Blogging provides a community — or a paycheck — to Idaho Falls mothers

Idaho Falls Moms Blog MAIN

Every detail of Valerie Illguth’s life is potential fodder for her blogs.

She started her travel blog, 51 Cent Adventures, six years ago to write about all the unique and under-the-radar places her family visited on vacations. Over the last few months, she has been writing about all the details of Yellowstone National Park that they encountered while living in an RV near the park last summer. In December she joined the newly started Idaho Falls Moms Blog as one of a team of volunteers writing about her life and the area. Her most recent post talked about the effects of her son’s autism.

Why did Illguth enjoy blogging enough to write for two sites?

“I don’t know,” she laughed. “It’s a good hobby. I don’t need to have any other items around than my laptop.”

It’s easier than ever to create a website and share your writings online. WordPress, one of the world’s largest blog-supporting websites, sees more than 70 million new posts every month.

Not all of those blogs will draw in a ton of traffic or earn their creators money — the average WordPress post gets fewer than six views a month— but most bloggers aren’t looking to make it rich as long as they attract some community of readers.

In the last year, a handful of new blogs have started adding their content to the web out of Idaho Falls. One is a collective effort from more than 20 women looking to help local families, while the other is one woman’s attempt to expand her platform to speak about her disease.

The Moms Blog

In August, Idaho Falls became one of the 92 cities represented by the City Moms Blog Network. Idaho Falls Moms Blog, staffed by nearly two dozen volunteers from in and around the city, is the only city in Idaho, Utah or Wyoming to join the network.

Idaho Falls Moms Blog
Buy Now

Heather Jarrell speaks to a Post Register reporter about the Idaho Falls Moms Blog on Thursday, May 16, 2019.

“We’re kind of a dot on our own over here,” Idaho Falls founder Heather Jarrell said.

Jarrell started the blog as a one-stop location for parents like her to see what the opportunities are for families in the city. The blog gets a lot of traffic from its roundup of the weekend events that will be happening and the guides offering advice on where to find splash pads or host a kid’s birthday party.

“I felt like I was hearing about all these great things that were happening in town and wanted to get all that information in one place,” Jarrell said.

The blog is run by a team of volunteers, many of whom only post once a month. It gives them freedom to write about any subject, whether it’s recent things that happened with their children or advice on what to do during the summer. Some posts are sponsored by local businesses — Jarrell said health-related events have proven especially popular.

Some of those contributors also manage blogs of their own outside the Idaho Falls Moms Blog. Valerie Illguth started her travel blog six years ago while her husband was stationed in Fort Hood, Texas. She said her friends enjoyed hearing about the unique places she would stumble across with her husband and children, so she began writing about them online to get a wider audience while her husband was serving.

“He was deployed to Korea and I was at home with four kids. I would turn on ‘Toy Stor,’ and I would sit and write so I would feel like I was communicating with the outside world,” Illguth said.

The Illguths live outside Pocatello and she isn’t the only mother from outside the city limits writing for the Idaho Falls Moms Blog. The blog posts generally shy away from controversial topics or politics but the differing ages and experiences of the writers allow for some variety in the writing styles. Contributing writer Kim Lewis thought that style combined with the local focus of the blog has helped to grow its audience.

“It’s validating to hear from others in the community that are dealing with the same things,” Lewis said.

{strong style=”font-size: 1em;”}Hailey and a Spoon{/strong}

{p dir=”ltr”}Hailey Williams has been managing a YouTube channel for five years, since around the time her second daughter was born. Her videos were focused on parenting and her family life until she was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2016.

Blogger two
Buy Now

Hailey Williams enjoys the freedom being a blogger provides. Williams is able to work almost anywhere and that allows her to spend more time with her family. She often blogs in her garage so she can be near her two daughters Khloe, 7, and Kaelyn, 5, while they play outside.

{p dir=”ltr”}She switched the focus of her channel to gluten awareness and advocacy. She cut back her number of videos to just one a week but saw her subscriber count rise from just over 1,000 people to nearly 6,000. Last month, Williams used that momentum to launch her own blog called Hailey and a Spoon. She admitted that, before she had launched a blog of her own, she hadn’t been that interested in reading food blogs.

{p dir=”ltr”}“I know if I was going to do blogging it would have to be my style. If I’m not going to like writing that, why would anyone want to read it?” Williams said.

{p dir=”ltr”}That shift in the focus of the blog is not unique to Williams.

{p dir=”ltr”}Former Post Register commentary page editor Katie Stokes ran her own ‘mommy blog’ in Idaho Falls for several years, around the time that blogging first peaked early in the days of the Great Recession.

“It was an easy way to women who were staying home with their kids to pick up some income,” Stokes said.

{p dir=”ltr”}Since then, Stokes said a lot of parents have dialed back on the details they shared about their children. The blogs would stay online forever, meaning an embarrassing story from when a child was 3 could follow them for the rest of their life. Stokes deleted her blog a few years ago in an attempt to remove some of the more personal details she had shared.

