My brain has been getting quite the workout the last few weeks. I’ve been trying to research sales tax laws. The most boring subject. Ever.
I’m planning to do a long post about what I’ve found – maybe all my research will help someone. All I wanted was to open a simple online store and make a few dollars doing something creative. I think the days of doing that are long gone.
In any event, I needed something to take my mind off the depressing subject of taxes. So, I decided to play around again in Procreate and iColorama. I still need to find time to sit down and watch some videos on using iColorama – I know I could be doing so much more with it.
I decided to take Mandala 12 and color it in Procreate. I fiddled around with color choices, but finally ended up with this:
When I drew the mandala, I thought the design was too simple, but I actually like the way it turned out once it was colored in. I wanted a fall color scheme (though in my neck of the woods we’ve apparently skipped fall and gone straight into winter – brr!), so I chose some darker reds and greens and browns.
Although I liked the colors, I decided I wanted more depth – it just looked too flat for me. So I headed over to iColorama and played around with several of the options in the program. After several attempts, here is the final image:
I added a texture and another filter (I don’t remember which one), but I am happy with the result. Now the image looks like an old rug design and it’s got some ‘feel’ to it. The filter actually muted some of the colors, but I think that makes it look better.
After I get a chance to watch some tutorials on iColorama, I can’t wait to try it out using some of the mandalas I’ve drawn for my coloring pages. Adding texture and ‘feel’ like this makes it seem like my designs are coming to life – so exciting!
For the last several weeks, I’ve been dipping my digital toes into the (cess?)pool of social media. I’ve blogged about joining Ello and I’ve also recently joined Ko-Fi. I guess that Ko-Fi isn’t technically social media? Or maybe it is? I don’t know.
If you’re not familiar with Ko-Fi, it’s a site where you sign up, create a page for yourself, and people can donate via PayPal to support you – i.e., buy you a cup of coffee. It’s similar to Patreon, I suppose, although you have to pay a monthly fee for recurring payments from supporters. So Patreon Lite, maybe?
In any event, I thought it looked like a cool way to provide an opportunity for those who don’t have tons of cash lying around (like me), but would like to send something small to those whose talents we appreciate.
So now I have a Ko-Fi page set up for myself. If you’re interested, check it out here. It’s still pretty bare bones, but I’ll be adding to it in the coming months. Learning to navigate all these new (to me) sites has really taxed my poor brain.
Just setting up a PayPal account gave me a headache. I set it up as a business account, but since I’m a sole proprietor, things can be tricky. The state I live in doesn’t require me to register my business as a sole proprietor, so some of the questions either didn’t apply or didn’t make sense to me.
Also, their categories for type of business was disappointing. I didn’t see anything that I thought applied to what I do, but I suppose it doesn’t matter. I think it’s more for PayPal to send me marketing crap than it is to actually help me out. We’ll see, I suppose. I wonder if I can change the category later? Now I just have to wait for PayPal to do their thing with the test deposits/withdrawals from my bank account so I can get down to business.
I still want to set up a YouTube channel, but I think I may wait and tackle that project another day. My poor brain is on overload dealing with all these different sites. Ain’t technology grand?!
I’m happy with the way this mandala turned out. I wanted a leaf/floral/nature pattern and I think I incorporated some of those design elements nicely.
This mandala also looks complete, in contrast to some of my other recent mandalas. I might even color this one to see what it looks like. I think some of the design elements get lost in the black and white line version.
I love blogging, I really do. Sometimes just the process of getting my jumbled thoughts out of my brain onto the screen is all it takes to make my day better. But there are some things I don’t like about blogging. Some are just annoyances, but some are things that make me want to avoid blogging all together. I guess my ego is bigger than my dislike, since I’m here. 😀 Right, on with the list!
#5. Dealing with the technology
I consider myself pretty tech savvy, but I am by no means a tech person. I liken it to driving a car – I know how to operate it; I can fix simple things – gas, flat tire, blown fuse, etc., but some things are beyond my skills – broken engine mounts (which aren’t apparently as terrible as they sound), broken shifter linkage, suspension issues, and the like. Same with tech – I can operate my blog and fix simple things, but sometimes things break and I have no idea how to fix them.
