Happy Blogger, Sad Blogger, Mad Blogger

When I started this blogging adventure I didn’t really know what to expect.  I figured I’d talk about cookies and cross my fingers that people might just be interested enough to read what I wrote.  Isn’t it kind of funny when you look back and laugh at the old naive you that had no idea what you were getting into?

Turns out, blogging is like real life.  There are ups and downs, highs and lows, and everything in between.  And while most experiences are positive and encouraging, every once in a while I have a bad day.

To be honest, I made these cookies almost eighteen months ago which is about how long it took me to gather enough man parts to speak my mind.  What can I say? I’m a lover not a fighter.  I’d rather people like me than not and I definitely don’t want to make people mad.  But there comes a time to say what you need to say out of respect for yourself and the people around you.  Today just happens to be my day.

Happy Face Cookies

Happy Blogger

Having a blog has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever experienced.  I’ve invested in blood, sweat, and tears {okay, not so much blood but I have been burned} and the return has been overwhelmingly positive.  Here are some of my most favorite things about having a blog:

1. Inspiring Others

For me this was the best unexpected perk.  I knew that I liked cookies and I knew that I liked making people smile, but never in a million years did I imagine how fulfilling it would be to hear another person say, “you have helped me so much” or ” I never thought I could do this until I found your site”.  Hearing things like that make me feel like I’m making a difference in the world that goes way beyond cookies.

2. Meeting New People

Three or four years ago, I’d have told you that having Internet friends was CRAZY {right Manti}…but believe it or not, I’ve met some of my closest friends online.  Though I’m often alone during the day, I never feel lonely.  I’m just thankful to live in an age that friends are only a click away.

3.  Being Inspired

When it comes to cookie decorating, I have learned so much from others.  I can honestly say if it weren’t for Flickr, I wouldn’t be where I am today.  Looking at what others create is not only fun, it inspires me to be the best cookier I can be.  I love looking at another cookier’s design and having a light bulb moment.  Can you imagine how much longer it would have taken to develop our skills if we’d all had to figure these things out on our own?!  I truly believe sharing makes us all better decorators regardless of experience or skill level.

4.  Having a Creative Outlet

I chose to be a stay at home mom because when it’s all said and done nothing matters more than being around for my kids.  But when you have a brain that is always in hyperdrive you need focus.

Having a cookie blog works well for me because it allows me to be artistic but requires discipline, following a schedule, and finishing the projects that I start, none of which are my strong points.

5. Having a job that allows me to be a mom first

I kind of said this already but I thought it needed a little expanding {expansion, whatever}.  I’m fortunate enough that my husband could support our family if necessary.  However, it makes me feel good to know  that I can help out a little {income wise} while still being able to drop what I am doing and take my six-year old to the ER when he cracks his head open at school {true story}.  Blogging is probably not going to make me a millionaire {which is highly overrated, I hear} but it’s rewarding to make a little money doing things that I would probably do anyhow.

6.  A cookie community that encourages and uplifts one another

This is probably my favoritist thing of all.  When I started there wasn’t a whole lot of information available on the subject of cookie decorating.  My mom suggested I join Flicker and it was there that I met people like The CookieArtisan, The Barefoot Baker, Cookie Crazie, The Polka-Dot Zebra, Glorious Treats, Ali-Bee’s Bake Shop  Montreal Confections, Sweet Landa, Cancun Cookies, The Partiologist, and many many more.  Over time, as we shared our work we began to develop a mutual respect for one another which led to sharing.  Soon we were growing exponentially in skill and in number.  Then, in the blink of an eye there was a community of cookie decorators where there wasn’t before.

At this point our community has grown so large and accomplished it’s a little hard for me to keep track, but I am am super proud of the men and women that make up our expanding group and I hope that it continues to grow.

7.  Comments and nice emails

That’s pretty self explanatory.  In my early days of blogging comments and emails were about the only way I knew anyone was paying attention.  Now, I totally get it if ya don’t comment every time I post, ESPECIALLY if you read multiple blogs.  I just wanted to say that even if I don’t always answer, I see every single comment and email {eventually} and they mean the world to me!

