blogging

Types of Mom Blogs

I became fascinated with mom blogging a few years ago when I was ghostwriting for a mom blogger. Initially, I thought mom bloggers wrote about “mom stuff” like toys, feeding, cute clothes, developmental concerns, and the like. Rather, I found most mom bloggers focus on a specific niche. In other words, mom blogs don’t have to be about “mom stuff.” Here are some different types of mom blogs I’ve come across:

Mom Bloggers with Multiple Authors

These blogs typically cover “mom stuff,” including pregnancy and postpartum. They have multiple regular contributors in addition to guest writers.

Babble. Babble is owned by Disney and focuses on parenting and pregnancy. Contributing writers are typically employed by Disney in some capacity. Babble features more of the “sensational” and celebrity side of mom blogging, in addition to addressing topics such as summer vacation tips and funny tweets from parents.

Example: “Kristen Bell’s Trick for Keeping Her Kids Close is One We’ll Be Stealing ASAP.

Pregnant Chicken. Pregnant Chicken was a project started in 2010 by a woman who wanted to help others navigate the world of pregnancy/parenting. Since then, Pregnant Chicken has grown to include a handful of full-time bloggers and various contributors.

The writing is a good combination of humor and brutal honesty. Some categories include the “Scary Sh** Series” and helpful tips for handling the tougher moments that come with parenting. This blog isn’t for the faint-hearted — in addition to the aforementioned brutal honesty, readers should be prepared for some coarse language.

Example: The Seven Stages of Picking a Name For Your Baby

Hellobee. Hellobee is a collection of posts from a community centered around a family (the mom used to be a wedding blogger). The blog is unique in that it’s a community forum where people can post questions and participate in conversations. However, to unlock this function of the website, there’s a fee (about $25/year).

Example: Some of Our Favorite Picture Books Featuring Animals

Maine Mom Blogs

Mom blogs by geography offer a fun, unique perspective of a certain location (local daycares, best places to go swimming, etc).

Scraped Up Kid. Published via Bangor Daily News, “Scraped Up Kid” is written by Mount Desert Island resident Cherie Galyean, and is all about the outdoors and children. I love it because I spent the first 3 years of my life living on a lakefront cabin where we had no neighbors. We spent a lot of time outside and my own kiddo is going to grow up in a similar way.

Example: Stop Making Outside a Chore (a prime example of a nostalgic read — my brother and I were outside whenever it was nice out).

Soule Mama. A blog from a Western Maine mom, author, and magazine editor, this is a great example of a blog with sponsorship. (If you look at the list of sponsors in the sidebar, you’ll see all of them have a common theme of based on the blog’s overall message.) The blog is updated fairly regularly and features topics such as gardening, farm life, homeschooling, Maine, and a recent series about yurts.

Example: Raising the Yurt, Part One (I’m a little obsessed with the idea of yurts).

Running & Fitness Mom Blogs

Hungry Runner Girl. This has been one of my favorite blogs for the past 3 years. The author has a 4-year-old and is pregnant again (I was pretty excited to hear that we are overlapping a little bit). Initially, I began reading this blog for running advice and getting tips for speed work. Now I just read it for fun/tips on juggling life with a small child.

Example: On Being a Single Mom (I loved this post when it was written in 2015/16, well before mom-hood was on my radar).

Carrots N Cake. Like Hungry Runner Girl, Carrots N Cake started out pre-motherhood, and evolved to fit the mom blogger model. While the writer, Tina, does some running-related stuff, she is also a certified personal trainer and has nutrition-related certification. She also works full time at a company she runs with another woman called Designed to Fit Nutrition.

Example: 10 Tips for Balancing Exercise with a New Baby.

Food Mom Blogs

Oh She Glows. Oh She Glows also started pre-motherhood and has continued now that the author has had two young children. Her website mainly focuses on food and recipes, although she does include some anecdotal bits about her family.

Example: Vegan Cinnamon Rolls with a Make-Ahead Option

Foodtastic Mom. This mom shares recipes for those looking to balance meal time with the demands of work, family schedules, etc. Her philosophy is that the kitchen should be a place of empowerment rather than stress.

