Let me start by saying that this is a very difficult post to write. It’s one I’ve considered writing MANY times, but always refrained because I truly do hate drama and I just want everything to be ok and happy and respectful. But everything is not ok and happy and respectful. And after A LOT of pushing, I’ve finally reached my edge. I know that some people will find this post helpful and some will find it hateful…but at this point, I really don’t care which side you fall on. I do this not out of spite, but because I want everyone I can reach to have more information than I did…
Concerning a Particular Anna Marie Moore
There’s SO MUCH that I could write, so many pictures/screenshots I could post and so on, but I’m so tired…I’m just really tired of all of this. So, for now at least, I’m leaving all of that to a minimum. If there comes a point where I feel I need to “prove” that what I write here actually happened, I have all the “evidence” ready and waiting. That being said:
On April 22, just days after creating my book blog, I hired a designer to create a unique theme for my site. That designer was Anna Marie Moore. I was really pumped up about this new hobby and super excited about sharing it with the world so I didn’t take the time I should have to research. I’d actually discovered AMM through the book blog Anna Reads (different Anna) and when I visited her site and viewed her portfolio, I was sold. It never even occurred to me that maybe I should Google her or ask around about her. AMM agreed to do my design at a $50 discount because 1.) I was poor and 2.) she needed the work/money because things had been slow for her (her words, not mine). I guess that should have been a red flag but it wasn’t, until later. I paid my $100 NON-REFUNDABLE deposit. At first things seemed ok – she asked some questions about what I had in mind for Twilight Sleep, which I answered, and quickly went to work on my design. She sent me a couple of logo and design ideas all of which I said looked good but weren’t quite what I was looking for. The last design she sent me seemed to be heading in the right direction, but I still wasn’t happy even though I told her it looked great. Obviously I wasn’t being assertive enough; I wasn’t communicating with her in the way that I should have been because the next day (5 days after I hired her) she sent me my “finished” design and asked for the rest of my payment so she could implement. I realized then that I had made a mistake. I told her I hadn’t realized that she would be done so soon (she originally told me 2-3 weeks just for the design) and that I thought we were going to have more back-and-forth exchanges about the design before it was finalized.
So the trouble began.
She made it clear she wasn’t happy that I wasn’t happy but she agreed to scrap the design and start over for no fee. She put a different image on the first design and threw it up for sale “to try and offset the time spent on it” (5 days out of the 2-3 weeks I’d originally been told). I didn’t much like this idea but didn’t figure I had no grounds to ask her not to so I went with it. But then the feet-dragging started. It seemed like everything was falling apart. She was becoming distant, I wasn’t getting the results I wanted, and I just had a really bad feeling about the whole situation. I sat down and talked to my husband about everything and he urged me to ask AMM to stop the design process and give me a refund. I told him the deposit was non-refundable so, despite both our misgivings, I decided to stick with it and hope for the best.
That was not the first nor the last mistake I made.
Mid-may I still had no design and, in fact, very little correspondence from AMM. I tried not to let it bother me, but it did. This time when I talked to the husband, he said forget the money, just end it. But I didn’t. I really didn’t want to lose $100. That’s A LOT of money when you’re struggling newlyweds just getting started – especially for something so intangible. So I waited. Then one day I was contacted by another blogger via DM on Twitter. She said she’d seen me and AMM chatting and wanted to know if AMM was the one I’d hired for my blog design. I said yes and she responded by asking me if I’d seen what happened between AMM and The Book Smugglers. I said no. She sent me the following links:
I was floored. Not only because this had happened, but because it substantiated all the misgivings I’d been having about Anna. When I showed the husband, he once again told me to call things off and just take the loss. After days of asking for advice and agonizing over it, I decided to finally take his advice. I emailed Anna and told her that I’d found out about The Book Smugglers disaster and that I no longer wanted to work with her. I asked her for a refund of half my deposit since she had claimed on half of it had been used on stock, but she did as expected and refused on the grounds that it was non-refundable. I took that hit, gracefully, and was ready to move on. But I got the following as part of an email from Anna:
The end of last year and the beginning of this year was very difficult for me – I lost my father, and a whole slew of other things kept piling up and I couldn’t handle it. A client screwed me over, which ended up screwing other people over. It’s no excuse, but it’s what happened. I’ve worked VERY hard to make sure that it NEVER happens again.
I ask that you please let me refer you to who I’ve worked with recently, so that you can hear their experiences and make an educated decision for yourself instead of posts based on things that happened at the end of the absolute WORST year of my entire life.
