Interview with Heidi Gollub, Founder of Free Fun in Austin

Heidi Gollub, Founder of Free Fun in AustinTell us a little bit about your blogging journey. 

I started Free Fun in Austin as a creative outlet, when I was ten years into being a stay-at-home mom and still had two little boys at home. I’d take the boys on a new adventure every morning and write about it in the afternoon when they were napping. Gradually, I started writing about free events that were coming up, and added a Free Fun Calendar and a Free Food Calendar.

I used to call Free Fun in Austin the hobby that took over my life. It took me a long time to admit that my blogging had transitioned into a real job. There’s an odd sort of guilt that accompanies working from home when you still have kids at home. It’s a tricky balance.

How are you growing your audience?  

I put the bulk of my social media effort into Facebook. I always have. I’m fortunate that when I started Free Fun in Austin four years ago, Facebook pages could grow still organically with minimal effort (and followers saw all of your posts). These days it requires more strategy, but I still get great results. My reach is generally more than 150,000 on Facebook, which is about five times the number of people who like my page.

What is your number one source of traffic? 

These days it’s Google, because I have 8,000 posts on the site. But for years it was Facebook, which still takes second place.

What types of monetization strategies work best for you? 

Google Adsense is generally my number one source of revenue. I’m not much of a salesperson, so all of the local ads on my site are the result of people contacting me and asking to advertise. At first it was difficult negotiating rates, because I really didn’t know what to charge. A turning point for me was when a friend contacted several local blogs about advertising for her business and let me know what they charged. I was shocked to discover that blogs with smaller reach were asking five times what I was charging, and getting it! It’s still uncomfortable for me, but I’m getting bolder about asking for competitive compensation.

How did you take your blog to the next level?  

The whole “next level” business is still on my To Do list. There are so many elements I want to add to the site. I have no shortage of ideas, but definite constraints on time. I have a baby and she takes priority right now. In the meantime, I just keep chugging along, trying to put out the best content possible, and daydream about the day when I can add all the improvements I have in mind.

What advice would you give to a new blogger who wants to monetize their blog? 

I would say, build up your audience first and worry about monetizing second. My Google Adsense ad made me about four cents a day for the first year. Honestly, blogging is not something you get into for the money. If that’s your primary goal, you’ll get frustrated and fizzle out quickly. I think you have to do it because you love writing and work towards monetizing as a long-term goal. When someone starts a small business, they don’t generally expect to make a profit for the first two years, right? You’ll enjoy blogging more if you have reasonable expectations.

As a mom of five, how do you manage your family time and your blogging time?

I never sleep! At least, it feels that way sometimes. I am not a morning person, but 5 a.m. is an amazing time to get work done without interruption.  It’s great to buckle down and knock out some work before the rest of the world wakes up.

I have also recruited a ton of people to help me. It was hard at first, to give up some control, but the results have been amazing. I have contributing writers from every corner of town, writing about their favorite family outings. I’ve partnered with a photographer and graphic designer to create an e-book. I’m working with other blogs to develop local guides. There are so many new and exciting projects in the works and there is no way I could do it alone.

One last thing I’d like to mention is that the decision to stop working on weekends changed my life. For a few years, the website owned me. I was working myself into the ground and I was fast approaching burnout. Now, I schedule Facebook posts for the weekend in advance and I close my laptop for two days. I return on Monday refreshed, and with new adventures to write about because I spent my time off having fun with my kids!

Connect with Heidi Gollub and Free Fun in Austin …

Would you like to be featured next on The Work at Home Woman? Fill out this form for consideration!

Powered by WPeMatico

Leave a Reply