APW’s Year in Review: 2017

Surviving the crash of the #GirlBoss

I woke up New Year’s Eve 2016 in a hotel with my husband (and, notably, no kids), delightfully hungover from the wedding the night before. More notably, however, I was woken up on New Year’s Eve 2016 by a phone call from my brand manager, aka the third in command on my team. You don’t have to own your own business to know this is decidedly Not A Good Thing.

What was she calling about at 8:30 a.m. on New Year’s Eve Morning? Well it turns out that APW, otherwise known as my livelihood and my life’s work of the last decade, had received a Very Bad email from Google. We were in violation of Google’s best practices, and we were in danger of being marked as a spam site and removed from all Google searches, if we didn’t change every violation on our website immediately. Unfortunately for us, that website had been publishing an average of two times a day for almost ten years, so take one small violation and multiply it by… whatever amount that was… and we had a disaster on our hands.

I took it pretty well. Maybe it’s because of that time a week before our wedding Google marked APW (not my livelihood at the time) as a spam site and removed it from the Internet, confiscating everything I’d ever published online. (Lesson learned: don’t host your site on Blogspot and back everything up every day.) Or maybe it’s because I truly had no idea just how bad this news was—how many months, and tears, and anti-anxiety meds, and money spent it would take us to get on anything NEAR the right track.

The thing is, bad news doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Trump had just been elected, and like so many others, my Jewish family was in a state of suspended animation and terror waiting for the inauguration. But on top of that (or perhaps because of that), we’d just taken the leap to invest in a full-size office for the company and hire on two staffers full time. Why? Because as a company we’d been growing rapidly for the past several years, and because the world as we knew it seemed to be melting away. I wanted to do something, anything, constructive. And taking care of my team felt like something that I could really solidly do.

So that morning, in the hotel room, we activated the staff, and we formed a plan. We’d work nonstop through the holiday (I would work in the car on the way home, another staffer would work on a cross-country flight as 2016 passed to 2017), and we would beat the odds to get back in Google’s good graces in a week or two. We hoped. I mean, as a company that started as a Blogspot on my kitchen table, we’d always beaten the odds, so why not now?

And looking back, we did beat the odds. It’s just that beating the odds looked like not getting back in Google’s good graces till April, after about one thousand staff hours logged, and ten thousand individual corrections made, by hand, to this website. And even then, it didn’t mean that the course was miraculously corrected. Instead of the year of growth we had planned, we spent months just trying to reverse the damage.

And that was just the beginning of what 2017 had to offer.

From A Kitchen Table To A (Very) Real Office

When I started APW on, pretty literally, a wish and a prayer and a Blogspot account, the Internet was smaller. Back in 2008 there was a reasonably small community of women on the Internet writing every day, and an even smaller group of women writing about planning their weddings. While I’m still in touch with most of these women, I do deeply miss the days when we wrote and read each other’s work every day of every week. And in 2008, it was pretty easy to run a blog. If you wrote good stuff, and wrote it regularly, you were able to build and grow a community just based on the quality of your work, with exactly zero cash.

That said, I’m not one of those bloggers who pines for the good old days. A decade ago was fun, and different… and I also still had to go to work at my soul-killing job at an investment bank, and I couldn’t live my dream of running my own business. But over the years, the world of online content creation has changed rather radically. Within my own niche, the wedding industry realized that their clocks were being cleaned by wedding bloggers writing on their kitchen tables, and they set up to do battle. They put the deep pockets of corporate America behind their own wedding blogs (with results of varying quality), and they bought a reasonable number of high-performing wedding blogs (for various levels of good deals for their owners).

All that, plus all the related changes in the wider online publishing industry, meant that as time has gone on it’s gotten increasingly expensive to publish on the Internet. Instead of just hammering out good content, we’ve all had to spend money on good web design, good code, advertising budgets, SEO best practices, sales teams, multi-platform publishing models, and on and on.

And 2017 was the year that I decided to go all in. Part of this move was lovingly prodded by my coach, who’s spent the last two years getting me to stop setting artificial limitations for myself. And part of it had to do with my fundamental ambition, getting closer to forty, and not being ready to sell APW to some deep-pocketed and probably male-run corporation. So instead of going to work in a two-person office, where my coworker typically worked from home, we were going to bring on a full staff, and have a real office… and I was SO EXCITED ABOUT IT.

And then New Year’s Eve Morning happened, and the year turned into a tailspin that I am only now starting to be able to see my way out of.

Muddling Through A Middle Path

It’s easy to blame this whole year on an outside force, but that wouldn’t be fair, nor would it hold me accountable.

