What Does It Mean to Struggle?
Do you find the internet a curse or a blessing?
Of course there are plenty of benefits. We can all list them. We can also point out its curse: online gambling, online abuse, trafficking etc. I find myself disliking the internet a lot at the moment. Really not happy with Facebook or Google. Not happy with all those other platforms out there making life more complicated rather than easier.
I find myself in the second week of February feeling that I have not accomplished much yet so far this year. I admit that things are more difficult and time consuming than ever before. People make it look so easy: do this and that and your blog will blossom. Join this or that and you will gain a great following. All nonsense.
Every platform I have joined is in essence a group of people who are busy promoting themselves or their product, just like I am. People do not read other people’s posts or blogs to the extent that they actually get traction. It is so easy to become discouraged. You hear all these claims all over the internet: I do this and I make x-amount of dollars. That may well be, but it is so easy to fall into the trap thinking that things are easy.
They are not.
So, I look out of my window which is partially obscured by condensation and/or ice depending what the weather is doing outside.
I am struggling.
There, I said it.
The secret is out.
I keep up a good facade, but inside I am struggling. My fall back in November has taken its toll. The recovery is painfully slow and most of the time it feels like there is no recovery. To make things more difficult, the weather here in Ontario has been brutal. Cold, lots and lots of snow which melts and then freezes up again. There is a layer of at least 2-3 cm of ice on the sidewalks. Uneven sidewalks piled high with ice and snow make for dangerous walking conditions. The city is not clearing the sidewalks in my area.
And, when you think things cannot get more complicated, they do just that: complications from my fall are making life even more difficult. Walking has become treacherous. My poor puppy, Tiki, hardly gets a good run when we are out. It has become a quick in and out because I don’t trust my stability. And, I am afraid to fall yet again.
None of this contributes positively to my outlook on business and life in general.
I planned this month to be devoted to kitchen renovations. How to set up a solid plan and avoid costly mistakes. Walk my readers through the critical elements of a renovation. Review new product and appliances. By the end of this month I intended for my readers to be fully equipped to start a major kitchen renovation this year.
It is not quite happening like that.
I wrote the first article last week: the first week of February. This article was written with the intent to be published a week ago, but I lost it somewhere in cyberspace. After spending two days putting the article together, collecting appropriate images, I intended to send it to my readers last Thursday. When I set about to edit my work it was nowhere to be found. N.o.w.h.e.r.e. Poef, it was gone. Just like that. Two full days of work lost, I had to start all over again. It is now ready to be published a full week later.
In the meantime my mindset was affected by this setback. My physical condition is not exactly optimum at the moment either. And, together with other things happening in our family and my life in general, the pit opened and I plunged right in.
I am struggling to get tracking with my blog. I am struggling to find work in the design field that actually pays me. Not that I am looking to opening my practice to the degree it has been in the past 20 years. I don’t want that anymore. I have had my share of great and not great projects, of great and not great clients. Enough is enough. Besides the entire interior design field is now overloaded with people spit out by design schools all over the world. The industry is chockfull with ‘designers’ of whom most are really only decorators and who undercut fees to get the jobs..
The industry itself is changing as well. Big retail is now entering the fray. Online companies are offering all things interior design and decorating for a fraction of the prices we used to charge or pay. In some ways that is great, in other ways it eliminates a source of income for designers. Most designers these days cannot make ends meet. Product is available at such deep discounts that mark ups are no longer possible for designers.
So, how to earn a living as a designer? A question I am struggling with. To find answers I have been reading a lot. There are too many recommendations out there that promise the moon and the stars, but in reality mean nothing. “Do this and you will…….”, “Do that and you will…….”. The list is endless. The promises are big. I am quite sure though that the 20-80 rule applies here as well. Most people struggle. Besides, it seams that everybody (and I literally mean everybody) thinks they have something to write about: look at all the mommy blogs out there recommending this diaper over that one, or when to burp Frankie…. And then there are the ridiculous celebreties who recommend products and lifestyles only to be paid heaps and heaps of money without disclosure that they are being paid, and not necessarily are users themselves.
At the beginning of 2019 I decided that to gain more eyes on my blogs I needed to become active on Instagram. I knew nothing about this platform even though I signed up in 2010… I was far too busy with ‘real’ work and projects. I had to learn what to do and how to do it. And I did. I went from 20 followers to a whopping 69 in about 40 days. A joke, right! Meanwhile it is costing me a lot of time to get the right images for Instagram and posting them. And, this hashtag business on Instagram is truly a royal pain in the you-know-what. I don’t think any of my followers has actually read any of my blogs either. So what’s the use, I ask myself only to be reminded of ‘have patience - Rome was not built in one day’.
People recommend to publish more blogs on a weekly basis: perhaps two to three per week. However, I need to do a lot of research for my articles and more than one or perhaps two per week is just not an option. Blogging should remain fun and informative for my readers. The motto out there is that you have to “beat Google’s algorithms”. And than there are the other search engines. You have to learn SEO, or search engine optimization. Learn how to use the right keywords. Learn how to write great copy. Learn how to market. Learn how to ……. well you get the picture. It is endless and things keep changing. Who would have thought that I now have to compete with computer systems in addition to actual people….Argh…
Every day I wonder whether I need to join other platforms. Publish on other sites…. Find more ways to get eyes on my work. Learn yet another app or computer program. The list is endless and discouraging. To the point where I become rebellious and say ‘no more of this shit’, throw in the towel and unsubscribe from every website or magazine!
Today I was planning on posting the delayed, first article on kitchen renovations. Lucky you, though, you are getting my rant. I can only hope you understand. The article will follow soon. I promise.
Thank you for listening!
Illustrations: Jessica Eken