I’ve been blogging since 2010 and have gone through lots of changes as a blogger.
How and why did I start? I had taken a trip to Paris alone with my one year old to visit my friend who married a Frenchman and recently had a baby. As I sat in a cafe, I decided I wanted to write a blog about sewing and living a sustainable life. A couple years before we’d gone to Thailand where I saw a run down clothing factory and that had inspired me to start sewing my own clothes. Starting a blog was the next step. I didn’t really read too many blogs and so I thought I was doing something new. I was a little late to the tech world.
When I first started blogging, I was so excited to share a new way of life for me. Sewing, thrifting, using vintage fabric and patterns, and making jam ! I was meeting lots of other new friends online and it was so exciting. I was a handmade convert, ready to spread the goodness of handmade living. I was honestly thrilled to be a part of a new, vibrant community, although it was mostly online.
Before we moved to the country, I’d led a very fast paced life. I went to lots of parties and night clubs. I was a young, hip, LA native and it was important to get on “the list.” Priorities…. at one point I hired an au pair to watch my kids as I pursued my dream of becoming a film actress. The competition was intense, and I realized it was not something I could keep doing with two toddlers. I was gone at nights at class, and spent my days going to auditions. The rejection was fierce and it really started to get to my head. My marriage was on the rocks. I quit. In many ways, trying to make a name for oneself as a blogger brings out similar insecurities to those acting days. You are putting yourself out there, and people either like you, hate you, or just don’t care.
Moving here and the coming recession was good for me. I needed to let go of that old image of who I was back In LA, and create a new one. And that’s what the blog was about. Less consumption and more creation. And inspiring others to do the same. I was sewing and gardening and home schooling and making jam. I felt like a refugee who had finally found peace. Life was slow now and I loved it. Moving here was like magic for my creativity.
Somewhere along the way I decided that I wanted to become a big or pro blogger. I signed up with Blog Her, then dumped them for Martha’s Circle, I went to SNAP and The Sewing Summit where I learned how to work with brands and optimize the SEO of my blog and how to use social media to grow it. We even had an organized blogger meet up in Los Angeles. That was fun. I became almost obsessive over my page views. I started joining in on pattern tours to get traffic, hosted giveaways, and started a link party. I met lots of cool bloggers on my Sew &Tell Saturday link parties but it wore me out, posting the featured projects with links, etc. every week, so I quit.I was spending hours every Friday night organizing those posts, sending out emails reminding folks to post, and commenting on as many people’s posts that i could.
I started getting paid writing for other bigger blogs, magazines and craft company blogs,and also wrote sponsored posts. Suddenly I was working a lot. Sponsored posts were the most exhausting. Often i couldn’t figure out a good project but had to just post something , because of the deadline. The posts needed to be shared across all the social media channels. This took up lots of time, obviously, and I wasn’t spending enough time with my girls. If I wasn’t making something, I was photographing it or editing photos. Then of course the writing and time taken up on social media. Then there was the two weeks I spent designing ten kids sewing projects, and taking all the photo’s with my photographer dad for a craft kit that never was released…
I decided I was going to become an indie pattern designer too , since that seemed the logical progression. I produced one pattern, but don’t really possess the meticulous attention to detail needed to be successful in that business. I love to design, but creating sewing patterns is so much more than drafting a pattern. I’d need a partner for the business stuff.
One day Lily cut off Gigi’s hair, without asking, and we started going to counseling. I learned I was spending too much time online and my girl was acting out . Blogging felt like an addiction. I had a problem. I decided to cut back on my outside writing gigs and slow down on blogging a bit. Yes, my numbers would drop, but it was what I needed to do. I needed to be present with my family, not be some person on the computer saying “in a minute,” all the time. My income wasn’t enough to be sacrificing time with my family. Was it all just a big ego trip?
It was paying for my supplies and fabric and a few fancy sewing machines. And the trips to Los Angeles. Buying binges at Mood and Micheal Levine and the jobbers. Not to mention the thrift shops , flea markets, and estate sales where I bought oodles of vintage patterns and notions. I was doing a lot of consuming. Was sewing an addiction that was just replacing my former shopping addiction ? Bins and bins of fabrics in the spare room answer a resounding ,”YES” “please make us” they seem to whine, as I pass by on my way to the closet.
So I’ve quit the sponsored posts, and link parties. I don’t want this blog to be a commercial for the companies who send me free stuff. Although getting free stuff is fun! But there is a price to be paid. Loss of integrity? You decide. If I like a pattern, I’ll try to buy it and sew it and let you know how it went.
Then there was a certain post I wrote in the heat of the moment that pissed a lot of people off and made me lose lots of readers. A black smudge on Sew Country Chick. How I wish I had never pressed publish on that one . In one day I became known as a sizist, ageist, bigot, and ignorant jerk. I even got my own hate thread on a site I won’t give any SEO juice to.. I apologized on the blog but the abusive comments kept rolling in. So I deleted the whole post. If any of you read that post and were offended, I apologize for my callous remarks . Obviously, I didn’t get the point I wanted to get across, which was how I felt the whole blogging scene has become a bit gossipy and unkind. My post was also unkind. The moral of the story is sleep on a potentially controversial post and edit it carefully before you press publish.
So now here I am blogging still after 5 years. No book deal, no pattern line, but that’s OK. I quit my all consuming when I was working on a play, but part time costume design job. It was just too much sewing for one person and I had a disagreement with the director. I’m a little sad about it because I love making period costumes. I suppose when one door closes another one opens.
I’d just like to create with joy again.
Merry Christmas and see you in the new year.