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Old 11-03-2004, 08:27 PM
ajrsmom's Avatar
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chuckle FC's WebMom, Amanda, has been named Girlposse.com's Nov. 2004 Web Diva!!

Web Diva

November 2004's Diva

Amanda Formaro of FamilyCorner.com


The Interview


Girlposse.com: Tell us a little bit about yourself:
Amanda Formaro: My name is Amanda Formaro, I am married, 12 years now, to Tracy. We have 4 wonderful children, Tony, Kristen, TJ, and Dominic. We live in Henderson, NV. I love horses, I’m an artist (I paint folk art and country primitives), and I love pets (we have a German Shepherd and a cuddly cat).

GP: Do you consider your site a: hobby, part-time business, full-time business, or other?
AF: It has swaggered back and forth between hobby, part-time and full-time. Right now, I am focusing on it full time. The holidays are always very busy on my site, so it’s important for me to be on top of it, continuously adding new content etc.

GP: Was that always your intention?
AF: I always intended for the site to be my sole income. That was the whole reason I started it, but it blossomed into so much more. I have a very creative side and FamilyCorner allows me to express that side. J

GP: Was it always your plan to run a website?
AF: I stumbled across the idea in 1997, when I got my first computer and logged on to the internet.

GP: What made you decide to run a site?
AF: One of my first destinations on the web was a very busy message board community. After chatting with people there, I found out that you could create a homepage with free web space. I was, at that time, with AOL. They offered free web pages for their members, and a program that would allow you to generate HTML without knowing anything about it. So I created a home page to share with my family and friends. Then I stumbled across different affiliate programs that screamed “earn money with your website!” So, I started adding them thinking I was going to make tons of cash. HA! Little did I know that I would need to get people to my site, and then once they were there, have something “sticky” enough to keep them coming back. That’s when I started “Family Links”, which was just a website directory of sorts, that linked out to other places. I joined web-biz discussion lists and started networking with other webmasters. I learned quickly that link directories are not the way to go. I started adding articles, began a newsletter, and then eventually bought my own domain name in 1998, thefamilycorner.com (familycorner.com was still not available, it was several years later that I obtained that domain).

GP: Had you had computer experience before this?
AF: Yes, but not internet or publishing. I worked in Corporate America in the northern suburbs of Chicago for many years. I was in finance and had a good career. I decided to stay home with my kids a few months after my third child was born, hence being at home to create this website.

GP: When I first meet people and they ask what I do - they don't always understand it. Some don't think of it as a "real job" and others want to know the ever nosey "Do you make money?" How about you?
AF: Isn’t it funny that when you have a home based business, no matter what type it is, people don’t seem to have a problem asking how much money you make? If I walked up to a coworker in the office and said “Hey Jan, I was thinking about applying for a position like yours, how much money do you make?” she would be appalled! (laughing) As home based business owners, people are fascinated by the entrepreneurial spirit, and inside, they wonder if they could do it too. There’s a lot of it going on now, more and more home businesses pop up each day, so I guess I have just gotten used to that question now. Usually, if we are having a conversation about children, crafts, parties, etc, I’ll hand them a business card and say “Check out my website, there are tons of ideas on there, and a huge message board community of parents just like you and me, they have great ideas!” That often sparks the question “Wow, is that a business for you? How do you earn money with it?” So generally, instead of asking how much, they just want to know if it actually generates an income at all!

GP: How many people are involved with running your site?
AF: Well, for quite some time it was just me. A very dear friend of mine, Cindy Sanchez, now owner of MomsMenu.com, has been with me for years. She was a member of a parenting discussion group that I had and one day she offered to help me. She started off doing data entry and helping me with adding recipes. Then, as time went by, I made an arrangement with Cindy to share affiliate revenue in exchange for helping me promote affiliate offers in my newsletters. She keeps my affiliate links up to date, and sends me the links to promote. Cindy is wonderful, I could never have done as much as I have without her help.

