As regular readers know I have now been blogging for around five years, I started out with a beauty and fashion blog where I just muddled along for a couple of years not realising just how big blogging was going to become. I had a bit of a blog break to pursue my lifelong horse riding hobby, unfortunately, it didn’t end well after I broke my back in an accident
So from my hospital bed in a bid to make a record of our lives and something for my children to look back on I changed my blog name to Mr and Mrs T Plus Three and became a family and lifestyle blogger. At this point, I still didn’t realise that it would eventually change my life and turn into a career.
I’ve recently relaunched with a brand new design (October 2016) and I now blog in my own name Amy Treasure.Com. This means I can still record all our precious family memories as well as focus on what I like to call an ‘online magazine’ for readers who might be searching for recipe inspiration or perhaps looking for information on teenagers, infertility or even potty training. I really do hope there’s something for everyone!
I love receiving emails from readers and lots of the emails I get are from bloggers just starting out asking for advice and guidance. Although I do my best to reply to each email it is sometimes difficult to find the time so I thought I’d answer a few of my most frequently asked questions so that I have a resource to point people towards should they need it.
-Where is the ‘play with fairies’ t-shirt in your profile pic from, I need it!
Haha, I get asked this all the time. It’s one of the things that made me think I should write a Q&A so I would have the link saved (which isn’t even affiliate!) so here you go. Mine is a medium in case you were wondering, best of all it’s only £7.95 you can thank me later ;-)
-What’s the best piece of advice you could give to someone starting out?
It’s a cliche but content is king! Write, write and then write some more. Hone your skill, use your voice and readers will find you. I was given a brilliant piece of advice when I first started writing this blog and it was to concentrate on filling it with stories about myself and my family. To open up, be seen as a ‘real person’ and let people in. It wasn’t until I truly began to write straight from the heart that I found my audience. The posts where I have poured my emotions out and let my words fill the screen are the ones that are read time and time again, they are the posts that bring blog traffic every day and get widely shared. The more your work is shared the more authoritative you will become and Google will rank you highly, which not only helps build and retain an audience but helps with things like domain authority (more on that later) as well.
-What’s your work background?
Well, I was a straight A student until I skipped uni all together and became a teenage mum! I had Lewis when I was only 18 and Holly came along a year later. I worked as a dental nurse at the hospital when they were little, during that time I started training as a nurse and a secondary school English teacher (didn’t finish either!) and finally settled on an Open University degree in multimedia journalism, copy writing and editing. In between all that I worked for my husband’s concrete company as a bookkeeper. I have never actually been employed as a ‘proper journalist’ and working for the local paper reviewing theatre is the closest I’ve ever got to print. I now work on my blog full-time adding in freelancing if needed.
-How do I turn my blog from a hobby into a career?
Ok, this is a mammoth question. I will try and answer succinctly. In the good ol’ days people started blogs as nothing more than a hobby. It is becoming much more apparent now that people are starting blogs for the sole purpose of making money, which is cool! There is plenty of room for us ALL to be digital influencers. However, it will take time to build up your blog and your audience. Being an amazing writer just isn’t going to cut it. In order to land the big money campaigns, you are going to have to learn to rock a number of hats. By that I mean: learn how to take good high-quality photographs, be present on social media and build an audience. Think about whether or not you can offer video. Vlogging is going to be even more prevelent in 2017 than it is now.
Until you have a blog with great content, good DA (see below) the ability to showcase a brand by taking and editing photographs to a high standard. A few thousand followers across social media, with a good grasp on how to promote your content to them, plus the ability to produce video (not essential but brands are asking for video content so often now) you will not be able to sustain a living from blogging.
I have worked on campaigns in the past where bloggers have grumbled if they haven’t all got the same fee but the brand needs to be able to see a return on investment and if you haven’t got the stats and skill to prove that then you will not be worth the money (yet!) Give it time, blogging takes a lot of hard work a heck of a lot of perseverance and a little bit of luck. You can do it, but don’t expect everything yesterday because those bloggers that you see at the top of charts and getting all the big campaigns are the ones that have been slogging away until 1am for years!
-Which blog platform do you use?
I use WordPress but I have used other platforms. I didn’t like Blogger much because you can’t add plug-ins or easily customise themes. The Blogger stats are also HUGELY inflated because it counts all the auto web bots that crawl your pages. So when I thought I was getting 100,000 pageviews a month it was only a third of that. To be really sure of your stats and where your audience is coming from sign up to Google analytics which is in my experience the most accurate.
-How do I improve my DA (domain authority)?
If you want to make money from your blog then having a decent DA can only be a good thing. Domain authority is Google’s way of measuring how authoritative your site is. It works by a (secret) algorithm that ranks you against other sites. The more authoritative you are the higher up the search engine you will go. You need to work on getting links from other sites, this shows Google you are a ‘trustworthy’ site. You can get links, by first and foremost writing awesome content that gets shared by people linking back to that content. You can also join linkies (read more about that here) and guest posting on high authority sites such as BritMums. You could also approach other bloggers in your niche by offering them a guest post but don’t ever try and charge a fee for this, that is a no-no!
