The Grit and the Beauty

TFE_GritCoverImage

For good reason, it’s been a while since I have written a blog post. I haven’t had a free moment to write, and honestly, it doesn’t come to me as naturally as it does for Megan. Most of the time, my work on the blog is behind the scenes, either with a camera or when brainstorming ideas for new posts and series ideas with Megan. Most of my time is spent managing and creative directing for our studio, Wild Measure. So, that’s the lead into my true reason for now writing.

Once a month, I meet up with a group of artists and entrepreneurs in Raleigh for a long night of bourbon drinking and poker. On the way to poker this last Saturday night, I rode with our longtime friend and designer at Wild Measure, Jordan. While we were in LA last week, he was working on a couple projects for us and found the blogger hater site, Get Off My Internets. As only a great friend can, he expressed his concerns about some of the criticisms. As people trying to add to the creative world, Megan and I are both aware the page exists, but we try to stay positive by reading more inspirational and proactive things online. Too many times, we have seen negative comments only stifle other bloggers. Because of that, we don’t really look at our forum page.

At poker night, we talked business and life, lost $20 in nickels, and enjoyed some amazing bourbon and Japanese whiskey with the gentlemen of Raleigh. I got home around 2 a.m. and Megan was asleep, but I was still feeling the jet lag of West Coast time and wasn’t tired. It was then that I did the unthinkable: with my wife in the other room asleep, I opened my laptop and went to the last website I should ever go…

I opened up Google and searched for “Get Off My Internets The Fresh Exchange.”

I have to say, as I began to read our page, I was really surprised that people would even take the time to actually write about what they loved and hated about our blog. I appreciated the honest criticism. Ultimately, some of the things written were things I expected, and they referenced areas we are aware we need to work on. Within the comments, there were even some compliments, whether they were meant to be or not.

As I read through the comments, I expected to be upset and angered, but instead, by the time I got to the bottom of the forum, I was feeling inspired. It inspired me to start being more open about work, rather than being so vague about the actual struggles we reference. I want to find a more balanced way to show the beauty and the grit. So, I am doing the one thing every blogger told us never to do: actually talking about our forum and the comments. I know our blogger friends meant for us not to get involved in arguments on the forum, but I want to talk about some of the comments and respond in a positive way, here, on the blog. This is mostly because there was some honest feedback that we needed in order to become better, and I am thankful to know what it’s like to read the blog from others’ perspectives. We thought we were being really open about life and our struggles on the blog, but until I read this comment below, I wasn’t aware of how disconnected we had begun to sound:

“I think Megan has great taste and I want to love the blog but it is beginning to wear on me. Every post seems to consist of several good looking photos and some text about how busy and stressed and creatively limited she is during her “transition,” coupled with the several weekly posts/Instagrams of her running free on the beach and sailing. As someone who is currently in what Megan would probably define as a “stressful transition” – working full time but preparing to go to a design school in a new country – I feel like I should empathize with her more but I don’t. Most nights I have anxiety nightmares about flathunting so but honestly her posts about househunting don’t even strike a chord. It also pisses me off because I haven’t had a vacation this summer and she appears to be at the beach half the time, yet is still complaining on the blog. Obviously that’s just my personal issue since I don’t actually know her life, and she probably has every right to complain, just as I am right now.

Perhaps it is because she is too busy to write, but I feel like Megan/Fresh Exchange/Wild Measure are becoming less and less relatable. The poor grammar and lack of editing don’t help either, although Taylor’s posts seem more refined. I assumed we’d hear more from Mike or Taylor on the blog but that’s not really the case. Hopefully the move will be a good way to hit refresh? Or Megan can take a blogging break like K. Shannon to avoid the struggle of having to write weekly about her struggle? Anyone else feel this way?”

Comment by: lady2966

I wish I knew who lady2966 was so I could thank her for her constructive criticism. And yes, lady2966, you will be seeing more posts from me in the future. Lately, I have been so overwhelmed with the amount of work it took to go through the loan process for a home, running the Wild Measure studio with 4-6 full-time brand clients, and managing between 5-12 freelancers at any given moment. I haven’t even thought about writing a blog post or had the mental capacity to give it the time it needed. I realize this may be the first time we are opening up about what the last few months have held for us. But as we go into Q4, we will be launching a new blog design, finally launching the Wild Measure website, taking fewer brand projects, and focusing more on getting back to a healthier state.

