Love Your Business: Guest Post #18

All month long join me here as I welcome amazing contributors with one thing in common
we love our business {blog/shop/etc} and we want you to love yours too!
To keep up to date with this series view all posts here.

I am so honored to be a part of this series. In 2008, I started my blog, Under The Sycamore. Blogging has been a gift in so many ways for me. It is a creative outlet that I get to combine my different interests into one hodge podge of a place. When I began blogging, I didn't think through the business side of things or how to be a better blogger. I just posted things I liked. Over time people found my blog and my readership grew. I was never prepared for the hard side of blogging ~ the side where people strongly don't like what you post and feel it necessary to let you know. I began getting comments and emails every now and then asking me to change what I share or don't share on my blog. I usually just deleted the emails and moved on.  However, about a month ago I decided to address the issue on my blog. Keeping your identity as a blogger is crucial. Each of us are created so uniquely...we don't need to all fit in one pretty little mold or category. You have something beautifully unique to offer, you have a voice that no one else has...even if your skin is thin like mine...don't let others rob you of your identity, your voice on your blog.

Here is the post I shared on my blog 
(just fyi...the first few lines are taken from several emails, not just one!)

Dear Ashley,

I will never read your blog again....
I come for craft ideas, not lessons in parenting...
Could you only post photo tips, I really don't care how your house is decorated...
Get over yourself....
The way you said that, well it disgusts me....
I want to read about all the cute things your kids do, not foster care or orphans....
I get that your faith is important to you, but do you have to talk about it....
I don't agree with your decision to.....
Not to be rude, but I just want you to know because of.....I will never read your blog again.

Ouch. Double Ouch. Dagger to the heart. Yep, I get it. I don't write a blog that everyone likes. I don't write on topics that everyone likes. I can't please all people at all times...good thing that is not my aim. Honestly, I usually just delete emails and try my best not to give them a second thought (and call a good friend to remind me that I am not a horrible person). However, recently there was a very polite comment offering a suggestion that I might consider creating a separate blog for my charitable work. The comment was not written in a mean fashion, just an honest thought presented. I deleted it out of respect for the commentor since I am addressing it publicly and don't want anyone to go searching for it. I've thought about that comment for a week now. It is a valid 'question' a lot of people have presented to me in one way or another.

I didn't intend on writing about it, discussing it here. But, I feel like I need to address it. I've rewritten this post in my head a million times the past week. Words can come across misunderstood when you write them...void of being in the speaker's presence. I've already learned that lesson several times. I hope you can hear my heart on this.

There are a lot of blogs written for specific audiences. You can find countless sites that determine content based on what the readers enjoy. Sites that I frequently visit like Design*Sponge, Apartment Therapy, Martha Great sites loved by their audiences. There are parenting blogs, crafting blogs, photography blogs, cooking blogs, etc. My blog does not fall into those categories.

This is just a blog full of all the random things I enjoy. It isn't written to make a specific group happy. It is quite simply a creative outlet for me to document all the things that I enjoy.

These things and more make me who I am. These things, that are so much a part of me, can come together in one place ~ my blog. To take one of those things away, would mean taking a big part of me away. And I won't do that. Blogging is a creative outlet for me. My mind never slows down, I am so grateful to have discovered the personal joy of writing a blog ~ of recording the randomness that fills my racing mind.

My mind is full of craft related things, projects, photography, but also just life stuff. While I will probably always sing the praises of my hot glue gun, I'll also write about the more personal stuff that goes on in my heart. You see, amid all the crafting and photo taking, I have four little people I am raising. They will learn far more from my actions than my words. I am haunted and challenged by that. If I want them to see beyond their own interests, I have to model it. And while I learn how to do that, I share about the journey here.

When I watch my children drink water, my mind goes to those moms that watch their children drink disease filled water. When I tuck my kids in their beds, my mind goes to those moms who have lost their kids to famine. When I pray for my little one in China, my heart aches for all those that will never know the love of a family. When my kids ask for help, my heart breaks for the millions of children that no longer cry because their voices are not heard.

I've been given a voice in my home, in my family...and I've been given a voice on this blog. 
For as long as I am able, I will raise my voice for those that do not have one.