{p dir=”ltr”}Williams’ husband recently earned his technical degree and began working as a mechanic in town, but her YouTube channel and blog has become her main source of income. She runs the occasional sponsored video reviewing a gluten-free product and works with the local gluten-free store Mom’s Place. Last month, she traveled to Utah to create videos and meet representatives from celiac-friendly brands at the Nourish Festival.

{p dir=”ltr”}Traveling to Utah also allowed her to connect with other people who blog about the same subject. Gluten-free recipe blogs are much more common in Utah than in eastern Idaho, which has made it tougher for her to befriend other local bloggers.

{p dir=”ltr”}“There’s not a lot of what I do here. I have a niche, so it’s harder to make an acquaintance or friendship easily,” Williams said.

{p dir=”ltr”}Creating a website over the last month and becoming a blogger has led to changes in Williams’ life. She had to learn about website design and coding without any formal training on the subject. Her schedule moved around to let her post regular weekly content — Monday nights are preparing for her YouTube videos to post the next morning and Friday nights are the final touches for her Saturday blog posts.

{p dir=”ltr”}The trade-off for those nights of work, however, is that Williams can easily spend time with her kids at home or take them wherever they need to go without worrying too much about her schedule.

“I can work from the house, the park, the garage. I like being able to work from anywhere,” she said.


Here’s a digital marketing playbook — and it’s yours for under $10

Here’s a digital marketing playbook — and it’s yours for under $10

Did you know nearly 3 billion people around the world are social media users? According to stats from We Are Social, that’s a number quickly approaching 40 percent of the Earth’s population. Beyond air and water, there may be nothing else that touches more humans on this planet.

With mind-blowing figures like those, it’s almost malpractice at this point not to have a well-constructed, finely-tuned social media marketing plan for any business or cause. Thankfully, you’ll have the background to put that plan into motion with the Complete Digital Marketing Course, available right now for just $9 (over 90 percent off) from TNW Deals.

This may look like one course, but the package is really 12 courses in one. As you work through the modules, each examines a different facet of marketing fundamentals, including methods for research as well as the best use of the latest online tools to assemble a web campaign that succeeds by all metrics.

This course will teach you everything you need to know to build and grow an online brand to profitability. Along the way, you’ll use WordPress to create effective websites, email marketing and copywriting, employ ad servers and ad networks like Google Adwords and understand Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to maximize the reach of your brand message.

You’ll also take a focused look at each of the most popular social media venues, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more, charting what works — and what doesn’t work — on each to best reach your intended audience.

Whether you want to get a business rolling or just market yourself as the digital man (or woman) with all the answers, this course is a roadmap to those answers.

With this limited time deal, you can get his intensive marketing training (a $200 value) for less than $10.


This former CIA analyst has signed big deals — and $40 million in new funding — for his internet monitoring startup

Image result for This former CIA analyst has signed big deals — and $40 million in new funding — for his internet monitoring startupTim Junio knew as a high school student that he wanted to join the CIA. He even wrote as much in his college application to Johns Hopkins University, where he would go on to nab both his undergraduate and master’s degrees before heading to the University of Pennsylvania to complete his PhD. (Hungry for more education, he then spent a year at Stanford on postdoctoral research.)

Along the way, his CIA dreams came true. Junio worked for the agency as an intern during his early college years, then in a part-time role. Eventually, he joining the outfit full time as an analyst for several years, where he was tasked with assessing foreign adversaries’ ability to do harm to U.S. interests.

Eventually, Junio began consulting for DARPA, where his career took a turn. While identifying weaknesses in the government’s digital framework, he met several like-minded PhD students with whom he formed a company. Called Qadium, the four-year-old, San Francisco-based company has seemingly been killing it since. Indeed, today, Qadium is announcing $40 million in Series B funding led by Institutional Venture Partners. Others in the round include TPG Growth and earlier backers New Enterprise Associates, Founders Fund, and Susa Ventures.

Qadium didn’t need the money, says Junio, who claims the company still has half the $20 million it raised last year in the bank. Given the types of customers Qadium has been signing up, however — CVS, PayPal, Capital One, Allergan — investors came knocking with ideas about how the company might move even faster.

One of these strategies involves hiring more salespeople. What will they be selling, collectively? An “automated global internet intelligence” platform, in a nutshell. Using technology that indexes every device on the public Internet every hour, Qadium uses the data to monitor the global internet for large organizations’ true network boundaries. In today’s day and age, they go well beyond the firewalls on which companies once relied, with risks that include shadow IT, misconfigurations in cloud hosting, lost devices owing to M&A events, and unauthorized or unmonitored IoT equipment.

