March 4, 2013
So, here’s the thing. I have a site called The Glitterhood (formerly Wild Soul Arts) which houses my paid classes as well as free stuff for anyone who’s into the mixed media art journaling thing to enjoy. I created the space because, yes, I wanted a permanent, relatively easy home to host my classes, but ALSO because I wanted to give away some stuff for free, and because I wanted to give people a place to share their own stuff. Their art journal spreads. Their videos. Their blog posts.
I made it, in short, for my tribe.
I did not think of this as an act of leadership. I thought of it a little like the baseball field in “Field of Dreams”. If you build it, they will come.
And they did.
Those who aren’t actually in my classes have no idea what to do there. It lacks purpose because all my leadership efforts are focused in my paid classes and not in the site in general.
Yes, I give of myself there. Every Monday, I post about my week in art. I share some musings about intentional creativity. I share resources that are rocking my socks. But it isn’t inviting. It’s just information, like a magazine. It doesn’t elicit any kind of two way response.
I yearn for conversation. I don’t want to be up on some pedestal where I write and share and folks feel there’s no room for THEM to write and share. That is the *exact* opposite of my intention.
There’s a lot of inner work going on for me right now.
First there was the whole “Give up your name or else” thing, which felt awful and scary and annoying as hell until I decided I just did NOT want to die on that mountain any time soon. I opted for the peaceful option, which was to change the name of my business from Wild Soul Arts (a name I *really really love*) to The Glitterhood (a really, really fun name that I also love.)
I desperately wanted to just make the change and move on, but the change shone a spotlight on what really wasn’t working in my on line community. It created an OPPORTUNITY to look more closely at whether or not the space is fulfilling my mission.
The first part of my mission (which was to create a permanent home for my on line classes) has been beautifully fulfilled. That aspect of things works and I love how easy it is (relatively) to maintain. Yes, there are hiccoughs with invitations not getting through or people getting lost in the site, but the MAJORITY of the time for the MAJORITY of the people who pay for my classes, this space works.
It’s some of what I’m offering for free that isn’t working. There’s something off with the format or the structure. It is all too one way ~ I talk, you listen. I write, you read. I art, you look. This is making me deeply unhappy because the second part of my mission is to CONNECT with folks whether they are paying clients or not. My mission includes providing easily accessible VALUE to those who can’t afford another class or who prefer to dip in and out without commitment.
I talked myself (for a little while) into ignoring the lack of conversation because this is ‘just marketing’. I told myself “be happy whether there’s participation or not because dude! People are signing up for your stuff! It’s all good! Huzzah!”
And it’s true that people have told me over and over again that they bought stuff from me based on the strength of my free stuff. That’s a powerful testament to the value of the free stuff.
But ‘marketing’ isn’t my purpose. I honestly couldn’t give a rats ass about marketing. It’s not that I think there’s anything wrong with it ~ it’s just not my thing. It isn’t where my heart lives. My purpose is to connect. My purpose is to have conversations. My purpose is to facilitate empowerment and healing through art. My purpose is to align myself with the divine as I understand it and shine that as brightly as I can.
I’m not sure, at this point, how to make that happen, but it starts with simplifying some things, and I’ll be working on that this week.
I’ve been really struggling with discerning between wanting to create a sense of community (conversation) and seeking approval. Is wanting the two way conversation approval seeking? At first, I didn’t know because there was a small, bratty, miserable part of me that felt *rejected* because of the lack of conversation. There was a part of me that perceived the lack of participation in one group in particular (the one where I share my week in art and musings) as a failure to please and that triggered a whole history of needing to please, of wanting to be loved at all costs, of feeling *afraid* that failure would lead to suffering and pain and self-loathing.
It took a day to flail about with this because this is shit I’ve dealt with before. It takes a bit of getting quiet and listening to the inner voices to know what’s really going on. Wanting to do the very best FOR YOU is not approval seeking. It’s good leadership. Wanting to make something that works for my tribe is not whiny attention getting. It’s my *purpose*.
Over the years, I have become capable of sharing with you, my tribe, when I’m discouraged or feeling like a failure. Some folks insist that this is not business like or that a good leader must always be strong and together and up for whatever curveballs life throws her way. I used to ABJECTLY REFUSE to accept that I was any kind of leader. Even the word ‘teacher’ rankled my astral scrotum. I just wanted to be a girl who did what she does out loud.
But people who do what they do out loud are leaders. People who demonstrate, who share, who encourage are teachers.
If it walks like a duck…
So, yes. I’m a leader. But I’m also just a girl who does her stuff out loud and who is willing to dance with her shadow where other folks can watch.
My honesty about my stuff scandalizes some people, because they have this idea that I’m supposed to be their guru or their ‘fearless leader’ or some shining example of perfection.
I call bullshit.
We’re not about power over or being the best in this tribe. We’re about self-expression and creativity, and sometimes what we need to express is that things are hard, or that we’re feeling discouraged. Doing so means you can receive the support and encouragement of your people. Doing so means your people know that it’s okay to feel discouraged and ask for support. It isn’t weak. It is absolutely ballsy.
I’m absolutely ballsy.
So, this is me saying I’m discouraged because I want the answers right now about how to make this the absolute shining manifestation of my vision, and the answers are slow to come. I’m discouraged because my intentions and what I’m actually creating aren’t meeting in the middle.
I need to slow down. I need to get quiet. I need to figure out how best to serve my purpose without falling prey to all the marketing bullshit that’s going around out there. I need to stop worrying about how my wanting to serve you ‘seems’ or ‘looks’, and just get to the business of serving you. Time and noodling and exploring what will work will fix this.
And that’s what I’m fixing to do.
All my love,
P.S. While I’m figuring out how best to serve you, I would LOVE it with all my heart if you’d pop in here throughout the week and share your art (links if you’re on my blog or photographs if you’re in the network), your heart, your musings, your thoughts on what I wrote above, or about anything at all.
Talk to me.
Meanwhile, I had a very artful week and I’ll show you mine if you try to show me yours. xo
Arting on a manilla envelope