Friday, October 19, 2012

The Overanxious Horse Owner Gets Overanxious About Social Media

I've entered a phase of social media usage that I didn't anticipate entering.  I don't know quite how I feel about it.... so I'll just talk about it.

I started this blog on a whim.  The lady I bought Junior from asked me, during my first test ride, if I read "Fugly Horse of the Day".  I didn't know what she was talking about, but I checked it out and started following the blog.  I don't think I even knew what a blog was.  Fugly was already a popular blog back in August of 2008, but it hadn't hit the crazy troll-infested weirdness that happened towards the end of Fugly's authorship. If you don't know what I'm talking about just consider blissfully unaware.  I still can't get it off my reading list, no matter how many times I unfollow it... but that's another store.

Anyway, discovered that many of the commenters had blogs, too and before long I had figured out to create a reading list of my favorite blogs.  When I finally decided to buy Junior, it was a few days before we were able to pick him up and bring him back to his waiting stall.  I was out of my mind and I needed to vent.  So without any idea what I was doing, I started a blog.  I didn't have a goal, I didn't have a style in mind, I just wanted to write down what I was thinking/feeling and hoped it would help me process the very anxiety-producing act of buying my first horse.

For some strange reason I began receiving "followers".  I admit being kind of excited but also confused why anyone would actually make a point to read what I was writing.  I admit, when I felt compelled to comment on other blogs, I'd plunk my URL into the end of the comment.  I saw lots of other people doing it so I didn't think it was bad etiquette.  I DO think it's bad etiquette if you comment on somebody's blog ONLY to promote your own blog.  I've had people do that on my blog and I deleted them.  But I never really saw myself TRYING to get more readers.

Then I was contacted by a sign company (link on right hand side) who offered me free product in exchange for a tiny link on my blog.  I had no idea why I would want blog promotion products, so I had my monogram done.  I ended up not liking how they came out so they sent me better ones AND I used their software to design bumper stickers after they sent me a sample design and offered those as well.  There's one on my car and one on my parents car and I gave the rest to readers.

Then I was contacted by a marketing company offering MONEY in exchange for a storefront to be placed on my blog.  MONEY?!?!  Um, okay! Yay!!!! The blog begins to pay me!  And they came to ME!

I have a Pinterest account.  I started the account to keep track of images I was using for theatre shows I was designing.  Then I started putting show clothes on there... Then I started searching for show clothes in there and I found things from my blog Pinned by other people! They will, of course, link back to my blog if the reader clicks on the picture enough times.  So I started pinning my own things on my own Boards, well, heck, if people like them, I'd like them to have a direct line to me.  There are pins of my show clothes and my Tack Box.  So I pinned them too.  I always try, when I pin, to list the designer or the website on the note.  So many people will look at a pin, and maybe even like it or repin it, but very few will ever go back to the original source.

I do sell clothing from time to time (see the new tab For Sale at the top of the blog) so I do want SOME traffic coming through.  If traffic can help me sell clothes and increase my clientele, that would be great!

Then comes this Hobby Horse Facebook contest. (Thanks for the votes!  We were in the lead for a few hours but have been greatly overtaken.  Hopefully there's still a chance the Hobby Horse employees will vote for me!  Last year's winner didn't receive the most votes, either.)  I found myself Pinning the jacket from my blog (couldn't pin from Facebook) and adding the URL to the facebook page of the contest.... WHAT!?!?!  I'm using Pinterest to drive traffic to my blog AND this facebook contest.  Whoa.  Slow down.  Check yourself before you wreck yourself, Cowgirl.

Those of you who read Mugwump Chronicles have surely read her latest post on dealing with internet bullies.  It's a good read. I found Mugs' blog right after the Fugly blog. She was kind enough to answer one of my behavior questions about Mouthy McMouthypants and it really helped.  I admire her very much.  Mugs took over the Fugly blog when Cathy (the original Fugly) left.  She didn't stay long and I don't blame her.  Why is the internet so full of bullying?  What kind of culture are we incubating that thinks cyber-assholeness is somehow more okay that in-person assholeness.  I remember learning the lesson not to say anything ABOUT a person that you wouldn't say to their face.  It's a good policy to have and I think it could definitely apply to the shield the internet seems to give us.

