I am currently on Instagram (who isn’t these days? – as I am finding an overly saturated market) as greylilycalligraphy and, for lack of a better way to put it, am learning the business end of a craft while learning the craft itself. I am finding this isn’t for the faint of heart.
I took a step out of my comfort zone the other day, and sent out a “questionnaire” to some of the calligraphers I admire the most. I was at a loss as to how to grow my following, and thereby, grow my orders (shop temporarily down). I got some very interesting responses, some positive, some not so much – from surprising sources. In any case, I did receive some helpful information.
I am going back here, to how it all began for me. This is a little bit of my journey to how I arrived here, today, writing this.
But, my friends, learning while doing is a difficult task, no matter who you are. My background is in criminology of all things. Years worth of work in a degree field working to obtain my Bachelor of Science degree, and during the years of hard work, working up to 4 jobs at a time, carrying a full load of course work, taking care of my mom in the end stages of cancer, all while assuming the responsibility of caring for an invalid sister…well, they were difficult years. And during those difficult years, I knew my heart was not in the field. My hopes were to go straight in to my MS in forensics, but life had other plans for me. I sacrificed my life for others. Not as noble as that sounds, because I have regrets, I let fear be in the driver’s seat. Much of what I did was out of fear…letting people down, trying to keep all the balls juggling in the air. And, as is the due course of trying to keep too many things going with not enough resources, dropping many of those balls (re: finances) with devastating results.
Looking back now, I see the silver lining. Not finding work in my field for years (while being at home with my sister and then, later, my special needs son) led me to reach for the things that were in my heart. I brainstormed at one point and discovered, if I had listened to my heart to begin with (and not been afraid of letting my family down), I would have gone into history from the start of my college career. Of course, that path may not have led me anywhere but where I am now, so who knows? Fickle fate, or being led…I am not certain anymore. However, my path did lead me to dig into what my passions really were, and through finding history, I specifically came to realize that I have always had an admiration and love for writing and communication, and then, “beautiful writing”. So I set out to study it, that was a good 15 years ago now.
I started reaching out to (harassing, really) calligraphers years ago. Where I live, the arts are not a focus. It was difficult in those years (these were the days before having the internet was an everyday thing for everyone) to find people to reach out to. Eventually, I was successful, I found IAMPETH (here) on this journey. I could not travel because of the responsibilities of caring for my sister and son, so I reached out. Eventually, people started putting things online, resources, and even classes. I grabbed for those every chance I got. I have now been practicing (I call it that, because calligraphy is one of the arts you never really “arrive” at…you simply continue to practice and hone your hands. There are those few that reach such a level of perfection they are deemed “masters”. To my knowledge, there are around 9 of those in the world), for around 5 years now.
During the years of practice, and taking my little photos of my “aha!” moments, there was a change in the social media world. A “professionalizing,” with people seizing the opportunity of a free means of advertising, both with good and bad consequences. Hence, up arise the individuals offering the “business skills” in “getting you followers.” I once made the (possible) mistake of telling one of these such people who were offering me a “follow and follow back” that I was looking for “quality over quantity”. Silly me, I didn’t realize what I was doing. After I realized I was going to have to step up my game with social media, I began taking courses in business…in Instagram itself (of all things!), and any other part of selling of myself and my skill I could find. This business is not easy. But I am learning.
So, in the end, I have found that I need an outlet to discuss and share the things I am learning and doing other than the business arenas of Facebook and Instagram, and even Twitter to some degree. Therefore, I am writing. I do love a good blog, and have made some connections with people who are so dear to me. I have hopes of doing the same with this one myself. Won’t you join me?
(originally published 5/10/17)