Welcome to episode 004 of the Blogger Genius Podcast. My guest today is Paula Rollo from the blog, Beauty Through Imperfection.
In this episode, we discuss how blogging makes you braver, and what it’s like first-hand, to show vulnerability and share your truth with the world.
And if you’re new to blogging, Paula shares her best tips for those just starting out.
- Beauty Through Imperfection
- Dinner with the Rollos
- Traveling Family Blog
- Quick Blogging Tips Facebook group
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Transcript – How Blogging Makes You Braver:
Jillian: [00:00:11] Today on the show. I have my friend, Paula Rollo, and she is the the blogger behind Beauty Through Imperfection. She’s not only a blogger, she’s also a writer, and a social media expert. So welcome to the show, Paula.
Paula: [00:00:29] Thank you for having me.
Jillian: [00:00:31] You are an old timer if I can call you that.
Paula: [00:00:35] Sure. That’s true. OK.
Jillian: [00:00:37] So can you tell us briefly how you started, how you got interested in blogging, and now I was just reading something about you and it says you have four blogs.
Paula: [00:00:51] So I started when I was 15. A friend of mine had a blog and it seemed like a cool thing to do. So I started when I was moving away and so I used it as a little awkward teenager would, and keep in touch with my friends. And thankfully, that blog is no longer alive on the Internet. I’ve never been more grateful for a Web site going down. But I’ve never really stopped for an extended period of time since I was 15. I love writing and just connecting with people that way. And so I’ve been doing it a long time now, and loving it almost all the time.
Jillian: [00:01:35] And what was the inspiration behind Beauty Through Imperfection?
Inspiration behind Beauty Through Imperfection
Paula: [00:01:40] So I had take a break while I was pregnant with my first baby. Beauty Through Imperfection started when he was about two or three months old. I just saw a lot of perfection on social media. I think back then there wasn’t this common thing where if you said Beauty Through Imperfection, people know what you’re about, and that you’re wanting to embrace pain, those flaws and motherhood and not shame other people.
Paula: [00:02:11] But it was a tiny internet where I wasn’t seeing a lot and so I just wanted to speak into that space because I was just really worried I was screwing it all up, and realize everybody else was, too. So we kind of created this little space together. It’s ok to not be perfect today. And there’s beauty in that today, too.
Jillian: [00:02:29] Wow. I love that message because yes, as a new mother, oh my God, you know that is like a crazy crazy time.
Jillian: [00:02:38] My daughter didn’t sleep as a baby and I would read all the sleep books and I would feel so inadequate, that I was somehow doing it wrong and then everybody had their advice. Have you tried music? You know I just pat my baby on the back, and she just goes to sleep. I would just feel so inadequate. So I wish I had found your blog back then.
Paula: [00:03:03] I wish I had my blog back. That’s why I started it. That’s great.
Jillian: [00:03:07] And so explain then how your blog has evolved, as in how long has Beauty through Imperfection been around?
Paula: [00:03:15] Seven years.
Jillian: [00:03:17] And how have you seen it evolve as you’ve evolved?
Paula: [00:03:23] So it has been interesting because I think I started out blogging from this space of me too, I also feel really insecure. I also am really afraid that I’m screwing up. And not a lot of help in that but just maybe a comforting voice, like you’re not the only one feeling this way.
Paula: [00:03:42] And I think that there’s a lot of value in that. But as I’ve kind of grown in my motherhood and not been quite as worried about every decision all the time, I’ve been able to kind of speak from a different space. You know, your baby will sleep. Like somebody was actually messaging me yesterday, like will I ever sleep again? Is that a thing because it’s been three days. Now I’m able to kind of speak from a space where I did sleep last night. And I know that it’s going to get better, but I also know it feels really hopeless right now, and that’s ok. Like it’s okay to feel that helplessness. And so I kind of try to keep both both voices in there now, where I am in this with you, but also. I do have some advice to share, or some words of encouragement of, this worked for me and it might not work for you, but it works for me, you could try it, in that I’ve traveled down this path.
Jillian: [00:04:32] I’m a little bit of I’m a little further down the path so I can look back and have a little more perspective.