One of the reasons I have my blog set up the way I do is that I didn’t want to be responsible for security and other tech issues. Maybe someday I’ll feel that confident, but not yet. Technology is great – as long as it works. 😛
#4. Finding people to follow and interact with
This is a big one for me. I’m naturally an introvert, and I spend a lot of my time alone – some by necessity, some by need. I like to people watch and observe – interaction is difficult for me and not something I feel adept at. So just hopping over to someone’s blog and commenting does not come naturally. I’m constantly afraid I will come off as rude, condescending, or at worst, ignorant.
Has anyone ever made me feel that way? No, of course not. Have I ever felt that way about anyone who interacts or comments on my blog? Nope, never. Just my own demons following me into the digital realm.
I also apparently suck at searching for other like-minded blogs to follow. I have a wide range of interests, but it can be difficult to find blogs to follow even then. Like everyone else, I’m looking for good content, but also consistency. I’ve found some great blogs, but then discover that the owner hasn’t posted anything in months.
#3. Blogger’s block
I suffer from this a lot, mostly because I have that little voice in my brain that says that no one will care about what I have to say. Plus, as mentioned in #2, I think consistency is important, so I try to stick to my posting schedule. The pressure to post regularly can lead to brain drain, and I have trouble finding a topic I think is relevant that I want to post about.
These days to combat blogger’s block, I either go draw or I go for a walk. It’s amazing what a little exercise can do to get my neurons firing. Even if I don’t end up finding a topic, I can at least get myself out of that negative headspace you get into when you are blocked creatively.
#2. Bragging about yourself
I don’t think most people start a blog thinking, “Hey, I need a forum to brag about myself.” That said, a lot of the time, that’s what it feels like I’m doing. Ultimately, I’m trying to get people to listen to me, follow me, and hopefully, spend some money on things I’ve created.
But that darn imposter syndrome is always there, lurking behind me. There’s always going to be somebody who is better than you at whatever it is you’re doing. I think we’ve become so conditioned to compare ourselves to others that it can be extremely hard to recognize when you’re doing it. In the same way, we’ve been conditioned not to brag about ourselves and I find it hard to do. (Though now that I think about it, social media is mostly that, so maybe it’s just me?)
#1. Stat tracking
This is my absolute least favorite thing about blogging. I want to grow my audience and attract followers, but keeping track of all the stats just gives me a headache. Again, I understand the basics, but drilling down too far makes me want to scream. Numbers are not my thing – words are.
Plus, I am never sure what stats are more important. Visits? Views? Comments? Number of followers? Keywords? Ugh, I’m making myself tired just writing about all of this.
While there are things I don’t like about blogging, what I do get out of it more than makes up for it. It’s work, for sure, but I enjoy the process, even if I don’t think I’m good at it sometimes. But that was the point behind this blog – to be public about my successes and my failures. Now, if I could just figure out how to clone myself so I have time for everything I want to do!
I am in the process of trying to figure out how to increase my reach, because I need eyeballs on my work if I want to sell any of it, right?
Facebook and Instagram are out for me, for reasons I’ve discussed before. I’ve narrowed down my options and I’m starting to slowly add social media accounts as I feel able.
Social media is such a time suck for me, so I’m trying to be mindful about what I’m doing and how much time I invest in each area. Of course, drawing and creating products needs to take the bulk of my time. So where do I want to go to bring in a bigger audience?
The blog, of course, is where I started. I’ve now branched out into Ello – a social network that was originally intended as an alternative to Facebook. It’s become more of a hipster/artiste hangout, but I like the site and their privacy policies (*adjusts tinfoil hat*).
So if you’d like to follow me over there, please do! If any of you are on Ello, I’d love to follow you as well. Ello link: here.
