After reading something of Jill’s for the first time in June (2014) and meeting her online through a blogging group on Facebook, I started seeing her work all over the place on the sites I read and had been submitting to. After watching what looked like a quick success, I invited her to share her secrets with Beyond Your Blog.
Beyond Your Blog: You’ve been featured EVERYWHERE just in the last few months! What made you want to branch out and take your writing beyond your own blog?
Kirsten Jill Robbins: I started Ripped Jeans & Bifocals with the goal of reaching a wider audience. I blogged for two years, almost exclusively about adoption, and when I decided I wanted to branch out and seek more readers, Ripped Jeans & Bifocals seemed to be a “true to where I am now” way to describe what I write about.
My view of blogging was very narrow for a long time. I wrote an adoption blog, so I only read other adoption blogs. When I started branching out and reading more parenting and lifestyle blogs, I saw that a lot of my favorite bloggers were getting published on other sites as well. Since being more widely read was in line with my own writing goals, I thought to myself “Hey, I wanna do that, too!”
BYB: Can you take us through how you decide where to submit?
KJR: I usually make a decision on if/when to submit something after my post is already written. I keep a running list of stuff I want to write about. Sometimes I’ll finish something and think “hey, that turned out kind of good”, and I’ll decide to submit. There have been a few things I’ve written with a particular site in mind, but that’s the exception.
BYB: How do you find time to maintain your own blog AND submit to so many places?
KJR: Keeping submissions balanced with stuff on my own blog is definitely a time management challenge for me. I typically write for an hour in the morning before my family wakes up, and for an hour or two at night. I usually “talk out” my pieces in my head while I’m running or driving, so once I actually sit down to bang a story out, it tends to come pretty quickly.
I’m pretty structured, and plan my blogging weeks in advance (for my own blog). I post twice a week right now, and I usually have everything loaded up a week in advance. I’m always working a week ahead.
BYB: What are one or two places you have been published so far that were really big accomplishments for you?
KJR: They have all been big deals for me. Any time someone likes what I write enough to put it on their website, it’s no small feat. If I had to pick one, I would say In the Powder Room. I make it a point not to submit my writing to any sites I don’t love as a reader, but ITPR is really my favorite. I was tickled to death to be published there.
BYB: Can you tell us what the biggest benefits to having your work featured on other sites have been for you?
KJR: Traffic to my blog, being mentored by seasoned editors, and developing confidence in my writing.
BYB: What about anthologies?
KJR: I submitted to one call for submissions, to a site that’s collecting funny travel stories. I’m keeping my eyes open, for sure. I love the Pee Alone/ Be Alone books from People I Want To Punch In The Throat, and “You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth”, from In The Powder Room, so something in that genre is definitely a goal for me. Try as I might, I couldn’t’ think of a thing to write about for Jen Mann’s latest call for submissions. I think it was a timing thing for me, and if I have to think that hard about what to write, it’s probably just not my time.
I’m definitely on the watch for opportunities and love that Beyond Your Blog has reached out to collect info on that sort of thing.
BYB: What tips do you have for other bloggers who are just getting into submitting their work to other sites?
KJR: Don’t be afraid of “no.” And, sometimes no means “not now,” so be persistent. Also, manners go a long way. If you get a rejection, why not send a quick note back to the editor thanking them for their time to read your stuff? A post-publication follow-up or thank you to the editor for running your piece is never wrong, in my opinion.
Attention to detail is important too. Read the fine print in the submission guidelines. If a site is asking for a 500 word or less original piece, don’t send them a 2,000 work something that’s already been on your blog.
BYB: What sites are still on your ‘aspiring to’ list?
BYB: Are you planning to circle back and re-submit more to any of the sites you have already been on?
BYB: What are your goals for blogging and how do you think submitting your work will help you get there?
KJR: My blogging/writing goals are tiered. The first is to get Ripped Jeans & Bifocals truly off the ground. The second is success in anthology submissions and the third is to publish my own books. I’d like to write a book about adoption from China from my own perspective and about being an older mom (my boys are four and I’m almost 48, so I am the oldest mom at the pediatrician, daycare, playground and pretty much anywhere else.)
I’ve recently starting taking the first steps toward monetizing my blog. I have started to run ads for BlogHer and I’m looking towards selling other ad space at some point. I’m still a really small blog, though, and I don’t want to take the focus off my writing.
Jill’s Featured Posts
Mamalode: Love Is A Choice: An Adoption Story
Scary Mommy: Baby Shower Envy
BLUNT Moms: $h!t Not To Say To Multiracial Families
In the Powder Room: 4 Fun Facts About Fortysomething
VoiceBoks: Saying “No!” To Mom Guilt