Women, Money, and Self Worth, Part II

At the end of last year, I wrote a post about women and money and self worth. I had just come back from spending a fantastic weekend with a group of really smart, entrepreneurial women, who had all built businesses from the ground up, and I’d been pondering the way we limit our dreams when it comes to money. I said:

I’ve been thinking about how, as women, we often undervalue ourselves, our life stories, and what we’re capable of, and that leads to lost potential. We think, “I can’t do that; I can’t dream that big; I’m being selfish to even think about this; I don’t deserve to earn (or have my company earn) that much money; I shouldn’t have delusions of grandeur.” And when this happens, we all lose. Think of all those projects that could have been created, those businesses that could have thrived, that money that could be flowing back into our communities. When we cut ourselves off at the knees we lose all that, our communities lose all that, we all lose.

And that turned out to be one of the posts I’m proudest of. Not only did I quit my job and sell a book since then, but it gave APWers the encouragement they needed to make things happen. I got a small flurry of emails (and some Christmas cards and care packages) last year from people who said that particular post made them ask for a raise (which they got), or that the post kicked them in the pants to apply to graduate school. Our own Maddie finally quit a job she hated and then launched Hart + Sol Photo with her partner Monica because of that post. Talk about dividends.

The reason I really think this conversation about women, money, and ambition is an important one to keep having in this space is because the more fulfilled we are as people, the more our relationships thrive. So, to counter all the cultural nonsense about how being a bride or a wife or a mother is fulfilling enough on its own, we need to keep talking about the ways dreaming big makes us better brides, wives, mothers, and women.

All of which is to say, I’ve been thinking a lot about the ways women start, run, and support each other in business over the past few weeks. When I first started pondering going full time on APW, one of our regular commenters, Class of 1980, emailed to support and encourage me. She’s owned her own business for a long time, and she told me that she thought all women should own their own businesses. She thinks this, not just because the world needs more women shaping how things are done, but because women’s biology fundamentally doesn’t line up with the male timeline of the business world (and because we should all be allowed to take naps in the middle of the day as needed). Class of 1980 nailed it for me. I’ve mentioned before, part of the reason I’d always wanted to work for myself was because I wanted a family, and I felt that the working-mom/stay-at-home-mom dichotomy was bullsh*t. I was unwilling to pick between an inflexible office job, where I couldn’t stay home with a sick kid, and staying at home with my kid nonstop. And for me, the solution seemed clear: work for myself and make my own rules (somehow or other). That, and, even without kids, I wanted to be able to prioritize my family and my quality of life, in a way that office jobs did not allow me to do.

Fast-forward to two weeks ago, when I was lucky enough to attend a conference for women entrepreneurs. The conference was held in Silicon Valley, and focused on businesses receiving Venture Capital money. As someone who’s very proud of her business’s bootstrapping, self-sufficient, from-the-ground-up philosophy, I listened to the talks with some fascination. I thought, “I really don’t want outside financing, but maybe I’m wrong.” But the more I listened, the more I realized that taking VC money was not why I became a female small business owner.

You see, the VC rule of thumb was brought up. Someone said that VC’s are interested in scalable businesses. They are looking for a business that can scale five to ten times in five to ten years. Which, if we translate, means that if you accept a million dollars in Venture Capital cash (which would be a crazy small amount, in that world), in five years, you’d need to be a five to ten million dollar a year business. And that’s when the lightbulb went on for me.

I started my own business because I wanted to scale my business to my life, and because I was tired of scaling my life to my business. There might be a point, in ten years, where I want to run a five million dollar a year business. I don’t know, that does not sound appealing, but hey, I know I’m ambitious and you never know. But right now? Right now I want to be able to leave work early to have dinner with my husband. I want to take a nap when I’m exhausted, I want the freedom to raise a newborn, or pick a sick kid up from pre-school. Right now, I have no interest in scaling my business to fit the ideals of a largely male financial establishment. For me, at this moment, owning a business is about doing work I love. It’s about getting emails from people who asked for a raise because of something I wrote. It’s about proudly supporting a family. It’s about quality of life.

But then, I did the yearly APW survey last week, and I was reminded of the road blocks we set for each other as women and the ways that this does not serve us. Ninety percent of the comments on the survey were crazy supportive (and we’ll discuss them at length next week). But I was struck by the fact that, at every point of growing this website, there has been a contingent of people that have equated growth and making money with loss of vision and values—a loss of the things that matter. One comment in the survey that stuck with me was this:

And pleasepleaseplease do not add more sponsored advertiser stuff if you can get by without it.

It stuck with me because it’s a version of something I hear all too often: don’t grow the site if you don’t absolutely have to pay the bills. (Caveat here: we’ve always had two sponsored posts a week, and that number is never going to increase, though the site will obviously continue to grow in other ways.)

So here is the rub. On one hand, the male-centric, VC-funded world wants businesses to grow at an insane rate: five to ten times a huge investment, in five to ten years. On the other hand, our female-centric, progressive world wants businesses to not grow at all, because growing and making more money somehow means that you give up on what you believe and who you are. Or as I said in my last post:

I think as women we do a really good job about shaming each other about money. When was the last time you saw a guy tell another guy that because his new creative project was making money, he was a sellout? I mean, basically never, right? Guys say things like, “DUDE. That’s so awesome that you’re doing so well.” And women say things like, “Have you thought about how you’re selling out and destroying the soul of your endeavor by making this much money?” Because, you know, we’re ladies. We’re supposed to give things away for free, because we’re nurturers. Nurturers of the world, apparently, for free.  So I need to learn how to turn those voices off, and see success as an okay thing. And yes, see MONEY as an okay thing. Even for me. As a woman. As a wife.

So we have to find balance, I think. We have to carve out a corner of the world where it’s okay to be successful, and to continue to grow and achieve as women, while still scaling our professional work to our lives. For APW, growth is important to me because it means more of what I value. It means giving my staff a raise (that they very much deserve). It means being able to produce new sites and new conversations for those of us who are a step or two beyond our wedding. It means continuing to build a sustainable business doing work that I love.

And I think this is true for all of us. Our job as women is to encourage each other not to settle. To tell each other that we deserve happiness, whether that’s being a mom, or owning a business, or quitting our job to go to grad school, or asking for a raise. Our job is to say, be self-full, that’s not selfish. To tell each other that you’re allowed to reach for more happiness. That you should try to grow your dreams to include others. That we can keep asking for more, growing our projects, and being ourselves. That this is good for the world, good for our families, good for our relationships.

What’s next for you? Because where you are is great, but I’m pushing you to keep climbing.

Change. Grow. That’s a wonderful, very brave thing.

Photo: David & Me, apart together, by Emily Takes Photos

Featured Sponsored Content

  • Thank you so much for this, Meg. I have been thinking about this a lot, especially as I work with a lot of young women, most in their early 30s, who are staring down life at a Big Media corporation while figuring out what that means for them and their families. Somehow, we’re missing the part where we encourage each other rather than snark behind each other’s backs — encourage to grow, to change, to leave, to throw away the birth control, to ask for those extra days off, to listen without judgment. It is an important example to set.

    • Shley-A

      I have nothing but positive feelings about your sponsored posts. They are completely in line with what you are trying to do here and the community you are trying to grow. They give me a ton of inspiration as a creative person because they make me confident that when I finally take the plunge in my own business en devours, this is the type of place I might be able to promote my services in a personal, engaging and positive way. Sponsored posts are a way for all of us to personally get to know someone who may be taking care of a very important part of our wedding. Or at least to understand the kind of vendor we’d like to work with and set our expectations high based on their social outlook and the amount of heart they put into their work. Sponsored posts almost don’t read like advertising at all to me.

  • Caroline

    While part of me understands why people have a problem with sponsored posts – maybe they view it like selling out, or compromising, or even like when your favorite indie brand goes more mainstream – I feel EXACTLY the opposite.

    This community is too big and too awesome now. It needs a middle ground that works for all of us, but obviously mostly for you Meg, and the other APW staff. Go out and rock an awesome business plan, because the rest of us community members should feel pretty great about getting to be involved, sponsored posts or not.

    And if you really feel that way, you should probably be donating yourself, so that users and community members can continue to support the site’s development and growth. I’m a fundraiser, so I have cut and dry opinions on things like this. If you like something, support it financially, in whatever way you can and is meaningful to you.

    • Aine

      I love the sponsored posts- seeing these businesses, doing interesting, creative, forward-thinking and -moving things, reminds me that there’s more out there than “office job or teaching” (I have weird dichotomies in my mind). I am thrilled that there are so many independent businesses out there and that, if nothing else, there are places where sane newly-engaged people can come and look for them for their weddings. Featuring a business on APW shows me 1. what’s out there and 2. these are people who deserve my money.

      The whole “selling out” idea is ridiculous. We should be cheering that people who do good, creative work are getting the exposure and the income they get from growing, and APW is no different. I would seriously be a puddle of nerves and crying till I got married, if it weren’t for this site. I come here every day, to be reminded to hold onto what’s important, to remember to be strong enough to say “No, I don’t want that” or “Yes, because that means a lot to you” and brave enough to risk those terrifying conversations with the FH (You know the ones, where you think “This could be it. I should wait till we seal the deal before I bring this up, its too scary.”

      I was thrilled to see you starting this as your business, and extra thrilled about your book (though sad that I’ll be married already when it comes out; nevermind, I have friends to buy it for) because you deserve to earn something with your skills and hard work.

    • N

      I love sponsored posts! I actually wish we had more of them (possibly a minority opinion) because a) There is often interesting content in the posts about artist’s philosophy and b) I went straight to APW sponsor posts when trying to find vendors (mostly photography). I wasn’t able to find an APW photographer that was available on my date in my location in the end, so I want more of them. Searching through the APW site is 10,000 times easier than scouring the internet and clicking through a whole bunch of not-so-good portfolios in order to find a decent photographer in your city. Same with Etsy jewelry actually! I like that Meg helps me filter through the internet abundance to find the good stuff.

      • msditz

        Thanks to APW I was able to book the fabulous Allison Andres for our wedding! I was about to go crazy when by the time I found her.
        I have already booked someone for this, but you have got to find some sensible, not crazy expensive hair/make-up people! APW readers got to look good too :-)

    • I love the sponsor posts as well! What an easy way to find someone who’s values fit my own, AND what a great way to support fellow community members. I just wish there were some in my area so that I could book them when the time comes!

      • meg

        Where you at, lady? I’ll work on that if I can! I’m actually bringing on some more sponsors in May, because I felt similarly. It was totally absurd that I was waitlisting people I loved, and I thought you guys would love, and were in areas that we didn’t currently have sponsors in, because I’d set arbitrary limits for myself. I mean, again, still only two sponsored posts a week, but some new peoples for you! So hopefully some in your area.

        • I’m in Canada, and the closest major city to me is Toronto, Ontario. I hope there are some in my area! And if not, maybe I’ll have to search out some on my own and send them your way in the future. ;)

          • I would also LOVE more Canadian sponsors. I love APW so much and know my wedding and marriage wouldn’t be the same without it – but goodness it makes me want to live in the US where all the awesome vendors are! (you know, where you guys find them for me, and I just say “perfect, thanks”).

            That said, if I DO end up hiring awesome APW-worthy people, I have every intention of referring them to your website.

          • Marie-Eve Laforte (an APW wedding grad who owns Fleur Bleue) does super gorgeous flowers and is in Montreal. She did my flowers and she is awesome! I am guessing that is still pretty far from you though….unless you happen to be a good bit on the east side of Toronto. :)

          • meg

            I think we’re slowly getting enough Canadian readers that some Canadian sponsors might be a viable fit. But they do have to contact me. And yes, Marie Eve is amazing, though maybe not close enough.

          • I laughed a little about the Montreal florist for a Toronto area wedding. That’s a 7 hour drive. A bit far, sadly.

            And that’s even to a prairie girl, where I know people who only count it as a long drive after a minimum of 3 hours on the highway…

        • Hey, you’re not wait-listing any florists are you? Honestly, I immediately used APW as my source for photographers because I wanted someone who would GET it. I would love if the sponsors expanded to some other areas like flowers (my current search), DJs, and more day of coordination. It would be awesome to find a florist who understands, yes I want some flowers, but won’t make me feel bad when I tell them that I just want a couple nice arrangements on the escort card table and at the entrance and zero centerpieces. And I’ve already found a DJ, but it would also be nice to have some sponsored DJs or musicians who like, again, understand that maybe everyone doesn’t want to be announced as Mr and Mrs Joe Blow or have a first dance and that doesn’t make you a freak.

          • meg

            I’m not. Though it might be close to time for us to take on some florists…

          • Stella

            DJS!!!!!!!!! “Practical” (non sexist, not cheesy) DJS, pretty pleeeeease?

        • K

          Also Chicago! More Chicago! (Though there is at least one awesome photographer from the region I’ve seen on here lately – yay!)

          I have to second Krista and the other posters above; it seems to me that sponsored posts beautifully live out your arguments about supporting our fellow women (and folks in general) to dream big and reach for activities that challenge them and produce meaning in the world. To me, it’s less important whether those are profit-generating or not, but maybe right there I’m acting out your point about women being socialized to think less and/or less critically about money matters.

      • Barbaloot

        I totally agree about loving the sponsored posts, and even the ads on the site. It’s sites like APW that make me really excited about the future of business and advertising. We’re seeing it more and more often – people starting these small businesses/websites/blogs/podcasts/etc. and hand-picking their sponsors/advertisers. It works well for both the business advertising, and the business receiving the $$. It’s all so darned independent and awesome. Advertising we actually want to look at… who woulda thought?

        Oh, and I’m Canadian too (British Columbia), and I would love to see some Canadian sponsors for APW!

        • APW is the only site that gets through my ad-blocker. I do it because, in addition to supporting the cool vendors and APW (most important), the ads are pretty! And they don’t flash at me… I’m pretty fast on the Flash-Killer draw!

