How CraftyPod is moving forward with Free and Sustainability

08 Feb 2011

I saw the light at the end of the tunnel.
Image by Overduebook, via Flickr

I'd like to start this post with a little background…

At the end of 2010, I was surprised to find myself completely burned out. I had been running so hard all year, trying to grow my business and keep up all the Free I'd been doing on this blog, I didn't even see how much of my life it had been consuming. I had stopped exercising, eating healthy, relaxing, crafting for fun – I was way out of balance.

That burnout led me to start writing about Free, and whether it's sustainable, despite the many good things it brings. (If you're just joining this conversation, you'll see a whole lot of discussion here and here and here and here.) And, because you're awesome, many of you got involved in the discussion, and helped me tremendously.

Free Parking
Image by cadin, via Flickr

If you shared a comment on any of these posts, I'm sending you a huge hug. Whether you agreed or disagreed with me, whether you had lots to say or a few words, your comments helped lead me through a tangled underbrush of thinking to some clarity. Quite a few of you shared that you're feeling similarly about Free as I am, and that helped me feel less alone. Thanks to all of your insights, I'm feeling so much more positive and hopeful about the state of this blog, and the future possibilities of Free.

Honestly, I really could keep talking about Free – there are still whole rooms and hallways of this subject to explore. But for the moment, I think it's best to take what I've gained already, and do some moving forward. So here's what that will look like…

Slow Down .......You Clown!!
Image by fatboyke (Luc), via Flickr

A more reasonable pace

First, I'm going to scale back the number of posts I do a week here, at least for a while. I adore blogging, so I don't love the idea of doing less of it. But at this moment, I simply have to regain some hours in my life. You can expect a minimum of two posts per week going forward, and I'll usually shoot for three.

Too nice for temporary
Image by Rosa Say, via Flickr

Crafty Fun vs. Crafty Biz

This bit's tricky. At the moment, I make the lion's share of my living from the crafty business services I offer. (Ebooks, online classes and consulting, in case you didn't know.) So, conventional wisdom would dictate that I focus this blog on crafty business topics.

I love my students and one-on-one clients. I love the people who buy my ebooks. But if this blog became solely a crafty business blog, I'd be missing a big piece of my soul. I really need to blog about crafts, too.

…And yet, I have to face the fact that my purely crafty content eats up hours I need to reclaim, and at the moment it also doesn't support my livelihood. It makes people happy, which is awesome, but I'm at a point where I have to weigh that awesomeness against the health of my business (and, frankly, the health of me). So going forward, I'll be changing the way I blog about crafting. You'll still get crafty – I'm looking at ways to team up with others, and of course I'll still do an occasional how-to. This leads me to...

Image by Margarida Sardo, via Flickr

Supporting the Crafty Fun

Every now and then, someone hires me to produce a tutorial. (I love those people, too!) I'll always share that stuff with you here. And in addition, I'm going to experiment with some forms of high-value crafty content you can voluntarily support if you want. You might see some donationware projects, like June's. You might see some use of Kickstarter. I'll be trying stuff, and I hope you'll share your feedback.

Let's be clear, though: this blog will never, ever be a 100% "pay-to-play" kind of thing. I still believe deeply in sharing with this community. All I'm looking for is a way to do this without burning out again.

Image by jbelluch, via Flickr

Audio and Video Podcasts (good news and bad)

OK, now I have to deliver a little bad news. After looking hard at all the factors, I've decided to stop making the CraftyPod podcast in its current form.

The thing is, each show (as I've mentioned before) takes 8-10 hours to make. And I've never made a dime from it. I deeply love my little podcast and all it has brought into my life, but at this point, it's no longer sustainable as is.

Don't worry! This isn't goodbye forever to podcasting. It's just a break and a re-org. After taking some months off, I hope to create a whole new show – one that has a longer format and a monetization plan built in. I'd love to survey you all down the road and get some input on how all that should look.

(And by the way, I'll continue to pay hosting on the 126 existing shows. Those will always be free.)

…In the meantime, I've decided to stick with video podcasting on a regular schedule. I want to keep learning about video production, and an ongoing show is a great way to build skills. I have (what I think is) a pretty kick-ass idea for a video series. It'll be starting up in a month or so, and I'm super excited about it!

Shopping mall questions
Image by wok, via Flickr

So, will this still be a good blog?

I sure hope so! After all the discussion we've had, I'm willing to believe that there are ways to produce good Free and stay sustainable. Ways to be part of the crafty community and lead a balanced life.

One of the most powerful conclusions of all the comment discussion was the fact that, at the end of the day, it's up to each of us to openly state what we really want from blogging, and how, specifically, we need our readers to support us in those goals.

