I began blogging over 10 years ago and it changed my life. What started as a fun structure to inspire my creativity turned into a community of connection, a calling and eventually a creative business. When I wrote that first one-paragraph post, I had no idea that it would turn out like this!
That was back in the days before blogging became a lifestyle business, before it became an entrepreneurial necessity. It wasn’t about branding; it was abut bonding. It was about expressing ourselves and in so doing discovering that around the world there were people like us, people who loved to paint or bake or write poetry. It was about suddenly discovering there were members of your tribe in Boston and Edinburgh and Adelaide. It was about sharing our stories, both vulnerable and triumphant. It was about sharing our creations both wobbly and wonderful. It was about square pegs who found themselves struggling in round holes, people in regular jobs living regular lives who wanted to spend the weekend tossing sequins in the air at the beach.
Blogging helped us remember who we were on the inside. Blogging helped us come alive.
In those days, it was exciting to think that maybe, just maybe, you could make some money through your blog. Maybe you could get some sponsors, maybe enough to pay for your hosting or maybe even some art supplies. Maybe you could create a little e-course that your community would embrace and enjoy. It was a time when you could get a little “what if” twinkle in your eye, imagining that maybe you could earn a living sharing and creating from your heart. Imagine!
I followed that dream. I invested in professional training so that I could coach the creatives that I so wanted to help. I started teaching classes about listening to our souls, finding and following our dreams and discovering our creative hearts. I remember the deep joy and satisfaction of completing my first offering, Soul Reflections, a self-study workshop that helped you use collage and journaling to discover the truth that was deep in your heart. And I remember that ‘dream come true’ feeling of people buying it – not to mention the deep fulfillment of people letting me know it made a difference.
I created something that made a difference.
That’s what it was and is all about.
Then suddenly the world got hip to blogging and this grassroots art form got professionalized. Suddenly it wasn’t just regular people writing about their creative lives. It was rock stars, bestselling authors and self-help gurus. Bloggers were talking SEO and making sure their post titles were rich with key words. Blogging meant identifying your target audience and developing your brand. It meant having a consistent voice and making sure you delivered value. It meant compelling copy and professional photographs. It meant HD video and art that was worthy. It meant sharing 10 Top Tips for Your Creative Success not 10 Things You Might Not Know about Me. (That was relegated to Facebook.)
And just like that blogging went from grassroots to glossy.
What that meant for me, as a burgeoning creative entrepreneur, was that I started to leave myself out of my blog. (I know that may sound weird coming from a woman whose site literally has her name in it.)
As I started to do more coaching, teach more classes, as I started to become a business, this is what I started to believe:
Nobody wants to know about the meal I had for dinner, unless I am a food blogger and have Pinterest-worthy photos.
Nobody wants to see pictures of my walk to the Beaches with my husband unless I am sharing travel-blogger type info about the neighbourhood or including a useful lesson about quality time with your partner.
Nobody wants to see what I am creating unless it’s Etsy worthy or I’m teaching the techniques used to create it.
Only “useful” things.
Only “beautiful” things.
Only “well-written” things.
Only “relevant” things.
Only “strategic” things.
Only “on-brand” things.
What started out as a loving and careful desire to focus on what was useful, relevant and inspiring became so restrictive that my blog didn’t feel like my blog anymore. This thing that had been such a powerful and important part of my life belonged to “the business” Suddenly it felt like there was no room for me.
Maybe that’s appropriate. I have been wrestling with this question for quite some time. A part of me has thought this is a natural evolutionary process. My business has come into its own and of course the blog has developed with it. Of course, I want to offer what is useful. Of course, I want my blog to be beautiful, well-written and relevant. Of course, I want my business to be strategic and a recognizable brand. Of course, I do.
But I also want to be a person. A person with a blog. This blog.
I want to share too many cat pictures and posts about everything from my neighbourhood escapades to my art supplies, from becoming a more confident traveller to learning to make pasta. I want this space to reflect the depth and breadth of my creative life, the messy, the silly, the epic, the beautiful, the painful, just as it is. And I want to do that alongside resources, help, inspiration, classes, etc.
So, I’m taking my blog back.
I’m kickin’ it old school.
And I’m going to see what happens.
Maybe I’ll lose you. Maybe my life, my casual writing, my imperfect photography, my wild experiments, my current obsessions, my modest home, my artistic attempts, even my aging self, maybe that won’t be aspirational for you. Maybe it won’t be a Pinterest board, a shiny magazine or a 7-figure business (6-figures is so 2015).
But it will be me.
And maybe, just maybe, if I take some place for me amidst the work, you’ll realize that on your own blog, in your own life and in your own business there is also place for you.
Maybe together we’ll remember that we can dream and be real all at the same time.
That’s what life is all about.
Join the Studio
If you’ve been looking for a place to fill your creative well, to discover your creative self, to stretch your creative wings, Jamie Ridler Studios is here for you.
I’d love for you to be a part of the studio, to have a sanctuary for your creative explorations. Let me welcome you in.