Darlings, this post is for my fellow content creators, and inspired by a lesson recently learned by a friend and fellow blogger regarding her experience with sponsored post broker and media company, Social Fabric/Collective Bias. Grab a cuppa and let’s chat a moment about the importance of reading *all* contracts and rights to content. As an MBA with a background in contracting, and entrepreneur, this is one of my favorite subjects. (more…)
Updated 20 January 2015 after an observation from my sister and an e-mail from a Chobani representative.
My sister pointed out to me that they did pin my post to one of their Pinterest boards, so there was a share.
A representative from Chobani e-mailed me about this article and my experience with the #MadeWithChobani campaign. She was very polite, and I was happy to see that the social media department at Chobani is involved enough to notice what people are saying online. Because of her very polite and genuine e-mail, I have returned the link to Chobani to the doughnut post.
I was also offered compensation in the form of free product. I feel like I would be trivializing the work and time investment of my fellow bloggers if I accepted compensation because, to my knowledge, no other blogger participating in the #MadeWithChobani campaign was offered even a coupon.
Would I work with Chobani in the future? Perhaps. The staff I’ve communicated with has been great, but I am happy to wait for an opportunity where all bloggers invited to participate are being compensated appropriately for their time, effort, professionalism, and creativity.
Value yourself, value your work, and value your TIME. That was my personal mantra, or so I thought. When I sold a tangible product, that was easy. I knew how much each recipe cost and approximately how much time went into each. Blogging isn’t quite like that and I learned a very hard lesson recently when I worked for free.
Here’s the thing, right now this blog doesn’t generate income. It’s still growing and is very much a labor of love, compensation comes from the joy I feel when people make my food and enjoy it, share with friends, hang out with me on social media, etc. And this is perfect for a baby blog, making steady progress and growing a beautiful community of people who love great food.
Will I look forward to the day the blog generates income? Yes, because it does cost to sustain the blog, in time and resources, and this is my business. I should have remembered this when a representative from Chobani contacted me to make something for their #MadeWithChobani campaign.
It started well enough and I did ask about compensation. They cited no budget, not even for comps, and while I didn’t believe that for a hot minute, I researched a bit and saw some established bloggers participating. I thought maybe this was part of the “initiation” for new blogs. You do some promo work in exchange for social media shares and likes to gain followers. So I agreed, and created a fabulous recipe for baked gingerbread doughnuts (click here to get the recipe), using their product which I *purchased* and gave them a post feature complete with a link to the Chobani yogurt website, hoping I would get shares and advertisement for my blog in exchange. I am trying to grow readership after all. Would you like to know what I received for purchasing their product, the time I spent developing the recipe, access to my existing network, and *my word*, my personal endorsement of their brand?
Nothing. Absolutely not one share from the company, not even a re-tweet, re-pin, Facebook share, or even a like. I am not a cheap billboard. When I work with a brand it’s because I like the company and I will be honest about the products. I value my readers too much to tout a product if I don’t actually personally recommend both the product and the company producing it.
I would no longer recommend Chobani based on business practices. I opened up about my experience in a food blogger group and other bloggers told me this is their new marketing strategy. Chobani is preying on food bloggers with the promise of “exposure” to give them free marketing. Want to know something Chobani? People die of exposure.
It’s not like the company doesn’t have a marketing budget either. Other bloggers in the same group spoke of attending conferences where Chobani was a major sponsor, or local events for bloggers sponsored by Chobani. I’m saddened that we so easily forget our value sometimes, and for me, this was a lesson I will not soon forget.
I may be shooting myself in the foot a little with this post, but I can’t stand by silently as large companies take advantage of passion-preneurs. There are many wonderful companies out there, that have excellent relationships with bloggers, and I look forward to working with them. As for Chobani, they continue to solicit food bloggers worldwide to work for free, and I removed their link from my doughnut post.
Right now, I am not technically a small business owner. I closed the Goodie Godmother bakery in July just prior to our cross-country move, and converted Goodie Godmother into a food blog. I wanted the opportunity to grow and mold the brand with me as it felt right, work on a few projects I never had time for with the bakery, and keep have the opportunity to keep alive something I truly love.
The blog is set up to one day, hopefully, provide some income to help defray the expenses related with hosting, buying ingredients/props/photography equipment, but technically, this is just a hobby. I’m not selling anything, so I don’t own a business despite this project still requiring a lot of love and pixie dust (ha!) to work.
But this week, my heart has been torn making a decision. I’ve been encouraged by a few people to re-open either as a cottage baker once again or move forward with renting a commercial incubator kitchen, and it’s been a hard choice for me. On one hand, I know GG as a bakery is marketable and what I make sells, and well. But on the other hand, it would mean letting go of the plans I had for my “business” now.
I’d have to let go of the blog. I tried to be a baker and food blogger before, but as you longtime followers can attest, the blog never took off. There just wasn’t enough time to develop recipes and invest enough attention to both. If I had been dedicated to both, both would have suffered. So to my fellow workaholic entrepreneurial types… listen up!
