To The “Haters”: You Never See The Full Picture, So Please Stop Judging

Last week, The Penny Hoarder, one of the largest personal finance websites in the world with more than 16 million readers, published a profile on me and shared the story of how I quit my full-time job to start my business Jessica Lawlor & Company.

The piece (which has been viewed more than 23,000 times in under a week!) is flawlessly written and edited — shout out to author Jamie Cattanach and the editing team over at The Penny Hoarder. 

I’ve been included in many news articles (especially over the past few months as I’ve ramped up my own PR efforts), but I’ve never been so proud of a media placement. It’s a dream come true to have my story shared on an outlet I love and respect in such a beautiful, raw and transparent way.

The reaction from my community has been nothing short of incredible! From the overwhelming response on my Facebook profile to the flood of traffic to my blog to the nearly 50 new subscribers I’ve welcomed to my email list, plus countless personal emails and messages, I’ve been blown away. (Not to mention grateful.)

One place the response hasn’t been nearly as positive? The Penny Hoarder’s Facebook page

The Penny Hoarder shared the article on their very active Facebook page last night, and already, as of this writing, the post has 500+ likes, 400+ shares and a stream of comments. 

Don’t get me wrong; I’m glad The Penny Hoarder shared my post (the visibility to the article has *way* increased thanks to their posting), but I knew that when they shared, I’d be opening myself up to LOTS of opinions — good, bad and super ugly.

You might even say I have…haters.

A message to the "haters": An online article never tells the full story, so before you judge or leave mean comments, please consider what you don't know.

Some of the comments are upsetting. They make me want to scream, “You don’t even know me! You don’t know my story! Stop judging me!”

It’s easy to get defensive, and I’ve definitely been there. 

However, instead of getting mad, I’ve decided to address some common misconceptions from the article…and share important reminders about the stuff you read on the Internet. 

A 1,000 word article doesn’t tell the whole story

No matter how well-written an article is (and this one is on-point), there simply isn’t enough time or space to fully dive into the nitty-gritty, behind-the-scenes details and background that paint the whole picture of anyone’s personal story.

One Facebook commenter quoted a line from the piece, “First of all, she was able to save up a $40,000 backup fund in case her plans fell through…” and added, “So let’s all get right on that…”

Another wrote, “Guessing she had a boatload of money to live on as she pursued her dreams.”

Fair judgement…sort of.

These commenters immediately dismissed my successes (and struggles) based on one figure they read in a piece. I get it; it’s a big number, and may seem out of reach for some.

So for those wondering, here’s how I was able to save up a $40,000 backup fund, some of which was shared in the story and some of which was not. It wasn’t a pretty process.

  • I’ve been working since I was 16 years old. I’ve almost always worked more than one job at a time, including as I worked my way through college. I’ve worked as a lifeguard, swim instructor, writing tutor, recreation center supervisor, freelance writer, PR professional, yoga teacher and more over the past 13 years I’ve been able to work.
  • I saved my money! My day job salary went to my bills, student loans and every day living) while my freelance earnings went into an account that I didn’t touch for four years. My parents taught me early on the value of saving. They taught me to have goals and to spend wisely. They also taught me a lot about keeping your credit score high, so I’ve thankfully never been in debt.
  • I lived at home leading up to quitting my job at age 27. 

Just remember: an article, book,  TV show, documentary, song, etc. never tells the whole story. Always assume there’s more you don’t know.

What’s luck got to do with it?

Another commenter wrote, “Think some ppl are also just incredibly lucky.”

My friend and fellow writer Blake Atwood reminded me of this quote from Thomas Jefferson:  “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”

Amen, TJ!

I am a firm believer that we create our own luck.

My story is not that of an overnight success. Those who have followed me know that I’ve been at this freelancing thing since 2011. It has been a slow and steady climb over the past several years, and there have been countless moments I’ve wanted to give up and wondered why it wasn’t happening faster.

But here’s the thing: you keep working.

There were early mornings. There were late nights. There were Fridays and Saturdays my family and friends were out and about and I was at home working. There were smart, but difficult choices made like the one to live at home with my family while I saved money. 

So yes, I do count myself lucky. However, more than that, I count myself prepared. I count myself a go-getter with an unstoppable work ethic. I count myself strategic; ready to jump on opportunities as they arise. 

