If you keep up with me on Instagram, you’d know I spent the month of July taking some time off, and also recently shared some of my thoughts on “hustle culture.” (You can find the post about that HERE) I had like, wayyyyy too many more thoughts to squeeze into a caption, so here’s the official brain dump.
Coming to the end of a 5 year constant social media hustle is a real trip. At the beginning of my business, I was fired from my job, took a beat, and then dove straight into making things happen for myself and I feel like I haven’t stopped since. I hadn’t thought about resting unless someone online was telling me to think about it- which is a nice sentiment.
People want you to care for yourself… or do they? Maybe what they really want is to make themselves feel better? I know we all mean well and of course everyone needs a reminder to take a day off sometimes.
We all preach “self care, take a rest day, take a moment, stop hustling, you don’t need to work all the time.” But isn’t preaching all of that with the infographics and the curated captions and the meaningful, emotional reels, in fact hustling?
I 100% would not be where I am today if I didn’t continue pushing every single day. What did I do? I tried to workout a lot. I did prioritize sleep, I spent lots of time with my dogs. But, only just NOW am I able to actually take some time off. Only now, when my hard work might be finally paying off, I can stop for a second. So, with all of that being said, I feel like preaching to stop isn’t always the best.
I almost feel bad about these mixed feelings because I posted a caption the other day asking “can we just stop the hustle?”. I’m only comfortable saying that because I have the space to. Some people can’t stop the hustle. Maybe my caption made them feel bad. Feel like they wished they could stop because they are so tired. I’ve been so tired, seen a self care post, and been like “fuck you, must be nice”.
This segways into my next point about charging what you’re worth. There is so much judgement around small businesses needing to “charge what they are worth.”
Sometimes, when people are just starting out. They can’t charge what they’re “worth” because there’s no portfolio or work to back any claims of “worth” up with. Sometimes people need to charge whatever they can to get work in the future. Sometimes that means not charging anything at all because exchanging work for “exposure” might be exactly what they need at the moment. You can’t be a known name until you’ve exposed your name and how you work to everyone.
I’ve done tons of work for no pay or little pay. Yes- probably too much (because I can’t say no to people) but I had to do this so that people knew who I was and what quality of work I produced.
I had no experience in the wedding field when I first started and I had a couple of people take a chance on me.
My very first wedding, I charged $700 – and it was a FULL ON wedding with 5 bridesmaids and 12 centerpieces and a ceremony and everything.
I had no idea what I was doing! I think I ended up spending $700 on flowers ALONE and tried to produce the entire wedding myself. It did not go well and unfortunately, the client didn’t really get what I had promised to give them for $700.
My second wedding? Maybe I charged $900 this time and thought to myself “WOW OKAY I KNOW WHAT I’M DOING A LITTLE MORE NOW AND MAYBE I’LL MAKE $100!”
This wedding went so much better because of what I had learned from the first one- but I still didn’t make any money. What I DID make was a couple connections and I got pictures back from this wedding.
THE FREAKING PICTURES! That’s what I was paid for. Actual proof that I’m capable of doing what I say I’m able to do. So then, the prices went up again, but not by much. I only had barely 2 weddings under my belt and still didn’t feel worthy of charging what other people said I should be charging.
This slow climb of charging what I felt I was worth in comparison to my experience and skills began. I see people in the floral industry rip other people to shreds on social media for what they’re charging for things. No one is actually going to work as hard as a small business works just so they can under charge for things. Maybe they aren’t there yet. Maybe they don’t have the skills or knowledge to justify charging the industry standard. Maybe because they don’t have those skills, they don’t even know what the industry standard is! Maybe they’re afraid to charge the industry standard. Whatever it is, it’s fine and doesn’t really concern the rest of us. People will continue to think that they can get a full wedding package for $900. and in 2018, with TFE, they did!
In conclusion- hustle away. Work as hard as you feel you need to. Definitely prioritize sleep and other required obligations like being a parent or feeding your dogs. But if you wanna work until you can’t keep your eyes open, then do that (when it is needed). If you want to work until you feel like you’re in a place, maybe 5 years from now, where you can finally take a break, then fucking do that. If you want to work hard for no actual pay but potential exposure, then do it. People will take advantage of that, but soon you’ll catch on. Maybe the pay that time around is the experience that people are able to take advantage of your hustle. In the end, your services or products are only worth what people are willing to pay for them. Sometimes that is absolutely nothing and sometimes it’s way more than you ever imagined.