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5 Epic Blogging Lessons Learned from Parenting Five Rowdy Kids

This guest post is by Ruth Zive Ruth Zive Copywriting.

Most of my readers and clients know me as a freelance copywriter and content marketing strategist. But the truth is, I’m operating under cover; my real identity is SuperMom to a brood of five rowdy children (including one that is a wee bit chromosomally enhanced).

I’m actually not that “super,” but I’m most certainly Mom, first and foremost. It’s a busy, messy, loud, hectic, demanding, and unbelievably rewarding job. Each of my five children has taught me valuable lessons that have informed all aspects of my life. Because of my kids, I am a better human being—and definitely a more effective professional.

There is a lot of crossover in my life—my work blends into my mom-related duties, and vice versa. My children have taught me a lot about blogging, writing, social media, and content marketing strategy (albeit an inadvertent effort on their part).

Hopefully these five epic blogging lessons, learned from parenting five rowdy children, will help you to gain traction and grow your online presence.

1. Stick to a schedule

Between dance lessons, basketball practice, speech therapy, school carpools, high school exams, doctor appointments, and parent-teacher interviews, it goes without saying that my head would explode if I didn’t stick to a schedule.

And forget about my sanity; my children thrive with a routine.

Takeaway

Similarly, you will create a sense of momentum with your blog if you settle into a routine—and you can incorporate this fundamental discipline in a variety of ways.  For instance, you’ll want to:

  • Map out an editorial calendar and write your posts predictably. Not only will you be more productive, your readers will come to appreciate your routine and will know when to visit your site for new content.
  • Plan your blogging time strategically—make sure to budget time for writing, reading, commenting and social media.
  • Work your blogging priorities into the rest of your daily schedule. Don’t forget to leave time for personal interests and priorities and other work-related responsibilities.

It took me a while to settle into a predictable routine (heck, life’s rarely predictable with five children).  But going through these motions helped me to be much more productive and focussed as a mom and a writer.

2. Know your audience

I often have to tailor my parenting style to the unique interests of the specific child I am addressing.

One of my kids will follow instructions only if we make eye contact and I resort to threats and bribery. My youngest daughter, on the other hand, needs a lot of handholding and coddling, no matter the circumstance. And the middle child will do pretty much anything as long as it involves chocolate.

Takeaway

Your blog readers will invariably share certain qualities and it’s important to know what those are; but remember that they also have unique interests. Segment your target market accordingly and be flexible in your style to accommodate their needs.

For instance, on my blog, I’m essentially appealing to three different target markets:

  • independent copywriters and bloggers
  • c-level and marketing executives
  • independent business owners and entrepreneurs.

All three groups are interested in learning more about content marketing strategy.

But I tweak my focus, depending on which group is on my radar.  When I’m speaking to the first group, I might write about landing copywriting clients, setting your fees and injecting personality into your writing.  But the second group, by contrast, is more interested in how to leverage the impact of social media to drive your content marketing campaign.

Same overarching intention, but a personalized and targeted approach based on the reader’s unique needs.

3. Get social

There is nothing my kids appreciate more than lively conversation around the dinner table, family game night, or a spontaneous adventure. The deeper the interaction, the more impactful. Mommy time trumps iPods, computer games, and the latest, must-have fashion accessory without fail.

And while my time is certainly limited, I seek out opportunities to engage with each child in a meaningful way.

Takeaway

You may have the most phenomenal content on your blog, but if you aren’t getting social, it’s a big fat waste of time!

Blogging is a big time suck, and it can be very hectic and overwhelming.  But starting now, every day, make sure that you:

  • take time to comment on other people’s blogs
  • cultivate relationships with prolific bloggers and industry experts
  • leverage the benefits of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

And most importantly, be authentic in your interaction.

I know what I’m talking about here.  Some of the best professional contacts that I’ve forged have been on Twitter.  It sounds ridiculous, but it’s 100% true. I was invited into a Mastermind group on Twitter; I was approached by someone on Twitter to edit an ebook; and I found a genius WordPress programmer on Twitter who solved some very troubling issues on my blog and saved me a small fortune. So don’t underestimate the importance of social.

4. Don’t lose sight of the bigger picture

Some days, I feel that my time is entirely consumed with meal preparation, laundry, housekeeping, carpooling—with some hysterics thrown in for good measure.

On those days, I have to remind myself that the time I invest in menial (and sometimes unpleasant) parenting tasks fuels the bigger picture payoff. Hopefully, because of my efforts, my children will emerge happy, secure, and confident with a sense that they can always rely on their Mom.

Takeaway

Blogging can be an exhausting, tedious, and slow process.

You have to do the grunt work if you’re going to reap the bigger picture benefits. Write often; read even more often; solicit feedback; invest in your blog’s design; learn how to optimize your site … do it all over again.

