First of all Happy New Year, everyone!  See the above picture? The number of candles in the cake isn't accurate. That is because The Beading Gem /The Beading Gem's Journal is now moving into its 13th year.   I am amazed as I never once thought way back then that I would still be writing more than a decade later.  Blogger burnout is a very real thing!

I wouldn't have lasted this long if not for all the wonderful emails, comments and support from readers like you!  All are so much appreciated. This blog could also not possibly be what it is without the amazing inspirations of other bloggers and designers whose work I have been able to spotlight over the years.

There are now over 5400 posts full of creative ideas and inspirations to share with this wonderful community.  That is a lot of posts for a lone writer!!

I took this photo in Kitchener, Ontario a few years ago, when I noticed, on passing, the street name. Notice the "No Exit" sign?  Perhaps that sums up the experience of some readers who wrote to me to say they have found themselves spending hours and hours exploring my blog.  😆

My blog anniversary is also the one time of the year when I like to talk about what happens behind the blogging and not about jewelry making. There is a lot going on behind the scenes which readers do not see.  So here goes....

It hasn't been easy especially last year when I added more hats to this one-woman show.  I am already a writer, publisher, editor, webmaster, social media promoter, designer and instructor. With the laser cutting and revival of my long dormant Etsy store, I become a laser cutter, supplier, packer, shipper and customer service rep among many other things!

Time management is clearly crucial to all my endeavors and I have had to work on improving how I do things throughout 2019.  The update to my How to Photograph Jewelry with the Smartphone class had to be delayed. This is not just because of my extra activities but because I am also testing new equipment and plotting a thorough class overhaul.  One major issue is finding a good replacement for natural light photography which is easy and works well for jewelry. That is because the excellent Modahaus light studios I used to recommend are currently unavailable. All this requires an extraordinary amount of work so I do hope you will understand. But rest assured, I am hard at work on the task.

All my blog posts are written and scheduled well ahead time. So if you have visions of me feverishly typing away on my computer the night before a post, nothing could be further from the truth! There are a few exceptions such as the giveaway announcements.  Occasionally a blog post might be published later than the usual time. That is because I had put in the wrong time and there is a bit of a scramble at breakfast time to correct it!

Writing ahead does have its occasional hiccups.  For example, one feature designer unfortunately and unexpectedly shut down his store temporarily while he was having surgery and my post published while he was away!

Editing has never been a strong suit of mine and I sometimes fail to catch grammatical errors before the blog post goes out!  I am therefore very grateful to readers who overlook this as well as those who help by letting me know of link errors or dead links!

One reader asked why some of my blog post titles look so awkward. There is one good reason for this - SEO or Search Engine Optimization. The little bots checking out blog articles (and also our online shop item titles and tags) are looking for key words! I also try to stick to the shop names of other Etsy featured designers as they appear in the URL to make finding them easier.  For example would be referred to as beadinggem not Beading Gem.

My gratitude goes to the wonderful and generous sponsors of the ever popular giveaways and also to readers who do follow the links to check out the shops and perhaps buy from them.  Please note that sometimes sponsors prefer to limit the giveaways to just US and Canada due to the shipping costs so not all giveaways are international.

I ask for contact info which is also an identifier - an online presence or an email - to help me track down winners, a time consuming task at times. Note that anonymous entries are not counted because I do not know who you are. Some winners never contact me at all perhaps because they seldom check emails. Sometimes,  I have had to redraw! The record is 3 redraws for a recent giveaway.  I redraw after a week because it is not fair to keep sponsors waiting.

Comments are always moderated. They do not appear until I okay them in order to sieve out spam comments - the scourge of bloggers everywhere.  So don't worry if you do not see your comment right away. It didn't get lost!

Some readers have expressed a concern about leaving their emails as comments for giveaways. You are far, far more likely to have your email lifted from a data breach than from being seen on this niche craft blog!

Well, if it is the ONLY email you have for everything including sensitive information, I can understand the reluctance. However, in this day and age of data breaches such as this recent ginormous one, I recommend that you have at least two emails, one of which is used for important financial sites and communication and the other for everything else such as signups on various sites. You should also have secure passwords, different ones for every site you log on. You can manage all this by forwarding secondary emails to one main one (for eg. GMail allows this in their settings) and use password managers.

Subscribing to my blog via email (daily newsletter or weekly newsletter) is a good way to make sure you do not miss a post. All subscriptions have to be confirmed so you must click on the confirmation link sent to your email for activation. I cannot do this for you.

Do you recall seeing "H/T" or "Via" after some of my feature designer posts?  "H/T" stands for Hat Tip, a blogger abbreviation for thanking the original blog or reader where I first saw their work or was told by. This is proper blogging etiquette.

Links are very important, not just for bloggers but for anyone with an online presence or shop hoping to get a wider audience.  So if you are a blogger and wish to use one of my blog posts, you may do so by writing/summarizing in your own words and linking back.

You may make and sell your own products based on my own free tutorials. Any mention of the original designer will be gratefully appreciated!

This blog is supported by ads and affiliate links where I am paid a modest fee from any purchases you make through links. This support ensures that the blog remains free for all and that it continues.  So if you went shopping for something you wanted through my blog, I thank you! And so do the featured designers and businesses.

I look forward to another jewelry making year ahead and I hope you are too. Join me on the journey!

Last but not least, if you are in need of a good laugh, check out some of my humor posts from the past :

This blog may contain affiliate links. I do receive a small fee for any products purchased through affiliate links. This goes towards the support of this blog and to provide resource information to readers. The opinions expressed are solely my own. They would be the same whether or not I receive any compensation.
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
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