1. Congrats on being a MomDot Feature Blogger! Let’s start by introducing yourself to our readers!
I’m Katja Presnal, a mother of three and online store owner, blogger and a PR consultant. I own a children’s boutique http://www.skimbaco.com and I have two blogs, http://skimbacolifestyle.com where I share product finds and all fun and important and less important things modern fashion minded moms want to know. My other blog is http://www.ladybuglandings.com where I write about marketing, PR and online media, that one is still in process of being built, but I am hoping to write more there in the future.
I am also a Chief Indie Officer at Wishpot.com and manage their Indie channel. I have always loved handmade products, so that is a perfect job for me – combining social media, shopping and my love for indie products.
2) How did you get started in online media?
I have been involved with online media for the past 5 years, but first mainly on Finnish websites and writing and blogging in Finnish. I am from Finland, and it was a great way to stay in touch with friends and family and I also sold children’s products on a Finnish auction site. I opened my store Skimbaco.com almost two years ago. Some blogs started writing about my store, and I was really impressed by all the mommy bloggers and what they do, and I wanted to be part of that community. I started my own blog in the summer of 2007 mainly to give back to all those nice bloggers who wrote about my store and also to feature products that I liked but couldn’t buy for my own store. And of course to give a small peek to our life behind the store. And as a person who loves to connect and write – I have loved blogging ever since. In fact, I will be closing my store in a few weeks to focus only on blogging and PR consulting.
3) There are so many online networks with Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, etc. what do you believe is the best online site for a blogger/store owner to be involved in?
I am at Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and some others, but those are my most active ones. I am a Twitter evangelist, because it has entirely changed my life. The other ones are good too, and I recommend being involved in as many as you can, but if you would choose just one, join Twitter. It is easy, and very informal. It’s microblogging, so you can share your life in small little tidbits and also share links, photos, ask questions and help others in a very easy way. The power of twitter is your network – finding those people you support and who support you.
4) What are some of your recommendations for newbies on the scene? How do they network and break in most effectively?
Be yourself, be approachable, and help others. Connect with people, comment on blogs, get to know them on Twitter. Of course there is marketing, advertising and for bloggers there are blog directories and several other ways to get noticed, but my best tip is to be yourself and let people to know you. I believe 100% that people do business with people, what ever your product is, people will wanna do business with you if you are approachable, nice and someone people want to connect with.
5) what has been your biggest accomplishment to date?
The biggest accomplishment for me personally is being a mom. I have three children and that is the biggest and most important thing in my life, and also being married to my husband of 10 years. Business wise I am proud of myself that I have had the guts to do what I love – starting the store and then the blog and then offering my PR consulting to others as well. I have had the guts to let “my business” to evolve organically instead of fighting against it. I am not sad to let my store go, I am actually really excited about it, I know it opens new doors for me to have more time to focus on other things.
6) Do you do PR full time or for others? How would someone reach you with that?
Yes, I offer consulting, and I am hoping to make that a full time job for me as soon as I have closed down my store. Currently I have a few clients and I also work as a Chief Indie Officer for Wishpot.com. My specialty is PR consulting for anyone who does business or blogging in the mom target market, but I also have clients in other fields. Small business owners and bloggers are close to my heart, but I also work with large corporations like Walmart. I offer PR consulting, also coaching and do marketing campaigns, brand development, and often also help bloggers to launch their new sites. My business card says YNIIDI – you need it, I do it, I am experienced in several areas from ecommerce to branding and from PR to SEO, and love helping others to reach their dreams. I can be reached at katja.presnal at skimbaco dot com and I am happy to help anyone. In fact I offer the first hour of consulting always for free, I sell products at Cafepress http://www.cafepress.com/ladybuglandings and also DeAnna Cochan designed a necklace to benefit the cause http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=16294933.
7) We understand you got a product on oprah, its a mom businesses dream, can you outline the best way for someone to follow in your footsteps?
It was amazing! Especially because it was Tom Cruise who showed the product for Oprah. It was totally unexpected, and I did not know it was going to happen. I know that the celebrity endorsements and having celebrities to use your product sells, and there are so many celebrity gift basket companies who get products on the celebrities’ hands all the time. But I also know people who are close to the entertainment industry and know that these people get so many free gifts they never use and sometimes never even see because they go through their personnel. What I did, was the personal connection, what I want to emphasis again – I connected with a person who is Tom Cruise’s friend, and helped him to gift Tom Cruise and his family. That way the gift wasn’t just from some retailer or random person, but it was coming from Tom Cruise’s trusted friend, and it had more meaning to him. But the thing is here, that they didn’t mention the name of the product of where it was in the show. I had to let everyone know that it was the Monkey-Toes shoes from Skimbaco.com. I didn’t send press releases nor contact print media – only what I did, I contacted my closest blogging friends and they helped me to tell it to everyone. I was able to get my big news out with the help of people who already knew me. And the news spread and a few magazines contacted me, one all the way from Australia! This all wouldn’t have been possible without the connections and friends I had. And this is why I say the connecting with people in a personal level is the most important thing you can do to succeed in business.
8) What blogs do you visit on a daily basis?
