Hi, everyone! Welcome to A Typical Craft Blog. Thanks for stopping by! Below you’ll find a few posts that go into depth about some of the topics surveyed over at the Craft Book Project. Alicia and I hope these posts spark conversation in the comments, and we look forward to hearing what you think.
Click on the link below About Me to learn more about me, A. Typical, a craft blogger based on the results of the Craft Book Project survey. You can also follow me on Twitter, @typicalcrafter. In the meantime, happy crafting!
Race is always a sticky issue. I was curious about race in the craft blogosphere because the “digital divide” has been an ongoing issue. Unlike how I thought the craft blogosphere would be a feminist haven, I went into the study thinking that I’d find mainly white bloggers. This is because the blogs I follow religiously, like not martha, and One Pretty Thing, and ECAB, happen to be written by white women.
Of the bloggers I surveyed, about 85% identified as white or Caucasian. I have a few concerns about this data.
First, I worry that this was a self-fulfilling prophecy. Am I somehow plugged into the white crafty blogosphere because I’m a white crafter? Did the internet segregate itself before I got there?
Second, are there other craft blogs that I don’t know about because my aesthetics are too narrow? It may be that the kinds of blogs I found were not representative of all craft blogs. I talked about this in the previous post about religion, as well.
Supposing the data I found was some reasonable estimate of the craft blogosphere, it is interesting to compare to the US as a whole. 72% of Americans are white, almost 13% are African-American, almost 5% are Asian, and 16% are Hispanic (thank you Census Bureau and Wikipedia). So, it would seem from my survey that whites are, in fact, overrepresented in the craft blogosphere.
Since I’m white, I asked a few non-white bloggers if they thought about race, and if so, how they felt. Tori had this to say:
I think about race a lot as it pertains to blogging. I feel like I haven’t found or connected with a lot of African-Americans in the blogging community, especially in the craft blogosphere. It does feel a bit lonely at times. I think the majority of my readers are Caucasian so sometimes there are things that I want to talk about on my blog that they might not understand so sometimes I tend to shy away from certain topics. Other times I just go for it. But at the end of the day my ultimate goal is be able to feel comfortable blogging about whatever is on my mind, especially as it pertains to my ethnic background and the things that interest me as an African-American woman. I would like my readers to appreciate my ethnic background, my culture, as well as my upbringing. Whatever stereotype they may have I hope that when they stop by to read my blog they will think differently about it.
Aside from being incredibly thoughtful, Tori’s thoughts articulate some of what we might be missing by having a less-diverse blogosphere. Not everyone feels the sense of inclusion and connectedness we often talk about in the crafty world.
I’d like to hear what other white and non-white bloggers have to say. Do you think about race at all when you blog? How do you think race has affected the blogosphere?
Alicia here again. After some thought about what I set out to find, I’m moving on to what I actually found in the craft blogger survey I took last summer. Interestingly, a religious population was overrepresented: members of the Church of Latter-Day Saints, commonly known as Mormons. LDS people make up 1.7% of Americans, but represented about 8% of craft bloggers surveyed.
On the other hand, only 62% of craft bloggers surveyed practice any religion, compared with 83% of the general population. So, craft bloggers as a whole appear to be less religious and at the same time, more Mormon, than the general population.
I would like to state here my nervousness about finding only a certain kind of blogger—the kind whose blog looks a certain way, and is easy to identify as a craft blog. I’m being very candid here; when I looked for craft blogs, I was trying to decide quickly if a blog was a craft blog or not. It was very easy to spot the craft blogs that looked like this template for WordPress. I’m not saying that if a blog looks like this, it is written by an LDS blogger, but rather that in my search, this type of blog was the norm. Was my sample space too narrow? I’m not sure. This question has implications for the discussion about race to follow, as well.
Still, I found the religion numbers fascinating—probably because I have a fascination with religion. But regardless, these numbers are not easily ignored. A little google-ing revealed that there’s a whole population of LDS bloggers who live in the “Bloggernacle” (check out an aggregate site of them here).
