Episode #126: Our Holiday Special … All the Details!

This week, we are talking about the crazy random idea we had to create a holiday special! We will be giving you the behind-the-scenes scoop, and the crazy twists and turns it took before releasing it.


You can stream the episode here on the blog or on iTunesSpotifyGoogle PlayTuneInPocket Casts, and Stitcher. You can find the podcast posts archive here.

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Show notes:

-Click here to watch the A Beautiful Mess Holiday Special

Segments:

Outfit Links: Mrs. Claus / Plaid Thermals / Giant Christmas Tree / Old Fashioned Mrs. Claus / Pink and Red Elf / Disco Sequin Dress / Sequin Blazer / Headbands

P.S. Be sure to join our email list to get updates from Elsie!


Episode 126 Transcript

Emma: You’re listening to the A Beautiful Mess Podcast. Today we are sharing all about our holiday special. We created this with our podcast listeners in mind and the story behind it is pretty well, it’s full of twists and turns. I’ll put it that way. But we love how this special turned out and we hope it adds a little bit of joy to your holiday season.

Elsie: Yes, I’m so excited for everyone to finally watch it.

Emma: Yes, me too. We are actually recording this episode again because there were so many things that changed from when we recorded. We were kind of like recording it in faith and that didn’t work out this time. 

Elsie: It doesn’t always work out. Yeah, this is one of those episodes where you get to hear about our big fails. We know you like that. We know it’s one of the categories you love to hear and honestly, it’s kind of a funny story. I think I already think it’s funny. 

Emma: We’ll get to the failure part in a little bit but the day that we found out about the big failure part, Elsie was pretty, I was calling her I was so sad, and she was like, well, this is going to be a great story. Silver lining. Anyway, so let’s back up though, and tell listeners a little bit how we came up with this idea. Why we wanted to do a holiday special. Tell them a little bit of the backstory of the original thing that happened that was the catalyst for this.

Elsie: Okay, back at the beginning of our quarantine, so in 2020, in spring of 2020, we started working on a product line, it was a combo Halloween and Christmas like a double launch situation and it was a multi year thing. It was through one of the really big companies. Anyway, I spent a lot of my own quarantine memories in the beginning, we’re working on that in my little hours between trying to care for our children and figure out our new normal. Anyway, it was a dream project and obviously, you all know that Emma and I love Christmas. We love Halloween. Seasonal decorating is one of our top passions, which I guess sounds kind of silly, but it really is. It was a very genuine, very special, meaningful fit for our brand. So anyway, almost a whole year later and this is seriously like classic what is it like to be an influencer, this is it. A whole year later, after we had made all these plans done approvals of their version of what, we give them our ideas, they give us the ideas back that they can really do. We tweak them. A whole year later, like spring of 2021, then we find out that it gets canceled. It was so disappointing. First of all, because obviously we were excited about having this like a big thing and then also for business reasons. Well, it was actually more, I think a personal disappointment than a business disappointment. If I remember correctly, the money was pretty good but the passion of it was more than the thing that was driving us. Is that true?

Emma: I mean, you really can’t match our passion. You could pay us enough to match our passion for the holidays. 

Elsie: I remember they had explained to me that the first year it’s gonna be just Christmas and the second year it’s gonna be Halloween and Christmas. This is like a little more of a teaser but it was one of the companies where you get to go on TV to sell it. So we were pitching ourselves to go on TV to sell it the second year and do the whole, like wear costumes and like blah, blah, blah. You know, it was like, oh, really exciting. 

Emma: I’ll just say from mine, so there are so many cute things that LC designed for the line. Elsie is really our creative director so I kind of let her take the lead on lots of things like that. I just kind of give my opinion or point out when I think something could be more functional or whatever, you know what I mean. But I was so excited for holiday mugs. We were gonna do some ceramic mugs and you know how much I love my holiday mug collection and my Halloween mug collection. I just have some missing pieces to those collections that we were designing for. So that to me was like, I know it probably sounds so silly, but that was like a dream come true for me to be like I’m going to get to be a part of making my own holiday mugs that are gonna sit in my collection for years and years and maybe other people are going to have these mugs in their homes. Anyway and so it was really sad when the line fell through.

Elsie: Flash to that moment. I was really upset. More so, it wasn’t even anything about the money, it was more so just that this was our exciting thing that we were gonna do at the end of this year. This year was a little bit of a slow year for us. Emma had a baby. It was a little bit of a, not our biggest banger of a year. I just felt like it kind of took away our thing to look forward to so that was really hard. So anyway, this happened right before Emma’s maternity leave when it was canceled, and huge bummer. Then we coasted into the summertime and she had her time off. I think it was like during the leave, was it during the leave or right when you got back that you started having the idea for the special? 

