I’ve been busy. Working. I still consider myself a stay-at-home mom, so wrapping my head around the fact that what I do now falls squarely within work-at-home mom territory still readily catches me purse-lipped.
Editing and publishing a magazine was not necessarily part of my plan. Marketing and public relations work was most certainly not. And yet, I’ll be damned if I’m not half bad at it. More importantly, hell if I’m not contributing to my family’s financial support.
Everyone wants to know how to make money blogging, who is making money blogging, and seemingly transfixed with rooting out tender morsels of inside information. Let me share with you a slice of how I am doing it, no rooting necessary:
The barrier to entry for creating an online business is notably low. Thank goodness, as I had next to nothing to my name when I first made a go of it: We had lost all of our possessions and our home only months before in Hurricane Katrina. Our savings account was demolished in the scramble to own underwear and spoons again. Finally, as the economy enjoys holding hands so very demonstrably with massive disasters, my husband abruptly changed career direction.
Did I mention that I clearly found pushing the limits of our sanity to be an exhilarating game? Good, because I conveniently became pregnant directly in the middle of this dance with the Devil in the pale moonlight.
Before me on our nonexistent table sat a complex place setting of absence and impending: no stable income, no belongings, a one year old baby that needed some belongings, and a towering future of uncertainty with a bulging pregnant belly… the only thing that did suggest any certainty, complete with impressive hospital bills.
Time to hustle.
Armed with an absolute need and a fiery will, I started doing research about selling on eBay. Easy, self-contained, with a manageable learning curve, it was a solid option for my situation.
Our local salvage company was overloaded with slightly damaged goods from stores caught in Katrina’s path, so I took advantage of the “buy low, sell less than high” opportunity and opened a small eBay store selling mostly discontinued favorites.
What began as a simple “make ends meet” approach, however, quickly turned into an experiment in marketing. This evolution began with a simple question:
Why could Seller A sell Item X for 30% more than Seller B, when it was clear that Item X was identical in both sellers’ stores?
The answer was marketing. It was pizzazz. It was turn of phrase. Appealing, uncluttered backdrops. Clear photos. Catchy headlines. As it turned out, all things I could do with a wink and a smile.
Before I knew it, I was selling identical goods as Sellers A and B, but selling them for 30% higher than the competition or more. All because of marketing.
Simultaneous to my girlish crush on marketing, I was outgrowing the stay-at-home-mom message board I had become fond of in the lonely days after Katrina. I had also found that I wanted to journal again, though I couldn’t face the possibility of my written words sleeping with the fishes once more.
Enter Velveteen Mind. Satisfying the immediate need to write, however, quickly segued into a desire to be read. To explore and share my story. That meant marketing.
I could do both. Hot damn.
What feels very much like a wink and a smile later, I am proud to say that not only am I read, but I publish a magazine of which the mission is to get other writers read. Blog Nosh Magazine is a literary magazine focused on publishing the strongest stories shared on personal blogs, encouraging writers and readers to find each other where their stories overlap, however unexpectedly.
That’s why I’m sharing my story with you. During the month of May, Blog Nosh Magazine is partnering with sponsor Pepperidge Farm to bring you a carnival celebrating the innovative ways that we answer the call of need and consequently discover a calling of our own.
Blog Nosh Magazine and Pepperidge Farm Celebrate the Heart and Art of Motherhood is inspired by the story of Pepperidge Farm founder, Margaret Rudkin. Her story is explored in more interesting detail at the carnival, but I’ll tell you what made me welcome this sponsorship with Pepperidge Farm:
When I heard Margaret’s story, I interrupted the storyteller repeatedly because I wanted to respond with a story of my own.
Margaret was a mom, like so many of us, but with a house for which I would write my arm off in order to attain. A house with a mortgage that couldn’t stand up to the Great Stock Market Crash, for instance. In order to make ends meet, Margaret turned the house into a working farm. She hustled.
