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102. How to embrace your imperfections and share your authentic self as a mum blogger with Katie Crenshaw

This week I speak with Katie who is a mom of three, founder of the Katie Crenshaw blog and the host of the podcast “If I’m being honest”.

Katie first began her blog to reinvent a creative outlet for herself in an effort to maintain a semblance of sanity as a busy mom.

Katie wanted to create a space where she can give an honest and humorous take on motherhood and life.

Listen on to find out how to embrace your imperfections and share your authentic self as a mum blogger.

Listen Below:

Show Notes:

Debbie:  

Hey everyone, thank you so much for joining us here today, I’m here with Katie. Hey Katie, how are you?

Katie:

Hey, I’m good. How are you?

Debbie:

I’m great. Thank you for joining us. Can you tell us a little bit more about you and why you lead an offbeat life?

Katie:  

I’m Katie. I’m a mum blogger of three living outside of Atlanta, Georgia. I came into this entrepreneur world on a path of being married a couple of times. I was a single mom. I got remarried, and I’ve had two babies in the last four years and decided that my old career path wasn’t for me anymore and I just dove into my passion and it wound up being a career.

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Debbie:

There was a lot of things that were happening in your life, from getting divorced and getting remarried, having children and all of those things. How did you decide to transition from your nine to five to fully becoming a blogger and to make this into an actual career?

Katie:  

My career background is actually in healthcare. And for 10 years I worked in hospitals and doctors’ offices. Inpatient care and I previously thought I would just finish nursing school and continue my education there. But after my second child was born, she was very high needs and at the time the only position available to me at work was night shift.

I just couldn’t figure out how I was going to make that work. So my hobbies for my entire adult life, having included photography and writing, and those have been two things I’ve always been really good at. So I thought if I’m going to be a stay at home mom, I have to have this outlet or I’m just going to feel like I’ve lost my identity.

I have a different approach at looking at motherhood. So I thought maybe I’ll start a blog that talks about the raw taboo stuff in motherhood that we skirt around. So,I did and when my maternity leave was over, I’ve put in my notice and I started the blog.

mum blogger

Debbie: 

That’s a really great transition for you because there are so many moms out there that needs the truth. A lot of the time you just see the pretty things that are happening. I don’t have children myself, but I have worked as a therapist for kids with autism. And it is incredible how many things that parents go through that a lot of people don’t really talk about.

With your blog and now your podcast you don’t talk about things that most people necessarily discuss because it is taboo.

Katie:      

Yeah, it just kind of came to me. I knew I wanted to start a podcast because I like to talk and I like to talk to people, but I couldn’t decide how to niche down and I didn’t want to be a mum blogger with a catch-all podcast where I just talked about anything and everything.

I felt like we need to go deeper than that. I need to talk to more people that aren’t just moms and get into some more gritty stuff.

If I’m being honest podcast

Debbie:      

Katie’s podcast is called “f I’m being honest”, which is a really great title because everything that you are talking about in your podcast is really honest and it talks about so many taboos. Do you want to tell our audience more about your podcast?

Katie:    

Yeah, sure. It was born of the idea that I wanted to humanize a stigmatized topic, lifestyles, experiences. When I started to think of ideas of subject matter, I started thinking, oh my gosh, you have a friend that went through this or you have this friend.

And for someone who has this huge network and circle of people, I thought this might be really easy to get guests because I already know so many people who have had crazy things happen or have lived in a marginalized way. So I tested it by reaching out to maybe 10 friends. And I thought, well, at least I’ll have one season of 10 episodes since everybody says yes.

I approached them and said Hey, I’d love for you to talk about when your daughter died on my podcast if you’re open to it. Or I’d love to hear you talk about being trans or being a black man in the south. And of course, they all said, absolutely. So that’s how it started.

I’ve had people referred to me since then and every episode is someone talking about their life experience that might be stigmatized. And the whole point is for people to listen and learn something they didn’t know and release some kind of stigma or predisposed judgment they had against someone that’s not exactly like them.