What I realized in her comment (I think she’s a girl) was that we have focused on The Fresh Exchange being so much about inspiration that we have left out a lot of the grit between the beauty. I also realized that our posts are most relatable when we share the real moments of being creative entrepreneurs. While our Summer was amazing and beautiful, we worked 10-12 hour days every day. We worked weekends, mornings, and late into the night. Therefore, after 12 hours of branding and design work, all we wanted to talk about on the blog was the 2-hour break we got in the day to run down to the docks and take the boat out at sunset or spend an hour jumping in the water and enjoying the sun. I simply say this to be open. We wanted to share what we felt was inspirational, not realizing it was presenting a false reality. Truthfully, what we were posting on the blog and Instagram was what was inspiring us. Don’t get us wrong, we love our work and love our clients, but in the last few months, there has been an imbalance between work and life that we didn’t expect. It was a learning moment that we weren’t sure how to share or even if it was worth sharing.

When we don’t know what to share, we have always reverted to what we know and love looking at: beauty. Moving forward, we will work on talking about and showing more of the day-to-day, giving a fuller picture of our life as creative entrepreneurs who are married and creating together. We love the blogging community and have found so much support from other bloggers, designers, and your comments. We are all working hard to better ourselves and our craft, and that is fun and exciting to do as a community.

So in that spirit, I am going to talk very openly about two topics we have struggled to talk about:

1. What we really do in a day and what our time looks like.

We want to find a way to let light into our days and weeks as a creative husband and wife team owning a company and running a blog. We love what we do and leaving this part of our life out really isn’t fair. This may take the form of a weekly summary or a once-in-a-while day-in-the-life sort of post. We understand that it is important that as we talk about inspiration and beauty, we also talk about what it looks like to create and curate that everyday. We hear ya, and we are excited to figure out what will work best for the blog.

2. Grammer, sorry Grammar.

Aren’t I funny? Yes, we are aware that grammar and syntax are areas we need to improve. Many times, Megan is posting from the road or late at night after a full day of work. Taylor and I are proofing posts as often as we can, but we are all working full-time with Wild Measure. When deadlines get tight, all too often it means posting a first draft without editing. We try our best to always have a second set of eyes on every post, but it doesn’t always happen. Megan has gone so far as to begin meeting with a writing coach to work through some of the bad grammatical and syntax practices that come out of free flow writing. For years, I fought against her having any outside influence of an editor, because I loved the honesty and candor in her writing. However, as the blog grows, we will grow with it.

So there you have it. From a 2 a.m. Google search to blog post, I break my not-posting streak. Let me know what you think. We love hearing from you guys and want to keep this place relatable and inspirational always.

Leave a comment

  1. That’s impressive that you are open-minded enough to embrace the comments. I think it’s great you’re making an effort to improve your blog – after all, it’s such a big part of what you guys do.

    I didn’t know that site existed, but to be honest, I’ve wanted to mention the style and grammar used on the site – I just didn’t know how. It doesn’t bother me enough to post about it on some rant site, after all, to each their own, but since you (by way of another commenter) brought it up, I’ll say that the language can be a bit basic and redundant. Surely Megan doesn’t actually speak the way she writes. It would be great to have a little more informality and flavor. For example, the lack of contractions (have not instead of haven’t, etc). It makes reading tiresome and more work than it should be.

    I hope I don’t come across as rude! As a writer by trade (in advertising, so it’s not really writing, ha!) I often assume I’m the only one who catches things like language. But I want your blog to be an easy read. I love the photos and am excited to see the progress of your lives in Raleigh.

    On that note you should look up my designer/baker friend Kellyn McGarity who moved to Raleigh a couple years ago. Your styles are so similar, I’m sure you’d hit it off. Keep an eye out for her!

    1. Lynn, No we are people open to become better. We know we aren’t complete by any means so I appreciate the honesty. Something I learned in design school and critiques was that proper criticism is in love and care not to be painful or cutting. I am excited to learn more and really take this on in a more serious way. Sometimes you just need a proper dose of reality to shake you enough to make a change.

