Constant Content Creation

Lately, I feel as if I'm drowning in a sea of content, ideas, and responsibilities.  The thing with running a magazine (or really, for most businesses) is that there is a constant need for more, more, more content.  Aside from the literal magazine content to be curated, edited, designed, and promoted, there is so much more: the blog posts, the newsletters, the social media posts, the social media groups, the advertising, the emails.  At some point or another, you just feel burnt out from all of the content creation.

That is me now.

The past two weeks I've taken some information I've learned in a new course and been applying it to our Facebook page.  Because of this, I've taken over the content creation of our Facebook page (which is normally left to our Social Media Manager, Jess) for the last couple weeks in addition to the Instagram page, in addition to the newsletters, and preorder content and tasks and it's all just felt like a lot.

In fact, I even posted a bit about my feeling towards just being exhausted by social media in general on Instagram on Monday, but the feeling extends a bit to everything.

The need to be constantly curating and creating new content, no matter the form, can feel overwhelming.  The feeling that it needs to be perfect, even more so.  At some point (and the point is different for us all), we have to learn to be okay with taking a step back and giving ourselves breathing room.  Our business will not collapse if we push out less content or we post one less time on social media.  We have to trust enough in ourselves to know that we will be okay.



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Two Years

Two years ago today I hit publish on what was my scariest project to date - this magazine.

I've always been somewhat of a serial entrepreneur, always wanting to find something that would allow me to be my own boss, but I never really found that thing that stuck.  That thing that I dreamed about at night and couldn't wait to work on during the day.

Until Holl & Lane.

I went into this magazine with absolutely no expectations - mostly because I had no idea WHAT to expect.  With no experience in this industry, no design skills, and no idea how to actually run a successful business I just knew that this idea I had could be a good one.  So, I took the chance, and I hit publish.

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For those of you who aren't familiar with the backstory of the magazine, here's the short version: I've had 3 goals for my life: open a clothing boutique, write a novel, and run a magazine.  So shortly after my son was born when I realized that I wanted to make the dream of being my own boss a reality, I decided to just pick one of those goals and focus on it.  Throughout my pregnancy with my son, I was miserable.  I was in and out of the hospital, sick for all nine months, went into preterm labor and eventually ended up on bed rest.  So as I wrote about that on my personal blog, I took note of the fact that my readers appreciated this honesty, and I began to realize that I couldn't find it anywhere else.  So with that notion in mind, and my resolve to run my own magazine, I set out to create what I thought would be an exploration in the honesty of human experiences.

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If you've been a reader since the very first issue, you know how drastically things have changed - and that has been because I finally decided to follow my gut and create the magazine I always dreamed of, instead of letting others dictate what I should be doing.  We went from showcasing EVERYTHING (style, food, interiors, business, diy, etc) to going to the heart of what H&L is all about - the stories.  Those honest stories that make up a lifetime.  That's what I had always dreamed of sharing, and finally, FINALLY, that's what we're creating.  And I couldn't be more proud of it.

Some of my biggest takeaways from the past two years:

  1. Accept the offer of help - whether it's from people wanting to be a part of your mission, or those who are able to help monetarily, or even the husband who takes over childcare duty so you can focus - accept the help.
  2. Listen to your gut - it's speaking to you for a reason.  Sometimes I get stuck in thinking about where we'd been had I listened to my gut over a year ago and focused on the stories as I wanted to.  But, instead of dwelling on it, I try to focus on hearing what my gut has to say these days, and following it.  I haven't been wrong yet.
  3. Go the extra mile - for your customers.  One of the biggest compliments I get from our readers is that they appreciate that I've taken the time to handwrite a note with their order.  Every single print copy or product that leaves my house gets a handwritten note, too.  It's important for me to know that I'm so thankful they've spent their hard earned money on a product that I've created.
  4. Keep learning - about your industry, your skills, and from others.  I have never claimed to know what I'm doing but I'm also consistently learning from my experiences and those of others.  I listen, I pay attention, I study, and I try.  I have no background in design but just through trial and error, I'm now designing a pretty great magazine (if I do say so myself).  I had no idea how to run a magazine with subscriptions and now I'm doing it.  It's all thanks to being willing to learn from others who want to teach.
  5. Be proud - of what you've accomplished and where you're going.  We can get so stuck in the negative and of comparing ourselves to others and we stop looking at what WE'VE done in the meantime.  I struggle with this constantly but I try to remember to take a step back, read the emails I get in about how much the magazine means to someone, or I flip back through the older issues to see how far we've come, and I'm proud of what we've created.  This community we've built may not be large, but it is mighty.  And that's more important to me.