Emma: I told you the idea right before my leave. We kind of started a brainstorm. Elsie was like, yeah, sure, whatever. I mean, I was about to have a baby so you’re like, okay, she’s like losing her mind. She thinks we’re gonna you know, but you might be thinking like, what does missing out, what does the canceled merch line, holiday merch line, have to do with making a show, holiday special? So, in our minds, this makes total sense but I feel like when we explain things sometimes it’s like, we’re not telling you the connections in our brain. The reason the line got canceled was really a bunch of logistical things. Mostly, it’s kind of like business, representation things, blah, blah, blah, a lot of boring reasons. Not really like anyone was fighting or anything like that. But one thing we’ve noticed over the years is that a lot of our peers who have TV shows tend to get opportunities for merch lines a little bit easier. Elsie and I don’t have a TV show, as you know.

Elsie: It’s something we’ve been told too. A long time ago, we did a meeting with one of the biggest agencies, and they were like, are you planning to do a TV show? We were like, probably not and they basically stopped the meeting right then. It is such a deal-breaker to a lot of people when you say you want to have like, I’ve always wanted a product line. For a lot of people, they do the TV show just to get to those other goals, which makes no sense because I think people think of the TV show as the thing that’s making money but it is like big you know stop sign emoji NOT, not the way that people make money.

Emma: I don’t know it probably depends on the show but like if you’re wildly successful.

Elsie: For most people, it is a stair stepper right?

Emma: Probably. 

Elsie: From what we have heard.

Emma: The main thing I would say about it is Elsie and I got into blogging for a lot of reasons but in part because we didn’t want to be around a whole bunch of strangers and a chaotic film crew. Nothing against that kind of environment, that’s so different from blogging. Blogging is staying at your home and quietly photographing things you made by yourself. It’s just a whole different thing. Then also Elsie and I, over the years, have done a little bit of live TV trying to promote books and other things and we’re not great at it. It’s like public speaking on steroids and so it’s sort of like a very anxious thing.

Emma: Let me just say that live TV and filming some kind of special, it’s a very different thing. Live TV I think is really challenging because, by the time you don’t feel nervous, it’s usually over. Other things where you get several takes, you can get in the groove. I find live TV to be a nightmare personally, it’s not fun. 

Elsie: It’s nerve-racking because you don’t want to mess up because you don’t get more takes.

Elsie: That is actually one of the reasons why I don’t want to do a TV show. I actually want to do a TV show a little bit more than Emma. One of my reasons why I don’t want to there’s two reasons and they’re both really weird is that I don’t want to have to do press. I don’t want to go on Good Morning America. I don’t want to work at wake up at 2am. I don’t want to go on TV and mess up or feel nervous or just feel that sick feeling in my stomach. I hate it. Then the other reason is because I’ve noticed a lot of people have HGTV shows and stuff have to do a lot of speaking engagements like doing speeches at like a home and garden show and stuff and that is also my other nightmare that I don’t want to do. So that’s for me like it’s not the TV show, it’s all the things that come attached to it that I don’t want to do. 

Emma: I like speaking when it’s like in front of real people. I’ve done that a few times and I wouldn’t want it to be my full job but  I love the like meeting people afterward part. I think that’s really fun. It’s so different from most of our job, which is just staying home and blogging, so I think that’s really enjoyable. I don’t think I could do it all the time, because I’m a bit of an introvert. Well, anyway this has gone off the rails. The point is, we don’t have a TV show and we don’t have plans at the moment to have a TV show. But we’ve been told multiple times that doing something like that would be beneficial for getting a product line or for certain companies and certain opportunities, taking our brand a little bit more seriously, or viewing it as a bigger deal than just bloggers. So that was kind of like, in my mind, and sitting in there and me thinking on it. Part of me is always like, well, how can I do it my way and it’s not just a control thing, it’s just like an independence thing. If you remember that episode, where I talked about my life map, it’s kind of like how I went to college at two colleges at once, just because there was no rule that I couldn’t do that. That’s just what I’m like. I like to figure out how to do things my own way and dance to the beat of my own drum is probably what my mom would say. To me, that makes more sense. So anyway, so that was in my mind of like, alright, this product kind of fell through, that’s a real bummer. What’s something that we could do to help our chances of getting a new one in the future? What’s something that we could do this year, knowing that like, I’m about to have a baby?  Another thing is like, months before, many, many months before a friend of mine, Jeff Houghton mentioned how you can upload your own series, your own show, on to Amazon Prime. It’s called video direct. It’s kind of like YouTube, but there’s a much more process to it and whatnot. I just remember hearing him talking about that and I kind of filed it away as like, that’s interesting. oh, I didn’t realize you could do that without being attached to some kind of network film crew, which we’re not. So I have filed that away too, maybe we could create some kind of show and put it on Amazon Prime ourselves. Which seems like a really good fit for Elsie and me. We’re very DIY, we like to find a way to do it ourselves. I just was like, oh, that could be a way to make a homemade TV show. Again, we didn’t really have the time to do a whole show like five episodes or whatever. We want to do like we said, a holiday product line, Christmas or Halloween. So then I was like, Elsie, why don’t we do a holiday special kind of old school, like I was thinking of like Kacey Musgraves. She had a special, it’s musical because obviously, she’s a musician, or like Jessica Simpson had one year and years ago. It’s a very classic, there’s this holiday special. It’s usually some kind of variety show and it’s often a musician, which we’re not.