At first, it was hard for me to see the forest for the trees; my blogging experience seemed entirely mired in minutiae.  So I started to keep a journal—to track my progress from month to month, noting my higher level achievements so that I could have those in mind when I felt discouraged.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try keeping a journal so that you can maintain better perspective and not lose sight of the bigger picture.

5. Keep an open mind

Sometimes, no matter how well organized I am, irrespective of how much I’ve considered my children’s unique needs, and even with a perfectly planned schedule and a bigger picture focus, the stars misalign and my efforts are in vain.

Woody Allen once joked that if you want to see God laugh, tell him your plans. Things are bound to go awry with children, and with blogging!

Takeaway

Keep an open mind. Blogging is a journey (much like any entrepreneurial pursuit) and you learn along the way.

  • Plans transform.
  • Resources shrink or grow.
  • Goals evolve.

You need to be flexible and adapt to changes.

I’ve encountered this reality first-hand in a dramatic way.  After six months of blogging, my readership and subscriber base had skyrocketed.

I had faithfully cultivated relationships with other bloggers and using social media. I had great traction. But Danny Iny, of Firepole Marketing, recommended that I redo my site and position myself differently, to align my offline business and my online brand. It was tough advice to hear, but I very seriously considered his point of view, and after some strategic thinking, my old blog is no longer.

Poof.

But my new blog rocks even more than my old one. And making this transition required a very open mind on my part.

So I suppose I owe my blogging success to my children. And now, maybe you will too.

What do you think? Have your children helped your blogging journey? What have your relationships taught you about content marketing and social media? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Ruth Zive is a freelance copywriter and content marketing strategist. Ruth works with B2B companies, across industries, to help them leverage their content to drive business results. Learn about my corporate workshops.

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Comments

  1. Combson says:

    I loved your post and I feel your pain and pleasure. I’m a father of two children, mainly watched by her mom, but I’ve found myself in that unpredictability part. That’s why my schedule is weekly, not daily and by applying simple organization tips and techniques, and optimizing time by getting few minutes here and there, you can squeeze few more hours every day, which is about 1- 2 full days a week.

  2. angelica says:

    great analyogy! thanks for that, will begin looking at my kids, I mean my blog, in a different way

  3. Hotdogman says:

    I too have 5 kids (one off at college) and blog full time. I find if I get most of my stuff done before the school buses empty out at around 3:30, I can get finish any loose ends after they are off to bed. This leaves time for helping with homework, parental taxi duty, volunteer coaching in my community, and home cooked dinners together. It truly is the best of both worlds.

    I love when I am milling about, picking up my 7 year old at this or that, and chatting with other parents (mostly moms). When I tell them what I do, they say “You do WHAT?!?!?” It’s very gratifying!

  4. Hank says:

    Ruth,

    Thanks for the awesome advice. These are all areas I need constant encouragement in. To answer your question: My blogging started by accident in 2004 due to birth of my second child. It was months before I even knew that what I was doing was called blogging. Now my oldest helps with one of my podcast on my newest blog where much of my content is directly related to my experiences with my kids.

    • Ruth Zive says:

      That’s great Hank! I’ll have to go check out your blog. Rarely do my children become fodder for my blog – but it’s hard to escape it altogether. They have too much impact to overlook completely, and they provide so much hilarious material, after all!

  5. Nice overview that explains the perspective of good blogging and good parenting. Recommended.

  6. corinne says:

    this is so true. I only have 2 kids (both under 5) but managing them and work gets …interesting

    • Ruth Zive says:

      Corinne, 2 under 5 may very well be busier than my 5 (between 7 and 20). I remember those days – it gets much more manageable when there are no longer diapers or sleepless nights.

      • Linda says:

        Don’t kid yourself, my dear! Mine are 20 and 24, but they take up far more time and energy than they ever did as small children.

        When they were small, bedtime was 7:00 come hell or high water (programmed from birth for survival purposes!) and then I was able to get back to the pen-pushing work. Now, they’re ‘there’ at all times; still wanting ferrying round, even though both have cars; up until all hours and talking – make that shouting, boys only have one volume… loud! Their toys are bigger, more expensive – and it’s not easy telling 6+ footers their friends have to go home because it’s nearly bedtime! And let us not get on to the issue of girls…

        Would I have it any other way. Not on your life! They do the techie stuff; take care of the dreaded facebook and word of mouth promoting (well, their noise has some uses after all!) and are keeping me bang up to date with how young people think . And guess what? It isn’t that much different to how we (make that me) dinosaurs think. Makes knowing your audience a whole lot easier!

  7. tushar says:

    I loved the concept. And i almost laughed after reading the second point. Know your audience. And it is so relevant. You have to be aware for whom you are writing.

  8. Jamie says:

    Such good advice here. I am a work from home mom with 3 kids and found myself nodding in agreement throughout. It really helps me to have a printed to-do list filled with each daily task ( I LOVE to cross things off lists). My list also has blank lines underneath where I can add tasks specific for each day. This system keeps me focused while giving me flexibility to pop up and play games with the kids or take breaks to go to the park.

