Blogging and mommin’? How do those moms do it? Where do I even begin? Luckily, Elna of Twins Mommy and Elna Cain has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to blogging and freelance writing. She shares some tips on where to begin and why you need a creative outlet. I’m certain that our conversation together today will get your creative juices flowing!
Website: twinsmommy.com and elnacain.com
Facebook: Mom to Mompreneur
Carol: Hi mamas and welcome. I’m Carol Webb, the founder of Just Breathe Mama Coach. I coach moms, helping them navigate the overwhelm to create a more manageable life. I am interviewing creative entrepreneurs with the intent to spark some creativity within you. And I’m thrilled to be introducing our next guest. This is Elna Cain of Twins Mommy and Elna Cain. She’s a mom to twins, a blogger and a freelance writer. She started blogging in 2014 and over the years has built two businesses, manages multiple sites and has a thriving Facebook group of which I am a member. So welcome Elna. I’m so happy to have you here.
Elna: Well, thank you for having me and asking me to join your podcast. This is an amazing podcast. I didn’t even learn about it until right now. So this is awesome.
Carol: So please tell me, what is your story? How did you become a freelance writer and a blogger, especially after having twins?
Elna: Yeah, my whole journey did start because of having twins. I get one year maternity leave where I am. I’m in Canada so I had a year off which was nice. I was able to bond with my twins, do breastfeeding and do all of that great stuff but as my maternity year ended, I knew I needed to get back to work. Prior to having twins, I worked in the school system. I was a special education assistant, I helped with autism, I even went into the home and did home therapy with them. So that was my world before having twins.
Elna: I learned after having twins, in order to go back to that world, I would be leaving the house, traveling long distances because we also moved to a smaller town so just reaching families would take hours to drive to each family. I just knew that that wasn’t the best option for me at that time.
Elna: My husband was working at home. He has his own design company so he thought, “Well, let’s do daycare.” But then daycare costs for twins is expensive and I didn’t know that there were year long waiting lists. So if I had known what my plan was I would’ve signed up when I was pregnant with them in the third trimester. I guess this is how other moms do it and I didn’t know this, so that wasn’t an option. I started learning about what people were doing online. My husband would just sort of tell me, “Oh, I’ve visited these sites of moms who are virtual assistants and they do staff writing for other sites.”
Elna: I had no idea about this. Then I started researching when my children were in bed or when I was pumping. I would start learning about other mom bloggers who were actually doing something online. Offering a service was the biggest takeaway that I got from my research. They offered some sort of service and then they were generating income that way either as a side hustle as their main hustle. I was so surprised by that, this was a whole new world for me. The more I learned about it, the more excited I got. I gravitated towards the creative side of the moms that I was following, who did a lot of freelance writing and the stories that they told. It was amazing! I thought this is something that I could feasibly do. I’m not the greatest writer, but I could start a blog.
Elna: I could write and just get a feel of how I can connect with an audience. And that’s what I did. I sort of dove in with a site, just writing about what I was learning, which was freelance writing and learning how to be a freelance writer. What do you do? How do you pitch? Where do you go to find jobs? I was learning that as I was writing about it. It was very meta for me in the beginning. It still is kind of meta. But that’s what I did. It was not a diary per se. I knew I wanted people to read it so when I was writing, I ensured that I was providing helpful tips. I was writing in a storytelling way, but offering advice for people if they were going to come and read my content.
Elna: So I knew a little bit about that and the more I read other bloggers and especially big bloggers like Neil Patel and John Morrow and those big influencers in the blogging industry, I learned how they were writing. Especially because they shared a lot of their writing tips. So that prepared me for offering blog writing to businesses. And through that whole process, I made many mistakes, but I learned what to do. I had my own roadmap and over the years I’ve learned that people started asking me for advice. That’s when this whole mompreneurship flourished for me. I offered coaching and then I offered a course and it just sort of snowballed from there.
Carol: Wow, that’s incredible. That’s such a great story especially since you didn’t plan on entering this. You had plans to go back to work after. That’s amazing. It’s amazing how resourceful you were. So for moms out there that have the urge to start a blog, how do you suggest they go about doing it? What would you say they start with first? Do they have to pick a topic, a niche or do they have to create a website? Do you think they should do research first? I’m not really sure what they should do.
Elna: Yeah my suggestion always is, if you are interested in starting a blog, you can go different routes with this. I always say to new bloggers, take that first year of blogging to learn about blogging. This is what I did. I took that first year of starting my blog to write about what I was learning and incorporating that. I learned about marketing tips so I’d write about marketing tips for other writers.
Elna: So in that first year, figure out what you want to write about. I suggest lifestyle. If you want to do lifestyle and you want to talk about motherhood and recipes and crafts and the things that comprise your life – go ahead and do that to see if you can cultivate an audience. But if you’re really gung ho, like say you’re a licensed marriage therapist, and you want to start a business online with your service, then your content is going to focus on building relationships and marriages, right?
