Mom’s Nap Time Reads

Moms Nap Time Reads

Sit down, grab a cuppa and cake (yes a very English expression there) get comfortable and check out these posts from the last week that you may have missed from members within our community.

Memory Making Jar

First off from Inspire Imagination Through Creation a nifty way to store those milestone and memories throughout the years that they created together at home.

Creative Sensory Play

We all love playing with play dough with our kids and I love the way that Mama Smiles adds extra elements like Rocks and stones to the play and turns it into creative sensory play.

Fun Fall Learning Activity

From Love, Play, Learn there is a fun fall learning activity all to do with size and texture makes me want to flick through the seed catalogue for next year and order some of these varieties to do this activity.

Giant Tic Tac Toe with an Autumn Theme

From The Usual Mayhem this fun Tic Tac Toe Game uses Autumn leaves with some added fun I can’t wait to give it a try as it looks so much fun.

Pumpkin PrintingWhat do we do all day does some fun pumpkin printing with mini pumpkins. We love printing and printing with pumpkins is one thing we haven’t tried yet will have to add it to our ever growing list.

Things to do with Pine Cones

With 7 fun ideas that are learning and crafty Making Boys Men has some great ideas for things to do with pine cones and kids.

I hope you have enjoyed our nap time reads and check back next week to see what members of our community have been sharing over the last week.

Blogger in the Hot Seat: Hands on: as we grow

Blogger In the Hot Seat: hands on : as we grow

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…

3. Where do you blog? On hands on : as we grow and here at Blogging With Kids. That’s it so far! Stay tuned though…

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.

hands on : as we grow

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.

50 Activities Just For Your Toddler

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.

20. Do you have a question for Jamie? Ask her in the comments!

Printable Blog Calendar & Post Planning Sheets

Blog Planning Calendar

With school starting and fall approaching, I seem to swing into planning mode and this includes planning for my blog. As a teacher, I used to have a brand new lesson plan book and folder for each school year (plus new stationery as well). Blogging, to me, seems no different and the start of a new school year sees me with a moment to reflect on how I’ve done and plan to move forward.

I do most of my blog planning on a good old fashioned notepad with coloured pens and pencils. I jot down ideas that come to me and use this as a method to plan activities that we do at home and then to post about them. I’m not one for having a set day for anything on Rainy Day Mum – apart from our regular weekly Linky, but that is it – everything else moves around. So planning on paper helps me to keep my thoughts organised.

Blog Calendar for Planning

Once I have ideas roughed out I get my calendar and schedule when I think that I will post them – By the end of the month the calendar is covered in crossing out as new things crop up and I make changes to when I want to post things. As well as a calendar for my own blog, I have a separate one where I schedule my guest posts over the month on different blogs.

Blog Planning from The Dainty Squid

I’m colour mad and tend to use different coloured pens and highlighters on my calendar to show where the post is for and even the topic of the post. I love this idea from The Dainty Squid with the use of Post it notes to colour coordinate the planning process. This would also mean less crossing out and I could move the post it notes around – Anyone feel like a trip to the stationery store after seeing the picture above and stocking up on them?

Blog Post Planning Sheets

Once I have post titles sorted, I then work on sketching out my posts – sometimes I go straight ahead and write them directly into WordPress other times I sit and sketch out the posts on some planning sheets I came up with. I have laminated my planning sheets so I can plan using a dry wipe marker and then when the post is up and written I just wipe off and reuse.

On my planning sheets, I try and work out what keywords I would use in the post and the categories, tags that I will use as well. A nice thing about doing it on paper it means that my children see me writing, plus it’s something that I can do wherever I am as well – I’m not tied to wires and Internet connections.

Blog Calendar Printable Download

To help you with your blog planning we have produced a printable blog calendar for you – starting September 2012 and going through to December 2013, Yes, 16 full months for you. Plus, 12 post planning sheets, which like me, you could laminate and use over and over again.

[gview file=”http://rainydaymum.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/blogplanner.pdf” save=”1″]

 

How do you plan (and keep track of!) ideas for your blog?

Find more inspiration for blog planning on our Blog Planning Pinterest Board!


15 Pinterest Boards for Blog Tips & Advice

I actually find these blogging and social media Pinterest boards few and far between. It seems every blogger has one in their boards, but often they’re close to empty. So I’m excited to share some boards that are filled with how to’s and information in all aspects of blogging.

From photography to Blogger to social media to ebooks. You’ll find your answers in these 15 Pinterest Boards for Blog Tips & Advice.

To start you off, the Blogging With Kids Pinterest Boards are ones you’ll want to follow for sure. We’re just starting out pinning to them, but they will be filled up with blogging goodness in no time!

15 Pinterest Boards for Blogging Tips & Advice

15 Pinterest Boards for Blog Tips & Advice


Blogging Pinterest boards from the big wigs:

 

  1. Social Media Infographics: A social media board specifically for those infographics that are so handy to check out by Your Social Media
  2. Blogging 101: From making the Blogger to WordPress transfer to Google+ Events to How to Get Readers, The Sits Girls have pinned the answers! 
  3. BlogFrog Reads: Pins full of tips and tricks of blogging from BlogFrog.
  4. Michael Hyatt’s Blog Posts: If you don’t already follow his blog (I recommend that you do), you can catch up with the pins for his this pinterest board. Great blogging advice. 
 


Pinterest boards to make your blog pretty:

 

  1. Blog Design & Tips: Make your blog pretty with the design tips pinned here by Happy Homebird.
  2. Social Media Icon Sets: Some seriously pretty amazing (and pretty!) social media icons are pinned here by Type A Conference.
  3. Typography: Just because its fun, I have to share Creative With Kids‘ fun board of fonts to download and use on your blog!
  4. Photographer Tips: Rebakah Lyn Photography has photographer tips pinned!
 


Pinterest boards for the business side of blogging:

 

  1. The Business End of Blogging: Treating your blog like a business is sometimes hard to do, and there’s a lot of ins and outs to it. Don’t miss a pin from A Mom With a Lesson Plan!
  2. Working with Brands: More specific than just the business side of blogging, we all want to know how to get in and work with brands!
  3. Writing an eBook: And when you’re ready to make the leap of becoming an author, A Mom With A Lesson Plan just did and pinned a ton of useful links.
 


Pinterest boards for general blogging information not to miss:

 

  1. Better Blogging: Tinkerlab, along with a few others, have a collective board of general pins to help with blogging!
  2. Tips for Mom Bloggers: A collaborative board headed by Lisa Nolan for blogging tips specifically for the Mom Blogger niche.
  3. Blogging Information: Full of general blogging information that you don’t want to miss, pinned by Rainy Day Mum and others!
  4. Unique Geek Speak: Yet another tips, tricks and tutorials for blogging board that you really don’t want to miss. Headed by Typecast and others.

 


 

No excuses anymore that you don’t know how to do something, right?

 

If you have a blog-related Pinterest board,
share it with us in the comments!