Intro: Give us a quick intro to you, your family and your blog.
Hi! I’m Tsh, and I’ve got three kids ages 2 1/2 to 8 and one husband of ten years. We currently live in Bend, Oregon, but I’m originally from Austin, Texas (hook ’em!). I write and run a blog called SimpleMom.net, which is about the art and science of living life simpler.
2. Tell us your blogging story. (Is this your first blog? How did you get started? How long have you been blogging?) Feel free to share anything that might be helpful for growing bloggers.
I started SM in early 2008, but I had a small family blog since 2005 (the kind to show photos of the grandkids to the grandparents). We were living overseas, I was diagnosed with depression, and my therapist recommended finding a creative outlet while we were living in a new culture. Kyle, my husband, recommended starting a blog since he knew I liked to write and because blogging was a cheap hobby I could do anywhere in the world.
So I quietly started SM when my second-born was a newborn, and I had lots of time to just sit and work on it. I also read a ton about blogging “professionallly,” even though I didn’t really think that’s what I’d end up doing long-term. When I started the blog, I knew from the get-go that I’d offer ad space (or do whatever to make some money), but it was only with the goal of what I called “latte money.” So I had ad spots from the beginning of my launch, but in those early days (meaning, the first 6 months or so), I did nothing but write content and tweak my design. I focused almost exclusively on good content, not on making money. And that’s how I grew to love blogging and knew I’d be willing to do it for free—it became a big part of my life early on, it became part of my therapy for depression, and I rekindled my love of writing. And I made new friends online.
3. Tell us about a blogging “success” or “failure” that taught you a powerful lesson.
Let’s see… where do I begin? I feel like I’m constantly learning new things from both successes or failures. I guess maybe one early lesson I learned was when I was featured in Better Homes & Gardens a year after SM’s launch. I was so excited to be featured and thought, “Okay, now here’s my big break!” But… it really did nothing for traffic. I mean, it’s nice to be able to say I was featured in a big magazine, but that’s about it. The best traffic grower for me (both early on and now, today) is fellow bloggers. Far and away, those relationships have more clout to building my traffic than any sort of national brand has so far. Plus, those relationships make blogging so much fun, and one of the best side-effects of my blogging career so far are the friendships.
One thing I’ve learned from a so-called “failure”—really, really, REALLY think about your blog name. I know, everyone says that. But really, once your blog grows, it’s very hard to change your blog’s name if you want to retain a sense of branding. I really wish my blog’s name wasn’t Simple MOM. It’s not really a blog about parenting (even though we do have that topic); it’s more of a life-development blog with plenty of topics that appeal to not only dads, but non-parents, too. Sigh… oh well. It is what it is.
4. What are the intangibles (perspective /determination /character /planning /supportive family etc) that have helped you succeed?
The number one thing that has helped me succeed is Kyle’s support. There is absolutely no way I would be where I am now if he wasn’t 100% on board with me blogging—I’m talking both in practical ways and in the more intangible things, like encouragement, camaraderie, and being a sounding board.
I’d also say knowing myself has been helpful. There are so many blogs out there, and so many bloggers, and you can really easily start comparing yourself if you’re not confident in how you’re made. The more I learn about myself, the more peace I find in stewarding my little slice of the Internet. I don’t need to be THE best, I just need to be MY best. I don’t need to be Jane, or Emily, or Rachel, or whomever. I just need to be Tsh. And I need to continually learn how I’m made—my gifts, my values, my priorities, my goals.
5. How do you keep your blog and home life in balance? What does a “typical” blogging day look like for you?
When I first started blogging, I wore 17 hats and spent a lot of time working for no money. But now that it’s a job, I invest some money in some things that help me focus on my strengths and can delegate my weaknesses. This means I have regular babysitting and an assistant.
So a “typical” day (though every day is different, especially depending on the time of year) might look like this:
6 am—Wake up, personal time, coffee, writing time (if my toddler doesn’t wake up).
7:30-9:00 am—Breakfast with the family, get the kids ready for the day and out to school.
9:00 am-1:00 pm—Work, work, work in my office at home while our babysitter is out in the rest of the house with the boys (my oldest is in school).
1:00 pm—My second goes to preschool and my youngest naps, so I either wrap up work or catch up on household stuff.
3:30 pm—Pick up kids from school, help with homework, start dinner, clean, and other typical mom stuff.
5:30 pm-8:30 pm—Dinner, baths, storytime, family time, bed.
8:30 pm-10:00 pm—Any combination of work catch-up (although I don’t write, I do more brainless stuff, like photo editing, email processing, etc.), but I prefer to do things like watch a movie or read a book.
Rinse and repeat!
Come back Wednesday to read all of Tsh’s Blogging Gadget and App recommendations and on Friday she’ll share her thoughts on social media and writing. Stay tuned!
Q & A with Tsh
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