Posts Tagged ‘MomAdvice’

What Do You Do All Day? The Real Story Behind My Niche Blog!

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

One of the biggest questions that I get asked is, “What exactly is your job?” It is one of those things that people are often curious about, and admittedly are confused about,  since my job is so difficult to explain. Today I wanted to offer a behind-the-scenes look at what it is like to run a niche blog.

I have been blogging for 9 1/2 years now which makes me a dinosaur in this business! The blog that you see today is very different than the blog I started out with. The site has grown a lot over the years and many  of you have been through all of its growing pains. For those of you that have been following our journey, I wanted to share with you what my business has evolved into.

What is a Typical Day Like For You?

I am a busy mom of two kiddos so my day-to-life is probably a lot like yours. I handle the day-to-day routines and schedules of my kids. I take my kids to their extra curricular activities, I volunteer weekly at my kid’s school helping with kids that are struggling with reading, we go to worship once a week, and I do my best to workout at the gym three days a week.

Every pocket of time that I have beyond that though is spent working on projects for one of the many freelance clients I write for. I am either shopping for my clients, creating tutorials for craft/diy/food, photographing projects, or writing for them. Since many of my clients are running on magazine calendar deadlines, you will often find me shopping for Easter supplies in the dead of winter or working on Christmas crafts in the Fall.

Even my free time is often accounted for because I share it with you. I try to read four books a month for our reviews and you will rarely find me sitting still when I am watching television because I am usually working on a craft project at the same time for the blog.

Much like you, I am sure, I am pretty beat at the end of the day! By the time the kids go to bed, I am ready for bed myself. I usually head to bed pretty early so I can start the whole routine again!

Who Works With You?

I think one of the things that people have found most surprising about our site is that I was the only writer & contributor on my site for over nine years alone. My husband did all of the coding and design of our site and I managed all the content.

When our site experienced a lot of growth from Pinterest, I realized that there was no way that I could manage all of this on my own. My email inbox had over 50,000 unopened emails, my taxes and paperwork for my business were a mess, and I had been treating my work like a hobby rather than a business.

This last month I hired a virtual assistant to help  me with some of the things my readers had come to expect here, but didn’t really showcase my personality- the weekly freebie list, our weekly notebook, and our giveaway link list. She got my inbox down to zero within two months and I finally felt like I could breathe a little bit. She is, in one word, amazing, and has brought back a quality of life that I felt like I had been lacking.

We also hired an accountant to handle our taxes this year, something that had burdened us greatly over the years, and I also started using FreshBooks (affiliate) to help me keep track of my accounting better (a recommendation made by my amazing friend over at Dine & Dish). Invoicing, following up on payments with clients, and paperwork for them takes up a good portion of my day so any people/products I can use to make my day go smoother really helps me.

embroidery thread egg for Kenmore

 

Why Do You Work For So Many Brands?

I write a lot of content for brands because, frankly, it helps pay the bills. I write professionally for five to six clients monthly and those projects help our family financially, but much of the earnings go towards keeping my site up and running.

When our site was smaller, we had an inexpensive web host and I was able to do everything on my own. Our site grew by 100,000 users this year alone, which is incredible and awesome, but our web host couldn’t handle the traffic! It was time to invest in the business and move to Liquid Web (affiliate), who can handle anything we throw at them. We currently spend about a thousand dollars a month to pay for web hosting, photography props/equipment, our accountant, and my assistant. Many of my projects that I write for just go towards keeping the business afloat and paying my self-employment taxes.

No, I Was Asking How Much You Make?

Yup, I get asked that all the time although I have NEVER asked anyone what their salary is. It is such a weird job that people are always dying to know how much you make. I make a full-time income thanks to the companies I work for as a content writer/creator, ambassador, and spokesperson for. If I was living on our ad revenue alone, we could pay for our web host and maybe a bill or two. In all honesty though,  my income fluctuates a lot because it depends on what jobs come through for me for the year. This past year all my time was devoted towards my book which was a rewarding experience, but also prevented me from taking on a lot of paying jobs.

How Do You Do It All?

I don’t think I do more than many of the other working parents that I know, but people constantly ask me this. I think the main reason is because when people do these types of projects around their house they aren’t pointing a bunch of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram traffic over to it like,

“LOOK AT ME! I MAKE THINGS! LOOK HOW AWESOME I AM!”

