Talking with Tiffany Romero, founder of the SITS girls blogging network and Bloggy Bootcamp was so enlightening. Tiffany has hired and worked with many team members, joined forces in a company merger, and she's established a network of over 75,000 bloggers.
Learn how to work with others, assemble an amazing team, create great community, and balance all of that with your family on the podcast today. Press play on the podcast player below to hear Tiffany's amazing story from rookie blogger to mompreneur. You'll walk away as though you just chatted with a seasoned business coach – with clarity, a newfound sense of purpose, and a clear path forward for success.
On the Podcast
01:25 – From Rookie Blogger to Business Owner
02:39 – Creating a Network of Supportive Bloggers
05:15 – Two Tips for Creating a Community
07:45 – How to Assemble an Unstoppable Team
10:51 – Connecting Brands and Bloggers
14:31 – Merging Companies – What You Need to Know
17:15 – Bloggy Boot Camp (More than Just a Kick in the Pants!)
20:37 – A Day in the Life of a Big Business Owner
26:37 – 5 Ideas for Growing a Blog Today
30:29 – 3 Ways to Find Out What's Next
34:14 – 3 Tools to Stay on Top of Things
36:07 – 3 Books for Business & Life
39:39 – Funny Mom Moments with a 14 Year-Old
From Rookie Blogger to Business Owner
Tiffany started a mom blog in 2008. At the time, Twitter was non-existent, Facebook wasn't used in the same way that it is now, and other forms of social media had yet to be developed. The world of blogging revolved around comments.
Tiffany wanted to find and connect with other mom bloggers so they could support each other. When she googled “mom blogger” very few sites showed up.
Realizing the need for a site that did nothing but highlight bloggers, Tiffany started the SITS girls. You'll never believe how many months she'd been blogging when she undertook this huge project: just four!
Creating a Network of Supportive Bloggers
Tiffany took several steps to get the SITS girls site off to a great start.
- Professional Design & Branding: Tiffany thought carefully about the logo and brand she wanted to SITS girls to represent.
- Massive Giveaway: Tiffany got mom bloggers in the door by giving everyone who signed up for the SITS girls an entry to a massive giveaway! It was called the summer survival giveaway, and included a bounce house that would come to the winner's home, a digital camera, and many other irresistable prizes for moms during the summer of 2008. 75 moms signed up on launch day, and word of the new site spread.
- Massive Support: Tiffany made it a requirement that in order to be the featured blogger for the day, you had to support, visit, and comment on the featured blogs before you. In this way, every featured blog received 200-300 comments!
Two Tips for Creating a Community
With over 75,000 bloggers who are now part of Massive Sway and the SITS girls, Tiffany clearly has a knack for community-building. We asked her what advice she would give to a woman trying to build a different community, perhaps one centered around a certain hobby or common goal.
- Start Small & Choose Wisely: Tiffany sees many bloggers jump into groups by the hundreds. They join every Facebook group possible but become jaded when they face disagreements or drama. Tiffany is a firm believer in staying away from drama and negativity of any kind. If you own the space, she recommends you kindly ask that person to leave or just delete them. If you don't own the space, just leave. A key point to building a great community is finding people who are aligned by the same perspective on blogging, business, or life in general.
- Find People a Few Steps Ahead of You: Tiffany shares that she never wants to be the smartest chick in the room. She's always looking for people who are doing things better – creative, idea-focused people who challenge her and teach her. In addition, Tiffany makes all of her decisions based on the person she wants to be in 5 years, not where she is today. This gives a lot of clarity to the decision-making process.
How to Assemble an Unstoppable Team
Tiffany shares 5 tips for assembling a team that works well together and brings many strengths to the table.
- Hire Based on Personality, not Skills: Decide what you want your company culture to be, and look for people who will be a great fit. Tiffany doesn't hire people who are great at blogging, but rather, people who are positive, solution-oriented, and excellent communicators. “Tasks can be taught, overall personality matters more.”
- Don't Hire Friends or Family: Women oftentimes don't want to go into business alone. So they may bring on a friend as a business partner or hire their friends. Tiffany says, “Friendship is difficult enough as women without adding a relationship of work and expectations to it.”
- Hire People with Complementary Strengths: You don't need another you. You need someone with the opposite skill set – people who bring things to the table that you don't have.