The truth is, growing as a small (feminist) company is hard, and we’ve seen too many ostensibly feminist companies crash on the rocks this year. There was Thinx, with its maternity leave failures, office boob groping, and meetings from the toilet. There was Nasty Gal’s bankruptcy, preceded by lawsuits and maternity leave failures. And then there was ModCloth’s sale to Walmart, which the female founder had no control over, but still took the heat for.

All of these failures had to do in large part with the VC funding model—which has been written about at length. Suffice to say, if you take a lot of money from men in suits who want ten to a hundred times growth, you will likely not be able to grow in a remotely sustainable way, let alone a feminist way.

Which leaves companies like mine (and those owned by many of my friends) in something of a bind. Do we go after money from an industry that we’ve known all along is deeply sexist, but whose sexism is now splashed all over the front page of the New York Times, with details like Kink rooms where male employees are encouraged to have sex with female ones? Or do we avoid that kind of funding all together, knowing that most funding in the wedding space is going to young male founders who saw their sisters plan a wedding once? (True story.)

In our case, we’ve decided to steer clear of the VC men in suits. I don’t feel like being evaluated based on looks in a pitch meeting, or having to explain to a VC guy that weddings are actually kind of a big business, and yes, women planning weddings care about things like logic and budget. Besides, I already worked for the men in suits. I hated it then, and I have no reason to think that I’ll hate it less now. (Though you can bet I have a line of credit from the bank, for use in a pinch.)

So all that leaves us trying to find a middle path. To play an increasingly expensive, increasingly technical game, in an industry more and more savvy to our existence as a threat. And on too many days this year, that’s meant that I’ve hammered through emergency to-do lists, not getting to growth projects, let alone getting to do the creative work that I’m kinda in this for. (The fact that I’ve written fifteen hundred words on this subject so far is, in fact, a very good sign.)

How You Screw It Up (From The Inside)

And while it’s easy to mock Miki Agrawal, the founder of Thinx (who on EARTH takes meetings when they’re audibly on the toilet?), some of the feminist industry failures have been ours too. If you’re a feminist business, you had better be a business first and feminist second, or you’ll quickly end up nothing at all. And while that sounds obvious, it can be pretty damn miserable when you’re facing down a tough decision. For example, all those troubled companies who faced problems with their maternity leave policies? APW provides paid maternity leave, but in a country that offers literally nothing to women having babies, trying to be a competitive business when every one of your employees is a woman of childbearing age is… tough. Because the burden has been shifted from all of society, directly onto you.

And then there are the shocking-sounding details that seem less shocking—and more alarming—when you’re in the middle of growing from a tiny feminist business to a larger and more formal one. The CEO of Thinx stripping down in her office in front of her employees? Reasonably horrifying, but, from the inside, it’s also really easy to see how you’d get there. We just went from a small group of all-female employees sharing a tight bond and a tiny office (and a lot of changing in front of each other on shoots), to a larger, more formal office with things like, you know, HR concerns. And that meant some soul searching—and legal pondering—about just who could change in front of whom, when. (Though mostly I’m glad that, unlike the CEO of Thinx, I don’t have a glass-walled office, or a product that’s underwear.)

All of which is to say that when I decided to grow APW in 2017, it was in part a response to a horrible election, and in part a desire to be true to all those zillions of screeds I’d written to women about asking for what they were worth and living up to their potential. I was trying to do the right thing, both for our readership and for my staff. I hadn’t spent a lot of time thinking about things like whether or not we should have an outsourced HR department, or what happens if a developer over promises and under delivers and takes a bunch of money in the process, or how to deal with employee conflict (hint: mediation). And I certainly hadn’t written an employee handbook or come up with a set of training documents, administrative procedures, or plans for disciplinary review.

And when you don’t do those things (even if it’s only because you don’t know to do them), you fail your company, you fail your team, and you end up making a mess of things… even with the best intentions.

And How You Make It Better

And now it’s December. And I’ve spent more time thinking about these things, and working on these documents, than you can imagine. My life over the past eleven months has been consumed by fixing bad links, hiring diversity trainers, employee mediation, trying to fix bad code, trying to manage contractor messes, cash flow management, revenue projections, and a feeling of seemingly near-constant crisis. (I have an existing anxiety condition, and I’ve taken my fair share of anti-anxiety meds in the middle of the night.)

In the past few months, things have slowly but surely improved. We made hard decisions, we started to set up long overdue office structures, we rebuilt departments, and we made some smart hires. We’re starting to see ourselves out of a year that had us at times worried for the company’s survival, or at least our emotional health. And because my coach has taught me that “what you focus on gets bigger,” I feel compelled to note that revenue is up year over year, I love our office space, our team is amazing, we’ve had huge opportunities this year… and also? I have time to write this essay. We’re still facing a million industry challenges, and we’re attempting to figure out what to do with the fact that we’re now bigger than Martha Stewart Weddings (seriously) without the comparable staffing and financial support. But I feel a lot more experienced and ready to try to figure it out.

