On Pinterest and Blogging
Trisha and Janet Snyder are the makers behind Pawling Print Studio. Based in Washington, DC and New York, the company focuses on environmentally responsible production and clean, understated design. Thanks, ladies! – Rena
This past month in a bit of shop down time, we decided to focus on redesigning our website. Redesigning the shop was fairly easy. We knew what we wanted, so it was mostly a matter of execution. But our blog was a different story…
Our blog had always been a place to share our process but over time we began to fill it more with inspiration. It started out innocently enough, but soon we began displaying obsessive blogger behavior: How are the transitions between posts? Does the content flow? Does the color flow? What about picture size, shape, etc.? Is there enough variation? What about a caption? Did we say too much? Too little? These questions, totally independent of content, began consuming entirely too much time, and the nagging guilt about skipping a day of posts was stressing us out. Wasn’t blogging supposed to be fun!?
Enter, Pinterest. At first our OCD followed us there: Crap, I don’t want to pin this yet, because I want to blog about it first. Someone might see it and blog about it before us! Pin. Unpin. This board? That board? Like? Repin? Both!?
We had an interview with Ben Silberman early on and chatted about things we wanted to see, one of which was private boards (they would undoubtedly solve all of our problems), but Ben and and his team resisted. Boooo! We both agreed that there was no way we could adopt Pinterest wholeheartedly without private boards.
But our counter-resistance was pathetic at best. It was so easy to pin, pin, pin. If we didn’t have a blog post lined up, we could simply pick something from one of our boards. (It turns out the world didn’t end if someone had seen it before.) And (dammit!) it was actually kind of helping us understand our inspiration better. Our underlying interests and themes were so painfully obvious when laid out on boards. And, what!? Where did all of these followers come from? We were reaching waaay more people on Pinterest than we ever did with our blog. We were also getting more visual stimulation than ever before, and yet for some reason it wasn’t compelling us to blog more.
What did it mean!?? Blogging was one of the main things that drew us to handmade design in the first place and it’s through the generosity of others blogging about our work that anyone even found out about us. But if we were being honest with ourselves, blogging about our inspiration was becoming a redundant task and simply took too much time. We finally realized that we weren’t bloggers (duh!), we were makers and what we really needed to do was stop hiding behind our posts about other people and focus on why we’re part of the design community in the first place.
If all we do is show people who we are, what our company is about, and why we’re worth supporting, maybe fewer people will visit. But maybe fewer people who are truly engaged in our brand and are interested in us as creators are far more valuable than hundreds of people who are there to browse our inspiration.
It’s funny how self-awareness works. Since we decided to refocus our blog on process rather than inspiration, we’ve found more time for designing and encountered a lot less self-imposed stress. We don’t blog as often anymore, but we like to think that it keeps us accountable both to our customers and to ourselves. If we haven’t posted in a while, it’s time to figure out what the hell we’ve been doing. What progress can we share? What do we need to focus on? Our guilt is now about designing and making, not about blogging.
A lot of people have written about Pinterest as a tool for determining what’s popular on their blog, but for us it has been a liberation from our blog. It’s allowed us to keep track of and share our inspiration more efficiently while keeping our blog focused on our work. This is starting to sound like an ad, but it’s not really about Pinterest at all. It’s about embracing change, stepping back, and figuring out what’s working for you. What works for you isn’t going to be the same as what works for us. And what works for us today is different from what worked for us last year.
Hopefully our (painfully obvious) discovery will encourage other makers to acknowledge their own opportunities for improvement. Maybe you have some epiphanies of your own? We’d love to hear about them! We’ll be sure to share any future ones with you!