So, that's my opening effort. Let's see how things go from here!


Hi Diane! I'm glad that you have come to some decisions. I was worried that you would stay too long debating this and stay in inaction. That would not be good for someone as talented as you. Blogging is lots of work, as I have learned from just trying out a small personal blog. And I'm not surprised to find out how many hours it take to produce a podcast! To receive no monetary compensation for that work would make anyone reconsider the "ifs" and "whys". I can see why people have started to put ads on their blogs. I wish you a happy future, wherever it is taking you.
PS--I am sorry you have been dealing with a family emergency and hope all is going well.

Thank you for your kind words, Teresa! I'm feeling very positive now, and starting to put plans in place for my blog, 2.0. :-) Thankfully, the family situation has resolved well - thanks for thoughts!

Sounds like a great plan! I have enjoyed your podcast (and blog) over the years and am excited to see what the new one will be like. Thanks for the honest discussions of free and its longer term impacts. :)

Excellent post, Diane. As a 50-something new-comer to the blogging world that you all so glowingly and soulfully participate in (you are all wonderful!) I would like to encourage you to be proud of your perspective building. Continue to re-evaluate, reflect, respond. Realize that you are maturing -- that goals are malleable and lofty ideals can be re-manufactured to reflect the change. Be confident!!! The internet has connected us in ways unimaginable (think Egypt -- today!!). You are breaking new ground with your openness (all of you, really!) as you work to structure a living. I wondered how you made any money (ahem, not, probably, what you're worth) from this fantastic site. Thank you for sharing that. I have visited so many beautiful blogs lately and I am staggered by the creative energy and TIME it must take to keep these places up. How are you all doing this??? I've raised 3 children and as a stay at home mom, I can tell you -- I never would have had time for this kind of thing!! Life is limited. Balance is essential. Kudos to you for re-orienting your direction. Best wishes!! Iris

Diane, I'm really glad you wrote about this subject and for being so honest. I think it's an area that creative people don't openly blog about but its a trend we'll start to see more and more - the "rat race" of craft! I was feeling the exact same way at the end of 2010. Only after a 4 week vacation in January did I realize I needed to make time for myself and rejuvenate so I could continue to contribute to my local crafty community. I think the direction you are going in is great! I hope you find your balance and I'm looking forward to the new insights you'll be bringing to Craftypod!

HA! "rat race of craft" is a brilliant concept! I'm sorry to hear you hit the burnout point, Melanie. You do so much for your community. I'm glad you were able to step back and recover and reclaim some energy for yourself. Here's wishing you a balanced 2011!

Diane, Thanks for your posts and I'm glad that you will still be blogging. I too have decided that trying to blog every single day is way too much for me. I have no idea how some people are able to do all the things they do! Well actually I think they are not getting the things done that they say they are getting done. Or they have simpler lives than they tell us about. lol... Thank you for sharing your insights so that we too can learn from this information. And hopefully we can support each other! Off to make something.. :)

Thank you, Maggie! I do hope my experiences might help another blogger avoid burnout. I wish you splendid times on your blogging/business journey!

Bravo, Diane! As someone who is starting up a crafty blog-inclusive business, it's so helpful to read what my forebears have learned. I love that you're stepping back to find balance, which will ultimately allow your business and your self to have sustainability. I'll be following along. :)

I applaud the direction you are taking with your blog and look forward to its continued evolution. This will always be my #1 source for blog inspiration. If you build it, they will visit! :)

Thank you so much, Marti! I'm totally excited about building it now!

Hi Diane, Nice to hear that you are taking more time for yourself, it's so important! New and naive in the blog world, I was wondering how you made money from your podcasts, but now I know!! It must take so much time, and we are so lucky to have them! THANKS for everything!

Thank you, Mary! Interestingly, I think many of us completely assume that if we see cool stuff online, someone is making money from it. And I think that's happening way less often than we assume. :-)

This is great Diane. I meant to say on an earlier post that I pretty much try to still offer "free" things--but only when it's something like a company pays me to write a pattern that they will offer for free, or a tutorial, etc. Unfortunately if I want to be able to feed myself, I can't just go around making everyone else happy (and neither can you!). I'm excited to see what happens with your video series and with the podcast, and still remember how excited I was when you called to interview me for it--which now seems like eons ago. XOXOX and best of luck for your sustainable crafty future!

Wow, it DOES seem like ages ago, doesn't it? So much has happened. I like your take on Free - AND feeding ourselves! :-)

I'm glad to hear you're moving forward towards better balance. I often feel like I go in waves myself with my freelance/hobby/life in general stuff, so it's encouraging to hear somebody else reclaiming the word 'balance' in their own life. Looking forward to seeing how things shake out here on your blog and wishing you the best!