Paula: [00:04:37] Exactly, because I still… my youngest is 5… but I still talk about baby and toddler years a lot just because I remember how hard those times were and how much you need a friend. And it’s really hard to reach out to friends in that time. So I always want to keep that as part of what I’m doing.
Jillian: [00:04:54] I love that. When I think of you the word that comes to mind is brave.
Paula: [00:05:01] You are so sweet.
Sharing about personal struggles
Jillian: [00:05:03] Because again as we live in this curated world of perfection on the internet you have been willing to share about your own personal struggles and really put yourself out there. And I have to say I feel like I read one of your pieces before I met you. And I felt this real connection to you. And then like when I saw you in real life, I’m like wow, I feel so close. Can you share about that part of your blogging and what that means?
Paula: [00:05:39] Sure. So I always use blogging as kind of like a way to heal.
Paula: [00:05:45] I’m a child abuse survivor. There is a lot of abuse in my history and just a lot of really just crazy messed up stuff. And so I’ve written a lot as a way to process my feelings and to kind of put to paper words that I didn’t feel comfortable speaking out. And so that just kind of naturally progressed into my blog. And I realized that I’m being quiet, and no one knows I struggle with depression. No one knows that I’ve had anxiety for years. So I wonder how many other people have depression and anxiety, and they’re just not talking about it, and they’re just not talking about how they’re healing from abuse, or different things that have happened in their lives.
Paula: [00:06:32] And so I just started putting it on the Internet and it took a long time. That makes it sound very simple like just I suddenly knew how to put this into words and put it online. But it’s not the case. I think my first post that I wrote about child abuse and how that shaped my motherhood was three years in the making. Like I literally drafted it out and edited it for three years, which is not something I normally do. I don’t even edit most of my blog posts at all I just kind of throw them on the internet and watch what happens.
Paula: [00:07:03] But that one took a long time and I really had to get to a place where I was okay with whatever backlash came from it.
Paula: [00:07:10] And there was some. And that’s hard, but I also like writing about these things because it gives people, even people who haven’t experienced abuse or who don’t experience depression and anxiety, the chance to hear what their friends are going through. And hopefully even if they respond poorly to me, I want them to have that space to have that negative reaction so hopefully they respond better to their friends in the future.
Jillian: [00:07:41] Now how has the reaction been? And this is where I use the word brave, because I don’t think I could handle backlash about something so personal.
Reactions to personal posts
Jillian: [00:07:57] Have people been kind and civil? And how have you responded to that?
Paula: [00:08:08] There’s been both. So and that’s why when people ask me about writing really personal things I always caution them to make sure they’re ready. One of my most personal pieces I’ve had people comment, and be like, I don’t know about your alleged abuse. This doesn’t seem very bad to me. We need more proof. And really? Like it’s not even about you know. I didn’t go into details because it was not necessary in the post. Like are you just wanting to get entertainment from my abuse? So OK. I just don’t understand why I need to prove myself in a blog post.
Paula: [00:08:47] It’s not like I’m suing someone. We don’t need proof. So I’m not sure what area of pain that person was coming from but I’ve definitely gotten some backlash, mainly from strangers and mainly unwarranted. I think it’s really important to me that I don’t hurt anyone with my stories, so I even sent one of my post about my biological dad, who was a great dad, but he messed up a bunch, and he’s no longer living, so I couldn’t send it to him to get his approval to post. But I felt like I had something important that other people could learn from him and so I sent it to his sister. And I said I’m wanting to publish this. Will you read it and tell me what you think and tell me if you think that this is slandering his good name or anything like that because I don’t want to harm anyone.
Paula: [00:09:36] And if I’m harming some people to help other people I’m just not okay with that. So I’m very cautious in the way that I write and I think that has protected me from some backlash just because I’m careful with the way that I do it. But still I get all sorts of weird comments about my life.
Jillian: [00:09:56] What about the positive comments?
Paula: [00:10:03] Those are amazing. People will stop me. I remember the first post I wrote about abuse, and the point of it was to talk to your kids about it, and to really empower your kids to know what kind of touching is and it’s not OK, how people are allowed to talk to them. And those types of things, because that stuff wasn’t taught to me as a kid. And I think it’s really important to empower your kids in that way, not just shield them but to give them the ability to shield themselves, and reach out for help when needed.
