Blog Features

Blog Spotlight | Rants n’ Rascals

Today I would like to welcome Jodi from Rants n’ Rascals. I had a chance to learn more about her blog and here’s what she had to say:

Please tell me about yourself.

I’m 37 years oldMom of 2 boys ages 4 and 11.

I’m Canadian – woot woot!I live in the Fraser Valley.

I’ve been writing for about 15 years, started out writing romance novels (none are published yet).  I have written over 50 articles for different online publications links included for you to see are:

  • Yummy Mummy
  • Chicken Soup for the Soul: Love Stories and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Divorce and Recovery.

I’m a self taught graphics and web designer.  My youngest son has Cerebral Palsy we are lucky it’s mild.  My husband is a TBI survivor (traumatic brain injury) so our life is filled with challenges.  I myself have bipolar depression and our other son has ADD so we are no strangers to special needs.  My husband goes to sleep at night and forgets everything that happened the day before (events, things we did, people he saw) memories are wiped clean for the next day – like the movie 50 first dates.  It’s fun!

Please tell me about your blog.

Rants n’ Rascals was started as a way for me to stay in contact with friends and family and it began as a way for me to deal with learning my son had Cerebral Palsy.  I had to quit my job (working for Sprint Canada) and we had to move from Kelowna to Abbotsford so he could be closer to Children’s Hospital because he wasn’t thriving and they had no idea why.  I needed an outlet to write and soon found myself writing about different things, living in the Fraser Valley, Entertainment, Celebrity news, Vancouver Canucks and then moved into doing product reviews and giveaways and now I’m a brand ambassador and I love it!

How long have you been blogging?

I’ve been blogging on and off for about three years, Rants n ‘ Rascals is a year old.

What kinds of products do you feature on your blog?

I feature everything – books, electronics, toddler gear, toddler toys, iphone apps, websites, clothing, jewelery, beauty products, health products, toys and clothing for pre-teens or tweens as they call them, video games, movies, Canadian small businesses (products) wine, household items, you name it I feature it.

What was your favourite giveaway?

My favorite giveaway was Walt Disney’s Big Screen Giveaway for their new movie Tangled.

Who does your blog appeal to?

My blog appeals mostly to women with kids ages 2 – 15 living in Canada and the U.S. although I’m trying hard to gear it for everyone, dad’s included with more posts featuring hockey news, items dad’s might find interesting and those in other countries.

What direction do you see your blog going in the future?

I hope to see my blog change and grow with more products and brands being showcased for Canadians.  There are not a huge amount of giveaways online for Canadians though it’s growing and I’d like to become part of a larger network of Canadian women looking to spread the word about Canadian companies and their brands to connect parents here in Canada with the latest news on items they need, how to save money, manage the house, places to visit and so forth and to have my readership grow and eventually turn my blog into something more people like and love.

I will always share information about my family, the ups and downs of parenting, parenting with special needs, and talk about topics that everyone can relate to daily.  That will never change.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far with your blog?

Readership and Rankings are always hard to come by.  Keeping readers engaged with what you are saying, sharing information and having them comment on my blog.  It can be disheartening for a blogger to put effort into a post and come back and see no comments are there to help them move their blog forward.

Having Brands approach me who want me to blog for nothing and having to stand up for myself to say I’m worth it.  Companies will approach me and want me to showcase a giveaway or review and although I do not take monetary compensation, I do not do reviews without reviewing the product myself because of my integrity.  I cannot post an honest review without seeing the product first but many companies do not want to give me anything just want me to write about them and so I’m learning how to deal with that.

Also time management.  Raising kids, being a stay at home mom and dealing with the special needs in our home takes up so much time finding time to blog daily can be a daunting task lol.

What do you love about blogging?

I love sharing!!!!!  Yep that’s me share and share alike.  Blogging gives me the outlet I need to express myself and since moving into product reviews and giveaways I love it even more.  Not because I get really cool and nifty free products but because I love working for companies, sharing their insights, getting the word out about something they are passionate about, their product and it gives me a purpose.  Writing a review and building a relationship with brands is exciting and engaging for me and makes mommy feel like she’s working which is a great feeling!  I also love talking with my readers and meeting new moms who do what I do, making friendships, sharing emotions on parenting and family life so you don’t feel so alone.

Do you have a blogging pet peeve?

Yes that mom bloggers get labeled as unimportant and stuff I said above about companies and others thinking we aren’t worth anything.  It takes time and passion to sit down and write about a product you feel is important enough to share with your readers, doing research, reviewing the product, running a giveaway.  It’s not as easy as people think, and brand building is important.  It’s also hard as a Canadian blogger that there are not enough networks out there geared for us, many are for those in the U.S. granted there are more of them lol.

I also hate spam!  I hate logging into my blog to read :You write well, I am engaged in what you are sharing, please click this link to let us help you grow your penis!  LMAO yeah sixty of those a day are pretty up there on the pet peeve list.

Do you have any advice for the readers entering your giveaway? newbie review bloggers?

Entering giveaways is easy.  The most important piece of information is the MANDATORY entry requirement.  On my blog it’s that you are are a Google Friend Connect follower and  must be in order to enter and then whatever the company asks, such as leaving a comment about their product and so forth.

To newbie reviewers: Know your worth even if you are starting out.  Learn to say no.  You do not have to take every review that enters your inbox.  Research the company, know what they are worth based on your time.  If a company approaches you and asks you to do a review but won’t send you a product think about it: how much are they making by you reviewing for them, driving traffic to their website, are you getting links back? How are they going to compensate you?  You still need to be compensated for your time and effort to provide a review with links and pictures sending your readers to their website.  Do not blog for nothing!!!!

Also choose products geared not only for your family and interests but your readers, something you are passionate about sharing. I never take on a review or giveaway unless it’s a product I’ve taken the time to research, learning about the company and what they stand for and if it’s something I’m excited to share then I want my readers to get excited about it and that shows through my review.
All good things come to those who wait… do not get down on yourself if you aren’t getting the reviews you want.  Building relationships with brands is wayyyyyyyyyy more important, sharing who you are, what you stand for, being honest and reliable will get you further.  Joining networks who pride themselves in connecting mom bloggers with brands is also important, those relationships can last a lifetime.

And finally remember: everything you put online goes viral!  So you have to think is this something I will want to share fifty years from now because the Internet is so large that it’s always changing and growing but your information will still be out there.  What does your information stand for?  What does it say about you as a person in this world?

Tell me some of your favourite blogs that you read.

Simply Stacie – her reviews are great, she’s always showcasing products geared for everyone, she’s friendly easy to work with and a great person! Her articles on blogging and improving your blog are important and informative and I’ve learned a lot from her.

Dear Crissy – She’s fantastic!  A 30 year old mom blogger Crissy is a vet for reviews and giveaway but also shares articles on mom blogging, parenting and more. 

The UnMom – Leader of Random Tuesday Thoughts which I follow and participate in. She hilarious, love her website, she’s very down to earth and tell it like it is when it comes to family life and blogging.  I love her! 

Meg Fowler – A true Canadian girl who moved to the states, Meg blogs about being a Canucks and has been a strong force in the media industry.  Her listy blogs are fun and her writing is unique and fun to read.

Jennifer James Online – Jen is one of the truly wonderful bloggers out there geared for helping us mom bloggers better ourselves.  She is very approachable and helpful, will answer your questions and and her articles on blogging are incredible!  I want to be like Jen! 

Stacie Vaughan

Stacie is the mom of two girls and lives in Ontario, Canada. She enjoys cooking/baking, photography, reading, DIY and is fueled by lots of coffee!

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