Mom Boss Interview: Celia Reeves from Medical Coding Mama

Alright, mamas (and papas, students, friends, et al): I am so so so SO excited about today's mom boss, as she runs a business that is unlike any other we have ever featured (which just goes to show that if you have a passion for something, you can/should run with it)!

Meet Celia Reeves: Celia is a Medical Coder and mama who has made a business out of studying the gibberish the doctor's office bills you for (Come to find out, it isn't just gibberish -- I'm just not as smart as Celia in terms of deciphering the lingo). Her website, Medical Coding Mama, is a GOLD MINE for all things coding and consulting, and I am so excited and honored to have her here today! 

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Celia, I love how unique both your story and website is! Can you tell us a little about your background? 

I have been a Medical Coder since 2006. I fell in love the profession quite literally after my 1st husband died of cancer. Seeing the bills and stuff I didn't understand, I went to the doctor office and had them teach me what the papers said because it was all in medical codes and I didn't know how to read any of it at the time, it was like reading Greek! I also discovered I was a natural medical coder because I took to it like a duck to water. As my friends say, I eat, drink, sleep, breathe and bleed medical coding pretty much. I am now on speed dial for most of them when they need a medical question answered! 

What inspired you to take your knowledge online? 

After seeing so many people struggle to understand what goes on behind the scenes of the doctor's office, I realized all the stories i'd witnessed over the years of being in the back office as a medical coder/medical biller made for some great teaching material, and I share the patients stories and lessons they learned. I want to share all that knowledge with the world because I firmly believe an informed patient makes better health choices for themselves and their families. The stories I share come from my own life, the patients themselves, news stories i hear on the news that can spark a blog post and can be funny, sad, and sometimes a story can make you go oh yeah...why didn't I think of that?

Tell us a little about Medical Coding Mama and just what the site entails. 

Medical Coding Mama started quite by accident actually. I had gotten a phone call from a logo place asking for money. My now ex husband( i had remarried a few years after becoming a young widow) and he had ordered a logo and had given my number as a call back. When I explained he was my ex husband, the place was furious. When I offered to pay the designer for his time and effort, even though that logo would never be used, the CEO was touched I had cared enough to make sure the designer was paid for their time and effort. The CEO asked me what I did for a living, I told him I was a Medical Coder...and a single parent.The CEO then asked if my friends had a nickname for me, I laughed and said yes, my friends affectionately called me the Medical Coding Mama because my two great loves were my daughter, whom I'm raising on my own, and medical coding. The CEO laughed and asked if I had ever wanted to do my own business. When I confessed I had thought about it, they offered to make a logo for me and charged only a small amount so I could afford it since I was a single parent. The logo you see on the website is what they came up with after asking what else I loved, besides my daughter and medical coding. It's a simple logo, kinda southwest looking and teal colored. They were just tickled when I raved about my simple logo. I love it. And two weeks after getting my adorable logo, I started the blog that became Medical Coding Mama.

What doors has MCM opened for you? 

Definitely the community. I'm thrilled that people from all over the world are reading and learning from the stories I share. I honestly think and believe an educated and informed patient makes better choices. If I can help even one person, I know I have succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. I'm not in it for the money. I love what I do for a living, and I truly love and enjoy educating the public on stuff that goes on behind the scenes. Many people honestly don't realize all that goes on behind the scenes after your doctor visit is over, or what we do with all that lovely paperwork you have to fill out. I like opening eyes on all that stuff. I have seen many a light bulb over the head moments from these patients when I explain what exactly goes on.

What advice would you give other mompreneurs trying to start their business/find their niche? 

Three pieces of advice I share with you. 1. Write about what you love and are passionate about, it will come through loud and clear to people who read/buy your stuff. 2. Make a memorable name, something catchy and easily gets stuck in people's minds so you're easy to remember. 3. DO NOT compare yourself to other people. You are unique in your own right. Show your true colors, don't worry about competing with everyone else. Make your own light shine and people will easily find you when they search for your topic.

