Monday, May 1, 2017

blogging, business, creativity and joy (and a survey)

I've been thinking a lot about my blog lately, considering what it's been over the years and what I want it to be.

Earlier this year I made up a new image for my website, realizing that although I mentioned the other aspects of my business in the revolving photos on the home page, I wasn't mentioning my blog.

It's a big part of what I do, this blog.

My Giant Strawberry, blog, Anne Butera

Summing it up in a line of text helped me to clarify some of my thoughts about it.

I DO want it to inspire joy, creativity and community and I hope at least one of those things is why you're here, reading this.

magic, joy, gardening, roses, pink roses, garden bouquets, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I've been blogging here for almost 7 years and have published over 800 posts (this is the 880th). When I first started blogging I hadn't yet started painting and I didn't really have a clear focus. My life, my art and this blog have all changed and grown a lot over the past seven years.

That being said, I think the essence of My Giant Strawberry has not changed much over time. Noticing beauty and joy, being creative, living a good life, connecting with and inspiring others... All those things have stayed the same.

watercolor, watercolor painting, watercolor nasturtiums, nasturtiums, garden flowers, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Blogs and blogging have changed a lot over the past 7 years, too. Some of the blogs I used to love to read no longer exist. Some have changed so much that they no longer resonate with me. On the other hand some blogs continue to inspire and to bring me joy each and every time I visit them.

gardening, tomatoes, joy, magic, My Giant Strawberry, Anne Butera

Blogging regularly (and frequently) takes a lot of work. I understand why some bloggers would want to change or streamline or try to "monetize" their blogs. My blog is part of my business, part of the My Giant Strawberry brand (as silly as that still feels for me to say). As such, I've thought a lot about its function. I've read a lot about blogging for business, all sorts of dos and don'ts and how-tos and tips.

Although a lot of advice has been helpful, I also bristle at some of what I've read. I've come to realize that's a good thing. There are many styles of blog and many types of bloggers. For my blog to truly reflect my brand, it has to align with what My Giant Strawberry is all about.

magic, joy, gardening, strawberries, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Art. Magic. Joy.

Everything comes back to those three words. When I'm sharing my newest painting or a Joy List that's obvious. Flowers blooming in the spring? Of course, Magic and Joy. Inspiration from other artists in the Sketchbook Conversations and Artist Interviews? Definitely all three.

Everything comes back to those three words.

garden, garden flowers, gardening, nasturtiums, magic, joy, beauty, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

It doesn't mean that my blog won't continue to evolve and change, just that any changes will fall under that main theme. I know there are things that I will never do here (advertising, pop-ups...). Having that certainty, that clarity, that focus, is a good thing.

In truth, I'm feeling a need for a change. Right now I spend a lot of my time working on my blog. For me, for my art, for my business, there needs to be a shift.

I'm not entirely sure what that shift should be or what that change will look like. I have some ideas, but before I put any changes into place, I want to see what YOU think.

I've never surveyed my readers. I think it's about time, so I put together a quick, totally anonymous survey and I'd love for you to take a moment and share your thoughts with me.


Although this blog is partly for me, it's also for YOU, its readers. I want it to resonate with you. I want you to be able to count My Giant Strawberry as one of the blogs that continues to inspire and to bring you joy each and every time you visit it.

Thank you for being here reading my words. Thank you for your encouragement and your support. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. I look forward to seeing what the years ahead hold for us!

11 comments:

  1. I love coming here Anne. Although you are much younger than me I see you as my mentor! We share a commonality in our love of plants and nature, good home grown food, gardening and photography. I hope you stay blogging. I know life moves on but I really am not a fan of Instagram, Facebook etc. A good old fashioned blog is what I like to read. If it is becoming time consuming to blog maybe you could post twice a week rather than 3 times. Whatever you decide I will continue to read and comment and support you in which ever way I can. :)

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    1. Thank you, Simone. I'm so glad you enjoy stopping by and spending time with me in this space. We do have lots of similar interests, don't we! I always enjoy seeing what you're up to, too.

      Don't worry, I have no intentions of quitting my blog. I've been toying with the idea of posting only 2 times a week instead of 3, my only worry with that is how to balance my own posts with those of my guests. I know I'll figure something out!

      Thanks so much for being here and encouraging me and cheering me on! I truly value the friendship that we've formed over years of reading each others' blogs!