- Bring Clarity to Hiring by Using an “If-Then” Scenario: Tiffany writes down, “I could do more of …. blank… if I didn't have to do … blank…” The first blank is that area where you should focus your attention. It's what you're best at, and that second blank is the area you should be hiring for.
- Start with a Three-Month Trial Period: Always set the first 3 months of a new hire as a trial period to make sure it's going to work. After 3 months, you can evaluate whether you need to change the relationship, negotiate something different, figure out the best ways to work together, or part ways if it's not working out.
Connecting Brands and Bloggers
Tiffany's business partner, Danielle Wiley, started SWAY because she saw a need for celebrity bloggers to have representation. They needed an easier way to find work and negotiate the terms of sponsored content so that they could focus on developing that great content.
Danielle and her partner approached Tiffany and Fran about the idea of representing their Bloggy Boot Camp. Their relationship started at the BlogHer Conference in San Diego in 2012.
Tiffany and Fran quickly realized that SWAY could help not just with Bloggy Boot Camp, but in finding work for the 40,000 bloggers in the SITS girls database. Initially, SWAY and the SITS girls did a joint venture called Massive SWAY, but they've since become one unified company.
How SWAY Connects Brands and Bloggers
- A company approaches them and says, “we're looking for 40 lifestyle influencers to talk about our product. They need to write one blog post, 4 tweets, a Facebook update, etc.”
- SWAY works with them to figure out the best ways to leverage their influencers.
- SWAY then announces the new opportunity to bloggers in their newsletter.
- Bloggers interested in getting paid for sponsored content sign up for Massive SWAY and look for programs that are a match.
- What SWAY offers: legal help, quality assurance, putting together content instructions, assembling the timeline, and paying the bloggers.
Everyone wins: Brands get high-quality, authentic content from influencers, the influencers get paid for their work and influence, and SWAY makes everyone happy!
Merging Companies – What You Need to Know
- Ensure that you have the same fit with the other company in terms of ethics, morals, and how you want to be seen in your niche.
- Consider starting as a joint venture. A joint venture is an agreement between two entities or companies that they will do a certain project together, and they each own a certain amount of that venture.
- You need to be able to have tough conversations. If you can't have those conversations, then you're not going into business with the right people.
- Discuss finances, expectations, direction of the company, and come to an agreement that makes everyone happy.
Tiffany shares that the merger with SWAY has been incredible. It's a wonderful group of four scrappy women who figure things out as they go and make things happen.
Bloggy Boot Camp
Soon after starting the SITS girls, Tiffany knew she wanted to meet the amazing bloggers in her community in person. Her first event was a SITScation in Las Vegas. 100 women attended her one-day event. Through that first event, Tiffany discovered how much she enjoyed speaking, and how motivating it was to meet and network with other women.
“Whatever industry you're in, I can't recommend enough that you network with other women in that space,” Tiffany says. Networking can provide you with invaluable advice, help along the way, and a source of inspiration to keep going.
Bloggy Boot Camp used to be more about sharing blogging tips, but now the focus has changed a bit based on the needs of the SITS girls community.
Bloggy Boot Camp Now Covers 2 Main Topics
- What's Next in the Blogging Industry: What has changed in terms of being a professional influencer, what's next, and where should you put your focus as an influencer?
- Balance: They discuss the fact that it doesn't really exist, but there are ways to be more present in your life so that you're not letting anyone down. Tiffany partners with her friend, Danielle Smith, from Extraordinary Mommy, to share a presentation about powering down, taking care of yourself, and how to work smarter, not harder. She remembers their first presentation and how the women in the room got choked up. It turned into a very intimate conversation about how blogging came into their lives and many women just stopped sleeping, stopped exercising, stopped engaging with their kids in the way they wanted to, and stopped dating their spouses. The talks at Bloggy Boot Camp give women permission to walk away from their work when they need to.
A Day in the Life of a Big Business Owner
With everything on her plate, we were curious about how Tiffany manages her business from home. She confessed that her circumstances are a bit different than most work-at-home moms. Her husband also works from home, and their son is 14 years old. She has more free time to focus on her business than most people do!
Still, Tiffany shared 6 excellent tips for any mom striving to balance work and family.
