DIARY

Putting It On My Succulent

I may need more than one.

Francesca has, as of late, been using the word “manifest” in casual conversation more than I’m reasonably able to handle. (And I have told her as much, e.g. “I love you very much, but if you keep telling me to manifest I will put you on mute.”)

Look, I had a meditation coach for awhile. I spent my high school years practicing Wicca, and really wanted to buy a massive, perfectly round crystal I saw in a store the other day. I am, in other words, not completely sans woo elements in my own personality. (And please be aware that I use the term “woo” – as in “woo-woo” – with a big spoonful of affection; I respect and appreciate that people explore their inner selves in various ways that sure, may appear a little odd to others, but that work for them. Yay for spirituality and self-exploration. Yay for crystals and meditation. Just please don’t make me manifest.)

Which brings me to an article I read in The Cut the other day about the author’s experience attending a manifestation workshop. During this workshop, she imagined liquid gold being poured all over her body, and drank Instagrammable water. She also mentally conjured up a succulent, and then (mentally) put her career goal on top of it. So that it would…grow? …Be grounded? I’m not sure.

What I am sure of: Henceforth, I shall be referring to life goals – career-related and otherwise – with the phrase “Putting it on the succulent.”

I think you should join me on this one.

About those life goals, though. I’ve been thinking, these past few weeks, as I approach my late thirties and the midlife crisis that is virtually certain to arrive with them: I’m about to reach a full decade as a professional blogger (and author, but really: blogging is how those bills get paid). One of the many aspects of this job that I’ve always loved is how many different things it’s allowed me to do…but the way I make money has been more or less the same for virtually the entirety of my career (apart from The Years That Shall Not Be Mentioned, even though I mention them all the time). When I look back at my life – and specifically the “working” part of my life – thirty years from now, will that second half look like the first? I doubt it. And the more I percolate on this (or succulent on it, perhaps?), the more curious I grow to find out where that second half will land me.

READ MORE:

Starting Out As A Blogger: What I Wish I’d Known

Behind the (Blogging) Curtain

These past ten years, since I started blogging, have been quite a ride. When all this started, there were like twelve of us, running around New York City in search of free jeans and champagne, and trying to figure out how to somehow pay our rent in the meantime (the champagne was, of course, the priority). At the time, many companies happily handed over beauty products and such in exchange for mentions on websites, but only a handful were willing to explore the idea of working with “influencers” in a more concrete way, and one that involved the exchange of actual money for work. (The term “influencer,” as an aside, didn’t start getting thrown around until a couple of years later. I remember being called an influencer for the first time somewhere around 2014 and getting all bristly. “Excuse me,” I said, “I am a WRITER. Who…makes a living by working with companies on advertising campaigns predicated upon my ability to…influence.

…Oh.”)

Influencers used to be the risky, out-of-the-box choice for advertisers, and companies approached us like the experiments we were. We crafted concepts for them; art-directed shoots; wrote copy. In some ways, we acted as strategic consultants, because – whether or not it was true – the majority of the companies who hired us (or at least the ones I worked with) trusted that in the online space, it was us who knew best what our audiences wanted.

the business of blogging time magazine

That time I was in Time Magazine and talked about the business of blogging

Things have changed. The way social media (blogging itself seems to be the least of it, at least in terms of where campaigns are directed) looks and feels has undergone a fundamental and dramatic shift. The industry’s ability to track success (in the form of sales, which is The Most Important Thing) has evolved dramatically, and sure, content creators might know more than the brands that hire them about some things, but it’s safe to say that brands now have a handle on how – and with whom – to use social media to generate the most revenue. I’m not faulting them at all – that’s how advertising works – and when you’re talking about an industry this profitable, of course that’s what’s going to happen. But I’m starting to feel like I tried to open a restaurant, and all of a sudden found myself running a trampoline park. It’s fine. It’s fun, even. It’s just not…exactly what I…do. 

See, way back in the way-back beginning, blogging (which was all social media really used to consist of) started out as an organic, free space for people to express themselves and interact with others. And then some people (myself included) saw the chance to express ourselves and support ourselves by working advertisements into our sites – and hooooly, did we ever get pushback from people who wanted the space to stay commercial-free (presciently noting, perhaps, the degree to which profit can very quickly become the point). We tried to convince companies that we were worth spending advertising dollars on…and it turned out that we were right: social media quickly became a hugely profitable way for companies to advertise. And now advertising has, to some extent, taken over, simply by rewarding those whose primary platform is to sell.