So here I am.  Have I opened myself up to the kind of traffic I don't want?  I've been pretty lucky that you all seem to humor my mistakes and are quick to offer praise and congratulations when things go well.  Will I start to get nasty anonymous comments about my grammar?  My riding posture?  My horse care philosophies?  Will somebody come tell me I'm a horrible person because I relented and use a fake tail?  Yes I KNOW it probably came from a slaughtered horse.  But I do believe USING all parts of an animal is better than not... it does still make me sad.  But as I say about the vintage furs in our stock: if it had lived a long natural life it'd be dust by now, but instead we get to honor it for a very long time. But I digress...  If the trolls come, will I be able to fend them off? Will it change the blog into something I don't want?

I don't know what is next for us here at the Diary of the Overanxious Horse Owner.  I know that anything I put on the internet, yes even my "private" facebook profile, is fair game and I've known that from the beginning.  As far as my designs are concerned, there is no Intellectual Property Law, it's too much of a grey area and we're a long way from usable guidelines. This is why I shouldn't publish my designs, only finished products. This is also why I didn't show you the whole jacket until it was posted by Hobby Horse.  So I just hope that I can imagine the ooohs and wows that caused someone to pin something from my blog.  I feel honored to be pinned, after all, even when I don't know it.

4 comments:

  1. This is all so familiar to me; every time I post I can't help but think "Am I OK with everyone knowing this? Like, EVERYONE everyone?"

    I think you're doing a great job. Here's what I tell myself: if what I'm posting is honest, humble and could maybe encourage another novice amateur, then I think we're all doing something good.

    And for the record, I 100% support your fake tail stance. Gosh I love the look of a full tail LOL.

    Best of luck in the HH contest! I voted for you, and hope the HH employees do too!

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  2. I feel your anxiety! So far, I have found the blogging community to be pretty supportive and helpful. I did a guest post on SnarkyRider and got pretty good comments, some negative, but mostly positive.

    I think the more you "get out" there, it draws trolls and the anonymous nature of the internet makes it easier to be mean. And some people have nothing better to do than that, so sad for them.

    Personally, I enjoy the blogs I read. I feel like I really know some of the horses and people that I have never even met. The advice and support I have gotten has been helpful too.

    Keep up the good work! And good luck in the contest!

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  3. For the most part, I've found that the blogging community seems to be one of the rare friendly and supportive corners of the internet (aside from places like Fugly but I think places like that can invite nastiness). Now forums on the other hand...I completely avoid those these days. I used to be a real forum junky but the trolls seem to own those now. It is crazy how cruel the internet can be. I've often read things that just make me ask, who are these people??? And who raised them to be like this?! It's sad.

    As for your fake tail, I wish we could use fake tails in Arabian land! I often think it's the kinder solution to all of the wrapping and bagging and other hoops we jump through to tease out a few more inches of growth. Although as one person put it once, the way Arabian people tend to do things to the extreme, we'd probably have these huge bushy tails dragging 6 feet on the ground if fake tails were allowed lol. Guess we're stuck with braiding and vetrap!

    Sadly Facebook is one of the corners of the internet I've opted to avoid so I can't vote for you but I do love your design! Good luck!!!

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  4. As some may know, I have my own small business in jewelry. So I started a Facebook account for the business, a blog for the business, and a website. I keep my horse blog out of it all (even though it has the most followers) because I know people are following that one for the horse content, not for advertisements. But I too have started using Pinterest as more "networking" for my pieces, but I feel that its a bit tacky to upload items currently for sale, on on the Pin account I only upload my pieces that have been sold. I think it works out because it still shows examples of what I have made and are capable of, but doesnt ram stuff down people's throats. I HAVE added a "watermark" to all the photos I upload because I have actually found other people posting and linking my work without the original link still functional, so thats my recommendation to you to watermark your images

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