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Wednesday
Aug312011

5 More Facts You Need to Know about Working with Mom Bloggers 

Lately, the title “blogger” has come to mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people.  For some reason, I distinctly remember the first time I started thinking about the term.  It was during the 2000 Presidential election when I heard talk radio hosts referring to early predictions in the “blogosphere”.   I didn’t think about it again until years later when a mother in my daughter’s playgroup mentioned she blogged for Oprah.  That was in 2005.  Lots has changed, but there is one thing I’m sure of: neither of these kinds of bloggers accepted free baby gear in exchange for product reviews.

Now, I work with mom bloggers every day.  I get to know many of them through a private Facebook group I host.  When I first started recruiting moms to be in my panel for www.QuestionMoms.com almost a year ago, I discovered that many indicated they were “mom bloggers”.  Working with mom entrepreneurs, I knew there may be a need to connect the two groups, so I developed profiles for bloggers to complete.  I made a list of topics and asked them which they “cover”.  I also asked questions about traffic, platforms, and types of distribution.   That’s when the real lessons began because I quickly realized those metrics aren’t really what make mom bloggers valuable to mom entrepreneurs.  I ran some large experiments that helped me measure the real value of individual bloggers and here’s what I found:

1. The title “Mom Blogger” is way too vague and extremely misleading.
There are mom bloggers who are journalists.  They are well-informed on specific topics like children with special needs or how to live green.  Other mom bloggers are women who enjoy writing and sharing about their day to day life with friends and family.  But, the fastest growing group is the one who focuses on reviews and giveaways.  They are also great at finding and sharing coupons and deals.  They certainly don’t get rich doing this, but it can turn into a lucrative hobby.  When a client comes to me now asking for a campaign with 5-50 bloggers, she is usually thinking of the mom journalists.  That would be fine, except the same clients will also ask that each blogger have over 10,000 followers.  Now there we have a problem.  Bloggers with that kind of niche content and over 10k followers are not likely to be looking for $10-$50 products to review.  You can pitch them, but it’s much like pitching a press release to a bunch of editors: it requires time and contacts.  Understand the different kinds of bloggers and how they can help.
 
2. Your objectives need to be clear.
The most common complaint clients have about previous blog reviews is that “there were no results.”  They sent products to dozens of bloggers, but didn’t get a boost in sales.  Bloggers don’t sell your product.  Most provide a combination of improved SEO, positive public reviews, and targeted impressions (your market seeing your product).  That rarely leads to instant sales.  Instead, you need to think of it from a buyer’s perspective:  If I’m a mom looking for a great way to solve a problem I’m having, I’m going to do one of the following:  a) ask a friend if they know a solution, b) do a search online for a solution, or c) remember that I’ve seen a solution before somewhere.  The blogger ‘s review is there to be those resources.  They have lots of “friends”, their review creates a page that points to your product as a solution to a problem, and they get in front of a lot of potential customers who may need your solution in the future.  Rarely are those instantaneous results through sales.  Write out your objectives in realistic terms like obtaining hundreds of new Facebook fans, increasing SEO, providing awareness of a promotion, or establishing positive reviews for future customers to find.
 
3. You need a solid plan.
If you are working with a couple bloggers and have connections, you can find the right ones, email them a pitch, and work directly with them.  If you are doing a major campaign, you need to create a plan that involves targeting the right bloggers, sending product, communicating expectations to the bloggers, following up on the product being received, verifying links, directing traffic to the right social media sites, pages, etc., and measuring results.  You also need to think about what’s in it for the bloggers.  Some are simply hoping for a free product, but others are truly doing you a favor.  Pay it back by allowing them to host giveaways and by promoting them.  Combining special offers with a blog campaign is also very effective.  Take the time to create the plan including who the bloggers are, what they will get and give away, when they will post, how they will drive traffic to your sites, and where you will link back to their efforts.
 
4. Followers do not equal traffic.
I’ve tracked the effectiveness of dozens of bloggers in several campaigns.  The biggest surprise to me was how little the bloggers “follower” numbers mattered.  It makes sense though: if a blogger posts multiple times a day about special offers and coupons, when they blog about your premium-priced baby accessory, it will not result in click-thrus.  The followers of that blog may come fan you on Facebook in order to enter a giveaway hosted by the blogger, but they won’t be making any purchases now or later.  On the other hand, a mom with a modest blog following who writes about green products can send qualified leads to your green baby product website.  Bloggers use different ways of promoting their posts.  If they simply write it and let followers see it when they visit, the traffic will likely be low.  Other bloggers cross promote with other bloggers, tweet and email links to their posts.  Pick a blogger based on effectiveness for your product, not just how many followers they have.
 
5. You don’t NEED an agency, but agencies can improve your campaign.
Big brands are experimenting with bloggers.  You’ve likely seen the huge campaigns and the numerous social media promotion companies that are popping up.  They’ve been learning some tough lessons.  I heard privately about one major brand that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a mom blog campaign.  It was such a disaster that the company policy is to not work with bloggers at all now.  Personally, I think it failed because they took an overly opportunistic approach.  The concept of hundreds of moms promoting your product sounds great.  However, that doesn’t happen simply by sending them a free product.  Mom bloggers are actually being asked to be promoters, marketing specialists and even sales reps.  Some agree to do it.  Unfortunately, mom bloggers don’t have the training to do it right and they need to understand their obligations to properly disclose that they are being paid or incentivized.  Utilize agencies if you need assistance contacting bloggers, designing a strategy, or organizing a large campaign, but don’t pay a fortune.
 
