This year was a big year for me in blogging. It marks the first year since I started the blog that I actually called myself a blogger. In fact, there were a lot of firsts this year! It’s the first time I actually made money blogging, first time I applied myself and treated it like a job, first time I experienced a bit of controversy and first time a big company took notice and responded to a blog post.
Looking back over 2018, there are a few experiences that stand out, so here’s my Top 8 for 2018:
1. My First Sponsored Post – This year marks the first time I was paid to write a post. In January I got paid a small amount to write a sponsored post for Cars.com and I was totally excited about it. Now at the end of the year, my minimum to write a dedicated post for a company or product has increased by about 10 times that original amount. It takes a little while to figure out what your time is worth and to build up enough traffic to make it worth the time for the company to hire you. It’s OK to start small. It gave me good practice before the bigger opportunities came knocking.
2. A Big Company Took Notice – I got so frustrated with a pair of leggings that I wrote a post about it, calling out Lululemon for making me feel fat after fighting with a flopping waistband. So what did Lululemon do? THEY CALLED ME ON THE PHONE. Yeah. Called me. They had my phone number because they had all my information in their system after my leggings purchase. And then they said they never want any of their apparel to make someone feel like that and invited me into the store for a fitting to find the perfect fit.
I was blown away. First that someone was out there paying attention to what I’m banging out on the keyboard. This experience alone has made me pause before publishing certain pieces. And second that they responded in such a positive manner. I am a big Lululemon fan now. I was so impressed. They taught me all about their different leggings and the different things they do. The fabrics, the cuts, the styles. I learned if you are going to a specialty store and plan on paying a lot for something, you better ask some questions because they are there to help. They set me up with an amazing pair of legging that I love! No flopping down and they make everything look good, as they should.
3. My First Free Product – I didn’t know about the popularity of reviews on mom blogs until I stumbled into it. So when a shoe cleaner called Sneaker Magic contacted me about doing a review, I was all into it and we did our first YouTube product review. After that the offers started rolling in for everything from toothbrushes to toys. I actually get so many offers a day now that it led me to my #4 big thing – I had to make a media kit.
4. The Media Kit – When I first started the blog, I didn’t think about a media kit. It took me a while before finally sitting down and recording all my stats, traffic and figuring out what everything was worth doing. At first I was just taking every offer that came my way and suddenly I found myself bogged down with a pile of free products that I needed to review, and it was going to take up a lot of my very rare and precious free time, but I wasn’t being paid for any of it.
So when I realized I was paying someone to babysit my son so I could write a free review in exchange for a product that might cost me $20…well I realized it was time to start charging for my writing time. And that’s when I made the media kit and things rapidly turned around. Now when companies contact me I have a professional presentation that breaks down my stats and my fees for each type of post. It’s a lot less time spent on negotiating and the time I took to do it has paid for itself over and over.
5. My First Brand Ambassadorship – I’ve managed to avoid all those swimwear/sunglasses/whatever partnerships on Instagram where they want you to buy their stuff at a discount and then promote it. Then after doing a sampling party for MomsMeet.com and Miss Jones Baking Co., I got contacted to be a brand ambassador for Miss Jones. The deal was that they send me a few products for free every month and I agree to post at least once about them. I really enjoyed getting into baking and post more often than that! I love getting that box of baking goodies and then getting in the kitchen with my son to make organic deliciousness.
6. A Little Controversy – I got to go on a tour of a local paper mill to write a sponsored blog post about them and all the good things they were doing for the community. The only thing I knew about paper mills before the tour was that they stank. So when we did the tour and there was no smell, and they mentioned how they made a great effort to fix that particular problem, I was impressed and mentioned that in my Facebook post sharing the blog. And then Facebook people got shitty, to put it bluntly. I ended up having to delete some comments and block people.
People were commenting from other places about paper mills that were stinking up their own towns. Paper mills that had nothing to do with the one I wrote about. And going on about the environment and destruction, all without reading my actual blog post explaining how this particular mill was trying to help the community and lessen their impact on the environment. And this mill made toilet paper. I’d just like to know what all those high and mighty Facebook complainers are wiping their butts with.
7. The Importance of Headlines – This year was the first year I really paid attention to my traffic and stats. And in doing so, I tracked where my traffic was coming from. This is where headlines come in. In previous years I used funny headlines. Snarky titles that were more humorous than descriptive. And that’s what led to Mommy Spank Me being one of my most popular blog posts of all time. A funny little post about my son asking me to spank him because he didn’t really know what a spanking was. From the phrasing on the search terms, I’m pretty sure that’s not what people are expecting when they click that link (bunch of pervs! lol)
8. I Started a New Blog – This blog is my personal space. I have a hard time accepting guest posts because I’m extremely picky about what goes on here. I feel like this blog is an extension of me- my personal voice. But I get a lot of offers for sponsored posts and guest posts in the general “mom” genre and thought maybe I could try having a less personal blog, so I started MomtasticMommyBlog.com. My plan was for it to be a total “mommy blog” cliche with helpful but impersonal articles about parenting, reviews and guest posts. I’m not totally sure about its future, but it took me a while to get Geek Mamas where it is, so I’m just working on it when I can and if it becomes something, great, but I’m not stressing over creating constant content there. (I closed the blog in late 2020, after wondering what the heck I was thinking trying to run TWO blogs…)
So that’s it! My big Top 8 Blogging Bits for 2018. It’s been fun, but most of all I’ve enjoyed connecting with other bloggers and readers, sharing my story and having this blog to look back on. And I guess that’s where my personal angle comes in. I love having a record of this time in my life to look back on and see how far I’ve come as both a blogger and mother. On days I may be struggling with the mom thing, I can look back on my own story and see how things have gotten better and maybe even laugh at my earlier frustrations. This blog is the literally the story of my life, so thank you for reading and being part of it!