Blogging Q & A.

Every few months I get inundated with questions about blogging from friends, family, readers both bloggers and non-bloggers alike. The hows, the whys, the whens and all that jazz. I decided I’d do a quick post on some of the most commonly asked info and link up to some helpful info other bloggers have shared on the ever important topic of blogging.

 

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How to get started:

I think the easiest platform to start with is blogger which is a Google platform. I started with that and switched over to a hosted blog on wordpress after I ran into some design snafus on blogger and also after I decided it was worth it for me to pay to have my blog hosted.

Why?

Well, here’s why not- I think the worst reason to start a blog is for money. There are millions and millions of blogs out there right now. Do NOT go into it to make money. Do it because you are passionate about something whether that’s fashion or parenting or writing. Don’t do it looking for fame and glory and money.

There are a lot of opportunities out there for bloggers, both financially and professionally but you won’t just get handed those opportunities starting out so make a plan, get engaged, find a following and a groove.

I think the best reason TO blog is if you have a story to share. Maybe you’re a really creative cook so you want to share recipes. Maybe your spouse travels a lot for work and blogging is a way of coping and creative outlet. Maybe you just want a way to keep up with friends and family. I believe we all have a story to share and anyone can be a blogger, even if it’s just for you and just for fun.

I started blogging “just for fun” almost 9 years ago now. As I started writing more and doing some freelance work, my readership went up and opportunities presented themselves.

Speaking of money, Do you really make money?

This is the most common question I am asked. YES. I do. {I love this post Hollywood Housewife wrote about how bloggers make money, too!}

The majority of my income comes in three different ways: freelance writing/social media work, sponsored posts here and affiliate links.

What does this mean to readers? Most of the freelance writing/social media work I do I don’t link to here. Sometimes I will if it fits in but mostly I don’t.

I try to only accept sponsored content that fits for me, my family, my lifestyle AND my readers. I turned down a really, really good sponsored opportunity just a few months ago because it was really NOT me at all. I got an email awhile back from someone who was unsubscribing from my blog because she didn’t like the sponsored content. It made me feel icky but that said, I have really worked hard to try to balance that. And also? it’s my livelihood. {Sponsored content comes from many sources including PR agencies, companies direct and groups I belong to such as Mom It Forward, MomSpark, Collective Bias, Massive Sway and Global Impact.}

Affiliate links are bloggers little secrets even though they aren’t so secret. I use and love affiliate links. Some of the companies I am an affiliate with are: Tiny Prints, Tea Collection, Gymboree. When I link to or share a deal or write something about these companies and you click on my link and make a purchase, I receive commission. One of the worst things you can do to a blogger you like is decide to just type in the web address to the site you plan on shopping from when a blogger is linking you to a deal. {I’ve had several people tell me they’ve done this when buying Christmas cards through Tiny Prints. Please use my link!}

I truly do love and enjoy working with the affiliate companies I work with. I choose to work with them and every word I ever write about them is true. I really love Tea Collection dresses for little girls. I love the quality of Gymboree kids clothes. And we use Tiny Prints every chance we get for stationary and holiday card products. I will NEVER share a deal or product that I don’t personally think is relevant or worth it. If I say, this is a great deal on jeans at Gymboree, I mean it’s a great deal on jeans at Gymboree and I’m stocking up.

PS Tea Collections is currently accepting new affiliates and if you have a website or blog and want to join, now’s the time!

Some bloggers use and share Groupon and Living Social deals, I do if it’s something that is local or that I know people I know will use or be interested in but really don’t on a regular basis.

I do use zulily links and frequently share the deals that I personally love or am taking advantage of. {Stitch Fix is another referral program.}

While I offer advertising and this used to be a bigger part of my income, it’s slowly changed. My BlogHer ads are managed by BlogHer and I receive money based on page impressions. I do some self hosted ads that I charge on a monthly or bi-annual basis which are flat rate versus page views.

I also do get “free” things. Some unsolicited. Some I know are coming. Some for reviews, some for compensation or in exchange of work.

When?