Elsie: There’s a lot of vintagey variety shows that are so cute and beautiful. We’re very inspired by that era, also in our decor so I was very into that idea. I think whenever people think of us doing any kind of show, they always bring up Martha Stewart, because Martha Stewart is just like kind of a pioneer. She’s kind of the only craft show that most people can think of and since we do a lot of crafts and DIY and even like recipes, it does make sense. I love Martha Stewart. So yeah, we were thinking maybe some kind of a culmination of those different inspirations would be a fun project.

Emma: Exactly, yes. We really wanted to do a Halloween special and a holiday, a Christmas special. Again, with my maternity leave this summer, it just didn’t seem feasible considering that we were doing this all ourselves. We also kind of knew we’re going to make no money from this. This is just something we’re going to try. We’re going to spend the money to make it and we’re just gonna try to get as many views as we can and hope that it helps us go for the next thing. Which is eventually hopefully getting a product line or product line but who knows.

Elsie: We thought also maybe this is a way to sort of make our own little place in the influencer world. Different influencers are known for something and A Beautiful Mess has always been the type of website that does a lot of different things, which I think has really benefited us. I know it’s been fun for us and it’s one of our strengths. But it’s also like we’re never the number one food blog or the number one home blog or you know what I mean? But we really want to be the number one holiday influencer, if we could pick one that’s what we want to do. So we were like, maybe this would sort of make us our place in the blog world. 

Emma: Exactly. Yes, we were trying to plant our flag in Halloween and Christmas more in some way that we could do ourselves, somewhat. So that was really the idea behind it.

Elsie: Plant our flag? 

Emma: Yeah, you know how you plant your flag on the moon like we were here first.

Elsie: I do know. It’s hilarious to think about though because it’s Halloween and Christmas. You don’t own me!

Emma: I’m not saying that things we want in life are important. I’m just saying we want them.

Elsie: Okay, let’s keep going. I love it. I love it.

Emma: So yeah, we started brainstorming. We had obviously tons of ideas that we couldn’t feasibly get done in time, or we couldn’t really afford to do. But we eventually came up with a bunch of short segments of crafting, cooking, us making stuff and that’s what the holiday special is. It’s around 25 minutes of us doing those types of things. It’s in Elsie’s new house in Springfield so this is kind of like the first time people get to see Elsie’s house and it’s decorated for the holiday. 

Elsie: It’s literally the first time we decorated it. So first of all, we were there for Halloween. The day after Halloween, my husband packed up our kids and drove back to Tennessee, and I stayed. We tore down all the Halloween and put up all the Christmas. People who are really into decorating will understand this, but the first year of decorating a new house, it’s like there’s not enough layers. Emma and I had to go shopping and I stole some stuff from her house. I stole a lot of stuff from my garage. We tried to layer it up really fast so that was fun. Then as far as the costumes, so as soon as we realized, as soon as I realized that we were really going to do this, which honestly took me a while. 

Emma: She tried to cancel it at least five times. 

Elsie: To be fair to me, it was a really busy season. We did not clear space to do this. We added it on top of our other things. So to be fair, there was a good debate and Emma’s husband also was like, why are you doing this? Should you cancel it? 

Emma: Everyone was except for me. 

Elsie: Emma had like five-day stomach flu right before we filmed it. Anyways, so and you know, she has a newborn. It was a lot. Anyway, I was mostly excited about the costumes. Let’s just put it that way. That was the thing that got me into the spirit of it. So I decided to buy a costume for every segment. Obviously, there’s like what five or six or seven segments there was like, so there’s quite a few costumes, and I just went on Amazon and bought every funny Christmas costume. So we have a Mrs. Claus. That is really funny. Some people wrote me on Instagram and they were like, what’s that colonial costume you have on. It has a little hat and Emma declined to wear the wigs. She was like, I don’t want to wear a grandma wig. 

Emma: I drew the line at the wig. 

Elsie: We had a couple of elf things. There’s a full-body Christmas tree that Emma wore. She got to pick by the way. I let her pick between the pink elf and the Christmas tree and she picked the Christmas tree. I didn’t force her to wear that. It’s like the best costume. 

Emma: That was my favorite costume. 