Paula: [00:10:31] So I wrote this post, and my blog is predominantly for women. And I don’t share my personal posts just because I write a lot and that would be obnoxious, but I walk into church that Sunday, and this random guy approaches me, like I know him but I don’t think he reads my blog regularly, and he comes up to me and he’s like, we had a conversation with our kids last night about abuse because of your blog. This has changed us. And I really really appreciate it. And so things like that, and I’ve gotten e-mails like that, and I see in my Amazon listings, all these books that are purchased pretty much every single day about empowering your kids and teaching them about yes and no touching, and things like that.
Paula: [00:11:13] And that’s really just my favorite thing because I know that kids are being impacted and hopefully changed through it, and protected from whatever might come their way. So it’s empowering I think both to parents and kids, to add in those extra layers of safety and that’s just priceless.
Jillian: [00:11:32] Wow. But again I feel like you are this force for good out in the world. I’m happy there are people like you writing about this stuff.
Paula: [00:11:43] I hope it’s doing good. I think there are a lot of silent people both happy and sad about what I write. It’s always encouraging to that even the people who are maybe not able to put it into words are talking to their kids.
Paula: [00:11:58] Like all of you on the Amazon Pages I don’t know what they’re thinking, or what they’ve said, but I know that they’re having conversations with their kids, and that’s what is really important to me.
On being a social media expert
Jillian: [00:12:07] That’s amazing. So this is an interesting thing about you. On one hand you have this very personal blog and you’re sharing tips and trying to help people. Then you also though are this social media expert. Can you explain how that came about and where you were? Because I think when I first learned about you I thought of you as a teacher in social media and blogging. And then I learned about your blog. So explain where that came about and what that means.
Paula: [00:12:44] I think it means a lot of different things to different people. For me I when I started blogging, and even when I started trying to blog professionally, which was only like four or five years ago, and there weren’t social media teachers back then, there weren’t blogging coaches, that was not a thing. I had heard rumors that there were some bloggers making money and that’s why I decided to try it. It wasn’t like everyone was posting income reports and things like that. And so I’ve spent a lot of time failing and figuring things out on my own, which I’m thankful for. But also we really needed money in that season of life.
Paula: [00:13:28] So it would have been nice to be able to read this book or just get some advice from someone on how to do something, and maybe kind of take a shortcut to not having to fail as many times. That I could have made money for our family a little bit faster. But I’m thankful for that time. But that’s what kind of makes me want to be a social media teacher, a blogging teacher, or whatever term to put on it. I just want to see people succeed and I want to see people reach their goals because I think there is a lot of talk in this space about making you know 97 figures a month or whatever.
Paula: [00:14:07] There’s a lot of that and I support that. And I am happy with people doing that. But that’s just not what I’m about. I would rather help somebody who has a meaningful message that they want to share, or somebody who just wants to be able to keep the lights on for their kids.
Advice for beginning bloggers
Jillian: [00:14:30] So if you were to talk to somebody who is just starting a blog, just starting out, and you were to say here are your top three ways to make money or to be thinking about monetizing your blog.
Jillian: [00:14:49] What would you recommend?
Paula: [00:14:54] Number one that they know who they’re talking to and how they can help those people.
Jillian: [00:14:59] And what do you mean by that?
Advice: Know who your audience is
Paula: [00:15:01] Who are you blogging to? And why? Because just putting an article out into the whole world of the Internet, anybody can do that. But how are you making a meaningful connection with someone,because that’s how we do things that really matter. And also that’s how people make sales as well, because people feel connected to you. People feel like they can trust you. People know that you understand the struggle that they’re having. And so when you say this can help you with that struggle or that product will, they’re willing to buy into that. So it’s really important. On a personal level, just to know that you’re helping someone, but also it is a huge part of that money making journey. It builds trust with your readers so figuring out who you want to talk to and how you can help them. Absolutely number one.
Jillian: [00:15:49] A lot of people call that your avatar. I like the idea of an avatar because it typically is one person. It’s that one perfect visitor to your site. That person who gets you and wants this specific content and to really identify… is it a mom? Where does she live?
