The Grit and the Beauty

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For good reason, it’s been a while since I have written a blog post. I haven’t had a free moment to write, and honestly, it doesn’t come to me as naturally as it does for Megan. Most of the time, my work on the blog is behind the scenes, either with a camera or when brainstorming ideas for new posts and series ideas with Megan. Most of my time is spent managing and creative directing for our studio, Wild Measure. So, that’s the lead into my true reason for now writing.

Once a month, I meet up with a group of artists and entrepreneurs in Raleigh for a long night of bourbon drinking and poker. On the way to poker this last Saturday night, I rode with our longtime friend and designer at Wild Measure, Jordan. While we were in LA last week, he was working on a couple projects for us and found the blogger hater site, Get Off My Internets. As only a great friend can, he expressed his concerns about some of the criticisms. As people trying to add to the creative world, Megan and I are both aware the page exists, but we try to stay positive by reading more inspirational and proactive things online. Too many times, we have seen negative comments only stifle other bloggers. Because of that, we don’t really look at our forum page.

At poker night, we talked business and life, lost $20 in nickels, and enjoyed some amazing bourbon and Japanese whiskey with the gentlemen of Raleigh. I got home around 2 a.m. and Megan was asleep, but I was still feeling the jet lag of West Coast time and wasn’t tired. It was then that I did the unthinkable: with my wife in the other room asleep, I opened my laptop and went to the last website I should ever go…

I opened up Google and searched for “Get Off My Internets The Fresh Exchange.”

I have to say, as I began to read our page, I was really surprised that people would even take the time to actually write about what they loved and hated about our blog. I appreciated the honest criticism. Ultimately, some of the things written were things I expected, and they referenced areas we are aware we need to work on. Within the comments, there were even some compliments, whether they were meant to be or not.

As I read through the comments, I expected to be upset and angered, but instead, by the time I got to the bottom of the forum, I was feeling inspired. It inspired me to start being more open about work, rather than being so vague about the actual struggles we reference. I want to find a more balanced way to show the beauty and the grit. So, I am doing the one thing every blogger told us never to do: actually talking about our forum and the comments. I know our blogger friends meant for us not to get involved in arguments on the forum, but I want to talk about some of the comments and respond in a positive way, here, on the blog. This is mostly because there was some honest feedback that we needed in order to become better, and I am thankful to know what it’s like to read the blog from others’ perspectives. We thought we were being really open about life and our struggles on the blog, but until I read this comment below, I wasn’t aware of how disconnected we had begun to sound:

“I think Megan has great taste and I want to love the blog but it is beginning to wear on me. Every post seems to consist of several good looking photos and some text about how busy and stressed and creatively limited she is during her “transition,” coupled with the several weekly posts/Instagrams of her running free on the beach and sailing. As someone who is currently in what Megan would probably define as a “stressful transition” – working full time but preparing to go to a design school in a new country – I feel like I should empathize with her more but I don’t. Most nights I have anxiety nightmares about flathunting so but honestly her posts about househunting don’t even strike a chord. It also pisses me off because I haven’t had a vacation this summer and she appears to be at the beach half the time, yet is still complaining on the blog. Obviously that’s just my personal issue since I don’t actually know her life, and she probably has every right to complain, just as I am right now.

Perhaps it is because she is too busy to write, but I feel like Megan/Fresh Exchange/Wild Measure are becoming less and less relatable. The poor grammar and lack of editing don’t help either, although Taylor’s posts seem more refined. I assumed we’d hear more from Mike or Taylor on the blog but that’s not really the case. Hopefully the move will be a good way to hit refresh? Or Megan can take a blogging break like K. Shannon to avoid the struggle of having to write weekly about her struggle? Anyone else feel this way?”

Comment by: lady2966

I wish I knew who lady2966 was so I could thank her for her constructive criticism. And yes, lady2966, you will be seeing more posts from me in the future. Lately, I have been so overwhelmed with the amount of work it took to go through the loan process for a home, running the Wild Measure studio with 4-6 full-time brand clients, and managing between 5-12 freelancers at any given moment. I haven’t even thought about writing a blog post or had the mental capacity to give it the time it needed. I realize this may be the first time we are opening up about what the last few months have held for us. But as we go into Q4, we will be launching a new blog design, finally launching the Wild Measure website, taking fewer brand projects, and focusing more on getting back to a healthier state.

What I realized in her comment (I think she’s a girl) was that we have focused on The Fresh Exchange being so much about inspiration that we have left out a lot of the grit between the beauty. I also realized that our posts are most relatable when we share the real moments of being creative entrepreneurs. While our Summer was amazing and beautiful, we worked 10-12 hour days every day. We worked weekends, mornings, and late into the night. Therefore, after 12 hours of branding and design work, all we wanted to talk about on the blog was the 2-hour break we got in the day to run down to the docks and take the boat out at sunset or spend an hour jumping in the water and enjoying the sun. I simply say this to be open. We wanted to share what we felt was inspirational, not realizing it was presenting a false reality. Truthfully, what we were posting on the blog and Instagram was what was inspiring us. Don’t get us wrong, we love our work and love our clients, but in the last few months, there has been an imbalance between work and life that we didn’t expect. It was a learning moment that we weren’t sure how to share or even if it was worth sharing.