I thank you in advance for your understanding. I was excited to work on your project, and I hope that we are able to get past this so that we can continue to.
I made contact with the four references she sent me to. I took my time and really thought about the whole situation. And I decided that my answer was a very firm “no”. I was tired of dealing with her and finding out about her previous escapades just sent my reservations over the top. AMM took my rejection extremely well. We continued to chat on twitter and she even helped me with a few CSS issues I couldn’t sort out on my own. I felt that things had ended well, for the most part. Every once in a while she would say something via email or tweet that stung (she always seemed to feel the need to one up me or show that she was more level-headed and/or intelligent than I was) but I let these things slip away with barely a ripple. I convinced myself that she meant no harm; that it was just her personality. Eventually I started to feel that maybe I’d judged her too harshly – that maybe she really was a better person than a lot of people had made her out to be. So, against my husband’s wishes and the advice of EVERYONE I’d spoken to, I contacted her about picking back up with the design for my blog. She’d agreed to hold the $50 of my deposit that hadn’t been spent on stock, so I figured what better way to encourage and help someone in need and recoup a bit of my loss at the same time?
Around this time I was working on getting my hosting plan together. AMM emailed me one day saying that she saw Christine @ Oh, Chrys!’s tweets about me switching her from Blogger to WordPress. Anna wanted to know how much I was charging because she was interested in forming a partnership where she referred her design clients looking to switch to me (she said it would save her a lot of time and effort because she was currently doing it for free). I told her a little bit about my plan and sent her to my mockup page (which had not been finalized or gone live yet – she was aware of this because I told her in the same email). Here are just a few excerpts from the scathing email she sent me in response:
I took a look at your page, and at your email and quite frankly, that is way outside of the prices that I was thinking.
I certainly understand wanting to make money doing something you are capable of doing but at the same time – most people can’t afford what you’re offering, espcially if it’s combined with little to no support. Espcially in conjunction with a site design or something of that sort. To tell them their package with me would be $450, but to even get to a point where they could HAVE me work on their site is going to cost them another $90+ish (depending on the size of their site, it could be more even though, honestly no matter the size of the site, it’s not really any more work for you), plus then $50 every year after that, and that not even to include a domain name. I don’t know, I don’t really agree with that.
So, in turn, I don’t know – my main focus is always making things affordable. If you’re trying to market something to people who simply can’t afford it you’re pulling their strings and ours, so not sure what we can do.
Did she just call me a con/scam artist? When she’s the one doing designs for $450 a pop?? Why, yes she did! But how did I respond??
I originally started out at $20 per year for hosting, which I thought was a steal. After sharing that page with several other people for suggestions and comments, they too were convinced it was a steal – and too much of one. I followed their advice and raised the price. This was in consideration of many things, including the fact that I work about 80 hours a week and therefore have very little free time…so my time is VERY valuable to me, whether it is to you (or anyone else) or not. The package is based on hosting alone and was never intended to work with your design services – it was just supposed to be a reference for us to go off of and try to determine something that would work.
I didn’t decide to offer the hosting so that I could make money – I mean, $40 a year and maybe 5 people sign up….that’s $200. IN A WHOLE YEAR. I spend that in two weeks on gas driving back and forth to work. I made the decision to do it to help others, because I love being self-hosted and I love WordPress and I know there are tons of bloggers who wish they could have both. The reason it hasn’t gone live yet is because I’m still working out all the details. I appreciate your input and will take it into consideration for the final product, if I even decide to do it.
Anyway, it seems to me that I’m not what you’re looking for in this particular instance. I wish you a lot of luck with your endeavors, truly. If there’s some other way I can help you with re-building your design services, please do let me know. In regards to the design, I will get back to you on that once I don’t have quite so much on my plate.
I thought that was pretty civil. Downright nice, even. The last line from her response email (where she attacked my intelligence and motives even more):
I’m sorry if it seems that I was attacking or insulting you, or something of that sort, but I was just being honest and telling you what I thought – since I thought the point was to tell you what I thought and that we’d go from there.
And the last line of my response to that (which she never replied to):
You’ve accused me of ripping people off and implied that I don’t care about providing affordable solutions. You say that you weren’t trying to insult me, but that’s exactly what you’ve done. I honestly don’t see how that’s a very good start to a business relationship.
I didn’t go after her for a response. She dropped it and so did I. Eventually we addressed the reason she didn’t response (she’d intended to respond after she’d had some time to separate herself because she didn’t want drama – which I was totally in accord with – but ended up forgetting about it altogether). I let that one slip away too.