Then, as the economy enjoys holding hands so very demonstrably with massive challenges, Margaret’s youngest child developed severe food allergies. Faced with impending nutritional deficiencies if he didn’t eat, Margaret decided to attempt homemade bread, with nutrients intact, in order to provide viable food for her son.
It worked. So well that their doctor began prescribing it. So well that Margaret realized she could sell it. So well that Margaret was able to build a company around it. Named after that mortgage-encumbered house-turned-working-farm, Pepperidge Farm.
But here’s where I really felt compelled to lend an “I hear you, sister” to Margaret. Every aspect of her business approach was based, not on the “right” way to do things in the bread-making industry, but what made good sense to her. And damned if it didn’t work. Far more so than what was widely held as the “right” way to do things, too.
The way I approach Velveteen Mind as a personal blog? The way I manage Blog Nosh Magazine? None of it is the “right” way to do things.
I very clearly run up against all of the best advice in our industry. And I do it all with a wink and a smile.
I’ll be damned if it isn’t working.
That is what is invigorating about this carnival. We are exploring stories of writers that found innovative ways to solve problems. Writers that had to make ends meet and in the process discovered talents they never realized they had. Writers that are making a go of it in publishing, teaching, marketing, retail, consulting, and design, all the while blazing trails that clearly cross over the “right” paths to success at perpendicular angles.
It’s not about egos, as I see so many people get hung up on the use of the word “success” and respond with tedious replies of “it depends on your definition of…” and then I fall asleep. This is about celebrating innovation in the face of need.
We want to hear your story. I want to hear your story. Our carnival, inspired by Margaret Rudkin, runs the entire month of May. Throughout, we will be reading the posts linked up in the SimplyLinked list and selecting five to feature on the front page of Blog Nosh Magazine. We want to share and promote the ways that you’ve stepped up to the plate and delivered with compassion and perseverance.
At the BlogHer conference in New York this August, I’ll be speaking on a panel about Mindful Monetization. We’ll be discussing ways to monetize (make money from) your blog without sacrificing those beliefs and values you hold most precious. In other words, how to pay the bills without selling your soul. I will contend that it’s possible if, first and foremost, you respect your audience. That means that you must deliver a story of value and relevance. I won’t pretend that it’s easy every time but I challenge that it’s worth it.
This carnival with Pepperidge Farm has been worth it. Not just for the celebration of entrepreneurial success stories, entrepreneurial attempt stories, or validation of the worth inherent to what you all do every day in order to hustle to make ends meet.
It’s been worth it because it has already inspired action. Motivated by the storytelling behind our carnival, Pepperidge Farm is donating $10,000 to Feeding America in honor of their founder, Margaret Rudkin. Every year, Pepperidge Farm donates millions of pounds of food to Feeding America food banks, however the resonance and relevance that your stories have brought to their own humble beginnings helped them find even more passion for that which they value.
Look, I have plans for Blog Nosh Magazine. We have significant changes ahead of us in the next couple of months. All thoroughly exciting. All potentially disastrous. That’s how you know it’s good, right?
No amount of withering failure or resounding success equals my emotion for this donation that we have collectively helped inspire. According to Feeding America, for every $1 you donate, Feeding America helps provide 7 meals to men, women and children facing hunger in our country.
Pepperidge Farm’s $10,000 donation? That’s a lot of nosh, folks.
What we’re doing? It is working.
So go share your story.
Give your audience and ours something of value to nosh on.
***To participate in the carnival:
- point your readers toward the carnival here at http://blognosh.com so they can explore your fellow writers' stories
- add our carnival badge to the bottom of your post using the code provided below (so we know you are an active participant), and add your carnival post link in the linky below.
<a href="http://www.pepperidgefarm.com/News.aspx"><img src="http://www.velveteenmind.com/Carnivals/PF/PFBN400x100.jpg"></a>Heart and Art of Motherhood carnival sponsored by Blog Nosh Magazine and Pepperidge Farm.