When we don’t know what to share, we have always reverted to what we know and love looking at: beauty. Moving forward, we will work on talking about and showing more of the day-to-day, giving a fuller picture of our life as creative entrepreneurs who are married and creating together. We love the blogging community and have found so much support from other bloggers, designers, and your comments. We are all working hard to better ourselves and our craft, and that is fun and exciting to do as a community.

So in that spirit, I am going to talk very openly about two topics we have struggled to talk about:

1. What we really do in a day and what our time looks like.

We want to find a way to let light into our days and weeks as a creative husband and wife team owning a company and running a blog. We love what we do and leaving this part of our life out really isn’t fair. This may take the form of a weekly summary or a once-in-a-while day-in-the-life sort of post. We understand that it is important that as we talk about inspiration and beauty, we also talk about what it looks like to create and curate that everyday. We hear ya, and we are excited to figure out what will work best for the blog.

2. Grammer, sorry Grammar.

Aren’t I funny? Yes, we are aware that grammar and syntax are areas we need to improve. Many times, Megan is posting from the road or late at night after a full day of work. Taylor and I are proofing posts as often as we can, but we are all working full-time with Wild Measure. When deadlines get tight, all too often it means posting a first draft without editing. We try our best to always have a second set of eyes on every post, but it doesn’t always happen. Megan has gone so far as to begin meeting with a writing coach to work through some of the bad grammatical and syntax practices that come out of free flow writing. For years, I fought against her having any outside influence of an editor, because I loved the honesty and candor in her writing. However, as the blog grows, we will grow with it.

So there you have it. From a 2 a.m. Google search to blog post, I break my not-posting streak. Let me know what you think. We love hearing from you guys and want to keep this place relatable and inspirational always.

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42 Responses

  1. I feel like there is something important not being said: THE GOOD THINGS!
    When most people agree or empathize, they tend to stay pretend quiet (internet-wise). The only time they really speak up is when they disagree or have something negative to say. If we all agreed to be a little more openly supportive, the negatives might not be so bad, or cease all together. 🙂
    I find the only thing really disconnecting is lack of communication between writer and reader. We all like to know we are being heard when we speak, therefore I believe a little more interaction in the comments might make the readers feel more connected.

  2. Maybe I am not as critical as others when it comes to blogs but I feel much differently then others commenting, especially the main one Mike mentions on the post. I think the other website is ridiculous, it is like a way to backstab. If you are a fan or follower of The Fresh Exchange, you should comment directly to the site about your concerns or even send an email!

    Although I understand not wanting to talk about work when all you do is work, I would agree about wanting to hear more about your lives of having your own business, because it is unique and intriguing! I still love your inspirational posts about sailing and hikes, etc. as it inspires me to get out and do something.

    I think the grammar is being nitpicky. I sometimes notice it but truly it does not bother me because on a blog of perfect photos and beautiful typography, the grammatical errors and half sentences actually make it feel like there is a human behind the screen just sharing their thoughts without holding back. I understand Megan wanting to do better in her writing, but I hope she does not lose her true style of speaking from her heart, even if that means a less than perfect sentence structure.

    Anyway, it is great you are open to constructive criticism, but I just want to say to remember you cannot please everyone. I am excited to see you tweak things here and there on the blog but hope there isn’t a complete overhaul based on other peoples’ opinions that cause you to stray too far from your roots. Good luck in your changes and know you have a huge support group here on your blog!

  3. i so appreciate the honesty in this post. i relate a lot to the fresh exchange, especially because i’m also a michigan-transplant living in raleigh, but sometimes as an amateur blogger, it feels like you all have a perfect life. everything is so lovely and absolutely what i aspire to have in my own life, and while part of me loves taking the time out of my day to have a glance at the beauty you share, part of me wonders if maybe my own experiences are “weird” or something. it’s so easy to look at bloggers now a days and imagine that their lives are perfect, picturesque little bubbles where they have candle lit feasts with friends every evening while a local blue grass band plays in the backyard. but the truth is, it’s also amazing to see the grit behind the scenes and have something to relate to. i love the inspiring posts you all have regularly, but seeing a bit of real talk is always comforting as well : ) keep up the amazing work, it’s so great to have you all as an addition to raleigh!

    xoxo,
    Kristine

  4. I had no idea people actually took the time to write about that sort of things. It´s always good (and scary) to get constructive criticism, but it looks like that site is not exactly made for that.
    Still, my hat´s off to you guys. It takes a lot of courage to try and see things the way you´ve done it and work on taking it as constructive criticism.

    xo,
    Ana

  5. Blergh. I get honest criticism – but GOMI isn’t an honest place to share it. I have a hard time respecting, appreciating, or even considering what anyone has to say in that space. If lady2966 really cared about relating to you she would seek common ground. If lady2966 had integrity and really did want to connect she would voice her concerns or criticism in a place where it counts.

    Stay relatable and inspirational to the people who care about you guys. Write for your fans – not your critics.

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