I want to say that I’m grateful for all the challenges that 2017 has brought, and… I mostly am. I’m sure that I’m a stronger businessperson, and I know that I’m a better (and more seasoned) boss. But if I could go back to New Year’s Eve Morning in the hotel room and make the phone not ring, have that email warning never sent? I’m sure I would.

Why Women

On the morning of November 9, 2016, when this whole series of events feels like it was put in motion for me, I went downstairs to the lobby of our hotel in Lisbon, where we were staying during the giant tech conference we were in town for. I sat in front of the TV with a bunch of devastated looking Americans, but after a few minutes most of the men in the room stood up and announced it would all blow over soon, and it didn’t matter that much to them anyway. The only guy left was a Muslim British man, who clearly had a whole lot more skin in the game. He also happened to be one of the VC presenters I’d seen the previous day. And after we talked through the emotional wreckage of what had just happened, we turned to talking about business. He told me, in no uncertain terms, that I didn’t want VC money, and VC money probably didn’t want me. Why? Because I was already successful, and people like his boss didn’t want investments. They wanted gambles.

But he also told me that woman-run businesses were the smarter bet in the long term, every time. He said that all of the numbers show that woman-led businesses do better, for longer. Their profit margins tend to be narrower (let me remind you for a second of all of those maternity leaves), and their valuations tend to be lower. But that they had a far higher long-term success rate, and they were far better at taking care of their employees.

Guys like him just didn’t want in on what we were doing because in many ways we were a sure(r) thing. Slow and steady may win the race, but it’s probably not going to make a billion dollars.

Again, With Less Judgment

So what have I learned this year? That surviving is mostly about showing up, every single day. That you have to make hard decisions quickly, and stand by them, even when it feels miserable. That you’re going to litter the floor with mistakes, and there is just no way around that. That your saving grace is that you can adjust and adjust and adjust. You can miss the mark, and aim again, and hope to do a little better this time.

And that I’m in no rush to judge those #Girlbosses, and innovative plus-sized fashion retailers, and even breast milk latte servers that flamed and fell before me. (Besides, y’all, breast milk is delicious, and the patriarchy is holding us all back.) It’s easy to judge the flashy feminist fall (even if those women have done nothing akin to having a Kink room in their workplace, like the boys do). Because it’s possible that none of us know yet quite how to be feminists in business.

But mostly, I’ve learned that you will survive those unbelievably hard years in your career. Because if you’ve come this far, you’ve already made it. And the rest of us are here for you, cheering you on. (And reminding you that you may never, under any circumstances, have business meetings while on the toilet.)

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  • scw

    I clicked on this expecting an end of the year round-up and instead ended up tearing up on the subway! this has been a hard year politically, and for me, professionally, and there’s a lot to relate to here.

    I know I’m not the only reader who has wondered about the tough times vaguely referenced in the first few months of the year. and I’m definitely not alone in being glad apw has pulled through.

    as a side note, it’s so cool to me that you (meg) still write so many posts. maybe that’s a dumb thing to say – it’s a blog, you’re a writer – but in my experience, moving up and getting a bigger team often means you get to produce less yourself.

    thanks for being the only place on the internet I’m not afraid to read the comments.

    • Essssss

      “thanks for being the only place on the internet I’m not afraid to read the comments.” This.

      • Kendra Parkinson

        This sentiment is shared. So thankful for a safe feminist space amid the chaos. APW leads by example, and encourages me to keep trying at my own career path despite health and gender barriers.

      • Janet Hélène

        AMEN!

    • Aw, thank you. I feel like I don’t write nearly enough, but you know, as outlined above… finding the time this year has been a struggle. While we still need to round out our editorial team to get me out of the trenches, next year is looking better, which means I should have the time… and emotional energy… to create more.

      • LuckyLoveBug

        Meg, what sort of editorial work/experience are you looking for to round out your team?

        (Disqus is refusing to recognize my deets – so, posting as guest).

        • LuckyLoveBug

          (I know you’ve posted job openings – just wondering if those are what you’re referring to or if this is something else/different).

        • We’re going to be hiring someone local and part time I think, but it’s going to be a LOT of in the trenches work, which people don’t typically want to do. So it can be tricky to hire for. I need someone who can write and strategize, but probably 70% of their job and mine is constructing posts and copy editing, prepping things and running through checklists to make sure it’s perfect. I’m not quite sure what that position will shape up to be, or when we’ll hire exactly, but that’s the general picture.

          Just for general interest, I would guess that the average post on the site has probably 4 hours of total staff time behind it. Some way more, some less.