      I will look up Kelly!! We are big fans of becoming friends with bakers and chefs…especially those that also design 🙂

  2. I love this. Thank you for your honesty & willingness to receive criticism and use it to grow! I have totally gotten the idea of posting what’s inspiring, but even then, having to fill in the blanks for myself makes it a struggle to not think your life is 24/7 adventures and travel.

    I love hearing about all your adventures and inspiration, and I am super excited to hear more about the day-to-day business side of things as well! This blog is already one of my absolute favorites, and I think these changes are going to make it just that much better!

  3. Is that site for real? It has struck me so many times now how completely different the American blogging world is from the Swedish way of blogging. It seems so serious for you guys! Also, I’m fascinated about how you value content. I read blogs for many reasons; sometimes I want to learn stuff – but most of the time I just want to be inspired and find out about new things. Just the way I glance through a magazine or what have you. I think you do things good, but yes – it is boring to read about how busy bloggers are. I feel that the time it took to write about how crazy busy one is could have been better spent. I don’t think of YOU when I say that, it is my general point of view.

    Keep it up, I enjoy your blog!

  4. Seriously ?! Maybe it’s because i am old, but it would never occur to me to spend time composing criticism of other people’s blog posts. I’ve always seen a blog as a diary of essays that someone is open enough to want to share with the world. I don’t think i could ever do that.
    Anyway, I am glad i found your site.

    1. Yeah, I found it odd myself. We’ve always seen blogs as inspirational and encouraging, not as a place for nasty words. Glad you found us too 🙂 Thanks for your comment.

  5. This is a super relatable post, and very inspiring. It’s so nice to see your raw honestly, as well as the way you turned a criticism into a constructive comment. Looking forward to seeing the path The Fresh Exchange takes from here!

  6. Like the others in this thread, I applaud your willingness to accept constructive criticism and engage in an open dialog with your readers. I for one would definitely welcome a little more “grit” mixed in with the inspiration. I’ve only been reading your blog for the last month or so but, as much as I admire the passion of Megan’s prose and the beauty of your photography, it can get a little depressing at times. You guys seem to have struck such an enviable balance of work and life that it’s hard for those of us who are struggling not to feel a little envious/inadequate. So it might be instructive to see just what kinds of challenges you do face day in and day out.

    I’d especially be interested in learning what a typical day is like for you. How do you manage your time? How do you meet deadlines while still finding time to relax now and then? How do you stay inspired even when your Inbox is overflowing?

    Like Lynn, I’m a copywriter (so yeah, not really a writer at all). But the occasional grammatical faux pas doesn’t really bother me. Megan is clearly writing from the heart. So what if there’s a misspelled word here or incorrect punctuation there. She seems genuine, not overly slick or polished or fatuous like some lifestyle bloggers. I like to think I’m a fairly clever and creative writer but I could never express myself as beautifully as she does.

    Speaking of writing (shameless plug alert), do you guys ever work with any Triangle-area freelance writers?

    1. Thanks Trevor, that’s really encouraging to hear. Also great to hear that, as a writer, you totally understand the occasional grammatical mistake. As far as freelancer writers go, we work with a couple freelance writers, but Taylor is the only one in the Triangle. Send me an email at mike@wildmeasure.com if you’d like to chat more. Thanks!

  7. Wow. A site for people to vent their hate seems kind of bizarre to me? However, with hate sometimes comes harsh truth, and it is wonderful to see you guys tackling this head on. What I will say is first, I love the blog. It’s beautiful; I especially love your travel post. Now as suggestion, I am not saying I feel this way, but you do have to be careful when complaining about life. Especially when the blog is showing a life rich of travel, fun, friends, and adventure. The average person has not ever been to Europe, let alone know anyone that owns a boat. So I think for those people it falls on deaf ears because they may hear the writings of someone who is ungrateful. I do not believe Megan is ungrateful, it is her life, and she is living what she knows. But to the average person that sees a beautiful Instagram feed, and dazzling blog images you will have a disconnect. As for the grammar. You know what? The grammar nazis need to stop. We are human. I almost feel like it makes them feel better about themselves that they can critique something. Who hasn’t made the occasional grammar mistake? I love that her writing is not overly wordy or so confusing I have no idea what she is trying to say. Lastly, my only suggestion or ( idea maybe) is I would like to see more diversity on the blog. And not just your blog, all blogs. It would seem that all the beautiful colors that make up this world seem to be absent on blogs, and the bubble seems to be very, well white. I am not saying that is a problem, just something I notice as a whole in the blogging world. There has got to be a brown girl or a yellow girl, purple dude, kicking ass or trying to kick ass somewhere in America with a company or a blog, right? 🙂 keep up the great work and stay off that crazy site! 🙂

