Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Our Interview with Heather of

Today's interview is with Heather of Heather's only been blogging for a few months, but she's already built a huge readership. Here Heather talks about how she did it:

Your blog, Freebies4Mom, has only been around since November, but you've made quite a name--and a readership-- for yourself already. Can you talk about a few of your strategies for building a readership?

It's been a big surprise for my blog's readership to grow so quickly, and also has come with some growing pains. Freebies4Mom is largely based on time-sensitive content for free samples, coupons and other promotions. I think that the content plays a large part in the number of readers who are attracted to it, and how many of those readers want to share it with others. My blog grew out of a weekly email that I used to send, so when I started blogging I already had a head start with a loyal core of readers.

I definitely do not feel like I've been focusing on growth or networking, but I've been enjoying networking with other bloggers and my readers. As I've been improving my content, I've been relying on more blogs as sources of information. Directly linking to another blog or blog post is a great way to start networking and building relationships with other bloggers. Every blog has a unique audience, and if you think another blog's audience might be attracted to your blog, then you should try to network with that blogger.

When you network with other bloggers you need to remember to be yourself, be polite, and give proper credit. You also have to walk out on a limb once in awhile. I walked out on a long skinny branch when I asked Amy at MomAdvice if I could contribute to her weekly "Freebie Friday" list. I asked with the expectation that she would say no. She surprised me when she said yes, and it's been a wonderful way for me to get my blog's name out there, and to offer my readers a way to learn more about what MomAdvice has to offer them.
Freebies4Mom recently got a makeover. How did you choose a designer and what was the process like?
I knew it was time for a makeover, but I had not taken the first step of finding designers to consider for the makeover. I was visiting a fellow frugal blog, and noticed they had a new header that was designed by Sashwhy's Studio. I was excited to learn that Sashwhy, a blogger I was familiar with by reading Handprints on the Wall, was offering design services. I followed my gut instinct that she would be able to take me blog to the next level by offering me a new look and improved navigation for my readers. Sashwhy's Studio definitely exceeded my expectations.

I learned through the design process that it was difficult for me to put into words what "the look" was that I wanted, but luckily Sashwhy was on the same page with me and seemed to anticipate the direction I wanted to go in. My advice to other bloggers ready to choose a designer is to trust your gut instinct on who to hire and not to focus solely on price when making your decision. You've go to get a feel for whether you can work well with the designer in an efficient way--you don't want to be spinning your wheels on a blog redesign and not be satisfied with the results.
What are a few of your favorite blogging tools and resources?
My new favorite blogging tool is the Google Docs form for collecting giveaway entries, thanks to this post on BlogCoach. It is so much easier (and more secure) to collect entries for giveaways this way. Or collect information about anything from your readers! I hope to explore more applications for this new tool on my blog.

Headline Animator is a great tool that FeedBurner offers. I don't see many bloggers using it. Maybe because there are so many things that FeedBurner can do that you might not notice it in the "Publicize" tab. I like it because it's a compact button that rotates through your recent headlines that your readers can add to their blogs. You can also use it as an email signature, but it doesn't seem to work in all email platforms. It's a more appealing option than a widget with a list of recent posts since it saves so much space.

One of the easiest ways I've learned about new blogging tools is by asking my readers (many of them are bloggers). If I see something on another blog that I want to know how to do, I will ask them about it. Bloggers usually love to share their blogging knowledge. Which is exactly why you have brought us BlogCoach, Angie! I'm so thankful because it's nice to have a friendly place to come and ask questions without getting ignored because you are a novice and without being bombarded with techno mumbo-jumbo.
What's ahead for Freebies4Mom?
I hope to be expanding my content slowly into the area of frugal lifestyles. Of course I'll still be covering the freebies, coupons, and sweeps as well. My challenge is how to be smarter about the way I blog so that I can offer my readers more quality content without increasing my blogging hours. I'm still a full-time stay-at-home mom to my one and three-year old sons. Blogging has been a wonderful hobby turned part-time job for me, but I need to work hard at keeping my hours part-time.
Read more BlogCoach blogger interviews.