          • MARBELLA

            I don’t always read the sponsored posts thoroughly (especially now I’m no longer planning, yay!) but I do enjoy seeing them there, knowing they might help others, and that they are always good, honest, friendly hardworking folks of a similar mindset to us about weddings!
            I don’t know how you go about wait-listing people, but have wondered if perhaps you couldn’t list sponsors you’ve vetted, but who haven’t yet had a full post, on the vendor listing section? People don’t go there unless they are actually looking for a vendor anyway, so it won’t be subjecting anyone to more advertising.
            On another note, great post Meg, I started my own business last year for similar reasons (wanting to have more control of my life, be able to work and have children when we’re ready, and of course daytime naps) and it is really encouraging to see other strong women working for themselves. Especially when my (male) accountant is hassling me for not charging ‘enough’.

          • meg

            HATE FLASH ADS. Hate. I hope I’ll be able to continue to avoid them, because things that flash at me while I read, gah.

    • Denzi

      Heh, Meg, you know I love the combination of you doing awesome scaling-business-to-life stuff and sponsored posts: between those two things, I have me a crazy internship. (For which I am currently reading f*cking awful books on marketing, but you know, thems the breaks.)

      And yes to MORE of Team Practical finding awesome Wedding Elves to poke into being APW vendors. Between you and Offbeat Bride and 100 Layer Cake, it’s still hard to find Good People, and I live in Atlanta. I know they are here, somewhere. It’d be nice if they were easier for the next Atlanta wedding undergrad to find…

  • Meg, you have NO IDEA how impeccable the timing of this post is for me. Thank you. :)

    • meg


  • Thanks Meg! I have similar reasons for having my own business. I never want to feel like I’m stuck at work or at home, I want to experience both.

    One thing that bugs me about the freelance writing business is that there are so many blogs and sites out there with top ten reasons working for yourself is not as great as it seems. I even came across an article that described 10 reasons it’s great and 10 reasons it’s not so great, but the “great” category was actually not great.
    For example “you’re your own boss…until you get a client and then he/she is your boss”. Yes, this is true, but freelancing means I can choose not to work with that client if I don’t want to, or to work with them only because I’m broke and desperately need to feed myself. I am still making the decision for myself. Why the naysaying and discouragement?

    Anyway, I’m glad there are places and people who support all career choices from being a mom to owning your own business to working for a company with benefits and retirement and a steady paycheck.

    Success, money, love, they are all things we have to decide we want and deserve before we can get them. When I finally admitted to myself that I wanted and deserved a relationship, within months I found my husband. I wasn’t looking for him, I was working on my career, but because I finally decided that I deserved love I got it. I have to work on the deserving success and money part now, so your post is perfectly relevant to me today!

    • meg

      “Success, money, love, they are all things we have to decide we want and deserve before we can get them.”

      Mmmmm….. so true, and not in a magical thinking way either. Who wants to choose to be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t think they deserve to be loved? Who wants to trust their job to a business owner who’s not sure they deserve the work? Food for thought this morning. What else are we telling ourselves we don’t deserve?

  • Ah, Meg, I really like that way of putting it: scaling my business to my life not my life to my business. I have this conversation with people all the time since my phone does not stop ringing and lots of people’s response to that is “can’t you work more?” or “how about taking on an assistant?” But I’m doing this right now because I want to be at home raising my family, so working longer hours or employing staff just because the business is available makes no sense to me. There’s more to life than money.

    It’s funny, I was talking to this guy who runs a toddler music group (which is doing great, cos he’s hilarious) just the other day about how people assume growth and success equal selling out. No way does it have to be that way, if you’re paying attention.

    • Zan

      Cate I just want to say that I’ve followed along (via blog) as you started up your business at home and it has been really inspiring to me to watch you take the project by the horns and do so well. Keep it up!! :)

  • Joannezipan

    At the moment there are two alternative versions of my life. Option 1 – I stay in my big multinational engineering company and work my way to as close to the top as I can get. Only by having women at the top lavels of big companies will they start to change and become more accepting of how they need to work in order to make themselves more family friendly.

    Option 2 I give it a few more years to get the maternity benefits (I am luck enough to live in europe) and then I become an academic. This would be a major reshake for us as a couple because at the moment i’m the breadwinner…but hopefully in a few years that will change.

    But for now I’m going to have a period of appreciating what I have accomplished as Cate Subrosa suggests we do once in a while. In the last 5 years I have moved to an office 5 mins walk from my house ditching the 3 hour a day commute, brought a house, got married, got a double promotion, finished my masters degree which I got a distinction for and concived a baby. I have a lot to be thankful for and I feel like I can allow myself a bit of leeway in the next year or so. I hope so anyway!

    • Amy

      Woo-hoo! That’s an awesome accomplishment for your job and education!
      I love the spirit of this post, and I agree with Meg’s sentiment about shaping your work to your life (and not the other way around) but I think its dangerous to some extent to encourage women to opt out of the corporate world. You’re right – only by having women at the top layers of companies will things start to change, and if you don’t have a CEO or a high-level exec who is a women or a mom and who feels empowered to say ‘you know what, it sucks that we don’t have better health insurance to cover our people, or flex-time, lets fix that’ when will it change?
      And to some extent, I admit that I feel a like a lot of bloggers in the creative fields write about those in the corporate world as though they couldn’t possibly like or enjoy what they’re doing or have time for children/partners. Sometimes the corporate or medical or scientific world has it benefits too!

      • Joannezipan

        I think that is one of the things which is awsome about this comunity, it is possible to see all sides of an issue. I wouldn’t be happy working for myself (as much as I might fantises about it sometimes!) becuase I wouldn’t be able to handle the insecurity that goes with working in that environment. So for me working in an established company or at a university are much more confortable options. Plus I feel it is important to try and adress the gender inbalance that exists in many of these instatutions. AND I think it is important for kids (not just mine BTW) to see that there are women who do have career focus and can go and be sucessful in corproate/acedemic/science fields so they know they can achive anything.

        I feel that lately the idea of being able to have everything in your life a man could reasonably expect to have in his has gone out of fashion…why can’t I do that? I am luky enough to have a partner who wants to actually be a partner, we split everything down the line from chores to (hopefully) childcare to working and money. He supports my goals and ambitions and is enoromously proud of what I have achived; as I am of his achivements and goals. I want our kids to see that we have a real partnership. I’m waffelling now so i’ll stop and actually do some work ;0)

        • Kess

          Hey, I’m an aspiring engineer and was just wondering how you managed to deal with the thought that engineering (due to 40+ hour weeks and little to no flexibility) and motherhood aren’t typically compatible. Frankly, that’s the only reason we’re considering not having kids – we’re both engineers and just don’t see how it can work.

          Frankly, is there some way of working it out?

      • My parents were both self employed for most of my life, and because of that, I want and need a stable office job. I love being able to put down my work at 5 and not care until the next day. I love the stability and the paycheck every two week and all of it. I admire entrepreneurs like crazy – I think they’re amazing and I try to support small businesses – but you couldn’t pay me to be one.

        I get the money, the stability, 6 hours a night and all weekends with my partner with no work obligations and stock options and health care benefits and awareness that the whole business doesn’t rely on me. It works for me.

        • I just wanted to say that amidst all this entrepreneurial chit chat, I appreciate your candid comment about loving the structure of an office job. Because it’s about doing what’s right for you.

          Not enough of us think about our quality of life as it relates to our work environment, and I just love that these posts either reinforce the decisions we’re making, or make us re-think the ones we’ve made.

          I get kind of unicorns and rainbows on days like this.

      • Hypothetical Sarah

        Amy, I agree! I’m all for women starting businesses, taking control of their lives, and really owning their accomplishments. And I think Meg is doing a FANTASTIC job. But encouraging women to opt-out of the male-centric business world because it doesn’t play well with their biology… that seems counter-productive and, taken to the extreme, segregationist to women who want to prioritize family and children.

        If women are starting businesses because that’s the job they want and the life the want to lead, more power to them. But if they’re starting businesses instead of doing the job they love because society and the corporate world have declared that’s the only way they can balance a family — and especially if men aren’t given the same message — something needs to change.

        • Elizabeth

          Yes! Just as Meg wisely said she wants to grow her business to her life and not the opposite, let’s work to ensure that being a woman is not a liability or a limiting factor to any type of professional success, including work in fast-paced, corporate environments. As women, our biology has explicitly and implicitly been used as an excuse to keep us out of high-powered positions for generations. If we can frame working for ourselves as a compelling choice for many creative, self-motivated people (not just women) to take advantage of if we so choose, rather than a way to be both a professional and a wife/mom, we will further legitimize that option and avoid the rumblings of “separate but equal” that that argument can bring about.

          (Also, go Meg! So amazed by your accomplishments and inspired by your wise words. And keep up the sponsored posts: we don’t just want you to survive – we want you to thrive!)

        • Totally! I’m so inspired by Meg, but I LOVE my office job and don’t intend to quit when I have a family – instead, I take away from posts like this the message that although I may need to take time off to have babies, there’s no way I’m going to allow myself to be shunted onto a “mommy track,” because I’m awesome, dammit!

          Luckily here in Canada we have more support in terms of parental leave, but there’s still a discrepancy in female:male earnings, and I wonder how much of it has to do with women not feeling like they deserve to fight for equal pay and equal promotions.

  • Cat

    I love this series. I love it so much. The post last spurred me out of the job that was making me so miserable I was medicated (yes, really. It was that bad) and into grad school. After reading back about book deals and bucket lists and passions, I’ve decided no more doing things by halves. I just applied for a transfer from my safe-bet, guaranteed money MA program into something creative arts oriented that I’ve wanted to do since I was 15 years old. And I’m freaking terrified. Like, sweaty palms and butterflies just calling the program director to see if a transfer was even possible and now I think I want to throw up. I think this is the first time I can sincerely thank someone for making me want to throw up. So assuming I get accepted, that’s what’s next for me.

    Meanwhile, please keep growing! People like me who are far too ‘sensible’ and ‘safe’ and ‘need to be the breadwinner’ kind of need people to do amazing things and remind us that it’s not just for other people.

    • meg

      WHOA!!!!! Congratulations!!! That’s how I felt when I applied to transfer into my arts program after my freshman year of college. And you know what? I think I always would have regretted it, and wondered “what if?” if I hadn’t done that. And life is too short for “what ifs.”

    • I dropped out of the undergrad business program into the social science program of my *dreams* and no regrets. Now, it didn’t get me a job or a career, but I knew that going in and loved it anyway. (Getting to take a course on espionage beat the pants off financial accounting any day.)

      And my life’s worked out anyway, even with out the career orientated education. Best of luck on your new path!

      • Danielle

        A course on espionage… are you a spy?! Because I want to learn spy tricks from you!

        • Well she’s not going to say that she’s a spy, now is she?? ;)

        • I can confirm or deny nothing. All I am at liberty to admit is that I wrote a paper on the failure of intelligence agencies during the Falklands War in the 80s because it cracked me up. (I have to share this because I’m a nerd: you know how the Argentineans’ knew about the British troop ship movements? They watched it on BBC. Truth!)

    • LBD

      Yep. Me too! I just finally quit the job-that-made-me-so-miserable-I’m-medicated too! But it’s cool, because I’m also finally getting treatment for my ADHD now too, and I hope to go back to grad school, and now with the support I need, actually succeed this time around. I needed this post today too, as I’m in week two of not working, and week two has proven a lot harder to hold onto my dreams-and-why-I-quit than week one was. So yay Meg!

  • Darcy Austin

    I’ve never posted here before, although I’ve been reading for a while. I just wanted to put in my vote to say that you produce interesting content and you deserve to be compensated for it. I don’t think you should even have to justify it by saying it helps your staff (though obviously it does). You create value, and you should reap that value. Don’t ever feel guilty for being successful!

  • This feels like rather apt timing, especially as your reasons for working for yourself are so similar to why I want to do that. It’s tricky though – I’m desperate to go freelance, but really need to work on building up that side of things before I can do so, and I’m just too damn impatient so I spend my days at my desk feeling frustrated and stifled.
    Anyway, thank you for this – that bit of encouragement was just what I needed today.

    • ML

      emma, just want to say i’m in the same boat. i had a particularly stressful morning freaking out about it, but that doesn’t help much (although it can feel cathartic sometimes). what helps me is trying to keep a positive attitude and just committing to doing the work. i’m going to keep doing it.. you do it too!

  • Thanks for this Meg! I’m trying to wrap up my Masters degree and then decide what’s next, which makes me thoughtful, and you’ve just given me a bit more to chew on. You’ve really expanded and clarified the feeling I have about what I want for my future. I’m glad you’re living it and sharing with us!

  • I am guessing I am not the only reader who finds the sponsored posts… really helpful? When I was looking for my fiance’s wedding band, your ad sidebar was my starting place. Because I knew what I found through those links would be more in line with what I wanted than anything I’d get out of a search engine. I ended up finding the ring elsewhere, but the point remains, the ads are part of the service that APW provides.

    • Zan

      Seriously! APW has totally shaped our wedding(s) in an amazing way. We knew what our values were, but finding vendors that passed muster was tough going. But now, with APW’s help? We’ve got FOUR APW sponsors helping us create an fantastic event/day.

      And let’s be clear, we didn’t hire these people on or buy their services just because they were on APW, we did it because they are all top-notch on their own merits, this site just helped us find them.

      • Oh yes, an APW sponsor totally saved my day when we were pulling things together. And I pass them on to other people who are looking for x, y or z.

    • meg

      No you’re not. Which is why APW works so well as a business, and one I’m proud of. I love steering you guys to great business, and I love having a network of small business owners who support each other. The vendors have a not-very-publicized community on the site, and they are rad-tastic.

    • Other Katelyn

      Ditto, and I’m not even planning a wedding.

  • I love your writing on enterpreneurship! I am a co-founder, with three other women, of a string quartet. As I’m sure you can relate to, it’s absolutely amazing to have a small, all-women team of musicians to work with; there is honestly no trace of the “cattiness” that we were taught in high school to expect from groups of women working together. We’ve mainly been expanding our artistic (low-paying) activities because that fulfills our souls, but we’re also interested in starting a “for-profit” wing of our business. I’m sending your post to my colleagues! Thanks so much!

    • meg

      May I point out the obvious, which is wedding business is good paying business for a string quartet?

      I used to run a non-profit theatre company, so I know what you’re doing, and love it.

      • So true! In fact, once I finish my MM this year, I am totally going to work on getting us cool enough to apply for APW sponsorship. As far as I can see, you don’t have any Chicago quartets yet! =) Thanks for the support and love!

