Living a Portfolio Life

Writing a blog is fun, inventive, a chore, impossible, and, well, just like real life–a mixed bag.

Lots of ideas can fit together like a mosaic.

Lots of ideas can fit together like a mosaic.

Smart people, who care about Search Engine Optimization and marketing businesses like mine, keep telling me to pick ONE audience–art journalers, writers, life coaches, training developers, instructors, workshop leaders–and write only to them. “It will focus your energy and give you a better audience,” they explain.

Perhaps. But I don’t DO one thing–I live a portfolio life. I do several things, all of which I love, and all of which connect through my heart and soul. They don’t need separate websites any more than I need separate desks.

Seven years ago, I vowed not to make my art pay the mortgage so I could do the

Creating your own reality happens only when you take the time to do it.

Creating your own reality happens only when you take the time to do it.

art I wanted, not just what sold well. That gave me huge creative freedom,  less creative discipline that I needed (another whole blog post), and a lot of work in different areas.

Corporate clients who were bothered that I was also an artist expressed concern. I told them that if I was not meeting their expectations as a corporate trainer, we should speak to that point so I could create better results. No one spoke up. But I know that in the corporate culture, creativity is called “disruption” and that the name itself doesn’t sound great, even if the effect often is.

So the blog continues to jump from topic to topic–training, art journaling, workshops, demos, ideas, life problems, coaching issues–just like real life.

But I’m open to different ideas, and if you have one, let’s hear it in the comments section. Or tell me how you decided to limit your blog (or not). To check out different ideas:

  • Julie Fei-Fan Balzer posts photos of her creative adventures every day on her blog.
  • iHanna takes us on visual journeys through her daily life on her blog.
  • Seth Apter often talks about other people’s art on his blog, The Altered Page.
  • Tammy Garcia is a peripatetic artist whose website (Daisy Yellow) covers a vast variety of art topics

Meanwhile, I’m getting comfy with the different kinds of work. I’m re-doing my website (every website needs an update every 18 months or so) and am open to new ideas.

–Quinn McDonald has opened the window of her mind. She’s got a head cold and is hoping for a drying breeze up there.

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45 responses to “Living a Portfolio Life

  1. Quinn! I can’t imagine the tune without your inventive variations! Besides, what the ‘talking heads’ say is The Way is not/can not be “the way” for everyone — what a flattening of the rich, round, revelry that would be!? I love the eclectic nature of your posts, and live in awe of your ability to post fresh, relevant content EVERY day :o Ruffle & I say: “Don’t change a thing!” ;-)

  2. and isn’t it funny that I threw out the SEO manual pretty quickly after I began blogging. I blog because I love it, want to inspire, share and start conversations. Jumping from one thing to another is what I do best :) and I love your blog for the same reason

  3. Quinn, Thank you for mentioning Daisy Yellow! Years ago I made a choice NOT to limit the blog to a particular aspect of creativity. And that decision comes at the “price” of a smaller audience. I blog like I do art. That involves going with the flow, jumping from medium to medium, noticing the juxtapositions. I follow blogs that are both creative and thought-provoking and you definitely have both covered!

  4. Thanks so much Quinn for referring and linking to my blog. It is greatly appreciated coming from you :-)

  5. The theme of the blog is Life is it not? Since when has a real life consisted fo focussing on just one thing?

    I’m with you Quinn in this portfolio approach to life. Life is never one dimensional and, perhaps, I have never been able to stick at one thing because there is far too much that is interesting and begging to be explored. My nickname as a kid was Mucker as I was always mucking around doing this and that . . . I still do and don’t intend to change because the older I get the more I know I have barely scraped the surface of opportunity.

  6. Quinn – You are the dressing on the creative life salad! Each idea is like a unique flavor released on the sophisticated and discerning palate. Your blog is the one I look forward to reading each day. Your voice of honesty and sense of humor is a gift that lifts of the page. Thanks for sharing your gift to the corners of the world and creating a fresh “new salad” for your readers each day! You’ve created an appetite for a diverse niche with your thoughts, words, and art! Love it! Keep the meals coming!

  7. My blog reflects my interests at any given time, plus in the past fours years I post weekly summaries of my life in pictures so e-ve-ry-thing is there. :D
    Now I´ll start writing in a collaborative one. I´ll report back in a few months. ;)

  8. I really like your blog. I only subscribe to two for “every day delivery”. Yours is one. Jessica of cre8it is the other. For years I have had a sign in my kitchen that says “I’m not disorganized, just flexible!”

  9. Dear Quinn, I don’t often comment, but I always read and have for several years now. You have been an inspiration and a joy to read every day precisely because you are who you are and you write from your heart. Please. Don’t change yourself to suit some suits.

  10. This site is an unusual combination: a wide range of topics but a one-person operation. Most sites that motivate people to visit repeatedly and often have several contributors (e.g. boingboing.net), or else the content is provided by the community itself (e.g. slashdot.org). This kind of site is much better at fostering community and introducing NEW topics because visitors aren’t narrowly task-oriented; they find and explore things they didn’t arrive expecting to find.

