I'm currently facing a big decision: Do I continue running my Baby BIrd website? I started that website in the middle of October 2014 as my first venture into the art world. My intention for the website was to display and sell my art.
I thought it would be a fun addition to my website to have a section called, "Inspire Me." People could tell me their ideas and I would make them. I came up with my first theme of "Dinosaurs" and intended to leave it up for a month.
After a couple of weeks, I decided I would get more ideas if I changed the theme weekly. I felt my strength as an artist lied in my ability to create art quickly. I then ran with this, thinking that people could both submit an idea and select a charity. I would then make the resulting art available for purchase on my website and the proceeds would go to that charity.
I quickly ran into trouble when I couldn't figure out how to best sell things on my website. Who would print the items? Who would mail the items? Should I sell the art on different items? Would I keep an inventory? Should I only sell digital copies? Would people even want to buy quick cartoons anyway?
Eventually I decided that I couldn't get this idea off of the ground. I then chose to remove both the charity option and the store. Instead, I chose to use my weekly cartoons as a way to get my name out into the public and try different styles.
This worked to some point. As family and friends heard about my idea, the popularity of my website grew. The most ideas I created in one week was 21.
After that point, I decided I needed to shoot for getting different people to submit ideas, not just family and friend. I was getting ideas submitted weekly, but usually by the same people.
I turned to Facebook, creating a business page and allowing people to submit ideas there. I got a few more submissions that way, but overall, the growing interest and amount of submissions began to plateau.
This was also around the time that I began to feel that maybe quality was better than quantity. In January, I began a concerted effort to spend more time on each illustration. The goal was to focus on one a day. You can read about my change in approach in this blog post.
Over time though, The weekly submissions no longer seemed like much fun, especially because not that many people were submitting them. I began to not be as punctual with loading the artwork because I wasn't as excited.
I also became heavily involved in my own projects - the grief book, the piggie book, and painting on my own.
This happened at the same time that I discovered Instagram. Instagram is so much easier and effecient to use for posting my artwork. Furthermore, Instagram is more exciting because strangers can easily find my artwork. Instagram also allows me an outlet in which I can post all of the different projects I am working on. You can see all the artwork on my Instagram account here.
Thus, since using Instagram to post my artwork, I have done a very poor job of loading artwork onto my website. There are even some weeks that I didn't load any art (though I still created the work).
During this time, I also decided to create a website using my name. I decided to do this because of the illustrative book work I was created to make. I realized that if an individual bought the work, liked my artwork, and then looked up my name, they wouldn't necessarily find my website. Thus, I made a new website and created it to display all aspects of my art career - illustration, painter, and teacher.
In doing that, it solidified that my Baby Bird website is solely for the weekly illustrated art I create based on people's ideas.
However, the popularity of this and my own personal enthusiasm have plateaud so much that I wonder, is it worth continuing?
In evaluating this question, I've considered what my artistic goals are.
My artistic goals for the future include:
- Working with self-publishing artists as an illustrator
- Writing/Creating my own illustrated books for kids and adults
- Creating collections of paintings (basically a group of paintings that revolve around a singular theme) that will be showcased in exhibits
- Selling some of the pieces from the collections
- Teaching art classes
- Leading seminars/workshops in various parts of the country/world related to the topics I discuss in my books and address in my painting collections.
Thus, knowing those are my future goals, is there merit in continuing my website? Can it help me reach those goals?
From how I see it, the positives of continuing my website would include:
- Continuing to interact with a loyal group of people interested in my artwork
- Creating artwork that I wouldn't have thought to create on my own
- Having a venue to try different styles of art or different ideas
- If I choose to actually sell items, I already have a store/ecommerce section on my website that is active.
- Another option is to commit to doing three pictures for each theme of the week. I would set aside time to work on these pieces (increasing the quality) and then load them to the website. This could be a means to really showcase myself as an artist.
The positives of shutting down the website would include:
- I would have more time to focus on my other artistic endeavors. Time is valuable. Factored into the time is both creating the artwork, loading it to my website, creating new themes, and emailing with people.
- Continuously trying to think of a new theme and getting it all posted regularly is a bit stressful. If I shut the website down, it would eliminate this stress.
So, there comes a time with innovative ideas in which you face the question: Do I need to work harder or let this idea go?
It was my hope that in writing this blog post, I would come closer to an answer. I think I shall now pass the question on to my loyal followers for input. If you have thoughts, please let me know!