Ready for a real update? 100% real. None of that fake crap.
Sometimes it feels like the only biz updates you get anymore are the sugar-coated, everythings-alright-yeah-it's-perfect ones. They're the ones we all give when we're forcing things to look better than they already are. Because the truth is sometimes hard and embarrassing and quite frankly, it sucks to share.
But life and business are real. They're imperfect and messy. And amidst the chaos and the mess, the real parts are inspiring as hell.
So, meet Real Updates. Our new series where we pull back the curtains and get real updates on life and biz and the happenings of real women and real business owners.
WORLD, MEET SARAH HARTLEY.
"The stumbling blocks along the way have both frustrated and propelled me...
and today I want to share with you three things that have caused me to want to throw my hands up and scream I QUIT on more than one occasion."
Sarah is the creator, designer and publisher of Holl & Lane Magazine, a quarterly publication celebrating women's everyday existence and opening the door for tough conversations.
But that's just one tiny peek into her life. Sarah is building the magazine while also working a full-time job, being a mama and a wife, and growing her second baby (due February 2018).
And we're going to check in with her every month as she preps for Hartley Baby Dos to arrive while continuing the grow her biz and do #allthethings.
Let's kick it off with a bump + biz update, shall we?
THE BUMPDATE: HOW ARE YOU AND BABY?
As of this writing, I am 21 weeks, meaning just over 5 months along. This pregnancy is absolutely flying and I’m sure it’s because I’m so busy. But I’ll take it! I’m finally feeling better these days. My first trimester was horrible and I was completely sick and exhausted, but I have a little more energy these days and the nausea is mostly gone. The most exciting thing now is that I can really feel the baby moving around in there. In these early days before it’s obvious to see the baby move for the outside world, I cherish the little secret of knowing what the baby is up to in there.
THE BIZDATE: HOW'S THE MAG?
We are about to launch our newest issue for fall - our 14th issue! This one is all about the heart and I’m so excited to share stories that aren’t typically what you’d find when you think of “the heart”. Currently we’re focused on getting the word out about this new issue and crossing our fingers for good sales. Overall, things are good, though of course, I always think they could be better. Our growth is steady but slow and I’m trying to brainstorm new ideas to increase our growth.
Ever wondered how hard growing a magazine can be? I'll let Sarah share the deets.
No matter what stage of the game you’re in, there will always be stressors to deal with. And thanks to the beautiful world of social media, you will very rarely see these stressors played out, even though everyone faces them.
When I started my magazine, Holl & Lane, I never intended for it to be a business. I thought it would be a simple side hobby I’d run alongside my full-time job. But as with most people, I quickly saw just how much money and attention it was taking away from my everyday life. So the question became how do I make this into an actual business? The stumbling blocks along the way have both frustrated and propelled me and today I want to share with you three things that have caused me to want to throw my hands up and scream I QUIT on more than one occasion.
That thing that you have to have in order to run a business. I did not start a magazine for the money. I started it because I am truly passionate about sharing the stories that need to be heard. The ones that affect us every day as women - infertility, miscarriage, mental health, body image, perfectionism, etc.
In fact, when the magazine first started, it was completely free until I quickly realized just how much money I was spending each month to create it. But the magazine business in particular is a very difficult one to make money in because printing and shipping costs are astronomical.
"The other thing about money is that when you don’t have it, or when your business isn’t making as much as you’d hoped or suspect others do, it can drastically affect your self worth."
During my time as an editor, I have talked with many other editors of magazines hoping to hear that it just takes time to build your magazine up enough in order to see a profit. What I’ve found, instead, is that nearly every other editor has a second job or another way of making money. That was a blow to the gut to hear, because it’s exactly the opposite of what I’d hoped for.
The other thing about money is that when you don’t have it, or when your business isn’t making as much as you’d hoped or suspect others do, it can drastically affect your self worth. You start questioning your business, if you’re good at what you do, if you should quit. It’s hard. But I can promise you, every business owner feels like this at one point or another. Probably more frequently than you’d imagine.
The Internet has both cursed us and has lead to amazing things. Anyone, at anytime, can start a business now, and you have the Internet to help you along the way through answering your questions or getting inspiration from others. But at the same time, this has lead to the Internet becoming so saturated that it becomes increasingly difficult to stand out for what you do. And, you guessed it, this leads to slower growth than you’d like. Sure, there are the seemingly overnight successes out there - but I’d venture to guess there was a lot more going on behind the scenes than you realized.
"So many times I’ve questioned if this is all worth it - the effort, brainpower, and time that it has taken to get to where we are often feels overwhelming..."
At Holl & Lane, I’ve had to fight for every single reader/follower/fan we have. And it hasn’t been easy. And so many times I’ve questioned if this is all worth it - the effort, brainpower, and time that it has taken to get to where we are often feels overwhelming and I’m left screaming “Why isn’t this easier?”.
Not to mention, we’re constantly inundated with the articles telling us how to get one million followers by lunchtime or telling us all the things that we’re doing wrong. I’ve read a lot of these articles. A LOT. And at this point, I’ve learned to tune out the noise because, unsurprisingly, none of these techniques have worked for me.
We each have unique businesses and we need to learn to trust our gut to figure out what is working. For me, it’s giving women a safe space to share their real lives without the hinderance of a social media perfection filter. And when I do that, and when I share my honest journey, that always helps to lead to my growth.
Feel like you want to scream the next time you see a “You have the same number of hours in a day as Beyonce” meme? Me, too. I feel you. I run a magazine, I have a full-time job, I am a wife, I have a 3 year old son, and I’m pregnant with my second. Most days, it feels like I have no time left for things like eating and breathing. This, like money, is a problem for all of the entrepreneurs I’ve ever talked to. There is never enough time to accomplish what we want to accomplish in a day if we want to have any semblance of a life left.
"Feel like you want to scream the next time you see a “You have the same number of hours in a day as Beyonce” meme? Me, too."
The thing is, for most of us, we’re not performing brain surgery. Someone’s life does not depend on what we’re doing (and if it does, I applaud you and have no idea how you do it!). So if you are reaching the point of burnout (been there!) it is okay to take a day, or a week, and get back to yourself. Turn it all off, go watch a movie, take a walk, read a book, spend time with the people you love most. Because at the end of the day, your business will still be there and it will only run if you’re your best self.
So, when business feels hard, just remember that it’s hard for everyone. You just might not see it that way through the Instagram filter. I’d encourage you to find a group of women (like the TRFE club) who are willing to be real about what business actually looks like. They will give you the push you need when you just want to give up. Because lady, it happens to the best of us.
Sarah Hartley is the creator, designer and publisher of Holl & Lane Magazine, a quarterly publication celebrating women's everyday existence and opening the door for tough conversations.
Since 2015, Sarah and the H&L team has been dedicated to providing women with a platform to share their truths. From miscarriage and infertility to mental health and body image, Sarah believes in changing the media for good and celebrating women where they are.