On my message boards, I have several amazing volunteers. People have come and gone over the years, but there are more moderators and assistant moderators now, and they are all wonderful. Tami Rose is my Assistant Administrator, she handles tech support issues and is in charge of everything on the boards. She has administrative capabilities and I would never be able to keep the boards up without her! Cindy Hebert is my Head Moderator. She helps out all new members, answering questions, welcoming them, showing them around, etc. She is also in charge of all the moderators and puts together the weekly newsletter. Another one I could not do without! There are currently 6 Moderators, and 8 Assistant Moderators that cover all the different areas of the boards. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the time that they commit to FamilyCorner, they make that community shine! Many of them can all be seen on our staff page (still waiting for some bios!):
http://www.familycorner.com/services/staff.shtml

GP: Do you work from home?
AF: Yes

GP: What are the challenges to working: online? (From home?)
AF: I guess the biggest challenge is balance. FamilyCorner is my passion, I love working on it, and I hate housework! However, housework is still a necessary part of life. So I have to look at it like a job outside the home. There are aspects to your job that you love, and some that you hate. You don’t get to pick and choose, you just do your job and get it done. I try very hard to be consistent and keep to a regular computer schedule so as not to neglect my children when they are home, after all, that’s why we stay home!

GP: What changes have you seen in the internet since you first came online as a visitor? As a site owner?
AF: Wow! Huge changes. As a visitor, I guess the biggest changes I have seen have been the advancements in technology, such as flash and other scripted websites. Also in the advertisements, amazing how we went from little buttons to massive banners to get the viewers attention. As a site owner, I have seen advertising revenue go from amazing down to pathetic. It is doing much better now, but still nowhere near the amount that advertisers pay for exposure on television or radio. Hopefully, advertisers are beginning to understand the internet market and this scale of revenue will continue to improve.

GP: How has your site changed since the beginning?
AF: There’s been many changes to FamilyCorner since the beginning. The design has changed numerous time, I don’t even remember how many times, maybe 5 or 6? The content categories have changes as well, as I learned to be more focused on my audience. I’ve gone from plain text newsletter to all HTML, the site is now 100% on the screen instead of 600 pixels, and the navigation has improved tremendously. Of course the traffic is a lot different now too. This month FamilyCorner will topple over the 3 million page view mark, a definite record breaker over previous months.

GP: Who are your visitors?
AF: Mostly parents and grandparents. Women are the majority, though there are some men that frequent the site. Most of the people that visit are out of the “new parent” stage and have settled into the “seasoned parent” role, having 2-3 or more children, some in high school, some in junior high.

GP: With all of the sites around today, what makes yours such a popular site?
AF: I think the focus is a good one. Quality time with our families is a huge thing these days. It’s not like it was years ago, we focus on our children, our families, even the workplace has become more family friendly allowing for telecommuting and job sharing to accommodate working parents. People need balance in their life. Hopefully, FamilyCorner has been able to help find that balance.

GP: What is your favorite feature on your site?
AF: Wow, I’ve never been asked that question, and frankly, don’t know how to answer it. I love FamilyCorner, all of it. I guess if I had to pick my favorite part, it wouldn’t be a physical part of the site, it would be the people that frequent it. If you visit my message boards, you will find the friendliest people on the planet talking there. I love them all. J



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Old 11-03-2004, 08:28 PM
ajrsmom's Avatar
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Posts: 11,872
GP: What do you have planned for your site in the near future? Down the road?
AF: Well, recently I have moved all of my food related content over to MomsMenu.com. Cindy and I have formed a content partnership, as food is a huge subject and needs a focus of its own. In doing so, this allows me more time to add a Health/Fitness/Beauty section that is specific to Moms and teens/tweens. There are so many Moms out there that end up with low self esteem because they take care of everyone else FIRST, and forget about themselves. I want a section where Moms can see that the frumpies don’t have to be part of everyday life, and that it’s still ok to do things for themselves as well as everyone else. As for down the road, I want to add more experts to my site, doctors, veterinarians, dentists, parenting experts, etc. Scheduled chats are also in the future, we did them before, and I want to revisit that area. All of that takes time, and I’m only one person, so I guess it’ll have to continue to grow slowly as it has for so many years. J

GP: As a business owner on the 'net - you've seen many ups and downs. What has kept you going?
AF: The fact that my bills are reasonable, at least for now. With increased traffic comes increased server fees, but overall, I don’t have overhead, rent, payroll, etc., so I have been able to keep at it without disruption. FamilyCorner is definitely my passion, it allows me to express my creative side with design and with writing.

