Saturday Featured Blog: It’s OK to be WEIRD!
Welcome to Simply Stacie’s Saturday Featured Blog! If you would like your blog featured, please fill out this form.
Today I would like to welcome Raylene from It’s OK to be WEIRD! I had a chance to learn more about her blog and here’s what she had to say…
Please tell me about yourself.
Stacie, I have to tell you – I’m a little weird (ok, more than a LITTLE…)! I’m a Civil Engineer turned work-at-home Mom, married to the love of my life who happens to be an ordained minister, and I have 3 gorgeous tween kiddos. But, I’m not your typical pastor’s wife, mom or blogger. I’m an American living in Canada, and now a dual citizen of both great countries. In addition to blogging and working with social media, I’m a singer, a quilter, a dramatist, and usually the resident “weirdie” (I like the sound of weirdie rather than weirdo)!
Please tell me about your blog.
“It’s OK to be WEIRD!”, the title of my blog, needs a bit of explanation: you see, “It’s OK to be weird” is my life motto. It goes all the way back to 7th Grade when my best friend and I decided that we didn’t have to agree with everyone else’s idea of what was cool or “in”. Why did they get to decide what was normal, and why was our normal weird to them? The two of us made up our minds that day at lunch that if weird is what we were then weird was what we’d be. We had to be ourselves even if nobody else thought we were normal – we were normal to us and that’s what mattered. That motto got me through MANY things in high school and university. I was OK to be myself and didn’t have to try to conform for the sake of ‘fitting in’. I think it was a life saver, to be honest!
With my blog, I have embraced that motto and continue with that focus. I hope to encourage people to celebrate the weird things in life and to be themselves, because we’re all fantastically unique individuals, and we’re all a little weird in our own way.
On “It’s OK to be WEIRD!” I write about real life in all its weirdness, highlighting the extraordinary things that happen in ordinary, everyday family experiences. I blog about a variety of real life adventures, including family celebrations, holidays, traveling, parenting, funny kid experiences, life as a dual citizen, marriage and romance, faith issues, and so much more! There is also a sprinkling of family-friendly product reviews and giveaways to highlight products and services that I can confidently recommend to my readers.
How long have you been blogging?
I started blogging in February 2007, but was pretty casual with it, off and on. I renewed my focus in May 2011 and haven’t looked back!
How did you get started?
Fast-forward about 20 years from that life-changing decision in Grade 7. I was sitting in my living room with 3 young children (ages 5, 6 and 7), 2000 miles away from any family, wondering if anybody else’s life was as weird as mine. I didn’t have a lot of venues or opportunities to share my thoughts (real life TRUE ADULT thoughts!) in the midst of the business of life with little people. I had heard about blogging and thought I would give it a try. FINALLY, someplace where I could get what was whirling around in my head OUT somewhere. And I could sit and write a little bit here and there, or after the children went to bed. WAHOO! It was GREAT! It was a little bit of salvation for my sanity I think!
What kinds of products do you feature on your blog?
I’ve enjoyed being able to feature fun, family-friendly products and services on “It’s OK to be WEIRD!” I’ve had a few things that definitely qualify for the ‘weird’ classification, but mostly I like to write about items that I believe in and have found to be useful in parenting, family life, or marriage situations.
What was your favourite giveaway?
I think my favourite giveaway was during my Holiday Gift Guide series last year for Christmas – it was for a Purse Perfector. It was fun because I got great response, but also because I really love the product. It was something that I could really get behind after having tested it out fully myself, and a product that I knew many other people in my audience would appreciate.
Who does your blog appeal to?
Most of the people who come to my blog are wives and moms, though it also appeals to anybody who appreciates the individuality of people. Many people have said things like, “I’ve always known that I was weird, and it’s nice to know there’s someplace where I can go and weird is OK!” Finally, a place where real life weirdness is not only accepted but celebrated! Anybody who is looking for that kind of attitude will be very comfortable reading “It’s OK to be WEIRD!” I also have frequent visits from other Pastor’s Wives and Christian families. There’s no preaching going on at my blog, and my hope is that people will find it a fun place to be.
