The brain burst for girl-next-door Jenny Ingram’s seminal blog happened one morning in 2004. She wasn’t interested in doing a book at the time, but why not try her hand at blogging?
Others were doing it, and her ideas for “Jenny on the Spot” resonated. She felt other moms might really respond to her spin on parenting well and living better. What better platform than online to connect? And what if her voice was fear-free? How many touch points could Jenny create, bundling her content up in a comic twists and turns? Sensibility and substance with a bit of slapstick?
“I use the arts of storytelling, photography, video and humor to draw people in, going for the funny bone and/or the heart,” Jenny says. “It just made sense to me that a blog could talk about all this big-little stuff, while building relationships with a great community of other moms who had kids at home. I was in the same season of life as they were.”
Jenny knows a girl’s just gotta have fun, and Jenny on the Spot has grown from a hobby into a thriving business. The blond-maned and twinkle-eyed disarmer is an inveterate web staple, immersing her visitors in family and home, beauty and style, DIY and home.
In addition, she now enjoys non-stop adventures in vlogging. On any given day, Jenny on the Spot could make you smile (and count your blessings) with cheater paella, green hairspray and eye strain supplements. Other juicy fare: Jenny’s pet peeves, like denim on denim, people lacking a sense of urgency and eating while on the phone.
This girl goes. Also a YouTube producer, speaker and social media guru, Jenny’s worked closely with such household names as Starbucks, Walgreens, General Mills, eBay and TempurPedic. She’s also the recipient of a 2019 Influential Creator Award winner in influencer marketing.
Tell us a bit more about how your blog took off.
Jenny: Until 2008, it was a total hobby. Then I decided to blog every day—a year-long challenge. At the same time, I signed up for a “Blog Her” conference, which is now owned and run by She Knows. There I met a ton of people doing the same thing that I was, and that led to placing ads on my site and reviews through Blog Her. Those connections to other people and brands shifted me professionally and today’s Jenny on the Spot was born.
Early on, I had sponsored content and straight up reviews for family-friendly fare like Goldfish crackers. Over the years, the blog has shifted into more of my own stories with cross-pollination on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, etc. A lot of my sponsored contracts involve a blog post, video and social. Or I could be just pinning or tweeting.
How did you come to be a host at Vibe?
Jenny: At the beginning, it was a moment of discovery via the virtual reality tour that Vibe hosted at their architect’s office long before construction had been completed on their new building. We were invited because my husband is a founding member, so that was really how I got to Vibe.
Then, recently, I was poking around on social media, and saw the call for applications to become a host via the Vibe Host Program. I thought that would be a lot of fun. A no brainer. I’d also be able to work in here more often. I have kids in and out of the house, even during the school week. One’s graduated, the other’s in Running Start. So being a Vibe member is a way to gather more focused time outside of the house.
Vibe has also made me be more intentional about getting to know the community of those working independently and remotely.
What’s your biggest challenge as a writer / producer?
Jenny: Because it’s all about storytelling, my biggest challenge is balancing it all. It’s really hard to know which garden to tend the most sometimes. Which one do you nurture most? There’s the blog to write for, there’s a video to create and then there’s the social piece. All these different areas to create content for in slightly different voices—and making the time for all those spaces. Most of my website traffic comes from Pinterest, but I need to be trending better on Google organic searches, so I’m focusing more on SEO.
Basically, I think you have to do it all, but you really can’t do it all. I do tend to create more pinnable content, but I’m in love with Instagram. Pictures are most homey to me.
What other outlets have featured you?
Jenny: Buzzfeed, Parents.com, New Day Northwest, Komo News, Today’s Parent, Kitsap Sun, Redbook, Blog Design for Dummies (my website design is featured), Daily Mail… I’ve written for the Huffington Post’s “Becoming Fearless” and Blog Her. I’m a former video correspondent as an iVoice with iVillage. I’ve published a Redbook Magazine article and led countless classes on social media and video blogging, both locally and across the country. I’ve even emceed an auction or two.
What does it take to be fearless?
Jenny: Fearlessness you must let go of caring so much about what others think, but I also really, really struggle with that. Fortunately—or unfortunately—internet comments have helped me learn whose opinion matters and whose does not!
What do you think Vibe Coworks means to the Kitsap community?
Jenny: Connection. Specifically, I’ve been really impressed with the number and diversity of events that go on at Vibe. They really create a ripple effect, like tossing this pebble and that pebble, and these rings are all crossing over.
For me, Vibe is becoming my new normal every day. The motivating conversations that I’d only had at blogging conferences—I’m now getting to have those here, too. It’s so valuable, so inspiring and you don’t feel so alone in your own head.
Who do you think is super funny?
Jenny: Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. I love them. They’re such a great team.
How did you become a self-proclaimed silly girl?
Jenny: Back in the beginning of my blogging days, I was connecting with these women who were overwhelmed moms of preschoolers. I noticed that we started falling into a negative narrative, “Woe is me,” “Oh, this is so hard.” There was a point, I was like, I don’t want this to be my voice. I want people to laugh. And I want to affect my visitors in a positive manner.
