I am very excited to share with you this first interview of the 144 Plan. Every month I will be featuring at least one person who has a major impact and knowledge base concerning the topic of the month. Since this month is all about Blogging Brilliance, I am thrilled to introduce to you my friend Amy Stults.
While she blogs at Milk and Cookies I probably know her best from her blogging influence as a co-founder of the iHomeschool Network, a network of homeschool bloggers who connect with each other and with family-friendly companies to further promote all things homeschooling. Her impact has since reached far and wide through her behind the scenes efforts in coordinating the formation and publication of iBlog as well as providing resources and publication opportunities for over 100 bloggers involved in the iHomeschool Network. Needless to say, Amy knows what she is doing as an influencer and also understands the challenge many of us face as bloggers who are also wives and moms learning to balance the life in between. So without further ado, here is Amy Stults!
1. Tell us a little about yourself, your family, how you got started blogging, how long you’ve been blogging, your favorite topics to write about, etc.
My name is Amy Stults and I am a born and raised Buckeye from central Ohio. My husband and I have been married for 16 years and are the proud parents of our 11-year-old son, who is the light of our lives. God put me on this planet to be this boy’s mommy! We have homeschooled since birth using a classical, literature-rich method. I have a passion for genealogy and a love for helping others trace their family trees and learn more about their roots. My family and I are die-hard Whovians and Trekkies, I adore my husband and son, love sweet tea, small kitchen appliances, and holidays, even the silly ones like National Eat Like a Hobbit Day.
I started blogging when my son was a baby, as a way to share photos and stories with family and friends. I am fiercely protective of our privacy, so back then my blog was on a private server that my husband built. The URL was password protected. My favorite topics to write about…this is going to make me look like a geek, but I love geeky crafts.
2. Approximately how many hours a week do you devote to blogging and how do you distribute your time when blogging (i.e. writing posts, promotion, social media, design, etc.)?
Confession time. Since this is Cornerstone Confessions, I guess it is very fitting. I am a terribleblogger and a terrible example. How much time do I devote to my own blog? Very little. How much time do I devote to helping others with their blogs? Let’s just say that my poor little blog is jealous of not getting nearly that much attention.
3. Do you have any time saving tips for being more efficient as a blogger?
Your blog is not social media, your blog is your blog. Focus on your own content and stay away from social media as much as you can. Put your family and home life responsibilities first, otherwise it will take you twice as long to actually blog and you’ll feel miserable at the same time.
4. How do you balance blogging and family/home responsibilities?
See above. Under no circumstances does my online life come before my family. It is not even a close second. This is what I think – if you have to neglect your family or house to make time to blog, then you shouldn’t be a blogger. If you are not organized enough to find a way to fit it all in, then you shouldn’t be a blogger.
5. What do you personally think makes your content so appealing to your readers?
It might be because I am not afraid to be weird, or maybe it is because I am brilliant and have clever ideas? Totally kidding.
6. What are your favorite resources for blogging tips and information?
The network, iHomeschool Network, that I founded 2 years ago with Jimmie Lanley. The ladies in the network are unbelievable.
7. What are your favorite tools, products, apps, and/or programs you use as a blogger?
By far my favorite product is just a simple old school notebook. I find that I am more organized when I write things out by hand. I staple or paperclip calendar pages in my notebook and use a lot of different colored highlighters and pens.
8. What are your top 5 favorite WordPress Plugins?
- Align RSS Images – although most of my images cover my whole blog window and are centered, I do periodically use smaller right or left aligned images. This plugin is the only one I have found that consistently makes your feed look like your blog in terms of image placement.
- Contact Form 7 – gotta have a contact form. It keeps spammers out of my inbox!
- nRelate Related Content – this shows several old posts underneath each blog post and encourages readers to delve into your archives.
- WordPress Download Monitor – if you have printables on your blog, this keeps track of how many times they have been downloaded.
- W3 Total Cache – this improves your page speed.
9. What is the best blogging advice you have received and/or could give?
Never compare yourself to other bloggers. Don’t let yourself get caught up in someone else’s life. Anyone who looks perfect online is either in a miserable marriage, neglects their children, has a disaster of a house, never sleeps, or pays someone to do everything for them.
Have any questions for Amy about blogging?
Take it to the next level with these resources:
This post is the 6th of 12 in the 144 Plan to Blogging Brilliance. To learn more about the 144 Plan or catch up on a missed post, check out the complete 144 Plan Training Log.
How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver. Proverbs 16:16