I’m going to share my thoughts on how I started my blog, Food Storage Moms. Here’s the deal, it was about 2011 or 2012 and I was teaching classes in my home so my neighbors would learn how to be prepared for the unexpected. You should know that I shared food storage samples in my home, asked speakers to come, showed people how to bake bread outside and so much more. I did this every Wednesday for about a year from 5:30 to 6:30 P.M.
I started each Wednesday on time and ended on time. Some weeks I had two people, some weeks I had over 20 people. I did this FREE of charge because I wanted to make a team of people in the neighborhood that could work together if we had a disaster. I really appreciated those that came, but I had a passion for teaching more people about food storage and emergency preparedness.
We Need to Follow Our Dreams
This is how I started my blog called Food Storage Moms, one person at a time. I need to tell you a little about me, I hope you don’t mind me spilling my guts today. When my youngest child was in second grade, I was bored. My house was clean, organized more than I care to admit. I wish now I had been more laid back when my girls were growing up. I wasn’t and I own it.
So, Mark and I thought maybe I should get a part-time job. Well, I lived in a small town with very few job options but I applied to be a teller at a bank. Well, long story short, I was hired for a full-time job. When Mark came home, I announced, “I start Monday and it’s a full-time job”! I still giggle thinking about that moment because I had always been a stay-at-home mom.
Before I knew it, I was promoted to the new accounts desk and the bank was purchased by another bank. I was lucky because the new bank kept me working. I was very grateful. The next thing I know, I got a call from another bank asking me to be a manager of a grocery store branch. I was grateful for this new adventure.
If You Work Hard You Get Ahead
Within a year, I was asked to work in private banking at the same bank. I loved it! I was asked to cover two branches. I learned how to do car loans, boat loans, and second mortgage home loans.
Then I decided I wanted to do REAL mortgages, you know the Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, FHA, and VA government loans. I had NO idea how to do them. I went to work for a company and worked there for three months and decided to withdraw some of my retirement money and I opened my own mortgage company.
I hired an underwriter and almost all of my family members worked at the company over the next 15 years. Believe it or not, I did not know how to send or receive any emails when I opened my company, this was in 1997. Thankfully, I did a loan for someone who taught me over the phone how to email. I will be forever thankful to him.
After five years, I decided to get my real estate license. Now, I could sell homes and do mortgages. I worked 60-80 hours a week, seven days a week. I was a machine, I have always been driven to do my best wherever I worked.
After 12 years in real estate and 15 years of owning my own mortgage company, I decided to retire. Well, within a year, I was bored yet again.
That’s when I decided to teach the world about food storage and emergency preparedness. It was a natural passion for me because I had lived this way my entire life. So, here I am today. I am very grateful that you let me into your homes to teach you. I must say, I learn from you as well. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for following my blog.
Just so you know, when I started my blog, I had to learn to cut and paste stuff. Yep, I own it. I had to learn how to use WORD and make a pdf. I started my website with Blogger, an entry-level blog development group, but I wanted more. So, then I started looking at other blogs. I HAD to have a WordPress website.
I interviewed three web designers and I knew instantly I wanted Jenny at a website company right here in St. George, Utah. We clicked from the get-go. She had someone that worked with her by the name of Chad. We clicked instantly as well. I always said, just design it, you both are experts. I don’t need choices, just do it. I want purple, and they took the ball and ran with it by designing my first website.
While they designed my website, I was setting up a business checking account, my LLC, and getting a business license. My sister, Carol helped me with printables and was patient beyond words with me. Remember, I had to learn to cut and paste and work on a real website. Yikes, am I crazy?
I Had to Become More of a Technical Person
I had NEVER used WORD! I was still using Word Perfect. Keep in mind, I turned 67 years old in 2017. This was all new to me. I was setting up plugins, and I said to myself, what is a plugin? I remember shaking as Jenny taught me to use a WordPress website. What? I need to pay for hosting, well of course I do. Gotcha, Jenny, I have a self-hosted website. Before I knew it, I was into the website and training for about $5,000.00.