AMM acted delighted to have me back as a client…until the design thing became officially official and money came up. I requested that she do the design at the same cost as before but she wanted to charge me more because business had picked up and she no longer needed the money or exposure. I told her I couldn’t afford the price increase and practically begged her to help me out. I finally broke down and offered to do some blog transfers for her, free of charge. She finally agreed and sent me a bill for the $50 to add to my hold to equal a full $100 deposit. We then had some frank discussions about my design wants, hoping to avoid any misunderstanding and repeats of our first failed attempt. I felt better about things this time around. But that quickly changed.
By this time, a month had passed since we’d started talking about the design again. While waiting for her to work on my NEW design, I was in the process of FINALLY going public with my hosting plan. Those of you who follow me on Twitter may remember that there was an issue that arose in which it seemed that someone who was intimate with my plan had basically taken it for their own. While I understood that my idea was not wholly unique, it hurt because this particular person had been granted knowledge of all the ins and outs of what I was trying to do PLUS they were a big force in the blogging community and I felt that there was no way I’d be able to “compete” with them. I felt that they’d betrayed my confidence and my friendship. I never named that person (and never will – the whole thing ended up just being a misunderstanding that we settled extremely peacefully and privately) but AMM contacted me via DM on Twitter wanting to know who I was talking about. This next event I will just let you read about for yourself. This image was copied from Twitter via TweetDeck – I’ve reversed the order so that it reads from oldest to newest from top to bottom. All names (other than hers and mine) have been redacted and any possibly identifying pronouns have been changed:
Anna Moore @annamariemoore
Hey who are you talking about? What blogger?
I’m sorry but I won’t say, Anna. I refuse to announce who it was/is.
Anna Moore @annamariemoore
I don’t really care WHO it is… was just thinking if I knew them or knew of them could help gauging how they’d act but ok.
You know them, yes. But I won’t say anything more than that except that it has to do with the hosting thing I’ve been working on.
Anna Moore @annamariemoore
Unless you’re doing something that you’ve added that you haven’t told me about people have been doing Blogger migrations + hosting for .. years. I used to do it when I had a personal blog like 5 years ago. Even so, don’t let it deter you – people do the same things all the time. Do what you do, do it better and you won’t have any competition. And as for the person taking your idea… just don’t share any with them anymore.
It’s not the blog migration/hosting that’s the issue. And I have added something – that where the problem arose. But whatever.
Anna Moore @annamariemoore
Then talk to [them] about it. If it’s who I think it is, [they’re] not going to rip your head off.
Honestly, ripping my head off is the least of my concern. [They] did something that is in direct competition to me. And [their] popularity means it’s highly unlikely that anyone would ever choose me over [them] unless I decide to take a huge loss on my end.
Anna Moore @annamariemoore
What’s the unique part that you’re offering that [they] stole? A TON of people do this already. There are a ton of other bloggers out there, and some get choosen for things even when they’re not the most popular. There are a TON of designers out there, but some people choose me over [redacted] – some people choose me over [redacted]. You have followers and people who know you and not [them] will go to you. I didn’t even know of [them] until you starting tweeting w/ [them] & I’ve been around this community for like the last 4 years.
I’m not going to say anything else about the unique part (even though it’s not so unique anymore) until I finally go live with my service.
Anna Moore @annamariemoore
That’s fine – and I know being stung by someone you think is a friend hurts, but google ‘blogger to wordpress migration designer’ you both are unfortunately late to the game. Hopefully your unique idea will give you the edge + since it was yours, you’ll do it better.
Can I be very very honest with you for a minute?
Anna Moore @annamariemoore
By all means
Ok, what I’m about to say is not meant in any way to be rude or an attack on you or anything like that and I hope it doesn’t hurt you but…I really don’t need you to tell me things like “google ‘blogger to wordpress migration designer’ you both are unfortunately late to the game”. I know you probably don’t mean it the way it sounds, but it SOUNDS like you’re belittling what I’m trying to do and that hurts. You actually do that often…I’ll say something and you comment on it in a “one-upper” way. I’ve tried to just pass it off because, again, I like to think you don’t mean it the way I take it…but there’s the truth about it, just so you know. I know that migrating blogs is nothing new. I know that the service I’m putting together is not earth-shattering or mind-blowing. But it is still something that is VERY important to me and that I care a lot about, so I just ask that you respect that.
