5 Lessons Learned in 5 Years Blogging

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Daphne Painting

Yesterday was my five year blog anniversary. Five years! This blog is my middle child. She is two years younger than Maia; two years older than Daphne. I've nursed her along, encouraged her, watched in delight and pride as she grew, been frustrated by her needs, and, at times, thought the thought that is echoed by parents everywhere—

Wow, this can be hard work sometimes… But it is so worth it!

In way of blogiversary celebration, I have decided to take a more thoughtful approach this year and share some of what I've learned on this journey.

Daphnes Painting

5 Blogging Lessons Learned

Lesson 1 :: Writing about a topic you love makes you love it even more. 

As I blog about children's art, I have found that there’s more and more I
have to say. The more I share my enthusiasm and ideas with
others, the more excited about the subject I become, the more committed to it,
and the more I want to learn about it.

Lesson 2 :: The blog community is amazing.

Blogging is a way to share what we’ve been doing, and making, with other people who are interested in the same things. It’s a way of finding our tribe and sharing with them – with other people who are interested, whether they live in the same town or across the world. I like knowing that I am inspiring other parents to do more art with their kids by sharing ideas and art on my blog. And it goes both ways. I am in turn inspired by you, by what you do and share, and by other bloggers as well.

Lesson 3 :: Just be yourself.

You don't have to blog like everyone else. It's your blog. Put your own stamp on it. Blog about what you love (see Lesson 1) in a way that feels good to you. 

Lesson 4 :: It's okay to earn money with your blog.

It took me a looong time to get to the point where I was comfortable with this idea. As in most of my blogging career. It's been only a bit over a year now that I've really been earning money with my blog. Attending the Type A Parent conference and meeting the amazing Tara Ziegmont was the tipping point for me. I realized that I can stay true to my mission and my values while still earning money for the time and work that I put into The Artful Parent. I hired Tara to help me navigate this new-to-me world and, thanks to her, I am now proud to contribute to our family's income doing something that I love.

Lesson 5 :: Go with the flow.

Let your own interests and cycles of life guide you. Take a break if you need to. I have and was able to come back to blogging with increased enthusiasm and dedication because of it.

This is a lesson that I am still learning. Well, maybe all of them are ongoing lessons, but this one especially. As I reach the five year mark, though, I find that I'm obsessing about (gasp!) other topics more and more. Children's art isn't at the top of my mind quite as much. I still love it; don't get me wrong. I still love encouraging my childrens' creativity and still believe in its importance.

But… I have some new interests that are vying for attention now. 

I've been thinking more and more about how to foster creativity and artistic expression in myself and other adults. For almost two years now, I've been dreaming about starting an adult creativity blog. But with my other commitments, I just haven't found (or made) the time to make it happen, let alone make my own creativity a priority. (However, I am starting a 12 week course on The Artist's Way in a couple of weeks that I'm so excited about! It seems a step in the right direction.) In the meantime, I will find inspiration and motivation at Peas and Carrots Studio, a new "creativity 101" website started by two of my blogging friends (just a tad jealous…).

I've also been obsessing about health and lifestyle. My own health has been not so great (I've mentioned depression and skin cancer here before) and for a long time I pushed the topic to the bottom of the list. With little kids and other responsibilities, I just got overwhelmed by the idea of addressing it. But now I'm ready to embrace some health changes. I am reading book after book and starting to implement changes in nutrition and exercise as well as some much-needed mental health strategies. 

So back to "going with the flow"… I'm not sure what this is going to mean for The Artful Parent yet. Perhaps nothing. If I had lots of extra time and energy, I'd be one of those superbloggers who start 2nd and 3rd blogs on my new topics of interest. I've thought about it. Many times. But that's just not happening right now. So perhaps you'll start seeing some posts about these other topics from time to time. Or, maybe I'll face the fact that I can be interested in something without blogging about it (what an idea!).

Now, a question for you… How long have you been reading The Artful Parent? Less than a year? A couple years? FIVE years?! I'd love to know!!

xo,

Jean

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Comments

  1. says

    I remember reading it when my now 5 year old twins were too young to do many of the crafts you blogged about. I guess they were at about 18 months when I found your blog. I did try to tailor some of your suggestions to their skill and even though they weren’t always age appropriate for my kids, your posts kept me inspired. I love incorporating art into their lives! Then I think when you had your second baby you stopped blogging for awhile and I forgot to kept checking in on you. I came across one of your posts on Pinterest about a week or two ago and I remembered loving your blog! I was so excited to be “reconnected!” Now that I’ve got 5 year olds that LOVE art, I plan to go back and work on some of your old posts. Thanks so much for your blog! And your new interests! :)

