Blogging Tips From Pro Bloggers – Life In a House of Testosterone #BloggerInterviews

Welcome to Blogging Tips From Professional Blogger Part II.  Today I am interviewing the witty Kim Miller from Life in a House of Testosterone. Kim will contine to enlighten us with tips and tricks for those who wish to grow their blog.  Lets begin the interview:


1. I’m always looking for
a blog that makes me laugh and a blogger who keeps it real. We connected and
bonded immediately, so I would like my readers to get a glimpse of who you are.
Please tell them a little about yourself and your blog. 
Hi there everyone! I’m the slightly
crazed mom and owner of Life in a House of Testosterone. I am a 48 year old mom
to three beautiful children – April (1988), Jonathan (1999), and Tre (2003). I
live on the outskirts of Richmond, VA with The Man Thing (aka hubby) and our
four-legged daughter, Mollyanna. (supposedly
she’s the menfolk’s dog since THEY are the ones who wanted her and THEY are the
ones who swore that they would walk, feed, and groom her every single day – ha!
I can count on one hand the amount of times that has happened in the 5 years
we’ve owned her!
)


As for me – I grew up in Cressona, PA,
little town not far from Lancaster and Hershey. Born and raised in the country,
I grew up on my grandparents farm (Sunnybrook Farm). When I was 19 I married April’s
father and moved to Jacksonville, NC. We lived there for 7 years before her
father and I divorced. He went off to Parris Island, SC to become a drill
instructor, and April and I packed our bags and moved to Richmond with a
girlfriend of mine and her four boys. I have a brother and sister who still
live back home, both of my parents have passed away so its just the three of us
and our families.

I’m a glass is half-full kind of gal, an
Aquarius if you’re wondering about my astrological sign. I was supposed to be
born on Valentine’s Day … but mom always said that I was just too damn nosey
and couldn’t stay put for 3 more days. I have a bit of a daredevil streak in me
and I’m willing to try most anything at least once. You want me to go cliff
diving or something equally dangerous … you’re going to have to supply me with
generous quantities of Pink Moscato before that happens! A girl has to have her
limits!

Life in a House of Testosterone has been
a labor of love for the past 11 years. Today actually – April 11 – is my 11th
year blogging. I started out on LiveJournal, then moved to Blogger. I’ve had
several names over the years for my blog (The MAD White Woman when I was on
Blogger); however, in 2012 when I decided to become a professional, full-time
blogger, I changed the name to Life in a House of Testosterone and the
following year I made the leap to a self-hosted WordPress blog and haven’t
looked back.
2.  Life in a House of Testosterone
is very diverse. You blog about recipes, promote giveaways, review products, and
participate in link parties and Blogger OPPs. What is your strategy for
obtaining items for reviews, giveaways and sponsorships?  Also, how important is it for bloggers to
participate in link parties and what are the benefits for them?  
I hate being put into a niche or
‘classified’ if you will. Life is not black and white, its messy and all over
the place, and deals with a million different things each and every day. Why
should your blog be just one aspect of your life? I write about anything and
everything.


Oh gosh … when I became a professional
blogger – I was absolutely dying to be a part of the review/giveaway circuit. I
mean, how cool is it to have companies sending you stuff for free to review? So
I paid attention, and I watched the bloggers that I wanted to be like to see
how they were getting their stuff. 



I
would send out emails to these companies and nothing. Nada. Zip. So I asked a
friend of mine (a fellow blogger) how she got started. She told me three key
things to remember: 



(1) Don’t be discouraged when it feels like every response
is a “no” because the very next one could be a “yes” for a campaign that you
REALLY wanted to be a part of; 

(2) Network – look for Facebook Groups that
share blogger opportunities, sponsored posts, set up Google Alerts for keywords
like “bloggers wanted” and 

(3) Never give up. 


I’ve wanted to work with some
pretty big name companies over the past two years, but kept being rejected.
This year I have the pleasure of being a part of the Chick-Fil-A Moms as well
as the HP Smart Mom Panel. I receive several gift cards usually every other
month for free menu items at Chick-Fil-A in exchange for sharing our purchases
on social media and telling our family and friends what we think of their food. 



