Musings on self-employment: The three month check in

Brides, this is a post about my journey into self-employment with the blog. It’s not about weddings (well it’s a bit about weddings) so fair warning – I’ll get lots of lovely weddingy content up for you a little later on!

So folks it’s been three months since I took the plunge into self-employment. You can read more about how and why I did that here (although sorry if this post is a bit defensive – I’d experienced my first ever taste of online dissent when I wrote it and I wasn’t quite used to it yet!)

It’s been a strange and wonderful journey so far – as the blog has grown exponentially in readership I’ve been through more in three months than I could ever have imagined would be possible.

A month in I received a very scary cease and desist letter about my old name. Having accidentally stumbled upon someone else’s trademark (to be fair it wasn’t a name I’d thought you could trademark) I had to consider my options. After a morning of sobbing into my pillow (really) I decided that, rather than take on a corporate giant and embark upon a very long and futile legal battle contesting a trademark when I have no money, it was probably wise just to back down and rebrand as quickly as possible.

This is when the amazing folk in the wedding community rallied around me in a way I’d never dreamed possible – 16 amazing suppliers donated some unbelievable prizes, and I ran a competition to rename the blog. Having had about 40 entries, I sat and painstakingly narrowed them down to three that I thought would really suit me. Then you guys voted and Under the Vintage Veil was born!

Then came a little bit of a dark month. In December, winter hit hard. The short days started to take their toll on me and dropping site numbers after the rebrand sent me into a spiral of depression. Instead of listening to advice from experienced friends, colleagues and family members that the drop was a temporary blip, I convinced myself I’d failed. The blog started to become a struggle and I genuinely wondered if I could cope with some of the criticism and conflict in the wedding world. Brides don’t see what happens behind the scenes – often it’s just a bunch of really, really nice people being really really nice to each other, but I’m the kind of person for whom a thick skin doesn’t come naturally. And I was in a place where one harsh jibe could erase hundreds of wonderful comments in a heartbeat.

This was probably the most valuable business lesson I’ve ever learned – and a real turning point. I sat down and thought about what makes me different. Lots of people blog about vintage weddings, but I wanted to share more – share more of myself, share more of the very real relationship issues brides face and build a loving, supportive and solid community of brides, suppliers and friends who were there to help each other out.

So I decided to talk about it - in the hope that it would help me, and that, in reading it, others might find solace in the fact that they’re not alone. Secretly, though, I think I was really hoping to find out that I wasn’t alone. And I did. And it gave me immeasurable strength. I decided to take any negativity right off my radar. After all, it doesn’t have to be part of my reality if I don’t want it to.

A period of depression and poor health came to a drastic halt towards Christmas. With a legitimate break on the cards, and follower numbers flourishing again I started to feel stronger. Over Christmas, John and I worked frantically on updating the site to give it the look and feel I’d hoped for – we collated lots of lovely content and got scheduling. I was ready to come back kicking.

And come back kicking I did! Traffic shot up to an all-time high, wonderful suppliers sent in their submissions, offered their support in the form of sponsorship and signed up for the directory in their droves. Meanwhile I’ve seen the fruits of a wonderful shoot I did published on another fabulous wedding blog and have been busy busy busy organising the next one. The phone never stops ringing and emails come in faster than I can type to reply!

My social life is also something I never expected it to be – I have actual, real, wonderful friends who I really care about and trust in this industry. I have a place and a home here.

The other day I turned around to John and told him that for the first time ever, I like me. This whole adventure has shown me what I’m capable of and I know it’s only the beginning – I can do so much more! For the first time in my life I feel like I’m soaring – like I’m able to handle the disapproval of others and accept the compliments of those who enjoy what I do. I’m able to see myself as a friend and an ally, not something to hide from.

I guess what I’m saying is, for the first time in my life I’m happy. A little bit less cashed up, true, but staying afloat, paying my bills and… just happy! I feel much more confident going to industry events – much more secure in the knowledge that even if I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, I mean something to the people that matter to me. It’s changed the way I interact because I’m less worried about what people think of me – and that makes me much more able to focus on others, to be interested in them, rather than worry about watching myself the whole time.

So thank you, readers, friends and colleagues for the first whirlwind three months. As this blog goes from strength to strength my life just keeps getting better and better – and that’s all down to everyone who’s ever clicked through to read, comment on or like a post.

So where to next? Right now I’m just happy to enjoy the ride!

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