    A narrower focus can drive more traffic, but it’s a different sort of traffic: one-time visitors who have a specific task (e.g. “find the best kind of [whatever]“). There can be a LOT of people looking for the thing such a site focuses on, but they’re unlikely to visit particularly often. This is good for advertisers, and good for monetization, but not the kind of site everyone wants to run.

    I know a good bit about websites and what it takes to keep one going, and the amount of work you put into this site, and have sustained for years, is just astonishing. I couldn’t do it, and I’ve been making websites for …omg, I think I just entered my *third decade* sometime over the summer. I, um, started unusually early because of the job I had back then.

    Anyway, I think the breadth of the site is the greatest thing about it. The only suggestion I have is that you might think about becoming more of a managing editor and recruiting some cowriters.

    • Thanks. And from someone who started developing sites at age four, that’s a great compliment. I don’t like to manage people. I did a whole lot of that in my corporate life. What’s much more fun is letting smart people manage themselves.

      • Oh, I wasn’t four…but I will take credit for starting when HTML was less than 2 (before 2.0, IIRC, it didn’t have a version number; it was just “HTML”). And yet it was capable of…text! And not only that…more text!

  11. Quinn,
    One of the things I love so much about your blog and why I promote it on #JournalChat Links Edition is the variety of subjects you cover, but even more so, your forthrightness and honesty in everything you do, not to mention your hilarious sense of humor.

    I understand the SEO issue you’re addressing, but I love what you do; so I wouldn’t change a thing. :)

    Be refreshed,
    Dawn Herring

    • I admire your wonderful attention to detail and your focus on journaling. Yeah, you know, I gave up the whole spin-thing when I left the corporate life. Now it’s me and my mistakes and what I learn from them. Which can prove to be quite interesting.

  12. Sorry that last one was me. Not sure why name did not show.

  13. Please keep jumping – it is NOT ADHD – really it isn’t! One of the things I love most about your blog and the sites of the people who read and those on whom you report, is the diversity of subjects and variety of thought. Robert Heinlein’s character Lazarus Long stated once, “Specialization is for insects.” What you write is all related to creativity in some way or another, whether it is “How To” or “Why To”. Please don’t think of it as “jumping” think of it as “questing in all directions” with a defined (divine) purpose.

    Oh – and thank you again for being there.

  14. I really appreciate the wide range of topics covered in your blog – variety is the spice of life!

  15. Hi Quinn, thanks for the mention of the visual journey I call life, so sweet of you. I do think my blog audience would be bigger and more engaged if I stayed on one topic, and didn’t jump around as much as I do, but like you, I can not. I can’t compartmentalize my creativity! I just can’t!

  16. I totally relate. I tend to jump all over in my blog as well. I think its just a sign of a varied and creative life! I really enjoy your blog Quinn – just like a lucky dip…you never know what you will get! Keep up the great work!

    • Yes, that’s it! Whew! A perfect description–a varied and creative life. One of the blog readers just sent me an email and signed off by describing her life as “Chez Chaos,” –I loved that!

  17. Your blog is one of the only ones I ALWAYS read. And that is saying a lot. I follow many and skim them but I read yours all the way through. But I am an artist so what do I know. LOL! DIsruption…… what do they know! More and more companies are now focusing on creativity for their employees. They have learned that it helps in all aspects of the work whether it is a creative job or not. I read it in the Wall Street Journal so it must be true!
    Sigh……………

  18. p.s. I think the link to The Altered Page may be wrong.

  19. I’m relatively new to your blog, but it has soon become one of my favorites for your honesty, optimism and variety. I enjoy seeing the world through your lens. Thank you and keep on a keeping on … and good luck with that cold.

  20. Please don’t change! I love your blog the way it is. In fact, it is my favorite. I am an artist with serious health challenges. I seems that no matter what the topic… I can relate. Your blog is my favorite. I actually get excited when I see your name in my inbox because I know that it will be thought provoking and stimulating in some way. I actually like that I will have no idea of the what your subject will be on any given day. It keeps things fresh!

  21. I completely agree with Pia and my blog flits hither and thither – just like me!

  22. I can’t do just one thing either. And although my blog is not “professional”, I had the same thoughts. But to me it’s related and the people I want to interact with are intelligent enough to do their own sorting if they want only one topic, especially if you make the categories available in a menu.

    There’s going to be plenty of people who want everything, I think it would be more of a nuisance for them to keep track of several websites.

    Now, if you wanted to suddenly write about cooking, perhaps that could be a new blog, but so far, for me, everything you say is related.

    • I agree, especially about the topics in the drop down menu. And I’m so glad you see the topics are related, too. One cook in the house is plenty (ask my scale!) So I leave the cooking blog to CookingMan: Kentcooks.com

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