Founder of Tiny Oranges, the ever popular community blog for OC families, Jennifer Scheumann shares her journey that allowed her to turn her passion into a thriving business.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m an Orange County, CA native, wife and mom with 2 young girls who are 7 and 4 years old. I have a background in Sales and Marketing and after I got married, I found that I had a passion for event planning. So, I started my own wedding coordinating business, which I did for about 6 years and absolutely loved it. One of the reasons I had the business was because I knew when I started a family, I wanted to do something where I would work for myself and have a flexible schedule.
However, when I had my first daughter in the middle of having this busy business, I didn’t quite realize what it took to run a small business with a small child at home. I was away on the weekends and worked long days. It was not the lifestyle I was looking for when I became a mom.
At the time, two friends in the wedding industry started a wedding blog and I absolutely loved their format. This was about 6-7 years ago when blogs were really up and coming. My daughter was 2 years old at the time and I was still doing weddings, but I felt that I wanted to do something else. I just didn’t know what it was.
When I became a mom, there was this new world that opened up for me in Orange County, CA. I never knew what parks people went to or what restaurants were family friendly. There were all these things out there for families that I didn’t know about. As a young mother, I felt a lot of joy when I was sharing information, tips and cool places with friends, which ultimately inspired me to start my blog called, Tiny Oranges.
I loved what my two friends did with their wedding blog and I wanted to do something similar for Orange County moms.
Since the beginning, we have grown slowly and totally organically through word of mouth. Recently, we’ve seen exponential growth with the explosion of social media. We are now celebrating our 5th year anniversary this summer and have about twenty thousand visitors each month!
Was your goal from the beginning to make your blog a profitable business?
Yes, I did or it would’ve been a very expensive hobby. When I started, I invested money on getting the website professionally designed and built. My goal was to attract readers to the site based on high quality and valuable content that was helpful, entertaining and fun. Once the readership was strong, my next goal was to get local businesses that wanted to get in front of those readers and have a great opportunity to market through my site.
It took about 1 good year for my blog to become profitable. In the beginning, I just wanted to focus on building my readership, because I didn’t have anything to offer. The benefit of having a blog was that the overhead was fairly low. So, it really didn’t take that long for the blog to be profitable.
What main challenge did you face building the blog?
Once I took the steps to hire a sales director and eventually two contributing writers, it freed up my time to be able to look at my big picture goals and work on growing my business. My piece of advice for anyone growing a small business is to recognize when you are getting too busy and take the steps to get great people in place to support you!
What do you love about your blog?
Oh, I love it all! I joke that my blog is like my third child. I love helping moms. I love that I’m sharing, even if it’s a fun product that I liked and someone tells me that it has made a big difference in her life.
The most rewarding thing for me is that I help to make family life a little bit more fun. And through my blog, I’ve written about personal experiences and parenting challenges as well. I had gestational diabetes with my second pregnancy and I was able to talk about that with my readers. My newborn had reflux and colic and I was able to talk about that.
In my most recent blog, I shared a new diagnosis called, EoE, where I was having a hard time swallowing food when I eat, which is likely caused by certain food allergies. And one of my readers commented and shared that her mom experienced the same thing, but found it to be an environmental allergy.
One of my favorite things is feeling that sense of community when readers comment and share their experiences. As moms, I feel like we are all on the same club and it’s an inspiring feeling that we are part of this sisterhood together.
What top advice would you share with a mom whose goal is to build a profitable blog?
Look at their blog as a business from the get-go. If start-up budget permits, I suggest looking into hiring a graphic designer to design your blog. Many designers are more affordable than you might think. Starting out with a professional looking site will make your blog more attractive to potential advertisers looking to market their business on your platform.
However, this is not to say a professional designer is necessary. When designing your blog site, no matter how you go about doing it, the more professional and clean the look, the better!
Another big piece of advice is to be authentic. From the very start, I have made it my mission to only talk about companies on my site that I would personally recommend to my girlfriends. I have to believe the company is of value to my readers, or I will not write about it. If you are authentic and genuine in your content, it will shine through, and you will gain the trust of your readers. In the long run, this is better for your readers and the companies you partner with.
The next important advice is to get involved in blog conferences. There are amazing conferences for bloggers where you can go and meet other people doing the same thing, to learn from them, network and build your community.
Lastly, be patient, because success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of hard work to build your readership. It happens slowly, but I think if you have the passion and feel inspired by what you’re doing, then it’s worth taking the time to invest in it.
While you’ve been building your blog as a business, what have you learned about yourself?
Oh my gosh, so much! The number one thing was recognizing how valuable it was to have this business for my personal fulfillment. There is so much that I get out of the business. It feeds the side of me that loves to help people. And I love the business aspect of brainstorming and thinking of different ways to make it bigger and better. There are so many parts of me that get fulfilled by what I’m doing.
It also helped me focus on keeping our priorities in place in the midst of our busy schedules and the demands of the business.
What does balance mean to you?
Finding your Mommy-Mojo where things are in-sync and operating well. I think it’s almost impossible to be totally balanced. At the same time, there are times in life where you will definitely feel like family life is in a good rhythm, and there are times where you’ll feel out of that rhythm causing you to feel overextended, stressed or overwhelmed.
But I think those experiences are a blessing, because in those times, I really had to step back and see how things aren’t working, what is stressing me out and figure out what I can do to make changes and get back to that Mommy-Mojo again.
I think it’s evolving. I think balance is not something that you attain and it’s good forever. It’s definitely cyclical in parenthood. When you’re in it, I think it’s awesome and you should enjoy
it, but when things shift and it gets harder then you make the changes you need to find it again.
What do you do to maintain balance in you life?
My biggest thing is exercise. I’ve been exercising regularly for about three years now and it has been a big life changer for me. I think it’s important to find something you love to do at a time that works and stick to it. The benefits you will see are not only physical, but mental as well.
In addition, finding different things that I enjoy, such as a new hobby, a date night with my husband or signing up for a local 5K run. It helps me feel a little bit more complete, because I feel like I’m working on myself at the same time.