Check Out All My Blog Advice Posts

Again, I’m not knocking sites that focus on sales or the brands that support them; I’m truly not. I’ve always loved the advertising side of this business. I think it’s exciting to have a company say, “Here’s a product. Use it, and tell the story of using it.” It’s interesting, and gives me the chance to try out and write about things I might never have thought of. But while I’ve been pretty thrilled to earn a living from writing, this site has never really been about stuff. I may write about moisturizers and cleaning products because I’m a person who enjoys writing about moisturizers and cleaning products (see: multitudes-containing), but what I feel like has really happened here is that we’ve spent the past many years going on a hard, weird, joyful journey together. So many of you have been here since the very beginning, and together we’ve gone through marriages, children, moves, losses. All of it. I love this space. I love writing. I don’t know that I love the direction the professional social media industry has taken, and it’s odd to find myself a part of it, as it exists nowadays.

I wonder whether it’s possible to keep it as my primary source of income in the very long-term.

I wonder whether I want to.

Going to title this photo “What really matters.”

For years, people have been asking me, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” – and my answer has always been “I have no idea.” Because I really haven’t known; the one consistent in my career has been that completely unforeseeable curveballs get tossed my way, and so I just roll with them…because why not? But you know what my career goal right now is? To be able to answer that five-year question.

I want to start trying to imagine what that second half might look like.

So today, right now, that’s what I’m putting on my succulent: The answer to what I want to do in the next part.

(FINE. I guess you could call this manifesting. But I’d so rather we didn’t.)

  • Olivia

    I’m going through the same thing…and it’s really hard to separate yourself from being a mom to do so, I’ve found – so much of my last 6 years (including being preg) was about surviving and keeping kids alive…and now I’m looking at putting Wyatt in school 3 mornings a week and I’m all OMG WHAT COULD I ACCOMPLISH IF I WASN’T WORKING HALF AWAKE AT MIDNIGHT! Anyway, I love the idea of manifesting…or succulent-ing. I just got a succulent for Weston’s Mother’s Day Tea today, so I’ll succulent on it tonight (for both of us!).

    • jordanreid

      lol! GO FORTH AND SUCCULENT.

  • Alex

    Jordan. I’ve been waiting for a post like this from you. I’ve been following you since the NS days. So many of the blogs I used to follow back then have ended, as the creators have gone on to do other things for a living. Others have grown or otherwise changed dramatically. For better or worse, I don’t feel like ramshackle glam has changed that much after all these years (you may feel differently).

    I’ve been curious lately about what your plans are for the blog/your career. You’ve been doing this for a long time. Have you ever thought of working for a company? A company that lets you work from home (assuming that’s what you’d prefer) with paid vacation, 401k match, a steady, reliable, consistent paycheck every month, etc. Wasn’t sure if that’s appealing to you or not after being self-employed for so long.

    If you stopped blogging for a living, do you have any ideas about what you’d want to do instead?

    • m

      I’m very curious about this too. I asked a question several weeks back when I saw that Jordan’s daily posts weren’t consistent. I love RG and read it every morning with breakfast, but I was bracing to the (sad) news that maybe she was going to the direction of stopping/ending it. She didn’t, and assure us that she wouldn’t any time soon. This is great, but then… what’s next? just ask you to continue telling me stories because I enjoy them? Do you enjoy doing it?
      I hope you take us into the journey of figuring work things out. I’ve been trying to leave my job for several years now, but it is all I know! So if you figure out what to do next, please let us know how you did it.

      • jordanreid

        I thought of you when I wrote this! And again this morning when I didn’t put a post up, haha (I am shooting to put one up every day, it just sometimes doesn’t happen until a little later because children, life, etc.).

        So here’s the thing. I LOVE this site. I cannot not write about the things that are on my mind; it’s become the way that I work through virtually everything. There’s literally no way I would stop writing it; it’s too important to me, and beyond that, it’s a valuable resource – it brings in revenue, interesting opportunities, etc etc. But in terms of how I make a living, I’m finding myself curious about how the skills I’ve learned doing this for so many years can be applied in a way that keeps me moving forward and trying new things – because I sort of…know how to do this now. I know how to create content, how to work with brands, how to write on a daily basis, how to stage shoots, how to apply SEO strategies, etc – and I want to learn something new. Which is terrifying, but also exciting.