  2. says

    I can’t remember exactly how long I’ve been reading, but I’m sure it is close to a year. It must be, as I seem to remember finding you when you were in full Valentine’s Day swing :)
    Congrats on 5 years! That is an exciting milestone. I think second, third, and fourth blogs are for people who run them like a full-time business and work upwards of 30-40 hours a week. It would be a lot.
    Yours is one of my favorites!
    Sarah M

  3. says

    Happy blog birthday to you! I discovered The Artful Parent 2+ years ago when I started my children’s book blog. I had been reading Mary Ann Kohl’s books, but I have enjoyed having you bring fresh ideas to us in a way that is consistent with her child-centered approach.
    I too am moving onto interests that are less focused on the kids. A natural transition at this point in life. Best wishes!

  4. says

    I have been reading your blog for about 4 years. Your projects constantly surprise and inspire me, so thank you!! And I think there is room on this blog for adult art and insights, just like you’re kids, your audience is growing up too.

  5. says

    congratulations on 5 amazing years, jean!!! i started my blog nearly 4 years ago, and i remember finding your blog just after i began, so i’ve been following your journey for a long while now, and so honored to do so! you are such an inspiration! i love what you say here about taking a break and about other topics of interest. last summer, i basically stopped blogging on paintcutpaste.com with the intention of rebirthing it into a more adult-oriented/mom-oriented creativity blog, especially since i only work with adults (and focus on moms) in my art therapy practice. i wanted the two to be congruent, but the blogging side hasn’t picked back up. it’s something i feel ‘guilt’ about at times, but i’m trying to give myself permission to take space. it is so nice to read your words here about how necessary taking space and time can be. my best to you as you move forward, and my gratitude to you for being here all along. xo.

  6. says

    Congratulations, Jean! You are an inspiration to me as a trying-to-be creative Mama to two girls, a creative person myself and as a blogger. I recently have been working through some new-to-me depression and I remembered some of your posts and they gave me hope, direction and inspiration to keep on, keepin’ on.
    In answer to your question, I think I have been clicking in for almost three years, off an on, mostly on lately. I’ve decided to only read blogs that make me feel good instead of those that aren’t very real and make me click away and feel bad about what I’m doing or not doing. I know, it’s ME and not them, but still. No fashion-oriented or how to have the perfect everything blogs anymore. Anyway, you’re in my daily Google reader.
    Thank you and bliggity, blog on! I’ll be here reading.
    p.s. so excited for you and your soon-to-be-published book too! April?

  7. says

    Congratulations on your anniversary! That’s fantastic! I just started reading your blog in the last few weeks. I just started my own blog three weeks ago, and in that time I’ve been amazed at all the beautiful blogs I’ve found — like yours. Thanks so much for all your tips today. It is quite intimidating to enter into this world of people who are so good at what they do. I’ll try to just be myself – like you said. A lesson we all know but need to be reminded of!

  8. says

    Jean,
    I am pleased to be consider myself among your “original” followers. I found you around the time I first discovered what a blog was! At the time my toddler art program was 7 years young, and now it’s approaching adolescence! (Just like my kids). :) I don’t know if you have seen this http://artinhand.org/2013/01/12/introducing-moms-night-out-with-art-in-hand/
    So funny how our minds have drifted in a similar direction. I think Molly has signed up for it. I so wish you could join us! I am very excited and energized by this new adventure, but also nervous. I KNOW what I am doing with the kiddos at this point. New is scary, but exhilarating.
    P.S. For what it’s worth, BEST ever book on nutrition: What’s Eating Your Child by Kelly Dorfman. Although it is geared toward children, it is informative and enlightening vis a vis adult issues as well. It addresses common physical, mental, and behavioral complaints, and unearths nutritional factors that may be the underlying cause.
    P.P.S. Keep on keepin’ on…in whatever way works for you!

  9. Lisa F. says

    I think I’ve been reading 4+ years. We met briefly in CH before you moved to Asheville through a mutual friend, and I can’t remember exactly when I found your blog. Creativity for myself is big on my to-do list, I’ve been reading Kelly Rae Roberts’ blog (http://kellyraeroberts.com/) about her art which has been inspiring. I too have had a copy of The Artist’s Way for years, but have never had the oomph to move forward with it. Was looking for a class around here, interested to hear how yours goes.
    Happy blogiversary!! I’m thankful for your work here, and for you sharing the personal stuff too.

