Working at home through summer vacation is hard. No matter what you do, how much support you have, how many camps and programs you can afford, or how flexible you might be, its hard to have your people home. Even when they are 18, can drive, are taller than you, and in so many ways both independent and self sufficient. This summer was even more unique as I spent most of it in a cast. Just before Memorial Day Weekend I had joint fusion surgery on my left foot. Loaded up with 3 screws and pin with 7 weeks on crutches and another 3 in a massive boot. Summer vacation is arguably one of our busiest times of year as a family so it was game on for everyone. To adjust, pitch in, and be incredibly realistic about what could really get done. Including me.
Summer vacation at GO MOM!® is usually a time where I post less often. If our readers and viewers are anything like me, they are busy enjoying life with their families. Juggling work yes, but spending their free time as recreationally as possible, at the pool, on vacation, lazy evenings watching the stars. Not spending free time online. Because there were so many active things I could not do, this year’s summer vacation gave me far more time to ponder my work…to ask myself why things didn’t feel like they were working. And here is what I learned about my work on summer vacation.
Creating Makes Me Happy
Now that the kids are back to school and my house is quiet, I’m increasingly aware that I’m happiest when I’m creating.
It might be shooting a video for busy Moms. I talk in soundbites. I think in bullet points. So shooting a 3 minute video in almost always 1 (maybe 2) take is how I roll. This is why I like to do video first and write second. I’m always thinking about videos with an easy (and I hope fun) tutorial to solve a busy Mom’s every day dilemma. I make idea lists in the midst of my personal projects so I remember to share what I’m sure is a common challenge needing an easy solution. I look for ideas that will keep it real, showing you that I’m not any different than the next Mom in carpool, as organized as I can be with everything I have to juggle. My house isn’t perfect ~ I live with 4 other people (2 teenagers in that mix) and a dog!!! But, when I focus on the projects that make me happy at home, then I’m happy tending to my home and spending more time having fun with my people.
It might be brainstorming ideas for a new brand campaign. I cherish my partners and our work together never fails to tap the corporate thinker that lies inside of me, making me wonder if I should make the leap. When that brand is part of my category, like the Stow Company and EasyClosets, I am totally in my zone. The sweet spot of doing what I love with a team of incredible people at a company that rocks in a space that I get. Creating content about being organized is entirely intuitive ~ I don’t struggle to conceptualize, its natural. I am equally as selective and passionate about every brand I work with. It has to be entirely natural to make sense not just to me but to you too. I love the team work. I love the support to launch ideas. And I love the personal interaction with the people those campaigns were meant to reach.
It might be sharing a post about Disney. That I have had the chance to collaborate with Disney through social media is phenomenal. My love for Disney dates back to my childhood and being part of the Walt Disney World College Program as an attractions hostess at Epcot Center’s Universe of Energy. I’ve made it known that while I love my husband dearly, had it not been for meeting him I would have returned to Walt Disney World after college to start what I had planned to be a lifelong career with the brand that I love more than any other. I adore Disney because of how at such a critical time in my training as a future professional, it shaped my corporate views for what a truly successful brand is really all about ~ the people who are part of it on both sides of the experience. I can honestly say my family has made memories of a lifetime at Disney Parks, both as part of my work and on our own, and the magic most definitely never ends. I smile the entire time I’m working on my Disney posts. And I know they will be helpful because so many busy Moms may have a trip to Walt Disney World on their list of dreams they hope come true. And if they are sports Moms, they have that trip on their list of athletic dreams and opportunities come true for their child.
Not Creating Makes Me Want to Quit
When I don’t create, I don’t like the world of social media at all. Summer vacation brings a level of activity that makes it hard for me to lose myself in my own work when my people are at home. I want to play. I have no problem spending the day at the pool. I’m terrible about making sure anyone goes to bed on time. And I believe in eating ice cream often. As I stepped further away from social media this summer, I had a harder time getting back. What I was willing to overlook seemed to stare me boldly in the face, challenging me to ask why am I there?