Example: Sheet Pan Fish Tacos

Personal Finance Mom Blogs

The Budget Mom. The Budget Mom started in 2016 by a woman who went to college for Business Administration/Finance. She has also performed a lot of personal finance research on credit card debt and student loan repayment, all while raising a young child. Her blog shares tips on budgeting, debt, and how to save more.

Example: Budgeting: Income (yay) vs. Expenses (yuck)

Jessi Fearon- Real Life on a Budget: Jessi is a mother of 3 who, with her husband, eliminated more than $50 grand in debt over 17 months.  She created her blog to help others learn to control their money (rather than vice versa). She also produces e-courses and challenges that go out via email newsletters, as well as a YouTube channel.

Example: How We Paid Off $5000 of Debt in 1 Month

Moms who blog are not restricted to writing exclusively about motherhood, although that is certainly a route that some take. I’ve only shared some examples of the different things mom bloggers are writing about, but trust me, there are many more out there!

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Blogging by Trimester

The other day, I saw something fun post on Pinterest (go figure, right?) that likened the stages of starting a business to the trimesters of pregnancy. I found that pretty clever, and it got me thinking about a similar comparison between pregnancy and building a blog:

First Trimester.

  • Building the foundation (domain, hosting, software)

The first trimester is where all the groundwork gets laid out. For a blog, this involves deciding on a domain name, hosting, and software. The domain name is your URL, one of the first orders of business when it comes to building a blog or any website (unlike in pregnancy, where you can until after the baby’s born to think of a name). The hosting and software components are the important structural/functional components that will lay the foundation for the actual blog. Unlike the first trimester’s structural happenings, you do ultimately have control over hosting and software. You can bundle the two together using something like Wix or Weebly, or do a separate hosting/software combination such as Siteground and Wordpress. We have a Tech Thursday video that discusses some of the different options — it really comes down to how much control and support you want in the process. For instance, if you’re just looking for a place to write online and don’t care about maintaining a whole website, something like Wix or Weebly might be a better starting point.

Second Trimester:

  • Building the framework & adding content (pages, design, menus, header/footer/sidebar).

After the basics are laid out, it’s time to start building the pages. This is where you go from the “bundle of cells” to forming the actual stuff of the website. Think about the features you’d like your website to have. Some common pages you might have on your website are an About page, a contact page, and so on. The content, organization, and layout of your blog are all up to you. If you’re feeling stumped or overwhelmed, take a look at a few different blogs to see what others are offering. This is the best way to get inspired, and you may get taken in a different direction than you’d initially planned. Other things to think about are menu structure, images, colors, and headers and footers.

Third Trimester:

  • Fine tuning, testing, creating a plan, and marketing

Once you’ve built some of the content, you’re in the “getting ready” phase. Basically, the “third trimester” is all about fine tuning. If you have forms on your site, test them out to see how they look. Make sure your images line up and look good. See how your website looks on mobile, too, because chances are you’ll have some people reading from their phones. Other things to think about include creating a content plan. A content plan is just how you plan on running your blog — how frequently you’ll be posting, different topics you’ll be writing about, etc. This is another one of those “there are no right or wrong answer” situations, but it’s important to choose something that allows you to be consistent.

The second part of this stage is thinking about how you will market your blog (if that’s something you’re thinking about doing). If you are going to do some marketing, now is the time to decide if/where you’ll share on social media, if you want to create a weekly/monthly blog digest that sends recent blog posts to your readers’ email, and anything else along those lines.

Postpartum:

  • Keeping things alive and growing.

The next phase of starting a blog is pretty much just upkeep. Check in with yourself — how is your content plan going? Are you able to stick to the schedule you made for yourself or do you need to re-evaluate? Something else to consider now is whether you want to make money (some different ways you can do this here). You may also want to check out is Google Analytics for your website to see how many people are reading, and get a better idea of your audience and what people are doing when they get to your blog.

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Time Management for Mom Bloggers

Note: Although part of my series on mom bloggers, this post on time management can apply to a variety of people. Moms are just one example of people who juggle multiple priorities. 

Today, a lot of women are balancing both career and motherhood. Some are working from home and are telecommuting, others run businesses from their homes. Still more are finding they can make money blogging about motherhood (a topic we discussed last time).