      • scw

        I went from a writing position this year to one where I’m the boss and have my own writer and so from a daily writing habit to NO writing habit. so I get it. hoping we both get to do more writing in 2018. :)

  • Olive

    Cheers to all of us for getting through 2017! It’s been a rough one, but has also brought about my own awakening and I’m sure something similar for many others.

    I’m still loving this space and community you’ve created, and I’m so pumped to grow my own little business with everything I’ve been inspired by and learned here.

  • K. is skittish about disqus

    So glad that APW is on the upswing, even if it was a difficult slog through most of this terrible-horrible-amazing-incredible-overall strange year.

    I relate to the feeling of professional gut punch against the political backdrop so much, and I send all my empathy to you and your staff, Meg. A little over a year ago in my personal corner of the world, I found out I was pregnant, Trump won the election, and my own passion-project, once quite successful business more or less went under…all within the same week. I’m adjusting to being a stay-at-home-mom (and surprised at how much fulfillment I’m getting from it) until the summer and doing some professional soul searching in the meantime, but terrified/excited for what the future holds, in all arenas of the world.

    So from one shell-shocked but determined (albeit with different circumstances) “#girlboss” (albeit on a different scale), loads of solidarity. And internet wine.

  • ML

    Props to you for putting in the hard work to grow up your business, and for putting it out there that the business part (where you gain the resources to do feminist things like pay fairly, paternity leave, etc.) has to be in place.

    I’m a former entrepreneur who benefited a *lot* from alternative funding models. Beyond the money, it opens up networks of people who can help, people who can commiserate, and more. Because nothing is more helpful than being able to hit up a fellow entrepreneur who has been there, done that.

    A couple alternative resources to check out:
    – Indie.vc (agreement is for % of future revenue or equity, so they’re not incentivizing giant exits)
    – Female Founder Office Hours (hosted in SF and NY by female VCs. I think you’re right to approach VC with extreme caution; but this particular event is framed around advice.)

    • Oh thank you so much. I will look into both of these.

      • Cassidy

        Another cool group you may want to check out is the zebra movement – VCs looking to counter the destruction created by the hunt for unicorns: https://www.zebrasunite.com/.

  • Shannon C.

    Thank you so much for this! I love seeing a little bit of the practical side and your words are so encouraging to all of us struggling to get through things right now. You’ve built something amazing and I’m looking forward to lots more fabulous content in the next years!

  • Essssss

    Thanks for sharing more of the challenges you’ve been alluding to on and off. What a journey! Wishing you light, joy, ease, and all the right kinds of growth in the new year. Grateful for the space that you’ve created in this corner of the internet.

  • Erin Carlson

    Thanks for doing (and sharing) the hard stuff. It sucks to know that you have all had such a difficult year, but it is encouraging to know that you all are willing to do the hard work to keep this community going. APW has been my safe place this year, and I gain so much hope from the community here.

  • Jan

    Oh my god. I am nine months into building a brand new organization from the ground up and needed to read this today. Thank you.

    ETA: I joined this community (well, began lurking) in January of last year and had no idea any of this was going on. Even if it felt chaotic to you, it felt like a good community from my perspective, so h/t to you all.

  • emilyg25

    Thank you for your honesty and for adding some nuance to the stories around Thinx, Modcloth, etc. This is why A Practical Wedding is worth it, and why I still read almost four years after my own wedding.

    One of the tough things about being in a creative field is that as you move up, you have less time to be creative, and a lot of the stuff you have to do can be hard and boring, or wildly outside your existing skillset.

    • scw

      yes so much to your last sentence. I miss the nitty gritty creative stuff a lot when I’m balancing budgets and making phone calls.

  • Another Meg

    Did NOT expect this post to make me cry. But there you go. Keep doing this, Meg. We need you, we need businesses run by women that take care of their employees (way to turn that “women are nurturers” thing into a type of business acumen), and we need feminist wedding spaces that ask the hard questions. Most of all, for me at least, I need a place where the comments are safe. APW is a rare gem in so many ways and we are rooting for you.

    This year was tough, but I finally found my professional niche and I am GOING FOR IT. It’s unlikely I’ll end up running a business (although a lot of folks in my industry do) but I know what I want to do and I am on a path to do it. It feels. So good.

  • Meg, I know I’ve already told you this but I’ll say it again – it’s been an honor to work for you and APW. I’ve gotten an up-close look at the inner workings here, and I’ve been so blown away by your leadership and vision for APW. And you’ve been a dream to work for. Here’s to more success for APW, you, the team, and hopefully being part of that team in 2018 :-)

    • WELL THAT MEANS A LOT SOB THANK YOU.