8. When people use my tutorials

I put my tutorials on the Internet for people who want to learn cookie decorating but don’t know where to start.  When I post ideas and designs I fully expect people to copy them.  Did you hear that?  I WANT YOU TO COPY MY COOKIES!  I mean, how silly would it be me to share step-by-step instructions only to wag my finger and say, “but you may not recreate my design!”

Ultimately my hope is to give readers enough confidence to go from imitation to inspiration until ultimately they don’t need me anymore {well maybe a LITTLE, LOL}.

I would like to mention, however, not everyone feels this way.  Especially decorators who rely on cookies as their primary source of income.  It’s hard to get a feel for people’s opinion on duplication until you know them or worse, cross them .

A good rule of thumb is to ALWAYS ASK before duplicating a design.  Often you’ll get a flattered yes and sometimes a no.  Every once in a while you might even encounter a “Hell no, don’t ever ask me again,”.  It may sting a bit, but at least you know where you stand before unwittingly getting into a nest of hornets.  Above all, whether you agree or not, you must respect the answer whatever it may be.

Sad Face Cookies

Sad Blogger

As much as I hate to admit it, I am a softie.  My Mamaw always said I wear my heart on my sleeve and it’s true.   I am much more likely to get hurt feelings than to become angry when issues arise so, of course, there are a few things about blogging that make me sad.

1. Public criticism

I think Kristan said it best.  If I am standing in front of a crowded room and you come and whisper that my zipper is down, I’ll be grateful to you for the rest of my life.  Yell it loud enough that everyone stops and gawks?  Well that’s just rude.

I’m not perfect, I make mistakes, my spelling leaves much to be desired, and I sure as heck make more than my fair share of typos.  The bottom line is, despite my shortcomings  we can all use a little mercy from time to time.  If it REALLY bothers you that I misspell “Seuss” {which spell check doesn’t catch, BTW} or if I accidentally transpose a few cutters in a post, whisper it nicely, or better yet send me an email.  The problem gets fixed without me walking around humiliated because the whole world knows that I can’t spell.

2. Mean, hateful comments

I truly believe there’s a lot to be said for having a filter.  There are all different kinds of people in the world but I am pretty sure all of us grew up with a little exposure to the concept of “if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all”.

A person’s blog is kind of like their home in a way.  I would never barge into your home and insult your decor or the way live, so when you visit my “house” I expect the same kind of respect.

So what if you don’t like my paint?  When you come visit  I will do everything in my power to make you feel at home.  I would hope that the effort is appreciated even if we don’t do things the exact same way.

Mean comments can range anywhere from “why did you change your background to that awful white” or “I have no interest in cutesie elementary school icons” to things I can’t even type.  But let me say this, mean comments always devastate me hurt my feelings and they’re not welcome here.  So, seriously, if you can’t say something nice, this probably isn’t the best place for you to hang out.

 3. The comparison monster

The sad thing about the comparison thing, is that it’s something we do to ourselves.  Admiration can quickly turn into feelings of inadequacy if we’re not mindful of our thoughts {there’s a little Jedi wisdom for you}.  Even the best of the best are susceptible to this type of feelings.  Seriously.  Did you know models tend to be some of the most insecure people on earth?

Anywho, all I can say about comparison is this.  Wouldn’t it be a boring world if all our cookies were exactly the same?  Every single person has something to bring to the table.  Embrace this and the possibilities are endless.  Fall into the comparison trap and it will steal every ounce of joy that cookie decorating can bring.  The end.

4. MINE, MINE, MINE

My frustration with this phenomenon seems to have grown with the ever expanding cookie community.  Once upon a time there were so few decorators that there were plenty of “new” ideas.  And by “new”, I mean “new” to cookies not new to mankind.

These days, with so many people trying their hand at decorating. overlap is a lot more common.  There will always be multiple interpretations of various themes, especially when it comes to holidays, major events, party supplies, and all other occasions that people celebrate with cookies.