I won't lie and say that these two years have been smooth sailing.  So, so much has taken place over the past two years - most of it good, but not all.  But I will say the confidence in knowing that this is what I'm supposed to be doing has made it all worth it.  I know I'm supposed to tell these stories, I know that I am right where I belong and I'm excited about the future.

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I'd like to end with two special thanks:

To the readers who have stuck with us through our growing pains, who have shared us with their friends and family, who have believed in us every step of the way - I will never be able to adequately put into words what that means to me.  Thank you will never be enough.

To Mia, Jess, and Madisen - you three don't get the credit you deserve.  Without you in the background, H&L wouldn't exist.  I could not be on this journey without you.  Thank you for supporting this dream of mine, for working your asses off, and for your friendship.  Go have a donut, you've earned it.

 



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Learning to Delegate

Often when I'm interviewed about the magazine, I'm asked what I've learned since starting it in 2015.  I've learned a lot about running my own business in the last couple of years but one unexpected thing I learned: how to delegate and actually be a boss.

Of all the things I've wanted to be in my life, a boss was never one of them.  I'm uncomfortable being the one in charge of others, of telling them what to do, of being the one responsible for each decision.  And though that feeling hasn't changed, it's something I've learned to adjust to.

I think it all starts with finding that perfect team.  I have talked about my team to anyone who would listen because they are so phenomenal.  And one of the things that makes them that way is being willing to work hard and get their tasks done with little input from me.  Though it has taken awhile for me to get comfortable enough to hand over the reigns, now that I have, it has taken so much stress and pressure off my shoulders.  

When I first started searching for people to help me on this team, I was really just looking for social media help and that's what I had.  But as time went on and Mia and Jess (in particular) got more comfortable on the team, I increased their responsibilities to the point that they often have to remind me that we have things coming up, or to follow up with me to make sure things are on track.  

In learning to delegate, these are a few tips that I've found to be helpful:

  1. Be clear.  Let your team know what you want, what you expect, and how you expect it to be done.  We now have an onboarding process for anyone new that joins our team which outlines our communication expectations, responsibilities, and more.  This has helped people understand the team right off the bat when they join us.
  2. Don't be afraid to ask.  I still have a problem with this, but when you are feeling overwhelmed, don't be afraid to ask a team member to help you out or take on a task to get it off your plate.  More often than not, they'll be happy to help.  And if they aren't, then maybe they aren't really a team player.
  3. Let go of the control.  This one will take awhile.  Your business is your baby and you want things done a certain way.  But at some point, you have to loosen your grip if you want to be able to trust your team and to focus your efforts elsewhere.  Though I always loved being in contact with our contributors, it took away my time from doing other things, so now Mia takes care of that and does an amazing job (probably better than I ever did).  She also completely schedules the blog - I don't even see the posts until they're actually live.  Madisen sets up every single blog post.  I just let her know how I like them to look and she takes it from there.  Jess has our official Facebook page completely covered - I have no idea what she'll be posting on a day to day basis and I see it when everyone else does.  Letting go of these types of tasks has freed up so much of my time that I'm able to devote to other things and that allow me to breathe a little easier.
  4. Trust your team.  You brought your team on board for a reason and if you're ever going to be able to grow, you have to allow them to help you and trust that you have been clear enough that they'll know how things should go.  And if you're lucky, at some point they'll feel that your business is as much a part of them as you do.  And that's an awesome feeling.


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