  • Leah

    Thank you Meg (and team) for putting in the incredibly hard work that makes this place on the internet a community. And thank you especially to Meg for the leadership balancing act of dealing with the hard stuff so that the rest of us get to Enjoy the community, but also sharing enough that we all feel like it’s still “our” community. It’s this hard work and thoughtfulness that keep so many of us coming back for years after the weddings that might have initially drawn us in. Congrats on making this work, even in the face of strong headwinds!

  • Meg, I’ve been reading since almost the beginning. I got married in 2009. I still check in here once in a while, even though I no longer participate in the comments (although I still believe this is the best comment section on the web, and still my model for what comment moderation can/should look like). And just… thank you. I don’t even know how to say it beyond that. Your work as a feminist and a business owner and a mother and wife and woman in this bizarre and sometimes horrific world of ours is invaluable to me. Thank you.

  • Sarah E

    I’m so glad you’re pulling through (wading through?) all this shit. You definitely add value to the world, and I’m so thankful for your work.

    Also, really wish I could’ve helped you with the employee handbook, I’m aces at writing those and a geek for SOP. :-)

    Here’s to a little better every day.

    • We’re still working on it, though we have a fully functional draft now. So if you really would like to help, PLEASE GOD drop us an email and we will take you up on that. team at apracticalwedding dot com

  • Jessica

    I’ve read this three times now. You–and the team you’ve built and nurtured–are amazing. Thank you for sharing the pitfalls and problems as well as celebrating your successes.

    Also, you’re bigger than Martha Stewart weddings? Get it!

    • We have been for about two years now, which is just so fundamentally crazy. We’re #4 or #5 in the space (website wise), depending on the month, and everyone bigger than us is corporate owned. It’s actually a tricky place to be in. I wish I had something smarter to say about it, but I don’t know that I’ve figured it out yet.

  • ruth

    Thank you so much for honestly sharing this with us, Meg! I’ve read APW every day, twice a day, for 7 years now (still reading 5 years after my wedding!) and it’s essays like this that keep me coming back. But also, I rarely get to see this side of the business I love so much, and I’m glad I did, because it’s so deeply relatable. I’m in a similar place of ‘living the dream’ – in my case, being a published author – and it’s glorious and also SO so hard. People see the finished product – the book, the website etc…, and not all the anxiety, panic attacks, attacks of self doubt, and just the mind numbing amount of daily work it takes to produce and sustain it. So it really helps to get these peeks behind the curtain. It makes me realize that the fact I still have a lot of anxiety about what I do does not mean I’m doing it wrong – every woman in business does, even if they don’t openly acknowledge it. So thank you for the brave vulnerability of the acknowledgement. Wishing you and APW all the success! Thank you for always being the only safe space I’ve ever found on the internet – it means more than I can ever say.

  • sofar

    THANK YOU for building this community that kept me sane during wedding planning and has an been absolute joy after the wedding is long over.

    I don’t know what magic you’ve used that allows women planning weddings big and small and lavish and simple to all feel supported, but I’m so grateful.

    I know all too well the mad scramble that comes from a Google bot declaring your site a “spam” site and then having to postpone EVERYTHING to fix that.

  • Ella

    I hardly ever log in to comment here, but this was such a lovely read. I’m so glad you guys are sticking to your values. It was also refreshing, sad, and totally unsurprising to hear your VC’s frank comments on the state of the industry. In a way it is also liberating – we’re going to need to make our own way. Good thing I have complete faith in the universe of awesome women! Congrats, Team APW, on pulling through this year.

  • SarahRose472

    I really admire the way that you are able to live out your values in your business to the greatest extent possible, while also really directly confronting the reality of what has to be the priority in order to support those values, exemplified in this statement: “If you’re a feminist business, you had better be a business first and feminist second, or you’ll quickly end up nothing at all.”

    My husband is an entrepreneur with very strong values about how to run his business himself (likewise, very much about creating fair and supportive HR policies, particularly for women). Via him I have encountered quite a few people who are trying start businesses with socially minded missions (“social entrepreneurship”) without understanding that the bottom line has to be the first priority, or else you’ll be nothing and you won’t succeed in furthering those social missions in the first place.

    And on the other side, I’ve seen a lot of people who have never run businesses themselves but feel very at ease criticizing business leaders for what they see as not representing some fantasy ideal of how they would like businesses to be, without recognizing the very real tradeoffs and limitations that business owners face (e.g. it puts pressure on your company’s viability to offer benefits like paid maternity leave that your competitors do not).

    All that to say that these insights have given me a huge amount of respect for what you have created here — the community, the content, but very much also the business itself. I’ve been a reader for 7 years now, and I’m excited to see where you will go in the future.

