In our newest series, we are sharing insight from our most beloved partners, those the industry considers the “golden children” of social media.  Influencers hold some of the best kept secrets and incredible stories about how they reached their social media status.  Today, Mandi is here to share her story with us, and I’m certain you will walk away as inspired as I did.

ZJ: Mandi, you have quite an incredible story.  Does your blog focus on your personal story, or did it for a while, and if so, how do you feel that helped build your audience?

MW: In the very beginning it was treated as more of a diary and a way to share how my family was saving money. I originally started my blog(back then it was called Mandi Minding Money) to share all about frugal shopping, but it quickly evolved. Sharing my personal story is something I really want to get back to though. I know that my history – being a teen mom, losing my mom at a young age – could potentially help someone, inspire someone, so I want to share it.

ZJ: Tell us how being a full-time mom to three inspires your work as an influencer?

MW: I think my motherhood journey has really evolved over the years as well. With my first child, I was young and everything was so new. I was very open to learning, exploring, and listening to other moms for their opinions on things. Then with my second and third children, I was able to switch roles and become an influencer myself. I had my own opinions, my own recommendations, my own experiences to share. As they all get older, the knowledge and experiences I have will continue to evolve as well!

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ZJ: Was there a point that you officially considered yourself an influencer, and if so when was that and what did you think?

MW: It’s going to sound very “newbie” blogger to some, but it was when a brand invited me to fly from Ohio to Los Angeles with my daughter. It was always a dream of mine to go to LA and to see the Hollywood sign, so when those emails started coming I was just in shock. It was definitely a moment where I sat back and looked at my blog and everything I had done and thought, “Wow, someone is paying attention!”

ZJ: What does it mean to you that you are an influencer?

MW: I have always had a passion for helping others. I think it stems from personal experiences, things like being in a very low-income household when my mom was diagnosed with cancer, becoming pregnant at 17, and losing my mom to said cancer that I wanted to be sure that I helped others like people had helped me. My teenage years were rough and full of life-changing events, but I think each of them really helped shape who I am today and what kind of advice and support I can give. So to be an influencer and have other moms seek my input on something and to know that people care about what I have to say and share with them, it feels really good. I’m always taken aback when someone seeks ME out and opens up and shares something they need help with.

ZJ: If there was one piece of advice you would give to anyone who want to become an influencer, what would that be?

MW: I’m pretty sure I’m speaking to myself right now, but don’t be afraid to be personal. If you are going to blog, don’t fill it with sponsored content and evergreen posts in hopes of making money. You aren’t going to have readers if you can’t be honest with them and share with them. People read blogs because they want to see how others live, so if you aren’t sharing and you aren’t bringing personal stories and experiences into it, what’s the point? Don’t be afraid to share who you are and what your life has been like.

ZJ: It looks like you’ve been involved with quite a lot of influencer campaigns.  What kinds of thought processes do you use when choosing a campaign to work on?  Please walk us through.

MW: If it’s a product or service that I already have a positive experience with and that we use all the time, I love working with those brands. It’s so easy to share when you’ve already been cooking with or playing with something for weeks/months/years. You have a bank of knowledge and experience you can pull from. If I don’t have experience with it, I think about whether or not it’s something I would actually use. Does it fit our food preferences? Does it fit my style, or my daughter’s style? If you can’t find a good, solid reason that you could give something an honest try, then why bother with it? Don’t make promises to try something or cook with something if you are just going to flub your way through it because you aren’t giving it 100% of your effort and time.

ZJ: Any upcoming exciting announcements, posts or campaigns we should look out for?

MW: I’m hoping to relaunch my work from home e-books as a single edition rather than individual break-out books. I’m not sure on the release date just yet, but likely early 2016! I may have some more tricks up my sleeve, but those are under wraps for now!

If you are an influencer and would like to be interviewed, please send us an email to social@hireinfluence.com.