Hi there, friends! It's been about a year since I did a reader survey, so I'd be thrilled if you could take a few minutes to fill this one out. I use the information to better target my content and products here on the blog and in the shop. Speaking of the shop, you might notice it's currently...nonexistent! That's because I'm getting ready to launch some changes including bringing Pattern Workshop over to Baste + Gather and also offering 3- and 6-month payment plans. This should all go live within the next week or two, so stay tuned!
In the meantime, please do answer these few questions for me! xoxo
Since having my third baby, I've been in the mood for makeovers. Making over my wardrobe, making over my appearance (new hair, workout plan and makeup!) making over my businesses and of course, making over my blog. You may have noticed some changes here are I've started implementing the new brand, and there will definitely be more as it all evolves. But I wanted to tell you a little about the process in case you're thinking of doing something similar. (Quick note: I know some of you were expecting a post about my handmade jeans plus a discount code and giveaway today. Well, stay tuned! I am still working on the details and hope to have it all ready later this week. Thanks for your patience!)
I started the process by creating a pinterest board of inspiration - sites I loved, fonts/typography that appealed to me and colors that stood out. And here's what I found:
Follow Lauren @ BASTE + GATHER's board Mood Board on Pinterest. I also reached out to my friend Beth at Sew DIY because I feel like her site is both lovely and well-branded (and she is a professional graphic designer!). With a little bit of advice from her, I set to work creating a mood board that would drive the rest of the brand development (see post image above). These are all images collected from my Pinterest board, and you might recognize several of them from one of my favorite blogs, The Craft Sessions (shared with permission).
Let's talk about the new logo. Previously, I have designed all the logos/headers and watermarks, etc. for my blogs. I always feel like they look okay, but I'm never quite satisfied with my own work. I had a vague idea of what I wanted for this go-around, but I wasn't having success in creating it myself. (Hand lettering on a Wacom tablet is a lot harder than one might think!) So, I took the advice of Darren Rowse of Problogger (one of my FAVORITE blogging sites) and launched a 99designs.com (affiliate link) project.
99designs.com (affiliate link) is a crowd-sourcing site where you write a creative brief describing your project, set an award amount and wait for the entries to roll in. They do everything from logo to packaging design, and their designers are from all over the world. They guarantee that you'll get a design you like, or they refund your investment. I figured I had nothing to lose, so I started my contest and went to bed hoping the designers would wow me the next morning.
Well...(dum dum dum) I was honestly underwhelmed with the first few submissions. In fact, most of the submissions I received in the initial couple days of the project were lackluster. But then! Oh yes, THEN, the good stuff started pouring in. I think the best designers wait until the last minute to submit their ideas so no one else copies them. I also think they take a little more time to think about and refine their work.
After over 120 entries (!!) and several WAAAAY-off-the-mark (but highly entertaining) corporat-ey logos superimposed on images of company vehicles for my blog, I ended up with this:
And I loved it! The designer did a few revisions for me including refining some of the letters, playing around with the orientation of the letters on the smaller versions and modifying the plus sign in the middle. He was a pleasure to work with, and the 99designs.com (affiliate link) interface made the process very painless. When the contest was over, I released payment and received all my files (.ai, .eps, .psd and .png) and copyright info. In about one week, the entire logo-creation process was complete!
Finally, I created a more comprehensive mood board detailing colors, fonts and other graphic elements:
Now, I'm in the process of seeing how these elements actually work on my site and creating cohesive templates for creating post images, social media images and all other associated media. I'm sure some things will change (colors, fonts, etc.) as I play with them in an online environment (versus designing a static page in InDesign/Illustrator, etc.), but overall, you should notice a much more cohesive look and feel for my site.
I hope you like the new look! I'm really enjoying how easy it is to create new graphic content for the site now that I've established standards for everything. I've been alllllll about planning and systems lately, and I've been much more productive as a result! Plus, everything just looks better! I'm excited to see how it all comes together.
What do you think? Do you notice when blogs re-brand and/or create a more cohesive look? Does it make for a more pleasurable reader experience for you? Have you ever tried crowd-sourcing design work?
I've been thinking about this post for a few weeks now, mulling over in my head what I would type and how I would explain my feelings about blogging right now. I thought about just silently slipping into sabbatical without even a mention, but no, part of the reason I NEED this sabbatical is to clarify TO MYSELF how I feel about blogging. About everything I'm doing, really. So, here goes.
This year has been kind of nuts. I created a list of three goals in January that consisted of the following:
- Launch Pattern Workshop.
- Launch Selvage Designs.
- Reach 1,000 blog followers on Bloglovin'.
