Nicole with Pretty Opinionated, a lifestyle blog, is an extraordinary mom to an 11-year-old boy, a passionate reader and writer – and our July Spotlight Blogger! Nicole has a way of making topics relatable and hurdles surmountable, which makes her blog such a joy to read. Take a look at our Q&A with her below!

What do you feel is the #1 trend in influencer marketing in 2017?

Live video, although I’m hoping we swing back to written content because I get way too nervous on video!

What trend or platform is on its way out?

I don’t think any platforms are particularly on the way out, I think we’ll just keep changing how we use them. Like Facebook, one day GIFs are all the rage, the next it’s those Tasty-style videos and the next it’s Live videos. As for trends, all of them! By nature, trends are short-lived. That’s why we have to constantly adapt as influencers.

Influencer marketing is ________.

Brilliant. Think about it: brands benefit from having real people share their products for a fraction of the cost of an ad during a popular show. I was telling my husband the other day, it makes more sense to pay influencers who have a strong following and KNOW that your product is making it in front of your target audience versus paying $1 million for ad space on a TV show and assuming that 50% will fast-forward the commercial, 25% will get up and get a snack during it, 10% will browse on their phones or have a conversation, and maybe 5% will actually SEE the commercial. Those are totally made-up numbers, by the way, but it’s how I imagine the majority of us watch TV!

What content do you feel your readers find most valuable?

Honest, real-life tips, insanely easy recipes and other ideas that the average, busy mom can use resonate the deepest with my readers. I am absolutely imperfect and flawed (especially when it comes to cooking!), and I think my readers appreciate the fact that I openly admit that regularly.

What is your favorite space to engage with your readers?

On my blog, because I’m a very wordy person! Social media is useful, but I have a hard time limiting myself to a set number of characters!

Where do you see the most engagement with your content?

On my blog itself and on Pinterest. I am madly in love with Pinterest!

Tell us why you blog.

Honestly, I was a broke single mom and needed to figure out a way to pay the bills when I started it. I saw other blogs talking about how much money they made and figured it would be easy. It’s SO not, at least not at first! I kept doing it, though, because I love it. I can work in my jammies, interact with other people who actually “get” me and spend more time with my son.

Where do you find inspiration for new blog posts?

Everywhere! I have a whole system that includes checking out what’s trending on Pinterest, what holidays (regular and weird) are coming up and what has worked well for me in the past that I can expand on. I also read like crazy, everything from magazines to other blogs. I keep multiple notebooks and list apps handy so I can jot down things as they pop into my head. Sometimes, I even come up with them in my dreams!

What advice would you give to someone thinking of starting a blog?

Be yourself and find your own voice. In the beginning, it’s tempting to read thousands of tips from other bloggers and try to duplicate what they’re doing, but you’ll not only be miserable, you’ll be inauthentic. Readers can spot a fake a mile away. Find your voice and let it ring out.

2017 is the year of ________.

Strong women. I think with the current political climate, women are working harder than ever to protect their rights. We’ve always been fighters, but I feel like we’re becoming more united, speaking up louder and really making sure our voices are heard.

My 2017 holiday predictions:

Double duty or functional gifts. More and more people are jumping on the minimalist bandwagon, so I think wish lists will reflect that. Storage that doubles as home decor, kitchen gadgets with multiple purposes and just plain useful gifts will be big!

What’s your greatest challenge when working with brands?

Getting clear and concise expectations up front. I don’t need a lot of hand-holding or creative direction, but if you need me to take a picture of a product in a certain way, I need to know that BEFORE I use it all up. Or, if you want me to write from a certain angle, I need to know that before I write 1,000+ words from another. Most brands are pretty good about this, but I’ve had a few that change directions late in the game and cost me hours of work.

What are your thoughts on working with a brand on multiple occasions (vs. one-off programs)?

I love it. While one-off programs are great too, I love getting to know a brand from different angles and helping my readers develop a deeper relationship with them through my posts.

What are your thoughts on programs measured by initial click-through rates?

I do not love them at all. I think that some brands assume that if they don’t get 1,000 clicks that first day, the campaign failed. That’s like saying that if a million people don’t rush out the door to buy a soda within five minutes after a commercial airs, they’re never going to buy it at all. Readers may not always click through right away, but they’ll (hopefully!) remember what I said when they are ready to buy. In an ideal world, they’ll come back to my post and click the link, but I’ve read a blog post from another blogger in the past about a product, then grabbed it when I was out and about or shopping online without going back to their post.

Favorite program you’ve done with The Motherhood?

I’ve had such a great experience with every program, but I absolutely LOVED Simple Sugars. Not only were their products insanely amazing, but the mom/daughter team behind them was just so inspiring.

What’s the #1 question you’re asked by your readers, and what’s your answer?

The biggest question I get asked is: “How do you start a blog?” For that, I send them to someone else who writes about that subject for a living! I can give basic answers – get a domain, get a host, write, write, write – but honestly, my mom did the first two for me!

What’s the #1 question you’re asked by brands, and what’s your answer?

I think the biggest question I get asked is how I plan to share their product in a unique way. Everyone wants to know that, which makes sense. My answer varies, obviously, but the heart of it is always the same: by making it personal. I don’t copy and paste key messages. I find a way to relate them to my own life, and I think readers find that a lot more authentic and engaging.

What should brands start doing (better) when working with bloggers?

Remember that, for most of us, our blogs are often our businesses and how we keep a roof over our kids’ heads. Treat us with the respect that you would treat another business person. Don’t ask us to do something for free if we don’t have that kind of relationship yet! I am often more than happy to send out a “pro bono” tweet or something to help out a brand with whom I have a relationship, but if your first message to me is asking for a freebie, it’ll end up in my delete folder. Unless of course it’s for a charitable or social good cause. Or for an indie author — I have a soft spot for them!

For more on Nicole, visit her blog or check out her brilliant ideas on Pinterest!

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 August for the next Spotlight Blogger!