As someone who has managed million dollar marketing budgets for corporations, I still think mom bloggers are a wonderful marketing investment.  When I consider a print ad for $8k that may get 10,000 impressions or delivering $100 in free product to a handful of bloggers for the same impressions plus increased social media following, improved SEO, and great quotes about a product, the choice is simple.  With a database of over 1000 mom bloggers who’ve completed profiles on QuestionMoms.com, I’ve become very picky about which ones I contact for promotions.  I’ve developed a small group of them to be my army of “promotion specialists” for my clients.  In the end, it’s about relationships and communication.  Mom bloggers are real women, not impersonal advertising websites.  Let me know if you’d like help connecting to them.

Shelley Straitiff spent 15 years managing corporate marketing in Silicon Valley before starting her own company.  Always looking for smarter, more creative and less expensive ways to market, Shelley built QuestionMoms.com to provide a place where entrepreneurs can get market feedback from moms and connect with bloggers at an affordable price.  Shelley writes about marketing smarter and getting measurable results from what you do.

Tuesday
Apr192011

Wordpress vs. Blogger

Are you thinking of launching and managing your own blog? That’s a great idea! Unfortunately, it won’t be as easy and intuitive as changing a diaper. A successful, visible blog requires a lot of commitment, some techie skills, and much creative ideas for original content.

Of course the first step is to decide the scope and kind of blog you want, and that’s what I’m here today to help you do. Because there are so many options out there for hosting, publishing, and designing your new blog, we’re going to keep this intro sweet and simple, and by the end, you’ll know exactly what platform you should be using for your mommy blog.

First, there are many different kinds of blog platforms out there, so let’s narrow them down to find one that suites your purpose, needs, and skillset. The two major platforms we’re going to focus on today is Wordpress and Google Blogger (while there are many more free blog accounts available like Typepad and Livejournal, these two really are the most powerful and customizable).

Wordpress – an open-source (in other words, a completely customizable and alterable) blogging platform that allows the blogger to build entire websites around a blog. Wordpress blogs can be enhanced by plugins and other out-of-the-box code tools that make it easy to enrich all facets of your blog.

Blogger – offered by Google, a closed-source (in other words, not as customizable or alterable) blogging platform that is intended to be just a publishing platform. In other words, there’s no way to make a full website out of it – it’s just a blog that features your blog posts.

Blogger is easier to set up and requires virtually no coding or techie skills to maintain. That’s the nice part for many mommy bloggers! The downside is that you’re limited in what you can do with your new blog. Google closely controls what kinds of “gadgets”, or in other words, additions and enhancements to your blog that allow you to do different things.

Blogger does offer thousands of blog design “templates” to choose from, and many very useful gadgets you can add to your blog include the ability to display and share photos, social page widgets, and even advertising to help you monetize your blog.

Wordpress, on the other hand, is the most powerful blog platforms on the Internet today, and by some estimates, as many as 75 percent of all blogs in existence, big and small, are powered by it. Wordpress is often referred to as a CMS, or content management system, which essentially allows a web developer to access, modify, and control an entire website. With a Wordpress blog, you can build out webpages, add any number of hundreds of thousands of available plugins, and access the “source code”, or in other words the “language” the website is written in, so the entire look and feel of the site and blog can be completely 100 percent altered and customized.

There are two ways to use Wordpress. For amateur bloggers who want a blog that’s more customizable and powerful than what Blogger offers, go to Wordpress.com, sign up for a free account, and blog away! Using Wordpress.com, run by the company behind Wordpress, you will still be somewhat limited in how much you can customize your blog. For bloggers who want to take it a step further and leverage Wordpress as the entirely customizable, most powerful and flexible blog platform on the planet, you can purchase through a company like Godaddy.com a domain name, a hosting plan, and then install Wordpress as an open-source application. But that’s a somewhat technical, though not terribly difficult, process.

So, what kind of blog do you need? Here’s my guide for beginner bloggers:

I need something as simple as possible! Blogger.com
I just want a personal blog that my close family and friends will read. Blogger.com
I want some more flexibility in what I can and can’t do with my blog. Wordpress.com
I want to have a few pages that are easy to edit and manage on my blog, like an “About Me” and “Contact” page. Wordpress.com
I want my own domain name, for example, mychosendomainname.com for my blog. Wordpress.com or Blogger.com
I’m interested in learning a little bit more about how to develop websites using simple web languages like HTML to customize my site and blog. Wordpress.com
I love the animation on blogs and sites I see. Wordpress Application from Godaddy
I need a full-blown company or personal website that will be found in search engines, that I can sell products from, as well as manage my blog and web content from. Wordpress Application from Godaddy

I hope this helps you get started in choosing what blog platform best suits your needs and skill level as a blogger. Question, comments, concerns? Post them below and I’ll be happy to address them!