Elsie: Yeah, and then there’s a glittery like a kind of a disco ball theme for the cocktail segment because that’s kind of new year’s theme. And what else? Oh,  then there’s pajamas. There’s a couple of scenes with pajamas. Then there’s like a Santa Claus that’s supposed to be a sexy Santa Claus costume but I don’t even think it looks sexy. I think it just looks regular. 

Emma: I guess we did it wrong because it just was like oh this is cute.

Elsie: Anyway, the costumes were my favorite part. I had so much fun. Actually, this is crazy, Emma, but I actually already started buying new ones for next year., behind your back.

Emma: I love it. 

Elsie: There’s a reindeer. 

Emma: Now you’ve told me so it’s not really behind my back. So there’s crafting, there’s cooking, there’s just making little things. There’s a segment where we give some tips for decorating your presents. In my mind, people will watch this or have it on in the background while they’re wrapping their Christmas presents this year or baking something special with their family.

Elsie: Please have a glass of wine. We did make it I would say kid-friendly because it doesn’t have any cursing. 

Emma: Well, it beeps out the cursing. 

Elsie: Does it have a curse?

Emma: It’s not much. I think it’s in the blooper reel, which is at the end. 

Elsie: I don’t know about other moms, but a bleeped-out curse word to me is not a curse word. So I’m cool with that.

Emma: Like Elsie already said, she’s buying costumes behind my back for next year’s special so we have dreams of making this a bigger deal. We’re already dreaming of different segments. I think it’d be really fun to have a musical guest. Not us, obviously. But like someone who’s actually a musician.

Elsie: Someone did write in and they were like, I’m really scared that you guys are gonna be singing and I was like thank you for phrasing it in that way.

Emma: Fear nor friends, we are not singing. Anyway, we are dreaming of stuff for next year, and we would love to grow it. This year, we did what we could, like Elsie said we kind of just like, fitted on top of everything else. Again, we knew it wasn’t going to make pretty much any money at all but it was like a proof of concept. It’s us trying, it’s us trying to grow our brand and add something that we think could be something in the future. But right now, it’s just gonna take up a lot of time and a lot of money. We’re just gonna keep trying to grow our brand. What else c0na we do?

Elsie: That’s how Emma talked me into it originally. Originally, I was like, if we can’t do Halloween and Christmas, I will not do it. She was like, you just have to get out of the way your first try and that convinced me to do it. Because I was like, okay, fine, if I just think of this as like a throwaway. It’s an effort, and it’s like A for effort and then there’s no other grading, which I hope that that’s how people see it and are nice. I am glad that we got the first one out of the way because as soon as we watched it, I was already like, these 10 things have to be better for next time. We wouldn’t have known that if we didn’t give it the first try.

Emma: Yes, I am such a believer in like, I feel like we’ve talked about this on the podcast many times, but I am a big believer in finishing things. I think that’s the whole path forward in life is if you have a dream, or you have something you want to do, do it and finish it. Then if it’s not as good as you wanted, or you have ideas to make it better, do another one, keep going. I have so many friends that like that’s really the thing that stops them from like writing their books, or writing an album or starting a blog is that it’s just like, just do it, publish, finish it, whatever it is put it out there and if it’s not as good as you want, guess what, that’s pretty much every person who’s ever made anything in the history of the world. Their first one was not the best one usually so just keep going. You learn something and we learned a lot from this year’s special. It’s like okay, we’ve done our first one we know like a few things. So anyway, let’s talk a little bit about the day of filming. So how did we accomplish this because we are not videographers or film crew or very professional in that way. We’re really photographers more than anything else because that’s how we got into blogging. So we hired some friends of mine Shailey and Jonathan, who own a company called Harp Creative, and they actually live in my neighborhood, and Elsie’s house is also in my neighborhood. So they came to the house the day of filming. They did all of the filming, all of the editing all of like, that’s why it sounds and looks as good as it does. It’s because of them and I think what worked really well was like, I already knew them and Elsie knows them as well, and I think we just felt comfortable around them. 

Elsie: It was very super chill. 

Emma: Yeah, it was very chill, very small. There’s no craft services. We just ordered UberEATS Chinese food. We got everything done we needed to get done in one day of filming which was great because you know like Elsie said it was two days after Halloween, I had had a stomach bug for five days.

Elsie: I was exhausted. Okay, so this is one of the things that I want people to keep in mind when they watch it is that I would say half of the scenes we did in one take and the other half we did in two takes. We really sort of just went for it and there was no script. There was barely an outline like we knew the props and we knew the activities we were doing. We had the supplies there obviously but we didn’t have any lines. On one of the openers that got kept in, I wanted to say a funny line and it was a surprise for Emma what I was gonna say. It’s just like, it’s stupid. I think that that’s part of the charm of it so I hope that people appreciate that it is extremely candid much like our podcasts. Our outlines are usually like half of a letter paper long, our outlines are not very long. It’s just like, talk about this and then we just talk for 10 minutes. Then it’s like, talk about this, and we talk for 10 minutes and that’s kind of how doing it was. It was very chill. I think that it came out, kinda like, you can feel how chill it was. 