What direction do you see your blog going in the future?
“To infinity…and beyond!” LOL! I’m a ‘think outside the box’ kind of person and I have hope of great things for my blog. I anticipate that the focus will always stay the same – highlighting the fantastic weirdness of extraordinarily ordinary lives. I would like to continue reviewing fun and family-friendly products and services that I can confidently recommend to my readers. My blog is not primarily a review or giveaway blog – I consider those things to be BONUS, and expect it to stay that way. I’m becoming more confident in my voice for my blog, and sharing from the heart – I definitely see that continuing with greater focus in the future. It would be GREAT fun to work more specifically with some brands, as an ambassador or panelist, and I’d really like to do some of that if possible.
I do put a lot into my posts, striving to write well and share good solid content, while being thorough and honest with every review I post. And I would honestly like to be able to monetize my blog a bit, in simple ways that aren’t so focused on ads and sponsorships that it gets annoying, but in concrete ways that actually will produce some income from my hard work.
I also hope to keep a good balance and for blogging not ever to become a burden, but to always continue to be something that I enjoy and fine value in doing.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far with your blog?
I think my first biggest challenge was that I started on a non-mainstream blog platform – not a wordpress or blogger or typepad blog or anything like that, but a small non-standard blogging system with a great community of like-minded people. However, as lives changed and the administrators moved on to other things, the blogging system was hacked, and the community started to unravel a bit, my blog there was left in a state of limbo. I had to code every single change I wanted to make on my blog and had no support. As someone with only basic coding knowledge and skill it was more and more limiting.
So, in May of last year, I bit the bullet and moved over to Blogger (I honestly tried WordPress first but it wasn’t as intuitive to me as Blogger…) But I wasn’t able to import my blog into Blogger, and had to start from scratch – literally! I was back to zero with blog design, blog followership and all that goes with it. Three years worth of blogging, and three years worth of Google cataloging those posts had to be left behind. I’ve been compensating for that, by slowly moving those posts over to my new location with little teaser posts left on the old blog. Blanket redirects won’t work so it’s been a bit frustrating and a slow process, but it’s been worth it in my opinion. I have better tools for engaging my audience and the whole thing is SO Much more user-friendly. This way I can spend less time on the behind the scenes things, and more time on creating good content for my readers!
What do you love about blogging?
Initially I would have said that writing was my favorite part of blogging – and I still enjoy that VERY much. But I think what I’m coming to love most about blogging is the community. I’ve met some fantastic people through my blog and by reading other blogs. There is a lot of support between many of the bloggers, sharing their successes and their lessons. There is a real sense of living life together through our blogs, and I love that. I love my bloggy buddies!
Do you have a blogging pet peeve?
I think my blogging pet peeve is having to sort through a bunch of clutter to find important things like Google Friend Connect, subscription and social media links, or comment and search boxes – especially on contest blogs. Make it easy for readers to follow you, interact with you, and find what they are looking for on your blog!
Do you have any advice for the readers entering your giveaway? newbie review bloggers?
The best thing for readers entering my giveaway to do is to read the giveaway rules carefully. They are not always the same for every giveaway, and it would be a shame for you to miss out on an entry simply because you didn’t complete the mandatory entry or added your extra entries incorrectly. I have to stick to the rules so that the giveaway is fair for everyone. I also verify entries, so be sure e-mail subscriptions are confirmed and no cheating is allowed! 🙂
Newbie review bloggers – it’s OK to be a bit choosy with the products you review. If it doesn’t fit your audience or your focus, don’t review it. But that being said, you need to know what your audience and focus ARE so you can be confident in accepting and rejecting products to review. Be yourself!
Tell me some of your favourite blogs that you read.
How can people find you?