You must pick a direction for your business. It may change over time, but you will not succeed trying to go multiple directions at once.
At some point, we (all of us, collectively) need to refocus and remember what got us in to business to begin with, what skill we had, what passion, what drove us to say “this thing I love so much and am good at that I would do for free, I want to make into a sustainable business”. And then while we are building our businesses, take the time to re-evaluate the direction things are going.
So this is what I did, and today, what seemed like a tough decision became incredibly clear. Over a year ago, when I realized I couldn’t run a bakery and be a good blogger, I put the blog on hold and made a plan to shift my attention this past summer to help ease the sting of closing the bakery and leaving all my lovely clients behind.
This blog hasn’t even had a real shot to get off the ground, and I’m not ready to let that possibility go. The potential of where this could grow is exciting. It sounds counter-intuitive because most people would choose the option that actually generates income, but this is the direction I’m choosing for my “business” now.
If I do a good job, my lovely clients and friends from California will still be able to enjoy my cooking in a way, and I’ll be able to make so many more friends from our new home in Virginia and lots of other places. Food has a beautiful way of bringing people together. Thanks in advance for joining me on the journey.<3
I’m typing this in the early morning, our hotel suite is dark and quiet, the baby and my in-laws are sleeping, the Godfather has already left to take care of a few move-related things this morning, and I have a few moments to myself. These moments will be the most productive of my day.
In business, we spend so much time thinking about being busy and consider busy as synonymous with “productive”, but that is not the case. Many times, busy is just busy, and like a car spinning its wheels in mud, busy doesn’t get you very far. It’s in the quiet moments, those few minutes we should spend each day gathering our thoughts, recharging our energy, being thankful for the blessing it is to enjoy the moments we have on this earth, that we are really able to understand our priorities and how to best utilize our time each day. I’m not saying the rest of the day won’t be fully occupied, but those few moments will afford you the opportunity to be productive busy instead of just “busy” busy.
So my challenge to you is simple. Stop. Take a few minutes each day to be still, and at the end of the day, you’ll be amazed at how accomplished you feel.
I jokingly tell people Princess A is my third child. Our first was Dolce, the adorable little dog you see in pictures; my second is Goodie Godmother; and finally, Princess A. All three “children” are very significant, very loved, parts of my life.
My career and my work are very important to me. I do not regret working and I do not feel it diminishes my role as a mother to my little girl. In fact, I can tell you I’m a better mother because I work, and the Godfather agrees. He will quickly tell anyone how miserable I was during maternity leave. I loved spending time bonding with our new little, and I definitely didn’t have the energy to go back to work immediately, but I missed the fulfillment of building a career and, at first, it made me feel incredibly guilty.
I felt as if I should be so enamored with our daughter that I couldn’t bear to go to work or think of doing anything other than letting my new role as a mother consume me. The pressure to feel that way was internal (at first) as I struggled to define what makes the “right” kind of mother (whatever that means), and later external as I faced questions and comments from people regarding my decision to work.
I love my daughter very deeply, a love like no other I have experienced in my life, but instead of driving me to lose myself in her, it’s motivating me to be the example she needs. I need to teach her to be caring, strong, faithful, dynamic, loving, ambitious, poised, grounded, honest, confident… all the traits she will need to walk the path God has planned for her. How can I teach her if I can’t be her first, albeit imperfect, example?
I’ve been very open about the fact that I am looking for a full time position in Virginia. This is the first assignment we have had in a major metropolitan area and the first real opportunity I have to work in business development in a corporate environment – something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember because I love helping things grow. By corporate, I simply mean a place other than my own business, regardless of actual company size. I am so excited for that “yet to be found” position, just the thought makes me almost giddy. To give you perspective, I had to pause just now and remind myself to finish this post and not go on a job-hunting tangent.
I have been working as a full time entrepreneur for some time now, and I went back to work a little over six weeks after Princess A joined us. During that time, I had the opportunity to “test” working to confirm my choice, and I learned a few things along the way I’d like to share with you.
Lessons I’ve learned…
Before Ava’s birth, I would clock 10+ hours a day, at least five days of the six, sometimes seven, I typically worked at Goodie Godmother. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the fairy wand so many pictured and my little one-woman show put in a lot of hours to make the magic happen. I tried to avoid working at least one day a week to give the Godfather and I some leeway for unplanned adventures and time together, but I’ll admit I wasn’t always the best at it and sometimes would put in a few hours of admin catch-up or planning on an off day. He’s my biggest supporter and incredibly understanding of the demands of entrepreneurship, but it took some tuning to be sure we had time together. After we became parents, we actually sat down and talked about my work schedule and how we would develop a nurturing family-focused environment even with both of us working.
Once I put the below into practice, I stopped feeling guilt, and I could fully enjoy my time at work, my time for me, and my time with my family.
Respect your time.
Regardless of whether you work for someone else, or run your own business, be sure you balance your time so you can work, be with family, and do something for yourself. If you make a commitment to spend a day with family, turn off the work phone, and focus on being with those you love. Those moments are valuable and your work can do without you for a few hours. I schedule my life with my little green day planner and I try to stick to my schedule as much as possible so I can accomplish each day’s “to do” list.