Emma: I think too, there’s a little bit of us trolling each other like we do because we are sisters. We’ve worked together forever and I like that about our brand. When you see us kind of like trolling each other, I just think it’s funny and it’s real. It’s what families like or at least our family. Anyway, we did make lots of mistakes, though, even though we did a lot of things in one take so there is a blooper reel at the end of the special. 

Elsie: I haven’t seen that yet, have you seen it? Is it funny?

Emma: I’ve watched the special more times than I care to watch it because watching yourself is hard. But we did edit some things and I watched it quite a few times. So the bloopers are really funny. They are us being total dorks. It’s very fun. Now, you know, like, the idea behind it, what the special is, what the day of filming was like, and you’re probably thinking, you know, this sounds like it went great. What was the problem? Haha, yes, it did. It did. This all did go great. We were like, wow, this worked, we’re awesome.

Elsie: When I got home to Tennessee, I was like, Jeremy, that actually went good. He was like, wait, really?  I mean, I was like, having a pretty emotional roller coaster leading up to it because I didn’t want to do it and it felt very squished in. I have a pretty big problem doing things halfway. That’s like, no, it doesn’t work well for my personality. I feel like if I can do something the full way then I don’t want to do it at all. So I was struggling leading up to it. Then the day of filming was so easy and it was actually really fun. It made me feel like, I’ve had a couple of other experiences like this. Okay, 90% of our on-camera experiences have been a nightmare but there has been like, a handful of experiences where I like went home that night and I was like, I could totally do that. That was easy. It was fun. It was one of those. It just felt very light-hearted and we loved the team. I just was like, easy. Jacki was there the whole time just watching us and basically supporting us and talking about her Amazon purchases.

Emma: Claire came a little bit too and we were really supportive. It was awesome. So it was really fun. Now I’m going to tell you about the three problems that we encountered, dun dun dun and they all have to do with uploading to Amazon Prime. So okay, the first problem we encountered was leading up to the special really what I had time for was getting my real work done that we actually do make money and then preparing for the special. I had to make a bunch of things that were ready to be on camera so that you’re not waiting for something to dry or cool in the oven because you can’t do things that way. So I was just doing a lot of that leading up to the special and then also like being sick and being a mom and all that stuff. So I didn’t do it enough, I did not do enough researching about Amazon Prime beforehand. I just thought things are gonna work out or they’re not and I’ll get to that, that’s on the list, but I’ll get to it when I can because I got to do these other things first. Sometimes you’re just in a season where you can only put out fires, you know what I mean? 

Elsie: Can I be the narrator? Things were not working out.

Emma: Things took a turn. First thing we realized was, so when we shot the special today’s after Halloween, we kind of had it in the schedule agreed to beforehand the final edit of the full special, the 25-30 minute special wouldn’t be until early December earlyish December and then it would be ready to go and we would share it with Amazon and put it up and everyone would get to see it. But as I start getting into the Amazon account and filling out all our tax information and various things like that they have to do, kind of realized like oh, their approval process says that it could take up to three weeks for them to approve your video and we really have to have this come out before Christmas and ideally not on Christmas. Ideally a few weeks before Christmas, you know, so I was like oh. Of course, I talk with Harp Creative, Shaylee and Jonathan, I’m like, I know you guys kind of things going on but uh, have you ever had a client that’s just an idiot, and like really needs your help. That’s me right now. Luckily, they’re awesome and they worked with us and got it done way faster than they had previously agreed to, because they saw that we were, I didn’t research. Yeah, that was the first hiccup, but I was like, okay, so I didn’t research enough, my bad. Thank goodness, the people I’m working with are understanding. Alright, problem number two. So I’m uploading the Amazon thing with Shailey. We have the file ready, we’ve done the edits, we had to get a caption file so that there’s closed captioning. There’s a lot of little things to it. It’s a lot more than uploading to YouTube if you’ve ever done that. So there’s more files and artwork and different things you have to do. So we’ve done all that, we have it all. We are putting it into the account and we get to the part where it’s like you set the price. It’s kind of like the final step before you press the submit for the approval process.

Elsie: Which by the way, we had always planned that we wanted it to be totally free because first of all, we don’t want people to think that we’re trying to make money off this because we’re absolutely not. We’re like happily losing money. Then for the second reason, we want a lot of people to watch it. That’s kind of the only potential benefit we have, besides the fun of creating it is that we could hopefully have a good number of views to show that we’re experts in the holiday field for our next, like, hopefully, product line in the future.