Here is an example of a typical month of projects  for my clients.

I knitted a scarf for a new yarn line that Walmart was carrying.

I painted vases with my kids for Kenmore.

I took my kids over to the Dinosaurs Alive! exhibit at Brookfield Zoo to write a review for a local magazine I write for.

I gathered up ideas for things to do with old books for Goodwill.

I made homemade laundry detergent for Walmart.

I made a cookbook with my kids for Kenmore (post coming soon!)

I made whole wheat toasted tarts with Walmart.

There are several other projects, but this gives you an idea of what I am up to. If I look at it as a whole, I am completely overwhelmed. On any given week I could have anywhere between two to four projects for clients. Since I do all of  the shopping, crafting/cooking and then my own writing & photography for these projects, each project is very time-consuming.

I also am maintaining the writing that I do here on  my blog like sharing yummy recipes for pecan-crusted chicken fingers, whipping up Peep-tinis, & sharing all those fun book reviews and making sure we have plenty of content for the rest of the week. All of that, and I haven’t even touched on the social media side of things which is just as consuming now that my readers can connect with me through every available social media channel!

Usually the most surprising amount of time I spend is on the shopping and the staging for photos. I will get a brilliant idea for a client and then get to the store and find out that the items I need aren’t sold there or that I have to completely rethink a project. What’s worse is if I spend a whole day on a recipe and it flops.

Although it appears I take every opportunity given to me, I take about half or less of the projects offered. If you look at the projects above, you might be surprised they were even for companies because they are just the types of projects I would want to share with you anyway. Since the companies supply a budget for supplies, it helps to offset some of the costs to crank out this many projects monthly.

Time management is a tricky terrain with a juggle like this. I have learned that is better to tackle a few recipes in one day and then edit & write the content the other days. Many days it looks like a bomb exploded in my house because I am in some stage of creation for someone. It doesn’t make my Type-A heart very happy, but it is one of those things that comes with the job. I try to look at it the way I see my kids LEGO’s all over the floor or all their art supplies out, I am just proud they are creative and they are making something. I want to always be surrounded by creativity.

Basically, I take it all day by day.

How Does Your Job Impact Your Family Life?

I am so thankful for my job because it usually has a positive impact on our family life. My kids and I see these projects as opportunities to spend time together and the recipes that I create in our kitchen are enjoyed by all at our family dinners. How many people get to craft all day long and call it work? Not many! It almost sounds too good to be true sometimes.

I have gotten to travel to places that I thought I would only read about in books, I got to fulfill a life goal to write a book, my kids have gotten to go to places we couldn’t have afforded, and I’ve met a lot of truly amazing men & women who blog that my life would have never crossed paths with.

rainbow_cake_in_a_jar

Let me be honest though, there are positive and negative aspects about my work. For example, since our holiday content is written months in advance, I am usually not sitting around making rainbow cakes with my kids on St. Patrick’s Day or being a super creative parent like I want to be. By the time the holidays roll around, they are usually lucky if I dye their milk green because we have already done those projects together ages ago and I am on to the next holiday.

Traveling can be hard especially when my jobs end up interfering with family events. One year I had to travel on my daughter’s birthday and I cried a lot over that. It didn’t matter that I had thrown three parties for her, I was not there on the actual day. Inevitably, some kid gets sick or they have a fancy holiday show and I am off promoting the latest product for a company or have a speaking engagement for my work that has been planned months in advance. I am thankful for Skype on days like those so that I can see their faces and feel like I am there. I am sure every working parent feels that way sometimes.

Operating at a frantic pace each week can also have negative impacts on me and my health. I was two years overdue for a lot of routine check-ups for myself this year, my stomach issues have increased, and there are times where I feel completely overwhelmed or just don’t want to do all of this. It is hard to escape your work when it is always there!

We are not celebrities by any stretch of the imagination, but our family does not have an anonymous life. Some of us thrive better than others with this and there are days where we miss that.

There are times where I want to be political or snarky, but I worry how that might reflect to my readers so it definitely censors me in my social media life.I am sure this is a good thing in the long run.

