John Jantsch in his article ‘Do People Know Your Story?’ Asked the question: What experiences can I share that will help my audience?
To answer that question I need to understand what my audience needs help with and what my experiences offer in terms of a solution for that. Throughout this course I have been going through a serious identity crisis with my personal brand. Is my audience who I thought they were? Am I wasting my time on the wrong audience? Am I somehow steering away from the original path I had set out on with my message and my audience?
My experiences are those of a young awkward farmer who just wants to help the agriculture industry in some way. I think somewhere along the way I lost sight of how that could help my farming community. I originally started making these specific comic strips and sharing them online to relieve stress, and hopefully help others relieve stress by having a laugh. Farming is stressful. Mental health is a serious issue in our rural communities and there is a massive need for ways to help with that.
In the past (and I mentioned this in my last blog), my strips have been associated with the mental health movement in agriculture and at that time it wasn’t really something I was interested in because I thought it wasn’t really part of my brand. Now, as I mull over John’s question, I feel like I couldn’t have been more wrong, and the answer to his question was staring my in the face the entire time!
I made comics as a teenager to vent my frustrations or anxieties about things that were going on in my life. I make comics to escape problems, I make comics to work through problems, and I can now make comics to share those problems with others who may be going through similar things. Especially in the farming community, where mental health is a crisis. They face hardships daily that could effect whether they have enough money to pay their bills. This past year alone, personally, my farm experienced a flood (so the crops went in late), followed by a drought (so the crops didn’t grow as nicely), an early snow (so the crops couldn’t be harvest on time), 10% of our herd was not pregnant, and Ontario’s largest processing facility was shut down making it impossible to sell our weaned calves leaving us with fifteen extra mouths to feed through the winter. That’s not even all the struggles we faced in 2019, and this year isn’t looking much better.
I know my farm is not the only one going through these troubles, and there are different struggles for different groups. What I can offer is my experiences dealing with these issues through my strips that will hopefully help my audience find a positive way to get through their own struggles. I need to focus on the people I belong with, and how I can give back to our community. This is the best way for me to do that, and these experiences could be their experiences, so I shouldn’t keep those to myself.