Debbie:        

A lot of people listening to your podcast and to the voices of the people that you’re interviewing are maybe going through something similar. So there’s a lot of things that people hold in. And then when you find someone who has gone through something similar, it opens you up to other possibilities and you don’t feel as guilty or responsible.

Let’s go back to when you were going through your transition from your day job to being a blogger. How did you make this into a successful blog?

How to create a successful blog.

Katie:  

So the catalyst to monetizing it was actually about six months into the blog, I had started to build up somewhat of a readership. It was not huge, but it was a lot for a beginner and just from posting my articles in mom groups and things like that.

There were some people who definitely liked that I was more sarcastic and edgy about motherhood. I had some people that were definitely reading, but I wrote an article about my daughter’s birthmark on her face, which one side of her face is almost fully a Hemangioma, which is a large birthmark.

When she was a baby, it was much more prominent and we got a lot of comments in public. So I wrote an open letter to people that commented on her birthmark in public and it was very honest and open and it went mega-viral. We were featured in the Today show, Good morning America, People Magazine, it was everywhere.

And I was overwhelmed because all of a sudden I had all this traffic and all these people. Then someone suggested that I could monetize a blog. I never thought about really. And someone said, while you’re getting all this traffic, you should get ads or something.

So I started googling how do you monetize a blog? And literally stayed up that night trying to figure out how to have a blog that was a business and how to monetize. How to understand coding and SEO. And I just stayed up all the time, trying to learn as much as I could.

I plugged myself into every blogging group I can find on Facebook, to try to learn. And that’s how it started. And then when the viral stuff died down I just maintained the website.

Debbie: 

That’s the thing about blogs. There’s never any shortcut. And it does take a lot of work to do. It is a business.

Katie: 

Yeah, absolutely.

Debbie:   

So now that you have gone through all of these things with your life and your career, what has been the biggest setback that you’ve encountered so far? And how did you handle it?

Katie:     

I’d have to say since I started professionally creating content and being my own boss, probably 2017 was a hard year. We moved to California from Georgia for my husband’s job and we really thought that was going to be our landing place and a really great destination for our family.

And it all fell through at the same time. I also had my third child, so we were dealing with a huge move, the birth of a third child, which added a whole new element of crazy into our house. And California wasn’t working out, so we were having to come back and make those plans and lose a lot of money. Therefore my work started to suffer as far as I just didn’t have the energy or time or creativity to keep it how I wanted it.

The second half of 2017 was very difficult for us. And when we came back to Georgia, which wound up being less than a year after we moved to California, everything got better again. So, I feel like we’re in a really good place now, but definitely the second half of 2017, I felt like everything was falling through the cracks.

How to maintain a healthy work and life balance as a mother.

Debbie: 

How do you keep maintaining your career and also making sure that everything at home with all of these different transitions is continuing to do going well?

Katie:       

I definitely have to credit my husband. We have a very egalitarian relationship and he values my passions and my career just as much as I do. So, I never feel like we’re not both carrying the weight of our family, which is helpful. If he knows I really need time to regain some creativity and get some headspace, he’s totally supportive.

I do sometimes have to take time to be alone or a night away or a night with my friends or anything that will allow me to reclaim my identity outside of motherhood which is very important to me. So, having time alone to write, having time to be social, which I love. All those things are just something that I have to maintain to keep myself productive. And all the other areas.

Debbie:   

And that could be something that you can take for granted because you don’t usually think about that. There are so many other things happening that you forget to take care of yourself and you forget to make sure that who you are as a person and as an individual is also really important.

You need to have something other than just being a mum blogger and a wife and a businesswoman for all of this and just know yourself as a person as well. And I think it’s really hard for us women to do that because then we feel really guilty if we take this time for ourselves.

