How much is TOO much???? (on my soapbox again!)

Where does one ‘draw the line’ when it comes to sharing the ‘secrets of their success’ and helping others find similar success?  

I’ve started and stopped this same post at least a dozen times.  ONE of those times I think I actually DID follow through and post it and ask for your thoughts on whether you thought I was ‘being stingy with my talents and sharing of information’ OR if a certain person was simply asking TOO MUCH of me, and for FREE.

I REALLY struggle with this, probably MORE than you can imagine.  And the ‘line’ is so nebulous.  I can’t really TELL you where the line is.  But I can sure FEEL it, when someone crosses it.

So here’s the latest ‘inquiry’:

I find your spaces very inspiring. Both for home decorating and for something I might want to do later in my life. I am curious and I know it really isn’t any of my business, but are you making money at it now, or still building a business? I know the rental on your spaces is spendy, but there are so many benefits to having a space rather than an actual shop. Mostly, how much fun are you having? It looks like you really enjoy “curating” your shop. Do you spend a lot of time promoting it? There is so much I hope you will share. Do you read about decorating? What does your home look like? Are there areas you consider branching into? I enjoy your blog. I keep it on Feedly.

Should I just ‘accept the compliment’ and ignore the rest of it?  Should I feel obligated to share the requested info with this person?  Am I being stingy if I DON’T share the requested info?

THIS is one of those times when I feel someone has really ‘crossed the line’.  I feel . . . somehow . . . violated by how much personal info they have so flippantly asked for.  They say they know that it really isn’t any of their business, but do they REALLY know that???  Or are they just padding their requests a bit in hopes that I will feel obligated to share more.

And the thing IS, I really and truly do not mind answering questions from my blog readers.  I really don’t.  Asking how I did this or where to buy that or what is the name of that color; I don’t mind!

But asking for a blow by blow accounting of how I spend my time and money is just over the line!  I think the last one that sent me to my soapbox was someone who wanted decorating advice for a bathroom.  A complete STRANGER to me, sincerely believed that I would and SHOULD, privately consult with her on how to redecorate her bathroom?!?!

The thing is, if it was someone I KNEW, who lived close enough for me to actually GO to their house, I wouldn’t mind at all!  Is that hypocritical of me??

Does the anonymity of the internet just make it TOO easy to approach a complete stranger with such requests?

I sincerely feel that I am more than generous in what I share in my blog.  What makes ‘some people’ feel that they are entitled to MORE?!?!?

I’m just befuddled.  Totally befuddled!

Published in: on July 29, 2013 at 2:22 pm  Comments (28)  
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  1. I think that in my case, I asked you questions because I am trying to start my crafting business and I am always curious as to whether someone does it for a living. I hope I didn’t offend you when I asked that question awhile back. If I did I apologize! I truly enjoy your blog posts and am very impressed with your creativeness and your space at Stars. I wish I lived close enough to visit!
    As for all the other questions that person asked, I do feel it over the line. Sharing your talent is very inspirational but asking that many questions is kind of ridiculous. You are not their personal decorator or advisor. Go with the compliment and ignore the rest. There is really no nice way of saying “none of your business”. And if they want to learn how you do something, that is what the internet and youtube is for! I look up tons of stuff on there when I have an idea. Keep up the good work! You inspire me every day!

  2. You should not feel obligated to answer such in-depth questions and requests. Would be best to ignore or just post a minimum helpful answer and go on. It’s hard to ignore some things, but anytime we put ourselves “out there” it seems this is what happens. Hope it is only a once in a while happening. Thank you for your interesting blog. People should just read it and not ask you to reveal your inside information.

  3. I agree with livinonfaith. You are not obligated to answer such personal questions. Sometimes when we read a blog everyday and identify with the blogger so much then we begin feeling warmth and friendship almost like a bff when we have not even met the person. I hope that might be the case with your questioner and that she is just unaware of how out of line she is.

  4. I think that you should have been honest in your answer, but not given too much detail… I don’t know that person, but i have asked questions of a blogger not to try to pry, but to better understand what they do and how I can do something for my family, NOT to make money or take away their business. I am a bit naive, i think… but that’s what I think..

    Sincerely, Michelle Martínez

  5. I have enjoyed your wonderful site for a couple of yours. It has given me the ability to think outside the box. I have been a furniture refinisher for 20+ yrs. I feel blessed to have someone who is willing to share and give insite freely. I have people that want the information that has been earn with blood, sweat and cash to be given “freely”. I am in the south east and what works here is different. But with work comes education.

