For a while now. I’ve noticed this frustrating discussion about family and friends not supporting close ones’ businesses or endeavors. Although this is painfully true in some cases, especially from my experience, we have to shift this way of thinking. This may be hard to do, but we must stop expecting family and friends to support what we’re doing.
When I first started my website, the only people I could reach was my family and friends because I didn’t have a concrete audience yet. I had this high expectation that I’ll have a bunch of likes and comments on social media, and start conversations with a lot of people—but of course, none of that happened. A few months into my blogging journey, I began paying for ads on Facebook and Instagram, educated myself on SEO (google search engines algorithm), and my audience grew. When I noticed people who I didn’t know, find me through Google or social media, and sent me feedback and comments that I thought family and friends would give me, I felt accomplished because my writing was able to reach people who I wasn’t initially talking to. That was the moment I started writing for an audience, and invited family and friends on the journey with me. I had to let go of the expectation that my loved ones will support everything I do, for the sake of my well-being and theirs, because they simply don’t have to.
I felt the stress and frustration wear off when I stopped trying to think of ideas, solely for the people who are closest to me, and graciously more family and friends showed out because I had an audience. My mom is rarely on the internet, so I tend to read her some of my posts when she wants to hear them. I’m not going to be upset when she’s not interested in one or a few posts, because she’s not obligated to understand and like everything that I do. However, I’m extremely grateful that my blog and website is interesting to her, and I’m still surprised every time a friend of mine, a former professor, or a co-worker shares, likes, and compliments a blog post. Support is rare these days unfortunately, especially during the beginning stages, but the goal is to not let that stop me from writing.
On the other hand, my support for family and friends has been more visible over the last few months, but I’m not perfect and I strive to be better at it. A few weeks ago, I attended a live show for Boston Come Through, a podcast show, event hub, and blog, which centers around two amazing Boston creatives as they spotlight Black Boston events weekly, and talk about their journeys as entrepreneurs. One of the co-hosts, Crystal, is one of my colleagues who I met at our alma mater, Suffolk University. Despite that connection, I was actually drawn to the topics they were discussing, and the other co-host, Genevieve, runs a blog, so I was interested in hearing her journey as a fellow Black female blogger in Massachusetts. During their one year anniversary live show, I was announced as their Listener of the Year (which shocked me) because I was very consistent in commenting during their weekly Facebook Lives, sharing their pages and events, and simply being a fan.
Although my support started with knowing one of the hosts, their conversations and sisterly chemistry kept my interest. Their platform is so important, especially for people outside of Massachusetts who don’t see much of a Black presence in the state. If I didn’t know Crystal, I would have probably heard about the show later on, but that interest would still be as strong as it is now.
I know so many people with businesses, music careers, and blogs, and I try my best to support in any way I can—and if I can’t financially support them, I tell others about them. However, I know that I’m not able to support every single person that I know, and I shouldn’t have to carry any guilt, or act like it’s an obligation. No one deserves to feel like they can’t receive genuine feedback or support from their close ones, and I refuse to be that person who isn’t genuine. With that mindset, I understand why I may not receive support from everyone that I know, and I get it. Plus, I’m sure some people who once knew Beyonce, Chadwick Boseman, Bill Gates, Kim Kardashian, and a few other public figures in their beginning stages, didn’t support them at all. I wonder how many former classmates of former President Barack Obama, voted for his opponents. I have to look it that way whenever I notice that lack of support. It doesn’t mean to stop writing, it just means I have a lot of work to do to reach more people.
I’m incredibly grateful for my closest friends and family who genuinely and willingly support my blog by sharing it on their platforms, helping me with pictures, and providing constructive advice that helps me grow. Even if it’s one person or thirty people, I don’t take their support for granted at all.
So, if you do have a business, blog, or any type of platform that you’re trying to grow, don’t limit your audience to just your loved ones and acquaintances. Join Facebook groups, online forums, follow other people in your area who do similar work as you, and build your audience around that. The people who genuinely want to support you will come, so don’t take it personally if you can’t reach a neighbor or family member.