I don’t think I read many blogs on daily basis, because there are just too many blogs I like and I don’t have time for visiting them daily. But I read too many blogs to list here on a regular basis, visit a few times a week (it’s like asking me to name my favorite kid – impossible just to name a few, so many good ones I read)! Some of my favorites for moms are http://www.momgenerations.com,http://www.chicshopperchick.com,http://fromdatestodiapers.com and I do visit here at MomDot often. Some industry blogs I read are http://www.chrisbrogan.com/ and http://pressreleaseprblog.com/ and I love the personal blogs of Steph at http://www.adveturesinbabywearing.com and Arianne at http://www.tothinkistocreate.com/ But there are tens of other ones I read on a weekly basis.
9) what is the greatest lesson you have learned while working in social media?
Be yourself, listen to your gut, it’s ok to make mistakes, just be honest with yourself and others if you do.
10) Social media can be very overwhelming and time consuming, how do you recommend a mom with kids and work handle balancing it all?
Just stick to those that you feel comfortable with – don’t try to do it all. If you find one site, like Twitter is for me, that works, focus on that. But I do recommend all bloggers and online business owners to be active in at least one or two social media sites. Sometimes it can just be a forum or a community, it doesn’t have to be Twitter or Facebook.
11) What did you do prior to being an online expert?
I have been building my resume since I was 15 and had my first summer job and did training in an advertising agency when I was on the ninth grade. I have always had a drive to learn more about running a business, and wanted to learn everything from manufacturing the product to wholesale to retail sale and marketing the product for consumers. I got my first PR job when I was 19 while studying engineering and production management in college. It all changed when I met my husband in Germany 11 years ago, and we traveled a lot and moved around in Europe and in the US while he was a military test pilot. We got three children who were all born in different countries, and for a few years I only focused on children – but even during that time I took online classes about business law, marketing and learned how to start your own business and wrote a few business plans just for fun.
12) What are your upcoming projects or future goals you want our visitors to be aware of?
Like said, I am closing down my store Skimbaco.com in a few weeks, and would love to sell all my inventory before that, and I have lowered my prices up to 75% off now. Next year I will be speaking in a few conferences and sharing my experiences and advice with bloggers and business owners. For example I will be in Nashville in February for http://blissdomconference.com/ and I will be teaching social media and blogging classes for http://www.collective-e.com/ this spring in New York City. I would love to see MomDot readers in these events in person! And I would love to connect with everyone at twitter.com/katjapresnal as well. I will be focusing on helping companies and mommy bloggers to connect, and would like to know more mommy bloggers.
13) How do you help other bloggers or moms on a daily basis? tell us a story on something in the past you are proud of.
I write about mompreneurs’ products on my blog, help them to promote their products on twitter and recommend them to Wishpot.com users in my wishlists. I also help Indie Designers and bloggers to get PR at Wishpot.com in my new position as the Chief Indie Officer. I tweet and retweet moms’ messages at twitter, which may sound a small thing, but I have over 5000 followers on Twitter. I stumble when ever someone wants their blog posts to stumbled, I vote my friends and their kids and pets on the online contests. I refer and connect people. I host giveaways at my blog, I give free advice for biz owners and bloggers. I do what ever I can to help. I am of course proud that I was able to help Jenny Ford from Monkey-Toes to get her product on Oprah, but I’m almost more proud of all the other people that I have helped and there is no buzz and promotion that I have. I once interviewed a business owner for a blog post and a very powerful magazine editor read it and also wanted to interview her for the magazine. It was huge for the business owner, and I feel so happy to know that the editor found her via my blog post.
14) What is your favorite mom based businesses/products you want to shout out too
Again – there are so many I could say here, but I have to go with my favorite jewelry designer http://www.deannacochranjewelry.com/ DeAnna Cochran. DeAnna has been a huge inspiration and a good friend for me. She started her business after her preemie son passed away, and she donates part of the proceeds for children’s charities. I admire her a lot for what she does, and how she pays her success forward to those in need. And of course – I love her designs!
15) Online networks can be riddled with cliques and gossip, how do you think a mom should handle it if she is being talked about or negatively referred to online
That’s a tough question, because it would totally kill my spirit if I was talked negatively, because I want to help everyone and be everyone’s friend, even with those who don’t agree with my opinions, in fact I love to have discussion with people who don’t agree with me. There is a place to take the bull by it’s horns and confront the people who are doing this type of thing (I would do it in private), but sometimes it is just best to do your own thing and not care what others are saying. However much I want everyone to like me, I know that there is no such thing as pleasing everyone. Just stay honest, true to yourself and others, and if people don’t like it, there is nothing you can do about it, but at least you can be proud of yourself that you are honest.
16) There is a lot of talk on how much traffic is successful, what is a good amount of traffic per month to feel secure in what you are doing? How much should you double in 6 months and what are good tips to getting there?
I actually don’t believe just in the numbers when talking about successful blogs. You need a certain amount of traffic to start making money with your blog and get advertisers and those affiliate sales, but to truly be a successful blogger you need other things as just traffic – you need the trust of your readers. Also good traffic numbers depend on what kind of blog you have. For some bloggers 400 readers a day is good traffic, which some bloggers consider a very poor traffic. I personally double my traffic in about every six month period, but I know that it will slow down at some point. The most successful blogs don’t just get high traffic but are engaging with the readers .
17) What do you feel is the single most important thing in creating a successful blog?
Creating a connection with your readers.
We want to thank Katja for her support of our blog and all the other blogs out there and thank her for our extensive interview! Please leave her a comment!