Elna: You’re not going to talk about parenthood and motherhood. You may not talk about that stuff or recipes or crafts, right? So there are people that have a focus. And for me, I guess I lucked into that. I was so excited to be writing about what I was doing that it just turned into this thriving business. Then I ventured out to writing other sites like Twins Mommy which was to help other moms start this blog. I find my projects are very meta. I learn what I do and then I can help others do it. So if you have that spark in you, if you know something and you want to share it and teach others, I think a blog is a great platform for that. You don’t even have to be an expert in what you want to teach.
Elna: I know a lot of people are hesitant because “I don’t have a degree in it and I don’t have much experience in it. I’m a new mom. I just started and my babies are six months old and I’m still learning to be a mom.” And that’s okay. You just have to be one step ahead of your audience basically. And that’s what I did. I went into Twins Mommy telling everyone, “Look, I’ve never done this. I’ve done freelance writing, but I’ve never done traditional blogging. I’ve never done ads. Never done Pinterest.” I’d never done all these things, all this other sponsored content.
Elna: All this stuff I wanted to learn and I told my audience that “I want to learn this, follow me if you want to learn it too.” And I cultivated an audience that way too. So as I was saying in the first year, just pick topics or one main topic and go with it and see what happens.
Carol: Okay. Yeah, that’s good advice. Is it pretty easy to monetize a blog once you get your blog established?
Elna: Yes and no. It all depends on your method of what you want to do. And the honest truth is that most blogs do fail and there’s a small percentage that do succeed. That recipe, I feel, is being very authentic and being very helpful in your content. I hear comments on my site saying, “Wow Elna, I can’t believe you provided all this information for free.” That’s what you want to give to your audience, that content that other people might pay for, but you can provide it for free. And don’t be afraid that you can’t eventually monetize that into your own products. It will happen because you’re building that trust, that authenticity. Then there’s also different monetization strategies that are easier.
Elna: So for example, affiliate marketing, I feel is hard. I think it is a bit challenging because you really need to know the marketing side of it and promotional strategies. Like me in the beginning, I had no clue and I still struggle a little bit with affiliate marketing in some aspects. So maybe that’s not the route for you. But maybe you have a big influencer platform, maybe your profile on Instagram is huge. You can get brand deals on that. You can start doing sponsored content on Instagram and on your blog. That would be your monetization strategy.
Elna: Or maybe you are like me and offered a service. I offered a service and within a couple of months I landed clients and landed my first $1,000 and it just snowballed from there, right? So there are different methods and you have to find what works. And you can do all of them if you want. I did most of them, I have been doing all of them except sponsored content.
Carol: Okay. Would it be the same for women who are toying with the idea of freelance writing? Would you suggest in that first year of just doing research and learning about it?
Elna: I think so and if you want to be a freelance writer, a lot of people who ended up enrolling in my courses and stuff take a year or more to learn about this business. They read either my blog or other sites, they might take some free courses, they might sort of dabble in it. And if they need more help, they might eventually go into a resource like a paid product or coaching or some kind of membership. That would be the next step. Other writers didn’t have to do that. I took some courses, but I was able to know my steps after a while, I figured it out.
Elna: And so if writers can figure it out and they know the proper way to pitch and they know where to find the clients and if they know their niche and how to write, copy, and optimize your website and all of these steps to start a freelance writing business, then go for it. For sure. I’m not saying you have to have a course, you have to have help, you have to have all that.
Elna: If you need it, it’s there. The support is there, but for any kind of service base, I think you have to be good at networking. Go on Facebook groups, make sure that people know that you’re the Pinterest graphic designer or that you’re that health coach for mamas. You have to go out there and make people know that that’s who you are and brand yourself that way so that you can get clients.
Carol: Right. Yeah, on your own blogs, you offer so much amazing information for mamas who want to get started. For moms who want to blog or do freelance writing, you even offer free courses for them. What paid courses do you offer if they do want to dive in a little bit deeper?
Elna: Yeah so if you’re interested in freelance writing, I do offer several courses. My main flagship course is ‘Write Your Way To Your First $1K’. This is my most comprehensive course that walks you through the business side of freelance writing. Not so much how to write, although there is a module on basic writing tips. I do have other courses that are more focused for writing. I have a little one for SEO writing, I have one on long-form SEO writing and that’s ‘Freelance Blogging in a Weekend.’
Elna: And I also have a website course for freelance writers so I have a ‘Writer Website in a Weekend’ course. So I provide help in different areas at different price points too because I do want to help as many people as possible. Over on Twins Mommy, my main course is ‘Ready, Set, Blog for Traffic’ because I feel like in order to thrive online as a blogger, you need an audience, you need eyeballs and for me, that’s traffic, right? So that’s the first big step before you monetize your blog is to get that initial traffic.
Carol: Okay. What is the top question that you get asked by moms who want to start blogging or freelance writing?
Elna: The biggest question is what niche to pick basically. How do I find that right niche? I don’t get a lot of ‘how to make money’ questions because I think a lot of moms know that they need to start somewhere and to start somewhere you need an idea, a topic, something to share. And so for a lot of people it’s difficult to get to that first step, right? So I try, on my blog, to have some tips, but my course is geared for – you have a blog already, you know your niche now you have to get traffic to it.