Does luck play a part? Sure, but it’s certainly not the only factor.

Timing is everything

I started my first blog and got on board with social media way back in 2008, when this whole online marketing thing wasn’t what it is today. In fact, I kept that initial blog a secret because I was afraid my friends would think I was weird for writing online! Imagine that.

I’ve been at this a long time — I’ve made some invaluable connections over the years. Yes, this has helped me immensely. 

Being one of the first to do something often presents a unique advantage. 

In regards to me saving money before I quit my job, one commenter wrote, “For some this might be an option, but others have children and families that all their savings go toward.”

To that, I reply: I totally hear you! That’s your situation, and your story, so you’ll need to adapt your goals and milestones accordingly.

But for me? I don’t have any kids right now. The article clearly explains I’m a single 29-year-old woman, so I happen to have timing on my side at the moment. And I’ve had that timing on my side as I initially grew my freelance business, too, since I started at a pretty young age.

Will there be a day I won’t be able to save as much for my personal rainy day fund? Absolutely. And when that day comes, I’ll adapt too.

But for me, that day isn’t today.

“Hug your haters”

Jay Baer wrote a book called Hug Your Haters, and I couldn’t agree with his sentiment more. 

While I absolutely love the kind words from my community and am so grateful for the support they give me, I also thank my haters. Weird, right?

These comments fuel me. They drive me. They push me to keep going.

To keep authentically sharing my story.

The story I’m insanely proud of.

Everyone’s path is different

My story is not your story. And that’s what makes life beautiful.

It appears some folks turn to stories like this one hoping for a blueprint or an all-encompassing step-by-step guide to quitting your job and starting your own business.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that.

We all need to create our own paths. It doesn’t look the same for everyone.

Sure, let yourself be inspired by the stories you read. Let these stories motivate you to take action.

But, please, don’t judge. 

The next time you read an article on the internet and want to share your opinion, by all means, go for it (healthy debate is awesome!), but first, take a step back.

Ask yourself, “Is my comment coming from a place of jealousy? Is it coming from a place of ignorance? Do I understand the full scope of this article? Is something perhaps missing here?”

And if you can’t confidently answer these questions, why add your voice to the fire?

Because really, life is too short to be mean. And it’s certainly way too short to hate on others. 

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From Side Hustle to CEO: A Year 2, Quarter 2 Update & Income Breakdown

In 2015, I resigned from my job working in public relations to take my side hustle (freelancing, blogging and teaching) full time. Throughout my first year in business, I documented every step in my Becoming CEO series. I wrote monthly reports documenting my income, lessons learned and highs and lows. As I enter year two, I’m no longer “Becoming CEO.” I am the CEO! Expect quarterly updates with all the behind-the-scenes details you’ve come to love and expect on my journey from side hustle to CEO, along with regular pop-ins on solopreneurship, running a business, productivity and more. 

[Did you miss my Q1 update? Catch it here]

From Side Hustle to CEO: A Year 2, Quarter 2 Update & Income Breakdown

Let’s take a look at Q2 of my second year in business, including a detailed income breakdown, lessons learned and more.

How Did I Make Money in Q2? An Income Breakdown

Here’s an income breakdown of how exactly I made money during the second quarter of my second year in business.


A couple of key thoughts and reflections:

  • Most importantly, my income increased by 27 percent from Q1! Wow. I was *not* expecting that to happen!
  • Writing made a triumphant return in Q2, and I couldn’t be happier about it! I was super excited when a former client from years ago reached out to re-engage on a writing assignment for a magazine. Then, I was even more thrilled when I landed a new writing client through a relationship developed from this very blog’s newsletter. Amazing! This blogging stuff really does work, people! It was SO fun to get back to feature writing; being handed an assignment, interviewing sources and figuring out the best way to tell a story. I have even more writing lined up for Q3, so expect to see writing back in the income breakdowns moving forward.
  • No consulting this month! Consulting is a service I’m not super proactive about pushing to get more clients. My approach here has been to sit back and offer consulting as an option when a prospective client isn’t looking for retainer work, or is too small of a project to take on otherwise. I’m definitely open to consulting in the second half of the year, but I’m content with my income breakdown thus far without it too. 
  • Content management continues to grow, especially as I recently added on even more services with one of my content management clients. I’m still on the hunt for one more content management client, but I’m thrilled with the way this area of my business is growing.
  • Interestingly, writing and yoga brought in nearly the same amount of income in Q2, yet my writing projects maybe took up six hours of my time, whereas yoga probably took up more than 50 hours of time. This makes sense, as teaching yoga isn’t the most profitable area of my business, but this is a good reminder to me that I can spend LESS time working and earn MORE money, if I’m strategic about how and where I spend my time. Teaching yoga is one of my passions, so I’m happy to spend the time, but perhaps I’ll aim to take on more writing in Q3 and Q4.