Seems pretty logical, but humans have a knack for complicating things.   These common icons occur again and again, yet people still get angry over stolen ideas.  Bottom line is not every single idea can be interpreted beyond what it is, nor should it be.

So, do me a favor.  If you make ladybug cookies and shortly thereafter another cookier makes them too, give them the benefit of a doubt and let it go {this does not apply to direct copies, in which case I recommend asking first or at the very least crediting}.

If we don’t get a handle on this it could get very messy.  I for one am not interested in a hobby where I have to Google every idea that crosses my mind.  Are you?

Angry Face Cookies

Mad Blogger

1. Do not hijack others FB or blog to pimp your own posts

Okay, this doesn’t really make me mad, it’s more irritating than anything else.  If you make or write something great, don’t use my space {meaning my Facebook page or blog} to pimp yourself.  It’s rude.  The best way to get noticed is to work hard and make something awesome…not to piggy back off others.  In the long run you’ll be proud of yourself knowing that you earned your keep.

If you’re convinced you have come up with something so earth shattering that it begs to be seen, email me.  Better yet, join a weekly linky party like Tidymom’s “I’m Lovin’ It”, where pimping your posts is welcome and encouraged.  You’re much more likely to be recognized while sharing in this manner than by plastering a link to your latest blog  post across someone else’s Facebook page.

2. Rude emails

I admit it.  I suck at email.  When I open my inbox and I see all those messages it makes me sleepy and overwhelmed.  Sometimes I put important things in a folder only to lose them in a sea of new messages.  This is my weakness and I have missed several opportunities because of my poor email management skills.  I try and fail daily.  It’s not because I don’t care, I’m just not good at it.  But really I do try.

That being said, as frustrating as I know I can be mean emails are never ever acceptable. If get an email with “YOU SUCK” in the subject line, of course I’m going to open it.  But as soon as I get to the part about me ruining your cookies because I didn’t answer an emergency question, I’m going to hit delete.

3.  Tutorial Copycats

I’ll just keep this short.  I work hard on my tutorials.  It’s a painfully long process to stop in between every single step to take a {nice} photo, which is why I get kinda miffy when people use my instructions to make the very same cookie then reproduce my post, photo by photo, step-by step.

I guess as a blogger consider my tutorials more of my “portfolio” than the cookies, and therefore, I’m a little more protective of them.  My advice is that if you use someone’s tutorial go ahead and post your creation with a link to the original.  It’s less work for you {because who wants to go through all that if they don’t have to} and it’s also a great way to let someone else know they’ve done something good.

To be clear, I’m talking about blatant reproduction of a specific tutorial, not making different cookies using the same technique.

For example, once upon a time I made bunny impression cookies.  If that inspires you to post tutorial on heart impression cookies, great, I’ve never done such a thing.  But make the exact same bunnies and you’ve crossed into the realm of very uncool.  Make sense?

Sometimes a tutorial inspires a better idea.  But before you go off and post new and improved version take a moment to consider a few things.  Can you add something helpful to make it better?  Have you changed the design enough to warrant a redo?  Are you willing to risk offending the original author by “fixing” their instructions {this goes back to the thing about tact and filters}.  If you’ve thought about these things and think it’s worth the reward, then by all means…post away.

4. Picture stealers

There’s no nice way to say this because people who steal photos absolutely infuriate me.  I see it like this.  I freely allow people to recreate designs.  I provide instructions.  If you want to make these cookies and market them to customers then the least you can do is make your own darn cookies and take photos yourself.  Anything else is laziness!

I’ve wasted countless hours of time and effort trying to explain this to people that don’t give a hoot. These days I don’t even think it’s worth the heartache to fight about it.  Still, I want to say it out loud  just one time just so it’s clear where I stand.  Picture thieves are lame and I have absolutely no respect for people who knowingly and willfully do this.

5. Content-less websites that profit off of others hard work

By content-less websites I mean sites that take photos and/or information from other sites without permission and use it to create their own, income generating sites without doing any actual work.  I mean, how hard is it to copy a photo from Flicker and post it with a half-___ link?

