Expecting Ripples and Getting a Riptide

A year ago this weekend, I pushed publish on a new version of my same old site. Since 2007, laurenchorpening.com (before that, laurenjanelle.blogspot.com), had been my personal website with professional links and calls to work with me sprinkled here and there. After Austin and I got married, it seemed time to put laurenchorpening.com to bed and rebrand with a new website and a new name. And since Austin's skill set works so well with mine, we decided to launch it as a team, a one stop shop for beautiful styling and photography, FERN. I figured launching it when I did would allow us to grow it slowly over time so that in 5 years, it could be a main source of income.

I switched from Wordpress to Squarespace since I stopped caring about coding and just wanted it to be simple and pretty. I added credited pictures from recent editorial and design projects, wrote new copy about loving interiors, photoshoots and weddings and how I wanted to do more of that. As a freelancer with steady editorial work 3+ days a week, I was looking to increase traffic and hopefully fill those extra 2 days.

The thing is, I didn't convey this well. Immediately it was seen as this brand new business offering brand new services. But it was just us, doing what we had always done. But together. We published the website on a Saturday, I went to work the next Monday and then Tuesday received an email saying I had compromised my job by launching this new site. I was so stunned. Earlier that day I had received my first client inquiry on the site and was celebrating when I opened the email that took our only steady income away. I felt empty. I felt like I was drowning. What were we going to do now? That night we watched the entire series of Stranger Things and pretended life wasn't falling apart a month after our wedding day.

The unexpected free time allowed me to push forward with bigger, loftier goals and for a few months, it kept me distracted. But health problems started getting worse and things looked bleak for a while. Returning back to FERN reminded me of what I was trying to do when I launched this more professional site -- draw in new work. Instead of pushing away from the perception that this was going to be my full-time, only business, I started to embrace it.

It looks different than I imagined. It has transformed from a back-up plan to the only plan. FERN is a big umbrella of creative services and while even today when someone asked me how FERN was going, I deflected that I'm personally hired for some jobs and FERN as a business is hired for some jobs, I have to remember that this truly was laurenchorpening.com a year ago. It is me. It is Austin. I need to own it. A year ago, I had lost my only consistent income and an editorial job I loved. Now I'm busy every day of the work week, feeling healthy, in control and mentally strong. I didn't expect the click of a button to push me into this as much as it did, but I am so thankful for how God has used it.

Who knows how FERN will continue to grow, change, evolve how it needs to this year. Who knows if that's even what it will be called forever. I don't recommend losing your job because of wording on your freelance website, but I do recommend stepping out in faith and seeing where it takes you.

lauren