GP: There are many different aspects to running a web site. From creating and finding content, to site design, to massive amounts of e-mail, etc. What is your favorite aspect?
AF: Design. I have a lot of fun when I redesign the site, but it is a lot of work. And you can’t redesign everyday, so that satisfaction comes less frequently. That’s why I enjoy adding new features to the site. I recently converted my once “Recipe Database” into a “Family FunBook” http://www.familycorner.com/cgi-bin/sefer.cgi There, people can go to find quick little ideas for their kids, such as indoor and outdoor activities, kid’s recipes, crafts, holiday ideas, and more. I can’t wait to get started on the new section for moms and teens too!

GP: How do you balance your time between them?
AF: I don’t know, I just do! It only takes me about 20 minutes to put together a newsletter now, I guess I’ve mastered that part ;-) I of course use templates to add new articles so it doesn’t take me too long, and I always bookmark new sources when I find them so I can check back later. I use folders like crazy in my email program. It’s scary how many folders I have!

GP: We've heard from other site owners that one of their frustrations are visitors that complain about advertising they see on-line while visiting their (free) sites. Yet people don't seem to bat an eye at the pages of ads they find in traditional magazines. Any thoughts?
AF: I used to get bothered about that too. I don’t run the pop up advertisements through my regular website or my message boards. I only run them in the Family FunBook and my Household Hints & Tips database. I personally, think that pop ups are a pain in the neck and are in poor taste. Those were the only ones I ever received complaints about, therefore I don’t really get anymore. Occasionally I run solo ad campaigns in my newsletters, but for the most part, people are understanding. If they do complain, I have a canned response that I sent to them about the site being free and in order for that to continue we must run advertisements.

GP: Describe a typical work day for you:
AF: I can’t, I don’t have one! ;-) Generally, I check my email with my coffee in the morning, before anyone else gets up. After the kids have gone to school, I answer emails and check on my message boards. I usually do a newsletter, but my youngest son goes to afternoon Kindergarten, so sometimes that doesn’t go as planned. After I drop my son at school, I go and work out, then I pick up my oldest child from school. An hour later I pick up the other three, then it’s homework, housework, and dinner. Usually I don’t work at night, but sometimes I do if my husband isn’t home.

GP: What is your greatest pet-peeve on-line?
AF: I have two. People that can’t seem to follow very simple unsubscribe instructions, and people that don’t want to learn how to do things on their own. When I started this site, I didn’t know HTML, or cgi or anything else for that matter. I learned from the business discussion lists, I read articles on the subject, and I took an online tutorial course on HTML. I am completely self taught and have never completely depended on someone to tell me hoe to do everything. I guess that’s why it bugs me so much. :-P

GP: What are your Top 5 Sites to visit?
AF:
1) Mine of course LOL!
2) Google – I go to Google for everything. It’s the only search engine I ever use.
3) eBay – I sell and I buy on eBay. I have found many great deals there!
4) Hallmark – I love Hoops and YoYo ecards, they crack me up!
5) MomsMenu.com – Whenever I’m looking for something new for dinner, that’s where I go

GP: What is your greatest reward in having a site?
AF: The emails I get telling me how great it is. It is the best feeling to know that you are benefiting so many with what you do!

GP: As more people are regularly online, do you think the internet has helped with the feeling of community or hurt it somehow?
AF: I think it has opened a whole new window for so many. There are people out there that either live in remote areas, or they are simply introverts and don’t like to socialize in person. The internet has allowed so many people to make friends online, people they may never, ever meet in person. These friendships are genuine and very important. I talk more with my internet friends than I do with anyone offline!

