On May 23rd, I celebrated a major milestone. The blog turned a year old! I would have written a celebratory anniversary post, but I was in the throes of my final B&W photo assignment and buried in a ton of volunteer projects. But to be completely honest, as I rode the crest waves from The Seoul of Cyprus to Hometown Betty, I wasn’t sure if I’d make it through the year. Now that I’m almost a month into year two, I am able to write a more introspective post to assess the highs and lows of blogging.
First Half of the Year – Technical Aspects
Some of my most popular posts were:
- TUTORIAL: LEGO Birthday Cake Topper
- How to Host a LEGO Legends of Chima Birthday Party
- TUTORIAL: Make a Korean Birthday Dohl Tower
- TUTORIAL: Make a Cardboard Kid-Size Play Kitchen
- TUTORIAL: Jake and the Neverland Pirates Cardboard Sword
While I’ve enjoyed writing tutorial posts, there had been moments when I checked Pinterest and noticed that someone else copied my craft project and didn’t credit it back to my post. That was a bit tough to take in because you can’t always control what people do or say on the Internet. I supposed it’s true when people say, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”
Second Half of the Year – Artistic Aspects
During the second half of the year, I focused on learning the basics of photography in hopes to produce better photos on the blog. In the end, I learned an artistic side to photography, which spurred on a new passion.
Introduction to Photography took up more time than I could have ever imagined, but I’d have to say that has been true for any studio art class. Now, I can appreciate photography as an art medium, not just the usual aesthetic photos we are accustomed to seeing in couture fashion magazines.
I’ve debated whether to keep going or start over with a new domain name and try my hand at blogging again. But every time I want to start over or wished that I could have done things differently, I sigh when I think about all the things it takes to get off the ground in the the first year. In all the lows of starting in the first year, I’ve made some positive connections through Instuctables, Pinterest, and BlogHer. Yet, there are three areas of blogging that I waver between:
1. Keeping an Anonymous vs. Public Profile
I started with an online alias as Fashionista on The Seoul of Cyprus, which was truly hilarious because if you know me, I am nothing of the sort. And when it came time to make a decision about moving to my own domain name, I ended up revealing my first name to the World Wide Web. That was huge for me.
When it comes to having an anonymous profile or one with your full name and city location, I’ve seen it work well in both respects. On Hometown Betty, I ended up choosing something in between – aliases for the family and my true first name for me. To you me dear readers, they are Prof, Piano Man, and Linus, but they are loves of my life, and I want to protect them and respect their privacy.
2. Blogging Techniques vs. Content Worthy Posts
I’ve spent countless hours reading blog posts about how to make a better blog, ways to get your name out there, and how to improve your website design to entice more readers. But I’m a one-woman show here, like so many other bloggers. I don’t have the (wo)manpower, resources, or budget to hire external consultants (although I wish I did), which means for every minute I spend researching better blogging techniques, the less time I have to develop creative content worthy posts for you.
Blogging experts say it’s all up to you. Sometimes you just gotta roll with what you got and make the necessary changes when the time is right. You could spend forever fixing, adjusting, editing a website, but it’s the content that bring readers back for more. Which leads me to…
3. Creativity vs. Culture
This is the probably my greatest source of tension when it comes to blogging on Hometown Betty. Last December, I came across a book by Andy Crouch entitled, Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling. This was the perfect book to read! It’s only taken me about six months to read the book, which I still have a few more chapters to go. But Crouch wrote two key points when it comes to cultivating culture in today’s global society:
- “The only way cultures truly change is through the introduction of new cultural goods.” (page 190)
- “Our ability to change culture – or, if you like, ‘change the world’ – is a matter of scale. On a small enough scale, nearly everyone has the power to change the world….at a large enough scale, there are no sufficient conditions for cultural change.” (page 196)
Posts on Hometown Betty are a cultural good. You read them, and if you choose to make a craft or sewing project that I share in a tutorial, then in some small way, you’ve been introduced to a new cultural good. To make sense of Crouch’s second point, it’s a matter or perspective. When I think about the people I meet or interact on Hometown Betty’s Facebook page, we exchange thoughts and ideas on a small scale. But as one’s blog grows or interactions within a larger organization, say BlogHer, those larger entities begin to influence smaller blogs, like my small start-up blog.
I guess all this is to say that experiencing culture is a two-way street. You don’t grow by living and experiencing life on your own. You grow as a person when you learn about other people and cultures. That was one of our greatest takeaways from living abroad last year.
I miss that piece still. Maybe it’s a little wanderlust that makes me wish we were still living the expat life, but it’s that piece that keeps me interested in learning about diversity in my local community and in the news everyday.
So where will year two take me? I hope to a place where I’m a little more open, writing content worthy posts, and cultivating creative projects – all while learning more about other cultures in my small community and the world. But I need your help. If there’s a topic of interest or cultural good you would like to share, let me know. I’d love to hear what you have to say. I hope we can continue growing and learning together.
From my hometown to yours,