Emma: We realized that being on really any of the streaming services, but Amazon Prime in particular, if you don’t have Amazon Prime, or you don’t have a way to watch that on your TV, then we realize some people might not have that, We kind of polled a lot of our friends and it seemed like that wasn’t going to be a big barrier of entry. So we were like, as long as it’s in the subscription and if you have Amazon Prime, you can watch this, it’s free, it’s just included.

Elsie: Most people can find a way to get an Amazon password or whatever. 

Emma: Exactly, exactly. So we ere like, okay, that that’s what we’re gonna do. Then, as we’re uploading everything, as of November 1st, and by the time we’re uploading everything, it was like November 16th or 18th. I don’t know. As of November 1st, Amazon no longer allowed content to be included in their Prime subscription. I imagine this isn’t the case for like major networks or various things that Amazon has deals with. But like just an independent creator, such as ourselves, we’re no longer allowed to be a part of the subscription so you have to charge something. The lowest amount you could charge was 99 cents. I kind of like stopped there and thought about it for a day and talked to Elsie. So I was like, okay, if we put this up, and it’s to buy or rent either way, and it’s 99 cents, I know that’s such a small amount, but so many people are not going to watch it now because it’s just another barrier of entry. We were kind of talking through that and we were like, well, maybe we can put it up, 99 cents, we’ll let everyone know that all the money is gonna go to a charity.

Elsie: Can I say something real fast? I know that like the majority of people will think 99 cents is nothing. Why are you worried about 99 cents? It’s like, who cares? 

Emma: Because this ain’t our first rodeo. 

Elsie: It’s because of our long experience in the last 10 years of our lives doing apps, you would be surprised what kind of long angry support emails you can get over 99 cents like you would be shocked.

Emma: Well also, I would point out to, just in all fairness, the vast majority of our content, so here’s how it works when you’re a blogger. You create lots and lots of content that you give away for free and then you figure out how to monetize it. Your audience just consumes the content, and they just let you figure out how you monetize it. They might complain some if they don’t like how you’ve done or whatever and that’s understandable, whatever. But like that’s your job as a blogger is like, you make the content and you figure out how to monetize it. So our audience is used to getting things for free. Just in all fairness, they are. Our blog is free. You don’t pay to look at it. Our podcast is free. You don’t pay to listen to it.

Elsie: This is one of Emma’s favorite like, zingers if someone says something mean she’s like, tell him to ask for a refund. She loves saying that. 

Emma: I was like, tell them we’ll give him a 100% refund.

Elsie: Because everything’s free. That’s her like, dad joke. She loves it.

Emma: It’s my dad joke. When I’m in a bad mood. I’ve had enough. I’m like, we’ll give him a 100% refund. But anyway, so we weren’t wanting to charge for the special but it seemed that we had to put it at 99 cents. So we’re like okay, we’ll do it. We’ll have to figure something else out. This is going to make our views go down, but we’re just figuring something else out. We’ll let everyone know that like all the money is gonna go to our charity, probably our sweatshirt shop charity, same thing. We were like, we’ll do that. Not ideal. Pretty bummer. But like, okay, so we do that I submit it. Then a day or two later, so not three weeks, surprise, we got the news. We had been, this the third problem, rejected.

Elsie: This was the saddest phone call.

Emma: This is so sad. Yeah, I called Elsie, and they kind of give you a form letter. It’s not a person who’s like, dear, A Beautiful Mess, I can see how hard you worked on the special, but we’ve decided not to approve. it’s like, no, it’s just a form letter and it goes to an FAQ page and things like that. So I read through it and it does very clearly say that you’ve been rejected, you cannot appeal. You cannot submit again. It’s pretty like, no.

Elsie: The hope has gone. 

Emma: No hope, you have no hope. But it’s like, okay, great, good to know. Then I’m trying to research like, why? Because there’s something we should do differently next year or whatever. It wasn’t super, super clear exactly but it seemed like along with that change that they made around November 1st, where they’re no longer including things in the Prime subscription, they also don’t want nonfiction content. Which means it’s not scripted. It’s not a TV show. It’s not you know, actors because our thing is nonfiction. It’s teaching crafts and cooking and things like that, kind of like a Martha Stewart Living show, but it’s a holiday special. Apparently, unless you’re in some kind of major network or something like that, Amazon doesn’t want that content anymore. So that was the end of that.

Elsie: Yeah, Emma called me and she was just very sad.  I’m kind of like, one of my flaws and strengths, it really depends is that I’m like a quick reactor. I was immediately like, Okay, well, let’s do this. Okay, well, no big deal, let’s do this. Let’s do this. Let’s do it. She was like, just give me a moment to be sad. And I was like, okay, okay. Okay. Okay. So I was like, okay, this is our sad day, and tomorrow, we’ll basically just decide to put it on YouTube and that’s fine. I was like, hey, maybe we get people to subscribe to our email list because I just started doing the email list and I’m really into it. So I was like, let’s do that. 

