As you noticed, there were no posts last week. I had the worst bout of writer’s block I’ve ever had, to the point that I couldn’t form a cohesive sentence. My mind was blank. For five days I did everything I know to do to get out of a creative slump with no luck. I worked out every day, went for long walks, tried (and failed) to meditate, caught up on sleep and sat, for hours, starting at a blank screen. Always having to come up with a concept, idea or even a simple blog post is the most challenging and overwhelming part of being an entrepreneur and managing this site. Now and then I start to feel like I’m running out of fresh content, which is terrifying since it’s the very essence of my career.
There have been many days, especially recently, when I think it would be easier to call it a day and get a “real job.” Anyone who runs a business of their own knows that feeling all too well. It’s like a sinking feeling in your gut when you start to wonder what is the point of all the work, worry and stress. You start to fall into “the grass is always greener” syndrome. When I get to this place, the only thing I can do is step away and regroup. I never want to put out half-hearted content or post for the sake of posting. Giving my mind some space to breathe helps me take a step back to look at the big picture and tweak our strategy.
One of the internal conflicts I have with running a business in the world of blogging and social media is how to put myself and brand out there without looking like a fool, embarrassing myself and being disingenuous. I’m amazed that people still follow influencers who post pictures of staged homes, pristine kids and perfect relationships. I thought the ethos would have shifted by now, that people would be turned off by the stereotypical lifestyle blogger. But I was wrong. These bloggers and influencers are more prominent than ever and make it incredibly difficult to compete since I refuse to play by their rules.
When we relaunched the blog, I created a few guidelines. The idea was to create a set of standards to operate under, so when faced with an opportunity or decision to expand, we would be able to hold to our mission and integrity. The first was that I wasn’t going to post photos of my kids on the blog. The idea of commercializing their childhood and compromising their privacy makes me sick. In the day and age we live in, I can’t believe so many people do it. I’ll talk about them in the context of being a working mom and share little bits here and there, maybe share a slightly blurred photo, but you’ll never see them posing, or selling anything.
The second was that we would not be a site that depended on sponsored content to be profitable. If you’re not familiar with the practice of sponsored content, it just means a brand or retailer pays you a significant amount of money to sell their product in a way that seems like you’re making a personal recommendation. For most blogs, an overwhelming percentage of their posts are sponsored. It seems harmless enough, but it’s a slippery slope. It’s easy to say yes to the money and start to erode your reputation. After a while, it’s hard to see the difference between a personal recommendation and a paid one. Many readers end up leaving blogs they once loved because the feel like they are just being sold to every day.
Along those lines, I didn’t want this site to be solely consumer based. I don’t want to spend all our time talking about clothes. I don’t shop all day long, and I know you don’t either. When we create an outfit post, my number one focus is to inspire you, then provide product recommendations. I don’t expect you to buy everything we recommend, I’m assuming you might have a similar piece, so I’m merely giving you some ideas, and if you could use some of those pieces, I’ll point you in the right direction of where to buy. I pull from my experience as a personal stylist and try hard to offer a wide range of prices and sizes, but that is all relative. I’m very much limited to what retailers are offering so, please know if I don’t provide a plus or petite size, it’s because I couldn’t find a suitable recommendation.
Finally, and this is the big one, I wasn’t going to front like I’m something that I’m not. To be successful as a blogger, you have to share so much of yourself and your life. I have a pretty fantastic life, but every time I’ve tried to use it as a backdrop to my social profiles, it feels try-hard and show-offy. Also, it’s not consistently fantastic. I may have vacationed in Croatia last summer, but I haven’t gotten out of my yoga pants since then.
When it comes to putting myself on the blog, I’ve tried to take outfit pictures of myself, and it’s mortifying. Taking the photo makes me jump out of my skin, and it doesn’t help that my photographer, (i.e., my husband) has the unique ability to take a truly terrible photo of me. I also don’t have the time or resources to organize a daily or even weekly photoshoot. Plus, my skin is not thick enough to read negative or mean spirit comments about my looks, which would absolutely happen because the internet is a terrible place. I barely survived it happening in grade school; there’s no way I could deal with it on a regular basis as an adult.
All of these self-inflicted “rules” help maintain our integrity but stunt our opportunity to grow, at least in the traditional way. I won’t sell out for a dollar or contribute to a culture I find fake at best and dangerous at its worst. So I need your help.
I want this blog to be a success. Probably more than any other venture I’ve ever started. I believe that more than ever, society needs a positive, authentic representation of women. And that women need a community that doesn’t pressure them to be perfect in order to be worthy and doesn’t limit us into one area of interest. I believe we can accomplish this by honing in on our message and developing a better understanding of our readership.
I write this blog every day thinking you’d like to look great and need some simple, straightforward, practical strategies to get there. And I also think (and hope!) your life is more interesting than just shopping and clothes. I assume, like me, you’re trying your best to live a full life. I know I want a fulfilling career, strong friendships, and a happy home and family. I also want to be healthy, and fit, and not so overwhelmed all the time.
Since we relaunched the site, I feel like we are getting on the right path with content, but it still needs some refining. It would be a huge help if you took a minute to fill out this survey. The more we hear from you, the more we can fulfill our dream of creating a genuine, authentic community for women.
Thank you so much, as always for your continued support and encouragement. I know there are more women like you out in the world and your participation in this survey will help us find them and make this site the best it can be.