I am regularly surprised by the lack of boundaries around what people share about their personal lives and those of their children. I’m disheartened at the lack of professionalism periodically shown by both influencers and brands alike all in the name of the almighty page view…or profit. I question myself often about how I can logically thrive in an industry that continually asks talented professionals to work for free, to accept pay in the form of a gift card, and expect access to influence with so little benefit to the content creators they so aggressively seek. If asked, I am beyond confident that I would not find a single public relations professional who would agree to do someone else’s job for free. And quite honestly most of their interns would refuse too. How can this continue?
Focusing on Making Money Derails My Success
You may not know that the entire reason GO MOM!® was created was to support a product I invented, the original GO MOM!® Planner. An idea I had that I just couldn’t forgive myself if I did not share. A creation from my heart. Launched in 2000, we licensed in 2002 to Mead Westvaco, entered mass market in Target stores in 2004, performed very successfully for the next 4 years expanding in to office and book stores and so many more. and we then ended our partnership in 2008. For those 8 years I was meant to create products. It was profitable. Doors opened without any effort on my part. I knew I was doing exactly what I was meant to do. My business grew and then it was time for change. Drastic change.
5 years later, not a back-to-school or new year product cycle goes by where we don’t have Moms who used our mass market made product ask why we aren’t there. This year I even had someone ask “Why are you making this so hard for me?” Believe me. I’m not trying to make it hard. But if you love a mass market paper planner, I feel your pain. I love product development. Our season to return to mass market has yet to present itself. My ideas list is long. My knowledge is extensive. My expertise in my category is proven. And my confidence about what would truly work to keep busy Moms organized both digitally and with paper is spot on.
It has not been time.
So how do I make money? By creating. By collaborating. By sharing what I know in ways that can be beneficial to Moms and brands alike. When I get buried in the finer points of SEO, working to build our affiliate program, wondering if selling ads on the site would really make a difference, and continually being amazed at how cut throat and competitive the space is, I lose my focus. If I allow myself to get sucked into the numbers game letting my stats and numbers of social outlet followers somehow define my excellence, then I am derailed from my success. Because my success can never be truly defined by those measurements. My success is defined a woman who bought my planner 5 years ago emailing me today saying “You realize there is nothing better on the market don’t you?” My success is defined by my colleagues telling me “Your videos make things so easy to do.” Not because I asked them about their quality or value. Because the are real Moms, just like me and you. My success all summed up in this simple statement ~
Helping busy Moms lead a life that is generally well organized and exceptionally well loved.
If I focus on that instead of the tangled web of how to make money via the web, then I am successful. Because my work will make a difference more every single day by helping Moms versus padding an infograph for an internal ROI report.
What am I Supposed to Do?
To create. To harness my ideas for posts on paper. To map out my editorial calendars so GO MOM!® has a schedule. To film useful videos on topics I know busy Moms are thinking about too. To connect with busy Moms every single day, staying in touch with what I know about each stage and learning more about what I might not know. To collaborate with talented professionals at award winning brands I’d love to share about no matter if they would hire me or not. To spend time with my wicked smart colleagues who are leading the way in the wild west space that social media remains, teaching best practices as they go, and making me a better social media professional with every article they publish and conference they host. To plan events that gather bright minds for game changing campaigns and to attend world class media events that are as much hard work as they are fun, reminding me every time what I love about brands in the first place. That they are about the people who support them and the consumers who define them.
This is what I do.
This year my summer vacation threw me a major curve. My surgery greatly reduced my ability to over-achieve and multi-task.
It wasn’t time.
So I slowed down. I payed attention to my heart. I realized that focusing on how to make money in this crazy social media space was stealing my heart for what I have always loved to do….to create. To create solutions. To create experiences. To create joy.
If that is profitable, then that is totally awesome. But it can’t be why I try. It is time to trust that when I do what I love, the money will follow.
What did you learn on summer vacation?