The Secret to How These 2 Moms Create Cohesive Content
Meet our creators of the month: Anne and AnnMarie from Simply 2 Moms
AnnMarie & Anne from Simply2Moms blog are the types of friends that anyone would be happy to have. You can immediately tell that they would be the two to plan a great party and then be the life of it. After almost 14 years of friendship, there’s no denying that they just get each other.
Content creators are always searching for how to find harmony & balance in all of their blogging tasks. While these blogging besties admit that they haven’t totally perfected that balance just yet, the two definitely have their dynamic and strengths down pat.
Check out how they’ve built their blogging partnership by playing to each other’s strengths, staying true to their voice, and keeping each other accountable in the best of ways.
How did your friendship start?
AnnMarie: This summer will be 14 years since my family moved in across the street from Anne’s. We had closed on our house on July 1st and her family invited us to go see the fireworks later that week, and it was history from there. All of our kids were around the same age and we didn’t hire babysitters. We just kind of hung out at each other's houses and the kids would run around and play. It was a great neighborhood to raise our kids in and it was a lot of fun for us as adults, too.
Anne: That’s how the friendship started. Then we were on the PTA board together when our kids were in middle school. We would host events and organize them, and we saw how we worked together.
What was it that made you both want to start a joint blog?
AnnMarie: We knew we worked well together and our kids were leaving middle school so we weren’t on the PTO together anymore. Everybody was in high school and we were like, “Well now what are we going to do?” We wanted to fill that time and we started looking at different ways. We both had little family blogs separately in the past, and I also followed different bloggers.
Anne: You were more the decor kind of stuff and I was the photography stuff and we started to talk. We were stay-at-home moms, and my joke was always, “I need to find something to do because when the kids all leave my husband is going to be like ‘Okay, you're not a stay-at-home mom anymore with kids gone.” There was a little neighborhood type of local magazine in our area, and a friend of ours wanted to know if we would be interested in starting one of those for our neighborhood. We met with someone and got all of the information. We were ready to go to the training. We were even booking flights. Then, we had a Zoom call with a higher level up in the magazine and were telling her all of the ideas we had for the magazine - like AnnMarie’s ideas for writing about home decorating. Basically, we were envisioning that we were the ones creating the magazine.
AnnMarie: And they were like, no, no, no. That’s not it. We’d be in charge of selling ads. We would hire photography and someone to write the articles. We didn’t want to knock on doors and sell ads to businesses. We wanted to be the creators and hire someone to create the ads, but obviously, that’s not what we were there to do. So, we kind of looked at each other and were like, “This is not it.”
I don’t know how it came up but I think Anne said, “What if we write and blog together?” So, we bought our domain name back in 2017. It took us almost a whole year to really dig in.
Anne: It just wasn’t a priority yet because we did it all ourselves. I know a lot of bloggers will hire someone to do the tech stuff to set up their blog and all of that. But we wanted to do all of that ourselves.
AnnMarie: We also wanted zero investment just in case it didn’t work out. We didn’t want to say let’s take $2,000 and start this business. We wanted to do it ourselves from scratch with minimal investment. We’re still really, really frugal with our spending. Anne is really good with tech and she’s patient, so she taught herself a lot and then would teach me. We had a goal where we each wanted to write 10 blog posts before we launched it so there would be some content and it wouldn’t be just one post sitting on a website. Once we had all of our posts done and ready to go, we launched in June of 2018.
Anne: And it’s been growing since. Year over year it’s almost doubled in traffic which is exciting to see. Hometalk has been a great part of that. Foodtalk is where we really see a big amount of traffic with our recipes.
Was the flow of working together instant since you both were already such close friends?
Anne: We just sort of fell into roles based on where our strengths were and it sort of evolved. When we started AnnMarie was really doing the decor and I was just doing the food for the most part. Then, she inspired me to do more. And now she’s been doing more food-related stuff. She came over here going, “I video doing a recipe last night!”
AnnMarie: She’s been doing all sorts of things around here! But as far as roles with the workflow go, I think we fell into what we were good at. Like in the beginning, Instagram was the big thing. I really didn’t mind using Instagram, whereas Anne didn’t love it so I would do that. Not that she never did that, but she would do more of the backend stuff. We communicate really well. Like right now, I’m doing Pinterest so Anne has time to help people build their blogs. I can’t help with that, but Anne can. So, that may take time away from her doing other things so then I will help out with those things so she can do that.