    • Ruth Zive says:

      Recently, I turned my ‘to-do’ list into a giant wall calendar so that I could review my month’s worth of deadlines at a glance. I use my iPhone and even Google Calendar for scheduling, but something life-size seems to keep me more focussed amidst the family chaos. And it also gives me a really good sense of where I can squeeze in ‘family’ time :-)

  9. se7en says:

    This is such a great post, with se7en + 1 kids I totally get every single point!!! The connection between kids and blogging is brilliant… ahh putting all those crazy mothering skills to work as a blogger… plotting, planning, preparing and all that – thanks for the link. It makes so much sense, from the depths of life I just never saw the connection before. Love it!!!

  10. Great post Ruth! There are times when blogging, scheduling and life events converge but I’m glad to see that folks still get things done in creative ways (I like the wall calendar idea). Recently, my 10 y/o son has been helping me with some website mechanics like uploading editing and posting videos for me. As a result, I’m free to spend more time writing and editing. He loves computers and wants to be my “website administrator.” I love it!!

    • Ruth Zive says:

      Lol, Valerie, I recruit my kids all the time! My 12 year old daughter is my videographer :-). And when I’m driving carpool, I give my smartphone to my kids and dictate emails for them to send out. I just have my fingers crossed that the kids don’t start demanding a salary!

  11. Timo Kiander says:

    Ruth,

    I can only imagine what it is to have 5 kids :)

    Me and my wife got our first child last November and I can say that my routines and priorities changed (which is of course not a surprise).

    In my situation, it is tough to find time for blogging at times (having a day job, family and being a marathoner/triathlete), but for the most parts it occurs early in the morning (before hitting the office) or late nights.

    Having a baby makes you really focus on those important matters and get rid of secondary stuff.

    Anyway … thanks to Danny (yes, he is advising me too), I changed the focus of my blog a bit and renamed it to Productive Superdad.

    It describes much better what my role is and what I’m going through on a daily basis :)

    Cheers,
    Timo

    • Ruth Zive says:

      Timo – Productive Superdad…very inspiring! I’m going to check it out. The juggling is very, very challenging. I have to schedule in my writing/blogging time and actually mark it on my calendar as a non-negotiable commitment. Obviously, sometimes those blocks of time are disrupted. But seeing it on the schedule definitely makes it easier to set aside the time. The first baby is the biggest adjustment, in my opinion. So…you can rest assured that it gets easier! Especially once you start sleeping :-).

  12. Thanks For writing down this awesome blog post Ruth! It would give advantages to the blogger in many ways the first main advantage that he will get is that he will become a better human and secondly is a better blogger!

  13. Jon Loomer says:

    Great stuff! As a father of three boys, my biggest challenge is scheduling/structure/routine. I know this is important. But it seems that so many things that happen in a given day can’t be planned very far in advance. Or each Monday is quite different from another Monday.

    Anyway, it’s something I continue to grapple with. I’ve created a schedule, but I don’t keep to it because it’s too easy to disrupt it.

    • Ruth Zive says:

      I hear you Jon! It’s very easy for the schedule to unravel – doctors appointments, school plays, sick children, days off (my son is home today because of a PD day). I’ve decided to take the plunge and lease an office – I’m hoping that having a professional space away from home will help me to be more focussed. Particularly as a solo-preneur, it’s challenging to stay with a routine and schedule…but stick with it! It’s definitely become easier for me over time.

  14. Hi Ruth,

    This is a great post! Thank you. I have read much about blogging and this was the most concise and thoughtful overview so far. Thanks for the clarity!

    Elena

  15. Wow, kudos to you for keeping it together with five kids. I find my one pet rabbit to be a handful at times. Thanks for the tips! I’ve been increasingly thinking about narrowing the focus of my blog and business and I think some of these tips will really help with making decisions and plans.

  16. Great analogy. Blogging, like parenting, is hard work! Sticking to a schedule is absolutely essential for maintaining a blog. It’s easy to let blogging slip to the side if you don’t have an editorial calendar with due dates staring you in the face.

    • Ruth Zive says:

      Perhaps the greatest challenge for me, as a blogger and content marketing strategist, is finding a way to integrate my schedule with my crazy busy daily personal life. You do have to be very disciplined and organized, without a doubt!

  17. Thanks for the advice! Pretty new to blogging and am trying to get a handle on things and find ways to bring people to the cite.

  18. Glynis Jolly says:

    I was interested in your strategy for dealing with the feeling of being overwhelmed. Keeping a journal sounds like exactly what I need to do. I might even keep it in a real spiral notebook so that it’s away from the rest of the clutter of this endeavor. Thank you for the idea.

  19. Norma Fay says:

    You have some great tips/lessons on both parenting and blogging. I think a good young mothers blog, like Young Urban Moms, can be a great resource with a ton useful tips that only come with experience. I get great tips, advice, stories, and ideas from moms that are really easy to relate to and really funny. I would definitely recommend checking them out.