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We Have Rhymed has been in existence since sometime mid-August 2022. I didn’t know what it was to begin with, and I needed a tax specialist to tell me what it is now (legally I am an Independent Artist, in case you’re curious). The three things that have been consistent are (1) the color pallet, (2) the poems, and (3) the doodles. Everything else though? An absolute mess. Am I an artist? Am I a poet? A writer? What about a small-business owner? Am I allowed to call myself any of those words?
I still question these things every day, but I feel like I’m finally coming into some sense of cohesion within the last 2 months. I’ve found a few projects that I really enjoy and I can stick to, and I’m more than happy chugging along with them for the foreseeable future. It took several months to get to this point and for the sake of my sanity, I’m going to break this discussion into sections to walk through my experience with each piece of “We Have Rhymed”. Otherwise, this will very quickly turn into a total rant just about Instagram. So, what’s it been like? What is it and what have I done? I have 5 points of interest to go through this with - it’s a bit long so bear with me.
- The Concept
We Have Rhymed initially began because I am horrible at jokes. If you’ve ever watched Bernadette Banner’s video about her Saucy Victorian Ankle Pics OnlyFans, that is me but with We Have Rhymed. My husband spoke a poem at our cat T.C., said “and we have rhymed”, and I laughed and told him that sounded like a great title for something. So two days later I found a cheap website host and turned it into one. I spent the next week writing dumb funny-ish poems and slapped them on there. The only reason I put a shop up and started an Instagram page is because I wanted to make the $10/mo I spent on the website host back - that has not changed btw; please give me $10.
As far as the doodles, I think that came from the fact that most of the poets I like have illustrations with their poems - those being Dr. Suess, Tim Burton, and Shel Silverstein off the top of my head ~ notice that I am not at all cultured with anything meant for people over the age of 8~. I don’t remember why I chose one-lined art specifically, other than I didn’t know of anyone else doing it and it seemed like fun. I do remember that my high school art teacher, Mrs. Mayes, each morning would have the class take 5 minutes to draw a still setup she had in the middle of class. Sometimes it would be with one line, sometimes with our eyes closed, with or without color, etc. If you hadn’t guessed, I enjoyed the one-lined ones usually. So I probably have her to thank. Thanks, Mrs. Mayes. We Have Rhymed has evolved some from this point, but that’s where the heart of it started - 9th grade art class and me taking a one-off joke from my husband too far. That’s where the heart of it still is.
- The Website
I absolutely refuse to budge on the design of my website for this reason. I don’t really care what order content or pictures go in on it, but the fonts and the colors stay. That’s because it gives me a jumping off point to compare new ideas to. I can look at my website theme and then look at a project and go “do these compliment each other?” If not, I’ll scrap it. If so, full speed ahead. If this is a writing website, then we write. If this is a learning website, then we add learning material. Both? Then both. Finally figuring out a sense of what this is has tremendously helped me cut out the random crap I don’t need. That’s not to say I won’t be throwing stuff at the wall still, just that it feels more guided now.
- The Social Media
I don’t know what to say other than social media is a general headache. Some people really thrive on it - I do not. I wasn’t allowed to use social media growing up, and I honestly didn’t have much interest after getting out of the house either. So other than the Facebook page I was forced to make for school, We Have Rhymed’s Instagram was my first real experience with it. In retrospect, using social media for marketing as my first experience was a bad move in general. But I didn’t know that at the time. There is an inane amount of archived content on my page because it’s just not good. I exported the images on my phone a few days ago, and it came out to 831 images - the vast majority of that being Insta content (mind you many of those are Stories). There are 71 posts available. 71 things I felt worthy of keeping out of 831. That is absolutely ridiculous, but that’s how it goes. It just took me a long time to figure out what was “normal” and what wasn’t for media. Honestly, looking back I was doing great when I first started. I just didn’t think I was because (1) I didn’t know what information was available to me and (2) I only had already massive accounts to compare it to. 17 likes in a couple of weeks is not bad. I thought it was bad because there were no comments. Little did I know that people who get millions of likes might get 1000 comments. Ratios, man. They matter.
I feel like it’s been getting better though. A couple months ago I took a look at basically everything I’ve posted, and what I started with was what worked. So I’ve decided that’s what I’ll stick with. It’s simple, gets what I need out there, and I can be on with my day. I’ve gotten rid of the very try hard attempt at “extra flair” and I’m a lot happier with it. But I think what’s really helped in the past two weeks is the addition of Threads. There is very little communication on Facebook and Instagram for me, because the majority of the platform feels like visuals - talking at the audience rather than with. So I didn’t really get to get a feel for how I wanted to interact with others. But on Threads, you just say stuff. I like being able to just say stuff. And just that little bit of opening up has translated some into my other platforms which helps so much. Not everyone gets a whole new major social media platform to change their perception, but I’m kind of thankful I did. That’s where I’m at right now. Throwing images at a wall sucks, and talking to people is nice. I am not an authority on any of it with my 15 followers, but I’m learning - it’s picking up a little and it’ll get there eventually.