GP: If you ran the internet, what 5 things would you change?
AF: Advertising - I would make it clear that the internet is a medium just like TV and radio, and those providing the content would be justly compensated for their efforts.

Attitude & Education – the internet needs to be seen as a service, just like any other, and people should be thankful for the free content they receive and understand that there are people out there working hard to provide it for them. There should be some sort of “Internet 101” course that you have to pass before being allowed to surf LOL!

Viruses – I honestly don’t know WHAT I would do to fix this, but something needs to be done!

Browsers – All browsers should see things in the same way. It’s ridiculous that each browser is different, and that in each browser colors don’t come through the same, and that not all programs run in all browsers. That’s definitely a problem.

Spam filters – UGH! These are horrible! They block email newsletters that people have willingly subscribed to, double opt-in at that, yet those emails still can’t make it to their intended recipients.

GP: Do you have any advice for people wanting to start their own site?
AF: All I can say is, if it’s not your passion, don’t expect to create a huge website and get lots of visitors. It’s hard work, but if you love doing it, you will keep at it and make it work. If you can’t afford to pay to advertise and market your site, expect to spend many hours, online, submitting to search engines, doing link swaps, and slowly, ever so slowly, watching your traffic grow. Research, don’t expect things handed to you. Provide something that people are looking for, and provide it WELL. Make sure your content is of great quality, don’t settle for bad grammar and poor writing skills. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of talented freelance writers out there looking for places to submit their work. Be ethical, don’t spam, link back where due, and always think twice before sending a nasty reply to an email that struck you the wrong way. Don’t take it personally, respond as a business owner, wait a day if you must to clear your head.

~November 2004

printed from girlposse.com. You can read the article here: http://www.girlposse.com/web_diva/we...ilycorner.html


WAY TO GO AMANDA!!!
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Old 11-08-2004, 08:05 AM
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Congratulations Amanda!

I am so thankful for FC and for you! This is a perfect accolade for you! I am so thrilled that you have received this!

Congratulations from the bottom of my heart! You truly deserve it!

Nancy
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Old 11-22-2005, 07:56 AM
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Congratulations Amanda

Congratulations Amanda,

You deserve this in so many ways, I want to thank you for such a great site and all the fun and ideas there are. I love this site.
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Old 11-22-2005, 08:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by victorian
Congratulations Amanda,

You deserve this in so many ways, I want to thank you for such a great site and all the fun and ideas there are. I love this site.
Thank you victorian! I love this site and am very glad that others do too
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Old 12-04-2005, 07:53 PM
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Join Date: May 2005
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 3,097
WAY TO GO AMANDA ... I HAD NOT EVEN SEEN THIS YET... Evertyime I come to FC I find a new place to visit... THIS IS THE BEST SITE THIS SIDE OF HEAVEN... I honestly appreciate all your hard work and time that you put into your site. I am glad to say that I am a part of a growing, friendly, loving site. GBU from the bottom of my heart
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Old 12-05-2005, 06:50 AM
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Congratulations, Amanda!! That is awesome!!
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Old 12-28-2005, 04:44 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2003
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Amanda this thrills me so much to see that you did win... Way to go...
Congrulations ... you have deserved it in everyway possible.
I've been here for some time, and like I've said before I this website. You are always coming up with new things, such as the New , icons.
Thanks for the hard work, and puttting your life and time into this..to make it #1
Looking forward to many more great times and yrs at FC...
Keep up the good work.
Keep Tami and the moderators for they are wonderful too.

Thanks Tami for putting this online where we could see it.
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Old 12-28-2005, 05:10 PM
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Congratulations Amanda I agree with all Barbara and the others have said.
Thanks Barbara for sending me here.
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Old 12-28-2005, 08:54 PM
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Amanda, I am so happy for you.

Congrats on the fine job you do! And the award. Mya this be the start of a fabulous new Year.
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