Category: Teaching

Building Your Website, and a Business

Build Your Website Class CT
[caption id="attachment_486" align="aligncenter" width="620"]Build Your Website Class CT A student website, in the build stage[/caption]

I’ve been a bit quiet lately. The good news is it’s for a good reason!

I’ve had the pleasure of doing a real cross-section of work with graphic and web designer Mark Hannon. He and I also happen to be on the board of the Coastal Arts Guild of CT, together. It’s how we met actually.

The latest project we’ve done is one I think is really important: teaching other artist-entrepreneurs how to build their business, by building (and maintaining) their own websites on Wordpress

[caption id="attachment_482" align="alignleft" width="205"]Build Your Website Class Elizabeth Howard Here’s me teaching[/caption]

Mark and I designed the course “Building Your Website for Artists & Creatives” (even for beginners!)  as a way to teach artists of any age that — YES — you can create and maintain your own website. And you should.

Now, I’ve been busy on other projects these days in my role a content and social media specialist, for wonderful clients. And I do enjoy that. And this work is building MY business. And that is very good.

So why is teaching others how to build their website (and their business) so special to me?

Here’s why:

  • Don’t fence me in. It’s no secret that I’m wild. I don’t want to feel constrained. That’s the artist in me. Other artists I’ve met are the same. They are constantly exploring, trying new media, new techniques, no matter the age. So Mark and I wanted to offer that opportunity to artists who may be reticent to explore the backend of a webpage.
  • The world needs to SEE this! You would not believe the beautiful stuff I have seen by the most unassuming people. Artists invest time, love and passion into their work. But they can’t haul their canvases and their sculptures around in their back pocket. Building your own website gives an artist who needs, wants, deserves exposure and reach the chance to spread the LOVE — the ART — into the world.
  • [caption id="attachment_487" align="alignright" width="300"]Website Class Wide_Mark Hannon Props to Mark Hannon for the detailed slides he created for the 4-week course.[/caption]

    Learn Flex Earn. I won’t knock you if you decide to spend your days stretching your brain on Lumosity. (Hey, I have that app). But if you want to spend time keeping your brain in shape, why not do it learning a skill that will also add value to your artist-entrepreneurial life?

  • The Real Deal. Nothing is more local and more real than the work of an artist. If you buy a product or service from an artist or creative,  it is the definitive real deal, handmade from the source. That’s the truth.
  • My Business is Yours. This last one is strange but true. Since I work in social media and marketing for artists, my business is yours. Teaching you a consistent model for sharing and promoting your work and events makes my job easier. It makes it easier for me to promote you. So I it’s only a little bit selfish

Mark and I have been very happy with the result of our first workshop. We had the gamut of students in the class, from terrified luddite to a tech teacher. All of the students have worked hard and progressed through the class, to create a functional, beautiful, searchable, website to share.

P.S. We’d also like to thank the B-Hive in Bridgeport, which is such a gorgeous, dynamic and inspiring co-working space.

Three Truths Teaching Taught Me

I work with university students.

Yes, I do “teach” them — but let’s be accurate here: in the teacher-student relationship, it’s work for everyone.

This is one of the key concepts that I teach my freshman, along with many other revelations on life and writing. How to learn to work efficiently and effectively.

The Symbiotic Relationship of Work

Teachers also continuously learn from their students.

I have learned three crucial truths about from my freshmen about people. These truths affect the way I  conceive myself and the way I believe people learn to relate to each other.

This, naturally, affects thought, and the way I write.

1. Age is meaningless. Biological age gives certain historical context and often means we exist within certain cultural frameworks (texting culture vs. rotary phone culture, for example). But with my students, it is easy to forget that they are, in fact, our future Obamas and Maya Angelous because they are doing those often moronic teenagery things we all did when we were 18.

Age is like a rubberband– depending on the day and our moods, we expand and contract into the time and experience we have learned. Wrinkles cannot impact the soul’s experience of memory and the moment.

You might be 65. You might be a respected leader in your field. You might be screaming at me at this moment because something I said touched a raw spot and you contracted into a memory.

I have no problem expecting young people to be capable of complex emotion and critical thought.

I have no problem with all people, then expecting them to experience hurt and joy, equally.

“Everyone is the age of their heart.”  ~Guatemalan Proverb

2. We are all alone. This is easy to forget. This is not easy to accept.

My young students, however, arriving away from home as young freshmen, remind me of this every year. They run desperate rites of passage in sweatpants through the halls in order to reestablish their link to “community” — this is the universal desire we all have isn’t it? To banish loneliness and push down that truth: despite our biological and even emotional similarities, our relationships, teams, and families cannot stop the truth that each of us is an island.

The moment we stop being “young” is the day we realize that we can never conquer that aloneness.

“Life is for each man a solitary cell whose walls are mirrors.” — Eugene O’Neill

3. “Revision” never ends, but it always has to.  Freshmen writers don’t want to do any more work than they have to, by and large. Teachers always want them to do more and make it better.

The symbiosis is reflected in the “final product,” in being done with something.

We are constantly being bombarded — in life — with new things: new ideas, new technologies, new friends, new everything. These intrusions into the status quo constantly ask us (like the teacher does) to reevaluate who we are. To re-see (re-vision!) our viewpoints, our approach, our demeanor — our everything!

The end of revision comes when we stop. Walk away. We stop processing or refuse to change. Meditate and choose to not enter into that particular conversation. This path or that one. We choose to not make that friend or not return that call or not revise that webpage.

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” —Anton Chekhov

The end of revision comes when you walk away. You stop processing; you refuse to change.

You don’t enter into that conversation.

You don’t make that friend or return that call.

Because you can’t do everything all the time and you shouldn’t.