The second most commonly asked question I get is when I blog. You really don’t want to know. Where some bloggers carve out time each day to work on posts and plan ahead I can only dream of that.

I still consider Tuesdays and Thursdays my “work” days even with F home because she takes two naps a day and really, I can get some work done with her. That said, a lot of times I try to work on actual paid work first before working on personal blog stuff. I also spend most evenings once the kids are in bed writing or reading other blogs, articles and social media.

I always keep a running list of ideas that I want to share or write about. If there was more time in the day, I’d get to them all but alas sometimes a few weeks go by and what I wanted to say no longer feels relevant.

But what about privacy?

Every blogger has to make their own decisions about what they will and will not write about online. What’s sacred. I’ve noticed and felt as our kids get older there is less I feel inclined to share and while I still have this platform I have to adapt to be respectful of their privacy and story, too. I switched to using initials after I decided I didn’t want my blog to show up when my kids’ names were google-d.

I also try to be cognizant about what friends and family might want shared or not shared. Their perspective might be different than mine but it’s important to not cause hurt and misunderstandings either. Relationships are worth more than blog fodder.

Social media-

When I started blogging, social media wasn’t really a part of the game. Facebook took off, then Twitter, Instagram. Now there’s Pinterest and Google Plus and who knows what else is to come. You must engage. Share. Converse. {I’m really bad at Pinterest and Google Plus so far but some bloggers are really making those tools work!}

I also think that while a good chunk of followers/likes is a good thing, it means nothing if you are not connected. If all you are doing is spouting off links and expecting people to read/comment/share, it’s not going to work. Engage, connect, share other blogs, articles, information.

And if you ever want to give me a gift, SHARE a post you really like via your social media. Not every post, not every day but sharing is the current currency in blog-land.

More info-

This list compiled by another Minnesota blogger, Jen at Life with Levi, is phenomenal and has 36 Answers to Common Blogging Questions. 

What other blogging questions do you have? If you have a blog, share it in the comments. And if you’re a blogger what other tried and true tips and tricks, dos and don’ts, do you have when it comes to blogging? I’ll try to either update this post or post a new post with other info that comes up.

*Disclosure: I used affiliate links in this post.

Diaper Decision Making {Mom to Mom.}

 

Mom to Mom Logo

It’s no secret that a walk through the store and you are bombarded with options. There’s a dozen different brands of tortilla chips, cereal fills and entire aisle and diapers? Oh, the diaper aisle is it’s own little world.

With every box and package claiming that they are indeed the best, how do you know what the best option for diapers are when it comes to quality, price and convenience?
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READ MORE.

Diaper Decision Making {Mom To Mom. Sponsored.}

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Mom To Mom.

Mom to Mom Logo

It’s no secret that a walk through the store and you are bombarded with options. There’s a dozen different brands of tortilla chips, cereal fills and entire aisle and diapers? Oh, the diaper aisle is it’s own little world.

With every box and package claiming that they are indeed the best, how do you know what the best option for diapers are when it comes to quality, price and convenience?
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Quality:

I want diapers that look and feel good to the touch and also fit well. I want them to be soft and comfortable on my little one’s bottom and I don’t want them to feel cheap. If as I’m trying to velcro it on, the flap rips off, that’s going to make me crazy because that’s not quality.

Price:

Just because the price is high doesn’t mean the product is better. Many times I’ve found just the opposite. Diapers shouldn’t have to cost a lot.
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Convenience:

Can I swing in to a local store to grab a pack of diapers if we’re running low? That’s a big plus.

Are they going to leak out on to clothes not only causing lots more diaper changes but outfit changes too? If so, that’s a big problem in the convenience department.

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Mom to Mom diapers meet all of the above. An affordable, quality and convenient diaper created by moms, for moms. Who better to design a product that moms will use each day?

The diapers are inexpensive and available at Safeway stores nationwide. {Bummer, Minnesota friends, no Safeway here!} They are made with aloe and Vitamin E which helps protect baby’s skin and they are quality, flexible and leakproof.

How do you decide what kind of diapers to purchase? Are you a cloth user? disposable?