    • Heather

      From a fellow musician, I’d love to exactly this about a bajillion times. :)

  • Sigh. I heart you Meg. Most days I want to put you in my pocket and carry you around with me to remind me to keep fighting. I can’t really absorb this yet (mostly cuz my job does not encourage self reflection) but I know I’m going to reread this post over and over.

    Keep up the encouragement. Money doesn’t make the world go round but self-martyrdom aint it all cracked up to be. If you can make money doing what you love, then by God go get it!

    • meg

      Sure! I’ll sit it your pocket and punch you in the leg with my tiny fists when I get worked up. Just as a reminder.

  • Gillian

    you should do motivational speaking! (maybe you do already? I’m not familiar with every detail of this site but as soon as I wrote that, it felt oddly fitting).

    also never let those negative people make you feel guilty for growing your business.

  • Casey

    Why is it that a post about business and entrepreneurship makes me tear up more than heartwrenching wedding grad posts?! This conversation has been a long time coming – thanks, Meg and all you fine ladies, for your bravery and super-sass. It makes me brave and super-sassy too.

  • In my experience, men are generally better at seeing their job as a means to an end and therefore asking for/seeking more money or better opportunities whereas many women I know seek personal fulfillment from their job. I think you can have both, but I do think we as women need to stop feeling like loving our jobs is enough. It’s great to love your job, but it IS a job, you know? This is one of the biggest reasons I left the non-profit world. I’m not a super lucky volunteer who gets a check on top of everything, I’m a professional doing a job, and there is a difference.

    • This! YES.

      My husband, the engineer, treats his job as work that he mostly enjoys doing for a very nice chunk of change. It’s part of what he does, he enjoys it overall, but he’s not in love with it and it doesn’t define him.

    • meg

      Amen to that. They don’t call it “work” for nothing.

      That’s been a strange revelation, working for myself. It’s still work. Hard work, often, even if it is more enjoyable. It’s not napping, is all.

    • Morgan

      I grew up in a family where my mom was the breadwinner, my dad worked from home (not freelance or self-employed, just a home-based office) and both had to travel a lot for work. My mom said to me once, shortly after I graduated from college and was having a mini quarter-life crisis, “Very few people would be doing what they are doing if they weren’t getting paid for it”. The message being don’t make yourself unhappy with your job, but be realistic that it IS a job. If you’ve managed to find yourself in that minority, that’s amazing, but it’s not me.

      One thing that I wanted to bring up as well is even within the “working world” (and I know stay-at-home moms probably work harder than most full-time employees, but I mean “working” in the traditional sense), there are shades of grey between a structured corporate job and being self-employed. I think that I am extremely lucky as I have found a job that allows me to work from home, while still being fairly traditional in most aspects. I also tend to work East Coast hours (I am in CA), which I love because it lets me go to yoga at 4:00 or make some elaborate dessert on a Tuesday night for no reason. All I’m saying is that a lot of companies seem to be moving in this direction- flexible hours, working remotely, etc.

      Is my job my passion? Not even (do I have passion?? crap, I should find one of those). But I like it, I’m good at it, my bosses like me, and it affords me the life that I want to live both in terms of finances and my work-life balance.

      • Morgan to Morgan: I’m glad I’m not the only one without a “passion”!

      • Carreg

        Wish they’d told me THAT at school.

      • Amy

        Morgan, if you weren’t on the west coast I’d think you’re me!
        My dad was very adamant that work was work – having a passion is great and all, but I ‘like’ what I do, am good at it, and enjoy my co-workers and the benefits my job gives me.

        • That is all I have *ever* wanted from a job. I’m surprisingly comforted to hear others (beyond my husband) saying the same thing.

  • Yes. A million times yes. I feel like every day I have to take a good hard look at myself and do some soul searching to figure out what it is that I want for myself and for my business. It’s exhausting – but I love that what you did here is point at the balance. It’s okay to make money AND stay small. It’s okay to want to be a wife AND an entrepreneur. And it’s okay to struggle a little bit to find out what that means for you. Thanks for this post.

  • Erin

    This is a particularly apt post for me today, which started with a conversation with my husband about someday going from a two-salary family to a one-salary family when one of us quits our current job to stay with our kids. The moral of the story is, we can’t afford to do that (and live where we want to live, and buy a house, and save for the future) without some kind of replacement income — some kind of personal business with the flexibility Meg’s describing here. Which is why I pay super-close attention to these posts. I have ideas… but they’re still in the seedling stages.
    As far as advertising goes, I’m always glad that we get to meet the faces behind the logos. Amongst the barrage of impersonal international corporate conglomerates who are more than happy to eat up advertising space all over the rest of the Web, APW ads, and those on other blogs, kind’ve make me feel like I’m “shopping local”. Supporting those businesses is just as important as supporting Meg & the APW staff. So, keep growing it, Meg! You, of all people, have earned our trust that you’ll do it thoughtfully and carefully. It can only get better :)

  • Meg! This really, really hit home for me: “I wanted to scale my business to my life, and because I was tired of scaling my life to my business” I have always worked in super corporate jobs that I didn’t love but made enough money to support my life (and give my circus performer husband health insurance) and as I try and build a side business for myself in wedding planning/crafting I have been taking all these small business classes.

    They are great, but every time I say what I want “One of these days I would like a small storefront with independently designed objects that support a maker economy, room in the back for craft classes/photoshoots, with wedding planning on the side” they always tell me to scale up. These business classes – taught by men – want the business plan to be big, to focus on the possibility to franchise, to make tons of money and add things that I have no desire to (a bar, etc. Though there might be room for some cupcakes and occassionally Jack Daniels).

    I think that in business and money matters, people (ahem, men) seem to think that bigger is better. That Shark Tank venture capital mentality slips in. I believe that women should get what they are worth, and that the disparity between salaries is an injustice, and that we shouldn’t stand in our way (which I am often guilty of for myself) but sometimes to have a small perfect goal is enough.

    I want to grow in a way that is right for me and my life. For what feels true and to the size that I can really believe will get my full attention. Do I want to stop working for other people who notice how long my lunch hour is? Yes. Do I want to work for myself? Yes. Do I want to do it on someone else’s idea of a success? Not if it doesn’t work for me.

    This was inspiring for me, and I am always glad for whatever success you have with this great business (and any offshoots)

    • meg


  • Aly

    I could see how sponsored posts and the like could be seen as ‘selling out’ if you accepted sponsorships from anybody willing to pay money, or only those willing to pay the most money. But that’s not how APW works, the sponsors have to fit the message of the site, which makes them very useful to all of us here. By supporting your small, creative business, you are also supporting other small, creative businesses. That’s creating a community, not selling out.

  • abby_wan_kenobi

    Yay for Part II of this! I’m happy to throw my own experience into the mix. Husband and I always saw ourselves living in the South, but prioritizing each of our careers has landed us too far north and 4.5 hours apart. A few weeks ago Husband accepted a job in Georgia and I made the decision to go with him. As much as I enjoy the job I have now, it’s never going to allow me to live where we envisioned our family putting down roots. It’ll never allow my husband to flourish in his career if we’re living together. And despite the three years I’ve invested with my company, it’s just another big corporate business. There are dozens like it that will allow me have my career and my husband too.

    So the countdown to quitting begins, and a new chapter starts this summer. :)

    • andthebeautyis

      Yay for new beginnings bringing you closer, and best of luck with the transition!

      • Congrats! That’s awesome. And you’re an engineer, right? There’s (almost) always work for engineers. Best of luck finding a new awesome next step.

    • JEM

      Oh Abby, congrats to you and the Hubs for turning a new page! Best wishes to you and good luck on the move from hot and humid to hotter and more humid! ;)

    • ka

      Woohoo for getting to live together!

    • abby_wan_kenobi

      Thanks all!! I’m superduper excited to live someplace where snow would be a noteworthy event. Plus I miss roadside peaches, proper bbq, skirts and friendly neighbors. And the Husband is excited about his new job that (rather surprisingly) pays quite well and comes with absolutely bizarre hours.

      The idea of quitting my job whether or not I have another lined up is completely terrifying. I know in my brain that Husband can support us both and gladly will, but it *feels* so wrong. I’m a strong, independent, high-earning engineer! I’m so career-driven I don’t even live with my husband! Now I’m going to just quit and hope for the best? What-what?

      But in equal measure with the fear is the happiness and peace that’s weaseling into my heart with the knowledge that this transient, long-distance part of our life together is coming to an end. Whatever happens next will be good because of that.

      • Ack! Abby Wan! I am so excited for you, and feel absolutely confident that you’ll be able to write in with an update in the fall where you’re doing some perfect new thing.

      • oooh I’m kind of tearing up over here! so happy for you! best of luck in what’s to come, I’m sure you guys will figure everything out.

      • Rasheeda

        You will do great!! And I’m happy for you stepping into the unkown…I don’t know if you know where you will be living but if you are anywhere near Atlanta, I’m willing to come have a welcome to the city cocktail with you!

      • Mmmm. Now I want a juicy, sweet smelling peach. :) Congrats! Yay to the end of your long distance and new beginnings.

    • Denzi

      AHHHH! Abby! Can I bring you neighborly booze as a housewarming present, now that you’re gonna be a neighbor?

      P.S. I am serious. Just tell me what y’all drink, and I’ll get you some.

      P.P.S. And yes, this is a totally shameless, only very lightly veiled “Umm, can we hang out?”

  • marie

    i just read the part about ads to my boy as we were drinking our morning coffee– and he says “why? what else would you do?”

    point made. keep doing what you’re doing, meg and the APW team! so glad you’re here!

  • Harriet

    I have no plans to start my own business, but these posts on running your own business, as well as the sponsored posts, have really made me think about how and where I spend my money. My partner and I are putting together our wedding registry right now, and the things you’ve written have definitely played a role in my choices. Thanks, Meg!

  • andthebeautyis

    This is an interesting post for me for several reasons.
    Yes! to everything that’s been said – that we need to dream big, not sell ourselves short, support women entrepreneurs.
    I myself am in a career that allows me to make my own hours (to an extent), but also requires me to have unrelated part-time jobs. And I’ve had bad experiences with all four of my female bosses running their own small business.
    My point is NOT to dream small, but make sure that, as Meg said, your business fits your life. Part of the more feminine work-ethic is that we take our work *very* personally, so that in a small business where every transaction counts, we can let little mistakes take far too much attention. So thinking more “big picture” will, in fact, allow you to relax more. These bosses I’ve had have been constantly stressed out and taking it out on their employees, who they seem to have hired to be instant duplicates of the boss, but with fewer mistakes.
    So if you grow your business beyond what you can personally handle while giving your family/personal life the attention it needs to keep you sane, hire staff. But remember that every new employee requires your time to set clear expectations, and to be trained. And then you have to trust them to make decisions without you, and do things differently. But they might bring valuable new ideas, and they will certainly free up those sanity-maintaining hours of your day once you’ve trained them. And you can’t keep growing the business without them.

  • Leah

    I’m not usually a commenter, but I have to respond to this one! I took the survey, and while I had a small criticism, I also have a lot of praise for this site. I read it every day, even though I’m already married.

    But my criticism was not the ads. I think the ads are great. I love that this site is putting us in touch with such awesome photographers and jewelers and whoever else is advertising here. Unlike *so* many other blogs I read, this site’s advertisers seem to integrate so smoothly into the ideals and goals of APW that they almost don’t even seem like ads. I mean, I read the sponsored posts just like I read the searching, in-depth posts about death and kids and divorce and weddings! I even bookmarked one of the jewelry posts so I can buy myself a birthday present this year!

    Anyway, I love the balance you’ve got between great content and ads, and I love that there are so many great sponsors out there that share your beliefs and sense of humor. Go APW!!!

    Regarding your other point (women’s chronic undervaluing of themselves), I couldn’t agree more, and I struggle with this every day. So, as soon as I figure out what the hell I should do with my life, I’ll write you an email and let you know that you kicked me in the ass too. Because you did, but the ass-kicking was a sort of stationary one, until I can point it in a direction. If that makes sense.

    Have a great day!

  • Kayleigh

    Just have to chime in and say I love and really appreciate the way sponsorships are handled on this site, and I think there should be MORE MORE MORE! APW readers are scattered all over the world and there are not nearly enough photographers, officiants, or videographers sponsoring to meet the demand in every area. When I need to hire someone, APW’s sponsors list is the first place I look because I know every person on that list has been vetted, and is going to understand the APW mindset. I know they’re not going to try to up-sell me some crazy WIC crap or guilt me into doing something more “traditional” than I’m comfortable with.

  • I think there are a couple of things going on behind some of the less than supportive comments APW receives, and from my perspective, they’re really obvious. So much so, that they’ve probably occurred to you as well, because you’re a smart and savvy woman. But nevertheless, here’s what I think a lot of it boils down to:

    As APW has grown, it’s come to feel a bit more like a business than a blog, which would be nearly impossible to avoid, because it IS a business. A fantastic one. But as such, it requires a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes – the kind of work that any successful business requires. And just like you don’t see Steve Jobs on the floor at the Apple Store giving demonstrations on how to use iPads, we don’t see nearly as much Meg on the pages of APW these days, because both Steve and Meg of OTHER SHIT TO DO.

    APW is about so much more than wedding planning – it’s blossomed into a really incredible community full of smart, talented, funny women (and maybe some men too). But make no mistake – it’s an incredible community that grew out of ONE woman’s experience. It was YOUR voice Meg that inspired so many women to settle in here, and with you being as busy as you are with the myriad other things that APW requires of you, your voice is decreasingly present. Alyssa and Lauren are wonderful, as are all of the women who submit their weddings for inclusion on these pages, but I’m quite certain that many of the readers at APW miss having as much Meg as they’d grown accustomed to.

    The OTHER element at play here is something that looks a bit like jealousy on the surface, but is actually something much bigger and quite a bit different from that. You see, in the most general sense, I think that most people who read a lot of blogs (and especially those who COMMENT on a lot of blogs) are bloggers themselves. People who fancy themselves writers and PROBABLY want for themselves a lot of the same things that you have Meg. Namely: autonomy and income.

    I don’t think ANYONE would argue that you haven’t been hauling up your own star for quite some time, because SO MUCH of the success of APW comes right down to you. Again – your voice, but also your drive, determination and business savvy. But there has most definitely been a bit of serendipity mixed in as well – sort of a ‘right place, right time’ factor that has benefitted you tremendously.