Jillian: [00:16:14] What does she do? What are her struggles? What are her issues? And usually that avatar tends to be someone similar to us. So it is good if your avatar is similar to you because you know your own pain points. OK so the first thing then is to really be specific about who you’re speaking to and why.
Paula: [00:16:40] Yes because I think pageviews and income both stem from there. All three of those things are kind of her married together.
Advice: Find an ad network
Paula: [00:16:51] And then I guess my advice would be to find some sort of network. Most people start with Google AdSense. And then when you have more pages you can move along. Because that’s just an easy way to keep doing what you’re doing but monetize it. And you don’t have to stress out about chasing a brand or anything like that at first, like I’d really keep it as stress-free as possible for as long as you can.
Jillian: [00:17:16] And that’s passive income. So you’re just like making money as you sleep. What would be your third recommendation?
Advice: Find a sponsored post network to start working with brands
Paula: [00:17:34] I guess that would be sponsored posts. I would sign up for three or four networks, and try to get your feet wet working with brands through sponsored content. Izea was the first one I worked with and I feel like I learned how to work with brands through that network, because they would lay out how they wanted a post to look and how they wanted me to talk about the brand and how to take the photos.
Paula: [00:18:02] And so there a lot of training in that, that I’ve kind of implemented into how I pitch a brand myself or as I’m making my own deals, or even as I’m using affiliate marketing. It’s stemming from this education that I got through sponsored post networks from years ago.
Jillian: [00:18:18] And what networks do you typically recommend?
Paula: [00:18:22] Izea is my fav. I like them because they’re kind humans, so they’re like the places I like and I put emphasis on them like they’re kind, and that’s why I like them.
Jillian: [00:18:37] It is all about relationships.
Paula: [00:18:40] It is. It is. My ad network and Izea called me when Harvey hit and checked on me, and like personal messages from campaign managers they were messaging me. Are you ok? How’s your family? Can we help you? Like, wow that’s amazing. They know where I live. They know what’s happening and they care. So that’s the thing I care about. And also they help me pay the bills.
Jillian: [00:19:07] First of all, what ad networks do you use?
Paula: [00:19:11] I use AdThrive for my travel blog and Beauty Through Imperfection. And I’m on MediaVine for my food blog.
Jillian: [00:19:18] OK and we use AdThrive for Catch My Party.
Paula: [00:19:22] I love both. I really don’t have complaints about either. I wasn’t big enough for AdThrive, which is why it’s a MediaVine. But I’m really enjoying my experience there as well, so I like having my hands in both.
Jillian: [00:19:39] So what other sponsored content companies do you work with or do you recommend?
Paula: [00:19:48] Clever is another one of my favorites. I worked with them quite a bit. Clever and Sway are probably the ones I work with more than anyone else.
Jillian: [00:20:05] Now if you’re small like you’re just starting out, would these companies want to work with you, or is there usually a threshold?
Paula: [00:20:14] Some of them do have a threshold before they’ll even accept you.
Paula: [00:20:20] And I feel like they’re always changing, so I don’t remember the numbers now, but the way I did my blog was I kind of waited until I was at 30k to 50k pageviews before I started pursuing things like this.
Paula: [00:20:33] And the reason for that is you can get the odd sponsored posts or brand that might want to work with you when your blog is smaller, but you’re going to spend so much time and effort finding that brand, that you could have been pouring that time into churning out awesome content and creating great things for your readers that would push you over that hump, where it’s much easier to get sponsored content and the brands are kind of seeking you out a little bit more.
Advice: Build your audience before reaching out to brands
Paula: [00:21:02] So I would go ahead and sign up for them but maybe don’t pour hours and hours and hours of work into that until you’re about 30k to 50k pageviews a month because it’ll just be a lot easier that way.
Jillian: [00:21:17] Yes I would agree with that. And again I think as bloggers we have two scarce resources: money and time. And you always have to be thinking in terms of both of those. So if you’re going to make fifty dollars from doing a sponsored post is that worth your time? It might be worth that if you’re making two hundred dollars. Because it’s probably the same amount of work. So that’s always something to keep in mind.