Taking it back a level, Qadium does what search companies do for the web by crawling web pages all the time, except Qadium is scouring not just the web but streaming video and streaming audio, as well as a whole chunk of the internet that’s machine-to-machine communications, so its customers have a full, real-time picture of every thing that could impact them. (The company leases space in data centers around the world so it can communicate with the internet in different geographies.)

Customers like what it’s selling. Subscriptions start at $250,000 per year and reach in some cases to more than $1 million annually. You can’t get away with those prices if your product doesn’t work.

In fact, some of these big customers have already recovered their expense, says Junio, pointing to one customer that Qadium saved from the WannaCry ransomware that spread like wildfire in mid May. Junio declined to name the client, but he says it has a “regional office with exposures that we were able to show them. They’d had no idea that they had corporate assets that mattered in this location. I don’t know how far up the chain [the ransomware] might have spread” if Qadium weren’t on the case.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the United States government is one of Qadium’s highest-paying customers, representing a “meaningful” percentage of the company’s revenue, says Junio. Part of that owes to the sheer scale of government. The U.S. Navy alone involves hundreds of thousands of active personnel, in addition to contractors, meaning Qadium has a higher number of users.

Qadium is also monitoring different geographies. Knowing the language of government helps, according to Junio, who says that, owing to his cofounders’ experience at DARPA, they understand government customers “deeply,” and in a way that most Silicon Valley startups do not.

Right now, Qadium sells yearlong and multi-year subscriptions to its software and services. What customers receive in return — beyond persistent monitoring for anything that shows up anywhere —  includes push alerts (some critical, some merely warnings); a web-based product called Expander that gives customers access to their own historical network data going back to 2014 (when the company began tracking network data); and plenty of ongoing support.

Now the plan is to add to Qadium’s 60-person team and, relatedly, stay a few steps ahead of competitors in the process.

Junio doesn’t sound overly concerned by the last. “If you want to scan the internet, we think we do the best job of that. Our data is more complete in any comparison we’ve done.

“I can imagine top engineering companies coming after us,” he says, “but it’s very hard to solve the whole system as we’ve done. It’s really very complicated.”


We need to switch off at weekends — and that includes the gadgets

If you want to de-stress at the weekend, put away your smartphone

If you want to de-stress at the weekend, put away your smartphoneALAMY

A wise friend once told me that the quality of your Sunday is a barometer of how fulfilled you are in life. He was not referring to religious faith — or to the importance of Sunday newspapers such as this one. Rather, he believed that how you spend the day of rest shows whether you have work and leisure in balance.

A new book, The Weekend Effect, written by Katrina Onstad, makes the case for purposeful pursuits on Saturdays and Sundays, rather than pure idleness. She also says that work must not be allowed to colonise weekends, because recreation matters.

Do you ever switch off on the weekend? We mean really switch off. We’re guessing the answer is probably no. It seems that the days of Saturday and Sunday being ‘family time’ and work free days have long gone, and to be honest most of us wouldn’t remember a time when working weekends wasn’t the norm for many career paths.

Regardless of your job, it is generally recognised that employees are entitled to two full days off a week, whether that be the actual ‘weekend’ or other designated days. Sadly, the work/life balance is often leaning too far towards the work side and we are finding ourselves blurring the lines and working on our days off. Even if you work for yourself, you’re not immune from this – in fact you’re probably one of the worst offenders!

You will be MORE productive if you work less

A Harvard study (and many other similar studies) has found that working more hours does not make you more productive in the long run. You are more likely to make mistakes, have accidents and spend time on tasks which are unimportant. In fact the study confirmed that having predictable time off (like weekends and holidays) actually made people MORE productive.

Family time is important too

There’s no doubt that family time is one of the main sacrifices that we make when working longer hours, and even if we are at home we are still contactable via so many methods. We lead such busy lifestyles, our children too, that the little time we do get for quality family time should be cherished. Emails will wait, phone calls can be returned and that report will still be there on Monday. Switch off your devices and head out to the park with the kids!

5 reasons to switch off on weekends

We need to distance ourselves from work

Traditionally work ended as we left the building, but now we carry work with us everywhere we go. It’s so easy to check in to see how a project is going, quickly reply to that email or have a scan of that report that you were just sent. Think about how much time you spend on your devices when you are away from work, and then think about how many of those tasks were urgent. Challenge yourself to go a whole weekend without doing any work related tasks (yes email counts!) and see how much better you feel by Monday.

Your mental and physical health will improve

Always being ‘connected’ and ‘switched on’ isn’t good for your mental health. Anxiety and stress generally increase when we are switched on all of the time. Schedule family and leisure activities into your weekend and treat them as you would any other appointment – do them! You’ll return to work feeling much more refreshed and relaxed.

You might enjoy it!

Once you get into the habit of switching off on weekends, you’ll have the challenge of finding other ways to spend your free time. Imagine the possibilities, and think of all the fun things you could be doing instead!

We challenge you to switch off for a whole weekend! What have you got to lose?