-What is a good DA?
25 is good and once my DA hit 30 I got bigger campaigns, when it got to 40 I was being offered the sort of money it would have previously taken a month to earn in a single day. However, this can be sporadic and I still get asked to work for free, or worse, exposure! Remember it’s all relative, though. If your DA is high but you don’t have many followers on social media then your fee would be less than someone who has lots of followers. Conversely DA isn’t the be all and end all for a lot of brands. If you have a small yet engaged audience that you can influence with your brilliantly creative content you will still get work. Now that I’ve rebranded and switched urls my DA is 1 again and I’ve dropped from number 23 to 429 in the TOTS100 chart (a website that ranks approximately 9000 of UK and ex-pat parenting blogs) I have noticed a massive drop in offers of work but I am still being contacted by the PRs that I have collaborated with for years because they know I deliver on time with quality content.
-How do I become a Huffington Post blogger?
This is probably one of my most asked questions. When I first started writing for Huffington Post it was a very proud moment, I didn’t realise at the time that they will publish pretty much anyone that can string a sentence together (sorry!) If you want to be considered then send an email to this address with a quick pitch and a link to something recent you’ve written and I would anticipate they will welcome you with open arms. Bear in mind that Huffington Post does not pay its writers and I’ve heard they have stopped giving followed links, although I don’t know how true that is. When I published ‘Let’s talk about the truth’ the Huffington Post blog and social team went above and beyond to promote it on facebook and Twitter which meant I was inundated with supportive emails plus crazy amounts of traffic. If you want to write something that will spark debate, Huffington Post is a great platform for getting your content in front of lots of eyes.
-I’d like to start a hashtag, how did you and Aby make #LittleFierceOnes so successful?
Our community hashtag #LittleFierceOnes has been running for a year now and at this point in time there are almost 80,000 uploads to the gallery. From the beginning, we have had many professional photographers joining in and our hashtag has been grouped by Instagram among some huge hashtags with millions of uploads so that has helped. Aby writes a blog post each week and features images uploaded, and just this morning I have liked and commented on over a hundred people’s photographs that have joined in, so we do nurture its growth quite a bit.
When we dreamt up #LittleFierceOnes we gave it a specific theme and told people that we wanted the gallery to encapsulate the innocence, beauty and wildness of all our little fierce ones and that’s just what it reflects. As far as starting your own hashtag, nurture a community feel and just be original.
-How do I contact PRs?
9 times out of 10 PRs will contact you. If there is a brand you really want to work with then Google ‘Press office XXX’ and you will likely find the PR team that works with said brand. Send them a pitch, be clear about what you want and what you are offering in return. I promise you, the longer you have been blogging the more PR contact you will get.
-What camera do you use?
I use a Canon 7D for my blog and (most of) my Instagram photographs. I use a 17-55 2.8 lens 90% of the time. Occasionally a 50mm 1.4 depending on what my subject is. I also have a Canon G7X for vlogging when I’m out and about.
-Which editing software do you use?
I use lightroom to import and organise my images and photoshop to edit them.
-I keep seeing the picture of Holly in the lavender popping up, why is that?
I upload some of my favourite photographs to a photo sharing site called Unsplash. It is a site where images can be used and downloaded for free. The user doesn’t have to credit the photographer (although lots of sites do) This particular image has been very popular, it’s been viewed more than 2.5 million times and has been downloaded thousands of times, hence why it pops up a lot.
A few places Holly’s face has appeared: Psychologies today magazine, E News, Amber modelling agency, Grazia magazine, a billboard for a health food shop in Seattle and a book for the association of Italian solicitors (random!).
-Does it bother your older children that you have blogged about them, like when you wrote about Holly getting a boyfriend?
For the most part, Lewis prefers to stay off the blog which I completely respect. He occasionally makes a guest appearance which is lovely! Before I wrote the article about Holly’s first boyfriend (and the one that gets googled daily) I ran it past Holly to see how she felt, I even gave her a ‘read back’ (!) and she was totally comfortable with me publishing it. It can feel a bit strange sometimes but Holly and Lewis’ friends, their friend’s parents and even their teachers have read my blog. I would never intentionally embarrass them or cause upset so I am careful about what I write. Except for maybe when I wrote this post which I happened to publish the same day another mum came up to me in the playground exclaiming rather loudly “Amy! I’ve been reading your blog alllllllllll afternoon” #Awks
-Why don’t you use nicknames for your kids?
Sometimes people ask me why I have openly shared my children’s names on here and, to be honest, it’s not something that bothers me but perhaps that’s because I have teenagers who have grown up with technology and have for the most part created their own digital footprints.
I think that’s everything, how did I do? Any more burning questions, let me know in the comments and I will add them here. Alternatively, you can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope that this Q&A was helpful and a useful resource to point people towards.
For more blogging tips check out the following:
- 16 dos and don’t of blogging
- 20 ways to drive traffic to your blog
- What to include on a killer media kit
- Get on your Instagram A-game