Each month, we will put a blogger in the hot seat and ask them questions about their blog and how it is for them being a blogger. First to sit in the hot seat is Jamie of hands on : as we grow (and a blogger here at Blogging With Kids).
You can ask any additional questions you have for Jamie in the comments section and she’ll do her best at answering them as best she can.
(Also, if you’re interested in being in the blogger hot seat, let me know!)
This Month’s Blogger in the Hot Seat:
hands on : as we grow
1. Name: Jamie
2. Age: I hit the big 3-0 last time…
4. How long have you been blogging? I started in December of 2010, right before Christmas. It wasn’t until February that it became hands on : as we grow and I started to promote posts and such. So I guess a good year and a half.
5. What would you say your blog is about? Hands on kids activities for hands on moms. That’s my tagline at least. I post mostly about preschool and toddler activities. Fine motor, gross motor, just fun activities and some intentional learning activities. I think I’m known for my play collections (roundups) though.
6. What is your biggest challenge blogging? Balancing time spent with the kids. As the blog has grown and it has started making a decent income, I feel obligated to spend more time on it to make that money worthwhile. Unfortunately, the kid-time takes a hit then. Which usually ends up in an unhappy household. So refreshing ourselves and getting back on track seems to be a regular occurrence around here. I try to channel the 30 days to hands on play on almost a daily basis. The need of uninterrupted time with the kids is a must!
Aside from time management, I struggle with looking at the blog as a business, it’s still just a hobby for me. I also struggle with seeing myself as a public figure or as an ‘expert’ on kid activities. I’m just a mom.
7. Did you have any blogging experience before you started? Not at all. In fact, at my previous employer, they wanted me to start a blog and do social media on Facebook for them. I just didn’t get it. How could that possibly benefit them. And what is a blog anyway? It was beyond me.
But I’ve always had an interest in technology and can usually muddle my way through things until I figure it out. That’s all I’m doing now. Muddling my way through trying things until I get something right.
8. What do you enjoy most about blogging? It sounds so vain when I put it in words! I really do enjoy the gratification that I get from seeing a post go viral, seeing comments that tell me how much they adore the activity and my blog. I do really enjoy now that I am getting a somewhat decent income from it and I’m still able to stay home with the boys. Oh, I absolutely love collaborating and seeing group efforts to make a difference too! I can’t forget that!
9. What is at the top of your blogging to do list at the moment? I’m toying with the idea of another redesign… Otherwise its just to get ahead again and not do everything last minute.
10. Why do you blog? I started the blog as a way to hold myself accountable for doing activities with the boys (It was my 2011 New Years Resolution to do so). It’s still that for sure, but added onto that as well. It’s now a space for me, something that I can call mine, and I feel that I am contributing to our family income now, at least a little.
11. What is your most popular post? 50 Activities Just for Your Toddler. By far.
12. What is your favourite post? They’re not my usual posts, they’re my favorite because I actually had to think about how I wanted to write it and poured my heart into them. One being 10 Ways to Become a Hands on Mom and the other is about George and a part of The Golden Gleam’s We Get It Series, We Get It: Night Terrors. The comments that I received from that post has astounded me and is inspiring me to want to write more like this, but it literally drains me to write in this way.
To entice my readers to stick around a little on hands on : as we grow, I put together a list of my favorite posts that I suggest for them to browse through when they sign up for my weekly newsletter, as well as at the top of each post when I welcome them, I ask them to take a peek at them to get a feel for hands on : as we grow.
13. What do you wish you could tell yourself to do back when you started blogging? Wait until Pinterest started to start. Ha! Just kidding. Work on keywords from the beginning. Start on WordPress and set up my formatting so it could all be changed via css instead of in each post. Have a better system for my photos at the beginning, I lost a bunch due to moving them on my hard drive and that connection with Picasa Web Albums.
14. What has most surprised you about blogging? That I care about it. That I’ve stuck with it. I tend to hop from thing to thing a lot. I am always surprised at the audacity of readers though. How blunt they can be about pointing out imperfections of an activity, or with writing. That would be never be said in person, but online, anything goes.
15. Where do you spend the majority of your blogging time? I laugh at the phrase “blogging time” because my husband constantly asks me “Are you Blogging?” just because I’m sitting at the computer. It might all be related to my blog in some way or another, but I’m not directly writing a post. I may be checking out Pinterest, just because, but I suppose it has to do with the blog in some way. So, what I consider the majority of time spent on blogging (directly) would be creating the content for the blog. Doing activities with the kids, thinking of new activities to do, etc.
As far as how I spend my actual blogging time at the computer and where I like to focus my blogging efforts would be greatly on Pinterest and Facebook. Twitter, not so much for me (most everything is automated for me over there). And Google+ I’m trying my hardest at learning and getting the hang of, it’s finally coming along that I’m starting to enjoy it over there just a tad.
16. When did you first monetize your blog? I sold my first sponsored ad (for my sidebar) in June of 2011 (actually technically the end of May), so I had been blogging for 6 months. I did do one giveaway/review in May before that in return for the product (no actual monetary compensation).
17. What’s your biggest money-maker for your blog? Currently, the ads that run on my site bring in the most money for hands on : as we grow. I run ads from BlogHer and Adsense both. Sponsored posts are next in line.
18. I want to be a Maytag Mom, how did you become an ambassador? I applied for it and was very lucky to be picked! Very lucky. I’ve been signed up with MomCentral for quite some time and choose to apply for sponsored posts here and there for them when its a good fit for my readers. When the Maytag Ambassadorship email came my way, I didn’t hesitate for a second and applied! (And then waited and waited and waited some more to hear back.)
19. How did you start to make connections with brands? At the beginning, I literally ‘cold-called’ brands. I trolled through other blogs to see who sponsored them or their posts and found brands I liked and thought would be a good fit for hands on : as we grow and emailed them asking them to partner with me. I did this a lot. Hearing very few responses, and a lot of no’s when I did hear back. But I did get a few yeses too. Eventually, I started to connect with third parties that hooked me up with the brands, such as MomCentral, SocialSpark, Blueprint Social, and so on. And now I apply for opportunities to work with brands when they come my way. It takes a lot of the hassle of going and finding the ‘work’, but it also takes out the personal connection with the brand.