Anne: We are a partnership. So no matter what, all money earned under Simply2Moms is split. It’s not that I’m doing work and she’s not - it’s that I’m doing this specific work, she’s doing that specific work, and they all drive our brand.
How would you describe your blogging style now versus when you both started?
AnnMarie: I’ve definitely become a better writer. I didn’t think I was an awful writer, but I’m very direct. Not in a rude way, but if I am writing an email, I’m more short and to the point. Anne is more conversational in her approach. So, I am trying to get better in that aspect. When we started our blog and writing, we definitely tried to keep who we were writing to in mind. For me, it was thinking about writing to my sister. We both love home decor, and we both are doing things in our homes all the time. I was always writing to her, but I’m probably direct to her and I don’t fluff. So, I’m just trying to talk more in my posts.
Anne: And you’ve totally done that! Over the last 18 months, it’s like we’ve flipped a switch. We struggled at the beginning with coming up with ideas. Now, we have a list of ideas with photos that are already taken and the blog post idea just ready to do. It’s now about taking the time to do it.
AnnMarie: A little bit of a type A personality for both of us. We like having control of the writing. We want it to sound like it came from us. We were doing a roundup newsletter for a while and we took turns writing it. I’d be like, “Hey, it’s AnnMarie coming at ya” and Anne’s sister was like, “I know it’s you writing it.” While your sister is your sister, I think our audience tends to know, even without looking, who wrote it just based on how we communicate. Our personalities shine through within each of our writing styles. We just always want it to come from our own voice.
Anne: I know some people would be like, “Well why don’t you hire someone to write those posts?” But we have a little bit of a hard time letting go. I think in hiring someone else to do that for us we would lose that.
I think that’s what makes your blog so special. There are two of you running the blog, but you’re both able to showcase that individual personality in posts while maintaining such cohesiveness on the site. It truly sets your blog apart.
Anne: That means a lot because that is our goal. We are different and do have different styles, but I am always amazed at how similar we can be.
AnnMarie: Using the same presets in our photos also helps our posts look more connected. We’ve even talked about focusing on our differences by taking an item we both have and writing about how we each style it in our own homes. Using the same presets in our photos also helps us look more connected.
What would you say have been the biggest challenges for you being a blogger? What have you learned and done to overcome those challenges?
Anne: Time management was and still is something we are still working on. We’re also more focused on staying on task and treating it like a job and not a hobby.
It doesn’t feel like I’m always working because it’s fun!
AnnMarie still has one at home and I don’t want her to miss out on that. Her daughter is going to be graduating in a month, so I always want to encourage AnnMarie to spend that time with her and go where they want to go and do what they want to do because it won’t last forever.
AnnMarie: We both tend to work in our kitchens, but we both now have a dedicated office space… we just haven't redecorated them yet. I think that will help us get out of the hub of our homes. It is fun, so I don’t think of it as work. It feels easy. I do think you have to be able to turn it off at times, and we do. We definitely have times where we do other things which are also nice.
I also just like to work, so turning it off is hard. I always have my phone or I will sit down at 9 o’clock to watch TV and I’ll be doing things for the blog from my laptop. It’s about finding that balance to get it all done and also to be able to turn it off.
But, I do think the first couple of years we knew that it would be a lot of hours until we got to that point.
Anne: We have also both struggled with burnout because of the constantness of it. Having a partner in this makes such a huge difference. Fortunately, we don’t tend to have our burnout times at the same time so if I’m in this valley like being burnt out with work or anything else, AnnMarie may not be having the same issue so she’s picking it up and vice versa if she’s experiencing those struggles.
AnnMarie: Yes, because we can definitely pick it up for each other. It also helps us work harder and strive for more. If you said you were going to do something and don’t, you don’t want to let the other person down. It’s not like we’re each other’s bosses, but it does hold you accountable which I need.
Anne: And so do I, 100%.
What other social platforms do you love to use outside of the blog?
AnnMarie: Hmm… do we love to use them?
Anne: I don’t think there are any that we love to use other than the blog. The blog is what we really love to do.
