We’ve once again solicited questions from you guys on Facebook for our blogiversary extravaganza (of the personal, not decorating, variety). And just like we did in 2009 and 2010, we had fun answering a bunch of ’em. We crammed as many responses as we could into 20 minutes, so unfortunately not every one of the 80+ questions got answered, but we figured 20 minutes was already pushing the bounds of an acceptable YouTube video length. Haha. Here are a few things that we cover:
- Our favorite and least favorite qualities in each other
- What our neighbors think about the blog
- If the former owners of our house read the blog
- Our weirdest fan interaction
- Who Clara looks more like
- How we deal with negative criticism
- What we wanted to be when we grew up
- What will happen to our blog name when we’re not young anymore
- If we ever fight or spend time apart
- And most importantly: John’s thoughts on the new Twilight movie
And of course there are a bunch of other questions, a Burger cameo, and John cycles through soda shirts just to keep things spicy. Oh but if you’re at work you can still watch it on mute and try to guess what I’m gesturing wildly about (or wait until tonight and watch it with some popcorn and take a swig of soda every time John changes shirts). Our only video-recording rule is that we’re not allowed to re-answer anything so it’s completely unscripted and sort of an all-one-take kind of thing (that we later edit down just to shorten things/take out the “ummmms” so we can squeeze more answers in). We don’t even read the questions until we’re rolling, so we don’t overthink or overplan – but sometimes we over-share. Haha. Who’s surprised.
And just because we’re chatterboxes, this year we tossed in three bonus business-related answers:
Q: How did you get sponsors? Do you solicit advertising? What’s the secret? First we wrote about 200 posts and had been blogging for a while without even thinking about sponsors, just because it was something we loved to do. We actually had no idea there were even people or companies who sponsored blogs, we just thought of it as a fun creative outlet/diary. Then it slowly dawned on us that because we were gaining more traffic and posting every day, maybe some local folks or small online businesses would like to get a button on our sidebar in exchange for a tiny fee. So we tossed up a “wanna advertise with us?” button just to see what would happen. We thought it would be awesome to make a few extra dollars to put towards projects, but definitely didn’t have high hopes. Much to our surprise and amazement, a few small companies and Etsy vendors emailed us to say that they were happy to give it a try. So we just shared our stats and offered people a flat fee for the month and a slightly discounted fee for the quarter.
To this day we actually still use the same system. There are definitely more intricate ways of charging sponsors (like per click, per view, etc) and even more complex ways of calculating rates. But we decided to keep it simple and start with a flat rate that we felt was fair (based on what we saw other sites charging with comparable traffic) and just let the sponsors tell us if it was too high (and if they did, we’d adjust). If it was too low, well, we love a deal – so we figured why not offer one ourselves (after all, we were satisfied with that rate since we were the ones who came up with it). That system seems to be working for everyone, so much so that we haven’t raised our rates in almost two years (despite a great increase in traffic since then).
When it comes to managing sponsorships, we use Google Ad Manager to organize everything. It not only serves the ads to our site, but also helps us keep track of expirations so John can send renewal emails / invoices. So it’s a bit of paperwork on our end, but completely worth the effort since our sponsors are a big part of what makes this blog possible. There’s definitely not a get rich quick aspect to blogging (at least not in our experience), but we’ve seen that by focusing on content first and readers second, the sponsors will gradually fall into place.
Q: Do you have to post a certain amount of times each month for sponsors? Nope, as we mentioned above, they pay a flat fee per month so no traffic or amount of posts are expected or promised. We’ve just posted 1-2 times a day about the same range of stuff for the past few years, so it’s a pace that works for us. Some juicy stuff + some light stuff + some personal stuff = a comfortable mix. Posting in some sort of regular rhythm provides structure and helps keep our creative juices flowing. If we stopped blogging every time we were in a rut or ran into a snafu we worry we might never start again. Gotta keep that momentum up! <– picture me in a bodysuit and legwarmers saying this in a sing-song-y voice a la workout videos from the eighties
Q: Aren’t you scared to have so little job security when your whole family’s income relies on this blog? We’re not gonna lie, it can freak us out if we think about it too much. But we’ve squirreled away the recommended amount of “safety net savings” to fall back on if this ol’ blog suddenly grinds to a halt (which we built up before John came on full time as some sort of “insurance” to quell the nerves). We also have side gigs (like our column for BabyCenter and Do It Yourself magazine along with the book that we’re writing), so that helps us feel semi-diversified.
We also both left advertising on very good terms with former employers/clients, so that’s another road we could explore if we ever needed to (and John still takes on the occasional advertising consulting job on the side, just to keep his toe in the water). In the end I always say that five years ago we had no idea we’d be here doing this, so trying to figure out what we’ll be doing in five more years is probably an exercise in futility. We just do our best to keep chugging along and try not to let the neurotic thoughts creep in!
So there it is, twenty minutes of video evidence confirming that we’re dorks and three bonus bidness questions. What surprised you guys most? Was it the fact that I make up sayings that aren’t really sayings and then collapse into a ball of giggles? Or that John is so into Twilight movies? Will anyone else help me make “I took that baby to the market and carried it home” a real saying? Come on, it’s kind of catchy…
Update – Some of the most frequent requests that we get are for info about professionally blogging (how we made our site, how we grew our following, how we make money, etc) so we shared all of the details about how we started a blog, grew our traffic, and turned it into a full time job.