At least a few of them overlap with craft bloggers–and feminist bloggers, as it happens. I found a collaborative blog called Feminist Mormon Housewives. This is the reason I got into this topic in the first place: blogging is giving us options we never even knew existed, ladies! Or perhaps merely making voices louder that have in fact been around for years.
I got in touch with a few of the craft bloggers who happened to be LDS and asked why they thought there might be a connection between craft blogging and their church.
I asked Kim why she thinks there is a large population of LDS bloggers, and what about blogging appeals to LDS women, and in particular, to her. She wrote:
I think the appeal is that we want to be stay-at-home moms (or at least I do). My mom was a stay at home mom and I loved knowing that as soon as I got off the bus she would be there with a homemade snack. So I knew I wanted to be one… but I still needed a hobby and this was just the perfect outlet for me. I can craft when my kids are at school and blog when then go to sleep…there is no pressure to post every day, so if a kid gets sick I can do the mom thing and not the blogger thing. Mommy always comes first and blogging just fits in the cracks.
This doesn’t directly relate to being LDS, but it reveals that the reasons this particular LDS woman chose to blog are some of the common reasons non-LDS moms choose to blog.
Another LDS blogger, Kristyn, pointed to other reasons:
I think there are a lot of LDS bloggers because a lot of us have been taught since our youth to be creative and frugal. Since that is ingrained so much into who we are there are people like me and other bloggers who want to share what we have done or learned with others in case they don’t know how to be creative or frugal.
Being creative has some importance in the LDS church. The Second Counselor of the First Presidency wrote this letter to all LDS women in 2008. It talks quite a bit about creativity, and has some uplifting words that any creative or struggling creative person might like to hear:
The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before.
Everyone can create. You don’t need money, position, or influence in order to create something of substance or beauty.
Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty—and I am not talking about the process of cleaning the rooms of your teenage children.
What you create doesn’t have to be perfect. So what if the eggs are greasy or the toast is burned? Don’t let fear of failure discourage you. Don’t let the voice of critics paralyze you—whether that voice comes from the outside or the inside.
If you still feel incapable of creating, start small. Try to see how many smiles you can create, write a letter of appreciation, learn a new skill, identify a space and beautify it.
The letter goes on to mention Brigham Young, one of the founders of the LDS church in Utah:
Nearly a century and a half ago, President Brigham Young spoke to the Saints of his day. “There is a great work for the
Saints to do,” he said. “Progress, and improve upon and make beautiful everything around you. Cultivate the earth, and cultivate your minds. Build cities, adorn your habitations, make gardens, orchards, and vineyards, and render the earth so pleasant that when you look upon your labors you may do so with pleasure, and that angels may delight to come and visit your beautiful locations…”
So there appears to be a history of encouraging creativity for LDS women. That’s pretty cool! And could also explain why so many LDS women end up crafting.
Kari, another LDS blogger, said that blogging might be related to “the journaling aspect” of the LDS church or the habit of keeping records. Journaling is a habit encouraged by the Church of Latter Day Saints; there’s even guidelines and Bible verses that reinforce journaling as a habit on the LDS website. And as for keeping records, Mormons have the largest collection of genealogical records in the country. The tradition of writing things down is alive and well in other aspects of LDS faith, and it appears to transfer easily to the craft blogosphere.
All this to say: there are a lot of LDS craft bloggers, and I think there are reasons why. It would be interesting to look into other religions who were represented in the survey and find connections to craft blogging in them, too. If you practice a religion, do you find connections between your faith and the habit of craft blogging?
Alicia here. I started this project because I believed that craft blogging was the fourth wave of feminism. I’m a proud feminist. As I sit here at my computer in my running clothes listening to Maroon 5, the proud soon-to-be-graduate of a writing program that allowed me to teach freshman in college, I realize that many if not all of these things were closed to my grandmother and great-grandmother. Running was unacceptable for women in the US as late as the late 60s (have you heard of Kathrine Switzer? She’s one of my running heros). College was not an option for many women in the 50s, much less graduate school, and women are still closing the gender gap in academia.
