Heather Tomoyasu is a stay at home mom with a successful personal blog, an online store, and she has just published her first e-book. How does she manage? She cleverly cross-promotes her brands and hosts giveaways to increase blog traffic & social media following.
Below she offers an inside look into her online home business – selling variety packs for moms.
Saira: What did you do before starting your business?
Heather: I had tried jobs and various fields, including Public Relations, Human Resources, and teaching, both here in the States and abroad during my five years living in Japan. Nothing felt quite right. Ultimately, I decided to make my maternity leave permanent after having my son two years ago, and from there I started brainstorming ways to make some sort of an income at home and while keeping myself fulfilled as a mom (and more).
Saira: Give us a picture of a typical weekday in your family.
Heather: A typical weekday would begin with my son rolling over and waking me up around 7:30AM (yes, we co-sleep). We see my husband off at the door with lots of hugs and kisses, and then commence with the fun!
Mornings will usually have a class at the library or an impromptu play date with friends, followed by lunch and my son’s nap (when I squeeze in as much work as I can), followed by more playing in the afternoon, a walk to the grocery store and to run some other errands (and hit the park if weather permits), dinner, and welcoming my husband home around 10PM. We keep my son up late so that he can have daddy time (which is also his Japanese immersion time), and we all retire around 11PM.
Saira: Your blog US-Japan Fam has been up & running for 2 years now. What has your traffic growth been like during this time?
Heather: Unfortunately I just don’t have the time to put into growing my blog, but it’s been chugging along and gaining fans little by little. It was rather discouraging in the beginning to write a post and see that only a handful of people actually read it.
Thankfully that’s no longer the case, and I get such a thrill out of reading and responding to readers’ comments! Just the other day I got a comment on a post I wrote over a year ago – it’s exciting to know that your posts are coming up in searches and helping moms struggling with a certain issue!
Saira: What ways have been most effective for attracting new traffic?
Heather: Giveaways!! I love to host giveaways, and they are definitely the most engaging and far-reaching posts on my blog. I especially love hosting group giveaways, where I pull in several brands and bloggers for one humongous giveaway – those are lots of work but tons of fun and great publicity for everyone involved!
I use giveaways to increase traffic as well as to increase following to my various social accounts. Through Rafflecoptor, participants can get more entry points by following the accounts of myself, the brands giving away the prizes, and any other co-hosting bloggers.
In a group giveaway, the list of options gets quite lengthy sometimes, but completing them all gives you the best odds, so most people are willing to take a moment or two of their time.
Saira: In what ways do you promote & publicize the giveaways?
I occasionally check in with Google Analytics and update my excel file with the 10 sites that are bringing me in the most traffic, so I usually only promote on those sites rather than waste time going through them all anymore.
Saira: How do you convince brands & bloggers to participate in your giveaways?
Heather: I wouldn't say I “convince” anyone to participate, but I’m not afraid to reach out and ask big and small brands alike. There’s no harm in trying, the worst that can happen is they ignore you or turn you down. Basically, I give them links of past giveaways so they can see how they were organized, the engagement that was received (i.e.. the comments in the blog post and the total number of points totaled in the Rafflecoptor box).
For bloggers, I often reach out to bloggers I follow myself, who I respect, and who have large followings. I also check in on my mommy blogger Facebook groups to see if anyone is interested in joining. If someone is a smaller blogger, I usually ask them to bring in at least one brand/prize to join, if they’re a much bigger blogger, promising to promote a couple of times across social and/or on their blog is all I ask. It’s really a win-win for all involved!!
Saira: Your online variety pack / diaper sampler business Miny Moe seems very clever & original! How does the inventory process work – do you run everything from home?
Heather: Yep, it’s just me working out of my home! I keep all of the diapers, nursing pads, and pacifiers in their original packaging and sealed in those big Tupperware boxes, and I make each pack as it’s ordered. It’s time consuming though, and once we reach X amount of orders per day I may have to change my strategy and hire some helpers! I sell through my own website (miny-moe.com) as well as on Amazon.com, so keeping track of inventory is a challenge but so far it’s been working out fine!
Saira: What are your weekly sales like? Do you have a peak season?
Heather: On average, I get about 1-2 orders per day, and some orders include multiple items. I’m always fascinated by the larger orders and find myself packing them up while wondering if the order is for several friends’ baby showers, or perhaps a mom-to-be making sure she has all the best brands of diapers, nursing pads, and pacifiers ready to try out as soon as her little one arrives!
