Who She Is: Amy Heinz
Using Our Words founder and chief wordsmith, Disney Baby contributor, freelance writer, mom of 3
SUCCESS STORY: Turned her experience running Yahoo’s relationship marketing with top-tier mom bloggers into her own popular slice-of-life parenting blog
WORK SCHEDULE: Monday & Wednesday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., naptimes, evenings, stolen moments in the bathroom
KIDS: “Big” (6-1/2), “Little” (4), “Pink” (20 months)
SANITY VICE: Wine & family dance parties (not necessarily together)
How She Got Here: Turning a Lay Off into an Opportunity (in her own words)
All it took was a few episodes of Melrose Place for me to decide that I’d leave home in the Bay Area to become an LA ad exec one day. As luck would have it, UCLA accepted me, and I moved into an awesome apartment complex with a pool. My first job was at the hottest agency around doing the most thankless work imaginable. At night, I attended Bookshop, a portfolio-building class, and worked my way onto the creative side as a copywriter.
After deciding agency life wasn’t nearly as hot as my boyfriend, I moved back to Northern California to get married. I joined Yahoo’s in-house creative team and enjoyed writing award-winning print, collateral, web, radio, online advertising, and event copy. Right around the time “Big” was born, I was promoted to run the creative team. It didn’t take long to realize that this career move wasn’t working for my family, so I asked for a demotion and transitioned to a 4-day work week. When “Little” came along, I worked 30 hours a week, and went to the office 2 days a week.
During this time, I started contributing to a Yahoo blog called Yodeling Mamas that was open to any mom who worked at Yahoo. Something clicked. I loved it, so I changed roles within the company to run the blog, as well as a blogger outreach program called the Yahoo! Mother Board. Inspired by the 80+ influential moms I was working with, I started my own blog, Using Our Words. Then, while six-months pregnant, I was laid off.
Having the blog paid off. I was invited to become a Disney Baby contributor. But I really consider myself a stay-at-home mom. Having a successful blog and other high-profile writing gigs has helped me feel like I can be at home, but still have a strong resume when the time comes to re-enter the workplace — in whatever capacity that may be.
How She Does It – Q&A
MB: Why is your blog called “Using Our Words”?
AH: I truly consider myself to be the mom next door. Our family is pretty typical, and what typical parent doesn’t spend the day telling little ones to, “Use your words!”? As a copywriter I use my words to build brands, but as a blogger, I use my words to share personal stories and build a community that engages in great conversation. I love that we’re all using our words to talk about how we feel, and make this parenting journey that much more fun.
MB: You told me on the phone that the blog is a way for you to stay engaged with the working world. Can you explain what you mean by that?
AH: When I got laid off, I originally planned to freelance the same hours I’d been working. I was offered different freelance jobs, but I landed on bed rest for a couple months, had a new baby (3 kids is no joke), my father passed away, and life just sort of happened to lead me to being at home. I had always hoped to have the opportunity to be at home with the kids, and I’m so grateful for the time I have with them. But having personal success is also important to me. My blog is helping me stay on top of important skills like writing and social media, and I’m continuing to build a resume by working with companies like Disney, Coca-Cola, and LeapFrog.
MB: What skills, beyond writing, have you learned in order to build a successful blog?
AH: While my job at Yahoo helped me learn a lot about social media, I’m continuing to learn as it grows and evolves. I’ve also learned (and have a lot more to learn) about sales, negotiations, marketing, and putting a value on my time and expertise (which is extremely difficult in the blogging world).
MB: Are there any blog resources out there that you have found particularly useful?
AH: I’m a huge fan of WordPress (self hosted) as a blog platform (though I have hired an awesome expert who helps me with the more technical side of things). PicMonkey is my new favorite (free!) tool — you can do all kinds of amazing things to turn simple iPhone pictures into art. It’s especially great for the slideshow posts I tend to write for Disney Baby. Feedblitz is a great email service as I’m building my subscriber base. I used to be a total Facebook loyalist (it’s where I see the most engagement from my readers), but now that their algorithms are impacting the number of “fans” who see the posts I share in their feeds, I’m trying to make nice with Twitter and Google+, too. They’re both so powerful, and I’m enjoying learning more about how to maximize their potential.
MB: What have you learned the most about yourself with this endeavor?
AH: It may sound funny, but I’ve learned I’m a writer. Not just a copywriter. Not just a blogger. A writer. I absolutely love to write and I feel like there’s real potential for me and my future. It’s exciting and terrifying at the same time.
Follow Amy @usingourwords
– SD (@staceydelo and @maybrooksjobs)
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