Interestingly, 95% of mom entrepreneurs — those who aren’t working for someone else — have a spouse/significant other who generates the primary source of income, according to Entrepreneur.

Moms with young children can save money on childcare costs by keeping the kids at home. However, with that comes another distraction for the work-at-home mother.

All this means is that time management is crucial for those moms who work from home to provide supplemental income, especially those starting a business. That also means making sacrifices.

In order to grow their businesses, many moms cut or eliminate entirely other areas of their lives way, as seen in the infographic below. Common areas that get neglected include social life, working out, and any of their usual hobbies. One thing that makes me happy to see is that a good night’s sleep still seems to be a priority among the working from home mom, with 6-8 hours being the average (since I’ve been hearing a lot of “You’ll never sleep again!”, a 6 hour night seems pretty decent).

From Entrepreneur

In terms of managing work time vs. household and kid time, there are several ways to approach things.

Separate work-time and home-time as much as possible. For many, this means having a designated work area (that is also recognized by other family members as such). It also means setting aside time to be in that area and being as productive as possible. One of the best ways to maximize productivity is to figure out the time of day when you are most productive and make that your dedicated “work time” if possible. It’s about setting up a work/home barrier for your own productivity and establishing a routine and boundaries for the others in your household.

Create a Schedule. As I mentioned earlier, flexibility was a big reason why many moms choose to work from home. Flexibility doesn’t necessarily come without a schedule, though. While the routine may vary from day to day (i.e. one kid goes to daycare on Tuesdays and Thursdays only, someone has a doctor’s appointment coming up, etc), creating a schedule for yourself (and your family) is one way to stay on top of work flow.

Work with Your Family. I read this blog post about a woman who was able to work at home without sacrificing any time with her family, which I find pretty appealing. She talks about how she learned to adjust her working habits — from learning to work outside where her daughter slept best to typing while her husband drove on longer car trips. Odds are there are areas where you can compromise and have the best of both worlds. Unfortunately, since every family and kid(s) are so different, I can’t offer any “do this one thing” tips on making this feasible — it will probably require some trial and error on your part.

Learn to say “No.” This means learning to say no to taking on more work than you can handle and even saying “no” to yourself when you start getting distracted by things like social media and the dishes sitting in the sink. Sure, you could probably multitask as many things as possible, but that’s probably going to make you feel crazy and, eventually, burnt out. Say no to the things that are going to hurt you rather than help you in the long (or short) run.

Learn to Say “Yes.” Gotcha! Sometimes, you need to learn how to say “yes” when people ask to help you. Or, maybe you need to take some initiative and let people know when you need help (something I’ve learned in life is that no one can read my mind, no matter how much I’ve tried to get them to). Maybe you’re a perfectionist and worried things can only get done the “right way” if you’re in charge. Or maybe you’re convinced that people are counting on you to do “all the things” and you’re afraid to fall short of that. Accepting help around the house, arranging a carpooling situation with childcare, or delegating certain tasks (even to older kids) can help keep things on an even keel.

Here is a list of general productivity posts that we’ve written over the years, in addition to some mom blog related posts that I thought were helpful in writing this post:

Chunky Yet Funky: Thoughts on Productivity and My Writing Style

Finding Time vs. Making Time

The Two Things You Need To Work From Home

Five Ways You Can Be More Productive … in 2015 or whenever

19 Time Management Tips for Mom Bloggers- Money Saving Mom

Mom’s Guide to Managing Time- Real Simple

 

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

How Do Mom Bloggers Make Money?

Until recently, I was under the impression that most moms who blogged did it just to hear themselves talk. But now that I have my own personal blog and will soon be a mother, I’m realizing that isn’t the case at all.

Most mom bloggers are actually making money with their blog. Plus, it allows them to stay at home most of the time, do something they enjoy, and raise their kids. I definitely see the benefits.

These women may also be looking to make some money during maternity leave, which is not always paid for in the U.S. (I just read an interesting article about women who are using crowdfunding to allow them to go on maternity leave without worrying about money).

