Blogger of the Year is Melanie Braga, owner of the Momma Braga Blog! Melanie exemplifies what it is to be blogger of the year. She not only puts her heart into every piece she writes but she also gives back to other bloggers.

We have seen Momma Braga grow from conception for the last year and half and Melanie has started as a blogger looking to meet others and share her stories of parenthood. Sometimes these posts are heartfelt with articles about trips and adorable quips of her daughter, Nikki. Other times we are brought into her family where she talks about tough topics like miscarriage or her husband’s liver disease. She is not afraid to talk about the tough stuff and is just one of those genuine parent bloggers out there in the blogosphere. We like Melanie because she is a grassroots blogger. She does not come from a place where she had a name or was sponsored by a big brand from the beginning. She blogs because she likes to write (and she is good at it) and she wants to help others.

Melanie champions for other bloggers. She often times approaches bigger blogs and magazines (including the Baby Spot) and recommends bloggers and articles other than herself. She helps make big connections and many bloggers can attest their growing success to Melanie’s keen eye for detail and her pleasant and enthusiastic way of making another person shine. She is not paid or sponsored by either bloggers, businesses or magazines to do this, but simply does it for the love of a good fellow writer. While other bloggers try to build themselves, Melanie builds up others, which is one of the Baby Spots core philosophies. We are all in this together, so let’s champion for one another!

Melanie has experienced some amazing blog milestones. She has a global readership after just a year and a half of writing, she is credited for writing for Huffington Post as well as other magazines and she has seen her video of her daughter Nikki cheering for the WWE go viral. She has even won the hearts of wrestlers and their fans!

Melanie is the people’s blogger so to speak. She champions for others, often putting others before herself. When she is writing, it is from the heart, it is raw, honest and she does not hold back. She has a kind gesture in her writing, but when it comes to product reviews or event reviews you will get the most honest opinion, including where to get the best price! You don’t see that in the blogging world every day.

We are happy to have this popular Canadian blogger as our Blogger of The Year and we will be following Melanie as we send her products to review, events to cover and so much more. Visit Melanie at Momma Braga anytime and get to know her, she is a networking guru and truly a person who wears her heart on her sleeve.

What made you decide to blog?

The main reason that I created Momma Braga was to have a platform to share my personal and parenting stories in hopes to help others through my experiences and journey.

Since I was a young girl, I have always wanted to help people and this is why I originally went into social services but with my lay off in that field and then deciding to be a stay-at-home mom, I felt that this was the next best way to help others. And even though I received negative writing criticism through my working career, I did not let that discourage me from trying to put a passion into play.

Motherhood is a hard job to begin with, so I am hoping through my stories I can help myself and others learn from it. I want to empower and inspire others. That is the meaning behind Momma Braga and that is ultimately what made me decide to blog.

How did you get the courage to start blogging?

It does take courage to express yourself honestly online for the world to read. You are opening your life to everyone. Sometimes our stories make us vulnerable, shows our faults but also reflects our triumphs as parents and as people.

But sometimes in life we need to look past our fears and embrace our ability to conquer it. How would I know if people would connect with me if I wasn’t willing to try?! So here I am a year and a half later and loving it!

What was the first year blogging like for you?

The first year was all about learning about the blogging world (still learning every day). It was also the year to find my voice and see what direction I was taking my blog in. Once I knew what direction I wanted to go, I then had to build my network and reputation with the online community. It is easy for us to build our reputation in a workplace as people can see us and work with us directly. However, the online community is a whole new world and you need to work extra hard to build your reputation with this community and have them get to know you without actually meeting you. I have been very fortunate that in my first year I have made amazing friends in the parenting world and they have been so supportive of my blog!

How do you balance taking care of your daughter full time and running your blog?

That is the million dollar question and one that I am always looking to improve on. It seems like there is never enough hours in a day to get everything done; take care of my daughter; and run a blog with all the social media engagements. However, you learn to slowly balance and set limits for yourself. I do have a calendar that helps me keep track of what I have on the go. This way I am able to schedule my time as best as I can. I also take advantage of my daughter’s nap and sleep times as my time to schedule my social media and to write some of my articles.