If you know how to do stuff yourself, it’s free or very cheap. I was clueless. Let’s just say, I have learned a lot over the last five years. I was paying for a life coach to help me stay focused. Lyn Christian, from Soul Salt Inc. rocks! I was paying for classes to learn how to use Google+. What the heck is Google+, I asked. I had never used it. I paid Jenny Melrose to coach me on how to use Google+. I had to learn how to use Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter. Now I use Instagram. I swear I kept thinking I can’t LEARN anything new.
I Learned About Pinterest
About six months after I started my blog, my friend, Lisa Blair called me and said, “How come you only have three boards and 30 followers on Pinterest?” I said, “What is a board?” The rest is history, thank you, my awesome friend, Lisa for teaching me about Pinterest.
What the heck is Rafflecopter, you ask? You use it for giveaways. Then I learned how to use Co-Schedule and Buffer. Oh my gosh, I hope I don’t need to learn anything else. When I was invited to be in a Southern Utah blogger group five years ago I had the opportunity to learn from some really awesome bloggers.
We met monthly for dinner for maybe two years, as I remember, to share tips and ideas. I learned about blogging conferences, SEO (search engine optimizer) and so much more from them. Thankfully, I went to many conferences that were in Salt Lake City, Utah, so I could stay for FREE with my daughter and attend them.
I Learned a Lot Going to Conferences
I met some really awesome bloggers at each conference. I learned a ton from my Southern Utah blogger group and the conferences. The one thing I remember most about my Southern Utah group was the fact that if you want to be a successful blogger you have to work really hard for two years in order to make money to support the expenses of running a WordPress website.
I was ready for that, I worked 10-14 hours a day seven days a week for four years. Remember, this was all so new to me. I was still in my pajamas at noon. Wow, I look back now and laugh. I was still in my jammies for lunch!!!! I had to learn Amazon. I had never used Amazon before I started my website. I have Amazon ads on my website and I had to learn to put them on my WordPress website. Oh my gosh, can I REALLY do this? I wish I was more techie, but I’m not.
Three years after the first website was designed, the old developer stopped supporting my “theme”. IT WAS BROKEN! “what do you mean it’s broken,” I asked. “It will no longer work,” Chad said. I had to pay for another website (same name and content). Now, I need to hire someone to design another “theme”. $$$$$ here we go again.
Having the Right Support Team is Critical
This is getting very expensive now. Dang, I wanted a Genesis “theme” the second time but Chad my web designer decided on a different theme. He designed the website I used for a long time, along with his brother, Dallan. My website was hacked about six times the first year, which means someone is breaking into your website and it goes down, as in no website for a few hours or days. In December my website was down seven days. I get so mad just thinking about that week. Breathe, Linda, breathe.
I was hacked at least four times in the second year. Dang, now I need to learn how to use a security system with my website and with a backup. They keep my website from being hacked, or at least between that company and my new hosting company, Liquid Web, I’m pretty secure.
My website is very expensive to run each month. It started out as a hobby but became a business before I knew what was happening. I was going to shut my blog down in March (my second hosting company was not adequate) and two people besides my wonderful husband sent me emails to keep going.
I’ve Learned Having Friends in the Business is Important
One was Todd Sepulveda from “Prepper Website” and the other was Jasper from LiquidWeb. If you need an awesome hosting company, contact Jasper at email@example.com. He and Todd are the two people that made me realize, I NEED to keep going, as in writing. I thank both of them from the bottom of my heart. I truly love my readers as well, what can I say?
Okay, back to my blog, then came sponsors. What, do you want to pay to advertise on my website? I was so grateful and honored to get paid to put their, “banners” on my website. This would help big time with my expenses. What, you want to give me “stuff” to review? I was overjoyed to be able to show the world pictures of how to use emergency preparedness stuff.
I Learned to Help Promote Other Businesses
I received boxes weekly with samples to taste and promote. I was beyond thankful. I could tell my readers how I felt about certain products. I have only sent back one item I was asked to review, an emergency radio. To have so few questionable items to review is a wonder to me. That’s one in five years, I just couldn’t recommend it.