I haven’t noticed any trend in sales by season, as these are not really holiday or seasonal gifts, but I definitely notice an increase in sales after being mentioned in a blog post or on social media. I love me some generous mommy influencers!!
Saira: Where do most of your customers come from? How do you tap into your target market?
Heather: Miny Moe’s customers are spread out across the country, with a few up in Canada. I schedule tweets (@minymoepacks) on a regular basis and also hold occasional flash sales and giveaways on Facebook and through my personal blog. When possible, I love to work with bigger bloggers who can really help get the word out about Miny Moe, because getting new parents and friends of parents-to-be to know about the products we are offering is half the battle!!
Saira: Congratulations on your new e-book “Legit Ways To Make Money From Home (While Minding Your Kids and Not Losing Your Mind)”! Please give us a short summary.
Heather: My new (and first!!) e-book is an overview of (legit and even fun) ways stay-at-home parents can earn extra spending money or even a full income. I cover everything from direct sales to affiliate marketing and mystery shopping. Helpful links and resources are included, as well as tips for finding what YOU love to do so you can go out and do it!
Saira: How long did it take you to write?
Heather: It’s a quick read and it was a fairly quick write. I think it took me about a month from start to finish, with formatting it correctly for Kindle and iTunes (separate formats, AGH!!!) taking the most time! I kept a list going for a while before commencing to write it, and would add to it as an idea popped into my head here and there.
Saira: How did you find the publishing process for iTunes and Kindle?
Heather: In a word – HEADACHE!! Because I’d recently gotten my first iMac, making the iTunes version was pretty straightforward (using iBooks Author) and it came out very visually appealing! But getting it to work for Kindle was tough, and I had to basically pull out all formatting and graphics and make it very basic. At least all of the links still work – that is the most important thing I suppose!
Saira: I saw you just finished a giveaway contest on your blog – could we running another giveaway for MomResource readers?
Heather: Of course!
Enter to win your copy of Heather's brand new e-book using Rafflecopter below. You can increase your chances to win by completing more than one entry option!
In Your Experience
Saira: In hindsight, what is one thing you would have done differently or one lesson that you learned?
Heather: I suppose I would have just started all of this much sooner! Building your blog, brand(s), and presence on social media is hard work and takes a long time…. which is something that I find myself with increasingly less of!
Saira: What do you consider to be your biggest success so far?
Heather: My son, of course!! He’s such a joy to be around (most of the time) and I couldn't’t be more thankful to be able to spend each and every day home with him!
Saira: What advice would you give you other moms who are just starting out in the online world?
Heather: Be patient – things take time and generally do not happen overnight. Also, be prepared to spend a lot of time (or money – there are some great publicists out there, who are unfortunately not in my budget) to promote your ventures! Finally, don’t be scared to reach out for help – Facebook is teeming with groups, no matter what kind of business you are trying to start up! I’m in one for NYC mom bloggers and also one for moms with small businesses, and they both have the most helpful and wonderful women in them!!
Saira: What social media platforms are the most effective for growing your business?
Heather: Recently, Twitter is my best bet. Facebook has really been decreasing organic reach for business pages in the last year or so, but they’re still great for me if I share posts on my personal page.
Saira: What is your best social media tip or tool?
Heather: Hootsuite is great for scheduling – I use it to schedule my tweets. For example, when I do a giveaway, I can schedule daily tweets for the whole two week period within minutes!!
Saira: What would you say is your most valuable online resource?
Heather: Google Analytics is essential!! You can track search words that people are using to find you, how many hits a page or article has gotten, and even the demographics of your visitors! It’s really cool, and helpful in targeting your audience and figuring out where you need to improve SEO and other marketing efforts.
To Learn More About Heather
Follow Heather to keep track of her latest mommy giveaways & learn more about her life as a stay at home mom blogger!
- Blog: US-Japan Fam
- Business Website: Miny Moe
- E-Book: “Legit Ways To Make Money From Home (While Minding Your Kids and Not Losing Your Mind)”
- Twitter: @usjapanfam and @minymoepacks
- Pinterest: usjapanfam
- Instagram: usjapanfam
- Youtube channel: Heather Tomoyasu
Enter to Win
Thank you to Heather for giving away a copy of her e-book to a lucky MomResource.com reader! Enter to win your copy of Heather's brand new e-book using Rafflecopter below. Increase your chances to win by completing more than one entry option!
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