Sister Diane, I'm a relatively new reader but I really loved your posts on the sustainability of free. It sounds to me that you're making healthy decisions for yourself and good business decisions for your site. I look forward to see what's coming.
One of the things I'm finding after all this time blogging away from my "deserted German island" (actually my kitchen table), is that connecting seems to be the only way. All this time I've been at it alone not even sure if linking to people is OK, never commenting -- it's completely held me back.
Personally I hope the future has more guest posting, more connecting, and more support (giving and taking). Best wishes, tj

I wish you a more connected future too, TJ! It does make such a difference. Will you share your blog link here so we can come visit you?

I haven't been in on the free discussion since the very beginning because I have dropped offline a bit for many of the same reasons you are making changes. I think you're taking very healthy steps. I know how long content takes to prepare; so much work, fun work but time consuming. No matter what changes you make be sure the things you focus on most still bring you joy, where there's joy creativity will flourish.
I hope the rest of 2011 is healthy and happy and your positive changes are rewarding in every way.

Thank you, Brandi - how did you come back from your burnout? That stuff is nooooooo joke, to be sure. :-/

For me, it started in August of 2009 and kept going through January of 2010. I couldn't stand most of what I was doing, so I gave up everything - blogging, networking - to focus on my shop. Then because I wasn't doing those things, my sales dropped, leading me to think even more self-defeating thoughts. I closed my shop for the holidays and reevaluated what I was doing and what I liked doing. I made a list, and brainstormed ways to start doing those things again, and a loose timeline for myself. Then I made another list on how I would take care of myself and manage everything I wanted to do. I tried to be patient with myself most of all, so there were a lot of false starts as I got back up on the horse.

I started back up with blogging, using Tara Gentile's ebook to get me started. Having something specific to write about once a week, something I didn't have to create or over-analyze, helped me focus. I took a few eclasses in different to help me focus even more, and those helped cut back the feelings of overwhelm. It wasn't an overnight thing, but slowly, I found my way back and can now see where I took on too much so I can avoid it again.

Like I said yesterday, I think it's smart that you've come to a place where you realize something has to give.

This all sounds excellent, Diane, I'm so glad to see you honouring your limits in this way.

One of my favorite things about June's donationware model is that you'll see what people *really* like based on the level of donations. When you're selling something, there might be people unsure about whether they want to pay or not who then just decide not to take a chance. With donation ware, I imagine you get your product exposed to people who might not have bought it, but like it so much afterward that they decide to donate.

That's not to say that selling something outright would bring in less or more money ... hmm.

I'm excited to see how this will all develop Diane! It sounds like you're ready to turn the page and that is always such an exciting place to be standing at. I wish you the very best with everything that you're planning and I can't wait to get my podast fix again! ;)

I am happy to be reading and nodding my head in regards to your conclusions on free and sustainability. I'm excited to see the implementation of all your new ideas! I have enjoyed your podcast since episode 1, and I know whatever you do will be AWESOME!

I look forward to seeing what your blog becomes, good for you for figuring out a plan that works for you. I am (selfishly) pleased you will continue to focus on crafty-business stuff, and am happy that you are working to gain some balance in your work. I appreciate your openness in this conversation, I'll stay tuned!

Thank you so much, Michele - I really hope it will!

Change is good, change is exciting! Especially if what you were doing before isn't working for you. I look forward to seeing where this new direction takes you! :-)

I'm so glad to hear that you are making time to take care of you! I consider myself to be on the lower level of crafters and I've always had trouble reading all the way through your blogs. Not your fault,just soooo much information for us to process. Posting fewer blogs will reduce my stress of not being able to keep up. I'm looking forward to continuing to learn from you :) Here's to meeting in the middle.

Nothing quite like serious burnout to make you stop and reorganize your life. I've been there done that. It really isn't about how many posts a week but on the quality. Sometimes less is more. Thanks for putting together such wonderful content on your blog and your online classes.

I totally understand the overwhelm of having your own business. Sometimes I feel there is a huge wave right behind me and my feet are getting wet.

I have listened to your podcast and read your blog since the very beginning. Each post and podcast are filled with imagination, creativity and sharing. I wanted you to know your work is greatly appreciated, and we will also be with you. Do what you need for yourself, knowing, your peeps are here.

Thanks for all your hard work.


Bravo, Diane! Change is exciting. Can't wait for the videos. :) XO

*applauds* Well done, Diane. I am excited for you!! Here's to the rest of 2011!!