Well, check, check and almost check. I've done almost everything I set out to do this year, and fall is only starting to show her beautiful colors. And since I've gone from close to zero blog followers in January to over 900, I anticipate I'll probably check #3 off my list, too.
And in addition to the three goals above, I signed contracts with BurdaStyle and Janome.
(YES, I KNOW, I AM PINCHING MYSELF RIGHT NOW.)
But lately, I've been questioning all of it. Not whether I should quit everything - NO, NOT THAT - but which things should take priority (and which ones should go way, way, back to the back burner). I've been stuck in that dreaded gray area where it feels like everything is moving so fast and simultaneously NOT MOVING - all at the same time.
So let's talk about blogging. First, let me tell you: I do not make money at blogging. It took me 7 months to even reach the $100 threshold to get paid by Google Adsense. Okay, so I guess that's a little money. But it's barely enough to cover my hosting. Sure, I could grow my readership by posting free tutorials and patterns. Or I could work for product - sewing my little heart out for a couple yards of fabric here and there. And maybe, just MAYBE, I would make a little more money off ads on my blog. But it could take years. And frankly, my heart's just not in it.
That's why I recently started asking myself, "WHY AM I STILL KILLING MYSELF OVER THIS DAMN BLOG?!" It used to be fun, you know? Sewing, taking pictures...blogging when I felt like it. I wrote about my kids, my family, my sewing projects. There was never a motive or an analytic I was trying to improve. I never thought to myself, "Hmmm...should I post this as a free tutorial on my site or do a guest post on a bigger site? What time of day will I get the most traffic? On which social media should I share this post? Will applying a matte filter to my photos generate more shares?"
Now, I have a freaking checklist of everything I have to do after I write a post. Share on Facebook. Share on Instagram. Post on PatternReview. Post on Kollabora. Post on Indiesew. Ask blogger friends to share. Pin on Pinterest.
And let's talk about sewing for fun versus sewing for the blog. When I'm sewing for fun, I just sew. I don't worry about the lighting or time of day or whether or not I took a good photo of that one step. I don't think about how fabulous my stitches need to look or whether or not I should post it on Monday or Thursday.
I JUST SEW. And I make things my kids and I will love - not the few thousand random people who follow me on various social media. And when I'm not spending hours (yes hours - driving to photo shoot location, taking photos, editing photos, writing post, publicizing post, re-posting, etc.) on blog posts, I actually have time...TO SEW. And to do random art projects with my kids. And to, you know, watch Orange is the New Black.
And it's not that I don't appreciate my readers/followers; in fact, I've made so many amazing friends through this blog - many of which I have gone on to meet in person, forge business partnerships with, etc. The problem is that I just focus on it way too much...and for so little return.
The fact is...I want to make money. I make no apologies for that. Because you know what? Money buys fabric. And patterns. And mortgage payments. And college educations. MONEY BUYS ALL THE THINGS.
BUT, money does NOT buy happiness. And happiness is another thing I want.
So how do I make money? And what makes me happy?
I will tell you: not blogging. (On either account.)
For now, I am shifting my focus into money-making activities (teaching, pattern design, etc.) for a while so I can spend the rest of my time JUST BEING HAPPY with my family and my sewing machine. There is only so much time in the day, and I must use it carefully.
Does this mean I am done blogging? No; it simply means I am taking a break. The nature of my work is that I have to put in a lot of effort up-front for a lot of payout in the long-term. Developing online courses and patterns means residual, semi-passive income, and that is my goal: to be able to be mommy while also contributing to my family financially.
Again, this does NOT mean I'm quitting blogging. Hopefully, this sabbatical will help me to clarify my goals and come back even more solid than before. I just need the time to sort it all out and focus some profit-making activities. Because, folks, quilted jersey does not come cheap. And this mamma likes quilted jersey.
Okay. So. I am traveling with the kids from September 10-22, then another trip early October and ANOTHER trip (to Quilt Market!) at the end of October. And I have a couple "secret" projects I am working on in the meantime, along with another (different) course launching on BurdaStyle at the end of October (details forthcoming). I anticipate my sabbatical will be about a month, maybe two...with occasional posts here and there. Then, I hope to get back to it in November (or the first of the year at the latest!).
(People ask me all the time how I do it all, and the truth is, I don't. Thus the picking and choosing.)
I will still be around, but I won't be killing myself with make-believe deadlines and invisible ladders to nowhere. I post on instagram all--the--time, so if you want to keep up on the day-to-day and get a few previews of the projects I'm working on, you can follow me there.
xoxo see you guys on the flip side.