    The result – I think – is that there a number of people here who respect and admire your success, but resent it at the same time, because it serves to illustrate the fact that they haven’t achieved the same thing just yet. Perhaps they feel they simply haven’t been as lucky, but more likely, I think many of them feel frustrated with themselves for not doing more to haul up their own stars, and project that frustration onto you as if YOU’RE the one doing something wrong, as opposed to them.

    • ALOTTA LETTUCE brings up an interesting point that I’ve wrestled with: on a wedding site, how much do readers want wedding content vs. content about producing a blog? APW launched as a site about a woman planning her wedding, and now sometimes it’s a site about a woman running her business. As a woman running a similar business, of course *I* love that, but how much do readers who want wedding stuff like it? (I have no idea.) I wrestle with this a lot on Offbeat Bride, and have considered having a separate site for writing about professional/business/marketing stuff, since I feel like the majority of my readers come to a wedding blog for wedding stuff…but, yeah: like I need another site to maintain. I know several wedding web publishers who do that though.

      And as for the whole sell-out debate. UG. “How DARE you have the audacity to be ambitious? It’s making me feel insecure!” Why do women do this to each other!?

      • Marina

        Well, as someone who got married a year and a half ago, there’s a reason I still read APW and not Offbeat Bride. (Sorry, Ariel!) APW has shifted from being about weddings to being about marriages, and I think Meg nailed it: “The more fulfilled we are as people, the more our relationships thrive.” My personal day to day process of figuring out who I am as a wife involves a lot more talking about careers than talking about event planning. APW has become my go-to community not for talking about businesses or talking about being a wife, but for talking about how they mesh. What DOES it mean for your marriage to go for your dream job? How do you negotiate who has to quit their job to move across the country for the other person’s dream job? How do two people divy up money-making and house-maintaining roles? Offbeat Bride is super pretty, and I head over every few weeks or so to scroll through the awesome, but it’s not about me anymore. I think part of what keeps APW feeling like it’s about me is the inclusion of non-wedding topics.

        • No worries about not reading Offbeat Bride any more — that’s why I have Offbeat Home and Offbeat Mama. :) Meg and I are essentially doing the same thing in different ways — I keep my sites tightly focused on one topic (and launch additional sites to address additional topics), while Meg has diversified her site to include the topics under one umbrella. It’s all good!

          • meg

            Some (me) might say you’ve figured out an actual plan, while I’m wandering around the wilderness hoping a more specific plan will appear.

            Or maybe I’m just writing a book and should cut myself a break ;)

          • I do love me some Offbeat Home. :)

      • Lee G.

        As a reader of Off-beat Bride AND APW, I love these posts!

        I am in the pre-engaged group, and I’m starting to gather ideas and resources. But, as much as I love wedding stuff, I love business stuff too! I like thinking and getting a kick in the butt, which is what this post was for me today. So Ariel, you do what you gotta do! I love your posts too that aren’t about weddings.

        Also, as a side, just wanted to share something that made me sad. My future Mother in Law said she didn’t like talking to women about business and politics because they are too catty and gosssip too much. I think my heart just broke. How upsettig is that? I just want to her to open her mind. She’s really missing out on some great conversations. Kind of unrelated, but this post made me think about how women hold women back. Prime example.

      • Anne

        Ariel —

        I would absolutely LOVE for you to create a “site for writing about professional/business/marketing stuff.”

        I’m a young entrepreneur (!) with my own private practice and I devour Meg’s posts about starting her own business. I started my own company so I could a) make a living and b) make a living in a way that I feel is ethical.

        I’m always eager to hear about how other people tackle this.

      • K

        Ariel and Meg –

        As someone who’s not interested in starting her own enterprise but very interested in wedding sites that appreciate the whole woman doing the wedding planning, I love that both of you spend time talking about the specifics of the business-plan-behind-the-business. Too many sites/blogs are premised on you not getting that it’s a business (hello, facebook?) and that your participation is some sort of transaction. I think the honesty and openness with which you approach the sites, and the respect with which you treat your readers, goes a long, long way. I wish I knew more brick-and-mortar businesses that did that (which is another reason both sites’ vendor lists are awesome!).

      • can i just add one thing to the “sell-out” debate?

        making money is not the same thing as selling out. yes, there is a reason the “sell-out” issue comes up whenever making (more) money comes up: because it really happens. but it is only selling out if you are changing the values of who you are/what you do *for* the money. making money off of who you are and what you do with your values intact? not selling out. just selling. which is fine.

    • meg

      I’ll also throw out what I’ve tried to make really obvious, but no matter how often I say it is hard to get across – I’m writing a book right now, and I have two more months till my deadline. That’s why there is less of me than usual on the writing front at the moment. It’s true that APW takes a lot of work behind the scenes, but that’s not the core issue with the writing for me, because the central reason for me to have this business is to write. The issue is I’m responsable for 6,000 words a week offline, which means there is only so much content I can produce online as well. That will change when the book is off my plate. AKA, I am writing, a lot, you guys just can’t see it yet.

      That said, Ariel also brings up an interesting point – I’m running a business right now. There were some readers (as always) who said they missed the days when I was wedding planning, and I sort of shrugged. I get it. I miss what APW was when I was wedding planning too, though I love what it’s become, and I think that in some ways I’m WAY more proud of what it is now, and the community around it, then what it was when I was planning my wedding. But either way, I’m not wedding planning any more, and I can’t go back to that. So while I can (and will!) write more when the book is off my plate, I can only give wedding advice now. When I write about what life is like right this second, it’s going to look a lot like a woman running a business not a woman planning a wedding… because that’s where I am.

      So it’s interesting, balancing the growth. But I’m very proud of what we’ve created, and I work every day to keep balancing to make the best mix of content. I balance what readers need with what I want to write, and often, just write whatever I feel like, wedding-y or no. Because you know what? I love when bloggers do that, because I’m there for their voice.

      And, I will say, I spend a lot of time editing and selecting what does go on this site, to make sure the APW voice and message is strong. You hear more of me on ATP Fridays, for example, then you realize.

      • Marchelle

        I have to admit that as much as I love Alyssa and Lauren, I too miss seeing lots of Meg on the floor, so to speak. And as someone who got married some time ago now, I do sometimes (OK, often, whoops!) skim over the wedding-planning heavy content. BUT, this site keeps me coming back anyway. Which is why I’m patiently waiting for the book to be published, and then keeping my fingers crossed for Reclaiming Wife, A Practical Pregnancy, A Practical Family, etc to launch as separate sites, as and when you yourself enter those different phases.

        As for these business related posts, they don’t directly apply to my life right now, but I’ve got them all saved up, because I’m pretty sure I’ll need to refer to them one day. (Fitting my work to my life – EXACTLY.) And I guess that is why this site keeps me coming back. All the real-life inspiring content, that’s brilliant for wedding planning, but applicable to so much MORE.

  • First of all… “I started my own business because I wanted to scale my business to my life, and because I was tired of scaling my life to my business.” YES TO THAT.

    The success of APW has contributed to my own success as a small-business owner, and I can’t thank you enough for that. Truly, becoming an APW sponsor changed my life, because I finally found the couples I wanted to work with all along. 75% of my clients this year are APWers… which is amazing. I’m no longer getting clients that aren’t the right fit and feeling obligated to take on their wedding, because I have bills to pay. That’s been a massively HUGE deal for me. Being able to say no when something doesn’t feel right with someone. That’s the luxury that becoming an APW sponsor afforded me. And knowing that I am contributing to this site in some way every month, financially, is a wonderful feeling. There’s no other site that I would want to be a part of in such a way. I just wanted to share my experience as an APW sponsor, in light of the talk about sponsors and sponsored posts.

    I don’t think anyone around here is doing any kind of selling out, but that’s just me. It’s small businesses helping each other.

    • meg

      Yay!! And don’t you worry. The vast majority of readers really get that.

    • YES. You know what’s funny? As a sponsor, I sometimes forget that paying for ad space here helps Meg pay the bills. Because I get SO much out of being a sponsor, the tradeoff hardly seems fair.

      Which is why I love that everyone just lifts each other up here. Us APW sponsors? We support each other A LOT. There’s advice given, positive messaging when we’re feeling uninspired, and the list goes on. Heck, I probably wouldn’t be a sponsor at all if I hadn’t met Katie Jane at an APW meetup.

      And the readers? By letting this website grow, you allow us to reap the benefits of this amazing community so that we can live our dreams by our own definitions.

      So I definitely don’t see any selling out. Just a lot of reaching out.

    • Second! I can’t wait to be a sponsor. “Selling out” would only be if Meg was the only one prospering, and was doing so by giving us unrelated content and vendors for a quick buck. Instead, she is spreading the wealth and attention to like minded people while informing her core audience. Her rising tide is lifting all these independent, creative, pro-equality, entrepeniurial boats. Most of them probably captained by Women.

  • Really? Today? The exact day that I map out the possibilities of staying in my current job (which I LOVE) and/or taking on the flurry of freelance PR work that’s been steadily coming my way, all while trying to start a farm and (despite having a 3-year moratorium) talking about talking about starting a family? (Husband insists he has not ‘baby fever’ but ‘minion fever.’) Wow. This is a new place for us, to finally have some semblance of stability yet not feel truly fulfilled. And I think I’ve been losing sight of that as I crunch our budget numbers and follow someone else’s ‘grownup rules’ that really aren’t mine. Thanks Meg. Truly. :)

    • Minion fever. That is cracking me up right now. :-)

    • Paranoid Libra

      I think I kinda want your life…..nope definitely want your life, but I don’t think a farm and travelling the world mesh well together cuz well someone needs to feed the animals while im trying to be a world traveller with my guy.

      OOORRRR you could adopt me as a minion, pwetty pwease.

      • ka

        Ooh, I’ll get a farm with you! We could switch off traveling and farming every 6 months? Anyone else want in? It’ll be a farm share. ;-)

      • Ha! You’re on! We’ll vicariously travel the world through you and when you need a rest you can hang out on the farm!

        • Zan

          What’s this? I’m not the only farmer on APW? Excellent! Please get in touch other farmer ladies!!

          • LV Anna

            How about ranch ladies? Can we play too?

          • hey zan—i knew you in college! (congrats on your recent marriage!) and i am living on a farm at the moment. seems to be a not-terribly-uncommon eventual career path for grads from our oh-so-intellectual alma mater. hah!

      • Paranoid Libra

        ok deal me in for being on the apw farm and travel plan.

        And KA after looking at your blog please stuff me in a suitcase next time to head to costa rica. I was there a few years ago and so dexperately want to go back. I went for a college class (yes best class ever!) and we all tried to figure out a way to accidentally be left behind.

        • KA

          Oh my god, tell me about it. A college class in CR? Sounds like the best class ever! I bet it had to do with awesome animals or something?! We considered trying to pull off having our wedding there, but sadly our guests weren’t as enthusiastic about it as you! :) Instead we’re going to try to put another trip with friends next year…but I have to say, it’s hard not to just go for our honeymoon too.

  • Thank you for this.

    I’ve been feeling a lot of frustration with myself lately because I feel like I’m actively making choices that are limiting me for later in life. I’m in a Master’s program for a field that, while EXTREMELY female dominated (library science) and therefore at least understanding about family stuff more than a male-dominated career might be, is still ultimately a job that I can’t really do from home (unless I score one of those virtual librarian jobs…..maybe there will be more of those out there once I graduate?). And I’m really struggling with the fact that I made this choice to go into a field where I’m limiting my stay-at-home options for later. And….that’s not fair to me. I need to do what I need to do, and if I am fulfilled by a career this way, why should I feel like I’m limiting myself? I feel that by simply being female and knowing that I want kids, I automatically limit myself and shame myself for thinking beyond that sometimes. And I need to stop. I just need to go for what I think I need to go for, period.

    I *do* need to start shaping my work around my life and not my life around my work. I need that balance…and I think as women it’s really difficult sometimes because male counterparts in the workforce don’t have to deal with that cultural dichotomy of what’s expected of us vs. the lives we actually want to lead.

    Regarding paid sponsors: I say bring ’em on! Whenever I read blogs like this, I sort of assume those are necessary to keep things running. But I wouldn’t call them a necessary evil, because I don’t view something that’s vital to keeping a community I love running evil!

    • Kayakgirl73


      I’m a librarian, albeit a corporate one, and I can occasionally work from home. I think it may well become more possible to at least work a day or two a week at home in this field, especially on the corporate side. Most of my research requests come via e-mail and most of our sources are online, i.e. paid online, not necessarily free internet ones. P.S. I think Librarians are still needed, even though some folks think we are passe, although that’s a discussion for another time and place.

      • Library ladies unite! I definitely think we’re still needed — the profession is definitely changing, but I don’t think it’s going to disappear!

        Your situation seems like it’s really ideal, since you can be a part of your employer’s on-site culture (I’m pretty sure if I went totally virtual at my current library, nobody would remember I exist, since I’m just a tiny academic library for a sorta-corporate entity and I have to bribe people to visit me sometimes with a candy jar), and still have a work life that’s a little more fluid and flexible for the virtual days. I’m really hoping more virtual jobs are created as time goes by — ideally, half-and-half virtual/on-site…

  • I send your first “Women, Money & Self Worth” post to someone at least once a month, because it has so deeply stuck with me, and because I know so many women who need to hear that they’re worth more than they’re asking for. Until you mentioned it here, though, I didn’t realize that my applying for graduate school and getting a promotion had coincided with reading it. Coincidence? Possibly, but I’m not really convinced. I think it must have had at least something to do with it.

    So, I just wanted to say thank you for inspiring some big changes in my life, and to keep doing what you’re doing and to keep growing the site(s) and being an amazing resource for us all.

  • clampers

    If you think about it, women have been working from home all these years anyway…I think about my grandma who took in rich ladies’ laundry and did clothing alterations for people on her block. She got a little extra money but was still able to take care of her kids.