  10. says

    Happy 5 years of blogging! I’ve been reading about that long I’m sure :) I have problems with allowing myself to do #4 earn money I always said I would never do it and so far I think I’m the only one who has taken the plunge and I really just need too :) I just might have to after reading it’s really not bad or taking away from the blog.
    I say go with your heart if you want to blog about other issues that are not art or kid related I’d still read them and your blog.
    My blog is Kid Lit and Kid art but sometimes I just got to let my inner foodie come out and post a recipe. I can pretend to be a foodie blog (I’d love a foodie blog but not all the work)

  11. Allison M says

    Just about a year! Your blog is so inspiring to me and gives me lots of ideas for “playing” and being creative with my 3 year old daughter .

  12. ania says

    Happy anniversary! Your blog have been great inspiration for me and my kids love it as well. This week we did melting ice with salt. I have been reading your blog for about 4 years.

  13. Alex says

    Probably at least 4 years. :) Thank you. I’ve been meaning to send you this list of AMAZING books for girls: http://libr.org/ftf/bloomer.html
    I do well with goals that are once a day, once a week, once a month, or once a year. Just a thought on branching out. Maybe you want to do one adult-oriented post a month?

  14. says

    Jean,
    I’ve been reading your blog from the start, I honestly think I must have found it a week or two after you started writing. Having a daughter of a similar age and having, myself, incredibly similar interests to you, the connection was instantaneous. I have gone through phases of blogging and blog reading as well, the blogging is incredibly sporadic, as is the blog reading, but your blog has always drawn me back even when I am not on the computer much. I sometimes miss a few days or a week but always read all the way back to where I left off. I can’t tell you how much I love what you do in this space – if you only knew all of the creativity you have inspired in me and my kids – it is truly something special. My kids know your (and your kids) as mommy’s friend on the computer. Thank you for all of these years, and I look forward to seeing what you do in the next years. I’m certain that, whatever it is, it will be spectacular. xoxo, m

  15. says

    For about 2-3 years now, and it’s always inspirational, Jean. You deserve a celebration!
    I think adding some parent art on here is a great idea. I thrive on doing my own art, more than my daughter does. I think a blend of both (even if art is loosely defined here) is very welcomed from this reader. ; )
    Thanks and congrats!

  16. Suzie says

    Hi Jean – congratulations on your anniversary! I’ve been reading for 3.5 years (from Australia). Your’s was the first (and favourite) blog i ever subscribed too – it feels like a constant companion and ‘friend’ in the world of mothering my three kids. I’d be interested in a adult’s creativity blog (no pressure) and feeling a little envious that you can do The Artist’s Way course in person. I’ve been writing morning pages on and off for about 10 years now (currently writing them religiously – they make such a difference!) but it feels more ‘indepth’ to attend a course. I’m just about to embark on my own Studio Practice course to pick up my artistic career again so whenever you’re ready to chat ‘adult art and creativity’ – i’ll be there!

  17. Cherye says

    I think I found you about four years ago. A little over three years ago, you posted about “art pen pals” for children. My three girls were matched up with pen pals, and two of those relationships are still going strong! We live in Pennsylvania, and one of my girls exchanges art with a girl in Scotland, and the other exchanges with a girl in San Francisco. We send art approximately once a month, but it has become even more than just the art. Thank you for this experience for my girls!

  18. says

    Dear Jean,
    I have been reading ypir blog since the very begining and I remember being so so sad when you stopped bloging, and then so so happy when you decided to continue! It is so obvious how much progress you have made, and how ypur blog changed and flourished in the past years. I wish all the best and more success in the years that come!

  19. says

    I’ve been a long time fan Jean, probably close to the 5 year mark and I’m happy to say over those years we have started to become friends. You have inspired me over the years to do many of the lessons you mention above, I have loved watching you grow and look forward to your new endeavors too! Its been such a joy following you on your journey. Love ya friend

  20. says

    Hi Jean!
    Happy blogaversary! I’ve been following you for about 3 years now (wow — where does the time go???). When my oldest child was just a toddler, YOU inspired me to start a toddler art group and were a role model for the kind of mom I wanted to be to my children. You’re a huge inspiration, both as a person and as a blogger, and I look forward to seeing what the next chapter of The Artful Parent looks like.
    xo, Rachelle

  21. says

    Hi Jean, I’m sort of new to blogging and to reading your blog, but I’m enjoying both. I love your children’s art ideas, your enthusiasm, and your honest, open blogging style. Glad you enjoy sharing with all of us. Best wishes on your creativity endeavors.

  22. says

    Happy 5 years! I don’t remember how I found your blog this past year, but I’m so happy I did. I don’t have children, but I teach kindergarten. Unfortunately art is not a huge priority at our school so I am constantly trying to foster my kids’ creativity, encourage them, and give them opportunities to create. It’s just so important. I love your blog. Thank you for sharing this post!