Advice: How to reach out to brands
Jillian: [00:21:51] Now you mentioned reaching out to brands. Yes. How does that work?
Paula: [00:22:02] It works in a lot of different ways. I use Twitter a lot to just kind of talk to brands and get on their radar if they’re active on Twitter. It’s one of the only things Twitter is good for.
Jillian: [00:22:15] I totally agree. Brands are listening and they’re listening predominantly on Twitter, like it’s the most direct way and these are their social media people who are listening. So it kind of directs you to the right person.
Paula: [00:22:32] So I’ll do tweets for brands. Take a photo of us at some place that I want to work with. I’ll respond to them and I’ll retweet them, all things that I do charge money for. But if I’m wanting to create a big ambassadorship relationship with a brand, then I’ll do that stuff for free on Twitter to get their attention. I wouldn’t do a huge blog post or anything for free but a two second tweet.
Paula: [00:23:01] And then if I am successful on Twitter then I’ll usually direct message them and say I love their brand and it’s been fun chatting with them. Who’s the right person to e-mail with a marketing request or with a blogging partnership idea? If you can get the correct email, that is 90 percent of the work that you need to do. I mean finding those emails is really really hard sometimes. If that doesn’t work or I don’t have enough time to do that, then I will just go to a Web site of somebody I work with, and I will search and search and search until I find that marketing person, and then I’ll pitch them, and I’ll tell them what I want to do, and I’ll tell them short and concise who my audience is. You’re going to go back to the avatar you created. Brands care a lot less about who I am than they care about who I’m talking to. And so I can tell them I talked to a 100k moms with kids in this age range and they’re all interested in whatever their product is, or they have this problem and this is how I’m going to tell them that your product solves that problem. That’s a lot better of a pitch than just I enjoy your product.
Paula: [00:24:23] And I’m in your target audience and I have a hundred thousand people that want to buy a product. They just don’t realize it yet.
Jillian: [00:24:33] I like the way you outlined for the brand what you can provide to them so they don’t have to do the work. So it’s not a huge back and forth.
Jillian: [00:24:49] To say up front this is what I can offer you. Do you even put I’d like to do a sponsored post with you, and this number of shares, and I charge this much money. Or do you keep it more open ended?
Paula: [00:25:05] I keep it more open-ended because they might have a product launch that I wouldn’t know anything about.
Jillian: [00:26:02] I’ve found that if you can get them on the phone it’s a great way to close the deal.
Paula: [00:26:02] As terrifying as it is, I hate talking on the phone. But it does work.
Advice: How to drive traffic to your site
Jillian: [00:26:08] So as a social media marketing expert, how are you driving traffic to your blogs? Where would the low hanging fruit be?
Paula: [00:26:27] So I do try to keep a good balance. I feel like when I first started out, again this was years ago. So Pinterest was super easy back then. Like you just pinned something and watch your real time analytics go up and it was glorious. And that’s not the case anymore, but I still have strived to keep things a bit more even. Instead of getting 90 percent of my traffic from Pinterest, when they change their algorithm I think we all realize that that was a really bad idea to have 90 percent of our traffic coming from anywhere.
Paula: [00:27:03] And so now it’s kind of split more into thirds, or maybe I guess quarters. So Facebook, Pinterest, and search are my highest. And then there’s just this other quarter of random other stuff. So I try to make sure I’m maintaining all three of those things, and to be honest like Facebook is a weak point for me. I don’t enjoy putting in all the work that it takes to have a really successful viral Facebook page. I know how to do it, but I don’t like it, so I don’t focus there as much. As far as growing my own page, and what I do there, when I realized I was really weak in that area, was I partnered with other bloggers who have a great solid Facebook strategy, and they have this huge page, and I offer them my services for free in exchange for shares.
Paula: [00:27:51] My Facebook was really weak, my Pinterest is really strong. And so instead of waiting the year or even a few months that it would take for me to grow my Facebook page, I kept doing the things that I love doing, which is writing and connecting with my fans in other ways. And I work for other bloggers and take advantage of their Facebook pages. I mean I say take advantage. It sounds so mean. But I use their powers to get traffic to my site while giving them something in exchange for most of them. Like I said, I know the strategy, I just don’t want to spend 10 hours a day doing it and honestly those bloggers don’t either. So they’re happy for me to come in and take one or two of those hours a week, in exchange for shares, and that kind of rounds out the weak point for me.