  • Aggie Laura

    This post really hit home for me because, like Meg, I came from the world of non-profit arts. I’m now in an arts administration specific grad program…and just accepted a high paying job in the private sector. I’ve gotten a lot of comments about selling out…but I feel like those people just haven’t been paying attention. The job I’ve accepted is doing really specific analytical work that I love – in non-profit arts, everyone does everything and jobs like this one don’t exist (at least not in the geographic location I’m interested in). I’m excited about the POSITION and well, yes, the money is nice too. And that’s ok. Because I’ve worked hard and I deserve it.

    • meg

      Lady! You don’t have to say “the money is nice too.” You’re allowed to say, “F*ck it, I took this job because it pays well and I deserve it.” Being undervalued at work sucks… your soul out, sometimes.

      That’s the point, I think. We should be able to say, “I’m in it for the money” sometimes, because you know what? That’s not a bad reason to do something if we’re being honest.

    • I’m really curious as to what your program is, as well as your fantastic new job! (Congrats by the way! Way to kick butt!) There’s an arts administration certificate program that I’ve come across in my hometown that I’ve been considering applying for. I’m waffling mainly because I’m concerned about job opportunities. But who isn’t though!

    • Aggie, I did EXACTLY the same thing about a year ago.I’d worked in a social service non-profit for years and took a job at a Fortune 100 company. And not only was I getting the comments from other people – but for a short time I was actually thinking them myself!! It wasn’t until a few months into the job that I stopped, looked around, and realized that I was happier not just in my work life, but in my personal life as well.

      We shouldn’t ever have to feel badly about doing something that is right and good for us. Congrats on accepting the new gig!

      • Aggie Laura

        I just came back through and read these comments. Thank you for all the support and encouragement! And it’s awesome to read that you love your new corporate job!

  • Ali

    As someone who was just let go from my job two weeks ago, I found this post to be very inspiring. I’m trying to figure out where I am going to go from here, and I need to keep dreaming big, not allowing my hurt self-esteem to get in the way.

    • meg

      God. I’m sorry. We’re battling with unemployment around here too. It’s a b*tch.

    • Amy


      I got laid off a year and a half ago, and it sucked all kinds of ass. If it helps, reaching out of my comfort zone found me an awesome job that makes me happy. Keep your head up, and good luck discovering what your next steps are!

  • SusieQ

    Thanks for this. I have so many thoughts about this that I don’t really know where to start.

    My husband and I are about to complete our PhD’s in the same subject. We’re talking about the future, what we want out of our careers, where we want to live, and when we want to have babies, and what that will look like. All things that we addressed pre-wedding, but now it’s real. We’re in the fortunate position of being in a field that is actually in demand, and we have several options after graduation, so that’s good. But my husband knows exactly what he wants to do with his degree (start a business), while I’m just finally coming to terms with the idea that I’ll finish. I feel like my hesitancy has put me in the position of playing support to his dream, without really spending the time to figure out what *I* want in a career. And this is all stuff that I’ve put on myself – he hasn’t consciously contributed to this idea, other than his constant jokes about having a “sugar momma.” But now it’s time to really think about what I want from my degree. And if what I want is a white picket fence with 2.5 kids? Then I think that’s okay.

    But what if *I* want to start a business? It’s what my family has always done, and it’s appealing to me. How do I incorporate that with my husband’s desires? Could we survive starting a business together? I honestly don’t know – we don’t always work well together on work stuff. Does the fact that he stated his desire early on (like, before we were dating) give him priority over me? Probably. Should I just take the corporate job (that I don’t hate) and support him now, in the hope that he’ll be able to support me later?

    But overall, I like the idea of making money and believe that all women should. I don’t understand the idea that making money makes you a sell-out. It’s necessary, and if you can make money doing something you love? Why, then you’re quite the success.

    • ka

      We’re working on something similar in our relationship—both of us want to take steps to have more flexible, working for ourselves typ job situations, but my husband-to-be’s is more concrete. He’s an artist, working to build up his freelance work enough to quit his day job. And we’ve already discussed that if children were to enter the picture, he’d be the one staying at home. But that sometimes leaves me feeling painted into a corner. Because I’m the one that hates my day jobs less, and the one that is motivated by earning money more, then I *have* to be the breadwinner?

      So yea, I don’t have any answers on this one, but I love to have more discussions around it.

      • Sarah

        I keep coming back and re-reading this post today. It spoke to me on many levels. First, I was curious about the 9-5 (we can call it corporate but I work in nonprofit and it is all the same) not working for “women’s biology” comment. It doesn’t work at all for my biology personally (my energy comes in spurts throughout the day and lags at other times) which always makes me feel like working 40 hours a week doesn’t work for me. Maybe given the flexibility to work following those spurts and lags, 40 hours wouldn’t feel so darn burdensome. Second, my fiance is in the middle of graduate school, and I am the primary breadwinner. I work in nonprofit fundraising, and while my job pays very well for the sector, it still isn’t all that much. I took this job for the money, which ain’t that great, and also because if the nonprofit schedule/attire/etc feels challenging to me, then corporate just feels terrifying. If I’m uncomfortable already, how much worse would it get? Given that my fiance has 2-3 more years for his PhD, and then will go on for a post-doctoral fellowship, I’m staring down 6-7 more years as the primary breadwinner (also all my remaining years before any pregnancies become geriatric). My fiance is incredibly supportive of me pursuing a dream, going to grad school, whatever. He’s not willing to compromise on achieving his own dreams, which on the one hand is something I admire about him but cannot seem to emulate, and on the other hand makes me feel like my dreams just have to get shelved until they fit more practically into our life together. And then I feel like I’m the one shelving them. I get the feeling others have talked about, about feeling painted into a corner. Having a flexible life, having interesting and challenging work, and making a living that provides us with options. Somehow really hard for me to put together…

      • Denzi

        Umm, yes, so much to this. T. knows where he’s going. I’m taking a more circuitous route. It’s really hard to figure out how *he* can support *me*, when he is an engineer-brain and his first thought is “WHAT ARE THE LOGISTICAL IMPLICATIONS OF THIS POTENTIAL CHOICE?” Agh.

        Just because I don’t have my desires figured out (and because the decisions I’ve made are more traditional “girly” choices…well, after the applying for a PhD in ecology of infectious diseases. When I decided that actually I hated labwork. Then they got all girly), doesn’t make them less valid than T.’s desires. And sometimes I feel like one or both of us sees them as less valid, because that’s the easy default.

    • Cassandra

      Oh, all kinds of understanding on this. I’m partway through my PhD and the boy is just starting his this coming year, but we’ll finish right around the same time – with the same degree (different areas of specialization, thank God). He’s always always known he’s wanted to teach, whereas I still don’t know exactly what I want to do; I’m learning far toward the side of research, but the nature of my research work means the best jobs for me are overseas – where he wouldn’t be happy teaching. I feel very much like his having always had a plan means that what I want to do maybe won’t matter so much in the future. I’m curious though – for me and for you – how much of this is completely internalized, and whether the partners have actually made it feel this way. I’m wary of feeling like I’m the one who has to give everything up, especially if it’s mostly in my head, but at the same time it’s a really difficult conversation to have.

  • Elizabeth

    Since your last post on this topic, I have had elbow surgery and lost my job. All of this happened in the week just before Christmas- so needless to say I was a little stressed in those awake periods between doses of Vicodin. I was worried about my value because not only was I mostly incapacitated (and going to stay that way for a month or more) but also because I was no longer bringing money in, which has always been a sticky topic for us.

    In the three months that have passed, I have been lucky enough to receive unemployment benefits, but unable to find work. Though some days are harder than others, I have for the most part learned to accept that even without a job I have worth. I am going to school for something I think I will really enjoy and will have an internship opportunity next year that will allow me to network and find a good job. So this is just a stage. Being home, I’ve discovered that I’m a really good cook and that I enjoy making food for my friends and family. I’ve had the time to develop other skills, and to focus on other important aspects of my life. I’ve discovered my worth outside of the workplace, and I’ve also discovered how much I miss having coworkers and a job outside of home. So I guess what I really mean to say is this: everything is an opportunity, because even things that suck offer a chance to learn and grow, alone and as a couple.

    In addition, I would like to point out that the business world is flawed if it really believes there can be growth year after year. We live on a planet with finite resources- at some point all of those resources will be (or already are) tapped. At some point the growth is unsustainable, or is sustainable only at the cost of human standards of living (low pay, joblessness, health/safety, etc).

    • meg

      Maybe it’s time to revisit this idea that our value in our relationship is not just what we bring in, because I think it’s so hugely important, especially these days.

      And yes, I agree on the endless growth as well. I think it’s a broken model. Profits can’t always expand at a rapid rate. It just don’t work.

  • Back when I was planning my wedding, I didn’t mind the sponsored posts as much as I needed them. Now that I’m married, I completely understand the need for sponsored post in the financial sense and hope that other bride’s will find them useful in planning. I’ll admit, I don’t usually click through on those articles though – usually I come over when I see a marriage article. Not sure what types of sponsors you could get for us marrieds, but if they were something I needed I would certainly take a look-see.

    • Yes! I think that’s it exactly. To me, it makes sense that the diversity of sponsors can grow as the site grows. I always find myself clicking through on the jewelry posts way more often than the photographer posts because, well, I don’t have a need for a photographer post wedding. Maybe that’s why people are beginning to notice the quantity more than before, not because Meg quit her job but because the majority of us that have been reading the site for awhile are post wedding and content that doesn’t necessarily pertain to us anymore sticks out more? I would love to see some realtor sponsors that aren’t completely crazy or what about marriage counselors? Travel agents for those of us who want to see the world? So many other business could be a perfect fit for APW and allow the site to grow while still keeping everything relevant and supportive of kick ass small businesses.

    • Hypothetical Sarah

      Maybe you want jewelry for your birthday? Or awesome, blissfully happy photos of you and your other half? Or invitations for an event? Just because the sponsored posts are framed through the lens of weddings doesn’t mean they’re only applicable to weddings. I do see your point though.

      • Jewelry is nice because it’s not local. I read the photographer posts because I like the pretty, but it’s kind of a moot point for me because I’m in Canada. Jewelry can go where ever mail can.

  • Melissa

    Can I just say how awesome it is to even read the comments from a community of women with this much insight, self-awareness and capacity for growth? Let alone start the day with a post that reminds me we’re all facing the same bullsh*t and helping each other learn from it?

  • redhead_kate

    I’ve never posted here before, but I’ve been a reader for the past few months in anticipation of my wedding (for which the countdown just passed 2 months, wee!) and I thought that this post was the perfect chance to express my thanks. I’ve not only found a place where weddings have been liberated from the WIC (which has brought peace to my troubled wedding-planning soul), I’ve also found so much empowerment through the community and the posts. As a young, female engineer (also did the grad school route, hoping to escape with a masters in a month!), I’m often stuck struggling with what it means to be a woman in a male-dominanted community. So thank you for this, for the encouragement to stretch the boundaries and to challenge the norm. We (collectively as brillant, empowered women) are so totally worth it!

    • Amy

      Hi Kate! I am also a redheaded young female engineer getting a master’s degree! Just wanted to say hello and it’s good to see you around. :)

      • redhead_kate

        Yay! Hello from Canada :).

  • It’s so SO easy to get caught in the “do I really deserve this” trap. When I was offerend my current position, the company offered me a salary that so far exceeded any salary I had ever received that I actually blanched. In taking the requisite 24-hours to think it over, all the women I talked to told me they knew I should counter-offer with a higher salary, but that they had never done so themselves. While all the men I spoke with not only told me I needed to, but shared stories about their own counter-offers.

    I kept thinking “My God, that salary is so high I feel ridiculous countering!” But the more and more I realized that we women rarely do, the more I realized I needed to. We KNOW we can ask for more. We know we should. Why don’t we follow through on it?

    I did, and I ended up with $3k more than the original offer.

    Meg, I hope your post inspires more women to reach for more, if they want it. It took me 30 years to learn a lesson I should have learned long ago – it’d be great if we could all learn it sooner.

    • SusieQ

      This is great. I’ve heard those contrasting stories too, and I hope that I’ll be as brave as you when it comes to my salary negotiations.

  • Great, great post, Meg. I feel just as you do about wanting to scale my work to my life and not the other way around — and I’m definitely in a job where I have to scale every drop of my life to my work (though I’m working on becoming my own boss, and posts like these are a huge, huge encouragement).

    For what it’s worth, I feel like the folks who are begging for fewer sponsored posts (or less growth) may just be concerned that you’ll grow to the point that it won’t feel like an intimate community anymore, which I’m sure is the draw for many readers. I certainly don’t have a problem with sponsored posts because I want you to get paid for the work you’re doing (I’m a writer too, and I know how our hard work so often gets devalued). You’re right about it being a balance — you’ve got to listen to your readers to a point but also do what’s right for your business and your staff.

    I guess all of this is just to say, ‘F*ck, yeah, Meg!’ and keep up the good work.

  • Katie

    Wow. I LOVE this post. Your initial post about this topic also inspired me to think more about my job, how I can be more successful and really go for what I want and what I deserve. And more and more I’m realizing exactly what you’ve discovered – in order to be successful and still be who I am and want to be, I think I need to work for myself. I can’t do it yet – I’m currently taking part-time online classes in order to get more experience and then hopefully one day launch my own business – but it’s what I’m now striving for because I don’t understand how I can have a family and feel like me any other way.

    I just wanted to say that I SO support everything you say here and that your words and ideas have truly changed and inspired me – please keep doing it and embrace your success. Because by doing so, you’re teaching us to do the same. So – thank you.

  • Yay! My favorite posts!

    I literally do not have enough words to express how this paradigm shift has undone the 25 years of ass backwards achievement thinking I was taught. As someone (and I’m sure this applies to lots of us) who was raised to believe she can do anything, aim for the stars, I always looked to certain measures of success to tell me if I was doing a good job. I got good grades, took on challenging internships, got a job at an important independent film company.

    But for what?

    I was trying to succeed for the sake of success, without taking into account what I actually hoped to get from my efforts. (Which by the way is something that they don’t teach you in high school or put on your college apps). And I was miserable.

    When the APW-powered light bulb went off in my head that said, “Achieve to fulfill personal goals”, it was like I suddenly understood my trajectory.

    Now I only strive for a sustainable lifestyle that will leave me feeling happy and whole. And not surprisingly, that mentality has led to success! (You know, with the help of you AWESOME APW-ers).

    And for anyone who complains about changes to the APW structure, I offer this lovely comic from The Oatmeal. ‘Nuff said.