Yay for you Diane. Well done for having the courage to put it out there and to admit to needing the change. Looking after you is the right thing to do.
Good for you having some idea where to head, and moving in that direction. I seem to have lost all drive and direction, with no idea where to go now!
How exciting all your new change sounds. Onward and upward with fun and happy!! x

WOW, Stephanie, this is great idea. (I am kicking myself for never seeing that possibility!) Thanks for that - what a great way to use those tutorials! I think you'll see this option in my shop soon!

Hi, Everyone - your kind and supportive comments are making me so happy! I'm sorry that I'm not able to reply to every one individually. (We're in the midst of a family emergency at the moment. Things are getting better, but time is occupied.) But I wanted to pop in here and say THANK YOU. This is the best community in the world.

Dear Sister Diane, I am so thrilled to hear of all of this open, honest reflection and moving forward. I think, actually, that the idea of sustainability requires the reality of change--that for our systems to keep working, we've got to continue to adapt. All of these decisions sound just like that. I think you are leading the way here on conversation that is so crucial to the blogging, crafting community. Thanks for what you've done here with these conversations. They have really helped me so much. Very best to you. I am more committed than ever to staying connected to what you're doing here at craftypod.

I wondered if you had decided to set the podcast aside for a while. Sounds like a good thing, although I will miss it a lot. Post pictures of your cat, your lunch, or the sky and I will still come by to visit! Hugs to you in you current emergency - it's wrenching to have a sibling seriously ill.

Thanks so much, Ellen. You just reminded me that I forgot to eat! :-)

Ok - got to chime in here! Diane, as your mom, I have watched from the "inside" so to speak as you wrestled and struggled with how you were going to move forward from the burned out, unhealthy place you were in by the end of the last year. You always put 1000% into every thing you do and your give generously of your time and experience to others.

You have found good solutions and ways to move forward in a much more positive direction, for you and your crafty blog community. I just want everyone to know that this has only happened because you put in many sleepless nights, and painful self-examination. I am so proud of you. I think you are heading in a much more positive direction. And best of all - we will have more time to "get crafty"!

You rock! Do what feels good and makes you happy. If you're happy it will show in your work and we'll all be better for it. I went thru a similar dilemma last year and stepping back helped me to gain better site of my true goals. Take time to play and find the fun again. (hugs)

clap clap clap! bravo!
all those posts changed me and the way I interact with the craft community. For one thing, I comment every post of every blog I like, instead of just read and keep it to myself. This is my first step, and it was a huge one for me.
Looking foward to see your progress here. Don't feel guilty about any choice you're making. I'm with you 100%, if that counts for something... =)
Lots of love from Brazil!
and good luck!

Good luck, Diane! I've loved your blog postings and your podcasts but you have to look after yourself first. Enjoy your time off! You put so much into your on-line activities, with really amazing results. I'm sure that a break will do you good.

Good for you! I went through this last year. Total burn out fueled by personal issues and illness that didn't help. Slowing down is SO important. I will miss the podcast, for sure. But life is ever changing and organic and I'm so excited to see what all of your new ventures will bring!


I think it's great that you dove into this topic - in addition to being important to the blogging (and general internet) community, the posts were passionate and well-thought out. You've put a lot of work into your corner of the web and it grew and now it's evolving. It might be a little scary but it should be exciting, too! I know I am paying more attention to Free both because I enjoy it and benefit from it and because I am trying to figure out what, and is there any, kind of Free I could offer.

I really enjoy your podcasts, but totally understand burnout. I loved what your mom said, "I am so proud of you. I think you are heading in a much more positive direction." You certainly have the love and support to do whatever it is that will get you to the next creative place. Good luck, Diane!

Many many Congrats, Sister Diane! I cannot even begin to describe how much I relate to your post (and your dilemma) I feel like free-and-prolific is just written all over my soul, but then so is having a rich life! (Which was basically gone--just as you described.)

I recently scaled WAY back from crafting and blogging obsessively (toast-eating-zombie-stampire life) to doing short posts once a week. I miss it, sure, but am a better wife, friend, and self for the change. I hope your well-thought out changes bring you bliss & I would be delighted to pay for your hard work and highly intelligent broadcasting. Can't wait!!!

Thanks for stopping by, Keith! I do have some plans, and hope to implement them soon!

I just found your podcast last week (I know I'm very late to the party) and listened to 3 or 4 episodes back to back. I'm enjoying your blog just as much. I look forward to seeing what you come up with next!

Good for you! You have made such a wonderful impact on the craft and blog world! The issues you are struggling with are the same that we are all struggling with. It sounds like your decisions are well thought out and sound smart! I think changing things up is always fun and reinvigorating, in and of itself anyways! ;) Good luck as you figure out a new normal for you! I will remain a devoted fan of yours and think that what is to come sounds just as wonderful as what has been!

Thank you for all the free you have given to the bloggy world! You inspire me.