Tracking Pixel

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Mom To Mom.

Farm Babies at the Minnesota Zoo.

We took a trip to the Minnesota Zoo earlier this week. Now that spring has sprung we really have to take advantage of getting outside as much as we can.farmbabies

The Wells Fargo Family Farm is open the entire month of April and it was our very first time checking that out. Miss E loved all the little baby farm animals, especially feeding them.
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Miss F was a fan too though the goats were a little intimidating when they came out to say hello to her.


Each spring, the Minnesota Zoo opens the family farm where you can visit cows, chickens, goats, horses, pigs and even bunnies and their new babies. While it’s a hike from the main section of the zoo, there is a free tram ride offered to and from the family farm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. That said, the walk isn’t horrible if the weather is nice.

The zoo is always better with friends.

This weekend the Minnesota Zoo Wells Fargo Family Farm is hosting a PEEPS weekend. The PEEPS mobile and mascot will be on site from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. as well as family crafts and activities planned. Animal zoo keepers and even some farmers will be on site to answer questions and share general information about the farm babies.

Farm Babies is included in your general zoo admission. Adults are $18 and children 3-12 are $12. Parking is $7. The Minnesota Zoo is pricey but you can get a family membership starting at $130 which makes sense if your family will visit the zoo 2 or more times a year. Parking is included with memberships. {Kids can participate in this coloring contest and be entered to win a family membership, too.}

Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored post but due to a working relationship I have with the Minnesota Zoo, they gave us a spring gift including complimentary passes.

Eleven Months Old.

Or as I can’t stop thinking of it. ALMOST ONE!

Miss F turned 11 months on Tuesday and Miss E was the first one to start celebrating. We’d talked about it the day before and somehow, someway E remembered overnight and woke up looking for her sister and started singing Happy 11 Month Birthday!

Miss F is growing so fast. At night when I look in at her I just can’t believe how long her little body is. She’s growing and changing and busy. So, so busy.

She gained four more teeth this month making that six total. And her cute little toothy grin is my favorite.

She loves kisses, peek-a-boo and being tickled. She is so ticklish and her laugh is infectious.


Her blue eyes are crystal clear.

She is crawling and climbing and pulling and doing everything that she can all the time. She loves outside and other people {and kids!} but still likes to be near me. Can make it in the childcare at the gym but not quite the church nursery. That I can’t figure out.

She is super curious, always trying to look at things and figure things out.

She is still a peanut, though she loves to eat. As I type this she sits in the high chair devouring, DEVOURING, cut up turkey and string cheese, veggie straws and pears. She loves to eat.

She is a good sleeper and still sleeps 11-12 hours a night. Naps twice a day but is already so good at going with the flow. We went to the zoo yesterday and she was awake from 6:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. and was FANTASTIC. She passed out less than 2 minutes in the car after the zoo.

Her siblings are her favorite thing. She beams at them when they come home, waves goodbye when they leave and spends hours looking at pictures and kissing them and waving and smiling.

She is a lot of fun. I know I say it every monthly update but I can’t stop. I love this age and stage. I love that I am enjoying it all.
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Happy 11 Months, Miss F! We are so thankful for you and how much joy you bring our life. We love watching you grow and learn every day!

 {Most of the pics on this post are from my instagram. If you’re on there come connect with me at @samarapostuma }

Simple Little Things That Bring Me Joy.

It’s finally, finally spring around here. Like throw open the windows, let the kids play outside without a jacket and grill, kind of spring.

At last.

Things that are making me happy these days:

This busy, busy girl.
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These are the things she does when I’m trying to work.

 Work you say? Yes. In addition to the ebb and flow of my blogging {which can be attributed to the above pictures!} I’m doing some social media consulting/management work for two organizations here in Minnesota right now in addition to some writing for Crow River News. I’ve also got a new gig starting soon with the Star Tribune, more on that to come.

Spring.

Do you see that there is no snow left? Yesterday we were outside ALL afternoon and it was glorious!

Also? Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan. Fantastic read.

Stitch Fix.