    1. I totally agree, it’s definitely weird to have a site like that. I also agree on the diversity end, we just moved to a pretty diverse area of Raleigh and are absolutely loving our neighbors. We have some really fun things planed for the future that will visually shake things up. Thanks for your comment.

  8. I’ve just started following this blog, but I can already tell that I’m going to enjoy it. This post was especially inspirational to a new blogger. I love the honesty you expressed about the comments you received on your blog. As sweet as beautiful and positive posts are, it’s nice to know what’s going on with the people behind the blogs.
    Thank you for sharing!

  9. I was surprised to find this post today since I just discovered GOMI, myself. I sheepishly started checking the comments for all my favourite blogs, including The Fresh Exchange, and boy, they are relentless. The criticisms are usually incredibly mean and shallow, especially in the fashion/mommy blogging category. It’s sickening.

    Anyway, I’m glad to see you guys are dealing with this in a professional manner. It’s so respectable and makes me love TFE even more. 🙂

  10. Hey guys,

    I loved reading this post, and really appreciate and applaud your honesty. My husband and myself run a design studio, as well as travel quite frequently and I so related to reading that paragraph about the ‘grit’; the huge days, big deadlines, and the busyness of life. So good to hear that other people struggle with the balance of life and work too!

    Thanks for your candour and for sharing, so good.

    Laura

  11. I can only speak for myself and share that I enjoy coming to this space again and again to read. The imperfections make your blog human and actually encourage me to not be afraid to share my own work. I love the photos and posts of places you’ve been because they remind me to stand in awe of the world amidst the hustle.
    I admire your openness to accepting criticism but also encourage you to keep this space what it needs to be for you all, first and foremost. Your courage to do just that is what attracts and speaks to others out there, including myself.

  12. Great post! I’m in another field (academia), but also am similarly privileged in that I travel quite a bit and have a flexible schedule. However, people don’t see the long hours and the inability to “turn off.” Would love to see what goes on behind the scenes.

    I would, however, like to echo the sentiment about racial diversity. It’s one of the things that I have really noticed on the blog when it comes to your events. It’s perhaps more understandable in Northern MIchigan, but now that you’re in North Carolina…Glad to read that you guys are aware of the problem and am looking forward to seeing greater inclusion as you form relationships in your new neighborhood.

  13. Well guys, this blog is your own and unique because of it. Please dont change unless you really want to. Rant if you need to. Do what ever. There are some zillion blogs on the planet. We will all find what interests us.

  14. I’m pretty astonished; I didn’t know about the existence of this site and I can’t understand its existence. For me it is as easy as this: if you like this blog, you read it; if you don’t like it, you don’t read it. I think you should write about whatever you want to write. I don’t mean to be rude or disrespectful I just think this is your space, so you should feel free to fill it with whatever you feel like. Keep up the great work! 🙂

  15. Megan, I love the way you write (grammar mistakes and all). It has always made me feel like I am right there with you, watching the sunset and feeling the breeze flowing in from the lake, as if I am reading your last thoughts for the evening as you take in those final moments and process things for one last time before saying goodnight to the day. So many blogs get bogged down with the craziness of day to day life and I have treasured having a place to simply embrace the beauty and be reminded that even in the craziness there are ways to find adventure and to transform rough days into those that cannot only inspire yourself but those far and wide, people whom you shall never meet. Thank you for sharing your world.

    1. Anna, Thank you!! That means a lot. Sometimes placing too much structure doesn’t allow for those emotions and feelings to come out. I read a lot as a kid and my favorite stories and books were the ones where the author seemed to really just let go. I think of Jack Kerouac and others who kind of threw caution to the wind in order to let it loose. I love that so thank you! Glad we have you as a reader!!