  • Jordan

    I’ve never really understood the accusatory “selling out” mentality. Okay, that’s not completely true; as a teenager when one of my favorite bands went from being relatively unknown to bigger and more famous, I was a little irked at having to share them with the world, but in the end I realized, isn’t this what they–and what most people–dream of? Believing in your dreams and putting in all the hard work needed to garner little recognition and the opportunity to support yourself doing it, well, that’s just downright amazing, celebratory, and something worth applauding and encouraging, not tearing down.

    And by the way, I love the sponsored posts. They’re lifesavers, and they’re a great way to help support other amazing people with amazing ideas and the courage to make their dreams reality. But I will admit, half the time I don’t read the entire post, I usually just skip straight to their websites and drool over the awesome. Thanks APW.

  • Emily

    I just wanted to chime in on the sponsored posts: they have NEVER impeded my enjoyment or interest in APW. In fact, despite the fact that for the first year or so that I read the website I wasn’t planning a wedding, I am often genuinely interested in the real content offered in the sponsored posts. It’s clear to me that sponsors are selected in large part because they share the values and interests of Meg and her readers. So it’s no surprise that I occasionally find myself clicking through to a sponsor because I love the idea of paperless wedding invitations or offbeat engagement jewelry.

    And the sponsors that don’t interest me? I ignore them, just as I would on any other website I visit. So my verdict? They certainly don’t detract, and often they enhance the content of the site. No complaints here!

  • Danielle

    This is one of reasons I keep reading APW, over a year after breaking off my engagement (!).

    I am also interested in developing business skills to forward feminist values. I don’t have as clear a vision of what that will look like, but am planning to apply to business school next fall. I have been procrastinating studying for the GMAT, and this post is the kick-in-the-butt that I need!

    Thank you, Meg, and readers.

  • Stella

    I love these entrepreneurship posts – they’re my favorite. They both inspire and scare the sh*t out of me, which I believe are very good things.

    • Totes. I guess I should’ve just hit “exactly,” but I already typed out “totes.” Twice.

  • Jo

    I don’t have much to add after all of these great comments, other than hells to the yes, lady.

  • AMEN SISTER. I think that you hit the nail on the head with the whole women have been socialized to give nurturing away for free (and probably take it to heart if it’s not good enough). I think the one benefit I’ve gotten from the corporate world, and worked to bring it into my world, is the fact that no one is going to ask what I want. I have to say it and then work toward it. There is no expectation that my boss will take a personal interest in me. If that happens, it’s so wonderful and enriching, and I can be very grateful for it. But it’s not an expectation. I have to speak up for myself and be the person who acts in my self-interest. That is no one else’s job but mine.

    The last thing is that I feel like, even on indie blogs, that sometimes children are a big reason for a work/life change (sometimes in the form of future children). You want the flexibility to be able to take care of your existing and future family, which is great. But I would also encourage you to think about taking care of existing and future you. I made a choice to get into a career that let me have flexible work hours and the biggest benefit (as I don’t have kids) is to me. It lowers my stress. It’s an investment in me. You don’t need to make decisions about work/life balance for your future kids… you can make them for yourself. The reward is still there.

    • “The fact that no one is going to ask what I want. I have to say it and then work toward it. There is no expectation that my boss will take a personal interest in me.”

      Well if you didn’t just write something that directly addressed my issue today! The hair on my body stood up reading that. Could you please come to my office and sit behind me saying encorageing words today? I’m in the process of doing just that and it’s scary.

  • I want to echo what many others have said here: these posts are great. I’m starting to wrap my mind around the idea of working for myself. Currently I’m balancing work, school, and freelance jobs, and it’s stressful. If I could work only on freelance, I’d be so happy – but first I need to get my feet wet and hustle a little bit around town.
    Anyway, these posts are great for me to read now, and I know I’ll come back to read them the closer I get to a real transition.

  • God, I love posts like these. I read something interesting today that I would just like to add to this conversation. It was interesting enough that I wrote it on a post-it note and stuck it to the calendar on my desk.

    “Anything you work hard on will bear fruit.”

    Faulkner Fox said that in her book “Dispatches From A Not-So-Perfect Life”; her grandfather told her that two weeks before his death. I like that optimism. Also, if Faulkner’s grandfather felt it an important life lesson to pass on to his granddaughter, and she felt it important enough to put in a book about marriage, motherhood, and choices, I think it’s a good bit of wisdom to remember as I go through my own life.

    • Ris

      I love this quote! I’ve been struggling a lot as I’m nearing the end of my undergrad with what to do next – I have a thousand ideas of paths I could pursue after I get married, one of which is grad school. However, in my parents’ minds that is the ONLY option where I would actually be fufilling my “potential.” It’s not really sinking in with my dad that whatever I dedicate myself to will bear fruit :)

  • “Hah!” is what I thought when I read the bit about shaming you to work for free. We at the hospital (I’m a veterinary technician) hear this frequently: “Why does it cost so much to treat my horse? What do you mean, there is an emergency fee? Can’t you knock some money off? Don’t you love the animals you treat!?” Uh, yes. I also love being able to pay my bills, which aren’t a lot but does not mean that I can work for free.

    It’s been an interesting couple of months. Ever since your original post, I have been feeling a lot more confident in what I bring to the table: both at and outside of work. It’s like validation, or support when transitioning to being a grateful, quiet good little girl to a woman with a voice.

  • I have a choice right now with my business life. I own a business that can’t grow too much more (we’re talking brick and mortar here). I could choose to open another location, which is what 90% of people encourage me to do. But I don’t feel that that’s the right path for me. I love my shop, and I can continue to grow it in small ways over time AND still have time to do the things I like to do in life: work out, training for a marathon, singing lessons, travel, etc. So I’ve been vocal about not wanting to open another location and some people really see it as me just being lazy. Or not reaching my full potential. That infuriates me honestly. There are things in life I want to do besides work my fingers to the bone and I think that;s ok. I love my job right now, it pays the bills, and I’m going to keep it that way. Not to mention the flexibility is priceless. So I’ve had to own the NOT expanding the business thing, and that’s been hard.

  • Thank you! I’m part of the group of folks that your post last year helped push over the edge. I can’t thank you enough for that encouragement even if you had no clue who I or the other folks were.

  • Barbaloot

    YES! I think this is probably the best post I’ve read here yet… I’m so sick of the competitive roles so many women play with each other – it’s why I approach my female friendships with quite a bit of caution! I’m so ready to embrace a more supportive relationship with every woman in my life, whether it’s a close friend, coworker, woman in my yoga class, whatever. There are a million little and big ways to show support and encouragement, and I’m going to find those ways. So that’s what your words have done for me. I’ve been thinking about these issues for a long time, and right now, right here, I’m making the choice to stop keeping those thoughts to myself, and start encouraging the women around me! Thanks Meg!!

    • Agreed! Doesn’t it suck to have to approach other women with that trepidation? Why can’t all ladies be as awesome as the folks here?

  • Alternatively, there is something to be said for doing what you LOVE and NOT making any money at it! My sis and I run a blog/website, and people are always, always asking us “how many readers do you get? what’s your profit? do you sell ads?” And quite honestly, we don’t really care about that stuff! We both have jobs, we’re both happy, and we just adore working together on something fun. I used to make t-shits (shameless plug: http://www.oliviamarch.com –ha!) in college and people would always ask how much I was making and so forth; I never told anyone how much I made (it wasn’t much, but I am using it all on the wedding!), because I DIDN’T CARE! I was just happy designing! Yes, it’s one thing to have a website/t-shirt store as your main job, but there’s something to be said about doing other things you love because you love them, and not expecting anything back! More power to Meg, and all the women who built their job around their life–you are inspiring to the rest of us!

    • Oh yes. This is me too. Separating my job and hobbies. was an incredibly freeing thing for me. I love both parts of my life a lot more now that they are compartmentalized.

    • Hypothetical Sarah

      Very yes. The boy loved photography as a hobby until it serendipitously became a business too. After a few years as a performing arts photographer, despite making a not-insignificant amount of money off it, he decided he wanted to do something different with his life. And now his photo gear is collecting dust in my flat. Which is sad.

  • Katie

    “Our job as women is to encourage each other not to settle. To tell each other that we deserve happiness, whether that’s being a mom, or owning a business, or quitting our job to go to grad school, or asking for a raise.”

    I am not a grad student (yet), I am not a business owner (yet), I am not a mom (yet), but I have gone through a transition of sorts (called off my engagement), and this post spoke to me. In the past few months since my personal life transition, I’ve really had to stand up for ME, for what I want, and what I believe in. To say, I want my life to go in a different direction and I owe it to myself to do that. Some might call that selfish. I call it the best thing I’ve ever done.


  • Kate

    It struck me while reading this post & the comments that running this site is so similar to planning a wedding, and the philosophies you’ve taught us apply to your job as well. You’re balancing what you want for something that’s so important to you with consideration for a community. You are including what matters to you and not doing things that don’t feel right. It’s not easy at all, just like planning a thoughtful/practical wedding isn’t easy. Not everything you do will work for everyone, and that’s OK. Either they can deal with it or they can say “This site isn’t a fit for me” and move on. The ones that it speaks to will say “This is the greatest wedding I’ve ever been to/the greatest wedding website I’ve ever read” because of all the work and caring you put into it.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that you’ve been here before, and you rocked it, so keep being Meg and everything will be awesome.

  • Meg – I was one who wrote to you and told you about asking for the promotion. That post helped me ask for it. I sadly didn’t get it. I then went back and asked again about it, and nothing. So. That sucked. But it was the kick in the ass (felt like face) that I think I needed.

    So this week I’ve been talking to multiple people about a career plan I’ve been kicking around in my head for the last five years. Talking to people who’ve made the same switch, and their work, and their suggestions. Today I’ll email HR and ask about funding the training I’d need. Forwards momentum.


    • meg

      Momentum, RAR! Wishing you whatever you need next, even if you don’t know what that is yet.

  • Amy

    I’m in the stage of moving from baby steps in BIG steps in starting my own bakery. (Oh, maybe someday I’ll make goodies for APW couples!!) It’s scary and happening on the side from my “real job.” But it’s what I love and oh my gosh, I’m realizing, what if this really takes off? What if I can really, REALLY have my own business that involves feeding people yummy food? What if someday I can quit my executive assistant job to play in the kitchen all day AND pay a mortage on a tiny hobby farm AND have time to grown heirloom fruits and vegetables? I love these posts, the encouragement is beyond measurable and something I’m sure I’ll come back to again and again.

    • ML

      so many awesome things to be working on and looking forward to all in that one paragraph. get it girl.

    • sounds amazing! I would eat your goodies! (that sounds creepy?) raaahhh!

  • Anonymous

    These posts make me sad. It’s not the content, it’s the gap between the title and the content. I struggle with feeling like I’m worthless because I don’t make money, even though I really think that’s the right choice for me. I think that everything you say about how much money women are worth is good and insightful, but there is so much more to be said about what the relationship between money and self worth is and should be.

    Sorry about the anonymous, I’m not really comfortable talking about my insecurities.

    • Carreg

      Oh, Anon, I think you might be me! That’s exactly how I felt about the first money and self-worth post!

      But I’ve changed my mind (mostly), I suppose because there’s a difference between not measuring your self-worth in money and allowing a low sense of self-worth to make you broke.

      I’ve just been turned down for funding (again) for my postgrad course, so like you, I don’t make money. But I think it’s really important to keep applying (even when the government are saying, ‘oh that’s useless we’ll cut that’) so that everyone can see there are more good applicants than the system can currently fund. Then maybe they’ll put more money in the pot. Maybe. But if we all go ‘oh there’s no point in applying, I won’t get it, and what if I do and someone _better_ than me doesn’t?’ then all they’ll see is that there’s no interest in the discipline.

      I do think Meg’s point is important and isn’t said enough. You say there’s more to be said — I’m sure you’re right — can you elaborate or is it too long for a comment?

      • Anonymous

        I would probably say something along the lines of: Money is only correlated to some parts of being a useful person, and equating money to self-worth creates all kinds of problems. The main ones are (a) feeling forced into life choices that make you more money, (b) feeling bad about yourself when you don’t make (much) money but are a good and useful person in general, and (c) second-guessing whether you deserve money and making less than you could.

        These posts say great things about (c), being the one that is typcially more of an issue for women than men, though I have seen it have some effect on men as well. (a) is typically a bigger issue for men, but there aren’t many people it who escape from it completely even in their minds. I think (b) is an issue for everyone, and can get into feedback loops with either (a) or (c).

        In a forum thread of housewives, generally they felt good about themselves, until they had to tell someone they just met what they did with their lives–and they hated having to tell people because they couldn’t imagine anyone thinking well of them.

    • meg

      Well, we’ve talked a whole lot on the site about not measuring your self worth (particularly within a relationship) based on how much money you make. So, like yesterdays post, it’s one of those things. We can talk around big issues a post at a time, but not every post can tackle the entirety of an issue.

      • Anonymous

        I started reading the site not long before you posted the first one, and so every time the topic is brought up there is a “money and self-worth” link, as if to say “this is what money and self-worth are about.” I think that’s actually how my feelings on the the article shifted more from a disappointed “this looks like good stuff to say and there are some new thoughts that are good to know but doesn’t address my life in particular in the way I really hoped it would when I saw the title” to a sad reminder of “oh no so much of the world really does see money and worth as the same thing”.

      • Anonymous

        (Putting this in a separate comment so I don’t break the “exactly” button.)

        On the topic of agreeing with what you say: I think the only time that making a passion into a career can detract from it is when it wasn’t really a passion to begin with, and they really dislike spending more than a hobby amount of time on it to the extent that they treat it completely differently. (Or if you make it a career by getting someone to hire you to do it and they don’t let you do it anything like the way you want to do it, but that’s obviously not doing what you were passionate about.) Clearly neither of these is the case with you, and I hope you inspire lots of other people they aren’t the case for.

  • april

    THANK YOU, Meg. I needed this today in a huge, huge way. After an emotionally exhausting “discussion” with my husband yesterday evening, I felt deflated, worthless, and just completely stuck. I woke up this morning still feeling sad and stuck.