But how does a mom blogger make money? There are a few different options:

Ads. Back in the day of mom-blog Dooce, bloggers made a good chunk of money using banner ads. This article explains why that became basically extinct as a money making option, thanks to the rise of mobile.

Today, tools such as Google AdSense, BlogHer, and Media.net work as middlemen, connecting you to companies looking to advertise. The flipside, especially when using tools like Google Adsense, is that you’re at the mercy of how they decide to set up the advertising. For example, Google Adsense just gives you a code to copy and paste into your website’s header. You don’t have any customization options (or any control over whether Google decides to display any ads at all).

Want to learn more about the different types of online ads in detail? Check out our Online Ads 101 blog post series!

Sponsored Posts. Sponsored posts have become popular in recent years with mom bloggers looking to generate income. The posts usually are formulated after a larger brand connects with a blogger to create some sort of offer, in exchange for product/service promotion. A lot of these brands also have programs that bloggers and others can apply to participate.

Most sponsored post bloggers are paid to write the post (which may have to meet certain rules/guidelines), no matter how many sales are generated afterward. Many bloggers will disclose to readers at the beginning of the blog post if it is sponsored (some consider this a matter of ethics). This article explains that a sponsored post’s primary goal is brand awareness; actual sales are secondary.

Aforementioned mom blogger from Dooce discusses her personal reasons for not going the sponsorship route: “The problem is I have to give my readers what they want, I have to give the brand what they want, and I have to be authentic to who I am.” Pleasing everyone in this instance can be tricky, and it makes sense that this model is not for everyone.

Affiliates. Affiliate programs’ monetary arrangements differ from sponsored posts. The blogger is usually given a specific link or code for their readers, and if someone makes a purchase within a certain timeframe (often 7-28 days), the blogger gets a certain percent of the sale.

This might be more mutually beneficial because payment only occurs when a purchase is made. The blogger may also have a bit more freedom when it comes to sharing the affiliate link.

As with a sponsored post, the writer could create one or more posts dedicated to the affiliate brand, sharing the unique offer at the end of the post. If that feels uncomfortable, they could also create a widget/button on their website that links to the affiliate. Another idea for multiple affiliates is to create a landing page of all affiliate websites (which more or less just shoves them all in the same area).  As long as the blogger is within the guidelines of the affiliate program, there can be more wiggle room in how it’s marketed.

Another idea for multiple affiliates is to create a landing page of all affiliate websites (which more or less just shoves them all in the same area).  As long as the blogger is within the guidelines of the affiliate program, there can be more wiggle room in how it’s marketed.

Creating a Product/Service. This involves a more active approach to generating income, meaning there has to be some product or service offered to readers. In order to make it profitable, the readers, in turn, have to perceive the product as something valuable.

In this Penny Hoarder article, mom blogger Suzi Whitford discusses how she gave up her engineering job to be a stay at home mom, but still wanted to contribute in order to offset household expenses. So she started her version of a lifestyle blog, but with a spin (honestly, I think this could easily be an episode of Side Hustle School). She first created an ebook to help people start their own blogs, and later created online courses. People could purchase these on her website.

There are plenty of options for mom or other lifestyle bloggers when it comes to making money. Part of the decision-making process is knowing what type of experience you want to provide readers (i.e. if you want them to experience an ad-free website), and being clear about your mission.

Stay tuned for more posts about mom blogs and bloggers coming this month!

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

My Five Favorite Business Books

100startupIt’s no secret that to be a good writer, it helps to be a good reader.
And when I first started this business and time was short, I decided I was only going to read business books (and occasional biography of a business person helped break things up). I now read other things for fun but someone asked me about what my favorite business books were. Here they are in no particular order (with no affiliate links):

$100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

It’s always great to think in the bootstrapping mindset because at the beginning, you want to spend time and money on everything but can’t. His ‘launch’ checklist alone is worth the price of admission but it is available on his website too: http://100startup.com/resources/launch-checklist.pdf There is an awesome amount of case studies that will make even the most hesitant person inspired to try a business on the side.