Can you walk us through a day in your shoes? What does your work/life balance look like? 

My day is kinda spread into three parts. I get up early and do some medical coding and look over charts over a secure format to make sure all the documentation is there for insurance to pay medical claims.  then mid-morning/afternoon then I do the single mom stuff like errands, do homework with my daughter( year round school), I do a lot of dinners in the crockpot or we do make your own salad nights or breakfast for dinner,  do an outline on 5 or 6 blog posts and then flesh them out when I feel it's time to do a particular topic.  After my child is in bed for the night,  then I read a lot online for new medical breakthroughs at night before heading to bed (yes, I'm a medical geek and proud of it).

And for my favorite question: What is a Medical Coding Mama-related memory that sticks out in your mind as being the best?

 It's three way tie on favorite memory...1. My former boss whom love dearly calling me up on my cell and screaming with laughter because she knew EXACTLY which patient I was referring to in a story without mentioning their name. 2. Realizing the blog had gone international when I got linkedin.com requests to connect from all over the world. 3. Having people tell me they love my website and content.

Amazing, right? Be sure to connect with Celia by visiting her website.

Mom Boss Interview: Olivia Reiman from SimplyOli

It's another Wednesday, which makes it a great time to introduce you to another amazing mamma who is kicking butt and taking names in both her family and business life! 

Meet Olivia: An amazing wife, mamma, and business-savvy woman who is using her platform to change the world! To give you a little glimpse of her story, here is a snippet from the bio on her website, SimplyOli:

When I was 13 my bipolar disorder reared its head hard, and my world got very dark, very fast. I lost love for my passions, love for myself, my family, and love for life in general. I abused myself mentally, physically, and tried to end my life more than once. I truly didn't think it would end especially after being diagnosed with mild schizophrenia. Attempts at therapy and various medications never seemed to provide a long term solution for me personally.

I'm sharing with you my story, which led me to who I am today. I'm sharing with you my jewelry, because it's become my therapy just as nature has. I'm sharing with you my lessons learned, not to help you avoid yours, but so you can see the value in harder times. And I'm sharing with you my daily life, my family, my world, so that you can see with your own two eyes that happiness doesn't look perfect - it looks however you need it to.

You can read much more of Olivia's story here (which I highly recommend you do!), but in the meantime, here is what she had to tell us about herself and SimplyOli:

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Olivia, your story is seriously incredible! Can you tell our readers a little bit about your life and what lead you to create SimplyOli?

Aww thank you! So yeah, I'm a wife to my super inspiring husband Jim, a mom to two beautiful little girls - Piper (4 years old) and Paige (1 year old), and a pet mom to 2 dogs, and 3 reptiles. Life as it is right now basically is a typical stay at home mom life - I take care of the kiddos, am exploring homeschooling, cook meals, and I keep the house as tidy as possible (which someday's isn't tidy at all haha). Of course in the mix of all of that I run my business full time from home. SimplyOli really started because I became a mom. When Piper turned 1 I realized I wasn't feeling fulfilled and I needed a creative outlet. I had always planned on working in the corporate world and never really thought I would become a stay at home mom. So my work ethic got a little restless, I started playing with some metal stamping, then discovered resin, treated it as a business right away and the rest is history.

What are the different facets of SimplyOli? Unlike most blogs/websites (like mine!), you do not just do one thing, but many! I know that for me, writing and creating is therapeutic... is it the same with you?

Oh, it is most definitely a form of therapy for me! My curiosity paired with my love to just create whatever interests me definitely lead me down an interesting road. So SimplyOli started as pop culture spoon key chains with a little bit of nature jewelry (which has completely flipped), but now I have life vlogs, self help blogs, and short form podcast to help shift women to a more positive perspective within themselves and life. Things kind of went from just jewelry, to more of my life, to sharing my story and helping others in as many ways as I can. Each thing I do speaks to the same message but in it's own way, which is something I didn't plan intentionally but really love.