AnnMarie: Followers on other platforms don’t love us as our blog loves us, so I think it’s hard to put in all of that effort and not see the rewards that we see from our blog.
If I were to say I loved one platform, it would absolutely be TikTok. I think it’s fun to scroll and I’m constantly saving videos. I will sit down and it’s blaring and my kids are like, “Mom, volume” and I’m just like, “But look at how she did this ceiling! Isn’t it just so cool?” I just love the videos, and we are really enjoying making the videos. It’s a learning process for us, too. We’re getting much better at pulling out our phones and filming everything.
What are some of the platforms you think other bloggers should be using?
AnnMarie: All of them! Our big joke when we see something that we want to do is to say, “Okay, put it on this list!” - we have this imaginary list of things that we want to do.
Anne: We want to do all the things! We are really good at SEO. We just get it. Google is what loves our blog. I think we really need to move into YouTube since YouTube and Google are connected and can use SEO practices on YouTube. It can just feel overwhelming sometimes to start something new when your list is already so long.
AnnMarie: I think it’s also important to pay attention to find the things that are working for you, but also to learn the new things because you never know what is going to take off. So, we definitely do use all of the social platforms, except YouTube. We do stories all the time on Instagram and add to Facebook and Pinterest. Pinterest also really brings us a lot of traffic to the blog.
I noticed that you’ll be presenting a webinar for Haven coming up. Are you also going to be attending the Haven conference?
AnnMarie: Yes, we will be teaching an online class, and then we will be presenting at Haven again. We presented last year and that was our first in-person Haven conference. We were a little overwhelmed. We had done it the year before virtually but hadn’t presented. Then, we went to the conference and presented in person for the first time and it was great. We’re really excited to do that again!
We also have presented at a few smaller retreats to talk about SEO, blogging, and video things.
Anne: Like ways to turn still pictures into video content. There are so many bloggers out there who only have still photos from years worth of content from before video became a big thing. So we talk about how you can take that content and keep it relevant without having to redo an entire project.
AnnMarie: I mean, going forward we all know to pull out that phone and take a video, but we have great posts that we can’t just recreate. So, we’ve created videos out of the pictures that we’ve already taken and edited (like this one on their Instagram).
How did you hear about Hometalk and what made you want to join?
Anne: It was 100% KariAnne at a small retreat in 2020 in Waco, and we were just blown away. She’s a dynamo and has so many ideas and we were at that point where it was like time to scale. We went to KariAnne for a consultation and it was right before she started her mastermind group. One of the first things she did was ask, “Are you posting on Hometalk?”
AnnMarie: We had heard about it, but were like, “Well, no.”
Anne: She goes, “Well why not?!”
AnnMarie: So, we subscribed as a blog and got that first feature with the nice little bump in the traffic that month and we were like, “Why haven’t we been doing this!?”
What is it about Hometalk and Foodtalk that has kept you here to share your content?
AnnMarie: I like the feedback we get from people. I think it’s really supportive, especially when someone makes a comment on your post and other people are responding with ideas. It's just full of constant ideas. I also have to say that the changes for loading our blog posts using the import tool have also just made it all so much easier. It’s made a huge difference in posting.
Anne: It is such a community. When people comment on your blog people don’t tend to respond or create a conversation, but on Hometalk and Foodtalk you get a conversation started and more people will continue to chime in.
If you could give one piece of advice to a new blogger, what would it be?
Anne: Just do it. Get out of your head and get out of your own way and just start. The fact that it took us a year to get ourselves even launched was a year wasted. We should have gotten out of our heads and gotten away from thinking it had to be perfect. It’s something we are doing better on, but that would be my number one thing - to just get out there and get started. You can always go back and fix things. With the way things change, especially with SEO and Pinterest because those are long game platforms, you won’t even get traction on some posts for about 6 months. So just do it now and you can always update and make changes later.
The other advice is to get that email list. Don’t put that off. When you start that blog make sure you’re capturing those email subscribers from the beginning. Those are going to be some of your biggest fans. They support you from the very beginning and they will continue to do so.
AnnMarie: It’s very easy to go back to add new photos and optimize later, but just get out there and do it. And a blog is important. Social media is fun, but you own the blog. Other platforms could go away, but your blog is yours.
Is there a creator on Hometalk, Foodtalk, or Upstyle who you think should highlight next?
Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org!