  6. This is someone who admires you , And you only have to reply to what you want to . So let it go , it’s only asking too much if you let it be too much . She wants to do what you do and is wondering if it is worth it .

  7. You should be flattered that they find your life so intriquing.Having owned a retail store for 25 years I think it is just lack of knowledge for most.I was always willing to share as long as it did not hurt my business.Some topics(money etc) can be answered vaguely or not at all.You can’t fix stupid but you can guide those who show some interet.Personly as I read your blog I wonder how you find the time to do it all…Zgood luck

  8. I am very sorry that you found it offensive. After reading your post and rereading my questions, I see what you mean. It sounded like I wanted you to tell me everything in your head. I would like to think that 1. You are making money at it, because I would like you to be successful, 2. That you enjoy your spaces and it uplifts your day to work in them. Yes, I’m nosey. And you have absolutely no obligation to answer any of it. And no, it’s not my business. Usually I am not such a pushy person at all. But thank you for writing what you did. It tells me that I need to mind my own business. So I will.

    • It’s not that I found your line of questions OFFENSIVE. It was a bit intrusive, and therefore left me feeling befuddled; AS IF I don’t already share ENOUGH?!?!?

      To answer ALL your questions would take an entire day of typing. I just don’t understand what made you feel ENTITLED to the time and individualized attention it would have taken me to personally and individually answer ALL those questions?!?!

      I take the time to write this blog SPECIFICALLY TO be of help and encouragement to others. I want to INSPIRE others to re-use and re-purpose items that they might have otherwise thrown away.

      But honestly, the ‘rest of that stuff’ that you asked about is pretty much stuff you NEED to learn for yourself. There is no ‘pat answer’ to those questions. What works for ME, what’s popular HERE, has nothing to do with what might work for YOU where you live.

      This is a ‘learn as you go’ kind of ‘business’ (or hobby or life-stlye . . . whichever YOU choose) I HAVE given you LOADS of good advice and ideas and inspiration. The rest of the ‘recipe for your success’ has to come from WITHIN you.

      I’ll say it again, I really DON’T mind being asked questions. SIMPLE questions though. Questions that I can quickly answer. Questions with answers that will also be beneficial to others who read my blog.

      A LOT of what you’ve asked HAS already been answered previously elsewhere in my blog; and could be found by spending some time researching older posts.

      I probably DID overreact at bit. Your inquiry just happened to be the ‘straw that broke the camels back’ I guess. So PLEASE, don’t take it TOO personally. But please DO, give more thought to what you are asking of someone in the future BEFORE you put it in writing. Stop for a moment and consider “How long would it take them to really ANSWER these questions?”

      Best of luck to you. Sincerely!

  9. I agree with the first two replies. You are not obligated to respond to such personal questions. However you do share personal things with your readers, such as your health, home decor,projects, etc. Like Linda says, perhaps the writer feels close to you as if you were a friend. However, her questions are much too personal. Best you ignore them and just take her requests as a compliment to how close your followers feel about you.

  10. I agree too. Accept the compliment, answer a few not-so-personal questions, and leave it at that. I can tell just by reading your blogs that you really enjoy what you do, so don’t let this get you too frustrated! Just keep doing what you love!

  11. Here’s the problem. Since you present things in a personal way, people tend to think of you as a personal friend and therefore removed boundaries that normally they would observe. You have not had that personal contact with “us” besides writing to the great beyond. Realize that you have really made a very personal connection with people and some just have no boundaries at all (the bathroom decorating)… Just because THEY don’t, doesn’t me you don’t. Answer those questions you choose to, mumble and grumble to yourself about the rudeness and just step over those types of comments. Just as you would if she called. Some people are just thoughtless. You have every right to ignore those comments and don’t feel guilty about it.

  12. Perhaps she feels that she knows you and that she can ask you these questions because she has been following your blog. We are never obligated to answer anyone. Her request felt like she looks up to you and trusts you. That’s how I read it. Only answer what you feel comfortable. I enjoy following your blog and look forward to each new post 😀 – Teresa

  13. Perhaps they are just starting out themselves, and need some info from someone they have seen succeed. I was told in a business course to do that. Ask people you respect how and whys of their business so you can learn. I reread their question twice and honestly I would be flattered if someone asked me those questions. I think they are genuinely interested in how you go about doing what you do, and I can’t see anything about it that indicates they want something for nothing. I know on other blogs people go into a lot of detail about how they ‘found’ something, how much time they spent on it, how they cost out the item, how difficult it is in times of recession, they’ll show their home and talk about their life etc. I can’t see anything in it that is mean or wanting. I think they are genuinely just curious about you as a person. You, can take it as you choose, it’s your blog!