It’s not illegal, just unethical.  All I can think of comparing it to is catfishing.  You’ve all heard of catfishing by now, right?  This sort of blogging is basically the same thing…misrepresentation for personal gain.

To be clear, there are ways to have an ethical sharing-type blog.  Two great examples are Be Different, Act Normal and Craft Gossip.  I personally know the the ladies behind these blogs {because they made an effort to get to know me before sharing my work} and I love that they read other blogs {not troll Flickr} to find great ideas and share them with a clear, direct link.

Blog breakI understand that people aren’t born knowing the “Rules of the Internet”.  I’m pretty sure when I joined Flickr I committed about every faux pas possible including blatant copying {because these people were my heros}, failing to credit {because it never occurred to me that people besides my mom were looking at what I made} along with many more.  Luckily as time went by I learned how things worked.

I can usually tell the difference between the imitation/flattery thing and sneakyness because I’ve been on the other side.  When it comes down to it, the majority of people have good intentions at heart, it’s just a few bad ones that spoil it for everyone.

Okay.  That’ s about all of the “real talk” that I can handle in a day, so back to happy talk.

Like I said having a blog is a wonderful thing.  In a lot of ways, it’s like a marriage.  You fall in love, invest time and money, work hard, have days that you wonder what you were thinking, but at the end of the day you wouldn’t have it any other way.

I would never change what I do, but I often wish that people would appreciate and respect each other and put more time into mercy and understanding than fighting and anger.  I know it’s a childish cliche, but I still believe that if we all give a little it will do a lot toward making our community {cookie and blogging} and world a better place.  I think if we all work together we can make it so.

For more insight on blogging etiquette and more, check out these great reads:

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Comments

  1. 211
    Gail says:

    I found your site this week and am in awe over the quality, talent and well written facts I have found at Sugarbelle. Thank you!

    Being older, I have found people who want to spend their time searching for fault in others, usually do not have much to offer the world. The nasty comment has come to be viewed as humor. Funny, in my day and at present, it is simply bad manners.

    Truly happy people, are nice people.

  2. 212
    Kim says:

    I have to stay a BIG Thank You to you!!!! I’m grateful for your site.
    Last year I never baked a sugar cookie in my life. I mean NEVER! I had a friend ask me to make cookies for her cookie exchange (had no idea these existed) One site I found was yours. You and few other bloggers you mentioned taught me how to make cookies. I had much to learn. After making her cookies I knew I had to perfect this. I can’t tell you how many unhappy batches of cookies I made till I came up with one I liked. And. My. Frosting. OH MY! Talk about a pain in butt. Frosting alone should have made me quit…LOL I’m still learning, making mistakes and having fun. You’re my go to when I can’t figure out how to use a cutter. I love looking at all your ideas. I couldn’t possibly even come close to your level of talent. I have the imagination of flee. Seriously, I do. I’ll admit being a copy cat but I would never take the credit of someone else. I’m always showing you off. I’m proud I can even come close to what you do. I hope this doesn’t sound bad. I have actually only copied one idea…st patties day. Who knew Frankenstein makes a good leprechaun? Not this girl, but you did. Thank You for that! I love your site, I love your cookies and you have taught me a lot. I just shipped my first cookies to my sister and thanks to you they arrived in one piece :) and she loved them. Anyhoo, Thank You! All of you cookie bloggers. This has become a therapy for me. Something to focus on. I stay home now to take care of my husband (2 teenagers) who is sick from the Gulf War. I can’t always afford the cutters and other supplies I want but I do what I can. I love seeing people (kids) face when they see the cookies. Makes me happy I’ve made someone smile.

    Don’t worry about writing. I’m horrible. I thought about a blog but for some reason when I go to type I blank out. I can come up with a whole page of what to say in the shower but once i sit down it’s gone. I might have to get a water proof recorder and then my problem might be solved…LOL

    Off to more decorating for me. Have a wonderful Day!

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