Beyond Your Blog: Can you give us the elevator pitch for your blog, for those who may not be familiar with Dirt & Boogers?
Amanda Rueter: It’s mainly a blog about parenting, and embracing the good and bad of parenthood. I also talks a lot about parenting tips with some play activities thrown in as well.
BYB: How long have you been blogging?
AR: I’ve been blogging for two and a half years, and have been at this blog the whole time. It started out purely as a kids activities blog and I moved it over to a purely parenting and motherhood blog earlier this year.
BYB: Tell me about your background as a play therapist as well as your writing background.
AR: I was a play therapist, which is a mental health counselor working with young children, using play as a therapeutic tool. I spent a lot of time with children as well as talking to their parents about parenting skills in order to have a full holistic approach. I didn’t do a lot of writing before my blog except for case notes, but I guess that kind of counts too!
BYB: Bonbon Break presents content by ‘Rooms’ such as the kitchen for food posts, the family room for family-related posts, the playroom for kids activities etc. I know that your first interaction with Bonbon break came from them reaching out to you instead of you having to submit a pitch. Tell me how that happened.
AR: I wrote a post on my blog about power struggles — mainly about how to prevent them happening, and the editor of the Family Room portion of Bonbon Break, read it and liked it and thought that her readers would also enjoy it. She asked me if they could feature it on Bonbon Break and I said yes.
BYB: Did you know what Bonbon Break was at that point? Had you ever visited or commented on the site?
AR: Yes. I had been following them for a while, mostly in the Family Room.
BYB: Once they approached you, what was the process?
AR: I provided them with a bio with some background about me as well as a photo, and she asked me to write-up a short feature intro as well, that they could use to introduce the piece before linking back to my blog. There was no editing in this case because they were just linking back to the post that was already on my blog.
BYB: How long after that post was it until you heard from them again about doing an original post?
AR: Probably inside of a month
BYB: When they came to you about doing an original post (not previously published on your blog), did they suggest a topic or a broad idea or did they give you free rein?
AR: They emailed me again and gave me some topics they were focusing on, but I had this piece that I really wanted to write about kids having to look their parents in the eye. I thought it would be good for their audience, so I pitched it to the Family Room editor and she said that sounded great!
BYB: What did you do to share and promote the original piece on your end and drive people to Bonbon Break? Did they give you guidelines as to what they expected?
AR: They didn’t give me specifics or anything like that, but what I did do, because I liked the post so much, is I did kind of the opposite of what they did to me (with my first featured post). I wrote a blog post teaser on my site linking back to the full post on Bonbon Break, because I thought my readers would like it so much. I promoted that a lot, and that is how I got my readers over there. I also used Pinterest and Facebook to promote them. Pinterest always brings me the most traffic and then I try to get whatever I can on Facebook, but you never know the reach results there.
BYB: As far as comments to both posts, did you respond to everything or just some?
AR: I just respond to some. I try so hard, but I can’t all the time. If they ask a question, I definitely try to respond back.
BYB: What are the benefits you saw from having those Bonbon Break features?
AR: The featured post where they linked to my site was awesome because people were going to my site, so there’s a great benefit. I was able to get a lot of post clicks and page views from that. The other one (the original where the entire post was on Bonbon Break)– I’m not sure if I got as much traffic, but one of the cool things is that I want to get my name out there more, and what my blog is about. I want people to know me as a blogger. That’s one of the great things about Bonbon Break if you’re a contributor. It’s just one more place that your name can be. I can now say “I’m a featured writer for Bonbon Break”.
BYB: What are your future plans to publish on Bonbon Break?
AR: I definitely plan to pitch a few. It just depends what I have that I would like to share and that would also be beneficial for their readers, It’s really about finding that common ground.
BYB: Do you have any other aspirational sites you’d like to submit to?
AR: It’s so new, so I am keeping my eyes open, but I have not spent a lot of energy on it yet. It is definitely in my future though. I need to find a good fit.
BYB: When you think about publishing on other sites, what are your main goals? Getting more social media followers, new subscribers, page views/traffic, etc.?
AR: It’s funny because I want them all! They are all kind of related to each other. You grow one and they all sort of grow too. I’m really focusing on my email subscribers. I find that whenever I send out emails with blog posts, I get a lot of page views from that. I want to build a community. I want people to feel welcome on my site. I want them to get to know me a little bit, and I want to have a relationship with them, so I like the email subscribers and I like Facebook a lot too, but like I said, it’s a beast.
BYB: In addition to your social media sites, you have a Facebook Group for the Stop Yelling Challenge, a group that focuses on diminishing the amount we yell at our kids in order to have more peaceful homes. I’m sure helping people is a big part of it, but I also look at it as something that other bloggers could do (starting a group/community on social media on some topic of expertise) to help them get readership.
AR: I started the group back in February and we’re already at almost 6,000 people! I think it’s because everybody yells and everybody wants to stop yelling at their kids. I’ve tried to keep it a really supportive place where people can feel comfortable sharing. My blog has grown a bunch since I started the group and I do use it to promote a little bit, but only those posts that would be a good fit. I also give them first dibs on webinars and promotions.
BYB: You have done some other things to grow your blog. Tell us!
AR: I switched the focus of my blog from kids activities to talk about the things I know best and that I love. It has been easier and people can tell I care, so it makes it better. I also started a once a week newsletter where I share my own posts as well as information from other bloggers on a specific topic (the affect of negative thought patterns on parenting for example). I think it helps my readers because it isn’t all about me.
Many thanks to Amanda for sharing your Bonbon Break contributor experience and tips with us!
If you are interested in submitting a post to BonBon Break (click here), check out their site and get to know them, and be sure to listen to our podcast with Val Curtis, Editor-in-Chief of Bonbon Break to get the inside scoop on all things Bonbon Break from the top!