  14. I for one love your blog and look forward to seeing what you are doing. You are an inspiration to me. I receive your new posts in an email. Even though I do not know you in person I look forward to your new posts. In this digital age sometime we forget that we really do not know this or that person but you are part of my everyday life.

  15. I had to close my booth in Southeast Missouri a few months ago due to returning to work full time to get health insurance. Your blog and your inspiration increased my revenue by about 30%.

    I love your creativity, your work and your dedication to re purposing neglected items. I would encourage anyone that wants more than the wealth of information you already so generously provide to purchase your e books.

    Thank you for sharing. Thank you for encouraging us to recycle, reclaim and re purpose.

  16. Hmmm tricky. If in any doubt, I’d just answer the bits you are happy to share and politely say that the rest is personal, but thanks for the interest. People are genuinely interested, especially if they are thinking of making life changes themselves, but your blog is for your own pleasure too, not just to please others and become public property in all aspects of your life. You ARE already generous in what you give us, so keep it simple – don’t feel guilty for politely saying “whoa!” and stating where the line is. Kate x

  17. I do think sometimes you share too much in the means that it could create competition and cut into your business. That said, it’s okay to share but keep some secrets. This particular inquiry does cross the line, but just smile, that’ll them for the compliment, and say you spend lots of time and don’t make near enough. That’s an honest answer….

  18. After reading these replies, it brought to mind a situation I had myself. I had a group of people that came for Native American Drumming – meditation thru using drumming as a vehicle to travel on. I went to extensive and expensive classes to learn this and developed a technique which was unusual and very helpful for people. As a big part of the drumming was instruction, I made up instruction sheets to help new people and at the end I would interpret information they received. A woman I knew from other studies, called me from Calif. and said she was starting her own drumming group (she had never been to mine) and asked for instruction sheets, how and why I did things, WHAT did I do ( as she had never been there). To say I was offended was an understatement. I had given every week for 15 years of my time along with many, many extra hours to people that had experienced this. For someone to think it was ok to ask this of me was so offensive and intrusive. Just because you share what you choose to, doesn’t mean you are obligated to go beyond that.

    • Thanks for sharing your story Patti! It IS nice to know that I am not the only one that this happens to; AND that the ‘intrusive befuddlement’ I felt was not just a figment of my imagination.

      Such a overblown sense of entitlement may get some of these people where they want to go FASTER, but they will not have any STAYING POWER. Some things can ONLY be learned the HARD WAY!


  19. AJ,
    I understand your frustrations. I’m one of those folks who, as you may have figured out, who is afraid of taking the first steps without going in depth with research. There are genuine people who do extensive research before jumping into things but then there are the others who leach off a persons talents & knowledge for whatever motive that’s driving them. I believe the majority of our lives we are dealing with perspectives. In this instance, while I agree this person crossed a line regarding your finances, I believe they were complimenting you. At least from my perspective, as I love your work and personal sense of style & design. It is something you have that no one else has although it can be emmulated. I believe it can never fully have the essence you are gifted to bring to the work unless you inject what you do into the project. I feel you are certainly within your rights to accept the compliment & let the rest roll on down without response. It’s then when you will find out…she/he will become either more insistent or fall away into cyberville.

    Jmho, not necessarily a right one…lol! I’ll be happy to find out your email is fixed. I owe you a new update on my ongoing saga. ;-]

  20. Oh, I can relate! I make and sell a household item on my Etsy shop that, while not quite unique, I have refined to the point that it is identifiable to my shop and is quite beautiful, with steady sales.

    I had an email recently from a homeschooling “stay at home mom” asking detailed, technical questions about how I make the item. Why? Because she’s opening an Etsy shop and wants to sell the same thing to teach her children “how a home business can make money”! I was flabbergasted. Not only did she expect I would tell her how to make my item (which has taken me many many hours to perfect), but as a result she would be in direct competition with my shop!

    (The implication that I would share because it was an educational experience for her family fell flat with me, too, as unfortunately for her I’m a mom with a full-time job at a public school and get a little tired of women who identify themselves first as SAHM’s.)

    I just didn’t respond.

    Thanks for letting me vent. I think you share an incredible amount of useful information and are more than generous in that way. I enjoy your blog and sometimes “save” a new post until I can really sit down and enjoy it. Love that you include so many photos, before-and-afters, etc. It’s inspiring but I enjoy watching all your hard work (the sanding!) and other than my specific craft, I can be an “armchair crafter’ in other areas by reading your blog. Thanks for sharing! (But only to your comfort point to answer your blog question.)

