three sites, one was about pets, another about crafts, and another about, something web design.
Nevertheless, this was kind of a mess…I did enjoy “the process” as writing has always been a passion of mine, but I kind of felt like I was going through the motions a little…
I came across in about 2015 or so, a dedicated online marketer by the name of Erica Stone. She was offering a free how-to guide that I quickly downloaded ; I did have to re-read it a few times to fully get the concept down pat…but the gist of successful content marketing is:
- Choose a niche to focus on (ideally, one that you are very passionate about)
- Write posts/articles around that niche.
- Be authentic and be yourself, but try to optimize your content for search engines so you don’t have to spend money on advertising ( or at least, not that much.)
- Use affiliate links to products that relate to the topics you write about for people to easily find that will help them accomplish “x” – if/when people click your affiliate links, and they do purchase you’ll earn a commission or referral amount.
Yeah, there is more to blogging that that, but that’s like the “Cliff’s Notes” version😁.
Pin for Later?
How I Got Some “Real” Blogging Education…
It was a headache at first. But that’s when I realized I needed some “real” education about blogging. Yes you CAN learn all about blogging for free or cheap, but it can be very time consuming. What you might save in pennies, you’ll pay for later on in time, lots of it. I’m glad I was able to find out about Pajama Affiliates – these 2 ladies really know their stuff!
They offer courses a la carte or there is a “bundle” with everything included…In July of 2016, I learned how to really set up a website using WordPress, There are other platforms you can work with, Squarespace comes to mind but I don’t t know much about it to tell anything .how to structure my site, write and publish content and optimize it, and stay true to one of my favorite things in life! And thus, Create With Jennifer was born.
(You can see all the tools I use for blogging on my Resources page)
And here you are, getting to experience my labor of love. Thank You!