You may know her as Jenny. Or Jenny O’Keefe. Maybe Mamatoga Jenny. Or maybe even Mini City. But one thing’s for sure. Jenny has been part of the local blogging and editorial landscape for well over a decade now. Frankly, I consider her the OG Saratoga Blogger. And judging by my chat with her during a walk through our gorgeous Congress Park, it doesn’t sound like she’s going anywhere any time soon.
We have both lived here quite a long time, and both of our lives are filled with kiddos. But the fact is… we rarely cross paths, and it was a treat getting to know her better. This week’s SCOOP gave me the chance to ask Jenny many things that I wanted to know, and many things that I think women, in general, are dying to ask her.
As answered by Jenny…
WHEN DID YOU START BLOGGING AND HOW HAS IT EVOLVED?
The original blog, Mamatoga, was started when I was a new mom, and new to this area. I created it as a way to share local family-friendly events and businesses with local readers. I soon after began Mamatoga Magazine, including local business-focused and parenting stories that didn’t translate well to the blog. While writing for the Huffington post about my parenting experience, my blog, naturally, took a more personal spin. Eventually, Mamatoga was separated into two new ventures, with Mini City focusing on life and events in Saratoga Springs, and my Jenny O’Keefe site and Instagram focusing more on my life in general. On both platforms, I enjoy sharing my personal parenting experiences and stories.
I also pivoted, fairly early on, from print to a digital publications. This not only allowed me more flexibility, but it also opened up opportunities for smaller businesses to advertise since it was more affordable. And for obvious reasons, it seemed substantially less wasteful since many readers preferred the digital version.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED IN YOUR YEARS OF BLOGGING
I’ve had to learn it all. From publishing, to marketing, to graphic design and even bits of coding. What people don’t realize is that I don’t have an assistant and have had to learn what I didn’t know. For both the website and magazine, I do it ALL, from concept to design.
I’ve made a ton of personal connections and friends through the blog, like Catherine Hover, another local business owner in the area. When she was new to the area, she asked me to come in and check out the (then) new Paint and Sip, and we’ve been friends ever since. Although I’d consider myself shy, I do genuinely love when people who follow the blog come say hello when I’m out and about.
HOW DO YOU MAKE MONEY DOING WHAT YOU DO?
For the blog, I offer a wide span of advertising rates to attract a variety of local businesses. I have special promotions in seasonal issues like the Mini City Holiday Issue and the Summer Camp issue. I have really enjoyed my long term partnerships with businesses like Saratoga Hospital and Paint and Sip Studio.
Monetizing content for my jennyokeefe.com blog comes in a lot of different forms. Usually a marketing company finds me and we collaborate on a sponsored posts or reel. I also love working with companies directly to come up with an advertising concept that authentically highlights their business. It’s all about connecting with my readers with the company’s product and share it in the most natural way possible.
WHAT’S THE HARDEST PART OF YOUR JOB
I think I can speak for any small business-owning parent. When you’re focused on the kids, you’re worrying about the job. When you’re working, you’re worrying about the kids. I am currently running a business while home with a two-year old and homeschooling a ten-year old. At first I used to just roll with it, but with six kids now and so many schedules and chaos, I have to make the most of the time at hand, and really manage my time well.
PERFECT SEGUE… HOW DO YOU MANAGE YOUR TIME?
Basically, I find “work pockets” where I can get as much done in a small amount of time. I must admit, I don’t have a set schedule, per se. I set the two year old up with an activity (like kinetic sand), the ten year old up with his lesson, and I can get a good thirty minutes of focused work in. I joke that my brain has become permanently rewired to focus on about ten tasks at once, and I find that at this point I am somehow more productive that way!
With that being said, the flow of the day is fairly predictable. After “pocketing” through my work day, I always devote my afternoons to ballet, lacrosse, and all the after-school activities. We eat dinner together nightly, and I’m exhausted and in bed by 9. I often think of how much more work I could get done if I could work until midnight. But that’s not happening any time soon.
HOW DO YOU HANDLE TROLLS?
I have to say that my community throughout the years has been overwhelmingly positive, but I have had to deal with trolls. When I first began, I would take the few negative comments really personally. I could have twenty positive comments but that one negative one would really get me down. I think as I got older I learned to let go of that. Eventually, I was taking the advice that I was sharing with my kids : that a troll’s negativity is more of a reflection of them than it is of you. I rarely engage with the negativity. If I get a nasty DM, I block it and move on. No one has time for that.
My favorite motto is from a needlepoint design that I love and it’s “I’m not for everyone” and guess what, I’m not! No one is! That’s what unfollow buttons are for.
ANY ADVICE FOR WORKING MOMS & SIDE HUSTLERS?
There is a big similarity between parenting and side-hustling : you learn on the job. Whether it’s your baby or your business, you have to just figure it out. You must be open to learning, and I am ALWAYS learning as I go. Don’t be afraid to start something because you don’t feel 100% ready… because you will NEVER be 100% ready.
I look at parenting and being a small business owner as a continuous work in progress. You are always building and learning. And always tweaking and creating. And you are never the best at it, nor are you ever truly done.