Tom Copeland is a freelance Wordpress developer, published writer, and owner of Bullworthy.com http://www.bullworthy.com, a web development services firm for small businesses. Tom developed and maintains a number of niche blogs that include the Writer’s Franchise http://writersfranchise.com, and SAHMentrepreneur http://www.sahmentrepreneur.com. You can follow Tom on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bullworthycom/163465493766 and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/financialbull.

Monday
Sep272010

Mommy Monday:: Momma In Flip Flops2

Andrea Summers is also known as Momma In Flip Flops2. She’s a mommy blogger and reviewer who started her blog in the fall of 2008.

Momma in Flip Flops2 writes reviews and giveaways for those with family friendly products. “I also do paid advertising and love to connect and help get the word out there of what's available,” she said.

Andrea said that she finds balance by always putting her family first. “My vocation is to be a wife and mother and if my family needs me, I need to be there for them,” she said. “If I need to stay up and get things done at night I do. Just doing a little bit here and there and staying on top of things keep things running smoothly.”

When asked what advice she has for other mom entrepreneurs, she said go for it! At first, she said, she wasn’t sure about starting to do reviews. “With much prayer I decided I'd give it a try. If it's not working out then you know it's not supposed to be, but take your time, do what you can and follow your dreams!”

In addition to the Momma In Flip Flops2 Blog, Andrea can also be found on Facebook and on Twitter.

Monday
Sep132010

Mommy Monday:: Simply Stacie

Simpy Stacie
Stacie Vaughan has been blogging since December, 2008. Her blog, Simply Stacie, features reviews and giveaways for women’s products, books and family items. She also frequently shares blogging tips and resources that she finds.

Vaughan said she has had quite a bit of success with her blog and that is one reason a schedule is so important for her. “My blog has turned into my full-time job,” she said.  “I get up really early and work throughout the day and normally stop around 4 p.m.”

She said she enjoys it, but keeping up with her blog could literally keep her busy from daybreak to sunset. “Sticking to a schedule helps quite a bit because it can be something that I could do all day,” she said.

Vaughan encourages other new bloggers to keep up their hard work. “Building a blog takes time, so don’t give up,” she said. “Just keep working at it and you will get there.”

In addition to her blog, Simply Stacie can be found on Twitter, Facebook and Blog Frog. Reach out to her if you are interested in having your products reviewed or if you'd like to sponosr a giveaway!

Wednesday
Sep082010

Back to School Blog Tour:: Meet Market Mommy!

Hi everyone! And a special hello to everyone who is here to visit because of Abbey {Living My MoMent} and Holly’s {The Work at Home Woman}  Back to School Blog Tour! I’m glad to meet you!  I hope you’ll find some exciting things here at Market Mommy and choose to stick around!

There are so many things I could tell you about us! Where should I start?

Well, in the spirit of ‘back to school’, I had my first, first day of school as a mommy a couple of weeks ago. My oldest started preschool. I’m happy to say that he loves it. After I got over my initial sadness, I welled up with pride. He really is an amazing little boy. You can see a few pictures and read about it here.

In addition to my wonderful son {age 4}, I also have a great daughter {age 3} and a pretty terrific husband. We live in rural Ohio. My background is in marketing/communications/journalism and I’ve been a mom business owner since 2007. In 2009, I launched Market Mommy as a way to reach out and help all the other mom small business owners who were struggling with marketing.

In a little over a year, Market Mommy has really blossomed. We’ve worked with hundreds of women all over the world and would love to work with you, too. Below is just a brief synopsis of what we can do for you. But, please, browse our site and check out everything we have to offer! And, don’t forget, we are sponsoring a prize at the Tour! Be sure to enter to win our $25 gift certificate

  • See that awesome Back to School Blog Tour button at the top of this post? Market Mommy designed it. We have a variety of low-cost marketing services available to mom entrepreneurs!
  • Have a product that would make a fabulous holiday gift? We have low-cost advertising in our second annual Holiday Gift Guide now available!
  • Have a blog or website and want to attract more advertisers or product reviews? We partner with and list sites like yours!
  • Have a mom-owned business? List it in our FREE directory!
  • Need a little marketing help? Choose an hour-long marketing consultation and we’ll get you started in the right direction!
  • Need a press release? We do that too!
  • Business cards? Flyers? Postcards? Marketing materials are an essential part of any marketing plan. We design and print all of these and MUCH more. And our prices are fantastic!
  • Want to interact with other mom entrepreneurs? Join or start a conversation in our forum, it’s free!
  • Be sure to subscribe to our free marketing e-newsletter and blog feed! We post almost daily about tons of great business related stuff and send out a monthly newsletter to our mailing list full of insider information!
  • Have a business opportunity to advertise? You can do that at Market Mommy.
  • Want to get the word out about your business and products? We have advertising options for every budget!
  • Need some honest, easy to understand marketing know how? Browse our site, it’s packed with info!
  • On Facebook? Twitter? We’re there too! Right now, we are running a referral contest on our Facebook page, the winner will receive a free listing in our Holiday Gift Guide!