- The “Business”
The amount of stress that is taxes, let me tell you. I mentioned earlier that I wanted to sell some of my art just to keep this going. Now that I’ve learned more about what I’m doing, it’s not so bad. But it took me a while to figure out what I need to do this properly. There are a lot of articles about starting up a small business or selling art, but I have yet to find anything that really says “here is how to do step 1, 2, and 3. Once you’ve done those, go find the DFA’s website and answer these questions like this….” I get why now - it’s different for every situation, but some guidance would be nice. Do I need to register for taxes for each state in the US? What if someone is collecting them on my behalf, should those be reported? What if someone from another country buys? Is a print-on-demand service considered a nexus (probably not is the current consensus)?
Being an artist or writer or poet in the professional sense is not just making art. It’s also being a business person and a customer service representative and a web developer and a marketer and an editor. You ARE a business. You have to BE A FUNCTIONAL BUSINESS ENTITY. It’s doable, I just had to learn a lot more jargon than I initially anticipated. Once you’ve got it set up though, it’s set up. I feel so much more comfortable running and sharing We Have Rhymed now that I have the legal setup out of the way. I realize that people who do art for a living get a lot of flack because it sounds like an easy, lax job. I work in an office daily, and honestly, this teeny tiny thing gives that job a run for its money every day. I think that’s why I keep doing it though - I love the search for knowledge that has to be poured into it. I love the fulfillment and satisfaction that comes from “I finally figured it out”. The upkeep in 15 different areas of this mess. At its worst, it keeps me from being bored. At its best, it gives me a legitimate education in operations and flexes my creativity daily. I don’t feel like I’m just pushing papers with this. I feel like I’m making something.
- The Projects
The projects. Why do I keep making projects? Because I can’t write a poem every day. I’ve tried, I can’t do it. The number 1 reason I started thinking outside of the poems in the first place is so people wouldn’t get bored on my site. Now it’s so I don’t get bored and forget about my site. Exhibit A being the aforementioned daily quiz. But I got burned out on those and everything else. Since then, I’ve had ideas for I don’t know how many different types of things to put in my shop (flipbooks, writing a book, t-shirts, custom poems, custom one-line art, etc.), types of educational tools and courses (hence the Writing Tools), and blogs. The big trick is finding something that is sustainable for me and enjoyable for others. It took me almost a year to do this, and I’m still working out the kinks. I’m proud to say that I’ve landed on Tuesday Thoughts, the “Post-It” Poetry Project, and the Writing Tools (later on to be Writing Resources when I find the time).
I like these Tuesday Thoughts because it’s just me - no need to come up with fancy wording. I can just pour my thoughts out which is easy enough as long as I can carve out two hours on a weekend. The “Post-It” Poetry Project was a long process. For anyone who has been with this for the past 6 months, you may remember The Bottle Project. This was my idea to put poems in tiny colored glass bottles and leave them in random places. I had it pretty well lined out too - I found a way to connect a string through the cork which wrapped around the scroll inside the bottle, so when you lifted the cork the scroll would come with it. What bothered me about this is that small children may find and attempt to eat it. That would not be a good thing. So I then tried to eliminate the bottle idea, and just leave the scrolls. But the scrolls didn’t look very pretty and there is no good poetry pun that uses the letter s. I don’t remember where I had the idea for sticky notes, but I love this more than the other two because it’s so much more versatile. People know what they’re getting as soon as they see the sticky note, and they can be put anywhere - you can’t stick a bottle on a wall. I think it’s my favorite development so far because I can take pretty pictures of them, I can see when someone finds them, and they’re for the most part user-friendly. It’s nice.
The writing tools and (later to be) resources are something that deserves their own post, but they stemmed out of that “educational platform” vibe I originally wanted. I think they’re a good compliment to the website, rather than overtaking it which is what I needed. And when I don’t want to write, I can learn more about coding. Why I thought “I write poems, I should learn web-app development” I don’t know. But that’s what’s happening.
The Wrap Up
After writing all of that, this feels less like a “journey” I walked a trail through and more like a map with darts haphazardly yeeted at it. I have had a lot of hate and a lot of love throughout the nearly year of development of this - but I have never once considered stopping. I just enjoy the process. It feels like it’s coming together and spreading a little farther at the same time. If you’re considering starting something creative up, just do it. If you need some tips, email me and I’ll be glad to talk to you about it but I am by no means an expert. My biggest revelation so far is that it’s normal to stumble blindly through this. And not for the first couple months, but for the first few years - maybe more without help. I’m glad for where this is now, and I’m more glad for the things I see finally coming to fruition.
Liberty Jensen • Writer
Liberty is a donations manager, finance student, and full-time drinker of coffee. She enjoys poetry, her cats, and spending time with her husband.