Mom Boss Interview: Melissa Williams from Persnickety Plates

Happy Monday, hustlers!

It's a brand new week, which means the possibilities are endless... on that note, what better way to kick it off than with another inspiring interview from another inspiring mom boss? Today's mom boss is a blogger that I have followed for a very, very long time (and whose Cinnamon Sugar Candied Almonds are to DIE for!) who took some time out of her busy schedule to share her secrets for starting, marketing, and growing a blog! 

Mammas: Meet the beautiful and talented Melissa Williams!


Tell us a little bit about yourself, Melissa (What is your professional background, hobbies, family life, etc.).

Hi :) I'm 34 and live in Metro Detroit with my husband and two girls (3.5 years and 7 months). I work in commercial real estate as my 9-5, as a mom all day, and Persnickety Plates is my all-consuming "hobby".

Has cooking always been a hobby of yours? Is that what inspired you to begin your popular food blog, Persnickety Plates?

Yes it has! I have always loved being in the kitchen and watching cooking shows. I originally started Persnickety Plates after I got married and needed a place to compile all the recipes I was trying/tweaking. I had a wedding website while we were planning and enjoyed it, so a food site was the next step for me. Blogging was just starting to get popular, I think, and I loved finding new ones and reading them. I honestly never thought anyone was going to read mine, it was just for my record keeping. 

Give us a little background about your blog: When did you start it? Did you begin it with the hope of one day monetizing it? 

I started Persnickety Plates in 2009. Like I said, I had just finished wedding planning and wanted to fill that void. I never (ever, ever) thought about monetizing it. A couple years into it, when it was still purely a hobby, I realized people were making money from blogging. I decided to give it a try and made pennies (literally pennies) in the beginning from ads. My first sponsored post was for $25 and I was in awe that anyone would pay me to promote their product. 

How has Persnickety Plates grown over the years? Has it exceeded your expectations?

It has grown tremendously but still has sooo far to go. I always call it my "hobby turned side hustle" [which made me open your email!]. I never imagined that it would be a source of income for me but I'm thrilled that it is. It is enjoyable to me, even when I'm up late working on a deadline or shooting a recipe with my 3 year old "helping" and asking me 7,000 questions. 

Can you give pointers to other moms reading this who have thought of starting their own blog? How does one even begin a blog, much less grow it?

Oh man, that's a loaded question without a simple answer. Had I known then what I know now about blogging, I would be much further along. I see people starting blogs with a clear plan and focus and are able to be successful. I was willy-nilly for so many years that I spend a lot of my time trying to fix years of mistakes. There are a ton of good resources (podcasts, ebooks, etc.) for getting started. Sabrina from Dinner then Dessert has a great book, called Sprinting the Blogging Marathon, that I would recommend. If you think blogging is a "get rich quick" gig and you're not willing to put in a lot of work, it's not for you. My blogging peers that I interact with, admire, and look up to are savvy business women. 

What are your biggest tips for marketing your blog? Has one platform performed better than another (FB, Pinterest, IG, etc.) or are they all equally beneficial?

Well, since they all like to change their algorithms all.the.time, my biggest tip would be to diversify your marketing. Pinterest is always a top source of traffic for me but it has changed over the years, and will continue to. I love the interaction I get with people on Facebook, but it's never been a big traffic driver for me. I think it's important to be present on all platforms, but focusing on SEO and growing your email list are really important. I currently spend a good amount of time updating old posts and SEO. I have a lot of great content (with crappy cell phone 1.3MP pics) that no one is seeing because it's so poorly formatted.

How do you find the time to be a wife, mom, work full time, AND run a blog? Can you give us a glimpse into your daily routine?

Another loaded question. I'll give you a typical weekday rundown:

6:00 - get up before the girls & answer comments from the night before and schedule out a couple Facebook posts for the day. I also leave links for my VA to work on during the day (social shares & such).
6:15-7:45 - get us all ready, out the door, and dropped off. 
8:30-12:30 - work my day job - I do marketing/transaction management in commercial real estate - sneak in a few blog related emails, if time permits
12:30-1:30 - lunch with my mom and girls. Every day. 
1:30-5:30 - more day job
545-8:30 - pick up the girls, do dinner, play, bath, stories, bedtime
9:00-11:30 - hang out with my husband / work on a post / workout / take a shower / clean up / any number of things! 

I've moved to making/shooting recipes on the weekend so I have natural light for photos. Then, I can edit photos and write up the posts after the girls are in bed during the week. It helps me to split it up. 

Our days are often hectic and crazy but I remind myself that this is our current season and I'll miss it when it's over so I try to enjoy every day and be present with my girls. 

Do you see yourself ever going full-time with Persnickety Plates?

That's a hard one. Yes, I would love to, but I also love my day job. I see how successful a lot of my blog friends are but comparison is the thief of joy and I remind myself how lucky I am to have two (three?) jobs that I really love.