  23. Capucine says

    Off and on three years – since my first kid stopped eating crayons!
    I’ve often nearly emailed wanting to ask: What about YOUR art? In the tiny shed we’ve devoted to our art projects, I’ve really been hungry for an example of how another mom creates her own art in family life. What does the art space look like? When do you do it? How do you get your art to improve and stay creative?
    Mostly because I can’t figure out a table setup that works for us all so far. But also because there is nothing out there about parent artists…however humble and new, like me.

  24. Agnes says

    Hi Jean, and congratulations on your 5-year blog anniversary! I started reading your blog in 2008, after I read the Mothering magazine article about you starting a toddler art group. We’ve done many of your art projects. My favorite is printing with the brayer. We made my son’s birthday invitation using that method three years ago, and for his birthday thank you postcards last year. We also love the coffee filter watercolor snowflakes. The next thing I want to try is cherry handpies :). I just enjoy reading your blog and anything you talk about. Your honesty comes through in your writing and I love that. Please share what you think of The Artist’s Way workshop. I heard of the book from my son’s teacher a few years, but haven’t read it. Keep on doing what you love!

  25. Carly says

    Congratulations Jean! Thank you for years of inspiration. I’m not at all an artful person and my kids have benefitted greatly from your many wonderful ideas. I hope you enjoy many more years of love and enjoyment from this blog.

  26. says

    Beautifully written! The more authentic we are the greater impact we have. Thank you for sharing so deeply. After all that’s what we all crave isn’t it. The joy, the playful and creative mixed in with the real situations that creep up in life asking for our attention. Blessings to you on your journey Jean and I look forward to your blog evolution and growth as you continue to do so in your own life.
    Bottom line…We love you Jean, no matter what the topic!
    I’ve been reading you for about 4 or 5 years.
    With love, Heather

  27. Jennifer PM says

    Happy blogiversary! I’ve been reading for about a year, and have done a few projects with my toddler. Now that the baby is bigger and I’ve gotten a bit more organized at having 2 under 3 I want to do more. Thanks for all the inspiration, and hope you keep finding your own!

  28. Julie says

    I’ve been reading since before Daphne was born. I teach preschoolers who have special education needs and your blog is one of my favorite lesson plan inspirations (I also always share it with new teachers). I wanted to commend you for taking time to find balance with health (body and mental health). It can be SO hard. I also wanted you to know that most of us loyal readers will read about anything you write about –your blog is about so much more than just art. Thanks and take care
    Julie A

  29. Laura says

    Your blog has been on my to-enjoy list for a couple years now I think. Time flies, but it seems it was that long. I find myself enjoying the diversity of life and would enjoy seeing non-art posts sprinkled in the artful parent. Though I’d enjoy it if you just kept doing what you are doing, too – but I think one of the things I enjoy about your blog is how it reflects your interests and skills and if those are shifting, I imagine your passion and knowledge would be imparted genuinely as you explored other subjects as well, which would still make your blog a great read and resource.

  30. says

    Hi Jean. Congratulations on your anniversary. I’ve been reading your blog for about 3-4 years. My kids are a little older than yours, and I am so glad I found this beautiful space you’ve created and keep, because it’s always so very inspiring and so much fun. Thank you for being here sharing with all of us (the rest of the world!) Looking forward to more!

  31. Dena says

    Dear Jean,
    I have been following your blog since Naomi was about one. She couldn’t do much then but your blog inspired me and made me anxious to get started with her. I am lucky she is the same age as Daphne. You have brought out creativity in me that I knew I had but didn’t know how to find. And that’s just with doing projects with my daughter; I can only imagine how you could wake up my creativity if you posted adult art projects here and there.
    I don’t have a facebook, I don’t twitter and I only pinterest once in a while but was so pleased to find you exploring health and well being on pinterest lately. That is my passion and something I have been wanting to start my own blog about and possibly write an e-book. Seeing your interest makes me aware of the importance of sharing ones passion. Which you do so well!
    Congratulations on your anniversary and your success…….wishing you all the best on your journey of healing from the inside out.

  32. rachel says

    let’s see… justin (and later nathan) was in that first toddler art grp you led… we joined about 1 yr after it started… which is probably around the time i started reading your blog. that puts us at 5 yrs too, yes?
    and i used to have mixed opinions about blogs having paid sponsors.. but then i found myself often having those sponsors be my “go to” for creative and good quality gifts for my boys. your blog (and a few others) have pointed me in the direction of wonderful toys and supplies that we love in our home. the good stuff that never gets thrown out… that we all return to again and again. i’m not sure i would’ve found those small businesses if it weren’t for blog sponsorship. so bring it on!
    i look forward to the transition towards (or addition of) adult-focused crafting. i’m feeling the need to nurture that as well, so i look forward to going on that journey together!