  21. Seriously – I’m flabbergasted that someone would go that far. I think you share so much and that is why I love your blog! However, I would never ask something unless I intended something for your benefit as well. I have to admit – that was too much. No you are not expected to give away all your hard earned secrets in the business. That is why there are books written on this subject. Also – tutorials cost money – and exactly what you do – upcycling – people charge for information. I am a sharer of information (not on this subject, but on the subject of advocacy and resources with regard to individuals with autism, mental retardation and other disabilities. There are many parents that i have come across that will find a great resource for their child, but keep it a secret so it doesnt get too busy or whatever. If I find something, I will share it with as many want to know about. That is what puts such a sour taste in my moutn. I advocated freely for many years and it is hard to see people charge the rate of an attorney per hour for advocacy services… Good luck to you – you deserve to feel exactly the way you are feeling – no guilt. xox

  22. Frankly, I think we all are entitled to our feelings. Touchy or not! I would also say the written word has a tendency to be misunderstood sometimes. Many is the time I have erased comments I’ve made as I felt it was possible to be misunderstood. I’m sure the original person that sent the inquiry regrets the comments and maybe it’s a heads up to be a little more tactful and thoughtful of others privacy. When you don’t see a person’s face, you don’t know how they take what you say. Different locals have different ideas. What is normal up North to be more aggressive and intrusive, is more offensive down South. In Illinois, we drove down to Southern Il. I said Good Morning to a man and was totally ignored, yet my partner saying the same was warmly greeted. Women apparently are not addressed by men as I found out in several situations. I stepped over THEIR line by talking to them. Finding this infringement I was quite offended, but watching it in action in restaurants and the like, found it wasn’t personal to me.. I think the point of bringing this up has been made and arguments made on both sides. Interesting discussion

  23. Well, I just had to write about the person’s comment, about your 1st posting and your reply and also about the comments of others.
    I don’t want you to be offended, but I totally agree with Ria on July 29. I really didn’t see anything offensive about what was written. She did not ask for your tax return info, she just ask if you were making money doing what you do and if you were enjoying it. I really believe as Ria stated, that she was just asking the things she asked because she respects you & feels like you are a friend and was just curious about your life.
    I really didn’t see anything offensive about the things she asked…and then she even wrote back apologizing to you if you felt offended and your answer was even then, rather harsh.
    When you write a blog, as some of the others commented, people feel like you are their friend…even though YOU don’t know them. Perhaps that was the way this person felt. She respects you and just wanted to know more about your life. I would have taken this all as a compliment…I certainly wouldn’t have had the reaction that you had.
    If someone asks you for specific information about something that you alone make, because they want to make money from it (like the woman above that had the etsy shop) then that is a totally different thing and questions like that do not deserve an answer, but I truly feel that this person was only wanting to find out more about your life because she is a fan…that’s the price of fame, I guess. 🙂

    • How many times and how many different ways do I have to say “I was not OFFENDED.” Being offended is NOT the issue, so PLEASE stop putting words in my mouth, And PLEASE understand that you are taking this isolated incident ENTIRELY OUT OF CONTEXT. This person’s questions was simply ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’ and caused me to be so BEFUDDLED.

  24. I am not looking to raise a storm of CONTROVERSY here, but really…

    This person SIMPLY asked if you LIKED what you were doing, and if OVERALL it was WORTH the time, energy and money that you have INVESTED in what you do? Fair enough QUESTIONS, especially to someone who keeps a blog and, therefore, is in the PUBLIC EYE…

    She was NOT asking for your tax return, merely for a few nice, simple, kind WORDS of ENCOURAGEMENT… such as “Dear Reader, THANK YOU for sending me those QUESTIONS! Indeed, I LOVE WHAT I AM DOING! It has been TOUGH, but ABSOLUTELY worth the EFFORT. I wish you the best with your FUTURE plans, and again, THANK YOU for your continuing SUPPORT in reading my blog… (for without you, Dear Reader/Customer, I would not be where I am).”

    SIMPLIFY conflict.

  25. I just found your blog and have really been enjoying reading it. And I can totally relate to your “sound off”‘ posts. I also write a blog and the very first comment I ever received was an extremely negative and nasty one. I almost deleted it but then I thought, “they put it out there, I will leave it and let it speak for itself’. That plan worked quite well and actually resulted in a lot of support from others who thought it was completely ridiculous. And the endless questions-I can relate there too. I worked in my family’s retail store for 20+ years and one of the phone calls I hated most was when people would call and ask, “what all do you have to sell”. “Really? How about you just save us both a lot of time and come visit and see it for yourself.” Keep up the good work and thanks for all that you share!

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