Hewlett Packard was kind enough to send each of the moms on the panel their new
HP-Envy 5660 all in one printer to review earlier this year. After two years of
applying and being turned down, I was also accepted as a Best Buy Blogger right
before the holidays last year. The work that I’ve done with them earned me
enough to afford the iPod Touch 5th Generation that my son wanted for Christmas
(over $240 with all that he wanted). Where did I purchase it? Best Buy,
naturally!

The next two companies on my radar are
Microsoft and to become a Disney Social Media Mom. If it is the last thing that
I do on this earth, I will have an expense paid press trip to Walt
Disney World and Epcot Center in Orlando, Florida before I die.

My best advice that I can give to you is
don’t give up. If you want to work with a particular company – Do Your Research. Find out who their PR (public relations) person is. Call them, email
them, find out what events they have coming up that may be in your area that
you can attend. Google them! Follow other bloggers who have worked, or are
currently working with that company. Ask them how they got the chance to be a Brand Ambassador, or to be a part of their panel. Most bloggers will be happy
to tell you! Follow them on social media, literally become an online stalker of
the companies that you want to work with, interact with them, share their
Facebook posts, re-tweet their tweets, do whatever it takes for them to notice you. 



Above all else though – Be Sincere. Don’t go after a company just because
of what you may or may not get from them for free. You have to have a genuine
desire to work with them, love their products and actually own a few or use
them on a daily basis, and be willing to tell them when they miss the mark with
a product in a professional and courteous manner.

Lastly – you MUST MUST MUST network. Even
just 5 or 6 years ago when I was blogging – “networking” meant that you had to
visit your favorite blogs every day and comment on the new posts that they
published. However, with all of the social media avenues available to bloggers
now … that’s not necessarily the “formula” any longer. Follow their Facebook
pages, give their posts a +1 on Google+ and leave a comment, double-tap to like
that silly photo of their dog on Instagram … whatever it is, make it PERSONAL.
Act as though they are already a family friend that you would sit down and share
a coffee with.
If you aren’t sure who you should be
cultivating a relationship with – Google what you’re interested in! If you like
DIY projects, do a search for “DIY bloggers” or if you want to get more
specific something like “Virginia DIY bloggers” to find bloggers in your state.
They might post on social media that they are attending this week’s wine
tasting at the country club. That’s your opportunity to attend the same event,
introduce yourself, and make a new friend – IN PERSON.

You do NOT need to follow 3000 different
bloggers – you’d get nothing else done! I am currently in the process of
putting together The Ultimate Blogger List

(which closes for submissions on April 30, 2015) that will be helpful in
finding bloggers in your particular niche or field of interest. The list
includes the blogger’s name, their blog name and URL, the city and state that
they live in, and what they blog about. Once the list is closed, I’ll be
sharing a copy of it with those bloggers that have requested a copy – and it is
going to be a fantastic starting point for building your network of fellow
bloggers that you interact with and work with on a daily basis! I’m super
excited about it! If you haven’t already added your blog – go do it now!
3. What social media platform
do you prefer for promoting your blog content and why?  
Ugh, that’s a tough one. I’m one of those
perfectionist types with a bit of manic ADD thrown in for good measure – and I
think I have to be everywhere simultaneously. I had a falling out with Facebook
several months (a year?) back and decided to just ignore it and use Google+
exclusively. It was fine for a bit, I had a lot of interaction at first (again,
networking with others you are interested in, reading their posts and sharing)
but I began to notice that a lot of the posts weren’t personal – just basically
automated posts from the bloggers that I followed when they published a new
post.  I wasn’t getting the same level of
interaction that I did on Facebook. So, I went back to Facebook. I like the
groups because conversations are threaded and you can really get a lively
discussion going on certain topics. I also have been trying different ways to
engage my readers on my fan page – not just on my personal page (although people are more than welcome to
send me a friend request! I only turn down those creepy guys floating in the
middle of the ocean on a raft looking for a “soulmate” to share their raft
with. Keep moving buddy!)
and not just automatically publishing a post to
my Facebook page but actually writing a few sentences about the post and asking
a question.