  33. says

    I’ve had my copy for a while, too! I start the morning pages every now and again, but haven’t been good about sticking with them. I like the idea of a course to help keep me motivated and on track!

  34. says

    Oh, so sorry about your depression!! Can I recommend a book I read recently and thought helpful? Spontaneous Happiness by Dr. Andrew Weil
    And yes, the book release date is April 9th!

  35. says

    I’ve been reading your blog for 2 years, this month actually. It was the blog that inspired me to start my own blog based on the dance programs I run and my own ideas on early childhood development and creativity. One of my favourite things about your blog is how visually beautiful it is! Thank you for being such an amazing inspiration!

  36. says

    Hi Jean, I have read your blog very long time since you had the first child. Congrats your 5 years bloggging! It is so great to hear your voice & your passion about art for the kid. Being a working from home mom, is hard to squeeze the extra time to do the work. I felt it was really hard to find the same voice since i moved the new country. By the way, i am so glad that find the community via blogging. It is such a treasure. I will keep post to you what i am doing. Sometime, i can’t find my 4 yrs girl doesn’t sit very long time to colour or draw a picture,how can i make her sitting for awhile to finish her craft. I really want to my kiddos interesting art.
    Wishing you a all the best!

  37. says

    I just recently discovered your gem of a blog when I recieved a preview of your new book through Net Galley. I’m so excited for the book’s release. It is wonderful. I plan to share a glowing review on my blog in April as well as pictures of our own art studio that we are creating now. It’s all based on the inspiration from your new book. In fact, I just placed an order today from Discount Education Supply for all the art supplies you suggested starting out with. Your blog is amazing and full of wonderful ideas. It’s one of the first I read in my Google Reader. Congrats on 5 years. I look forward to reading whatever you have in store for readers. Best wishes!

  38. Danielle Feuer says

    Congratulations! I’ve been reading your blog for about 3 years. It truly inspires me as both a mom and an educator. As the asst. director of a nursery school, I often incorporate some of your projects/ideas into our curriculum. And of course, I do many of them at home with my own daughter!
    Thanks for all of you blood, sweat and tears! Looking forward to the next 5 years!

  39. says

    Happy Anniversary! Thanks for sharing all you’ve learned and all you love. I’ve been reading for about 2 years and have been very inspired. I’m an artist and former art teacher, and I really respect and appreciate what you’re doing. Thanks!! Keep going!

  40. April says

    I like making. I’m not a parent. I am a teacher. I’ve used a few idea’s in the classroom but most of things I’ve done from here are just for me because they are fun and I like doing them. Because the activities are for ‘kids’ I feel less threatened about just having a go. Things still don’t turn out how I want them to or how I expect them to (btw I think this is a big reason why people get discouraged and say ‘I can’t do Art’) and its frustrating; that’s ok. So in my mind you are already fostering creativity and artistic expression in adults. Thanks :)

  41. Rose says

    I’ve been with you since almost the beginning. My daughter is almost six, but Harry introduced me to Artful Parent when she was a newborn. I knew I wanted art to be a part of her childhood before she could hold her head up. Now I follow several other blogs as well, but you were my first, and for a long time, my only!

  42. says

    it is crazy… we all tend to “should” ourselves way too much! yes, perhaps down the road it’ll come to fruition. right now i just know that i’m mostly being called to focusing on building out my art therapy practice. sending you lots of blog-iversary love, creative lady!

  43. says

    i seriously think you’re reading my mind, jean… after i made that last comment reply above, i looked at your right “let’s connect” bar specifically to see if you’re on instagram yet and thought about how i so wish you were because your visuals are always so stunning. then i just checked my instagram newsfeed… :) :) :)

  44. says

    I’ve been following you since before you changed to your new blog. I’ve always been kind of jealous of your blog since you are doing exactly what I love but, not from an armchair. (I dont have little kids anymore and am not teaching anymore so I couldn’t keep doing all these projects and photographing them like you did)
    I have a masters in early childhood education from a very progressive school called Bank Street and I honestly think that your blog is probably the best in its category and I always send teachers and parents to it.
    What you said about creativity for us adults really hit home as I’ve always been thinking of somehow teaching moms to be creative at the same time as their kids are. Many of us want to give our kids these great experiences that we never had but, our creativity never takes off.
    About your health you should check out this book “It starts with food, the whole 30″, It was suggested to me and its really helped.(its the paleo diet but hos to do it strictly for 30 days and what it will do for you)
    Good luck