blogging business Wellness Work

How Do You Monetize a Mess?

June 2, 2015

Today’s post was supposed to be a recipe for dark chocolate sea salt almond butter. It should be filled with pretty pictures of drippy, perfect almond butter that I spent 10 minutes plating, photographed with my DSLR, edited the heck out of and filled the space in between to constitute a blog post. Images will be plastered all over social media in the hopes of it going viral. Hey Buzzfeed! Can you hear me?

How Do You Monetize a Mess?My income depends on this.

It depends on virality; that the content I produce will resonate with my audience. Hopefully it resonates with brands too. I’m banking on my blog to pay my bills, and this changes the game. A lot.

All of these crazy-emotional thoughts were sparked by this article in NYMag last week. The article is a great read, but in case you don’t have time to read it, here’s the executive summary: Dooce aka Heather Armstrong is an OG Mommy Blogger and a few weeks ago she came out and announced she was pulling back on blogging and revealed a massive truth about blogging that I don’t think enough bloggers are talking about.

On some level, blogging has stopped being about blogging.

I think Heather put it perfectly when she said this:

“Now, a lot of mommy blogs are about documenting instead of storytelling. It’s a photo essay of their kid sitting on the countertop in perfectly clean clothes licking the cake spoon. It’s so curated. In the beginning, it was all mess. People were craving honest stories about parenting. I think people are craving that again now, but bloggers are afraid to be that honest. Since blogging is so flush with money, the immediate thought is, is there going to be money in that? How do you monetize a mess?”

How do you monetize a mess?

It’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately.

Even though the article was referencing Mommy Blogs, I think it really touches on aspects of all blogs, and especially those of us doing it for a living.

My life is a mess. Those perfectly curated images on this blog and across social media are all part of my brand, but it isn’t my life. It is a small snapshot into what my life looks like everyday; If everyday had an Instagram filter.

It’s the sad truth in what has happened with blogging. Somewhere along the way we became inspired by perfection rather than reality. I admit to having bought into it as both a reader and a blogger.

I struggle immensely with finding the balance between authenticity and being paid to do what I love. It comes with the expectation that everything I produce be in perfect harmony because that is what we think and we’ve told you, you want to see. But this symmetry doesn’t always exist in reality. It is a small glimpse through a window of a very large house.

It doesn’t show the spills and the crumbs (unartistic crumbs of course!) and the lack of grip I can have on emotions, as is happening right now. But those moments are my reality. They are my truths that I rarely have the courage to share, because my mess doesn’t pay my bills.

My issues with anxiety and depression doesn’t pay my rent. My lack of balance between work and life doesn’t buy my food. The not-so-healthy maven isn’t what allowed me to quit my secure 9-to-5 job to do what I love for a living. But I also feel tremendous guilt in only letting you into a minute slice of my world and leaving you out of the uncurated moments.

At least I do when I label myself a blogger.

My goal with The Healthy Maven is to inspire you. Whether it be in the kitchen, on a run or in whatever small way I can motivate you to be a little bit healthier, it is my hope that this blog can do that. But don’t fail to confuse the content that I create with my day-to-day life.

I hope that I will soon find the courage to share that day-to-day life with you; that this little space of mine will get back to being a blog or at least find a better balance of the two.

Don’t get me wrong, I love every piece of content I have ever produced, every recipe I’ve cooked, every picture I’ve taken, but I just hope you remember as you read that there was in fact a production involved. I hope you remember this with every blogger. Because we at times can be selective about the story we tell. Does that mean it’s all a lie? Absolutely not. But it certainly isn’t the whole truth. We’re here to inspire, but not to create a comparison trap that makes your life seem anything less than ours.

Maybe this means I’m no longer a blogger? Maybe I’m a brand? Maybe once again I will be brave enough to be as candidly honest as I want to be? Maybe blogging is dead and we should just accept our new reality as content creators?

I don’t have the answers to any of these questions. Just like how I don’t have the gorgeous ribbon to wrap up this post on a high note, like I normally do.

Sometimes life is just messy; It’s heavy on words and feelings and low on picture-perfect memories. It’s emotional and tumultuous and goes far beyond what can be captured in 140 characters or a square picture box. But it’s real. Take comfort in the fact that we’re all in it together, myself included, even if those aren’t the moments we’re sharing on the internet.

So how do you monetize a mess? Here’s the whole-truth, I have no idea.

No questions. Just your thoughts.



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  • Reply
    June 12, 2015 at 8:59 am

    Love this post. We’re all messy and that’s the point. Thanks for sharing ❤️❤️❤️

  • Reply
    Erin @ Erin's Inside Job
    June 8, 2015 at 11:13 am

    It’s posts like these that make you a blogger. I am open about my addiction and recovery on my blog because it is what has made me who I am as a person. It allows me to speak out and have other people identify with the things that make us all human. The ups and downs and struggles. I wouldn’t want to continue blogging if I couldn’t paint a realistic picture of my life and I don’t like reading blogs that never mention anything negative. Some days ARE great and awesome and I want to share about my new certification or a delicious recipe (I have one for dark chocolate sea salt AB on my blog too haha), but other days are hard and I write about those too. Good post!

