On the left, me and Roxanne a few months before I started this blog. On the right, Roxanne sewing in my studio last week.
In the late winter of 2005 I spent eight hours learning how to use blogging software. Those were eight precious hours. They were spread out over two weeks and amounted to all of my free time away from our 9-month-old baby.
I’d read about blogs in the New York Times and although the article didn’t mention blogs about crafting I figured they might be out there. I found Craftgrrrl on LiveJournal first, and then Loobylu and WeeWonderfuls and then decided I’d like to have a blog of my own.
At that time Typepad was the platform used by all the beautiful blogs and so I signed up for an $88 year-long subscription and then tried to figure out how the heck it worked. There were so many sweaty hours in which I was close to tears feeling that I’d wasted my money and would never actually produce a functioning blog. I’d sit in our spare bedroom (we only had one child then) staring at the monitor clicking on things and before I knew it I’d hear the baby cry and go into her room to pick her up out of the crib feeling so angry that I’d wasted my most sacred resource – my time alone – fooling around on the computer with nothing to show for it. Days filled with frustration and slow progress did, obviously, eventually lead to an actual blog. You’re reading it now, 11 years later, in its WordPress incarnation, but those first posts are all still here in their blurry picture glory.
I had no idea during those two tumultuous weeks that I was starting a new career that would suit me better than anything else I’d ever done, nor did I realize that this career would involve me learning to use new software over and over again infinitely or at least until I’m ready to close the whole thing down. Along the way I’ve had to figure out how to use Etsy (back when that meant five pages to click through before a listing was ready), Big Cartel, MailChimp, WordPress, GoDaddy Bookkeeping, GarageBand, Podbean, Edgar, HelloBar, Slack, Zoom, and most recently LeadPages and Teachable. I’m sure there are more.
Running a business online that thrives means embracing change. It means trying things out. It means researching software that will solve your problems and then figuring out how the heck to use it. And you’ve got to do it over and over again.
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I’ve come to terms with the fact that this process has stages, at least for me. I begin with the, “Hmmm…what is this thing everyone is talking about?” stage followed by the, “I definitely don’t need that. It’s expensive,” stage. Then there’s the, “Okay maybe I need it. Why am I always so stingy!” stage and then I go sign up. But that’s just the first part.
One thing I did learn early on is that I do better when I pay for something. In the summer of 2002 I wanted to lose weight. I tried doing it on my own, but could never really commit. (I love food. A lot.) Then I paid for WeightWatchers and by Halloween I’d lost 32 pounds. Paying for stuff makes me accountable to myself. I doubt I would have gotten this blog going if it weren’t for that $88 I’d already handed over to Typepad.
Part two in this learning process is harder. This is when I start saying things like, “How does this thing even work? It’s too hard! I’ll never figure this out. Nobody could ever figure this out. The people who designed this are crazy. I’m so thirsty. It’s been three hours! This isn’t made for people with kids!” Sometimes this is followed by crying. Or excessive cheese snacking.
I’m in this phase right now with Teachable. This summer I’m creating an online class and after getting through phase one in my process I’ve now subscribed for $39/month and have compelled myself to learn to use it. So far I’ve:
- Clicked on the same button 20 times hoping each time it will do what I want it to do
- Read this helpful article on the Teachable blog
- Read multiple unhelpful articles that don’t actually answer my questions
- Watched six training videos
- Skyped with my friend Meighan
- Felt like I wasted two whole days while my kids were at camp doing nothing and I’ll never have time like that again
- Eaten a lot of cheese
But I’m making progress. And, perhaps most importantly, I know that this is part of what it takes for me to learn new software. There’s always this moment when I’m ready to abandon the whole thing and then another moment when I see how it all works and I’m filled with excitement about all the new possibilities.
I’m getting there.