Frugal and Friendly: Jenn Fowler

Do a Google search for Jenn Fowler and here’s what you find:

Jenn Fowler on Twitter

Deb Ng and Jenn Fowler on Blogtalkradio

Frugal Upstate

I met Jenn on twitter and had the pleasure of speaking with her this week. She has always responded to my tweets, is insightful and helpful. Oh yeah – and FRUGAL! Here’s parts of our discussion.

Hi Jenn. I know you have children, how old are they? Tell us a little about yourself please.

My kids are 5 and 8. I live in upstate New York, near Binghamton. It’s very much like Mayberry RFD! It’s a small town atmosphere. I rode my bike to get my haircut today.

What was your intro to the internet? We didn’t have computer lab in high school. In college there computers in our dorm and I got on some of the forums. Fantasy role playing was big. By the time I was in officer basic course for the army, I had an AOL account.

You were in the army for 11 years. Why only 11 and not 20?

I get migraines, even though they were controllable, I was not deployable. The decision was mutually made to leave the service. The expectations when I left was that every 3 or 4 years you would get deployed. With migraines that are not scheduled and a family, it was a decision I could live with.

What did you specialize in? Maintenance shops – I ran them. (vehicles, weapons, radio systems). I was a training developer and created plans on how to train officers. At one point I was the commander of a training company and had six drill sergeants working for me.

How did you get interested in being frugal?

When I had my daughter I got a copy of the Tightwad Gazette from a friend. It was a lot of out of the box thinking. I had always been fairly careful with my money (whole Yankee way of thinking) . When it became clear I was leaving the service, I knew that we would need to be more frugal. I started participating in frugal forums.

I was that annoying person who took over everyone’s thread! I figured I should start my own blog. I started blogging on January 1, 2006.

How are you learning to make an income from blogging?

My youngest went to kindergarten this fall. My husband and I had to decide if I could play around with this internet thing and make some money. I decided to follow my heart and go for it. I started on Twitter last May and in July Jon Andrews got a hold of me. He said Wal-Mart is forming this money saving community and why not get involved? That was 11 moms. By the way, we are not paid for that. Now marketers want to talk to me about giveaways and product reviews. It’s led to associations with the other women. One of the other moms said that I needed to place ads on my site.

I’d like to make money by speaking and helping others with social media.

For most people a blog winds up being a springboard to other things. I’ve been encouraged to write a book about frugal living. I’ve started a blog talk radio show. I have a background in theatre and love to get in front of people and talk. So that’s a great combination for me – radio and blogging. You can find the station here: We have been doing this since January and are excited about the prospects!

I’ve done some local speaking and am working on speaking engagements for the rest of the year and will let you know when I have that schedule.

What conferences have you gone to that helped you?

Something about meeting people face to face cements a relationship. First one was Blog World Expo – it is aimed at blogging and social media. It’s a great start for a new blogger. Basic info and lots of other bloggers there to help.

My 2nd conference was Chicks who Click in Colorado – a one day seminar.

The 3rd one was Moms 2.0 summit in Houston. I got sponsored by @moneymanagement for the conference fee. That was the first year for that conference. It was aimed at moms and marketers and how they interact.

At SXSW – I was sponsored by Hersheys. When Wal-Mart starts to do something the other vendors start looking closer. Hershey came out of that and sponsored me for SXSW – they covered the entire conference! They were able to see the power of it and see the sessions. Its actually 3 conferences. I got more out of the networking aspect of the conference. Meeting the guys from radian6 and Richard and Lionel at Dell, the Blog Talk Radio people, Ted Murphy and Deb Ng. I ran into Chris Brogan and Brian Solis. I learned how to talk to people, start conversations and put yourself out there. It forced me to step outside of my shell and put myself forward.

I’m going to blogher in July in Chicago. Wal-Mart is sponsoring a lounge there and we are part of the 11 moms.

Any advice on getting sponsorships?

Finding the right person to talk to is the hardest part of finding any sponsorship. Ask people who they know. Twitter is a great spot for that. Figure out what it is you are offering the company you are approaching. It is more about being a brand evangelist for the company. How can you do that?

You have to educate your sponsor about what the conference is like and what they will get out of it.

It is important to make sure that you and your sponsor are very clear on how you will be representing them at the conference.

Any last statements?

Social Media is still such a new field, and there are so many directions a person can go in. I am in the process of feeling things out and seeing what direction is best for me.

Website: Frugal Upstate

Twitter Id: @jennfowler 

 Thanks Jenn!  I will be following you.


  1. davidalston on April 9, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    And it was great meeting Jenn and many of the 11 (actually 22) Walmart Moms at SXSW as well.

    David Alston

  2. Deb Brown on April 10, 2009 at 3:08 am

    Hi David,
    I can only imagine! SXSW I mean (see you next year). Jenn is a great lady and I’m pleased I’m not the only one who enjoys her!