January 3, 2015

One Year!

Exactly one year ago today I started Charpology! Which I've been nicknaming "the first Charpiversary".
Prepare your self for a long trip down memory lane. 
I have been an avid blog reader for years and considered starting one myself for quite some time before I finally wrote my first post. Before I could begin my blog there were a few things I had to decide; the name, the content, the design and how I was going to execute all of the above.
The Name:
I knew I wanted to name my blog something personal that wouldn't end up being embarrassing like a past instant messenger screen name (likewoahhcourt). My assigned school usernames have always had "C.Harp" in them and at some point along the line, my friends and classmates began calling me "Charper" or "Charp". The funny thing is, I always respond to just about anything people call me besides "Miss. Harper", I swear I'l never get used to that, but "Charp" just had a ring to it and I kept going back to it when I was naming this blog.
My freshman year of college, I decided to start a Tumblr to share my photography called "Charpography". It was a combination of "Charp" and "photography" and there was just something I really liked about it. I originally thought I was going to use the same name for my blog but thought it would be confusing to refer to my personal photography page and my blog by the same name and I wasn't loving how it looked when I was writing the header. So I began looking up various suffixes and their meanings and seeing how they looked and sounded with "Charp" and if I felt the meaning made sense with my desired content. I landed on "-logy" a branch of learning or study of a particular subject. That was my exact plan for this blog, to create a study of a particular subject- my personal life.
The Content:
Right off the bat there were a few things I knew I wanted to cover; Personal Style, DIYs, and Personal Art.
I had to consider how I was going to go about showing these things without being exactly like every other blogger I've followed while still creating quality content. There were a lot of trial and errors, I'll spare you the excessive details but for one, I had to get used to being in front of the camera. Growing up, I was always behind the camera because there was something so magical to me about darkroom photography and then the ability to manipulate photographs in Photoshop. But having someone else take pictures of you is completely different and honestly, it was super weird for someone as awkward as myself. But having Bailey, my mom, Kyle, and other friends photograph me made it A LOT more comfortable.
Over the last year, I really tried to get creative with my content (especially when I didn't have a photographer) by adding new features and trying to keep things as fresh and true to me as I could. I introduced Photo Diaries because I like to take pictures of my daily life and wanted to share them with others.  Then I created "pupdates" because my family rescued Lily this past year and I wanted to document her and Macey's interactions with us and each other.
Then my education courses required us to create an eportfolio showing us as an artist and educator and I began thinking about how important it was to me to make that a part of this blog. This blog is a digital resume for me and is a better depiction of myself as a person and possible employee than any single sheet of paper could ever be. I added teacher features such as: My Teaching Philosophy, my personal Lesson Plans, Student Work for those lessons, and how I dressed during my early field aka "Teacher Style".  I was (and still am) extremely happy with my decision to incorporate these features as a part of my personal blog despite the downright shocking critique I received from some of my fellow classmates and future educators. Yes, I really do want my future employers to see this site. No, I would not be embarrassed one bit and truly do believe it is necessary to continue posting cellphone pictures and "selfies" and do not believe that makes me unprofessional. Though I did still take the feedback into consideration.
That being said, I continued to create more personal content since then such as Sister Style, Family pictures, Gift Guides, and (as of yesterday) His and Hers Style.
The Design:
The design was probably the easiest part for me going into this blog. I knew I wanted something simple and descriptive of me. I decided on handwritten fonts because as an artist and future educator, I'm always scribbling handwritten notes to myself around my lessons, class notes, and sketches. Black and white was because it's the most user-friendly due to the high contrast and it's simple, exactly what I wanted. I added the social media "ink blots" because I am very messy. In high school, I had to sit by and work over the sink whenever I was using liquid materials- it was best for everyone, especially the poor tables. I also love creating things out of recycled materials (i.e. trash) and messes which felt appropriate. I added the green accents in the links and drop down menu (currently under construction, again) because green is my favorite color and I wanted something bright and fun. I am currently working on a few new designs and features and can't wait to share them this year.

The execution became second nature over time. I created content, chose the best images, then wrote the post over a day or two so I didn't feel too rushed. Taking notes and planning was a huge part for me.

I have loved writing this blog and creating content over the past year, especially because I've gotten to work with my friends and family and even a few companies. I was nervous about the negative feedback I would potentially receive for some reason, but really, the positive outweighs the negative and there is always room for improvement.
Thank you for your feedback over the past year, I have loved "meeting" so many of you and receiving your feedback in person and online. I would still write this blog even if no one followed, but it's always great to know there are some other people out there with similar interests following along. I can't wait to see how Charpology continues to grow.

Thanks for reading the lengthy explanation of how this blog came to be and how it has evolved.

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