Katie:   

Yeah, absolutely. And sometimes it’s not possible. Obviously, I can’t just leave during the middle of the day. As much as I wish I could sometimes. But carving time out and putting other things aside to make sure that you get to cultivate who you are. That’s really the answer for me.

mum blogger

Debbie: 

Are there any types of tools that have been helping you to make your life a little bit easier with your business?

Hacks to running to your business smoothly.

Katie:   

Well, this year I finally hired an assistant, which has been a game changer, having someone to help me do all the admin type things and respond to emails. She’s actually out right now sick. And I’m like, oh my gosh, how did I ever live without her? I don’t know how to live without her now.

That was a huge thing off my plate because I think when you’re creating for a living, getting stuck in the monotonous tasks can drain you. And then by the time you’re done answering emails, you don’t have any energy left to write and do other things. So that was a huge deal for me.

I’m also highly committed to Trello now. As an app, it’s been so great for me to organize my life that way. And I’m not a great example outside of that. I try to use a lot of Google sheet. I have spreadsheets for pretty much everything. My podcast, my blog, I tried to do all of that. And as a blogger, I’m constantly trying to keep up with all the social media platforms and figure out the best ways to save time and automate all that.

Debbie:    

I can’t even imagine how many tasks you have to do Katie with everything and being able to automate your business and having an assistant I’m sure is so helpful for you.

Katie:      

At some point, I had to learn. I think in other small businesses it’s pretty clear. When it comes to business advice and business training, put your money back into your business before you pay yourself. But sometimes with bloggers, we don’t want to do that. We want to keep all of our money. And so this year I decided I’m going to have to take an income cut and I’m going to have to get help because I’m never going to grow past this point if I don’t get help.

Debbie:     

You have to think about it as an investment because it will lead you to make more money. There are more tasks that you can do that you didn’t have time before you had other people to help you. And you can brainstorm other ways to create more income for your blog and your business.

Katie:   

Oh, totally. Ever since she started with me, I have been able to put my newsletters out on time again and everything I wanted to do but didn’t have time.

Debbie:  

How are you able to find a person who is the right one to work with you? Because that can be a really challenging thing to do, is to find someone you can work really well with.

Katie: 

Well, I got lucky. I was hoping the universe would bring me someone I already knew and trusted, like a close friend who also wanted to be my assistant because I decided I’d rather have somebody that I already knew and have good communication with and then I could just train them how to do everything else as opposed to looking for an assistant to train.

Luckily I had a friend who had just left the corporate world and was hoping to have something on the side. And all the organization stuff is her forte. So I asked her if she was interested in learning and if she wanted to do that for me. And she definitely did.

I really wanted to prioritize all the trust first because she’s one of my best friends and I’m totally comfortable giving her the password to my bank account and my social media accounts. So for me, I did it that way. It was worth it for me to spend a month teaching her everything about what I do.

Debbie:           

It’s really hard to find someone who is very good and someone you can afford, especially if you’re just starting out or maybe you’re midway into it and you don’t have as much fund to allocate into something or someone.

Katie: 

Yeah, I agree.

How to create income as a mum blogger.

Debbie:   

You talked a little bit about how you created income from the start. How are you able to create income today with your business?

Katie: 

I make income in multiple ways. I have sponsored posts on Instagram and on my blog, which is the majority. That’s my bread and butter. Those are still the highest paying jobs that I have. I also create affiliate marketing links for products that I’m recommending.

I’m a part of several affiliate programs, so I’m able to make a passive income that way. If your listeners don’t know what I’m talking about. I share a link of something I already love and I’m telling you about it. But the company has given me an affiliate link so that I make a small commission if someone purchases. So it doesn’t cost the buyer anything more and it’s just like a perk of having influence.

So affiliate marketing and then I don’t have ads on my site right now cause I’m switching my ads network, but I did have ads on my site, which I’m paid by all kinds of metrics, but basically the traffic on my site. Then I do have a few products that haven’t really taken off yet. They’re merch associated with my podcast.

Those are my main thing for sure. I’m working on some other products and I’m hoping to have a book in the future and some other things. I’m a big proponent of diversity.

Debbie:  

That’s such a great idea to do because you never know what can happen with any your income streams.

Katie:  

Do not neglect the things you own, like your blog and your podcast. Social media is not yours. And if you forget about what you own and that goes away you will lose all your revenue streams.

How to make blogging as a sustainable career.

Debbie:   

Katie if somebody listening to this wants to do something similar to you, what would be the first thing that they should do to start this type of business and career?

Katie: 

There are some key things that I think people need to know before they start to blog for a career. If you want to do it for a hobby, there’s not a lot that you need to know because it’s just for fun. But if you’re hoping to monetize it, there are several things that I think you need to know from the beginning.

Number one, are you emotionally set up for this? Because if you grow an audience, you need to be really honest with yourself that you have the personality type that can take criticisms, rejection from your followers and from brands.

There are so many things that are so emotionally difficult about this job that I think people don’t think about and then they cannot handle it and they don’t have to handle it.

Anybody would feel that way. But that’s one big thing for me is I think people don’t understand the emotional toll that this can take when you grow an audience and it becomes your full-time job. Having a deadline and you have a creative wall, it’s not always easy.

Then other things I wish I knew before I got too far into monetization. More technical things about blogging like SEO and coding. You can never know too much of that from the beginning so that you don’t have to go back and optimize everything.

That’s a big thing. And then just understanding that nothing happens overnight. I think a lot of people see bloggers and they only see the highlight reels that they think it’s easy and it’s quick and you can quickly make money.

I went viral and that was just luck. I didn’t have anything to do with anything except I got lucky and I attracted an audience. It’s like going to Hollywood and saying I’m going to be an actor and make money. It’s not totally up to you. You really have to be passionate to the point where it’s not going to bother you when you don’t make money or that you’re not making a lot of money.

My biggest advice is networking with other people that are doing it and not bothering them with a question every two seconds. But just observing and listening.

mum blogger

Debbie:      

I have seen friends work more hours than they did in their nine to five and they don’t make as much as their nine to five but they continue to do it because of the passion that they have. So if you don’t have that initial passion for it then nothing is going to happen.

It’s going to be a lot of hard work and most people don’t go viral in the beginning. But you just have to do it because you love it and then the monetization part is going to happen as long as you stick to it and you have content that people will enjoy as much as you do.

Katie:       

Well, that’s the other thing. I think people think that they are the Kardashians and they think that people are going to automatically care about their kids and their family and what they’re doing today.

But you have to remember that people need help from the Internet. So they’re either coming to you for inspiration or tips or shopping or you have to actually be helpful.

So people just keep coming into the space thinking, I’m here, I’m a blogger and I want everybody to pay me. But what are you doing for them? What are you offering?

Debbie:     

Once people are getting all of these different types of valuable information from you, then they’ll get to know you and then they want to know you.

Katie, let’s fast forward to 30 years from now and you’re looking back at your life. What legacy would you like to leave and what do you want to be remembered for?

What legacy would you like to leave 30 years from now?

Katie:   

I think about this way too much. But I often think what would people say at my funeral and who would come to mind? It’s so important to me to be remembered as someone who did everything she could with her platform to make a difference. So I don’t know how long I’m going to be relevant on social media or anything like that and I don’t care.

It’s given me a platform to be a voice for other people, which is what I love and what I want. But I do hope that the end game for me is being launched into a place where maybe I still have a platform, but where I can just continue to help people.

Whether I hope to go into speaking and ultimately write a book and continue talking about how we can use our platform to help and to change the world.

Debbie:  

Katie, if our listeners want to know more about you, where can they find you?

Katie:  

My website is just KatieCrenshaw.com and I’m mostly on Instagram doing stories and it’s just at KatieMcrenshaw. And My podcast is “If I’m being honest”.

Debbie: 

Thank you so much for joining us today.

Katie:   

Thank you so much for having me.

Get the extended interview with Katie where she shares how to turn a parenting blog into a successful business.

 


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