    Am now faced with a huge, life-changing decision and after reading your post above, am feeling a bit lighter and ready for – well, whatever comes my way. It’s got to better than what I’m dealing with now. And while it doesn’t involve starting my own business, it may involve starting over.

    Anyway… THANK YOU. Your words of encouragement are an inspiration for me today.

    • That’s a weirdly life-specific post to exactly… but… EXACTLY.

  • elyse

    meg – what you said in your post (from Class of 1980) about the differences between men and women and the business world is so close to what my mom has always said to me. her advice was always to not put off starting a family for my career, because the opportunity for a career will always be there but it can become too late to start a family. and also that what you do in your 20s may not be what you want to do in your 30s and 40s. so no one misinterprets that – she was not discouraging me in any way from working / having a career (my mom worked full time when i was growing up, as as did her mom when she was growing up). my mom also started her own business when i was in 7th grade that allowed her to work from home and have that flexibility meg is talking about.

    its probably the advice i’ve taken most to heart. now that i’m in my late 20s, married, with one graduate degree under my belt and about to leave a job i’ve been at for 5 years, a job that i could do very, very well in by standard measures of success (position, money, etc) but which i cannot stand doing any longer. i’m quitting in 2 months and going back to graduate school full time, leaving the corporate world behind at least for the next phase and going into an education-related field. i’ll never earn close to what i make now and sure, the next couple of years while my husband is still finishing his medical training and we hopefully start a family may not be the easiest years. i’ve had people tell me i’m foolish for leaving my job that allows me to work from a home office and travel to cool places all over the world, etc, and i’ve had to convince myself that it is OKAY to want a ‘family-friendly’ career (vs. what i’m doing now which requires a lot of travel and time away from home; and even though i work from home doesn’t mean i’d be able to chase after my (currently hypothetical) kids all day). heading back to school is a bit scary, but i know that one day i’ll look back and be happy that i made this decision now for myself and for my family.

    your Part I post, by the way, came just as I was making that decision to apply to school, study for the GRE, etc. . . looking forward to more posts with this kind of content!

  • Marina

    Reading this post and all the comments, I’ve been thinking about the phrase “working for myself”. I work a 9-5 office job and like it; I would hate owning my own business. There’s nothing about it that appeals to me. But “working for myself” is still a value that shapes my career choices. I need to feel like I’m doing work that supports my goals, that makes it possible for me to have the life I want, not work where The Man is dictating what I can and can’t do with my life.

    I work in the nonprofit sector because nonprofits tend to make up for lower pay with more benefits and flexibility–my current company has great health insurance, is pretty flexible with working from home, and several of my coworkers bring their pets and sometimes their kids to work with them. And yeah, I work in the nonprofit sector because I like feeling like my work makes the world a better place, although there are certainly jobs in the corporate sector that do that too. I feel like I’m working for myself, not for someone else–it’s my choice, and I’m furthering my goals.

  • Anna

    This post is awesome.

    I will say, I was worried (less so now) that this becoming a job would make the heart and soul of it go away. I want it to be a business that succeeds, but I still want it to be something that I enjoy. I’m glad you’ve managed to keep true to what the site is about.

    • meg

      See, these kind of comments make me sad. Why on earth would me finally getting to do this and sleep (instead of do it 20 hours a week after work and NOT sleep), make it’s soul somehow disappear? I think we need to really confront these kind of assumptions, and figure out what they are about. Because this sort of thing feels a lot like, for women passions need to be a hobby, while men are allowed to have their passions be their job. Which sucks. Big time.

      • i think it’s about seeing money as an okay thing. or jobs as an okay thing, which is, um, related. there is a common interpretation that a “job” is something you do to make money – and only to make money (no soul allowed). the corollary being that if you are making money doing something, it is now a “job,” that inherently money-focused, soul-ignoring thing.

        i think it comes from some very common, valid experiences people have around work and fun and money and how they do or don’t overlap, but it seems to result in a skewed view (like that the result can’t be totally awesome).

        p.s. i’ve always felt the gendered cultural pressure was the opposite: for men, the purpose of a job is to make money (and you can have your fun elsewhere) – the “breadwinner” thing. but, then, i’m sort of generally uncomfortable with gender-coding things that are so personal.

    • Kaitlyn

      I feel the same way sometimes. And it’s NOT that I don’t want the site to grow and be successful. It’s not that I think Meg should limit herself. It’s not that I think it should be a hobby.

      Here’s what it is, for me: before finding APW, all of the wedding media I was exposed to was primarily based on people trying to sell me things. I didn’t realize that. I hadn’t yet heard the term WIC. All I heard was, the cake is the centerpiece of the reception (buy the most expensive cake!), when else do you get to have all your friends and family in one place (buy them steak! and M&Ms with your face stamped on them packaged in little glass bottles with a perfect bow!!!).

      When I found APW, I was unspeakably relieved to be in a place where no one was trying to sell me something. I loved that feeling. I finally felt that being engaged didn’t equate to being a wedding-product consumer, that there was someplace where I could work through the real emotions that I was having, the real plans for a life that’s just now taking form (rather than color schemes and the various items available for purchase in order to pull together a theme). Someplace where I felt like a full human being. And when I’m afraid that APW will “lose its soul”, I’m really afraid that it will lose that remarkable way of relating to me.

      I know that being part of a community involves money, how you get it and how you spend it. But I don’t want it to begin and end there, and it can be a slippery slope — though I think APW is handling it incredibly well.

      So that’s what I mean when I say that I see ads as a “necessary evil” – a means to the end of bringing all these people together to share their thoughts, experiences and wisdom. And I don’t think Meg should have to sacrifice her own quality of life to make that happen; I don’t think she’s undeserving of money/expansion; I don’t think she should limit her ambitions.

      But, I’m inundated with marketing in every aspect of my life. And, yes, I’m tired of it.

  • AKP

    As a woman on the cusp of starting a career in the corporate world, I am already thinking about how I’m going to handle inevitable money-career-family thing. And it’s posts like these that make me believe that there is a third way, and it’s not just a way for other people. It’s something that I can strive for, and can realistically expect for myself.

    One thing that I think is interesting is how much technology has changed the world for women who want to be both mothers and career-women. I came across this article today entitled “Business is Booming for Stay-at-Home Moms,” about how a mother got together with her fellow stay-at-home moms and started a groupon-type company, designed by moms for moms (http://ranchopalosverdes.patch.com/articles/business-is-booming-for-stay-at-home-moms-2). For me, it is so enlightening to see the transformation in my mind of the description “stay-at-home-mom” from something that I used to think of as a prison sentence, to something that now seems like an exciting opportunity to start something of my own. So technology, I salute you.

  • I love the last three paragraphs because they speak to me. I’ve had my own business for 5+ years & it’s wonderful & challenging. But right now I’m in transition & a bit lost as to where to go next. Sometimes I think it would just be easier to get a 9 to 5 job for a steady paycheck. Sigh. I hope with some time & reflection that I will figure out the best next step!

  • fleda

    Great post Meg!

    I travel in circles where I hear a lot of disparaging rhetoric about people “selling out,” and the term is just so frustrating to me.

    If “selling out” means doing work for which you get paid, it’s not a bad thing! And if “selling out” means “giving up the job you want in order to take the job that pays,” let’s remember that choosing NOT to “sell out” is in that case an option that may NOT be available to people who, for instance, have giant student loans. Or who never went to college anyway.

    My view: Commerce is not inherently evil, and neither is money; presuming to spend one’s life in isolation from those things is kind of silly. Trying to engage in commerce ethically and earn and use money well is a difficult and noble task. And I love that the ads on this site aim to facilitate that noble task.

    And now I’ll get off my soap box… :)

  • MEI

    My fiance had to say to me the other day “Hating your corporate law job and possibly quitting does not and will not make you a bad feminist.” How crazy is that that that even needed to be said to me, but it’s true. I keep worrying that if I don’t stay in this system that is literally driving me to have mental health issues that I will have failed other women who want to take that path. I’ve still internalized that if I am not successful by the traditionally masculine version of success, I have failed. I will have been the ‘waste of the degree’ really jerky evil people at my law school said I would be. Because their opinion should matter, obviously *snark*.

    Which is to say, this post is fantastic, and exactly what I needed to hear. I know you weren’t talking to me personally, but it sure felt like it. I can define success on my own terms, and I can ask for it because, gosh darnit, I do deserve it. Thank you, Meg.

    • meg

      I want to punch your internal dialoge in the face. The corporate law system is more than a little broken, and you should NOT beat yourself up over that.

      You deserve to be happy. Now go, do!

      • Zan

        Hey there Mei, just in case you need a little bit more wind in your sails please allow me to pile on: The corporate law system IS more than a little bit broken. I’ve been in it (as a paralegal planning to go to law school — that plan got nixed and thank god) and Meg is right.

        It doesn’t make you a bad feminist! It doesn’t make you a bad feminist! Repeat after me!

        • Dee

          Oh my gosh. This line of comments is perfect for me today. I have been constantly wondering whether I should go back to corporate law (that I hate) just because then I will feel like I am successfully using my law degree. Except it did give me mental health issues. Here’s to success for each of us in our own way.

          • MEI

            Thanks, y’all. I was having a particularly bad day/week at work, and this post, and your comments helped so much! So yea, I’ma go do this happiness thang. :)

    • Kaitlyn

      True story: I went to medical school rather than to nursing school because my father thought having a nurse for a daughter would reflect his failure as a feminist parent.

      Luckily, I enjoy medical school and am psyched to be a doctor :) But, if it weren’t for those internalized messages that you mention, I would be a nurse right now – and just as happy.

  • Pamela

    Count me in as another woman who asked for a raise because of your first post on this topic! Sadly, I didn’t get it “because of the economy”, even though my boss agreed that I deserved it. However, that was the kick in the pants I needed to take charge of my career again – I had kind of just been drifting, doing excellent work, yes, but not really thinking about the future. Anyway, I found a certification program for my field and start classes next week – and the great thing is that my employer is paying for it! So no, I’m not getting extra cash in my pocket, but it’s definately a benefit that I wouldn’t have even asked for if I hadn’t read your post.

    I will probably never start my own business – my “passions” tend to be for solitary pursuits like knitting and reading books, neither of which are exactly small-business material. And, I have come to the conclusion that I *want* and *need* the stability and benefits of a office job; however, that doesn’t mean I should sell myself short – I still deserve a good wage and a pleasant work environment (even if I can’t take afternoon naps!).

    I love all of APW, of course, even if I do skim over the sponsored photographer posts as I’m past the wedding-planning stage. But these posts of yours on reclaiming wife and on money are my absolute favorites. Thank you!

    • Dude, if you ever figure out a way to make reading and knitting into something that’s profitable, please, PLEASE count me in. (I’m not even kidding.)

  • Rasheeda

    So both of my parents were entreprenuers, I married a man that wants life on his own terms, I’m passionate about so many things (is there a such thing as having too many passions?)…so this series is so perfect for me (even if i didnt pick it in the survey-you limited us!!) even if it’s not me right, right now, I know our time is coming. So lately I have been reciting this quote over and over in my mind “When you come to the end of all the light, you know, and you’re about to step into the darkness and one of two things will happen: either you’ll find solid ground underneath you, or the universe will send you people who will teach you how to fly.”
    Meg- you are doing both…Keep up the good work! Do what you gotta do to grow yourself, your business and your family- we will be here (cheering you on like crazy).

  • This post couldn’t come at a better time. I feel like women are often taught not to take risks or ask for advancement, something I’ve definitely found myself following. Recently I had the little lightbulb moment that said “no one else is going to look out for you”. I don’t mean this in a “people don’t care about each other”, but more in the “we need to put our own best interests first, because that’s what everyone else does”, which is a mindset that feels really counter intuitive to what we’re taught as women. Females are taught that we are the supporters, we lift others up and promoting ourselves is somehow bad and selfish.
    This lightbulb was really important for me as I was in the midst of deciding whether or not to continue in a position that, despite my previous enjoyment of it, had become a waste of my talent and ability. So I made the insanely scary, terrifying, wonderful decision to leave my job to pursue writing, something I had put aside to dedicate myself to a more conventional day job. Friday is my last day. I can’t wait!

    • MEI

      Congratulations! You’re awesome and can do it! (Yes, I know this to be a fact.)

  • Susi-Q

    We talk a lot, as women, about the things that hold us back and the ways in which we hold each other back. What we don’t recognize often enough is the incredible strength that women have. For me (and I suspect, some of you) APW is a poignant, daily reminder of the strength of women. We are a community with incredible aptitudes for sympathy, resilience, dreaming, supporting, innovating, and sticking to our core ideals no matter what the cost. APW provides us with a place to embrace the strength we have within our selves. It reminds me that I am powerful and complete when I feel broken and disheartened. So, for that, I say ‘thank you’ to this beautiful community.

  • Rachel

    Meg, thank you for this, the timing of this post was perfect and it gave me the kick I needed. You are right…”we should dream big” and “the more fulfilled we are as people, the more our relationships thrive”. Well said and thank you.

  • ML

    i know i’m not the only one, but i swear to god meg lives in my head, too. i had long (cry-full) conversations last night and this morning with my boyf about how terribly tired i am of being an assistant (in the entertainment industry, no less, which means there is absolutely no financial upside), and how the bigger problem is i don’t think i want to keep going down this path.

    i’m finally taking a deep breath and looking into photography programs. i have been drawn to the unique small business community that thrives in the wedding world. and i have been so inspired by the (mostly) women who make this community run. my hope is to create a business myself that revolves around wedding photography and documentary photography. i plan to fill my life with the things i love most – art, photos, nature, travel, and spending time with people (who love other people!).

    so. i’m just.. going to do it. because i can.

  • Jane

    Amen, lady! Seriously, this made my day and is definitely a post I will be coming back to and re-reading from time to time.

  • My wedding is three months away, but your posts on self-employment and running a small business are my absolute favorite.

    I hang out at the opposite end of the spectrum, where I have super high ambitions for myself (delusions of grandeur?), but I don’t know how to make them happen. I have a very secure job where I make good money, but am reaching a point where there’s not much room for growth. It’s led me to think a lot about the career and life that I want to have, and how, at some point, I’ll have to take a huge risk if I want the big success that I dream about (which is being a Food Network personality, building a brand, and making a sh*t-ton of money).