There’s not much to see yet, but I’ll be adding content as I can. I wish Ello had a way to schedule posts, but if it does, I can’t find it. At some point I may need to start using a social media managing app like Hootsuite or something, but for now, I’m happy to manage things manually.
I’m also kicking around the idea of starting a YouTube channel where I post short videos of me drawing. Though I’m not sure how much interest there would be in something like that. But I won’t know until I try, right?
Keeping my fear of failure at bay while I venture into new things is scary and hard. But I’m pushing through. Failure isn’t the end, it’s just a learning experience!
This mandala suffers a bit from my short attention span. I did well with the inner layers, but couldn’t decide what to do for the outer layers of the design, so I think it ends up looking incomplete.
I was trying for a Southwest/Nazca/Native American feel, and I think I accomplished that with some of the layers. Even though I don’t love every element of the design, I do feel my skills are getting better.
I’ve had many blogs over the years and one thing I always wanted was to be more mobile with my blogging. I’m old and have terrible eyesight, so blogging on my phone has never been an option. My eyes are too bad, my fingernails are too long, and my patience is too short to write posts on a dinky phone screen.
I’ve always been a PC kinda gal, so I am most comfortable writing that way. A full-size keyboard is my friend, especially one with a great ‘feel.’ I learned to type on a manual typewriter (yep, I’m that old) and keyboards with no feel drive me batty.
However, over the last year or so, I’ve been using my iPad more and more. Especially now that I am drawing on it, I tend to take it everywhere. So I thought I would try out blogging on my iPad. It couldn’t be that hard – even though I loathe the new ‘block’ editor (it’s not that new anymore, I suppose), I’ve been doing okay with it on the PC.
My thoughtful husband bought me a bluetooth keyboard that I could use with the iPad so that I could type with an actual keyboard rather than the on-screen one. (I am active on some forums and let me tell you, trying to select text with the built-in keyboard is a freaking nightmare!)
I also had intentions of participating in Inktober (notice the past tense there) and had drawn up a mandala for the first prompt. I drew it up, decided to post about it, and wrote up the post. Simple, right?
It took forever for the iOS WordPress app to load up my jpg image of the mandala. I think it took about 5 tries before it finally loaded. I finished up my post, proofed it, and published it.
I tried to, anyway.
After hitting publish, the app just sat there with the loading wheel spinning and spinning. So I closed it and tried saving the post.
Nope. Wouldn’t save either.
I tried publishing it again. Again with the loading wheel. I thought, well, I’ll just give it a few minutes and see if it worked. I did a few chores around the house and came back. Nope – still the spinning wheel.
After about an hour of trying to post, I finally gave up. I don’t know if WordPress hates Apple or Apple hates WordPress or they both hate me, but I was so frustrated I was ready to spit nails. Oh, and during this whole process, I also discovered that posts I had saved to come back and read later in the app have also disappeared.
All of them.
So for now, I’ve resigned myself to drawing on the iPad and posting on the PC. Not exactly what I wanted, but we can’t have everything, right?
I’ve been working for the past several months on designs for my mandalas. I have decided that I also want to make stickers to sell on Etsy. That was my original plan, but then I got sidetracked by how much fun I was having with the mandalas.
I spent some time recently using my Silhouette cutting machine to make some craft kits for a preschool classroom. It was so much fun, I may have to find other kits to make and sell!
Here’s the craft kit I made – they were doing a monster design for ‘M’ week, so I used my machine to cut out all the circles and horns for the monsters. Enough for 40+ kids done in about 15 minutes. It would have taken me all weekend to cut these by hand, not to mention they wouldn’t have been true circles.
My husband is getting in on the action, too. He is working with vinyl rather than paper, and he’s been making vinyl decals for cars. He made some for his car and his colleagues saw the decals and asked if he could make some designs for them.
He’s spent the last two weekends working on the computer, designing decals, and having a blast. He told me yesterday that he really wants to invest some time into seeing if he can turn it into a viable small business.
Crossing my fingers that he can and we can turn this into a family business. 🙂 Now to get busy working on my own designs!