Anna Moore @annamariemoore
I’m just not going to say anything. Because I have a feeling no matter what I do say, it’s going to get taken the wrong way. I don’t lie and I don’t sugarcoat… that won’t get anyone anywhere. I have friends that value that quality in me over anyone else,…and I know so because they tell me so. So I’m going to leave it at that, and I just won’t discuss anything outside of your design with you anymore because it seems where I’m trying to help, I’m hurting, and that’s not my intention. So I hope you’re able to work everything out and that your service is a bash and people love it.
If there’s no discussion, there can’t be understanding. I’d like to think that we can reach that no matter how different our opinions may be and that’s why I even bothered to bring it up. As I said, I wasn’t trying to upset you or accuse you of anything. I value your insight on things and that’s why you and I ARE still talking despite some differences we’ve had in the past. I really don’t want you to feel you can’t discuss things with me, but if that’s the case then I will just have to accept that. As for the lie and sugarcoat thing…I totally respect that. I feel that I am the same way – many many people DON’T like that about me, but my closest friends love it. I wasn’t trying to imply that you should lie to me or sugarcoat things. What I was trying to say is that those are things I already know. I don’t need you to tell me that this isn’t a groundbreaking idea. But often times more than WHAT you say, it’s HOW you say it – it’s your delivery. It just seems like you’re putting me down sometimes, and that hurts a little even though – again, as I said – I don’t think you mean it that way. When I talk to people, I try to be positive, even when what I’m saying isn’t the most positive thing that could be said. Especially in a situation like this, when someone is working to build something that they are passionate about. I would never say something like “you’re late to the game” in that circumstance. Instead, I would encourage them to find ways to make their offering unique since there ARE so many people/companies already doing it. Does that make sense?
Anna Moore @annamariemoore
Writing a longer response that I’ll email to you, not sure twitter is the best way to sent book-sized messages, so give me just a few.
And here is the email she sent me:
Okay – sorry. My brain gets confused with so many components to one message.
The thing is, I’m glad you have something your passionate about, I really am – I’m glad when people find new things they want to seek out and learn about and involve people in. Especially when it HELPS out the other people. But based on what you’ve said so far, and how you’ve reacted to what’s happened I find it hard to believe that if I had said ‘well find another way to make it creative, or unique’ that your response would have been something other than ‘I already did and it was stolen!’
From my point of view, you overreact to a lot of things, which is FINE. It really is, literally everyone does it, but it doesn’t need to be in such a public forum. I mean scream at the air, shout, hit things, do whatever you have to do, but take a break, really think about it before you tweet about it.
I learned a HARD lesson recently when I posted something on Twitter passive aggressively and the thing is you do that a lot. I’ve had multiple people comment to me about it because they know I talk to you. And I KNOW it hurts being burnt by friends or people you trust, cause I’ve had it done too, everyone has but the thing is on your Twitter people don’t get the whole story. They don’t know. And you’re tweeting about someone who I’m pretty sure you follow and who follows you and that makes it REALLY easy to find out who you’re talking about. You’re talking about how your heartbroken, and you feel like crying and you can do those things, but do them to your husband, or tell them to your mom or something, not on Twitter. I understand that there are people on there who care about you that you want opinions from, so message them separately. When you do it online like that with such a short amount of time to express yourself (140 chars) it feels like you’re acting like you just had THE most unique idea ever and someone just in the most dastardly way stole it from you. I realize you’re upset it happened, but those things should be dealt with behind closed doors. It doesn’t need to be public, because when you give people only HALF of the information, you also give them the chance to make themselves look stupid without arming them with the full knowledge of everything.
You are offering a great service, and there are going to be people who need it and want it and thank you for it. Don’t let service and that good get lost in all of the passive aggressiveness or the emotion that’s in your twitter stream. Because there are going to be people who judge you based solely on that. And some of those tweets do read over-dramatic when not placed in context, but you can’t expect people on the internet to always seek out all of the information. They see ONE thing and a lot of the times, a lot of people ONLY focus on that.
I’m sorry if it seems like I’m being rude, or belittling you, it’s not the case. I want you to be successful and to do great things. We need more strong willed people who know what they want in this world, but you have to be careful about how you’re presenting the WHOLE picture. Everything you do and say nowadays on the internet STAYS on the internet… you can delete your twitter, your facebook and people will still find ways to see it. Everything you put out there becomes who you are to people who find your feed, or your site. Focus on the good things, deal with the bad things by talking to friends in private, or behind closed doors. I learned this lesson the hard way, and it took focus away from my designing, which is what I’d much rather people know me for. Not for always being eccentrically upset or posting negative things on Twitter. You have to be very conscious about the you that you present to people, because if you’re not it will take away from the good you’re trying to do.
