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How CraftyPod is moving forward with Free and Sustainability
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.
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…
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.
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...
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.
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!
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!