        I’ve been doing some soul-searching these past few days and trying to figure out what about my present career I love, and what I don’t, and I’m slowly putting together a plan for the future that essentially involves branching out in a few directions that I find particularly exciting, while maintaining this site as a steady base. I don’t want to share what I’m thinking about yet because I haaaaaeaate saying I’m going to do something and then not do it, but of COURSE I’ll write about everything here. Writing about life upheavals is what I specialize in, haha 🙂

        • m

          ah! I was afraid of that! while writing today’s comment I was thinking “how selfish of me to ask her to never stop writing “, so I came back to see the replies. I hope you don’t have that pressure in the back of your mind. You do you! We’ll catch up eventually. I’m sorry about that!
          Looking forward to what’s next with RG! and hopefully whatever it is will make you as happy and fulfilled as can be.

          • jordanreid

            noooo! don’t feel bad! it means so much to me to know that my site is a part of someone’s day – I sit here alone all day long and it’s very easy to forget that there are real humans out there reading my words <3 <3 <3

  • Katie Jones

    Hi! I too am in the “what the hell am I gonna do next because this isn’t kickin it anymore” mid/late thirties section of life. Lots of anticipation and excitement to hear what is next for you!

  • Chiara

    I am your exact age and going through the exact same thing. I have been working for more than a decade in fashion pr and always liked it a lot, still do actually, I just… cannot see me doing this for another decade (or three!). I have been trying to figure out what to do next lately, but I seriously have NO idea. Should I use the skills I got so far for something different? What? And would I like that? Should I try something else? Should I go back to university and make some crazy fantasy of mine become reality, like study archeology or anthropology? I am at a loss. If you have any tips on how to figure out what one truly wants, I’d be glad for you to share them with us! Anyway, looking forward to read more about your journey!

    • jordanreid

      YES to all of this. I went through a major career change when I started doing this (and stopped acting), and the advice I’ve always given to people who ask me how to jumpstart the next phase is “learn something new” (or specifically “go back to school,” but that’s obviously not realistic for everyone). Something about the process of re-engaging with active learning has always seemed to me to spark developments in unexpected places. So it seems like now is an opportunity for me to take my own advice.

      Part of me wants to say F it to everything and enroll at Quantico and go be an FBI profiler. I’m trying to make that part shush up, lol.

  • Emily

    I am another very long time reader (since the NS days) and your site and your stories are absolutely part of the fabric of my week. I would be so sad if you closed up shop and am glad to hear that you aren’t seriously considering that route at the moment, though of course you don’t owe it to us to stick around. I really miss the old era of blogging and part of the reason I still read your site every morning is that you have somehow stayed true to the spirit of those days. It’s weird to feel like you know someone whom you have never met, but I would miss and wonder about you if you ever retired from this particular gig. Anyway, just wanted to chime in, say thank you, and let you know that this site does reach people in a meaningful way! And good luck with figuring out your next adventure. Even good change is difficult but always worth pursuing.

    • jordanreid

      Thank you SO much, Emily <3
      I'm not shutting down the site, promise. I'm not even planning on posting less – I'm just starting to think about some ways that I can evolve over the long-term so that I can use what I've learned here to become less financially dependent on RG, which I think would take away a lot of the pressure and anxiety, and let me just…write. Not worry about analytics, and metrics, and conversion rates, and do I have a coherent aesthetic, and blah blah blaaaaaaaa.

      I'm just so floored by the extent to which the business side of the industry has changed, and the extent to which people like me are not what most advertisers are looking for (under 100k IG followers, not hugely about sales, not capable of publishing photos that were shot with a drone and look like a vogue spread, and so on). I still want to be a blogger; I just don't think it's realistic or smart to put all my financial eggs in such a crazy, constantly-changing basket, and I'd like to start doing that before it's an emergency, you know?

      • Emily

        Um, totally! I have ultimately been very risk averse in my career decisions (I went to school to be a producer but ended up a dev exec because of things like laziness, fear, and the comfort of a steady pay check!) I am lucky to be very happy in my job but I also dream from time to time of having the cojones to start a business or a side gig. You took a giant leap when you decided to blog for a living and you have been successful at it! Even WITHOUT having to make it into a glossy vector for selling things. That’s really incredible. Whatever you do next, you’ve already demonstrated you have the grit and bravery to make it work.