- Investing in yourself means investing in help: From a personal perspective you should be asking yourself the same thing you ask about your business. “If I didn't have to do …. blank … I could do more … blank …” For example, you could outsource some household tasks at a much lower hourly rate than what you might make spending that hour on your business. Tiffany speaks to many women who have tipped in just this way. They're spent physically. They can't do any more, which means they can't grow their businesses any more. They have to decide if they're ready to get help from somewhere, and what that help looks like.
- Talk with your spouse: Have a candid conversation about what both of you need from each other in order to be happy.
- Set office hours: This can revolutionize your life and take away the guilt that comes with squeezing work in around the clock. Make sure your family understands that during those pre-determined office hours, you're off-limits. When mom is working, somebody else is assisting the kids. On the flip side of that coin, when office hours are done, you're no longer checking email or trying to squeeze in work. Hold yourself to the same standard that you're asking of your family.
- Determine your end-game to inform your current game: For example, if you have certain financial goals for yourself, break down what that looks like this year or next year, and the steps needed to get there. Conversely, you need to consider your personal end game. If you want a strong relationship with your family and to make lasting memories, that needs to happen now. Your friends and family won't simply wait around for you and be ready to connect 10 years from now when you finally have free time.
- Learn how to say, “no thank you.” Tiffany says no to volunteering at her son's school, but commits to helping in other ways. One work-at-home mom wrote a blog post related to Tiffany's points where she described saying, “no thank you” to bringing in a food that starts with the letter x, but instead, wrote back, “I've sent in apples that start with the letter a”. Don't let someone else's agenda muddy you and your family's priorities.
- Be all there: When you're working, give it 100% When you're with your family, give them 100%
5 Ideas for Growing a Blog Today
Since the SITS girls has a blog that continues to grow today, not to mention their relationships with thousands of other successful bloggers, we just had to get Tiffany's thoughts on the current landscape of blog growth. She gave us 5 great ideas for growing your blog in today's online space.
- Begin with a professional design. As someone who works with brands, Tiffany knows that they often make their choice on which blogs to partner with based on a 30-second look. The store window where they're placing their products needs to be clean, professional, and pretty.
- Write at least one post per week geared towards Pinterest. This means a beautiful vertical photo with text overlay, and a how-to or very helpful post.
- Write at least one post per week geared towards SEO. Research a keyword phrase you want to rank for, sprinkle that keyword phrase and other relevant keywords throughout your post. Share the post on Google+, etc. Use header tags. Use descriptive titles and alt-tags for your images.
- Write a post that touches on a pain point at least once a month. Examples would be “10 things that every parent of a child athlete needs to know.” Write about something that people who aren't bloggers will readily read. Connect with them and share advice on an emotional issue that they can relate to.
- Be willing to pivot. Stay in touch with what's coming next rather than getting caught up in the small stuff. Be willing to change, and always have the big picture in mind. Whatever your niche, you should know what's next for your industry – that could be social media, a new way of marketing, or any other major industry change relevant to your industry.
3 Ways to Find Out What's Next
In addition to tuning in to what people are talking about on Twitter or Pinterest, Tiffany shared 3 great sources for staying on top of what's next.
3 Tools to Stay on Top of Things
- Podio – a project management program that allows Tiffany's team to discuss tasks and projects without huge, confusing email streams. Tiffany says that you'll need someone who is crazy organized and detail-oriented to set it up, but once it's set up, it's very easy to use.
- Google Calendar – Tiffany uses Google Calendar both at work and at home. She loves that she can share it with all of the people who help to run your life. Now, there are no surprises for Tiffany's family when she's out of town or has something on her schedule. She's put it all on Google Calendar for everyone well in advance.
- Alarmed – Tiffany uses this app to set a reminder when she needs to stop what she's doing to complete another urgent task. For example, Tiffany uses it to remind herself to pick her son up. She's often so engrossed in work that she'll lose track of the time. With Alarmed, Tiffany can set it to go off every minute until she completes the task.
3 Books for Business & Life
- Platform by Michael Hyatt – This book walks you through how to leverage social media to get noticed in a noisy world. How to market yourself
- StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath – Discover your top 5 strengths, and also the disadvantages that you need to look out for. Learn how to work with others who have different strengths.
- The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman – On a relational level, this book will help you to figure out how you can best love and relate to your spouse as well as discerning what you need from a relationship.
Funny Mom Moments with a 14 Year-Old
You'll have to tune in to hear all about how Tiffany's son sees her, and what it's like trying to scold a child who towers over you in height!