Emma: So anyway, yeah, we were basically like, okay, well, what can we get out of this, and like, it’s no problem to put it on YouTube, that’s very accessible. But it’s just we’ve never really put a lot of effort into growing our YouTube channel. We don’t really consider ourselves YouTubers. 

Elsie: We’re not YouTubers. We have a YouTube channel with just a couple of videos a year. So it’s like, it’s a function. It’s not something we consider, like a part of our social networking.

Emma: Yeah and YouTube’s awesome, like I said, very accessible. So that’s great. Everyone’s able to watch it who has the internet so that’s great. I love that. There’s no like, you have to have a Prime subscription, you have to pay 99 cents like all of that’s gone. So I love that. But I just think we were both so excited to potentially be on a streaming service because it just has a different feeling to it. We were hoping to do something for our brand that just kind of elevates it a little bit in a certain way among certain people, and like their thoughts on TV shows and stuff like that. So anyway, that was a disappointment to us. But on the plus side, now anybody can watch the special, it’s on YouTube. Obviously, we’ll put a link in our show notes at abeautifulmess.com/podcast. But you can also just go on YouTube and probably type in A Beautiful Mess Holiday Special and find it so it’s on there. We hope everybody loves it. But that’s kind of the story of how like, we were making this thing and it was really hard. We had to spend a lot of money and a lot of time and just hope for the best. Then it kind of didn’t work out the way we wanted but the special turned out really cute. 

Elsie: The good part about it is that we did it and we finished which is like, check. If we want to try again next year, we know which things we would have to do differently, however that turns out we haven’t really planned but we’ll do something.

Emma: If the story was like a TED talk or in a book, it would be like and then we got a special on the Hallmark Channel next year. But it’s like, we don’t really have an ending like that. We’re just telling you like, there’s something we might try this year. I’m not saying we won’t. I’m just saying we’re telling you the story as it is today, which is in the middle of something or maybe the end, don’t know. I think something about that to me is kind of like fun and exciting to kind of pull back the curtain for people and be like, hey, here’s how this worked for us. Yeah, and it’s kind of a disappointment.

Elsie: Well, I think that someday when we have our special and it is like so cool and it looks really expensive, Maybe there’s like a famous person on it or whatever thing makes it like feel like quote-unquote legit to you, you’ll see where we started and you’ll be like, I was there watching them fail. I love that we have that with our podcast listeners.

Emma: I do too. It’s special. So that’s really the whole story and the special turned out so cute. It’s up on YouTube now and we hope you like it. We would be super thrilled if you give it one of those YouTube thumbs up things or leave us a little comment on there, or share it with someone. We kind of have a feeling that a lot of our audience isn’t avid YouTube watchers. They might think of it as something more for their kids, which is not true. There’s tons of content on there. If you’re not an avid YouTube watcher and you end up liking our special we’d love it if you would share it with one of your friends who maybe doesn’t always watch YouTube either. Just so we can have more people watch it because we worked really hard on it. We do love how it turned out and we hope you do too. We hope it brings a little holiday cheer.

Elsie: Yes, I’m proud that we finished it and I can’t wait for you to see the costumes and you can see the pink house. I love how it turned out. Yeah, I’m really happy. I can’t wait to watch the bloopers. I didn’t know that that was done so now I’m going to like check my email and try to find that. That’s awesome. Okay, cool. Please leave us a nice comment and we’ll get on there and comment back. We’re not usually YouTube people but we got to be now.

Emma: Mmm-hmm. Thank you in advance. We just hope it brings you some cheer. So Happy Holidays.

Elsie: Yeah, happy holidays. Okay, well, we’ll be back next week.

Read More
  • I listened to this podcast episode in the car and and could not wait to get home to watch the holiday special! It is adorable. We are not watching you fail, we are watching you thrive! It’s so perfect, a lil flavor from all the holiday things. Please do this again next year, would love to see the kids helping with crafts or decorating cookies! I love watching/listening to you sisters, warms my heart 🙂

  • To the listener who wanted tips on storing things.: When my kids were little we did not have a lot of room for a big dresser – I stored all of their underwear and socks in one of those cloth plastic bag holders and just hung them on the door knob of their room or closet (random Etsy link below to show what I mean). I mostly both all the same socks for them so they did not have to be stored in matching pairs. This worked great for me because they could easily get them out by themselves and it saved space!

    https://www.etsy.com/listing/1069284154/plastic-bag-saver-bag-storage-grocery?ga_order=most_relevant&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_search_query=fabric+plastic+bag+holder&ref=sc_gallery-1-4&frs=1&listing_id=1069284154&listing_slug=plastic-bag-saver-bag-storage-grocery&plkey=d18f9798c5d556bda465cffcf9b96ce84310d32f%3A1069284154

  • I loved your holiday special! I love how you have big ideas and go for them! And I hope you achieve your dream of becoming THE holiday blog 🎄🎄🎄 You’re already there in my book!