Lessons of A Lipstick Queen by Poppy King

Mainly a memoir, this book is about a young woman running a business. In a lot of ways, I saw myself and in a lot of ways, I didn’t. She has a lot of great one liners and her candidness is appreciated because so many people aren’t. It was nice to hear about someone feeling insecure, making ‘bad’ decisions, and otherwise admitting to the things no business owner ever wants to admit. Plus I love learning from people outside our industry in particular.

Your Best Year Yet! by Jinny Ditzler

If you are worried people are going to know you read self help books, this will tip them off for sure. From the clouds on the cover to the exclamation mark in the title, you know you are in for it. I do this goal setting exercise with myself at the beginning of each year (or I guess more accurately, at the end of the current year for the following year). You don’t have to read the whole book; just use if for the questions you are supposed to ask yourself (the book has elaboration on those questions, which is sometimes needed honestly).

Problogger Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six Figure Income by Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett

Written before social media was anything big, this is how to get blog traffic without it. A lot of what he says is still true today. If you want to use a blog as part of your business strategy (and if you want more traffic to your website or to build relationships, you might as well have a blog), this is a great book about the tech, the content, the marketing (though again, the social media piece is missing) and the money parts of blogging.

Jab Jab Jab Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk

The hundreds (literally) of social media case studies are great for showing and not telling. Also a great overview of each social network, its strengths, and its weaknesses. Whether you are just starting with social media or have been doing it for awhile, this will get you thinking. Content is king but context is God indeed! Enjoy all the pictures of actual posts with their own ‘how to do it better’ makeovers, I did!
I’ve certainly read more than this but these are ones I really enjoyed. What five books influenced the way you started your business/career?
Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

To GIF or Not to GIF?

via GIPHY

A lot of social media platforms are now allowing you to share GIFs. GIFs are like the moving pictures in Harry Potter, they aren’t still but aren’t necessarily a full video either. In our internet travels, we’ve seen the good and bad side of GIF usage. They’re usually clips from popular movies/t.v. shows, or at least, that’s what typically comes to mind for me. Some businesses are using GIFs in a different way by creating their own and using them in marketing.

The GIF format has a few advantages. First, since it’s moving, it’s more likely to catch the eye of people scrolling through a feed. The clips are also usually short, another bonus for attention spans. There are also GIFs for almost every occassion/emotion out there, so they’re often used as a way to articulate or react to something.

Some companies or brands use them to showcase new products or demonstrations. It’s easier to illustrate than writing (and let’s face it, more interesting), and it’s easier to digest than a full (or at least several minutes long) type of video. A compilation of GIFs combined with some text instructions create an easy way for people to follow instructions. The Learn to Crochet Tumblr is one example of this.
Example: The tweet below from The New York Times uses a GIF as a way to catch your eye as you scroll.


It’s not the most revolutionary use of GIFs ever, but it’s a step up from reading the tweet sans image. A more innovative use of a GIF I’ve seen is from Dunkin Donuts, who uses it to create a conversation between two friends making breakfast plans. It’s quick, and a little bit corny, but it appropriately conveys the enthusiasm people have for donuts and coffee.

http://dunkindonuts.tumblr.com/post/134418868621/when-bestie-always-knows-what-you-want

Wait, you might be thinking, making my own GIFs? That’s nuts.  There are places online where you can accomplish this, like http://makeagif.com/. Although, to be fair, most of the larger companies like NYT or Dunkin Donuts have staff/agencies on hand to do exactly this. Fortunately, there are plenty of places online where you can find a library of reaction GIFs (mainly, GIPHY.com).

A couple common places you can find GIFs are Tumblr or Buzzfeed lists, which are purely for purposes of entertainment. Some people add them into their blogs or other social media as a way to illustrate a point. For instance, there’s this Buzzfeed list of “21 Perfect Reaction GIFs to Every Occassion” (FYI, they’re all animals).

Some blogs use GIFs, in addition to images and/or video, to emphasize a point. One of my favorite blogs, Run Eat Repeat, does this pretty frequently (usually with Bravo TV GIFs, which I love even more). Below is an example of one that she used to elaborate a story about getting stung by some bees on a run:

RERbeestinggif

So, whether you choose to make your own GIFs, use them to express a reaction/emotion, or just as a way to further illustrate a point (kind of like a meme on steroids), consider GIFs another tool in your marketing arsenal.

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.
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