You are so warm and honest on SimplyOli; what has the reception been? Have you received a lot of feedback from readers?

Everyone has been absolutely amazing and so incredibly kind! I appreciate so much when people take the time to share what something I've said or made has meant to them. It also means the world when they feel comfortable enough to share their own personal experiences and stories with me and we can connect and have a discussion on topics that I know can be a little harder to share.

What are your tips for moms out there looking to begin their own blog/website?

Where should they begin? My tips would be:
1. Start out with something you love or are interested in (I had no idea what I was doing with resin but I had an interest and ran with it).
2. Don't get overwhelmed with what platform to use, just find a place to start and focus more on connecting on a real level with people.
3. Don't wait for validation. Being a mom is just one title you hold and it doesn't define who you are or what you can do with your life.
4. Do what works for you. Especially as moms we might think that we have to hire a sitter in order to work, or that if we can't be productive in business and keep the house clean in the same day that we're not doing a good job. Some days are wife, kid, and house heavy for me, and other days I'm crushing my work to do list but the house is a mess. There's no one way to do it so be okay with being flexible.

Has SimplyOli opened any doors that you weren’t expecting (whether it be financial, new friends, etc.)?

Oh yes! I've met some of my closest friends through starting this. It's also allowed me to be a part of big events and projects that have a special place in my heart, and showed me that really I am capable of doing anything I set my mind to. Being able to help contribute financially is a bonus, but to be perfectly honest is something that can fluctuate and takes time to make more stable. But if you're only doing it for money then you're doing it wrong.

Tell us a little bit about podcasting: what inspired you to start one? What goes into making an episode?

I love listening to podcasts. I have a wireless bluetooth headset that I pop in my ear and no matter what I'm doing (work or kid related) I can listen and be inspired and educated by so many different people. I want to provide that to others and it ended up just not fitting well with my YouTube content. Everything I do has an essence of chaos and craziness to it and I love that the podcast removes all of that and is just me sharing what I've lived and what I know without any interruption and comes from a very peaceful place. The best part is that the podcast is the easiest piece of the SimplyOli pie! I write out an idea when it hits me (which typically becomes the title) and a one sentence description of the premise for the episode. Then at night when the kids are in bed I grab my inexpensive iPhone lavalier mic clipped to a small tripod, sit on the floor of my ridiculously messy closet and start chatting away. I do one listen through and edit out any long gaps where I had to think, then I convert it to an audio file and upload. Pretty simple!

Can you walk us through a day in your shoes? I’m sure there is never a dull moment with your two cute kiddos!

Oh never a dull moment! I just had to take a break from writing to let them use my body as a mini slide for a while haha! So our schedule is definitely not typical and is different every day, but works for us right now. We all wake up sometime around 10am-12pm, we have breakfast and spend time together. I look at my to do list for the day and see what I can do that doesn't need my full attention away from the kids or is a quicker task, and I basically squeeze in what I can while playing with them. Around 5 we go out for a walk and to the park. The girls unwind/nap when we get home and I'll squeeze in work that needs a little more attention. Then around 10-11pm we have dinner the girls go to bed an hour or two after that and I work on things like jewelry, writing, or podcasts that need more undivided attention. Around 2:30am I wrap up, make the next days to do list, and go to sleep around 3 - 3:30. Wherever I can I squeeze in meditation, yoga, reading, listening to podcasts throughout the day. It's all about finding balance with family, work, and self in each day.

Can you give us a little glimpse of what’s to come for your site? I think I saw something about courses coming soon...

Yes! I have plans to offer a resin course to help others avoid all of the trial and error I went through when first working with resin so that they can just enjoy it as a creative outlet as I do now! I also plan on offering a course to help shift women towards a more positive perspective in themselves and in life. I have another big project on the horizon that I haven't announced just yet so keep an eye out for that in the coming months. I'm just so excited to offer more things apart from jewelry that are geared towards helping others.

So amazing, right? To get in touch with Olivia, visit her website, Facebook, and Instagram.

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!

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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 pics...like 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.