  • Your special turned out great! I know you imagined it being posted one way, but I think Youtube is the place to be and your special has the quality of some of the big channels from magazines.

  • I loved the holiday special! And I found this episode about it really interesting (you both did so much work to make this fun holiday treat!) and had some thoughts to share that I hope might be helpful? I was so so fascinated to hear that you’re not thinking about growing your YouTube channel, because I feel like it would a good fit for the way you like to work! Lots and lots of Youtubers have their own camera setup and work completely alone/in small teams to record, then send video out to second party editors. And there’s a pretty robust community of Youtube channels dedicated to creative/crafty/cooking content. I would encourage you to take a look at channels like Threadbanger (Corinne’s videos moreso than Rob’s, for similar creative content to ABM):
    https://www.youtube.com/user/threadbanger

    And Rachel Maksy’s channel, which is focused on costuming and sewing but has a lot of crafty content as well, especially in the fall: https://www.youtube.com/c/rachelmaksy .

    Those are just a couple examples of crafty Youtube channels, but there’s a ton more. I think there could really be a space there for a holiday/seasonal craft focused channel! I know Youtube can feel very casual to viewers who are used to the high production value of traditional TV, but the tone of a channel can be whatever the creator wants. And brands do deals and product lines with prominent Youtubers all the time; you mostly see it for beauty products, but the Threadbanger channel had a huge deal with Lowe’s when they renovated their house, and later the National Park Service asked them to do a series. There’s a channel called SimplyNailLogical that actually started their own brand of nail polishes independently via connections forged through the channel.

    Speaking just for myself (a 32 year old long-time ABM fan), I watch more content on Youtube than any other streaming channel. It’s my main everyday replacement for cable (Adam Savage’s Tested channel scratches the itch for Mythbusters reruns), it’s one of the first places I look for tutorials, etc. I’m always excited to help new channels grow by subscribing and sharing too! I actually watch Amazon Prime the least because I find their user interface very clunky! That and I often pause my Prime subscription for months at a time just because I feel sort of bad giving money to Amazon if I don’t have an urgent need for the fast shipping.

  • The special was adorable and I really appreciated the bts from the podcast. Totally looks very professionally done and well planed, love that it was a lot more casual than it comes off. Felt very genuine and sweet! Look forward to many more in the future 🙂

  • The holiday special was so great! Thank you for the joy!!! Can’t wait to make the wreath

  • I loved the special! Already bought the tiny wine hats. I would also love to see the Halloween version! Also I’d love to see a summer version near Elsie’s beautiful Pink + green pool, with drink and food ideas, and maybe decorate some terracotta pots or do something garden-ey. I liked the less scripted feel. Way to go!

  • My favorite part may be the music in the background. Such a fun Christmas twist. Great work girls! Proud that you went for it even if it was scary!

  • The special was so fun to watch. I love the way your sister dynamic shines through. I hope this leads to a product line someday – fingers and toes crossed!

  • Loved the special & love this episode. I definitely think of y’all as a holiday blog — and don’t forget Thanksgiving! I’ve gotten so much inspiration from your Friendsgiving recipes over the years — I think that would make a super fun holiday special episode too…. it could be Friendsgiving with special guests and recipes…
    Also since the holiday special brought me to your YouTube page, I looked back at some older videos — and you’ve come a long way! Great job!

    • Oh and PS I ordered and and I’m picking up the supplies for my own yarn wreath on my way home today!!

  • I am five minuets in and on the verge of happy joyful tears. This is the absolutely best Holiday special, so full of holiday cheer and joy! Thank you!

  • Hopping back on to say we actually really appreciated the snowflake tutorial—-We have made them a lot over the years, but never quite mastered the technique. My daughters were very attentive to all of Elsie’s tips.

  • We loved your special! I watched it with my older two daughters. And then we made the Oreo truffles (with GF truffles) the very next day! We love the fact that you are sisters. We also love the costumes & silly dancing in between each segment. It was clear that the costumes were a lot of fun. I will say the two crafts you chose were not our favorite, but hopefully they will inspire someone else. And… I am already excited about next year’s special(s). Good work!!!
    PS I absolutely love hearing the why and the how. Thank you for making this podcast all about it. Hearing this podcast makes me love the special even more. Guess I should put it on so my preschooler can help you get your views up!

  • This was so much fun to watch and I’m feeling inspired to do more holiday crafts. I’d love to see something like this for each season, or at least Halloween!

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