  • Kara

    Thank you Meg (and team)! I found APW back in 2008 when I was losing my ever-loving mind trying to plan our 2009 wedding. I still check APW daily–and most of the time, multiple times a day even 8 years later because of the content and community. The community of women you’ve built is nothing short of amazing.

    Thank you again!

    • GIRL. almost TENNNNN years later. We’ve been married a long time ;) APW hits ten years at the end of March. OMFG WHAT?

      • Kara

        Where did the time go!!???

        I’m so proud of you and your awesome team. You are truly wonderful!

      • Basketcase

        Dayum. I found APW almost as soon as I was engaged in mid 2009. I remember the blogspot days… still here for the epic content.

    • I wanted to echo your comment. I also started reading APW when planning for a 2009 wedding and didn’t know what I was doing. I stuck around afterward (even 4+ years post-divorce!) because I feel like its content makes me a better person. I love that APW dives into the real stuff, whether it’s weddings, family stuff, career or feminism. I’ve grown a lot over the years as I’ve read and reflected on so many subjects covered here. And I agree that Meg has built an amazing community here. For me, what’s she’s built with APW is the gold standard.

      Meg, thank you for pouring yourself, your vision, your gumption, your sass, your passion and your hard work into APW day in and day out. I’m also thankful to the entire staff of APW and to the APW community for making this the incredible space it is.

  • Kate

    Giving Google some serious side eye right now.

    • Janet Hélène

      Yeah, I would love to hear more about what the exact issue was with Google. I’ve seen some sketchy things on Google results so I am super curious about what exactly APW was doing supposedly “wrong,” when I never noticed anything. Although maybe they can’t talk about it specifically?

      Also, kudos for opening up and letting us know more about the behind the scenes. Sometimes I wonder why we don’t hear from Meg or Maddie as much, but this makes me realize how much harder and how many more tasks are behind the writing.

      • Oh, we were doing something wrong all right, and we fixed it. You can see a full list of actions google takes against sites right here: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/2604824?hl=en

        I’d link to their best practices doc, but it’s like 200 pages, and you’d probably fall asleep.

        • Janet Hélène

          Ooof, this looks jargony! Thanks for the link and the insight into the deep trenches of internet publishing.

        • Kelsey

          marketing/web/seo person
          SO CURIOUS.
          did it involve a lot of rel=”nofollow” copy and pasting? <3
          Congrats on completing the Odyssey of 2017. Let's hope the rules don't change drastically in 2018.

          • 30,000 links worth. By hand. The way they like it. With documented notes. Also the way they like it. Yes.

      • Also, on the latter Q, most of the team has full time jobs that don’t involve content creation or writing at all, though I often twist their arms into writing on top of it all. Maddie has a full time job in sales, and manages a department as well. Najva has a full time job as brand manager (which means she does a whole BUNCH of things, including managing our technical stuff, and managing our social). Etc. Most sites our size in our industry (that are not independently owned) have staff’s of 25-60 people, and most of those people never touch content. We don’t have that, which just means everyone works… a lot.

        As for me, I currently have two jobs, which are both sort of full time. I’m CEO (doing books, managing people, keeping the company running), and EIC. I don’t write as much as I’d like, but I edit every single post you see on the site, which averages out to about 13 posts a week. Anything you see that’s a really deep read usually means I’ve done several hours of back and forth rounds of editing with the author. That means that while I don’t write as much as I’d like, you see my work every day, and some of it is stuff I’m REALLY proud of. It’s just that as editor, my name doesn’t go on it.

        • I also work in editing and know exactly how this is. And then my mom calls and says, “You don’t have an article in the current issue??” And I have to remind here that I have edited every single word in the current issue and have written sections too (that my name isn’t on), so even though I haven’t necessarily written an article in every issue, my fingerprints are all over the place. And I too am proud of work I do editing, even though my name often isn’t attached.

  • Liz

    I’m glad I’m not the only one that cried reading this. APW – the content and the comments – has literally changed my life in multiple ways. So thank you for busting ass everyday to build this community.

  • Jennifer H.

    This is an incredible article, Meg. I am constantly inspired by you, APW and the readers on this site. All of you give me hope in this batshit crazy world, and helping my fiancé and me plan our wedding is just one small thing that this site has given me. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for the work you do. You don’t just help us plan our weddings; you help us think about important topics, you help us discuss issues relating to **marriage** (not just weddings) with our partners–discussions that are helping to lay the foundation for the most important relationship of our lives. I am so grateful for your voice and will continue to lean on you in 2018. Onward!