Here’s my response:
Well I appreciate you letting me know all that. It’s very eye opening. I had no idea that I was posting things passive aggressively on Twitter. And for people to be commenting to you about it…sorry, my mind’s a little blown. I’ve never had a reason to say anything about another blogger until now – and I *thought* I did a good job of not revealing any information publicly that would identify [them]. But you are right – I will definitely have to watch the things I say more closely.
It makes me sad that you feel that had you said what I recommended, that would have been my response to you. It would NOT have been…but perception is everything I suppose.
I’m glad we were able to talk about this. Thank you for being open and honest with me and for allowing me to be open and honest with you.
She never responded, but her attack prompted this post, where you can read about how it made me feel and what some other people thought of it.
After that fiasco, she unfollowed me on Twitter so I did likewise. I agreed it was best if we kept things strictly business since it was now blatantly obvious that trying to work through issues with her was impossible. Our only contact since then have been the emails about my design, which went like this:
Hey Anna, I just wanted to see if you’d had time to start work on my logo and/or design yet? If not, that’s ok – just wanted to check in with you.
I’ve looked at what you sent over and such, but I haven’t had the time to nail anything down. I was planning on starting the sketches tomorrow for ideas & then would probably get you some rough drafts on them on the 18th!
Jul 23 (10 days ago)
Hey Anna. Haven’t heard from you…it’s been 5 days since the 18th. Any updates?
Jul 23 (10 days ago)
Hey Shannon, no solid updates yet. I’ve done some sketches and some research on logos, but haven’t done anything yet on the computer – trying to finish up the handful of projects I have before August, and then I can solely concentrate on yours before anything new comes in.
Jul 23 (10 days ago)
Ok, looking forward to seeing what you come up with soon!
Jul 24 (9 days ago)
I don’t know what you’re working on so far (please don’t scrap it, I want to see ALL your ideas) but something that’s really been calling out to me lately is owls. Owls in trees, and stars. Just throwing that out there.
Notice that last email was 9 days ago. She never responded. Yesterday I decided to finally just email her and tell her to forget about the design and, once again, try to get a refund. When I opened my email though, there was already one waiting from her. It said:
Aug 1 (1 day ago)
Last night I took a look at the work that I have remaining for August and things I still need to do and unfortunately, I just don’t have the time to take on a project the size of yours and be able to give it the priority it needs to get done. I’ve worked on the logos here and there but I haven’t been able to sit down and focus solely on it, and so I feel it’s only fair to refund the deposit you made ($51.50) and stop any further progress on the project. I’m sorry that I’m not able to work on it with you, but right now I simply do not have the time.
The refund should be arriving in your Paypal momentarily.
Hope you’re having a great day and that August treats you well.
I was extremely irritated, but extremely relieved at the same time. I thought, FINALLY, it’s over for good this time and we’re moving on. I had no intention of responding to her in any way or publicly mentioning what happened. I just wanted to be done.
But then today I received a DM from a fellow blogger telling me that AMM had revamped her design site and was now offering hosting and blog transfers in a slightly different way than me but around the same price point. I would share the link here, but I don’t want to direct any traffic to her site from mine. If you’re curious, I’m sure you can find it. Anyway, needless to say I was HOT. Not because she “stole” my idea, no. I’m fully aware that, as I said before, my idea was not wholly unique. Anyone who knows how can do what I do…and they don’t have to ask my permission to do it, although in a case like this, where it’s an acquaintance, it would have been nice to receive a courtesy email. But no, I wasn’t angry about those things. I was angry because JUST WEEKS AGO SHE WAS IMPLYING THAT I WAS RIPPING PEOPLE OFF FOR DOING THIS AND NOW SHE’S DOING THE SAME DAMN THING. And on top of that, the day before she emailed me to tell me she was too busy to complete my design, she tweeted this:
What was that she said about not lying or sugarcoating things?
That is what prompted this post.
I’m not going to wrap up by bashing her – although she’s said and done SO MANY things I could bash her for (including having her bestie butt into one of my twitter conversations to accuse me of causing drama – even though she claimed she didn’t know who we were talking about) – that’s not what this post is about. I’m just putting this info out there because I want the people I care about – and even the people I don’t know – to know who Anna Marie Moore really is before they hire her as their designer. I don’t begrudge anyone who reads this and still chooses to do so – not everyone will have the same experience I did…that’s obvious or else she wouldn’t be getting any business at all.
But I refuse to sit on this. I’m a big proponent for TRUTH and what you’ve read her is the truth about how unprofessional and rude Anna has acted with me. Do with it what you will.