Jillian: [00:28:42] And that will drive significant traffic to your site. The power of Facebook. If you can corral it and get it can work for you. It’s amazing. But I’ve mentioned this previously, Facebook drives traffic to our site, but nothing but not like these super Facebook people.
Paula: [00:29:05] Right. Exactly. And I knew I’m never going to be a super Facebook person myself, because I don’t want to pay someone to do that. I know some of the strategies just aren’t really in line with what I want for my page. And so I don’t do it, and I don’t compromise on that. But you find a work around. I’m able to use someone else’s page to get the traffic, and then keep my Facebook page how I want it to be. Everybody wins. Everybody is getting what they want out of the deal.
Thoughts about video
Jillian: [00:29:40] What about video? Are you making video? Is video a part of your business and how do you feel about the idea?
Paula: [00:29:49] I agree with everyone that videos is the future and it’s a really big deal. But I’m a writer, and I love writing, and and this is a long time coming, like for a long time my identity and who I was was tied up in the success and failure of my blog, and getting more page views and growing. And a couple years ago, I just hadn’t realized like why am I wanting to be bigger and bigger and bigger? This is kind of ridiculous. I’m at a good size and I’m happy at the size that I am. And I would love to be making ninety seven figures a month. Sure. That would be great. But what am I sacrificing to get that? I’m sacrificing my happiness. I’m sacrificing time with my family. I’m a person that does have high anxiety and I’ve had depression for like 12 years. And so there are times when life hits me like a truck and I can’t work. And that’s just not realistic for a site that has five million pages a month. I’m just throwing out massive numbers because we all just think bigger. It doesn’t matter how big you get. You want to be bigger. And so I stopped all of that. And this is related to video I promise.
How to run a business while dealing with anxiety
Paula: [00:31:05] So I kind of stopped trying to chase those things and I’m more focused on maintaining what I have. My blog is our family’s only income now, so I can’t just put it aside. I can’t just take a week off. like I can’t do any of those things, but I have maintained now our family budget and a little bit over that, every month for about two years, and that’s all I want to do. I am not striving super hard to make double my income. It’s really hard in this industry because we can double our income. And what other industry can you do that in? You can’t work harder at another job and double your income. And so it felt really wrong to not do that, to not jump on the next big train that’s going to make your things go viral, and that’s going to grow your page and all of that. And I followed that for a while, and finally realized like no, I’m not I’m not going to do it. And so video is kind of tied to that for me because it’s something I hate doing.
Paula: [00:32:08] When it comes to the editing process I hate it. And I don’t want to hire out that much of what I’m doing. I like keeping things close to home. And it was just too much at this point in my life. At this point I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t enjoy doing it. The thought of it stressed me out. I’m just going to maintain what I’m doing and continue loving what I’m doing and continue paying the bills and then having just a really low key life that I actually enjoy.
Jillian: [00:32:39] I think as mothers, especially as you were talking about how you go through these different stages. And my daughter now is 10. And it’s amazing because I never thought this would happen, like I never thought that she could be as independent as she is or she can even help me with things, like she says she’s going to be editing my podcasts. That hasn’t happened yet, but she knows how to use Garage Band.
Jillian: [00:33:10] So it’s like you go through these windows with your family as your family grows, where eventually you might be able to take on more, or take or less depending, but there’s something to recognizing that the way it is today, it will not be this way in a year and it will definitely not be this way in five years.
Jillian: [00:33:32] And to be able to kind of roll with that. If you’ve been at this a long time, like we have, we’ve seen a lot of changes in the world of social media and the Internet and stuff, and you’ve also seen a lot of changes over the last let’s say five years in your family. So you kind of think the better you are at uncertainty the more successful you will be.
Paula: [00:33:55] Yes I agree completely.
Jillian: [00:33:58] So if you were if you were to give one piece of advice to bloggers starting out today, that you wish you had known, what do you think it would be?
