I entered the The Dodge® “Journey to BlogHer Contest” and it really made me think about who I am and why I blog. Why would a huge corporation pick me to award ME a scholarship to go to the fabulous BlogHer ’12 in NYC? I would sponsor me but would Dodge? We will see. The contests is now closed to entries and I am waiting to see if I am a finalist or even if they received my entry. So while I wait I thought I would share with you what I wrote and let you in on a bit of my journey to being your penny pinching blogger.
Four questions they asked us to consider were:
- Why they decided to become a Blogger,
- How long ago they started their Blog site or have contributed to the Blog,
- What they enjoy most about blogging and the social media community,
- What they believe has made them successful bloggers.
I did a coursery looks to see how long the essay had to be. 1500 words. Perfect. I can do this. Then I looked at the due date. June 29 at midnight.
As I was reading the date I noted that the day WAS June 29…. and it was 7 pm.
How was I going answer these questions completely enough to have a committee award me the scholarship in just under 4 hours? Plus I had to feed my family, flip the laundry and all the other evening happening in my busy household. Oh joy.
So after the kids went to bed a bit early *cough cough* I banged out the following essay:
Growing up, I didn’t think it was possible to go out to dinner with out a coupon. Purchasing something at full price? Unheard of. My parents had a garden and my mother sewed for my sister and me while my father served in the Army from the age of 19. I knew about saving, using your resources wisely and being thankful for what you had been given.
It is now 2009 and our country is being faced with some of the hardest economic times in recent memory. My husband and I were overjoyed to learn we would be welcoming our third child into the world the following year. Our joy was quickly squelched when we learned my husband would be laid off from his job along with tens of thousands of others in this country due to the economic downturn. We were not only going to have to tighten our belts that were already cinched but we were going to have to pinch every penny.
They say that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ so with that in mind ‘How I Pinch A Penny.com’ was born. I knew that my family was not the only family who was being faced with challenging economic times and I also knew that not all families had the resources and the background in savings that came so organically to me. While my husband started looking for another job, temporary or otherwise, I started to blog. I wanted to share my experiences on how we pinched pennies in our household. Couponing was an obvious place to start my blog posts. Using my local grocery store sales circular I searched for coupons to match up with the items already on sale. After a few weeks of doing this in a slow methodical way of looking at individual coupons in my coupon box I discovered, through other bloggers, that there were free databases on other bloggers sites that I could search for and find a specific coupon and its location in a particular flyer. Thanks to bloggers I was learning that is was just a matter of finding the right tool for the right job. Even today I am finding all sorts of blogging tools that I didn’t know existed, learning to apply them to my site and use them to their fullest potential. Attending BlogHer ’12 is going to be one of those tools for me this year!
Once I cut my blogging teeth on a few coupon match-up posts, I wanted promote what I was offering via HowIPinchAPenny.com. Enter this crazy thing known as “Twitter”. I got my twitter handle and started tweeting, using social media to promote my posts. By this time the blog had grown from simple coupon match ups to more household and lifestyle information. I was learning the power of twitter and how fast information was moving. Instant was not even fast enough to explain the speed the blogging and Twitter world moved. I was making friends with people I would not have normally crossed paths with had it not been for blogging and Twitter. I was learning about happenings around the world, events that have shaped our history, social justice movements and local events. All from the palm of my hand. I even took twitter into the delivery room and live tweeted the birth of my son. Within hours he had his own twitter handle and his account was locked down with every privacy check available.
My blog was improving too. My content was becoming more meaty. Through tutorials from other bloggers, my photography had improved by leaps and bounds. The blogging community is very generous with information. There is a blog post on just about every topic under the sun. I enjoy using this platform to share and exchange information.
Writing this essay I take pause to look back on all I have learned, how I have grown and how my life has changed in the 3 years since I started blogging and stepped into the social media world. I have developed new skills such as website building, photography, content development and social media knowledge. I have stepped outside of my comfort zone and said ‘yes’ when I was asked to appear several times on my local news station sharing my penny pinching knowledge. My husband is one of the fortunate ones who now has a job that he loves and we are fortunate to have 3 healthy children. But there are still families who need to pinch pennies. There are still families who don’t know how to make canned salsa or plant the perfect tomato. There is still a lady who is polishing silver with a stinky cream but I have a blog post that tells her how to polish it in less than a minute with aluminum foil, hot water, salt and baking soda. There is the overworked mom who doesn’t have time to hunt the Internet for printable coupons or for a fun, inexpensive activity for her family. That is why I blog. To share the knowledge that I have in a format that is accessible to everyone.
I am hoping that after BlogHer’12 I will have tools to make my blog more that I ever thought it could become. I hope to learn how to make it easier to navigate, content that reaches a broader audience and meet bloggers who will influence me in ways I couldn’t imagine. I hope to meet companies who have products that my readers will enjoy learning about. I have come along way in my blogging but the best is yet to come!
Neatly under 1200 words. Not to wordy. Too the point, creative and poignant. I even hit up my twitter friends to help me proof it to make sure I was in the right direction and wasn’t making myself look foolish. I love my twitter friends for ‘emergencies’ like this one.
I logged onto the website filled in my vital information, copied and pasted the whole thing in and in bright red numbers it said: -6,754 characters . WHAT!!??? How can I be that much over? MS word said it was well under 1500 words…..uh oh…..Dodge was asking for 1500 CHARACTERS not 1500 WORDS….Oh Crap. It is now 10:45. How am I going to compress the above into 1500 characters? You know letters, spaces and punctuation marks. Each one is a character.
So after nearly crying, a bit of soul searching I got to what I felt was the ‘meat’ of my essay and pared it down to this:
2009 & our country is being faced with some of the hardest economic times in recent memory.My husband and I were overjoyed to learn we would be welcoming our 3rd child.Joy was quickly squelched when we learned my husband would be laid off from his job along with tens of thousands of others in this country due to the economic downturn.We were not only going to have to tighten our belts that were already cinched but we were going to have to pinch every penny.They say that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ so with that in mind ‘HowIPinchAPenny.com’ was born.I knew that my family was not the only family who was being faced with challenging times & I also knew that not all families had the resources & the background in savings that came so organically to me. I was learning that is was just a matter of finding the right tool for the right job. Today I am finding blogging tools that I didn’t know existed, apply them to my site & use them to their potential. Attending BlogHer ’12 is going to be one of those tools for me! I cut my blogging teeth on a few coupon match-ups.Household & lifestyle information came next.I wanted promote what I was offering via HowIPinchAPenny.com. Enter this crazy thing known as “Twitter”. I was learning about happenings around the world, events that have shaped our history, social justice movements & local events. All from the palm of my hand.I blog to share the knowledge that I have in a format that is accessible to everyone.The best is yet to come!
Big difference right?
Lesson learned. READ READ READ and read again.
I share this experience with you just because I had to laugh at myself and thought you might get a chuckle out of this experience. I also share this with you so you might get a sense of who I am, why I blog and why I love it. I don’t know if I will be awarded the scholarship but I thought this would at least give you a peak into the craziness that I call my life as a blogger. It is a ride for sure!