And I’m not any “less” of a feminist because I have a thing for Adam Levine, like a woman who chooses to stay at home isn’t any less of a feminist for exercising her right to choose. I can listen to singers of soulful songs about heterosexual romantic relationships because of third wave feminism: it’s my choice. My mother’s generation could choose to work or stay at home, at least legally. I expect one day to choose to stay at home to take care of my children, and then choose to go back to work. Other women choose to stay home long enough to give birth, stay home permanently, or not have children at all. I hope that by the next generation, all of these options will be available to all women, and not only those lucky enough to have excellent health insurance and maternity leave options.
This is why I thought craft blogging was feminist: it is a set of new solutions for women. It offers them more choices. They can work from home by blogging with ads, or selling patterns on their blogs, or making crafts to sell on Etsy and linking to them from their blogs. They can review items for pay on their blogs. They can network with other bloggers and create joint ventures—websites, brick-and-mortar businesses. There are many, many ways to make money from a blog that allow women to be flexible and do other things that are important to them: staying home with children, for instance.
On the other hand, there are plenty of good things about craft blogging that have nothing to do with money. Craft blogging is a creative outlet. It connects craft bloggers who may not have any crafty local friends with crafty people from around the country and the world. It gives some purpose when they’re taking care of children running amok. For others, it offers an escape from a busy work day. For others, it is both.
In fact, the survey I took last summer found that most women don’t make money from their craft blogs. Less than a third of craft bloggers surveyed—only 23%—make any money at all from blogging. 10% of craft bloggers make more than $50 from their blogs each month; 7% make less. 2.5% of craft bloggers don’t know how much money they make from their craft blogs (a few bloggers chose not to answer how much they made). Money is a priority of a very few; even if all 23% are trying to make more money, that leaves three-quarters of the craft blogging sample who haven’t tried to make any at all.
What makes this more interesting is that 71% of craft bloggers surveyed considered their blogs successful. There is zero correlation between money earned and success; craft bloggers measure their blogs in other ways. One blogger wrote the reason she thought her blog was successful was “I have regular readers who often leave very positive comments.” Another said “I enjoy doing it” and another wrote, “I have met many new people and communicate with them frequently.” Another blogger noted that it “helped [her] become more creative and set goals for knitting and writing.” “It provides me with a link to the crafty community and an avenue to share my creations and thoughts,” offered another.
A few themes come up over and over: enjoyment and encouragement. People reading and commenting is affirmation for many crafters to continue posting. The fact that they are contributing to a community seems to be a marker of success, more than getting money in return.
Comments count as currency, something Sister Diane (aka Diane Gilleland) blogged about over on Craftypod. Sister Diane advocated for “active witnessing” by commenting on others’ blogs and giving feedback via social media. When I first read it, I didn’t quite buy it. Are comments really enough? Are we selling ourselves short because as women, we don’t expect to be paid? But I’ve revised my view on this because of the survey. Comments provide affirmation and encouragement and keep craft bloggers blogging and crafting. Clearly, they are enough.
Though I believe craft blogging as an outlet for creativity and alternative income avenue is inherently feminist, I was surprised that craft bloggers didn’t mention this. No one surveyed said that they blog because they are feminist or because they feel this is part of a feminist movement. That doesn’t mean it’s not still feminist; however, I wonder if some craft bloggers would balk at this label. There are some traditionally-minded women who blog precisely for the reasons I mentioned above; craft blogging is a flexible hobby and/or job that allows you to work at home. If I were trying to find women who didn’t like to be called feminists, it seems to me they might be found here. This is ironic, because I had myself convinced that this population was going to be uniformly super-feminist.
This is tricky territory and I’m worried about stepping on anyone’s toes. I’m trying to articulate that there are some craft bloggers who would prefer to not be called “feminist”; I could be one-hundred percent wrong about this. I’m just curious. I asked A. Typical what she thought and she said that if I wanted to find out what crafters thought about feminism, I should have asked them.
Fair enough! What do you think?