Advice: You’re not your business
Paula: [00:34:12] Well I kind of hit it a little bit a second ago, and this is very personal to me. It just. You’re not your business. And so succeed or fail, that doesn’t define you and I did not know that when I started, and this is a very personal business. You’re putting your life on the Internet even if you’re a food blogger, you’re putting your family’s recipes on the Internet for people to hate or people to love. And when everybody is loving you that can feel really good. But I think that’s just as dangerous as when everybody’s hating on you. And so I’ve really learned to hold what people say loosely. The good things they say about me are held just as loosely as the bad things because what matters is what people in my real life think about me. What matters is that I’m being a kind person to the people around me and I’m doing things that I believe in. And pageviews don’t always reflect that. And pageviews don’t reflect your heart. I think one of the most popular, as far as people emailing me and saying this post changed my life is the greatest thing I’ve ever written, that post I think got 250 pageviews on it. Is like nothing for my blog, and I still remember the things that people said about it and it was beautiful and it was wonderful. But getting that next million billion pageviews is not what it’s about. And it is not where your woth is found.
Paula: [00:35:44] And so being able to hold loosely to those things has helped with my anxiety, and I know that not everybody has anxiety about blogging. I wish the message that I had when I was starting out is that you’re a lot more than this, succeed or fail.
Jillian: [00:36:01] I love that. And I would say, you show me a blogger and I will show you somebody who has blogging anxiety. It’s like they come hand in hand again.
Paula: [00:36:12] And you’re right because there is a personal piece to this. You are putting a part of yourself out on the Internet. And again you have to be intentional about how much of yourself you’re putting out there, and understand what the ramifications are for that.
Paula: [00:36:39] And it’s hard and it’s wonderful and it’s awful all at once.
Jillian: [00:36:43] Absolutely. Absolutely. And what about your business right now are you most excited about?
Plans for a new blog series
Paula: [00:36:51] Well I am not doing it yet, but I have plans for a new series on Beauty Through Imperfection. I’ve been in just a funky spot for a while because I still write the things that I care about for new moms and stuff, but I am in a new season of life and I’m trying to figure out how to incorporate that new season, and what I care about personally. Like for me what I care about into my blog without losing its voice, and so I’m starting this new series. It was supposed to launch this fall and then Hurricane Harvey hit and that just kind of threw our whole city into madness. So I’m hoping for next spring.
Jillian: [00:37:32] Was your house OK?
Paula: [00:37:34] Yes. Our house was fine. But like within walking distance there was five feet of water. So it’s just our grocery stores are still gone like it’s just crazy here.
Paula: [00:37:45] I’ve been thinking about this project for a while, and so it’s going to be called Beautiful Perspectives, and I’m going to have people hopefully just write about their lives and write about their struggles and their challenges and and hopefully cover places that I can’t cover as just a pretty average person. So I want to bring in people who are not like me, and people who I have questions about and this may actually incorporate some video interviews that are going to be pretty low key and unedited. But my goal is just to break down walls between people and maybe walls you didn’t even know existed, and just make me get more comfortable to approach people who look different than you and act differently than you, and live drastically different lives.
Paula: [00:38:29] And I’m really excited about it because that’s what I care about in my real life, and I’m finding a way to incorporate that into my blog. And I don’t think it’s gonna be a huge income generator or anything like that, but that goes back to being able to let go of those things and maintain that income and now I can do something that might reach a couple of hundred people, but it’s reaching them with something that I care about.
Jillian: [00:38:53] And I would say that when we go towards stuff like that, you don’t know where it’s going to lead. It could be a book. Who knows? But if you could trust that voice inside to say I’m not sure how I’m going to monetize this but at least I’m going to try it out. It feeds your soul and it makes that job easier.
Paula: [00:39:25] Right. Because the things that I write about to pay the bills are not things I love. But they’re important and they’re helping people and that’s fine. But I’m able to add the soul feeding thing that I love. And that’s what I’m excited about. I’m not really excited about my next paycheck.
Paula: [00:39:47] How this will maybe just impact a couple of people like I said, that post reached 250 people, but I think it reached them with something that I want to be my legacy or the thing that I’m remembered for.
Jillian: [00:40:05] Is there an online tool that you use for your business that you can’t live without?
