Disillusionment and Diversification

I have depression.  I don’t hide it, I’m not ashamed of it, but I try not to make this blog too much about it.  But it’s hard to talk about this topic without mentioning the depression.  Maybe without the depression it probably wouldn’t even be an issue.  Actually, it almost definitely wouldn’t be.

I struggle a lot with self-worth.  I worry that when I post my art on Twitter people are annoyed by it.  I worry that the reason I don’t have many followers is because I’m just not interesting enough.  I struggle with pessimistic thoughts.  I become convinced that this whole endeavour is completely pointless.  Why do I do it?  Why do I worry so much about the prolonged gaps between blog posts?  Why do I bother trying to sell the things I make?  Is it going to go anywhere?  Will I spend the rest of my life writing blog posts that no one will read and paying fees for Etsy with no profit from it?

I love crafting.  It’s not just a hobby for me.  It keeps my brain distracted enough to ignore the depression.  It’s not 100% foolproof, but without crafting (and now art) I’d have descended into blubbering lunacy many years ago.  But beyond that, I enjoy learning new skills.  I enjoy researching all the methods and tutorials and inspirations that I collect.  I enjoy making a complete mess.  I enjoy finishing a project and that little thrill of “I Made This?!” excitement.  And I enjoy selling the things I make.  If I didn’t sell them, my house would be over run.  But I actively enjoy selling them.

At the moment, 90% of my profits come from attending multiple school fairs a year and selling my products to kids.  School fairs mean going outside, and subjecting myself to a lot of people.  In the summer it means sitting in blazing sunlight for hours at a time.  It means opening myself up to rejection and ridicule.  All things that terrify me.  And in the days running up to each fair I am a mess.  I am anxious and terrified and sick and convinced that I’m not going to be able to do it.  Once I’m there though, when I have the first little kid come up and tell me that my mini aliens are adorable, or get excited to see Pokemon on the badges I make, it’s worth it.  It’s worth it when kids drag their friends over to my stall and say “this is where I got that cute bunny”.  It’s worth it when kids come back year after year to buy another alien for their collection.  It’s worth it when kids come back to the table every ten minutes to have another look.  I don’t make a lot money.  But it’s worth it.

I want that joy to spread online.  I’ve had a few sales online.  Some of them have even been to people who aren’t family or friends.  But again, not a lot.  I want so much to expand Crafted By Colette.  To get more widespread, more well known.  I don’t want to be a millionaire (although I wouldn’t say no), but it would be nice to be able to make a living this way.

And I try.  I have Deviant Art, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Etsy, Patreon… and as they keep popping up I’m sure I’ll set up accounts on other platforms.  I try to post regularly.  I’m getting better at using hashtags.  I try to cross promote – although I always forget to do that.  But I get disillusioned.  Very much so.  Why do I bother?  I have less than 100 followers on each platform.  Lots of those are the same people.  I have one Patron, and that is a friend.  I don’t want to be one of those people who obsesses over their follower count, but I worry that I’m not expanding my viewership, and that I’m going to be festering at these low levels forever.

I wonder what the point is.  Why do I try?  Why do I have so many accounts?  Is there any point?  What’s wrong with just having a Twitter, and my website?  And I guess the answer is that there isn’t anything wrong with that.  It’ll be even harder to build a following, but there’ll be less to deal with.  I’d like one day to have the store on the website – eliminating the need for Etsy.  Especially now with Etsy making really bad decisions for the sellers.  But with no following, no internet trust, there would be even less sales than I get online now.  And so many people only use Instagram, or only use Facebook.  To reach as many people as possible I have to have as many accounts as possible.  How do people cope with this?  I know big companies hire social media teams, but that’s not exactly an option for me.

I’m not entirely sure what the point of this blog post is.  I have these thoughts.  I can either sit and think and over think and worry and then in a moment of depressive panic I can delete all my accounts and disappear from the internet.  Or I can express them to the few followers I have.  So that’s what I’m doing.  I’m worried.  I’m worried about why I bother, about whether things will ever get better.  (In life as well as in craft/internet).

What should I do to promote myself more?  Are there accounts I don’t have that I should do?  Would narrowing it down actually be better?  Am I doing perfectly fine and need to stop worrying?  What are your thoughts?

Author: Colette Horsburgh

A 30-something creator/baker/writer/artist/crafter living with several (but not enough) scatty animals.

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