This is not a trick question. Someone asked me this a little while ago and I couldn’t give a definite answer. I walked home and thought intensely about it. I thought about people whose blogs I’ve followed for years. I thougth about my old blog that ran from 2001 to 2008.
All of those bloggers have stopped at one time or another. Some reframed how they were blogging and others simply abandoned it altogether and opted for social media exclusively.
And then, there are the bloggers that blog exclusively for monetization which is perfectly fine.
After the Why, came the second question:
Do I blog because everyone says I have to? If I want to create a side-business from my graphics, must I blog? It seems so. Yet some of the most successful illustrators or at least those I have as my main sources of inspiration don’t seem too active on the blogging scene or on social media for that matter.
Of course, these are people who have already been noticed and have a steady stream of work. They have an established shop and they have a large body of work that is constantly circulating around the internet by itself.
But I insist, do you need to blog? Is it indispensable for a visual artist to sit down and blog the way everyone says you should?
Lists of what to blog about are all over the place, but it feels as artificial as my writing prompt books I bought during the period I wanted to “be a writer”, I have never completed a single one. Except for the 3 a.m. epiphany but that’s a different type of book.
So what good reasons would one have to blog?
If I feel like blogging is something I have to do, I will certainly not do it. That’s simply the truth. My best posts have felt effortless, they pour out and I’m not distracted by building in all the links and jumping from tab to tab to “construct” the perfect post.
- Having something to say
Tied to the one above, as much as my blog is part of my creative process and is also how I organize my thoughts, I have a bunch of drafts of things I want to write about and this confirms I do have something to say instead of again “constructing” blog posts.
- Forgetting about who is reading (yes that’s completely against “blogging rules”)
Most people will insist that you need to know your target audience, but I prefer the idea of “writing for one person”, which helps to write in a voice that doesn’t sound pontificating or overly… yeah you guessed it “constructed”
- Writing in a language you are comfortable in.
Here is where my challenge lies. I’m a Spanish speaker first, my second language is English which I learned as a child in the US and my third language is French, since I live in Montreal. Most of my reflections and through processes happen in English, but my most fluent writing is in my first language. However,sometimes it feels like an impossible choice because I do not live in a Spanish speaking country so it makes sense to write in English if I’m in North America but doing so demands something more from me that otherwise in Spanish happens naturally.
Un coup de coeur
This weekend my husband went camping and usually when I’m alone, I fall into a very slacky lifestyle. I eat standing up, I raid the fridge for snacks, I stay up late and I indulge in complete entertainment mode. For a couple of nights, that is great. During this debauchery episode I plunged into YouTube and without any shame or regret proceeded to watch a few hours of vlogs.
I made the most amazing discovery, one that has inspired me to write this post and to begin taking this blog into a more natural direction.
Hélène is a forty-something YouTuber who talks about make-up but as soon as I started watching her, I was smitten by her almost impossible natural allure. She doesn’t use any fancy equipment, she doesn’t do professional montage she simply sits in front of the camera and talks to you about beauty products. She is the closest I’ve come to believing someone who talks about make-up and if she talked about anything else in her same style I’m sure I’d be raving about her too.
Of course it’s more interesting to see someone closer to my age than twenty-something women whose lifestyle does not ressemble mine at all, but most of all, she showed me that it is possible to be oneself. And I think, people creating fantastic content in YouTube are suddenly moving towards that. I’ve seen some videos of the most famous (and now richest) YouTubers and it feels like I’m watching a TV show that if I were channel surfing I would simply not stop for more than two seconds.
Hélène is a pro-blogger, but she doesn’t seem like one which is completely fascinating to me. I watched about three hours of her videos though the last thing I spend money on is on beauty products.
This is my paradox or might I say, this is why I called my blog Je suis éclectique, because I will not narrow down. I draw, I paint, I make cute graphics and I make portraits of sad, melancholic women. I have an insane obsession with the early 20th century England and the 70’s punk scene. I watch arty films and documentaries and I’m also fascinated by YouTube creators.
How on earth am I supposed to blog like “I’m supposed to?”
Anyway, this is the point. A blog post, in a personal blog, can be a rant. In a professional blog such as my web services blog, has a different purpose and it’s straightforward and useful.
I have fun when I sit down and write what I want and I feel efficient when I write a professional blog post. Somehow, this place as much as I wanted to follow advice and make my graphics shop a huge success, I don’t think I can force myself into the rules.
On this note, I am gearing up to publish my newsletter, which contains a lot of interesting resources for people who are learning or pursuing creativity later in life. Like a zine of things that spark thinking, including out-of-print books and pre-loved internet articles. I want to meet other women in their forties who are starting a path of creativity but don’t necessarily want to fall into trap of performance, achievement and such.
I am not offering a freebie, I’m not saying: give me your email and I’ll send you a PDF of recycled content. If anything of what I wrote here resonates with you I promise I will do my best to make my newsletter authentic and natural.