We recently caught up with Heather, mom of two (and don’t forget her hedgehog, dog and two cats!), crafter extraordinaire and the woman behind top lifestyle blog Brie Brie Blooms! Below, Heather shares her insights on the influencer marketing industry and social media trends as part of our Spotlight Blogger series:

What do you feel is the #1 trend in influencer marketing in 2017? Ambassadorships! We have been aware of great partnerships, including long-term ambassador opportunities with brands, but with marketing teams seeing value in maintaining relationships with influencers, those ambassador opportunities are continuing to grow. Sure that means we have more exclusivity contracts and guidelines, but that also means we can negotiate better rates and terms that make sense for the partnerships that actually fit our blogs and social channels instead of brands coming to us with one-time opportunities.

Tell us why you blog.
Blogging brings me so much joy and gives the ability to work at my own pace, although that is 99% flying through the day on coffee and very little sleep. I was laid off from a corporate career while on maternity leave with my first daughter almost nine years ago. I started blogging as a way to connect and share crafting ideas. That led to wanting to learn about blogging and how I really could turn it into a career path. That led to a full-time position as a campaign manager and learning invaluable experience in influencer marketing. I’m back to working on my own blog full time, and the full circle path it has taken me on has been extremely rewarding.

Where do you find inspiration for new blog posts?
I find inspiration in everything around me. I’m a visual learner and tend to spark up my best ideas when I’m strolling the aisles of Target, or chasing my two-year-old daughter through the grocery store, silently begging for her to let us get our list purchased without any major meltdowns, or when I’m feeding ducks at our neighborhood lake. Inspiration is everywhere, and I’m always thinking, “I should write about this experience.”

What content do you feel your readers find most valuable?
The best content is real content that sparked more than just a product review or quick tip list. My most valuable content to my readers are those feel-good stories embracing the challenges of parenting and successes when we can stop and relish our children’s accomplishments. That, and chocolate.

What is your favorite space to engage with your readers?
My favorite social platform is Twitter because it’s fast-moving. Short, sweet and to the point.

Where do you see the most engagement with your content?
Personally, I see the most engagement on my posts themselves. I enjoy interacting with my audience by replying to comments and I feel brands are paying attention to the comment count. This is not an accurate depiction of the campaign success, though, as that’s only a tiny piece of the engagement.

What’s the #1 question you’re asked by your readers, and what’s your answer?
“My child loves animals too, how did your daughter become the SeaWorld guest kid blogger?” My eight-year-old daughter has been the SeaWorld kid blogger for a few years. She is the only child blogger contributing to their site, and we have had amazing learning opportunities in and out of the parks. My husband and I both grew up visiting SeaWorld. We began visiting the San Diego park with our daughter when she was just an infant and she truly loved it. More visits to SeaWorld and then me visiting for a few media events led us to her making an impact on the public relations team by her love for sea lions. She is articulate, smart, dedicated and genuinely excited to learn. Paired with her natural and organic love for the parks along with a very supportive blogging mom, her role as the SeaWorld kid blogger is a natural fit that I would consider an ambassadorship.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of starting a blog?
Think bigger picture and not just what you are interested in today. Just because you have a super duper adorable puppy, your blog might not be named “The Super Adorable Puppy Blog” with content just about that puppy. Blogs are no longer just an online journal that you might share with your family and friends. If you want to have a blog as a marketing platform, make a plan just like you would if you said, “I’m starting a business today.”

What are your thoughts on programs measured by initial click-through rates?
Working on both sides of the equation, as an influencer and, for several years, as a campaign manager, I understand there needs to be a real measurement for brands and clients. However, the impact of a topic or piece of content cannot simply be measured by a click-through rate. Sometimes an influencer uses a very powerful image on social featuring the brand or product, and while that might not get a click-through to the post, it most definitely will seamlessly place that brand on the radar of the consumer.

What are you thoughts on online coupons?
Online coupons are a great way for brands to drive product purchases while working with influencers. It’s also a nice way for us to provide something of value to our audience.

What are your thoughts on Snapchat?
Snapchat is fun, but I feel it’s lost the engagement we were once seeing as its popularity started to soar. For marketing purposes, some brands are doing it right. Let’s just hope it’s still around when everyone else decides to jump aboard too.

My 2017 holiday predictions: _______.
Starting early. We know Halloween content begins late summer and Christmas is quick to follow. Get ahead of the game now!

Influencer marketing is ________.
Growing and gaining a better understanding from brands. This is debatable. Some get it and some don’t. In my opinion, we are starting to see many more pursuing influencer outreach with smarter, more professional approaches. Brands are hiring influencers to help them understand how to work with influencers and make it a better win-win partnership for us all.

Favorite program you’ve done with The Motherhood?
My favorite program was visiting a local food bank to learn about their community kitchen program that makes a difference for children facing food insecurity, while also providing culinary education and life skills to secure employment in the food service industry to struggling individuals.

I love feel-good campaigns, and as a parent, I feel so broken by learning about the food insecurity rates. I visited the food bank, met individuals in the program and learned about what brought them there. I met incredible people with complicated stories that I never would have been able to share otherwise. And maybe by sharing their stories, I reached someone that needed the same kind of help.

Dove Love Your Hair was also a HUGE favorite project. I cut my very long hair because my oldest daughter cut her hair over holiday break after a classmate with cancer had passed away. The day following her haircut, she was so excited to go to school and show her friends her new shorter style. She came home from first grade asking for a time machine because friends said very unkind things about her hair. I was heartbroken and told her I would cut my hair to match. Her little face lit up and I drove straight to the salon. Teaching our daughters how to have hair confidence is so important, and this was a great campaign to be involved in.

What are brands doing right when working with bloggers?
Brands are treating influencers as highly valuable resources with engaged audiences. They are asking for our insight to help them understand how to work with influencers.

What should brands start doing (better) when working with bloggers?
Our time is valuable, and we should be compensated fairly for our work. No one wants to work for free products. If it were up to my two daughters, they would happily let me fill up their rooms with toys, but then there’s that adult-paying-bills thing that has to happen, too.

Read more of Heather’s insights on her blog, here!

More about The Motherhood’s Spotlight Blogger Series
Each month, our internal team convenes and discusses our latest programs, stellar partnerships and top influencers. It’s not about numbers, but rather, the quality, authentic content they’re delivering consistently. It’s about reliability, professionalism and partnership. We discuss our nominations for the month and ultimately decide on just one blogger to feature.

Take a look at our other featured influencers here, and stop by in September for the next Spotlight Blogger!