Hands Free Mama began as a recreational blog about a mother’s new found passion to put down technology and REALLY connect with her family. It has since developed into a semi-professional blog with weekly posts. The author, Rachel Macy Stafford, began blogging in December of 2010 about the concept of living “Hands Free” and published a book in 2013 elaborating on her journey. The blog is utilized to promote her book and other “Hands Free” products.
The purpose of the blog is to share “breakthrough moments” throughout Stafford’s “Hands Free” journey and to spread the word about what living “Hands Free” truly means. Stafford shares about her struggles before she embarked on this journey and how her distracted life was interfering with her ability to embrace meaningful moments with her loved ones. The blog is “for anyone who wants to re-think how he or she is living (or not living) life. It’s for anyone who wants to let go of daily distractions and perfection to embrace what really matters” (Stafford).
This blog is unique because it’s not your typical mommy venting blog and home project bragging page, it’s a revolution. Don’t get me wrong, I love DIY projects and will one day likely follow mommy blogs about parenting advice; however, Stafford’s blog focuses on a more meaningful message. Stafford shares about the moments with her family she has come to appreciate more than ever as a result of the work she has done to transform her life. The way in which Stafford lives her life and shares her experiences is what reflects the “Hands Free” brand.
When I thought back about how I heard of this blog I couldn’t remember initially, but I did know exactly what article it was that drew me in. Eventually I recalled where I saw the article and who shared it. It was shared by our wedding photographer on her personal Facebook page. You know the quote, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel?” That quote perfectly describes my recollection of the day I found the blog and how I felt when I read it. That’s what’s so uniquely powerful about this blog. It is through social media that the Hands Free Mama blog (and revolution, if you will) has gained exposure, in addition to press releases, newspaper articles and interviews that have resulted since the release of Stafford’s book.
My biased opinion would be that this blog is successful because it encourages people like myself to reevaluate how we live our lives; however, it is also successful based on the components discussed in class. The blog has been around since 2010, is easy to subscribe to, publishes original content about once a week, and the author participates on many social media sites (including Twitter).
From a search engine perspective, I believe this blog could benefit from utilizing more generic categories and tags in addition to, or possibly even in place of, what is currently being used. Many of the categories and tags are phrases familiar to the blogger, not the general public who may be searching for parenting advice and ways to better connect with their families.
While there are currently no advertisers on the site, some possibilities that may be worth considering are parenting publications or products.
Skinnytaste.com is a blog that hosts Gina’s Skinny Recipes. Gina Homolka is the one-woman writer behind the blog, which has regular posts and is now being utilized to gain exposure for her recently published cookbook (shown below).
The original purpose of the blog was to marry the author’s two passions: “Great food and beautiful photography” (Homolka). What makes the blog unique are the types of recipes – they are healthy, low fat, and family-friendly. These aren’t your typical “Tuesday Taco Night” type meals. The recipes on the blog are non-traditional, eclectic and modern, such as this Zucchini Noodle Lemon-Garlic Spicy Shrimp recipe.
The brand name is Skinnytaste and the content of the blog reflects just that – healthy dishes that don’t sacrifice flavor and are both “skinny” and “tasty.”
I personally found the blog through recipe posts on Pinterest. Given their active social media presence (with over 661,000 “Likes” on Facebook), I would imagine much of the traffic is generated through social sharing. Skinnytaste has also gained exposure through featured articles, websites, etc., some of which are listed below.
According to the criteria from lecture, Skinnytaste is a successful blog that has been in existence since 2008 and regularly publishes original content. Skinnytaste has an active Twitter account and social media presence, as well as social sharing icons on the blog. There is also an area on the blog that allows users to subscribe to emails.
While there are advertisers on the site and it appears to be successful, I believe the blogs organization and layout could be improved. The right side bar is extremely long, sometimes much longer than the actual content on the page being viewed, which makes for an awkward appearance. Additionally, while there are many ways and places to search for recipes on the site (and a very cool Recipe Box feature), it seems a bit cluttered when you arrive on one of the many search pages that lists massive amounts of recipes and/or food categories.
I Heart Organizing is a semi-professional blog by Jennifer Jones. Blogs are not posted daily, but content is created consistently. While it is primarily a one-woman branded blog, there are some regular contributors which gives it somewhat of a group blog feel as well.
The blogs purpose is to share ideas and how-to instructions for DIY projects and to serve as a resource for organizing ideas. While the author did own an organizing business at one point in time and the blog was originally created to help promote her business, she now has an Etsy printable shop that is sometimes featured in various posts.
The blog is unique because of its high level of exposure and creative ideas. I Heart Organizing has been featured on HGTV, The Nate Berkus Show, Houzz and more. The name couldn’t describe the brand more simply – it’s about organizing and the posts promote tips and tricks for a tidy space.
I Heart Organizing has gained traffic through television, magazines and websites. The blog also ranks highly on search. For instance when I searched on Google for “home organizing and DIY,” I Heart Organizing appeared fourth. I Heart Organizing also has an exceptional social media presence, in fact, I first found out about it through a Pinterest post.
With original project ideas and regularly published posts, as well as, an active social media presence (including Twitter), I Heart Organizing is a successful blog. The blog has been in existence since September of 2009 and viewers are able to sign-up for regular emails.
Although the social media icons and subscribe option are not “missing” they could be more prevalent. Users must scroll down to find the “Let’s get social” and “Subscribe” boxes, which are easy to miss amongst the multitude of advertisements. The small social sharing icons at the bottom of each blog post could benefit from being enhanced as well. While there are many advertisers and even a section on the site for potential advertisers, I don’t believe their ads should be more prevalent than the social media sites directly affiliated with the blog.