During the months Goodie Godmother was an active cottage bakery, I tried to only work when A was taking a nap, before she woke up, or after she went to bed. When she was awake, I wanted to give her my attention, take her on walks, play, etc. This didn’t leave much time for housework, and my clients who picked up orders witnessed an almost permanent pile of clean laundry waiting to be folded in our living room.
Despite mostly losing the battle against clutter (I have a Pinterest plan for our next place!), I could not stand the thought of a dirty house. So I outsourced and had someone come in to help me keep things clean. Yes, it was an additional expense, but so incredibly worthwhile for me. It freed up time I could spend on more valuable pursuits (i.e. – weekend adventures with family after orders were done).
Find what you can outsource and do it. I promise you don’t even have to turn in your superwoman cape.
Be thankful for your support system!
Being military means that we don’t typically live close to family, so it was up to the Godfather and I to work out the best system so we could both balance work and family. I took care of baby girl while he was at work and whenever he had other work related things to do (and the occasional golf outing because he deserves it!). In turn, he would watch her the evenings and weekend hours I had to work while she was awake.
I cannot stress the value of having a strong support like him. Knowing that he was so incredibly supportive and genuinely enjoyed spending time with her made me feel confident when deciding which orders I would fit into my calendar. Interestingly enough, knowing I had that kind of support from him made me very selective regarding the hours I had available for work because I wanted to be respectful of his support and make sure he felt appreciated. From time to time I’d have a friend come help in the kitchen, or at market, or once, I even had a friend come over unannounced and just sit cuddling Ava while I wrapped up the Valentine’s Day rush. I tried never to rely too much on friends as most of my friends are fabulously talented in their own right and also wearing many different hats in their lives, but boy was I incredibly thankful for those moments. Each time the Godfather or even a friend helped out, it was as if they were saying “I believe in you. I believe in this. Let’s all be a part of something bigger than ourselves. We’re all on the same team. Let’s win one for the Gipper!”
If you are lucky enough to have people on your team, whether it’s a spouse, family member, or friend, be sure to say (and show) your appreciation and thankfulness. You can’t do what you do without them!
Keep, hold, or forget? Prioritize your life!
This is good even if you aren’t a working parent, but it’s imperative if you’re balancing a family and career. I never realized how limited time and energy would become after baby and it’s difficult to find time for friends and hobbies like before! So invest time and energy wisely by ensuring the activities, people, and commitments you keep are worth the attention. Life isn’t black-and-white though, so I feel the prioritizing process works best when you have three categories: keep – investments you must have in your life, hold – investments that may not fit into your life right now but you’d like to bring them back in the future, forget – investments that are just not worth keeping.
For example, working out is important to me so I kept it on the schedule and tried to work out at least three times a week. Before baby, I would spend some time at the gym and then some time at a dance studio taking classes. I wasn’t able to keep up with flamenco classes between work and new baby, but I’m planning on fitting them in again as soon as I can because it was fun and I met some incredible people. Flamenco classes went in my “hold” pile. Many moons ago, I was a performing dance artist and studio owner. I “retired” almost immediately after moving to California and closing my Georgia studio, but held on to some of my costumes and props “just in case”. It took some time, but after we knew we were expecting, I just knew I was never planning on going back as more than a student, so my pro dance items were listed for sale and that went in the “forget” pile.
It may feel a little complicated at first, but you’ll find that’s it’s really quite simple. If you aren’t sure about something, put it in the “hold” category for some time and then think about it again. If it’s important, you’ll find time for it or plan for the future, and if it isn’t, to the “forget” pile it goes and you never think of it again. Easy! 🙂
If working is the right decision for you, regardless of reason, do it! You can still be an incredible mother and have a strong bond with your child. If naysayers tell you otherwise, it’s because they aren’t confident in the decisions they made, so are instead judging yours.
But be understanding because everyone has the right to choose if their life circumstances allow.
Just because working was the right choice for you doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for everyone. Some parents even have the opportunity to decide whether to work or not, consider yourself blessed if you do.
For me, the decision may have inspired a few “what ifs” I hadn’t been able to tailor my work schedule around my daughter most of the time in the early months of her life. Even though the Godfather and I discussed me working vs staying home before she was even born, we were blessed to have the opportunity to “test” out both options before making a final decision involving an outside employer. I understand why some friends of mine who had children younger have never worked. I understand why my mother chose to stay home until my sisters and I were all in school. I understand why a former co-worker of mine in Georgia told everyone she was leaving her job after the baby, and then changed her mind and came back after maternity leave because she missed being at work.
There is no right or wrong decision here. If you find working is the right decision for you but you are struggling with balance, I hope that by sharing some of what I have learned I help you simplify so you can find your happy place, a place where you can genuinely say, “I love being a working mother” too.
There will likely be a follow up to this article in a few months after we settle into our new schedule and I gain more insight into working with childcare.