I started working on a more humorous and lighthearted tone. I stopped watching CSI and other TV dramas that brought up a deep, dark fearfulness. You can only sit in that so long. I started reading funny things, filling my brain and my heart with positivity. I want to be a force and resource versus creating heaviness. The silly side of life can make it all lighter. We can get the negative from lots and lots of places, but I don’t have to report that way.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned since being at Vibe?
Jenny: That you don’t have to be in the same industry to benefit from the experience, knowledge, and community of other entrepreneurs! I have attended many conferences in my industry (blogging). I LOVE “escaping” to these events because it is in those spaces this self-employed, online content creator feels like she belongs. I am with my people! They get me! We practically finish each others’ sentences of lament!
Working from home can be isolating, and blogging as a career is still fairly misunderstood... if only simply confusing to many. Through my time at Vibe I am discovering that some of the isolation and level of “misunderstood" I feel may not be so much a result of the industry I am part of, but perhaps part of how it is to work from home and its lack of regular face-to-face access to a professional community.
Working as Vibe host and being a part of the Vibe community gives me a place here in my own community where I feel a sense of professional belonging. Instead of feeling like a crazy, home-bound oddball, I am discovering many of the struggles I have faced may just be part of the self-employed, work-from-home hustle.
It has been so refreshing, motivating, and empowering to stand around the kitchen counter at Vibe and talk shop… to learn what other entrepreneurs struggle with, tactics they employ to solve issues, the professional sharing of resources on Slack, joining the one of the mastermind groups, and… Just having those “water cooler” moments has really helped satiate a personal and a professional thirst.
Fill in the blank: on my nightstand is….
Jenny: My phone full of books from Libro.fm. (Fun fact: Libro.fm also calls Vibe home!) I’ve just finished two books, Everybody Always and Love Does. In the former, Bob Goff writes that our job is not to tell people who they should be or what they should do but tell them who they are. Not like “You’re lousy” but that you are loved, you are valuable. My husband and I are both really trying to apply that to our lives as much as we can.
Do you like to cook?
Jenny: I love to cook. I just don’t like to clean it up. I would cook more if I didn’t have to. My favorite thing to make for the family? I love to grill. I’m the barbecue queen. My husband and I are dueling grillers. Paul is a little better at it because he’s been doing it longer. But I’ve become successful at cooking a good piece of meat.
Do you have a saying that you live by?
Jenny: My website tagline is “Peace and Sparkles” so I would go with that.
Who spells leadership to you?
Jenny: I don’t know that there is any one person. There are many people who have affected and inspired me. I suppose a great leader in my mind is decisive, yet kind. There are several women in my life who lead through compassion, action, lift other women up, and take decided action. Those are individuals I want to follow.
Tell us a short story about a top brand for which you’ve worked.
Jenny: I went to Iceland on a road trip, sponsored by Animal Jam and Visit Iceland. I went as a blog writer for Kids Activities Blog. There were seven other influencers, and we road tripped through western and northern Iceland in a bus for a week, from Reykjavik to the Blue Lagoon to Icelandic horse rides to the Icelandic Goat Center (it’s true!) to waterfalls to adventures into a glacier to the Icelandic Seal Center to Heydalur to finding the Northern Lights (but they didn’t make an appearance—boo!) to a visit at the Arctic Fox Center.
There we got to meet the mayor of Suovik (because he walks to the center most days to have coffee). My favorite part of the adventure was a very cold and wet boat ride to Kviar Lodge on the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. We had to board a dingy to get from the boat to the shore in our winter wear, and it was awesome.
Where is your favorite summer destination?
Jenny: Coeur d’Alene. We love the lake there, and we’ve gone there a few summers. It’s such an escape. The cottage we get through VRBO is kind of like being at Boy Scout Camp. No wifi, super small. You have to flip up the kitchen table to get to one of the beds. There’s a little dock too. We’re all on top of one another, but it’s our heart place.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Jenny: Definitely. I think I might have a lot of guilty pleasures. I love shoes, I love purses. I don’t do a lot of TV if I do; not paying attention because I’m always on my laptop or making lists in my journal. I don’t even play games on my phone. Oh, I just started a garden, which I’ve really been enjoying. If I could wipe everything off my plate, I’d love to spend days just doing that.
Meet the author: Vibist Susan O'Meara is a Poulsbo-based freelance writer, editor and journalist with global experience. Back in the day, Susan did event marketing for the electrified Don King, boxing’s bad-boy biz whiz. Then she got roped into writing and producing TV spots for Love Boat: The Next Wave, the ‘90s reboot, and nonfiction programming for Showtime (e.g., Roswell: The Real Story). She's not sure which was more surreal—going with the flow of those Hollywood highs, so to speak, or navigating Nairobi’s magazine scene. Susan has worked in the US and abroad for the likes of Bloomberg Media, Deloitte, Discovery Communications, and the United Nations. She's obsessed with wrangling language and messaging that helps brands, businesses, and individuals to grow and shine. Except when it comes to Don King's hair.