I don't know where to start this blog post. There are so many questions, frustrations, and fears running through my head.
As my regular blog readers know, my life is in transition. There's been a big move, and a job resignation in the last month, and I'm struggling to find my way. Now it's not been all bad. I love our new home and locale. I'm happy to have the luxury of time, to really concentrate on me and my art, following through on some ideas I've never had the time to pursue in the past. But a month into this transition, I'm starting to worry.
We moved to Carterville for Matt's dream job. He truly knows that he is in the right place, and he's doing what he was meant to do. He tells me that work doesn't feel like "work" anymore. I have to admit, I'm a little jealous of him. Matt wants me to be as happy as he is in his work, and upon moving, it was our plan that I stay home for a time, trying to figure out my next move. We can comfortably make it on one income at the moment. So, the full-time soul searching began.
Since graduating college some 13 years ago, I have always held a full-time job and supported myself. It's been a little difficult to wrap my brain around the idea that I'm now dependent upon my husband. I know it shouldn't bother me and some would certainly envy my position, but not being self-sufficient bruises my ego. I want to feel like a partner with Matt, not a dependent. (Does that sound familiar Mom and Dad?)
Though I have had a successful and mostly fulfilling career as I teacher, my heart is no longer in it. I've always felt like there is something more for me out there. The more time I've spent making art over the years and the more success I've had in my creative endeavors, I knew that I'd like to find a way to make art my full time gig. Art is me. I honestly can say that it's vital to my existence. I don't feel quite right if I go too long without making something with my hands. I've set out to make this dream a reality. Now is the time.
For the past month, my days have been devoted to building up my art business and beefing up my online presence. In my mind, I have to have an outlet for sales year-round and I just can't depend on art fairs and holiday markets. Much of my time has been spent working on my Etsy shoppe, my blog and other social media outlets. I'm blogging regularly, making and posting new work. I've considered purchasing my own domain and paying someone to custom design my blog and business cards to make my online presence more polished and legit. I'm doing all the things that the online handmade business gurus tell you to do. I'm starting to wonder if all this time and effort I'm devoting to this is worthwhile. (Yes, I know I may be jumping the gun here, but that's just the way I am. Impatience rules my life! Please don't tell me that I should meditate, do yoga, get therapy, get a life.....I've heard it all before.)
Take this anecdote. Today I listed a new print in my shop. Offline, I have gotten a lot of positive feedback about this particular work. (For example, juror at a big time art fair gave me big props about it!) I was excited to list this and have something new into my shoppe for the first time in a long time. I wrote a big blog post about this new work, tweeted, and facebooked about it. I even decided to offer this piece as a discounted price, to see if would draw in some buyers. (It's been almost 3 months since I've had a sale in my Etsy shop. Barf.) And after devoting a good chunk of my morning to this new piece what happens????? NOTHING! 4 views on the listing in 8 hours, 8 views on the blog post, no sales, no comments, no nothing. Believe me when I say that I know there are many factors that contribute to my lack of feedback. Maybe I'm tweeting out links at the wrong time, maybe I'm overwhelming my Facebook Fans, maybe my online range is lacking......And then there's Etsy's new default relevancy search. After much reading, re-tagging, and editing of listings, I still can't seem to find the Etsy "magic bullet" that makes my listings relevant. My shoppe used to receive 100 or more views a day and enough sales to give me a little extra spending money without me really even trying. Now, post-etsy changes, I struggle to get 20 views a day and sales are non-existent! To add even more insult to injury, I paid a pretty sizable fee to take part in a well know online exhibition, to spread my online presence even further. I didn't expect miracles but I expected a slight boost. And how many views has this brought to my shoppe in the last 2 days? A whopping 3!!! Can you feel the frustration in my typing?????
I fully realize that I can't "put all my eggs in the Etsy basket", that I am not the only one who is struggling to make sales on Etsy and that I have suffered from Etsy droughts in the past. I also know that should not take all of this personally, equating online success to self worth, but I can't help but feel frustrated and upset! It makes me question my work, its quality, content and style. It makes me question what others are doing right that I am doing wrong. It makes me wonder if I need to find something else to spend my time on.
Now, don't worry I'm not going to stop making art. I just get a little insane at times and I had to get it out. Here are some things I do know and understand about myself and this little manic moment.
- I know that my art sells well in person. I made a killing at my last outdoor art fair! (That was back in September though, so the thrill is gone.)
- I have always put undue pressure on myself and likewise suffer from a little thing called Depression and Anxiety. (Woo! I'm really laying all of my cards on the table now!) Even though I take medication that manages my condition very well, I still can find myself in the "black hole" on occasion, and I'm kind of in one now.
- Being by myself every day probably isn't helping either. I am a people person and I crave interaction others. (Shayla Maddox just wrote an article about this very topic on Jessica Doyle's blog.)
I'm feeling better by just writing this post. I felt compelled to get this out there and off my chest. I will probably back away from my online life for a moment and concentrate on getting ready for an upcoming holiday show. I'll start looking for some type of job, maybe substitute teaching, just to give me some social interaction and time to get out of my own head. And, most importantly, I'll still make. Hopefully this too shall pass.
Ta-Ta for now.