I will cry out INJUSTICE for those that cry silently.
I will fight for those that feel forgotten by a selfish world.
I will raise my voice.
I will use my blog.
I will believe that change can happen.

And though my feelings get hurt by others and my skin is way too thin, I will not stop because those without a voice are worth it. Yes, I will post on the cute antics of my kids and my latest unfinished project, but I won't stop there. Harsh emails and comments are hard for me to swallow...and I don't even get all that many of them. I kind of think if you don't like a blog, just don't read it. Sometimes it feels like it would be easier just to stop blogging than to read the mean words of others. However, that would be robbing myself of something I love just because someone doesn't like me. Isn't that life though...allowing the mean words of others to sink in and rob us of joy? Some of the greatest encouragements I have ever received have been from individuals I've met through this blog. The good blows the bad out of the water....and I am so, so, so very grateful for that. Thank you sweet, encouraging online friends.
So, yeah, I have a voice. I don't want to waste it.
You have a voice too and I hope you don't allow others to keep you from using it.
floral illustrations by Katie Daisy, poster by Jon Contino 
(40% of profits go to Smile Train - an organization that repairs clefts for those in developing countries.)

About the Author


  1. Such a great post!! I try to think that some comments are with the best intentions, but please people!

    Blog identity is so crucial, I am so glad this post was shared. Keep up the good work! Got some amazing blog-networking things going on here!

  2. this is a gorgeous post. i find disgust in those that feel a need to judge words on a blog and find the nerve to request such words no longer be published. such a courageous momma to put it all out there and maintain her voice. we all began blogging for some reason or another. and in my opinion, we all began reading for one reason or another, in many ways it's rather voueyeristic (sp?) - creeping into the minds of all of the other mommas lives, eh? i applaud those mommas that put it all out there. Because little do they know, they help in some small way, without knowing, some momma who may be fighting the same battle they might have just blogged about in some random way! Thanks for sharing this insightful voice! KEEP ON sister!

  3. so simple. so true. i love this. thank you for sharing your heart and encouraging those of us who are still looking for our voice on here. it is nice to see an authentic soul out there. :)

  4. really well said. not everyone has to be the same!! it's what makes the world go around. I can not believe people have the gal to say stuff like that! insane!
    I've said it before, but I love this series!! such a fun way to get a bunch of different views!

  5. I really like this. This helps me to remember why I started my blog and to stick to what I believe and what I want for my blog. If there are people out there who don't like it, I'm not in it to please no one but myself and to share who I am. I appreciate you sharing this. Thanks so much. :)

  6. Fantastic post! Thank you :)

  7. Bravo! Thank You for being YOU!!

  8. So sorry you've had to go through this as I have just recently . It really , really hurts and I thought about shutting my whole blog down but I'm still going and I'm so glad you are too . This was a really lovely post , thanks.

  9. Oh wow! I can't even believe people would say things like that! I've always been of the opinion, if you don't like the blog or whatever they're talking about, just leave. Don't follow them. That's it! I can't even imagine how heart broken I'd be if someone said mean things like that to me about my little blog!
    Thanks so much for sharing this post!
    xo Heather

  10. Ashley, this post is fantastic! I'm a big fan of yours and I'm currently taking your SnapShop course YAY!
    I'm always amazed when I hear that people leave mean comments and really don't understand it. I'm with you, if you don't like a blog, just don't read it. I also really appreciate the reminder that as a blogger I don't need to fit into one category or another. I have to remember why I started and that it's for my voice. Some will like it and some wont. Frankly I love the variety of blogs like yours. It makes me think about being and doing more. I originally found you from a post you had written about rasiing the money to adopt through your photography course. Keep writing and inspiring!

  11. Awesome Post!! Thanks for giving me the courage to continue being me! :D

  12. What a great post! People are crazy. Seriously. Sticks and stones, right?

  13. What a great, honest, truthful post. I don't really understand anyone who would write a mean comment to someone else, like you say if you don't like it, don't read it. I was always bought up to the old adage of 'if you've nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all!' Well done you for staying true to who you are xxx
    Amy C