Blogger: Brianna Netzel
Blog: Mending the Piggy Bank
Fun story: I met Brianna when I was trying to get a company to send me the money they owed me (and hadn't paid me for eight months). The company emailed Brianna apologizing for not paying me. Since she is a beautiful person, she emailed me to give me a heads up, and together, we got the company to pay me what they owe. In short, making your complaints public (via Twitter) is a great way to get a company to pay attention.
I wanted to get to know her better, so I asked her to sit in our hot seat and talk blogging with me.
So, here she is!
Can you tell our readers about yourself and your blog?
In early January of 2014, I realized the need for a frugal living blog in my area and applied my lifelong knack for finding a deal and started the blog Mending the Piggy Bank. The blog quickly took off and has become a trusted source for local families to find ways to save money and find things to do in the South Central PA region and beyond. My audience now reaches far beyond our local area, yet I still remain loyal to my local following. Frugal living tips, recipes, product reviews, special events and more are shared on a consistent basis on my blog and my social media accounts, particularly my Facebook account are utilized as an extension of my blog and I post a lot of content directly to those platforms.
How much money are you making?
Enough that I could leave my full-time job and work from home and be with my two sons.
How do you make money?
It's never the same each month. I make ends meet through a combination of affiliate links, ad sales (I've done some strategic targeting of local businesses and have had good luck with getting 3-6 month contracts from that) ambassadorships, paid product reviews, paid travel reviews, and less often, sponsored posts. I'm always apt to choose a long-term relationship, even if that means investing a lot of time in the beginning, over a “one and done” sponsored post.
How many hours per week do you put into your blogging business?
I'm afraid to calculate it. 40+.
What are some tools you use that make your life easier?
Seriously, in such a high tech space, some of the things that make my life the easiest are surprisingly low tech. I have a big wipe-board by my desk that I use to keep track of deadlines, monies owed to me and random ideas that I get for post ideas throughout the day. I tend to open a Google Doc and add ongoing post ideas, blogging to-dos and more there too.
If you knew when you were first starting what you know now, what would you change?
Wow, I'm struggling with this. If I could go back to day one with the knowledge I have now I'd probably figure out my niche and readership right away. For instance, I danced around with whether I wanted to be a coupon blog for the first eight months. I struggled with that. I gained a loyal audience, but I constantly felt like I wasn't doing all that I could and felt like I couldn't keep up since the sales cycle resets every Sunday. It was never-ending, and I was burning out FAST. So I refined things a bit and became a frugal living blogger. I focus more on the overall concept of being thrifty on my blog and maintain a Facebook group where readers post deal and coupon topics. It has been the best of both worlds.
What would you say to someone who's thinking about starting a blog, but hasn't yet?
Honestly evaluate your intentions. If you're doing it because you have a friend that blogs and you see that person get “free” stuff or trips, you'll likely burn out once you realize what all goes into blogging. Write because you love it and would do it for free.
What's the hardest thing about being a blogger?
Balancing work and family, definitely! When I used to work outside the house, I could push my chair in at the end of the day, walk away, and not do anything work related until I came back the next day. With blogging, it's a constant part of my life — engaging readers on social media, keeping up with email, posting new content, they're all a huge part of my day. Thankfully, my family has been accepting of our unique setup and goes with the flow, but sometimes I wish I could live a bit more in the moment, particularly when we're on a trip.
What's your favorite thing about your business?
Easy – the ability to stay home with my sons. Sometimes it is NOT an easy task to balance working with home-life, but we had some really unfortunate experiences with childcare when I was working full-time so knowing that I'm able to be home with my boys means the world to my husband and me.
How do you plan your content?
I keep an editorial calendar. I publish daily and sometimes as many as three times a day depending on deadlines, trending topics, etc. I have notebooks and Google Docs FILLED with ideas, so I've never run dry on content, that's for sure. I've found that I need an editorial calendar to maintain a balance with my weekly series that I post on particular days of the week, recipes, crafts, paid content, etc. I like to keep it varied for sure.
When you're not writing, which blogs are you reading? What do you like about them?
I read so many and have so, so many internet friends (their friendships mean as much to me, if not more, than many that I have in real life) that I hesitate to name drop for fear of forgetting someone! I would definitely recommend ‘liking'/following a wide variety of bloggers inside and outside of your niche and reading their concept whenever possible, even if it's not daily. I've learned and grown so much from others and wouldn't be where I am today if not for the lessons I've learned from them and the insight they've given me as we've developed friendships.
If you want to learn more about Brianna and her blog, check it out here: Mending the Piggy Bank.