Elna: So I do teach moms the next level up, but I do get lots of people asking about niche ideas, different ways to funnel that niche to product ideas and things like that. That’s great because I know that moms are planning, they’re planning that stage. They know what they want their blog goal to be, they want to make money blogging or they want to have a site also and make X amount of dollars per month. How do I get to that point? And so I get a lot of questions about that initial startup.
Carol: Okay and blogging isn’t dead. You know how you hear that sometimes? “Oh blogging’s dead.” I don’t believe that, but it isn’t, is it? It’s still very, very much alive and thriving.
Elna: It is. It’s changed somewhat. I mean more people are now in video, right? They’re doing video content and they’re doing podcasting, audio content, I mean those are huge platforms. But I think you can still funnel people from Instagram, from Pinterest, from social media, Facebook to your main home base. I always suggest you have that home base, which is your blog, so that people can go to it.
Elna: I find YouTubers all the time when I’m on YouTube and I always check, do they have a blog? Because I want to see more of that, I want to see what they have other than their YouTube channel. Do they have a shop, a course, or services? I’m always very interested in that to see, especially for big YouTubers that have a lot of subscribers, are they utilizing their brand efficiently? I always am interested in that. Same thing with Instagram, do they have other ways to contact them? Do they have Pinterest profile or another blog? I think it’s important. People still read blogs and I still get comments. It’s still the main way for businesses to get those leads, it’s through their content.
Carol: Right. What do you think are the biggest benefits that moms would receive from starting a creative venture, like blogging or freelance writing?
Elna: A creative outlet, for sure. And having something of your own, I think is important. After I had my twins, I was in mom mode, like all my husband and I talked about was our twins and my milk production. *laughs*
Carol: Yeah. *laughs* Diapers.
Elna: Yeah! It’s like, “We have to buy more diapers!” It was very much twin stuff and I needed a creative outlet. I started to lose myself, I was just like, a mom, that was it. I wasn’t a wife, I wasn’t myself, I wasn’t a friend to my other friends. And I had to be like that, I mean I was thrown into this world of twins and I had to do that. But once I got my footing, once I realized, okay, I’ve got a good schedule, my twins aren’t crazy, they know when to eat, they go down for their naps, I had a handle of that. Then I started thinking, “Geez, there has to be more to this. I need something else.” And I think the biggest benefit is understanding that you can have this creative outlet that’s yours and you can play around with it.
Elna: You can grow a community of other, if it’s moms or if you want to attract new moms or couples or whatever it is that you want to target or help with then that’s, I think, the biggest joy. I find for me it’s having that purpose. Like now I have this purpose. It’s not only being a mom, but it’s also being a teacher and that’s sort of my background too, you know, before I had the twins, I was in the school system teaching. So I’m just extending that and I’m realizing that’s what I really want to do is to help and teach. I’m just doing it online.
Carol: I love that. I think a lot of moms can relate to that, those early stages, especially when you kind of lose yourself as a mom and it is really good to have a creative outlet, for sure. So with twins and multiple businesses, you must be the queen of time management. So can you offer moms any tips on time management, especially if they feel like they just have no time to write?
Elna: Yeah. That’s a process for me. I’m not really the best at time management, but I am learning. I think as every year passes, I am getting better and better. For example, I’m able to work Monday through Wednesday, like my main business I can work on. Then Wednesday through Friday I can do these creative outlets, like podcasts, like summits, like these other things. So I’ve come around to finding a groove to my week. But for moms with little kids this is where I think a lot struggle, right?
Elna: And I did too in the beginning. I only worked when my twins were sleeping. So if they nap during the day, instead of doing chores, instead of doing all that stuff that other moms need or want to do, I would take that time to write a blog post, a pitch or whatever it is for your business that furthers your blog along. You don’t even need an hour. You can do that in blocks of 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there. I feel like as long as you can work on your blog almost every day, then it’s going to be in your head and you’re not going to forget about it and let it go to the wayside kind of thing. Blogging does take time, but you don’t have to spend hours a day.
Elna: And I’ve learned over the years, I have perfected my way so that I work Monday through Wednesday, I have that chunk of time where my kids are at school, that’s when I work. When my kids are out of school, I’m back to organizing and meal prepping and all that stuff and playing with the kids and all that. So if you can find that balance of, have a little bit of blog time and then you can go back to your mom mode or whatever if it’s cleaning or going for an appointment. Then at night, if you’re not too tired, maybe do some pin graphics or do some educational learning instead or read some course lessons or read a blog post or listen to a podcast. If you’re too tired to do anything, then maybe just learn.
Carol: Yeah. That’s great advice, thank you. So that was amazing! Thank you for all that wonderful information. For all the mamas watching, Elna has two blogs – a blog for moms that want to make money blogging at twinsmommy.com and a blog for those interested in becoming a freelance writer at elnacain.com. Her IG handle is elnacain and she’s got a Facebook group for mompreneurs called Mom to Mompreneur. It’s got tons of amazing information on there as well. So thank you so much once again, for coming on here. It’s been, I think, very informative for the mamas out there that are looking to start something up for themselves.
Elna: Thank you for having me. This was exciting.
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