  • ep

    Just adding my voice to the chorus to say THANK YOU to you and the APW team for putting in the work to build this community that we get to enjoy. I’ve been reading daily for years and APW commenters were the first people I told about my relationship struggles when I didn’t feel like I could talk to anyone else in my life, and they were warm and supportive and got me through a really difficult time. Now that my relationship is back on track and we’re wedding planning again, I use the site and the APW planner on the reg for those details. And career-wise, I don’t work in a creative field, but I do work in a very competitive and male-dominated field, and I credit APW (and my badass all-ladies choir) for nurturing my feminism and pushing me to keep striving and achieving. Your company has truly changed my life. Thank you so much for everything you do.

  • Lisa

    Thank you for sharing some of the behind-the-scenes struggles and successes, Meg. This web-site and community have meant so much to me over the past four years, and I’m so excited to see you out there crushing it and working to build a better employment environment for women while growing your business. It’s a thin line to walk, and you are doing an amazing job.

  • Annoymous

    Hi Meg! Thanks for sharing. I just realized I don’t read the site as much as I used four years ago (which is when my abusive relationship ended) but I am still an avid fan of APW on Instagram and LOVE following you guys. I hate to me all misery loves company, but I think 2017 has been rough for everyone. In addition to the negative political and social climate we seem to be living in, I’m still stuck in my soul sucking job and my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer, which means this is our last holiday season together. Here’s hoping for my light and brightness in 2018!

    • Jess

      I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. I hope you can enjoy this holiday season with her, and that you can both sit with some of the sadness that will naturally come.

      2017 has been real rough all around, for sure. I think we could all use some light and brightness.

  • PAJane

    Add me to the list of thankful daily readers and commenters. I appreciate the transparency in this post, and I’ve learned a lot about venture capitalism today! Meg, I also want to appreciate that even as growing APW requires you to turn your limited time and attention to a lot of things that aren’t blogging, but when you are writing, it’s really solid content.

  • Holly

    This post meant a lot to me. All the feels. I lead a team of 16 people in a huge company, which isn’t much, but at times feels like WAY too much. Thank goodness all my big mistakes have happened out of the public eye! This has been a rough year for me professionally and at times I’ve questioned whether I should really be a leader at all. I really appreciate the openness here about failing and adjusting. Needed to hear that today!

  • Katie

    I don’t leave comments here very often, as sometimes I do not agree with the majority’s opinion (and then try to keep mine to myself, because I realized I hate arguing), but I check the website every day and try to read every post. Thank you, Meg, for creating this beautiful baby that is almost 10 years old! It has been an IMMENSE help in my wedding planning, and such a cool website in general (I especially enjoy all the essays and tutorials). Because of this website, I bought the APW book and gave it to my MIL to read, and I think it saved me a lot of conversations explaining my vision. Thank you, every team member, for doing what you’re doing. You ladies ROCK and SLAY, and I wish you many more years of being on top!

  • Bsquillo

    THANK YOU so much for writing this. I’m sorry the year has been rough (and UGH, technical back-end problems are such a pain), but proud of you and your team for pulling through. Thank you for continuing to be a thoughtful, feminist resource and community that I still read nearly 4 years after my own wedding.

  • Ashley Meredith

    What the crap is wrong with Google.

  • lamarsh

    Thank you for creating this space. I discovered it almost exactly two years ago, a few weeks after I got engaged and it has changed the way I see the world. I never understood how important an online community could be until I found this one. I could not be more grateful to you and your staff — you are all amazing.

  • This was a great read… Huge cheers to making it through this year! Thank you and the APW team for all that you do that makes this site one of the very best places on the internet :)

  • kbergie

    I don’t post here much, I am a lurker, but the tears! I know I am just saying more of the same, but THIS POST! I’ve been reading since 2012, and the first thing I say to newly-engaged friends after Congrats is always,”You need out check out APW.” And I absolutely love reading about a woman who turned her passion project into a career, and into careers for other people, on top of it being one of the most uplifting and supportive places on the internet. So absolutely necessary. Thanks for continuing to fight the good fight! So grateful for this site and for the community here. <3

  • Bookshop Becky

    This is a wonderful post, and why I still visit here many years after my wedding.

    The google situation sounds like a horrendously stressful combination of boring, time-consuming and important – my least favourite mix!

  • SLG

    Meg, THANK YOU for writing this. I started reading shortly after your wedding, I think, and kept reading as I planned my own unintentionally-huge wedding six years ago, and I still come back almost every day for the feminism, honesty, and community (heyo, best comment section on the internet). Along the way I’ve loved watching this place further the careers of so many kick-ass ladies, both those still here and those who have moved on.