I finally, finally jumped on the Stitch Fix bandwagon and am so excited that my first fix is scheduled. If you aren’t familiar with Stitch Fix, it’s a style service. You pay $20 and complete a questionnaire about preferences and sizes, they send you several clothing items and you decide if you want to buy them or not. If you do buy them, the $20 style fee goes towards the purchase, if you decide not to, the only cost is the $20 style fee. I’ve heard mixed things about it but feel like it will be good to get some items I really love and wouldn’t necessarily pick out myself. If you’re interested in trying it out, here’s my link.

Seattle.

Like I said last week, later this month J and I celebrate 10 years! And we’re going to Seattle to celebrate! Just a few weeks ago we booked our tickets and we’re in the process of finding our hotel and we’ll be leaving the kids behind come July for a few days. I can’t wait. Seattle has always been on our list.

Have you been? What are your must dos? Or things to skip?

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What are some simple little things bringing you joy these days?

 

Celebrate Easter With HERSHEY’S #BunnyTrail

celebratewithhersheys

If you love Easter candy {like I do} you definitely don’t want to miss your chance to win an assorted box of HERSHEY’S Easter candy.

#bunnytrail

READ MORE HERE! 

Celebrate Easter with HERSHEY’S. {Sponsored.} #BunnyTrail

celebratewithhersheys

Even though Easter is late this year it still feels like it snuck up on us. Perhaps that’s because of the winter that never ends here in Minnesota or perhaps it’s the story each year no matter where Easter falls on the calendar page.
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While the stores have been chock full of Easter and spring everything since just before Valentine’s Day. Yes, before. 
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I have a {probably not so very surprising} confession to make.
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Of all the holidays all year round, I’m fairly certain Easter candy takes the cake for me. I love it all.

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From CADBURY mini-eggs to CADBURY Creme Eggs to REESE’S Peanut Butter Eggs and JOLLY RANCHER Jelly Beans.

I love Easter Candy.
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It’s a problem really, especially since I’m somewhat trying to get back into a workout and healthy eating groove. Probably not the best idea to go to a workout class, burn 600 calories and come home and devour REESE’S Peanut Butter Eggs?

REESES

Not my finest season of life.
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So I’ve been trying my best to set candy aside that we’ll use when we hide some plastic eggs come Easter morning, because each year for Easter, no matter the weather, we’ve done an Easter egg hunt with the kids. When the weather’s been bad, we’ve done it indoors, when it’s nicer, we’ve kept it outside. Here’s hoping this year’s weather is nice enough to be outdoors.
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It’s a fun little tradition that isn’t too over the top but also is something fun and special the kids can look forward to before we go to church and brunch Easter morning.

#bunnytrail

How do you do Easter? If Easter candy from HERSHEY’S is a favorite of yours, you’re in luck because you can enter a Rafflecopter giveaway right here to win an assorted box of HERSHEY’S Easter candy.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Global Influence with products provided by HERSHEY’S. All opinions are mine.

On 10 Years, Generosity and Being a Mom to Someone Else’s Children.

Later this month, J and I will celebrate 10 years. This is a huge accomplishment in any marriage but especially ours. J and I got married, his second marriage, when I was 22, he was 30 and T and M were 5 and 3 respectively.

It is absolutely insane to me how much I thought I knew about life and love and parenting and how things were going to go 10 years ago. Naive, much?

I rarely talk about my role as stepmom these days. I think it used to be much more a forefront thought in my mind and now it’s just, “we have five kids.” I’ll elaborate more if people ask, saying names and ages and further explaining that the oldest two are my step kids. I still get the “ahh, I see” reaction from time to time from those who have their own assumptions and beliefs about step moms and step kids and what that role may look like but what’s funny is over time I’ve figured out and decided I don’t really care what other people’s perceptions are. I know what my role is. They know what my role is. Nothing else much matters.

I think that as negative as society and Hollywood paints the picture of step mothering and ex-wives and divorce there is also something sacred in the beauty of sharing children in this way. I think about this a lot, this sacredness, the gracious way in which their mom treats me in my role.

