The Evolution of a Blog – Momstyle

Anticipating a rainy winter break with sugared up, excited, and inevitably wall-bouncing kids?  There’s an app for that!  iGameMom, fellow mom blogger and kids’ app expert, vets and reviews apps for kids to ensure that they are user-friendly, educational, and engaging for children in their target age range.  Ever wonder if Angry Bird is suitable for your two year-old?  Or what apps are best for helping your second grader master her math facts?  You can find answers to these questions, and more at iGameMom.com.

Screen shot 2012-12-12 at 10.02.16 AMIn an effort to learn more about the world of blogging and forge relationships with successful bloggers, SocialMediaPhobe reached out to iGameMom, who was the first person to like socialmediaphobe.wordpress.com.

SocialMediaPhobe:  Can you tell me about your evolution as a blogger?

iGameMom: I worked full-time as a market research professional.  After my son started school and his after-school activities picked up, I resigned from my company to spend more time with my son.  Now he is in 4th grade.  I often joke with other parents kids today have busier schedule than a corporate executive.  I knew I did not want to be a full-time mom either.  I tried different options, working part-time, starting my own business … until I discovered the fun in educational games.  The first app I played intensively with my son is called Flight Tycoon.  It is a good simulation game. I designed a lot mini lessons based on the game for my son.  Unfortunately, it crashes a lot.  We actually don’t play the game anymore.  However, it did make me aware that not all games are bad.  If we know how to use them, they can be good educational tools.  I started playing more.  The next few games I played with my son were Where is My WaterCut the Rope, and Angry Bird.  This was when I started looking for apps with educational values.  Unfortunately, I did not find many resources.  There are a couple web sites reviewing kids’ apps, but they are all connected with app developers and they are all connected with each other.  Also, most of the apps reviewed are for kids before school age.  That was when I decided to share my research experience with other parents.  I started iGameMom – an independent review site for the busy parents who have limited time, but still want to be involved in their kids’ learning experience.

SocialMediaPhobe: How often did you post at the beginning? How has that changed over time?

iGameMom: At first I did not post very often.  Gradually, I saw people are really interested in my reviews, so I started posting more frequently.  Now I post daily.

SocialMediaPhobe: Where did you start your blog? Where do you find the blogs you read?

iGameMom: I started the blog at wordpress.com as a free account.  As I gained more followers, I started treating the blog more like a business.  I moved to a self-host server.  I am still using WordPress, but now it is on wordpress.org.  Since iGameMom is still a WordPress blog, I can read other blogs via WordPress reader.  I like reading other people’s blog.  I learned a lot from other blogs: blog ideas; what is on the minds of other parents; ongoing hot topics; neat use of pictures; even some English languages (as English is my second language).  I think part of the reason iGameMom has a quickly growing follower base is I know what parents need, and I am talking in their language.

SocialMediaPhobe: I have a hunch that the “likes” we receive on our posts are drivers of growth in readership.  I know people are reading my blog – and some are not WordPress members – but I only get a few likes.  Can you tell me about the first “likes” you received?

iGameMom: My first post was a typical introductory post.  I got two likes on that.  At first, I was excited, of course.  Then I thought to myself: why did they like my post?  There was not much content in it at all.  But still I was excited, and posted second and third posts, both were actual app reviews.  Each post received 1-2 likes, which were very encouraging.  That is why when I read other people’s blog, I always leave a like.  It takes a lot determination, a lot time, and a lot work to start and maintain a blog. Everyone in the blogging world can use a little encouragement.

SocialMediaPhobe: You have a number of advertisements on your site – are these paid spots?  How did you go about getting ads on your blog?

iGameMom:  The ads on my blog are from Google and Amazon.  Anyone who has a website can sign up for an account with them; they will provide instructions for putting ads on your site.  As account owner, you are paid by number of clicks or number of purchases through your link.  Besides signing up with Google and Amazon, I also signed up with Apple, so my links to the App Store are affiliated links, which means I am paid a small percentage for each purchase via my links.  I do want to say that the income from these links are very little, too little to even cover my cost of buying the apps.