I do wish that I had more time to write all the time; however, my daughter has to come first and as her full time caregiver, I sometimes have to put writing on the back burner which many parents can relate to as our children are above anything else.

What do you like best… blogs, product reviews or interviews?

I love the connection that I make as that is my favorite part which encompasses writing my blogs, product reviews and interviews. I love being able to connect with people through my words on a personal and emotional level. I love connecting with the people behind the amazing products that I get to review. I love connecting with the amazing people that I interview and I have interviewed some really awesome people and celebrities. All these connections have all lead to great friendships from all around the world and I couldn’t have asked for anything more!

As a former shy girl who was always too afraid to put myself out there, I have really come out of my shell and am grateful for the new friends that I have made.

What does your audience mean to you?

My audience which includes The Baby Spot audience, is what keeps me going each and every day. Their love, support and encouragement for me to keep writing, is truly appreciated. They truly mean the world to me! That might sound a little corny but this is a Momma Braga interview so it has to be honest! J I am thankful for each and every one that takes the time to read my articles, shares them and comments. I love hearing from my audience and I have had requests to write articles on specific topics which I love!!! That means they are invested in me as much as I am invested in them. Without an audience, who are we inspiring?! This is why they are so important to any blogger.

I want to take this opportunity to say thank you my audience and fans from all over the world as you are all so awesome! You all have a special place in my heart and feel free to connect with me at [email protected] or you can reach me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

What has been the hardest thing about blogging?

Finding the time to sit down to write can be a challenge at times. I think that is the hardest part about blogging as you want your audience to be able to read new articles from you. I try to put out at least one new article a week but sometimes I am not able to due to family obligations and time. I think this is the biggest challenge for most bloggers but we always manage to eventually getting it done! 😉

What has been the most rewarding thing about being a parent blogger?

Being able to inspire parents has been the most rewarding piece of blogging. I have had parents who outreached to let me know how much an article has touched them emotionally and have inspired them. That to me is the best reward! The ability to convey through words my emotions and inspiration to another person is just an amazing experience and so powerful to me.

I do have to add that being exposed to the parent community through my blog and The Baby Spot has been a reward in itself. It has been such a supportive network to be a part of and I feel so fortunate to be connected to it.

How did you make your connections?

A lot of my connections I make is through the art of networking. Networking has been key! As soon as you make one connection with a fellow parent, blogger, family and/or friend, you are opening the doors to many more. I first started connecting with people through social media as that was the only way to branch outside my immediate circle of contacts. Once I did that, those connections started to connect me with others and it just had a dominion affect.

My advice to parent bloggers is to connect with The Baby Spot on social media and follow their posts as this is a great first step to get connected with other parent bloggers and the parenting community. It is a great trusted resource in my books so I highly recommend it! J

Where would you like your blog to be in a years time?

I would love to see my blog continue to grow and to have my blog known as a recognized brand for parents and businesses as a go to parenting blog.

What advice would you offer new bloggers?

Everyone’s parenting journey is different and everyone’s voice is unique. Therefore, just be yourself and write from your heart. We can learn so much from each other’s journey so don’t be afraid to share. Be prepared for positive and maybe even some negative feedback as that is how it goes but always remember the reason behind the story that you are sharing. It could be to inspire, share tips, empower or just a way to vent. It’s your story to tell.

Also try listening to your audience and be interactive with them on social media. If someone has taken the time to respond to your tweet, respond back as it is a courteous thing to do. Momma Braga Tip: This builds your audience and your fan base as they see how invested you are. The rewards will be all worth the 2 minutes it takes to respond.

Build your network and be supportive of other bloggers. Don’t be afraid to share other bloggers’ articles (especially if you think it is a great one) with your followers too as it shows how supportive you are of others.

Let’s build a positive parenting community, one blogger at a time!