    I’ve been looking forward to this essay ever since you mentioned you were going to write it, and hoping everyone at APW was ok as I saw various mentions that it was a rough year. Being a woman on the internet, and a woman running a business, and a woman leader of any kind, is HARD. On bad days I rage over how the dudes I work with don’t seem driven to do nearly as much soul-searching as us women, and on good days I’m proud of how our soul-searching drives us to be the best damn leaders on the planet. As a woman in tech who’s also in a creative field and figuring out how to be a business leader, I look to you for inspiration and I’m cheering you on. And I so appreciate your honesty about whether any of us really know how to be feminists in business. I sure don’t — but I know we can learn.

    Props to you for walking away from the VC dudes in suits. That world is some crazy shit — I’ve seen firsthand the pressure it creates and I’m glad you all don’t have to deal with it right now.

    Also? You know what it means to be #4 or #5 in your industry when most of your competitors have a staff of 25-60? It means you are EFFICIENT AND FOCUSED AS HECK. (And yes, probably also that you work like crazy.)

    • Sarah E

      “On bad days I rage over how the dudes I work with don’t seem driven to do nearly as much soul-searching as us women, and on good days I’m proud of how our soul-searching drives us to be the best damn leaders on the planet.”

      THIS. This is why I hit my head against a wall so often at my last job full of “progressive” men. You phrased it so freaking well.

  • suchbrightlights

    The way I have started putting this at work is, “We all survived [massive project that went down in flames at launch and miraculously we still have clients because we worked our asses off and delivered that miracle.] We are INVINCIBLE.”

    You, collective you to the staff and you as in Meg, survived 2017. What will you do next?

  • Kaylin

    APW has the best comment section in all the land. Thank you to you and your staff for all the hard work.

  • Jaime Willis

    If you need an amazing feminist HR/employment attorney, let me recommend my best friend Jacky Tully. She just hung up her own shingle after being a partner at Jackson Lewis, and she’s one of the best employment law counselors in the US, and one of her most prized possessions is a Gloria Steinem autograph she got as a high schooler — she’s a feminist’s feminist. You can find her at jtully@clariancounsel.com (her website is in the final touches, but her expertise is always on point). She’s exactly the kind of lawyer you want to have – a professional best friend that gives you the truth and moves heaven and earth to make it better.

  • Nicole Holstein

    I’m so happy APW pulled through. This site is so important-it’s the only dose of sanity around the wedding industrial complex that I know!! Plus, the world needs more feminist business. You are doing more than just running A feminist business; you are modeling how to do it for others and by that virtue are making it easier for more to succeed. I’m also super appreciate of the honesty of this post. I hope for the best for APW and your whole team!

  • Emily

    Things I loved about this post:
    1.) Everything.
    2.) It felt like old school real talk blogging.
    3.) It was a nuanced take on the intersection of feminism and business. So often it feels like feminists and women and women in business are graded on a pass/fail basis while men get to be complex, nuanced, and often dramatically flawed. Men push the conversation in this pass/fail direction for all of the innocent and not so innocent reasons, but I also think women and gender non-conforming people can be inflexible out of fear. Like it’s OK to admit maternity leave is expensive and hard to offer. It’s OK to be nuanced. And FWIW, the people who will exploit our nuance as “proof” for their sexist beliefs? They will do that anyway.
    4.) It made me feel viscerally better about my own career challenges. I know I shouldn’t compare my insides to someone else’s outsides. And having a pretty Instagram isn’t unethical or mean or wrong. But damn, it feels good to know that sometimes shit goes down in the APW clubhouse.

    • Girl. Sometimes shit goes down. Not happy about it, not proud of it… other than the fact that I’m proud we try to do our best, even if sometimes we get it wrong. (As a business friend of mine said to me, “You just don’t know what you don’t know.)

      But boy. Instagram is Instagram for the pretty stuff.

      And yes to all of that about nuance.

  • notgoingquietly

    *slowclap*

  • ss

    Meg, Thank you for making APW a safe haven for women–those of us who are planning weddings and those who aren’t. My wedding came and went in 2017, but I continue to read APW because of the community of women and the values and messages that APW creates and preaches. Knowing that there are like-minded women out there who are working to make the world a better place makes me ready to take on whatever 2018 brings.

  • Lauren

    Meg, I really needed to read this today. This is been one of the worst years of my professional life as well. Thanks for the honesty and encouragement.

  • ali

    I’m so glad you pulled through. Thanks for sticking with it through all that hard work and tough times. You are so important to me and all the couples I work with, a beautiful little shining gem of common sense and beauty in the wedding industry.

  • anon

    Thank you so much for this article Meg!!! It felt like you were speaking to my soul and I needed to hear every word you wrote. 2017 was a very tough year, but it was also the year I got married, so it can’t have been all bad. Your website is very much a part how I survived the stress and craziness of planning a wedding and trying to dance through politics. Thank you for this webiste. It has inspired me in more ways than just planning a wedding, hence why I’m still reading almost two months later. Thank you.

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