I’ve filled out a mountain of paperwork these last couple months enrolling and re-enrolling and general paperwork, I was called and asked about an emergency contact I had listed. I always list T and M’s mom on my kids paperwork as a contact and this person thought it was an error.

“Nope, that’s right,” I said.

“Well that’s generous of you,” she said and we hung up. The words hung in the air afterwards and I couldn’t help but think it wasn’t generous of me at all. If anything, generosity has been extended to me time and time again.

I am often jealous of these tight knit families with family that will swoop in and take care of things in a moment. Families who never have to worry or make a page worth of phone calls or texts to arrange childcare, grandparents who provide after school care and the ability to say, “grandma will be there today for lunch at school.” I’m sure in some twisted way it’s unsettled grief I have from losing my mom. It is always there just below the surface and as I’ve said a few hundred times over, I’m the wrong person to complain to about your grandparent issues.

But I take comfort in the family we create. I consider T and M’s mom and her husband a part of my family. We can text back and forth laughing about one of the kids’ inability to ever get their laundry to the laundry room and virtual high five when one accomplishes something seemingly simple but huge to us. If you’ve ever seen my littles around T and M’s mom and stepdad, you’d notice that Miss E gravitates to L, looking for mints and always has to go potty when we arrive at her house if only to pet the dogs and do a quick run through the house.

Do we do things wrong and have misunderstandings? Sure, don’t most families? We will never claim perfection for we are all wobbly knees and stumbling as we go along the path of life.

While T and M will remember little of their life before this one, H, E and now F, will know nothing besides this. T and M come and then they go and when they are gone, my littles will ask each day when they will return, because they know nothing else but to love them and to miss them.

My role as a parent began as a stepmom, a mom to someone else’s children. I’m fairly certain I didn’t understand the complexities of what that meant until I had my own children and once I did I was overwhelmed with gratitude because I’ve been given a lot more grace than I think I’d ever have been able to give.

My mother in law likes to give us piles of photos she stumbles across from time to time. These is a lot of laughing that comes of this and lots of pics taken of pics as we text back and forth the ridiculousness. The last batch of photos, shoved and battered together in a giant ziploc bag came with former wedding photos and baby pics of both T and M. T’s first birthday and big smiles for all. It was another life, a different time, before all of this and then some.

Today someone shared with me this excerpt from last year’s Listen To Your Mother show in Indiana from stepmom Brenda Watterson and it reminded me of the most recent ziploc of photos and  how I feel about the privilege of helping raise someone else’s children.

“Being these were happier times in their marriage she probably never envisioned being separated from her babies for nearly half of their childhood. I felt my admiration go deeper as she never expressed jealousy or resentment for their time spent with me, even if that meant time away from her. I honestly don’t know if tables were turned if I could be so generous.”- Brenda Watterson

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

 Linking up to Just Write.

Post Alpha Bits Little Free Library Coming Soon to St. Michael!


Cereal, books and PBS Kids are all good things in this house and what do the three have in common?

The newest Little Free Library that will soon be arriving in my community this spring!

The newest Little Free Library is sponsored by Post Alpha Bits cereal and where does PBS Kids come in? Because who’s on the front of the Post Alpha Bits box? Super-Why!

Post Alpha Bits contacted me a few months back to gauge my interest in helping put a new Little Free Library up in my community. I don’t think there can ever be too many because every kid wants to live within walking distance of a place to share and exchange books.

So while the nearest park to my house already has one sponsored by the local Rotary, after going back and forth with the city we found the perfect place. The rec center path that comes out near a residential area {and where many, many families park and walk back and forth for soccer each summer!}. {The city and Rotary are still discussing final location but this is the preferred spot. Stay tuned!}

We are so excited to be a part of the fun project and excited to have other local families and friends excited too.

Are you cereal fans? What about Post Alpha Bits? Did you know that Alpha Bits are good for more than just breakfast?

The Post website offers lots of different recipe ideas to try including snack mixes like the Alpha-Bits 1,2,3 snack mix that is simply Alpha Bits, peanuts and raisins to the Breakfast Banana Split.

Check their website for all of their recipe ideas.

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