One day you’re sitting at your computer and you discover that someone has attacked you somewhat casually online and for a brief moment you reexamine your entire existence. Initially you’re shocked and hurt, you question what would drive a person to say negative things about you in such a public and seemingly meaningless way. You consult your friends who rally behind you and suddenly the world doesn’t feel so small and the problem all consuming, soon it all just become silly. You brush it off and laugh at yourself for allowing a total random stranger to effect you that way. You’re stronger than that, you’re a grown woman and this isn’t high school.
That was me yesterday.
I’m over the short-lived drama but I did take something away from it. It made me realise that I need to be clearer about how I conduct business on the blog, how sponsored posts help fund bigger community projects and to also shed a little more light on my everyday life. Right now for instance, I’m writing from my couch whilst wearing a house dress and no bra. I’m not wearing make up and the humidity has made my hair so crazy I look like a cave woman. This is how I look about four days a week. I clean, I play and I write… emails.
If I was to make a pie chart of my workflow, the time I have to blog would take up a very small slice. Danimezza.com has become so much bigger than the blog and it’s amazing. I’m actually in a position where I can make a difference. I’m personally funding initiatives and projects, I even held a charity fundraising event. I’d rather put my time into those things as they help many, than blog about the mundane as frequently as I used to.
I made the decision to become more fashion focused on the blog around this time last year. I stopped writing about Aidan so much because I didn’t feel as comfortable doing so but I never explained why. In all honesty Aidan had a little fan club of sorts, women who felt they had some kind of warped ownership over him. I put it down as harmless but the random emails I’d receive from strangers telling me how I should raise him started to pile up. I’d write a post about how I was finding motherhood difficult, that I’d never felt so alone and almost instantly I’d get emails telling me to “Suck it up, at least you have a child…” and I no longer felt I could share my whole self. I didn’t feel safe and I didn’t feel Aidan was safe either.
Didn’t see that coming did you? Neither did I. I had to reevaluate my blogging life, I adapted. I wanted Danimezza to be a happy place, people loved my outfit posts so I decided to expand on it. This didn’t go down well with my regular readers. I used to blog raw (like this) and post photos of Aidan playing, sharing his developments, revamping old furniture and doing little crafty projects. I blogged about being a stay at home wife and mother. I got my blog a make over and I stopped sharing all those things. I lost over 80% of my readership.
I had a meeting with Lorraine from The Remarkables in January, I’ll never forget the look on her face when she saw my stats, they were abismal. The timing was just wrong for me as I was in the middle of a huge change and I wasn’t even sure if people would like my new content. My Nuffnang rates dropped dramatically and even though Kidspot and Ford loved my video entries for Top 50 Bloggers competition my stats were never high enough to stand a chance. Now months later, not only have my stats grown but I’ve grown as a person. I’ve found my direction, my calling if you will and I’ve been head-down-bum-up ever since. I’ve been lucky to have very supportive friends (they know who they are) and I’m now apart of an industry that not only embraces my work but also values my opinion.
Going to NYC in June for FFFWeek played a huge part in my sense of self worth. There’s something to be said about leaving home to really appreciate it. I also made a lot of new friends who got me, who understood what I was about and were trying to do the same thing on their own turf. One thing I noticed was that in the US there was already an established community of bloggers in that niche. They attended plus size fashion blogging events, hung out together in their own time and they all knew that they were inspiring people.
Australia didn’t have that sense of community and it made me really sad so I was determined to do something about it when I returned home. I had spoken to most of the Australian Plus Size Fashion Bloggers but there was no collective voice. We all just did our own thing, rarely commented on each others sites and rarely met up in person. I started Aussie Curves and the walls we had subconsciously put up between us came tumbling down. Some of the bloggers understood the community spirit, the sharing of stories, the free tech support and how fun it was to talk about fashion with people who were just as excited about it as you were. Some didn’t and that’s ok.
I’m proud to stay that Australian women no longer have to look abroad to find curvy role models, they can find relatable women who wear and buy clothing from the same places they do. We all have different aesthetics and we’re celebrated for them. We all have our own body challenges, hang ups and highlights and we’re able to discuss them in a way that some women just can’t with their friends in real life. We’ve all inspired people and in some cases we’ve changed lives. I’m immensely proud.