  • Reply
    lynsey | lynseylovesfood
    June 8, 2015 at 7:52 am

    good post lady! I haven’t read that article in NY mag, but have been thinking about it in the light of snapchat climbing the ranks with bloggers and users. Its ephemeral nature makes it seem less scary to show a bit of the mess – but people love it. It is amazing to me how many people think my dinner always looks like my blog so to let people in on the “mess” is inspiring in itself. We are all trying to do our best. be healthy, get the job done, be awesome – sometimes it is perfect, sometimes not so much, but the destination is the same. love that you shared this. xo

  • Reply
    June 8, 2015 at 6:56 am

    Davida, I think you wrote this beautifully. I can see how tricky it must be to navigate for you. On the one hand your income depends on this “perfect” content but the real you is bursting to get out at times. I personally feel that your balance is brilliant when reading your blog and I never get the impression you are “in it for the money”. What I see is a huge passion, an incredible work ethic and talent. Money aside, blogging is a tricky balance. You don’t want to be all doom and gloom but you can’t just be positive polly sprinkling unicorns around the place as thats just not real. For me, as “woo woo” as it sounds, I just think does this align with my heart, and if the answer is yes then I press POST. Our lives are all beautiful messes 🙂
    P.s. If you ever want to chat about the not so sunshine stuff I am here to listen 🙂

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      June 8, 2015 at 3:16 pm

      You articulated my sentiments better than I ever could! Thank you for your kind and thoughtful comment. And yes I would love to chat! Shoot me an email. Let’s plan a date 🙂

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    June 7, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    I loved this post, mainly because you drew back the curtain on your mess, if only just for a moment. It’s the mess as much as the picture perfect food which appeals to us all. It’s what allows people to relate and without that, it’s just you become only a brand and no longer a person, and where’s the fun in that?!

    I did some posts last week showing the glamour or the brand and then sharing the reality as well. Shit happens. It’s all good or not. Go ahead and be brave and tell us about it. We want to hear it so we can connect with Davida again.

    Also, make it point to work on the work-life balance. That stuff will bite you in the ass when you don’t deal with it and not in a good way either. No love nips, just a chunk of your sanity, and we need to hang onto that stuff.

  • Reply
    Lauren @ The Bikini Experiment
    June 7, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    Great post and it is so true how much blogging has changed. I have improved my photography and it is somethig I want to learn more about I agree that we often feel “insecure” about posts, images, etc. when everything is messy. When blogging started it was all about true life! Food for thought.

  • Reply
    June 6, 2015 at 5:02 am

    I LOVE THIS POST!! Thank you so much for writing it! So often bloggers post the perfectness of life when, as you said, life is messy, homes are messy, and let’s face it kids are messy lol. I love your honesty and how you are speaking up for us bloggers to be honest. And hey, maybe more of us can Monetize our Reality 🙂

  • Reply
    felicia | Dish by Dish
    June 5, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    Davida…Takes courage to show your vulnerability and be so honest about the truth of blogging. I completely agree with you – sometimes too much time spent on Pinterest, instagram and on blogs makes me feel lousy about my own blog – I’m always thinking how can I get better, comparing myself to others, and just feeling like what I do doesn’t count. But your honest words have said it all – blogging should go back to its roots , where it was about the real, honest story telling. Showing life as it really it, not just showing the pretty Instagram-filtered photos. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! You’re a true inspiration!

  • Reply
    Les | Balanced Berry
    June 5, 2015 at 12:41 am

    This post is everything. Taking blogging, social media and the digital world we live in as a whole leaves many of us (myself included) feeling like we need to be “on” 24/7. I think our blogs and brands grow and evolve as we do, following us through all of our seasons of life – even the messy ones. I’ve totally battled between wanting to open up and be more real online vs. feeling like I have to be constantly adding value via content for people to care. Really at the end of the day, our lives, stories and messes can be just as valuable as the recipes and content – just in a different way. Either way, I love what you share with us, and look forward to learning more about you!

  • Reply
    Em @ Love A Latte
    June 4, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    This post makes so much sense. I love when you do posts of just you talking. Don’t get me wrong, I love your recipes too, but your candid posts are what initially drew me in. I’ll follow no matter where you take your posts 🙂

  • Reply
    June 4, 2015 at 8:10 am

    i think you risk it. we are all human messes. and if you are not a mess, then you’re life is probably too boring to blog about or your recipes are bland. Because life, recipes, branding, blogging is all about trial and error. For me, it was a lot of error. I’m am learning to be okay with that, even if it doesn’t monetize. haha. Love you friend. MESSY MAVEN inspiration

  • Reply
    Brittany @ Barr & Table
    June 3, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    I just love this post. I’ve recently felt the need to cut back on blogging because it was the same thing every week. I just didn’t have time to spend on putting recipes, photos, and well thought out posts together because the rest of my (income-making) life was taking over. I think it’s amazing that you’ve been able to quit your 9-5 to make this blog your income-making life, but I also think it’s a great thing to show the real truth. Much love from a smartphone photo-taking blogger 😉

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