This post was made possible through a partnership with Disney for Disney Social Media Moms Celebration.
Back in the country and mostly coherent, so buckle up for some updates on where we’ve been and what we’ve been up to!
By now you’ve probably seen the details of our time at Disney Social Media Moms 2018 through our coverage on Instagram—the amazing VIP experiences, the general Disney excitement, swag galore, etc.
While I usually start by sharing an overview of our time at Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, I wanted to share our experience from a different angle this year.
We went into Disney Social Media Moms with a lot of questions swirling around us—not about the conference or Disney World (we’re well-versed in many things Disney)—but about our online presence, the story we wanted to tell and the direction we want to take moving forward.
Since first making our family blog public years ago it’s gone through multiple evolutions as our family has evolved. What started as a blog to detail everything we were going through as a high-functioning special needs family of two very little ones evolved into a combination of daily ADHD family life and the travels we found so valuable to our growth individually and as a family unit.
Yet, over the last two years especially, I’ve found myself wondering what story we wished to tell as things continued to change. I found myself feeling pressured to create a certain type of content; to compete in a sense with other family bloggers posting beautifully curated, magazine-worthy photos of “daily life”; and to allow ourselves to be at the beck and call of some of the travel-related brands we worked with at times that made some of our frequent travels possible.
It started to feel as though I had to struggle to capture more organic, authentic moments within the rigid demands of brands and social media platform analytics. It felt like our blog was becoming less about us and more about everyone else—their wants, demands and pressures.
We’ve never been all about brand deals, but even in working with the short list we chose to we still felt the pressure.
Clarity, At Last!
Going to Disney Social Media Moms I was questioning a lot and I’m happy to say I found a moment of clarity and walked away with an answer to the biggest question on my mind—what kind of content do we want to create moving forward?
Ironically, the answer didn’t come while riding a Banshee through Pandora (though that was certainly a highlight for us) or gliding through the ocean at sunset aboard the Disney Dream (though that didn’t hurt either). It came while sitting in a session directed by David Roarke—Disney photographer since the early 80s. While his presentation may not have been as flashy as some of the others we sat in, it was the one that captured my attention the most and lit a fire in me. Roarke showed us some of his work, discussing some of the challenges and successes he experienced capturing shots of such a magical place that at times required a little more than a little finessing to truly translate the whimsy and wonder of Disney in one frame.
While I was enthralled by his entire presentation—photography truly is one of my passions—he really caught me when he said something about capturing emotions and “real moments”. That’s what I had set out to do in the beginning. That’s what I did for no one but our family back when our oldest was a baby and I photographed him (finally) napping, running gleefully down the beach at sunset (typically away from us hoping we’d chase him) and building a car out of nothing but boxes wearing little less than a diaper and hat.
I love capturing emotions. I love photography that transports you to a moment in time. I love real-life moments like this.
There was my problem.
For a number of reasons, I’d taken a left turn somewhere that had led me down a path of taking more pictures of marble bathrooms and white bedding than of my kiddos enjoying their surroundings. Yes, I still captured a beautiful moment here and there, but so much of my time and attention was being pulled in another direction.
You simply can’t be as present when you’re busy analyzing and planning out your moments for others’ consumption.
I walked away from that session feeling a strong sense of affirmation that, that was the direction we needed to move towards. We needed to tell part of our story as it was unfolding without total pre-planning. We needed to capture authentic bits of it through photography and written word.
When you’ve created content for long enough, especially in today’s social media and blogging climate, you can become a slave to numbers, brands and the pressure to achieve a certain type of success.
The thing is, success often comes at a price. You often lose a moderate amount of control of your story in order to achieve it. You find yourself analyzing numbers more than asking yourself how you feel about your content.
With the realization that these were the changes we needed to make came the acceptance that we may never reach what other bloggers or the industry or even friends or family might call “success”; but it’s the right choice for us. It’s a direction I won’t regret moving towards down the road.
I want to be present. I don’t want to be pressured by myself or anyone else to post a certain type of content or to create moments instead of capturing the real ones.
Patrick and I discussed this in depth several times during and after Disney Social Media Moms and he felt the same way. This was what was right for our family and for our online presence. This was where we wanted to put our energy.
We know full well that this may translate to less followers, less views and less people wanting to work with us. That stinks! But on the plus side, the people and brands left that still have an interest in us will be there because they want to share a real part of our story and that means something to us.
So there you go! That was my big revelation and moment of clarity in the middle of the tornado of pixie dust that is Disney Social Media Moms.