SocialMediaPhobe: Are you able to eek out enough money from blogging to make it worth the amount of time you put in?

iGameMom:  No!  Compared to the time I spend on the website, the income is nothing.  There is so much to do to maintain a website: correspondence with the readers, other bloggers, in my case, app developers; technical issues with the website; searching the good apps; keeping up with the ongoing trend; promote your site via social media …  If you are looking for a way to make money, blogging probably is not the way to go.  Most people blog because they love their topic, they will do it no matter what.

SocialMediaPhobe: What is the most important piece of advice you’d like to give new bloggers?
iGameMom: Be clear on what you want to get out of it.  Do you want to have a channel to write what’s on your mind? Do you want to make friends? Do you want to generate income from the blog?   My goals are to stay updated with new technology in education at home, to stay in-the-know, and  to stay connected when I am a SAHM.  Hopefully along the way, I will make some new friends, and ultimately become a go-to person on technology in home learning.  I know I have long way to go, but I am working on it.  What is your goal?
SocialMediaPhobe: Um… With all the talk about social media strategy on my blog, how have I never considered this question?  I started my blog on WordPress in order to fulfill a course requirement. Over the semester I realized two things: 1) I’d forgotten how much I enjoy writing (in my day job as an equity research editor, I don’t do much writing), and really like having an outlet and a routine that gets me to the keyboard on a daily basis; and 2) digital media is ever-changing. It’s impossible for the even the “experts” to be anything but students, trying to keep abreast of the trends.  I suppose my goals are evolving, but tend to involve writing regularly and looking for interesting trends in social media and digital communication. I want to try new things and document the journey.  Sure, I’d love to make some (any!) money, to get noticed, to be a go-to social media and strategic communications expert…  In the  meantime, I will just keep asking questions – even if my mom is my only reader.  So, readers, what are your goals?

Social Media: Megaphone or Gathering Place?

With the plethora of divisive political social media use over the last year or so, Facebook has become a place we sometimes dread, a place where the beliefs of our acquaintances are stuffed down our throats, often leaving us in an unfortunately uncomfortable place of limbo – do we “unfriend” those who continue to spout hatred and intolerance in social media?  Do we leave comments suggesting other points of view?  Are these people really seeking engagement or simply a megaphone for their values?  If social media is the great gathering place of the 21st century, where do people go for inspiration, for encouragement, for a sense of community?  I follow RunUMother for inspiration and challenge:

Source: RunUMother

Source: RunUMother

I feel supported by my own caring community of friends on Facebook – those around me (some of whom have only just now joined Facebook) and those friends who use social media to support and interact from afar.  Even the pope has a Twitter feed!  In yesterday’s edition of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, columnist Regina Brett pontificated on the Pope’s new Twitter feed; her 12/9/12 column is well worth the read.

Many religious leaders are using social media to get their messages out.  The Dalai Lama has more than 4.5 million “likes” on his Facebook page.

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The page is frequently updated with photos and messages:Screen shot 2012-12-10 at 5.36.47 AM

 

The United Church of Christ posts daily advent devotionals on their Facebook page: Screen shot 2012-12-10 at 5.42.07 AM

 

What motivates your tweet and status updates?

Dear SEC; Please Redefine Full Disclosure for the Digital Age

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has received Wells Notices from the SEC, warning of possible regulatory action against Hastings and Netflix for a Facebook post.  That’s right – the social media outlet with unprecedented reach is apparently not considered wide and fair dissemination of milestone messages like this:

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Facebook, with 1 billion monthly active users as of October 2012, is perhaps among the most public distribution around today.  Social media experts encourage this sort of public thanking of employees and supporters.  Many, many companies do it.  Does it impact the price of a stock when a company reaches a milestone? Of course it does.  Does the number of users or hours of use require an SEC filing before release?  I’m not sure.  How is the July post any different than this one, from October?

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Social media is changing the world of public relations – investor relations included.  It has changed the way news breaks – as on-the-scene witnesses report news as it happens and, if it’s really newsy, goes viral.  News companies monitor social media for news tips.  Shouldn’t financial firms as well?  Laws and guidelines often lag development – it seems like it’s time for the SEC to review their “full disclosure” regulations, to expand them to include widely used social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter.