So this Catching Up With Kate thing turned a year old today – what a whirlwind! Happy Blogiversary to us! For those that are interested, I thought I would share a little of how it came to be……
Spoiler alert……… it’s a bit of a conspiracy. My hope is you will stick around anyway.
So nearly 5 years ago I started a little money saving blog called San Diego Deals and Steals. I never intended for it to be anything other than a deal blog, I never meant to get personal, I never wanted to talk about my family, I considered not using my actual name; I didn’t even put pictures in for the longest time. I wanted to organize my deals and I wanted to make a tiny bit of money while I did it, that was it. All that started to change though when I started talking about our adoption process; that it was our motivation for our thriftiness. I had a few readers donate to our adoption fundraisers or buy things off our blog because they knew it helped us raise funds. And then something super cool happened. I got an email asking about adoption; and then another. And then I randomly started sharing about our adoption process and people responded like crazy. I hadn’t shared much, but I had people email me pictures of their new family members “We adopted because of you!” they said, weird, humbling, crazy…. and a lot of pressure too. My goal was to type non personal stuff; free hobby and make a little bit of money from home – that’s it. I don’t need to be someone’s inspiration – that’s too much pressure. I am not an extrovert, I liked being faceless….. but I also love adoption more than anything. I liked that people were adopting that otherwise hadn’t considered it AND they were adopting (at least they say) because I inspired them. And I started feeling some weird pressure all of a sudden to write more about that, and I did. So who cares if it is called “San Diego Deals and Steals” -it’s my blog, people are responding to it, so I’m gonna write about whatever I want to write about.
It was weird though, because it was a deal blog, and a local ‘things to do blog’ – so a reasonable amount of people were like “Why the heck are you talking about adoption? I just want to know where I can get free ice cream and what the best Groupon is today!” And I had to respect that.
At the same time our little blog was out growing it’s “San Diego” name too – we were enjoying media events at lots of fun SoCal (and beyond) locations and people were loving that too. I have always been a huge fan of the storytelling and history of Disney and readers were really enjoying fun Disney posts too. But again, some people were like “For real Kate, we just want to know about free stuff in San Diego and stuff to buy.” *sigh*
I started working with Whole Foods Market. We came up with a campaign where I showed that I could feed my family of five on less than what the average family polled said their grocery budget was shopping exclusively at Whole Foods. I shared simple recipes and this crazy Cook a Chicken in the Crock Pot video and the related post got a boatload of hits. And other recipes were being shared like wild fire. As you could imagine, there were still people who cried ‘sell out’ for working with ‘whole paycheck’…. even though I showed how I spent less money shopping there than they did at Ralphs that month. *sigh* again.
In all honesty, I was bored with San Diego Deals and Steals after a couple years. It paid some bills, it helped some people, but it was kinda mind numbing after a while to try to ONLY write about deals; I felt that I was kinda in that movie Ground Hog Day as far as deals went. I was often turning down cool stuff that I didn’t think fit the “brand”. When I did write something ‘off brand’ I would get equal parts ‘thank you’ and equal parts criticism; “You can’t please everyone at this size.” my husband would say. The irony is that I started a blog about how to be frugal and live richly on less, and it had branched out of that in a lot of ways. And since I am being honest, I was kinda tired of telling everyone when free day at the museum was. I’m sure every English teacher I had growing up would say “yeah right” to this – but I kinda wanted to write more. I wanted to write more about things that mattered most to me (adoption issues, family fun, living richly on less; but not JUST in San Diego and not just online freebie stuff). I also wanted to have the opportunity to work as a freelance writer, and with a deal blog and a local blog that is quite limiting.
So what is a bored deal blogger lady to do? In my never ending and completely ridiculous quest to make everyone happy I decided I could have two blogs; I just wasn’t quite sure what my second would be. I also honestly decided to burn it to the ground and get a job outside the house.
My husband encouraged me to keep San Diego Deals and Steals as it provides income for our family, but to start an adoption blog. I thought about it. Here’s the thing though, if someone is googling “adoption blog” they are gonna find what they are looking for. We are relatively good at Search Engine Optimization at this point and I was fairly confident we could build a blog that got a lot of “Adoption” traffic; but that isn’t what I really wanted. What I kept coming back to is that I had a deal blog and people that had NEVER thought of adoption had their eyes opened to it via a deal blog. Our little family had introduced the idea of adoption to a new audience; not one that was already sold on the idea and looking for resources. I didn’t think I had enough unique stuff to say (or the desire for that matter), to ‘preach to the choir’. All I wanted to do was grow that “You made adoption a real option to us” happy accident that had happened over at SDDS and take it as far as it could go; introduce people to the idea and give them some basic resources once they were here. But I just wasn’t sure how to do that. <—- so yes people still reading, I wanted to create a blog for a niche of people that were interested in adoption but didn’t know it yet….. you know, super huge niche; and super marketable I might add.
And then it all started to come together…..
I love Disney, and I was so happy to already get to work a little bit with Disney even over at San Diego Deals and Steals. I was hoping to carry that over and do more with a company I have always admired on my new blog, even though I wasn’t quite sure what that was just yet. When I heard of a California Disney Social Media Moms on the Road Conference I applied and crossed my fingers. I knew it would be fun, I thought it might be inspiring. I got a magical invite, and it totally was inspirational!
MANY things stood out in that 4 hour conference (if you get the chance you should totally go!), but one random quote stood out to me as kind of an ‘aha’ moment as far as my ‘What is the direction of my new blog’ debate was. As a representative from Disney spoke about working with Mom Bloggers she mentioned that “Reaching a new audience” was important to them, that it was important for them to work with bloggers that are not simply Disney bloggers; but hopefully introduce Disney to readers who were enjoying other Niche blogs.
And I was like *Light Bulb*
Here’s the thing – so I didn’t want to write an “Adoption Blog” because again, that audience has stuff out there; what I wanted to do was help reach a newer (and hopefully larger than I already had) audience for adoption. Not sure if that makes sense. I felt if I had a different platform I could reach a larger audience than simply a San Diego Deals blog – while it had grown to a decent size, I knew it had it’s limitations.
You know what doesn’t have limitations? Disney and Travel. And for me; writing about Disney and Travel and growing an audience about those things – it’s like fish in a barrel. I love these things and I know what people are searching for; creating a family resource for families about travel and specifically Disney was so up my alley! So easy. And I am not gonna lie, it’s super fun.
So we worked really hard on growing a quality family entertainment resource website. Family stuff, Travel stuff, Healthy*ish* Living; basically a Family Lifestyle blog. We worked really hard, but it was really fun too. And as they say “If you build it, they will come.” All the while I reached outside of my comfort zone and sprinkled stories about our family, a few adoption resources, some of my rambling thoughts, and other’s adoption stories. While I wouldn’t say we got super personal, we shared enough to do what I had hoped; to make folks take a second look at this otherwise run of the mill Family blog. And from what I have been told, we have normalized adoption a bit.
We’ve normalized and taken the veil off international adoption; opened some hearts to it that had never looked at it positively before. We’ve normalized “Special Needs” and “Special Needs adoption” a little bit; or that is what I am told. We are a different family; but not that different once you get to know us. I’ve been told time and time again “I never knew any families that adopted before you guys. Now it isn’t so weird.” And THAT is what it is all about peeps!
“Now it isn’t so weird.” <—- that is validation. It may seem weird to be validated by being told you are not so weird….. but you probably are not adopted or don’t have adopted kids. Don’t take normalcy for granted.
If you aren’t into adoption that’s cool, I hope you will still have fun here. I just wanted to take the time to share a little bit of my heart and motivation.
So anyway, it has been a year and I am super happy it is working out. Traffic went up and Alexa went down. Not too shabby for the first year!
I am honored, humbled, and thankful for anyone who chooses to spend any amount of time of their day reading our little family blog. I know there are many, many blogs you could choose to spend your free time on – while we have many readers who find their way via google and are in and out; we have many readers who come back every day. I seriously love you guys. Those who leave comments, share, pin, you guys make my day!
I am honored, humbled, and thankful for every company that chooses to hire me or even invite our crazy family to a fun outing. We know you have many bloggers to choose from, I’m ridiculously thankful that every once in a while a company chooses me!
I’m honored, humbled, and thankful to other bloggers that supported me in the effort. When I see you follow along and engage it is super encouraging! I appreciate you letting me into your space years ago with San Diego Deals & Steals, and this past year as I grew here. I appreciate those who have embraced and encouraged me; and I hope I have done the same for you.
I feel very blessed to have a job where I can work from home and continue to raise my babies. I really love that is also a platform for what I hold most dear.
I can’t finish this without shouting out the man who made it all possible. Thank you to my husband. Thank you for not only encouraging my desires to start both blogs, but also literally building them. Thank you for putting up with my vague design requests and actually making something better than I could have ever come up with. Thank you for knowing cool techy things. Thank you even more for taking the time to apply those techy things to my random little idea. I know you are busy with teaching, freelance, being an awesome dad, house projects, and being adorable; so thank you for carving out time to make this happen too! Thank you for saying “That’s cool!” when we were dating and I told you that I wanted to adopt. *Swoon* You are my favorite and I love our random little bunch.
Juts for kicks I wanted to share our top five moments of the past year………….