Advice: Using SEMrush to improve SEO
Paula: [00:40:13] Yes. And I will say it’s expensive and I don’t do expensive, but SEMrush is something that I’ve gotten in the past year and I’m kind of obsessed with. It’s an SEO tool, and has just so much that I feel like I’ve been using it since May, and I still have barely scratch the surface with the data it’s giving me.
Paula: [00:40:34] But it tells you every back link to your site. It tells you what page you’re ranking on in Google for any search term. And it’s just nutty the amount of information. And it makes it really nice because I can kind of scroll through and look for… oh on page 2 of Google with this random search term, I’m going to create more content around this. And so that’s been a game changer for me. Like I said I have Facebook, Pinterest, and search. Search used to be not even on my radar and the past few months, it’s now number three. And like substantially number three. Not like a huge margin of error. It’s matching Facebook now as far as what I’m getting in traffic, which is a first for me. And I genuinely owe that to SEMrush, which is obnoxiously expensive but worth every penny. So proud that.
Jillian: [00:41:31] OK. We’ll be linking to it in the show notes. It’s been recommended to me so many times. But because you just said that, I am going to sign up.
Paula: [00:41:40] Well I took a class at a conference at Tbex this summer and it was the most comprehensive and actually helpful thing on SEO that I ever attended in my life. I literally walked up to the woman and said, Will you coach me? And she said I don’t do coaching. And I was, Let me rephrase. How much to buy an hour of your time?
Paula: [00:42:00] I don’t spend money. I’m very thrifty and this was worth it. I really trusted her recommendation because she knew what she was talking about with SEO and it’s been really helpful.
Jillian: [00:42:12] Well that’s terrific. I love it. I literally going to get off this call and go sign up because it’s been recommended to me over and over.
Paula: [00:42:20] I had never heard of it, and now I see it popping up everywhere.
Jillian: [00:42:27] And I do believe that when you hear a recommendation from a variety of people, you have to check it out.
Jillian: [00:42:35] OK do you have any parting pieces of advice for bloggers. And then also how can people connect with you?
Paula: [00:42:46] I say keep it fun and keep it realistic. I think there’s a lot of information out there about specific paths to success or specific formulas, and I’m not saying those are not accurate, but make sure when you’re adopting a formula, that it fits with your lifestyle and it fits with your personal goals, and it’s going to be something you enjoy. So I think bloggers come and go really really quickly, and I think that the pain point that makes people quit, is that they put too much on their plate too fast, in order to try to follow what some very successful blogger said is the formula. It’s not that that formula is wrong. Is it right for you right now in this moment, or do you need to focus on something else and move into this space at a slower rate because the space is always going to be here. There’s like this urgency in the blogging community but we’re here to stay. This is an awesome industry we’re in. It’s marketing and marketing is forever. So you have time to ease in and find your voice and find how you want this space to work for you. So take your time.
Jillian: [00:43:57] I love that. I love that. Now let’s go through all of your sites and how people can reach out to you and connect with you.
Paula: [00:44:10] Beauty Through Imperfection is my main blog. That’s the one I always joke that pays the bills. And then I have some others that I’m building slowly because I can’t sit still. And so my food site is Dinner with the Rollos. My travel site is Traveling Family Blog. And then I have a Facebook community that is free, just join us if you want to. And that’s Quick Blogging Tips. And I try to keep those tips under five minutes, something you can implement today. So it’s super easy.
Paula: [00:44:43] Teeny tiny improvements to your blog. And then you can always reach me on email, it’s just my name, firstname.lastname@example.org. And most of my social media handles are just my name as well.
Jillian: [00:44:53] Are the tips that you’re giving in your Facebook group, are those you jumping on live, or are they written tips?
Paula: [00:45:04] They’re mainly written tips. Again I’m a writer. I have been jumping on lives a little bit more, I’m trying to do that a little bit more because at least that doesn’t have to be edited, so I can just talk. I’ve been doing that a little bit more especially now that school’s in session, thank goodness. I’m trying to do some more live video in that group too.
Jillian: [00:45:25] Well thank you Paula. Thank you so much for being here.
Paula: [00:45:30] Thank you for having me. This was a really fun chat.
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