Lessons Learned From Q2

  • Treat yourself like you would treat a client. It’s SO easy to forget about your own marketing and business development when you’re busy taking care of clients. However, I know the only reason my business continues to grow is because I continue to put myself and my marketing at the top of my to-do list. In Q2, this meant putting on the PR hat I wear so often for my clients and doing it for myself! You’ll hear more about exactly what I did in a future blog post, but I put together a pitch centered around entrepreneurship and graduation season, and already three amazing articles, including this one from The Penny Hoarder, this one from Business News Daily and this one from my alma mater have come out and have done wonders for my business. Take the time to market yourself; it’s incredibly important.
  • Get out of the damn apartment and talk to some humans. I’ve mentioned before that being a solopreneur can be lonely from time to time. Days can go by that I don’t speak to a single soul since most of my work is done online. I made it a point in Q2 to get out of my apartment and meet with fellow business owners and just plain good people to connect with. I spent many afternoons working from Temple University, coffee shops and my new gym. It’s nice to get out of my quiet apartment and actually be part of the busy world around me. 
  • Professional development is still important, even though I’m solo. I didn’t take much time in my first year of business or in Q1 of this year for my own professional development. In Q2, I attended a blogging conference and a social media conference, both of which inspired and reinvigorated me to challenge myself and keep on learning. I LOVED school and love learning, so making a point to get to seminars and conferences is going to be key for me moving forward. Not only are these types of events great for inspiration, they’re also awesome for networking and reconnecting.

The Highs and Lows from Q2

There are always going to be good days and of course, there will always be not-so-hot days. Here are the things that made me smiley and excited over the past few months, along with some challenges I faced.

The Highs:

  • I launched a public speaking page here on my website.
  • I completed a much-needed update of my portfolio. You can check out all my up-to-date work here!
  • I spoke to the PennSuburban Chamber of Greater Montgomery County — what an awesome group!
  • I spent time each week connecting with fellow business owners. 
  • I reconnected with a former client and also landed a brand new writing client.
  • Attending The Blog Connect Conference gave me a very necessary boost of inspiration to focus on my blog. I’m super excited about changes in the works.
  • I joined an amazing new gym; one with an awesome cafe that I’ve been working out of a lot lately.
  • I completed my second term as president of the Temple Women’s Network and started a term with the Temple University Alumni Association, keeping myself connected to my alma mater.
  • I got serious about doing some PR for myself and landed some awesome (and business-changing) media placements. See above!

The Lows:

  • Boy did I struggle with loneliness in Q2. Luckily, I realized it quickly and sprung into action to get out and network more.
  • There were a few days in Q2 I questioned if running a business was really the right choice for me. I started to doubt myself and wondered if life would be easier if I went back and got a full-time job again. Thank goodness I snapped out of that one pretty quickly!

Blog Posts Published in Q2

Catch up on blog posts you may have missed from Q2

Big Blog Changes Are Coming (Or, Why It’s OK To Do Whatever the Hell You Want On Your Blog)

I’m Having a “Pinch Myself” Moment: 6 Perks of Being Your Own Boss

It’s Not Always Sexy: 7 Things That Really Suck About Running a Business

From Side Hustle to CEO: A Year 2, Quarter 1 Update & Income Breakdown

The Brutally Honest Truth About What Happens When You Turn Your Passions Into Your Career

Behind-The-Scenes of the Launch of The Writer’s Bundle (And How You Can Grab $1,667 worth of writing resources for $99)

Have any questions about Q2? I’d love to answer your questions and hear your thoughts about this journey!

Want more gutsy content delivered straight to your inbox twice a month? Be sure to sign up for my FREE #GetGutsy e-newsletter filled with inspiration, ideas and action items to get out of your comfort zone.