  16. Great job addressing this, Mike! It’s funny, I was just listening to one of Grace’s Design*Sponge podcasts where she mentioned something about GOMI being a place to actually (occasionally, I suppose! :)) read feedback that could be helpful in terms of what people are tired of seeing on blogs, what they miss, etc. Looks like you’ve used it in a proactive way.

  17. I think a lot of people’s criticism comes from jealousy first and foremost because most people are afraid to step out and take a chance on a dream and turn it into reality. I also think people have no clue what’s involved in running a business. I’m a photographer and I can’t tell you how many people assume my life must be great because I work from home most of the time so I can “Do whatever I want”. Riiiiight. When in reality, I tend to work more because my office is in my house than I would if I worked outside the home. Anyway, I think it’s amazing you’ve been able to move forward and pursue some great opportunities. Those opportunities only come out of hard work and a lot of time invested, never just by luck.

  18. To give you some perspective from the outside reader –

    I am someone who is creative and is engaged in creative pursuits but does not have a job reflecting that at this time. I love reading blogs from designers like yourselves or people who simply have gone for it and have found some measure of success. It is inspiring. However, I will say that I have started to feel disconnected from the actual creators of this blog. I love the style posts but the prices tend to be on the steep side, so that combined with the numerous travel posts start to give an impression of wealth. That is not necessarily a bad thing, however, I keep looking for the stories that tell the mundane aspects of your lives. What does an average day look like? What does it take to hold a creative job? If these questions were answered, I feel that the travel posts (and what getting away or working away means to you) might be a little more balanced.

    That being said, I’m only writing this because you shared that you appreciate criticism. I truly have enjoyed your blog and Megan’s instagram posts and I hope you continue in a similar vein. And really, the least of your worries should be grammar..it’s a blog for heaven’s sake!

    All the best.

    1. We agree. Though obviously there is some much needed honesty we were happy to take away from it. We are on the lighter end of the comments and forum pages and feel thankful for that as there are many bloggers, instagrammers, and youtubers who are getting a lot worse criticism which makes me very sad and angry. Thanks for the support!

  19. So good. Thanks for your honesty. Your positive spin on those negative comments is downright inspiring. I’m happy to call you compadres. Excited to see where this goes.

  20. I love how you responded positively and constructively to this situation. A few weeks ago, I went to a talk by Debbie Millman on the topic of failure. She shared the lowest low of her career – a blogger who wrote a pretty awful article about her and received widespread support from the design community. The article went viral and eventually made it into her inbox. Rather than letting it defeat her, she contacted the blogger and began working WITH him to resolve the issues they were both passionate about.

    What an amazing reaction, not unlike your own! I agree that I would love hearing more from you in terms of your day-to-day, your process, your struggles. That can be just as inspiring to your fellow designers as the amazing places you travel and the adventurous life you lead.

    A few months ago, I emailed Megan about the difficulty of dating a fellow designer (both fresh out of college, competing for jobs in the same field). You’ve shared here just how busy everything at Wild Measure has become, but Megan found the time for a thorough and encouraging response to all of my questions. I can only imagine what else you do that doesn’t find its way to my Instagram feed, and how awesome it would be to hear more about it.

    I can’t wait to see what’s next. Go grit ’em! Hehe.

    1. Thanks so much Megan! That is incredible to hear Debbie did that! That takes serious strength to overcome. WOW! I really hope the email helped you and you were able to make some tough decisions with a little more clarity. I try super hard to respond to everyone that writes into us. Sometimes I am really late on them, but my theory is better late than never. I don’t want to make someone feel as if I feel their struggles and questions are not worthy of a response even if it is a quick one. Have an amazing day and thank you for the support.

  21. As a copywriter and creative director married team (both working full time jobs while working on our own blog), we’ve definitely enjoyed reading yours. Your imagery is beautiful, design aesthetic matches that beauty, and your honesty here is a breath of fresh air.

    We were especially drawn to your blog because of our similar personal story. And in this understanding of the work it takes to maintain a blog (with full time jobs, and two full-time dogs 🙂 we definitely appreciate those slight glimpses behind the curtains, if only as a small feeling of reassurance that perfection is a fleeting ideal, and those of us creating blogs (or any creative medium) know that struggle. We feel the grit. We know the work it took to achieve that beautiful shot, or storyboard for a small video clip, or clean our hands just enough to press the shutter button and capture the moment.