I started my blog and asked a friend, Kendra, to help in the beginning. After six months of blogging, the New York Times sent us an email about doing an interview. WHAT? We were both interviewed, via the telephone. You know how interviews go, the article said Kendra started the blog with a friend. WHAT? LOL!
Anyway, after about six months or so, Kendra decided to continue doing her own blog and a new little baby was on the way. New York Times Interview with Food Storage Moms I can still feel my heart beating so fast just thinking about being interviewed by the New York Times. At the time, I only had 4,000 followers a month.
“You Want Me to Write a Book?”
The next thing, I know, I get an email about writing a book. Well, I never wanted to write a book, but I agreed to the interview via phone. I had no idea what a BIG deal this was, at least for me. It’s really hard to get a publisher to agree to publish the book you want to write. A lot of writers have written books and had them self-published.
Both Melissa Richarson and Randal Chase, who had written books, and who I knew I could trust, looked over the contract I was being asked to sign. Melissa has since written one more book: Beyond Basics with Natural Yeast: Recipes for Whole Grain Health
It’s very HARD to write a book, at least it was for me. Several times, I thought, I can’t do this. I swear, I can’t do this. Mark kept pushing me, yes you can. YES, YOU CAN. My kids and grandkids kept telling me, YES YOU CAN WRITE A BOOK!!
A couple of years later, I received an email asking if Ted Koppel who wrote “Lights Out”, could interview me and keep the interview quiet because he was writing a book about emergency preparedness. They taped my interview, I wasn’t in the book, but as you know, I highly recommend it: Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath
My Blog Tips:
- Choose the name you want for your blog, and make sure you can get the exact name on EVERY social media channel known to man.
- Check to see if that name is available to purchase from a website company or a company like GoDaddy.
- If you are the techie type, you will save a lot of money because you can set it up yourself.
- Set up an LLC if you are serious about making money. This means you need an EIN number.
- It’s time to get a business license if your state and or county requires it.
- You need a good CPA to help you with taxes.
- Yep, this means you need a business checking account.
- Set up MailChimp or something similar to send out emails when your posts are published. Just so you know, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) may be looking over your shoulder, so please don’t put a phony address on the emails you send out, big fines may apply if you are caught.
- If you want to sell something, you need a sales tax # for your state, if it applies.
- You need statements on your website that comply with the FTC. We must state that we MAY make money if someone clicks on links within our website.
- Make sure you have the dates of your blog at the very bottom showing that it is copyrighted material. January 1st of every year, change the date in the settings to confirm the new year if your “theme” doesn’t do it automatically.
- Make sure you have a backup of your blog, if your hosting company goes down, you may too.
- Set up a security system besides the one your hosting company has, you can never be too safe.
- Set up Rafflecopter if you want to do giveaways. It’s honest and there shouldn’t be any cheating when Rafflecopter chooses the winners.
- Hire a virtual assistant once you can afford to pay for one. I did for about six months. Katie Clark was awesome from ClarksCondensed (com).
- Set up as many automatic schedulers as you feel appropriate for your budget. This means apps will do the scheduling for you. Yes, they cost money, but time is money. Remember, it’s a business. In order to make money, you must spend money. I’m starting to sound greedy, and I don’t want it to come across like that. I recommend ViralTag, Co-Schedule, Buffer, and Tailwind to start with.
- Choose a really good hosting company. They can make or break you, literally.
- Find bloggers you can trust and share ideas with. I will forever be thankful to Mary Ellen Seavey and Jazmin Rode for coming into my life through blogging. They have taught me more than any conference I have attended.
- Get a good camera or use the one on your phone if it’s high quality, and buy photo stock pictures as well.
Thanks for letting me blab about my life and my blog today. Together we can teach our neighbors to bake bread, start a fire, make tortillas, a batch of beans, use a Sun Oven, or boil water in a Dutch Oven. We can wash our clothes, and make a portable toilet and washing machine. Please remember to get clothespins, these are my favorite ones: Kevin’s Quality Clothespins Set of 50.
May God bless you and your neighborhoods, we are prepared for the unexpected.