If I had to pick a social network – I’d
say Facebook with Twitter and Pinterest tied for second place. Ironically, 45%
of my traffic this month has been from StumbleUpon (which I hardly ever use).
Since the beginning of the year though – my traffic has been primarily from
Pinterest, Facebook, and StumbleUpon and pretty evenly distributed as well.
4. Getting readers and followers
to share blog content is essential for driving traffic and blogging success.
Commenting on blog posts is also recommended. Can you explain to readers why these
steps are important and what your plan of action is to get followers/readers to
share your content? 
 
Really Rhonda? You had to put me on the
spot like this? LMBO! I hate trying to get people to comment on my blog. I have
literally gone months without one single comment. Do you know how
frustrating that is?!?
Then it dawned on me. Why are they going
to share (let alone take the time to read)
anything that I am writing, if I’m not
commenting and sharing what They are writing?
I swear, I think I’ve tried every social
share and commenting system out there to see what the magic solution was. If
nothing else, the one thing I’ve learned as a blogger came from being a reader
and commenter myself.
  • Keep your blog design
    SIMPLE, clean, and easy to read.
  • Don’t have a crazy mix
    of colors, or fonts that are hard to read.
  • Don’t have flashing
    doo-dads and snow falling and music playing that will slow your blog’s load
    time and piss me off because I have to wait for all the bells and whistles to
    catch up.
  • Turn off the $#%!*#
    captcha that nobody can read and ends up having to try three or four times till
    they finally get it right just to leave you a comment that reads, “Great post.
    Thanks for the advice.”
  • Give me a menu! Where
    can I find your recipes? How do I get in contact with you? How do I find out
    more about you or the XYZ product I saw you became an independent consultant
    for on Facebook the other day?
  • It all boils down to
    four little words that apply to most everything, “keep it s
    imple,
    stupid!”

Now, because it is the most annoying,
pain in the ass feature on the face of the planet, I have to vent about this
next item.


If two seconds after I arrive on your
blog to read your post a pop-up appears in front of my face and won’t let me
finish reading the article until I subscribe to your newsletter or follow you
on Facebook – I’m outta there and
trust me, I won’t be back.
Especially if the article sounded really good because then it just pisses me
off even more that I’ve read the first paragraph and can’t get to the rest of
it until I answer your stupid box.

The kiss of death is filling out box one
to make it go away and then having another box pop up from the bottom to
advertise something, click the “x” to make that go away and three seconds later
ANOTHER box pops up? I’ll never be back to your blog. If I really like your style
of writing or your humor, I’ll read your stuff in Feedly or Bloglovin but I
will never visit the blog itself again.
Finally – your
commenting system. MAKE MY LIFE EASIER – PLEASE! I want to leave you a
comment and tell you how much I enjoyed your post. If I have to enter my name,
my email, my website address, leave my comment, fill the captcha out three or
four times, choose my latest post, log in with my Facebook account all before I
can hit publish and post my comment
– you’ve lost me. Especially if I then see “your comment will be visible after
approval.”


My WordPress commenting system was like
that (a few steps omitted) and all I heard were crickets chirping. Hear them? 
Chirp. Chirp. Chirp. (tumbleweed rolls
by).  
I re-installed Disqus comments after the
last WordPress update and I am absolutely ecstatic that I did. I have been
receiving at least 5 to 20 comments daily on posts, and I do my best to ensure
that I respond to each and every single one of them.
5. You have a significant
following on all of your social media sites. What tips can you give readers who
wish to increase their followers?

Talk To Them.  Interact with them, laugh
with them, cry with them, poor your heart out to your readers – be Human.  It’s
what makes YOU unique!
When Kim is not blogging on a House in a Life of Testosterone or promoting the Brand, she spends time with her 3 children and husband in Richmond, Virginia.  

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Comments

  1. Great post. Thanks for the advice.  Hehe..I got a lot of great information from this interview! Making a few changes to my blog.  Thanks ladies.