    As women it’s easy to get insecure and judge women who are crazy successful, or to assume they’re not truly happy, or to say that they put business over family. But I think everyone has different needs and different things that fulfill them, and some of us are truly happiest when firing on all cylinders, running around like maniacs, and going to bed exhausted. There’s a lid for every pot. I guess I’m just reiterating what everyone else is saying, which is to stick to your guns when it comes to running your own business. And cash those checks girl! You’ve earned every dollar…

  • Dream

    First, you’ve got to pay the bills, this is America after all. Next, I’m happy you wrote this. While great things are happening for some of us, many of us are not finding the opportunities that we desire. In the past few years, my friends have lost their jobs, found new ones, flourished in their current positions, mailed a hundred resumes and remained in current positions. I’ve been the latter, underemployed in a job that does not stimulate me at all. It’s been depressing, disheartening- and a trillion other things that start with the letter “d”. I need encouragement from women who are completely honest about their successes and their struggles. I get that here. Ads or no ads.

    • meg

      Trust me, we understand unemployment in this household too. That’s just not my story to write about, at least not yet. Though it does make me paying the bills extra important. Sigh.

  • Amanda

    I don’t think for a moment that you’re selling out, and I don’t mind the sponsored posts. I could reiterate what many people have said about the exposure to great businesses we might want to work with, blah, blah, blah…

    I think where it gets tricky is the emphasis placed on phenomenal photography in the wedding industry (and these sponsored posts), and maybe even more in the case of the quirky-offbeat-indie-etc.-etc wedding community. I often read something along the lines of “oh, we just wanted something simple and reasonable in cost…but photography was really important so we spent $xxxxxx on a photographer.”

    Now, that is totally FINE. If photography is really important, go for it. But quality photography can be a huge expense (if your budget is tiny), it can eat up a chunk of your wedding day to pose for photos, and knowing that little details will be memorialised on film can be an additional pressure to make everything Perfect.

    What I’m wondering about is how much of “you might want these beautiful things-photos-dresses” suggestions = the feeling that you need these things. That you’re missing out big time by not having the gorgeous this and that.

    This is why I’m glad that you continue to feature weddings that make use of amateur photography, even while being sponsored by photographers. I’m glad that it hasn’t changed your content, or your approach toward that content. Many of those amateur photos are beautiful.

    And I’m glad that the sponsored posts are infrequent, rather than the main message of the site. I think you strike a good balance, and that as the site changes and grows, you should strive to continue to doing so as thoughtfully as you have done so far.

    • meg

      Well, and we also run posts about how to DIY your photography as well. Not everyone needs or wants a photographer, and that’s always going to be the message here. My photographers get that, or they don’t get to be sponsors.

      • Amanda

        I know! And I think that’s so great!

        I’m just saying that advertising/sponsorship always carries a message – it’s supposed to make you want something, right? – and that I admire the way you’re not letting this message take over the larger discussion.

  • I’m frowning after reading this and I’m not sure why. I guess I don’t really believe that as women we’re more likely to call each other sell outs. I think when your business starts to grow and change, people are reluctant to let go of all the things they liked about the business because it was small. People (men and women) complain about this all the time. It’s why the “cool” bands aren’t the same as the “popular” ones.

    Just keep doing what you’re doing and give us a few reassuring pats now and again. Your practical wants won’t always coincide with your readers, as in any business, and that’s okay! Your business in itself is a tremendous service to your readers, don’t ever feel bad about growing and making money at it. If you didn’t make money at it, you couldn’t do it, so we need you to keep it sustainable and pay yourselves first!

  • Arachna

    Love this series. Thank you for sharing.

    I’m debating going self employed right now, I’ve been “not fired” from my corporate well compensated job and am thinking of going to work for a family business of a kind, on one hand perfect! working for myself without the huge risk since the business is already established how could I not jump on that? but on the other hand I don’t want to feel like I’m ‘giving up’ on being successful in the corporate world in the field I thought I was going to stay in (law). Maybe I should stick it out another couple of years before going this route – preserve my options. But I don’t wanna… And I go back and forth.

  • Clover

    I just wanted to chime in and add how much the first Women Money and Self Worth Post truly motivated me to take control of my life. I had begun to view my dissatisfaction in my corporate engineering consulting job as just something that I needed to deal with, something unchangeable. That post and other APW posts like it inspired me to begin the process of applying (or rather, readying my self to apply) to teaching programs to become a middle school math and science teacher. Meg’s post gave me the courage I needed to take the first step and talk to my boyfriend about the hard stuff, the logistics: How will we cover expenses while I am in school? Is selling our condo in a few years on the table? How will this choice likely affect our “ideal” timeline for having kids? How will this change our personal narratives (for example. I will likely no longer be the primary breadwinner)? These are really tough questions for us, which we are both still navigating through. But a dialog has been opened.

    I feel so much freer knowing that I am working towards allowing myself to be in a career that is meaningful to me and that I have finally admitted to myself that consulting engineering is not going to make me happy (in fact, it may make me insane!), even if the road to get there might be bumpy.

  • As awesome as this post is (and it really, really is) I feel like I have heard men tell each other they’re a sell out for accepting money for their work. It’s mostly been in the arts fields, but you do hear it. I have friends who are slightly embarrassed to say that they’re writers, even though that is exactly what they are and what they want to be. I completely get your point about women doing this often, and I see it in myself, which is why your posts are so inspirational, but perhaps we are leaving men who feel this way out of the conversation. Perhaps it isn’t always a men/women dichotomy but rather one our society sets up for people who want to follow their dreams and do what they love, whereas others feel they have to stick it out and work “for the man” (ohhh, why just man here??). I think that our society hasn’t quite been able to accept that there are those who choose to work outside this culture and those people themselves sometimes are hesitant to stand up and proclaim it. Perhaps they feel they are shamed into not demanding more because it is work they love doing and they feel that should be enough? And because art is so qualitative that it can be hard to put a dollar sign on it that feels accurate.

    I’m not quite getting at what I mean, maybe because I just woke up from a nap, (since my job allows for time like that!) but does anyone else feel this way?

  • m

    Yayyy great post! I’m starting grad school about a month after my wedding. I recently had to decide wether to start in the fall (pay out of state tuition) or defer for a year (save lots of money by getting in state tuition when I do start). I felt like the extra student loans would be a huge burden for my new family and had a hard time reconciling that with how waiting a whole year would be holding me back career wise for a whole more year.

    This post has made me feel much better about my decision to go for it!

  • I only started reading a few months ago, when a good friend sent me a link to your site and a note that I’d like it. And I do! I only say this as context – I’m past my wedding and didn’t read “back in the day.”

    But, although I’m not opposed to advertising or your integration of sponsored posts, this struck me as being perhaps an unfair reading of those who don’t want to see sponsors on the site.

    “But then, I did the yearly APW survey last week, and I was reminded of the road blocks we set for each other as women, and the ways that this does not serve us. Ninety percent of the comments on the survey were crazy supportive (and we’ll discuss them at length next week). But I was struck by the fact that, at every point of growing this website, there has been a contingent of people that have equated growth and making money with loss of vision and values—a loss of the things that matter. One comment in the survey that stuck with me was this: ‘And pleasepleaseplease do not add more sponsored advertiser stuff if you can get by without it.”’

    Now, as I said before, I don’t know the context that may be leading to your analysis. There may well be a history here that I’m missing. But as a newcomer to your site, I struggle with the implication that women readers would only object to advertising, because they have negative associations with making money. I suspect it is true that women have more concerns about advertising than men. It may also be true that women are more likely to have issues with making money. But both of these can be true without the existence of a causal relationship.

    A reader can object to advertising on many levels – she may object to the frequent depiction of women as sexual objects or toys (not relevant here but submitted as an example) or advertising’s role in our debt culture. My background is PR, and I’ve personally seen the dance between ad departments and editorial coverage – at many consumer publications and news outlets, the separation between church and state isn’t as clear as you’d like it to be.

    None of this to say that your approach to ads and sponsors isn’t laudable. I struggle with this issue on my own site, where I have affiliate relationships but no advertisers. But I don’t think it’s fair to dismiss those who object to advertising as somehow expecting you to not make a buck. The advertising model is failing in traditional publishing, and while it may be supporting top websites now, I don’t know how blogs will avoid the same fate down the line. I can’t help but wonder if there are new, innovative revenue models we can explore.

  • I just re-read my comment and your post and realized that I wrote a lot about a small point, without being clear that I high-five the main message of your post. Sorry about that!!

  • I’m going to bookmark this post so I can some back and read it the next time I am feeling pressured to grow my business in the way that I’m “supposed to”, when I much prefer the idea of “scaling my business to fit my life.” Thank you!

  • Jeannine

    This post articulated the crux of many conversations that have been circulating in my profession for a while now (academia): many of us are expected to live on very little because we get to pursue our passions, it is implied. As you noted in your post, Meg, this often has a gendered dimension, and my experience is that it also has class implications: if we agree that being well-paid for doing what one loves is being a sell-out, then essentially, we reserve the right of fulfillment at work and experimenting with new career paths for the independently wealthy who can rely on another source of money for their personal survival.

  • Jen

    Like many other commenters I love this post and you make many EXCELLENT points. I’m not going to reiterate what’s been said, but add my 2 cents that I’m not sure I saw. I am thrilled for your success and the success of APW (and women everywhere!), but I do get a tinge of sadness every time a blogger quits their job to turn it into a business because I can no longer relate to their life. It may not be fair, but it’s how I feel – the daily activities of someone doing a 9-5 get a lot more “exactlys” from me and always will, as long as I am not working from home. I guess that’s just an inevitable fact of life/ blogging that I need to get over!

  • Cassandra

    I seem to remember one of the options on the ads/sponsored posts question was something about a necessary evil, which is likely what I picked. I don’t perceive there being advertisers on the site as selling out whatsoever, though – they help pay your bills and that’s a necessity, and you have pretty strict guidelines on who sponsors APW, and I think that’s admirable. This is your business and y’all need to live like everyone else (same goes for those who sponsor APW). I’m just not terribly interested in the sponsored posts because for the most part, they aren’t relevant to my lazy, taking-my-time planning in Canada, so I just skip over them (unless pretty dangly things catch my eye…). Just wanted to offer a different perspective from someone who doesn’t love the sponsored posts, but also doesn’t think you’ve sold out in the least and thinks you’re doing what you should be doing (growing your business!) in a pretty lovely fashion by choosing sponsors who fit in with the overall principles of APW.

    Having read the first post on this topic when you wrote it, I was left with a really uncomfortable feeling – could I really, seriously tell my supervisor – my kickass, feminist, super-supportive-lady supervisor – that I thought she should be paying me more? I thought it over for months; I risked going broke for awhile because I couldn’t bring myself to say something, given how much she’s done for me. I kept thinking maybe I was just hoping for too much, and every time I convinced myself to say something, the nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach seemed to steal my voice. Until she got back from a sabbatical trip with a brand new grant, sat me down in her office and said “I need to pay you more. You’re so good at what you do for me and you deserve much more and now we can do it.” I’m still a little frustrated with myself that I couldn’t find the words to say it for myself, but hearing someone else unequivocally say I deserved it felt so damn good.

    • Jess

      I agree with this comment. I understand the need for APW, or any website/television network/what have you, to have ads to earn revenue. And I do appreciate that APW tries to integrate ads into the editorial, and is thoughtful about what businesses are selected.

      However, that doesn’t mean that I actually read or enjoy the sponsored posts themselves. I am already married, and I am just not in the market for photographers, invitations, etc. I understand that those things can theoretically be used outside of the context of weddings, but I am not going to be interested—especially since I just spent so much money on those things for my wedding. Period. If it is a goal of APW to have ads that are posts enjoyed by readers, and also a goal to include posts on married life and to keep readers once they are married, wedding planning ads are just not going to resonate as much with a lot of this second demographic.

  • Meg, your original post is the only one here I have bookmarked (because the rest of the goodness I can wait the thirty seconds it takes to search for it but this one I need within five seconds reach).
    And this was a great post too. I love your last challenge, “What’s next?” because I finish my current job in three weeks, with no next job or own business lined up. I follow my husband on a rotation to the US for three months and then… I have no idea. Or so many ideas! The temptation is for me to think small when actually my dreams are much much bigger. I need to find the courage to take the big steps and try something I will probably be very good at.
    Thanks for continuing to inspire and encourage :)

  • Kathryn

    I know I’m SO late to this party but I have to share one quick thing… I was taught by a Venture Capitalist who used to be a serial entrepreneur. He told us to never take VC money unless all other options are exhausted. If you do the math behind VC funding (I will spare you), you’ll see that you lose ownership of your business very quickly, and I’ll bet you didn’t start your business just so you’d end up working for someone else all over again! Bootstrapping is the way to go. Meg is clearly a smart cookie, but we knew that already.

  • Kamilah

    Damn, Meg. You are so on point. Such an important post. Thank you.

  • I really appreciate the update on this subject matter. I remember reading that first post and feeling both elated and completely awful at the same time. I berated myself for not only not feeling as if I had enough strength to do what I want, but for not having the focus. And now, I might not have fully created a purposeful focus, but I no longer feel quite so terrible about my lack of direction. In the last six months, I have escaped a terrible job (the last in a long string since graduating from college), bought a house with my husband, and begun some very difficult renovations on that house. I still haven’t even moved in yet and I’m feeling a bit unstable, but I’m some how more secure. The house is my focus right now because I have deemed it worthy of my time and energy. It is part of who and what I am. If I could take a few more naps, go to the gym and find time for my blogging, now that would be lovely, but I’m moving in the right direction for now. I am working on setting goals, not just torturing myself for not having them. And I count buying this house as something to be proud of for someone who ten years ago never thought I would earn a college degree, get married to a man I love, or own a house. And now I have all three. Thank you Meg for reminding me to be proud of my accomplishments and keep working towards the big things and the little things.

  • N2

    I am really really inspired by this post, as well as your general perspective. As a post grad school woman in my late 20s whose been unemployed for a year, I’ve have a ton of time to sit and ponder about what I should or shouldn’t be doing and keep arriving at ‘I want to start my own business. I want to own something and have an impact and I want it to be mine.’ I’ve been paralyzed by guilt and fear and I am so encouraged by your words. Keep posting great things and lifting your community of women up!


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