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  2. I have loved your blog for many years, Anne, and I really admire the way you have grown as an artist, a blogger and an entrepreneur over the years. I'm doing some soul searching about my own blog right now, and I'll be glad to take your survey. I love the way you have added artist interviews, sketchbooks and collaborations - not to mention hosting the Handmade Joy Exchange. Best of all, I love the way we have become friends, as well as the wonderful friendship I have with your mother, Sharon. I'm very glad to know that you'll continue on. I would miss My Giant Strawberry and you very much if you stopped blogging. Big hugs.

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    1. Oh yes, Judy, I love the fact that we have become friends and the fact that you and my mom have forged a friendship through your blogs as well! Such a wonderful thing the internet can be!

      I always enjoy visiting your blog, too. You are so creative and talented and I admire the fact that you are always stretching and growing. (Hooray for your 100 day challenge!!).

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts about my blog and for taking my survey. I truly appreciate it. And thank you, again, for your continued encouragement and support along my journey. It's really meant so much to me.

      Big hugs back!

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  3. Hi Anne, finding your blog was like making a discovery along a woodland path. You have so many wonderful skills to share and you present them as if you have a treasure to share.
    Thank you for your work. I consider writing a blog as a skillful way to share a message. I have tried for a while to maintain a blog, but it has fallen by the wayside. I have many diversions and writing a blog slipped down on my list. I hope to resurrect it someday, but I can't say when. I admire that you have the time and resources to keep yours productive and beautiful.

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    1. Hi, Janet. What a beautiful comment you've left for me. I'm blushing! And I feel so happy to know that my blog and my intentions with what I do here is succeeding. Sometimes it's so hard to know.

      Your words have gotten me thinking. Yes, living a creative life, being grateful for the world's beauties and focusing on joy is a treasure and one I certainly want to share!

      When things slip down our list of priorities, like your blog has for you, that's not a bad thing. It just means we're working on more important things. You'll find your way back to your blog when it's time.

      Thank you for being here and for sharing your thoughts. Wishing you joy!

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  4. Well, my friend, your post resonates with me (they usually do). And I often think we're on similar journeys. Although I'm not an artist, I live with one and I've found it's a constant challenge for him to balance the joy of doing his art with the "business" side of it. My blog has grown considerably this past year. I think after my sabbatical I came back more focused and, like you, I came to the conclusion that advertising, pop-ups would never be part of my blog, and that I would only blog about those things that truly interest me, thus my enthusiasm wouldn't wane. And if I'm enthusiastic about what I share, I have to believe others will be, too. I also understand "branding", and as hard as it is to say that, it's important to accept and appreciate the "brand". And it's okay. I know now that "A Joyful Cottage" is more than the name of my blog, it's my -- our -- lifestyle, and that's as important to communicate as is the art and other products we'll offer in our new online shop. You have great insight, Anne, and you're a fantastic communicator. I'll continue to follow your blog because so much of "you" is in it. Hugs, Nancy

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    1. I always cherish your comments, Nancy. They're so thoughtful and encouraging.

      I think it's the word "branding" that feels so alien to me (too serious and business-y). The concept is perfectly natural. It's all about spirit and heart, I think. I can definitely relate to what you say about A Joyful Cottage being your lifestyle. My Giant Strawberry is the same for me... holding onto childlike wonder and joy, to creativity and imagination.

      I like what you say about choosing topics for your blog so that your enthusiasm won't wane. What a perfect way to word that.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for being here supporting and encouraging me. Oh, and best of luck with your new venture! So exciting!

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    2. Thanks, Anne. Any new venture is both exciting and frightening at the same time. At least it is for me. But it feels good to just get on with it and see it unfold. I suspect there will be many adjustments to be made along the way. That is the nature of commerce. Hugs.

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  5. Yes...it seems there is so much of this pondering in the blogging world these days. So many folks I used to love have vanished or moved to the quick post over at IG.
    I think it's important to remain true to one's own voice in everything we do in life. Your blog, Anne, has been like a lovely script, where we have been able to watch you grow and change over the years, yet all within the context of who you are at your core. You'll find your way, and I look forward to seeing it unfold as you go.
    I love that so many of us have become connected as friends all over the world via our blogs. It's a powerful testament to hope and light and love.
    xoxoxo

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    1. Thank you, Karen, for your thoughts. You're so right about remaining true to our voice. And I think that it's something that comes naturally (or at least, it should). The shoe won't fit if it's not the right one. (How's that for mixed metaphors?).

      You've got me thinking about how the quick posts on Instagram are just another symptom of our fast society. And as much as I enjoy Instagram, I am constantly trying to SLOW DOWN, not speed life up.

      I still have more thinking to do, but I so value hearing what everyone has shared with me so far.

      I, too, love the connections I've made over the years through my blog. Yes, it's proof of the power of hope and light and love.

      xo

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