Last week something kind of weird happened to me. I talked about it on Instagram, and I was honestly shocked at the number of comments, messages, and overall feedback I got about the whole situation. I want to share a bit more about it today because I feel like I’ve had a hard time being completely transparent lately for a multitude of reasons.
So first off, I should probably address what I think is the elephant in the room: sponsored content.
Photos by Megan of Diary of This Girl Megan
When I started blogging, I had no idea that you could make money from it, or make close to a living on it, unless you were essentially a superstar blogger or celebrity. The truth is, that over the past several months, I’ve seen a steady increase in the amount of paid projects I’ve been offered. I call them projects because often these are things that take hours to carefully plan, come up with an idea or concept, pitch, photograph, write about, send for approval, and then eventually share with the world. Often, these projects have a quick turnaround time, like in a matter of days, not weeks or months.
I came to the crossroads of either turning down many of these projects, or having to take a step back at my full-time job. I’d been contemplating what I’d wanted to do with my career, especially over the past year or two, so the time seemed right to try something different. That’s when I started trying to make my business (which includes my blog) more of my full-time gig. That’s also why you may have noticed an uptick in sponsored content, which I’ve truly loved creating, and less personal posts, as I’ve tried to figure out how to balance this new reality.
And yes, I still do have a job outside of blogging, but the amount of time I’ve been spending there has changed. I hope to share more about this as my journey evolves, but for now, that’s where I’m at.
Ok, so back to the thing that happened last week.
Blogging is weird. And honestly, pretty hard sometimes. Had you asked me about this 3-4 years ago, and I would have told you it wasn’t. But when you treat it like a business, you either do it all yourself, or have to hire and pay someone to do it for you. (Which, spoiler alert, I can’t afford.) You’re a photographer, creative director, writer, editor, negotiator, project manager, and social media manager all rolled into one. I probably missed some other roles, too. And sometimes (or even most of the time), I’m not great at all of those things.
When I have a bad day, it often means my business has a bad day too. It means it can be hard to feel motivated to post on social media, respond to emails, or write new blog posts. When I have a multitude of projects due at once, I often find myself getting really overwhelmed and wanting to run away from it all.
That exact thing happened last week. I was just having a bad day. And then, that bad day got worse because someone who didn’t know me, shamed me, and I was washed with a wave of doubt, sadness, and embarrassment. I think it’s important to share these moments because they are part of the journey. The journey of life, the journey as a small business owner, the journey as a human. We all have bad days, and I wanted to use this bad experience to share with others that if they’ve felt like this or been made to feel ashamed, then they aren’t alone.
Here’s what I wrote:
Doubt. It’s something that I feel creep in sometimes, and today was one of those days where I was feeling a lot of it. Today, it felt like nothing went right.⠀
After work today, I went to an event. I had to leave early because I had more work (read: photos) to finish. (Yes, I’m sorry to spoil it for you but sometimes these [Instagram] photos are very much staged. I wish they could all be in the moment, but projects have deadlines.)
Anyway, I was setting up [with a tripod and my camera] to take a photo at a colorful wall I’ve shot at previously, and there was a man yelling in the alley. I couldn’t see if he was yelling at someone, but I thought it was best to move on. I noticed there was a person inside the building I was about to shoot on the side of (I was in the parking lot, along the side of the building), and as I was leaving and rounding the corner, she came out the front and chased after me to ask what I was doing.
I love blogging, but a lot of people still don’t get it. Especially those who are significantly older. I tried to explain that I was working on a photo project, and she kept asking why. She still wasn’t really “getting it” and I was getting frustrated and honestly trying to get away. Eventually, in a stern tone scolded me for being there and told me to NEVER take photos at her building again, and in no uncertain terms, go away.
I tried to brush it off, but as I mentioned, today just hasn’t been my day. For some reason, it really bothered me and made me feel embarrassed and ashamed. I tried to find another location to take photos, but I just didn’t have it in me. I tried to fake it, but the photos were honestly awful.⠀
This experience reminds me that not everyone will understand what I do. They might think it’s vapid, it’s narcissistic or that it’s weird. But to me, it’s been a way to connect. To build a community when I didn’t really have many friends after college. To find people who were interested in the same things as me. And to express myself; through style, through makeup, through my thoughts. ⠀
And if that’s vapid or narcissistic to some, well, so be it. While I may be feeling self-doubt today, tomorrow is a new day, and I’m going to get back out there and get those photos done. But for now, I’m going to eat cheesecake. #sorrynotsorry
I wanted to share this with you because last week felt like a pivotal point in my journey. I was reminded of why I do this. I was reminded that it won’t always be easy. In fact, it’s usually not. But, will it be worth it? I think so. The outpouring of love and support from my community helped me understand that I can make a difference, even if my audience isn’t huge.
And so do you.
I know you make a huge difference in your community, whether it’s online or offline, too. So the next time someone says something unkind, makes you feel ashamed or embarrassed or is rude, I want you to remember that you matter to me. That you matter to your community. And to treat others with empathy and kindness, because you don’t know what effect your words can have on someone, whether they’re having an amazing or terrible day.
I hope you have an amazing week and would love to hear from you! Have you ever been made to feel ashamed by a stranger, and if so, how did you handle it? Are you on your own business journey or a career crossroads? I can’t wait to chat with you more in the comments!
I remember that post! And while I don’t blog full-time, there are times when I’m super embarrassed to be setting up for a shot – like, no, I’m not one of THOOOOSE people. ;-) I’m sure it’s particular difficult when you’ve committed to making it your more full-time gig.
Anywho, hang in there! There will be good and bad days, and most times, the good outweigh the bad.
I’m so sorry this happened to you, Jenn. You’re one of the most unassuming person I know, and I feel so bad that you were shamed for minding your own business.
I, on the other hand, have no plans of making blogging my main work anytime soon because I just started with my new job two months ago, and I love it so much. Good question about being shamed by stranger—it may have happened to me at least once, but I couldn’t remember the details. Haha!
I’ve always enjoyed what you write and how you do it! I imagine it is crazy to make this transition, but something you’ve also worked hard for. I don’t understand why people choose to be ugly to strangers (or people they know), but it says a lot more about them than others even if it is painful to read. Excited to see your updates!
This is just plain rude that that person felt the need to behave that way. I believe people don’t quite understand blogging and why we do it, but it should never leave them in a place to shame you. I have been shamed for things I have written on my blog because someone else didn’t believe in what I had to say. It is definitely a hard pill to swallow trying to figure out how to respond to that behavior. I think you are on the right track with not letting it bring you down. Care about you. your blog, and readers and that is all the validation you need!
So sorry this happened to you. Blogging can be tricky and weird.
I have always found you to be a down to earth blogger and inspirational for those who are starting out in blogging. I’ve enjoyed reading every post you have written since I found your blog over a year ago. I agree with others, this person is just plain rude to have behaved this way towards you and this is more of a reflection of who they are. As for my journey as a blogger, I have only got one shameful comment, and looking back it never deterred me from blogging or living my life. Hanging in there! Excited to see what comes next in your blogging career!