All in all, the positives have outweighed the negatives though. If it starts to turn the other direction, we will have to make a decision to continue or not as a family. We operate under the, “All for one, one for all,” family motto. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Have a question for me? Feel free to ask it!

 

Pin It

Fall Into Fall CRAFTS with MomAdvice.com

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

With Fall upon us, I suddenly get the urge to start tackling some crafts that have been on my to-do list for the year. Fall is also a great time to get a jump start on holiday crafts that you might want to tackle this year for our family and friends.

Today I wanted to highlight a few of my favorite crafts and DIY projects for the Fall season that have appeared on MomAdvice.com!

The GAP-Tastic Cowl

Cowls are still highly fashionable this year, especially the warm and bulky variety. I love this easy cowl that can be created with inexpensive yarn in your favorite fall color to add a little spice to a tired fall jacket you might have in your closet. If this cowl doesn’t get you excited to start knitting, be sure to check out these seven easy scarf and cowl patterns to knit this year!

Easy Felt Fabric Brooch

You are going to fall in love with this beautiful felt fabric brooch and it would be the perfect addition to your fall jacket this year or as an embellishment to last year’s winter hat. Check out this tutorial for these easy brooches!

Anthropologie DIY Ruffled Lampshade

Perhaps one of my most favorite projects in our house was this burlap ruffled lampshade made from inexpensive burlap. If you are wanting to dress up a tired lamp for fall, be sure to check out this tutorial! This project was so easy to create and would be so cute on a side table, in your office, or a cute way to spruce up a craft room.

DIY Chalkboard Food Label Frames

All you need is a dollar store frame to get started with this easy craft. These food label frames would be a great addition to your fall entertaining and tailigating this year. The best part is that this craft can be done in fifteen minutes, making it a great fast to create

Knitted Dishcloths 

If you are new to knitting, dishcloths are the perfect project because they are like swatches of pattern rather than tackling a larger project piece. On top of that, it can make you feel braver doing patterns with more complexity and learning new knitting techniques. For the first few months after I learned how to knit, I knit a lot of dishcloths. I happen to think these are one of the best projects for Fall, and they also happen to be a fabulous little hostess gift for the holidays!

Yarn Wreath (for all seasons)

It’s time to dress up your front door for Fall! Yarn wreaths are easy to create with a mere ten-fifteen dollars  in supplies and a whole lot of your own individual creativity. Find out how to create this easy yarn wreath that can be dressed up for all of the seasons with this simple yarn base!

Painted Tabletops & Reupholstered Chairs

If your kitchen table and chairs are looking a little tired, Fall is a great time of year to spruce them up!  Last Fall, I painted my kitchen tabletop and reupholstered my kitchen chairs and one year later, they are still going strong!

Oatmeal Cookies & Milk Bath

There is nothing I love more than a good long soak in the tub in the evenings when the weather is chilly. I highly recommend this easy oatmeal bath soak you can create in your kitchen. I call it Oatmeal Cookies & Milk because it blends together the ingredients of an oatmeal cookie with powdered milk to make a soft & soothing bath for anyone who has sensitive skin.

Coffee Filter Posies

Looking for a cute addition to a side table for Fall? I highly recommend making these cute coffee filter posies for a fun Fall decoration. Dyed in yellows and oranges, they would look beautiful in a jar on your kitchen table or a cute way to dress up a dresser in your bedroom.

Decoupaged Pumpkins

I love to create inexpensive decorations for fall and these easy decoupaged pumpkins are a craft that I have been wanting to try for awhile after spotting this technique in an old issue of Better Homes &  Gardens Magazine. You won’t believe how easy it is to decoupage a pumpkin and since they were so easy to create, I made two to adorn each side of my console table.  This pumpkin is made with paper napkins, if you can believe it, and some other inexpensive craft materials you can pick up at your local craft store!

Charity Knitting Craft Projects

This is going to be the season when my friends that knit & crochet really spring into action for hat drives for those in need! One things I am proud and humbled to do is to knit for those in need. You will find loads of fun projects to knit for those in need in the Knitting section of our site. While you are enjoying the latest season of Fall shows on the television, add a little something for someone in need to your knitting needles this year!

What is your favorite Fall craft project you have tried from our site? I would love to hear from you!

Pin It