    So in reading your approach, it speaks volumes about your outlook on the creative process. We absolutely appreciate seeing the beauty that comes from your creativity, and I always love to see any glimpse of what went into it. That kind of exposure to the process can also add whole other dimension to photography, or a brand refresh, anything creative. So long story short, we’d love to see more of that, with the understanding and appreciation that at the end of the day, it’s completely up to you.

    And on a grammar note, my creative director wife just loves when I correct her on the classic designer misspelling of “peak”. As in, “sneak peak” vs. “sneak peek”.

    Anyway, your honesty is absolutely refreshing. Keep up the great work.

    Kris + Jen

    1. Hey Kris and Jen!!!

      Thanks so much! This means a lot coming from people who do something similar. So glad we have inspired you along the way. Excited to now follow you guys as well! Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. Expect more behind the scenes 😉 Ps. Love your site!

  22. Blergh. I get honest criticism – but GOMI isn’t an honest place to share it. I have a hard time respecting, appreciating, or even considering what anyone has to say in that space. If lady2966 really cared about relating to you she would seek common ground. If lady2966 had integrity and really did want to connect she would voice her concerns or criticism in a place where it counts.

    Stay relatable and inspirational to the people who care about you guys. Write for your fans – not your critics.

  23. I had no idea people actually took the time to write about that sort of things. It´s always good (and scary) to get constructive criticism, but it looks like that site is not exactly made for that.
    Still, my hat´s off to you guys. It takes a lot of courage to try and see things the way you´ve done it and work on taking it as constructive criticism.

    xo,
    Ana

  24. i so appreciate the honesty in this post. i relate a lot to the fresh exchange, especially because i’m also a michigan-transplant living in raleigh, but sometimes as an amateur blogger, it feels like you all have a perfect life. everything is so lovely and absolutely what i aspire to have in my own life, and while part of me loves taking the time out of my day to have a glance at the beauty you share, part of me wonders if maybe my own experiences are “weird” or something. it’s so easy to look at bloggers now a days and imagine that their lives are perfect, picturesque little bubbles where they have candle lit feasts with friends every evening while a local blue grass band plays in the backyard. but the truth is, it’s also amazing to see the grit behind the scenes and have something to relate to. i love the inspiring posts you all have regularly, but seeing a bit of real talk is always comforting as well : ) keep up the amazing work, it’s so great to have you all as an addition to raleigh!

    xoxo,
    Kristine

  25. Maybe I am not as critical as others when it comes to blogs but I feel much differently then others commenting, especially the main one Mike mentions on the post. I think the other website is ridiculous, it is like a way to backstab. If you are a fan or follower of The Fresh Exchange, you should comment directly to the site about your concerns or even send an email!

    Although I understand not wanting to talk about work when all you do is work, I would agree about wanting to hear more about your lives of having your own business, because it is unique and intriguing! I still love your inspirational posts about sailing and hikes, etc. as it inspires me to get out and do something.

    I think the grammar is being nitpicky. I sometimes notice it but truly it does not bother me because on a blog of perfect photos and beautiful typography, the grammatical errors and half sentences actually make it feel like there is a human behind the screen just sharing their thoughts without holding back. I understand Megan wanting to do better in her writing, but I hope she does not lose her true style of speaking from her heart, even if that means a less than perfect sentence structure.

    Anyway, it is great you are open to constructive criticism, but I just want to say to remember you cannot please everyone. I am excited to see you tweak things here and there on the blog but hope there isn’t a complete overhaul based on other peoples’ opinions that cause you to stray too far from your roots. Good luck in your changes and know you have a huge support group here on your blog!

  26. I feel like there is something important not being said: THE GOOD THINGS!
    When most people agree or empathize, they tend to stay pretend quiet (internet-wise). The only time they really speak up is when they disagree or have something negative to say. If we all agreed to be a little more openly supportive, the negatives might not be so bad, or cease all together. 🙂
    I find the only thing really disconnecting is lack of communication between writer and reader. We all like to know we are being heard when we speak, therefore I believe a little more interaction in the comments might make the readers feel more connected.