It’s not all about make up, pretty dresses and prancing about in front of cameras, that just happens one hour a week. The rest of the time I’m emailing. I know some readers don’t like sponsored post but I like to think I’m pretty clear when it comes to disclaimers. Sometimes I got paid, sometimes I didn’t. Sometimes I got free stuff and sometimes I got free stuff to give to my readers. I’m a big believer in blogging karma, if I receive I feel I should give. I currently have over $1000 worth of prizes to be won and some of the giveaways I wasn’t even paid for but I took on the jobs because I knew you’d love the prizes. Sometimes I’m sent random products or vouchers and I wont use them, but instead randomly send them out to readers who support me. I just wanted to give.
In the last few months I decided to be open about my stats and my rate of pay, they’re updated monthly and anyone can look at them at any time. In the industry this is an unusual practice but it feels so freeing and honest. It’s not about bragging, there are many bloggers with bigger stats and a larger reach than me by far. I’m an individual with individual talents, I can’t be judged evenly in comparison to another and that’s one of the things I love about blogging. I set my rates at a level where I feel comfortable, where my time, talent, experience and reach are accounted for, also at a level where advertisers are comfortable to pay. It’s a tricky balance but I’ve finally figured out what works for me.
Where does all the money go? Straight back into the blog.
This time of year is pretty lucrative for a blogger who has a business mindset. Yes, that means I have a registered business, an ABN and do my accounts and taxes. Everyone has bursting advertising budgets and they all have products and services needing promotion before Christmas. The thing is, after Christmas the money dries up, usually until after Easter and it sucks. 2013 will be my fourth year in business and I’ve affectionately named that period “The Dead Zone”. Not surprisingly it’s usually when I do my best work, I have less emails to reply to and more time to just be.
Money makes the world go round and I rely on the pre Christmas influx of cashflow to keep me afloat in harder times. Three years ago I put up my first ad with Nuffnang and started doing sponsored posts. I made $4 a week on ads and was paid $110 for a sponsored post. Suffice to say the money didn’t stretch far. I bought business cards and paid for my domain name and contributed to the internet bill… life was simple. Now my blogging income pays for education (ebooks, conferences, etc), utilities (internet, phone plan etc), travel, supplies, software, camera gear and projects.
Projects? What projects? Well remember the time I flew to Hayman Island for a week? That wasn’t for a holiday. I don’t want to go into it too much now as it launches next week so you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled. Lets just say it was expensive, time consuming and I’m wet-my-pants-excited about it. Hosting a charity event doesn’t come cheap either. Plus Size Fashion Weekend Australia (which I’ll blog in more detail about tomorrow) was another thing I’ve been planning all year behind the scenes. It too was expensive, time consuming but I’m blissfully proud of how it all turned out.
My uncle Andy gave a speech at our wedding back in 2007 about “Bliss”. To follow it, trust in it and enjoy it, to keep it around us always. I’ve tried to apply that to my work as well as my marriage. My blog is no longer just a diary but it’s still a place where I share parts of myself, my passions and my fascinations. Sure it can seem a little vain, sure I post one too many selfies on instagram and sure I need to learn to share the bigger picture. But sometimes I get so wound up in the heavy things behind the scenes that it’s nice to be a little fanciful and keep the blog light and fun.
The money keeps the blog rolling, facilitates awesome projects I’d be unable to do otherwise and the little bit I can contribute to the home helps Steve justify all the time I spend on facebook and occasionally helps pay for annoying things like rego. This is my job, something I never even considered an option when I left school 10 years ago. It’s a job (no, a business) I’m proud to say I helped pave the way for in Australia over the last 6.5 years and something I’m keenly interested in educating other bloggers about.
So there you go, I wanted to give you a bit of an understanding into what I do and why. I love being a wife and mother who’s able to work from home. Is it hard work? Yes. Is it rewarding? Sometimes. Do I love it? Absolutely. I’m not going to sit here and tell you I have the magical calculation for life and work balance all sorted out, trust me I’m no where near but I’m trying. I’m doing what I love, surrounded by people who love and support me and I couldn’t feel more blessed. Thanks for taking the time to read this epic post and if you have any questions at all please feel free to ask me, I’m always happy to share.