Rise of the Mommy Blogger
So-called "mommy bloggers" are emerging as a force to be reckoned with, wielding significant marketing and economic clout and gaining in reputation. Moms are blogging like crazy across the U.S. But to many, the first reaction is a disparaging "Oh, those," unaware of the niche's considerable economic power and marketing prowess.
A mommy blogger describes a woman who has at least one child in the home, but still either operates her own website or comments regularly and extensively on other blogs. And there's not only a few of these women -- according to a recent infographic by H&R Block, there are 3.9 million women who fall under that criteria.
The mommy blogosphere is also competitive and diverse. Out of the nearly 4 million women's blogs, about 500 of them have considerable reach and power. However, that doesn't mean the other blogs aren't important -- and it doesn't mean the women involved only want to talk about their children, another popular misconception about so-called mommy bloggers.
Mothers who blog are talking about topics ranging from retail and business to consulting and fitness, and that can mean big money and a lot of marketing power.
Who is a "Mommy Blogger"?
Most mommy bloggers are well-educated women in their 30s who have young children. At first these women started blogs as a way to speak with other mothers, but that changed as their power grew.
Miranda Grimm, who owns the website Work at Home Adventures, which reviews work at home opportunities and offers leads, insights and discussions on the challenges of being a telecommuter, said she started blogging in 2010 in order to make some money from home while pregnant with her second child.
"I was eagerly searching for ways to make money from home that did not involve being on the phone, where I needed complete silence," Grimm said. "I began finding so many opportunities that excitement began pouring out of me. My online friends began asking me so many questions about working from home that I felt the need to find a place I could say it once and then just share links when someone asked."
A popular misconception, though, is that mommy bloggers are uneducated and have never worked outside the home -- and nothing can be further from the truth for many of them. For example, Terra Bohlmann, who operates the blog The Working House, has a professional background in technology project management.
"I left a high-paying corporate consultant gig to focus on serving the small business community to help them grow their businesses using the same techniques that the 'big guys do' but on a more sensible budget," she said.
Bohlmann, whose site also focuses on working at home, founded another company, Rockers Daughters Interactive, which creates WordPress websites and helps small business owners market their businesses, showing she's reaching out even further into the business world.
Mommies Cashing In
According to national surveys, mothers now control more than $2 trillion of purchasing power in the United States.
In just five years, toy companies have gone from handing out almost all of their samples to traditional media -- such as television stations, newspapers and magazine -- to courting mommy bloggers with their trial-run products. But most mothers who start blogging don't do it to get freebies -- but to bring in money while pursuing their interests.
Grimm, for example, says her blog has also led to a "highly lucrative and amazing career" as a graphic and Web designer.
Meanwhile, Bohlmann says that in addition to making a living from her blog, she loves "that I can work on my own terms, serve other like-minded people and volunteer at my son's grade school. I'll take that any day over working through the night and sleeping alone in hotel rooms."
The vast majority of mommy bloggers can enjoy modest success and may not seek much more beyond participating in the online community, but there are some big bucks in the blogging business, especially for the approximately 500 blogs with considerable reach and power. And while many mommy bloggers never become nationally nationally recognized, some have landed book deals, speaking engagements and even trips to the White House.
For example, Nie Nie Dialogues, owned by Utah resident Stephanie Aurora Clark Nielson, who survived a near-fatal airplane crash, chronicles her life as she juggles five young children and six blogs. She has won a number of awards and has been featured on "The Today Show," "Entertainment Tonight," "Anderson Cooper" and "Fox & Friends" because of her insightful outlook on life.
Do Men Read Mommy Blogs?
While traditionally, many mothers started blogging or using social media to connect with other mothers, the growth of so-called mommy blogs means men are reading as well.
After all, many blogs now, such as Grimm's and Bohlmann's, concern other issues, such as seeking jobs, online tutorials, or just about any topic a woman can decide to write about.
Meanwhile, while some of the blogs' college-educated and politically active writers shun the nickname "mommy blogger," the websites are becoming more influential as time goes by, and many embrace their clout.
"I am proud to be called a mommy blogger," said Bohlmann. "After 15 years in corporate IT consulting and living the life of workaholic, I am happy that my priorities are in order which is being a mom to my three boys (a nine-year-old and two-year-old twins) and running my business."
Grimm agreed. "But I am always careful to let people know that WAHadventures is not just for moms," she said. "I try not to be too mom-focused because a lot of people reading are not moms. But my largest audience is definitely moms, and I am a mom. So naturally the 'mommy blogger' comes out."
Still, Grimm and Bohlmann say most of their regular followers are women, not men.
"I think women like to connect to other women because we can relate to each other," says Bohlmann. "We do business and enjoy our authentic relationships all while feeling comfortable enough to talk anything from our family struggles to our favorite places to shop."
More Than a Hobby?
It's a misconception that mommy bloggers get into creating websites just as a hobby. Even if they do start blogging as a hobby, they soon find it to be hard work, especially if they want to attract even a fraction of those 3.9 million other blogging women.
"I have had to learn so much about marketing, writing, copyright laws, social media... and it never ends," said Grimm.
Bohlmann said her particular challenge is in working on her own blog, because she is spending a great deal of time writing on blogs other than her own to build up her own audience. Both women, though, had some advice for other moms who want to start their own websites and become successful with them -- and warned having a blog is not always easy.
"Understand why you want to blog," Bohlmann said. "If you want to blog for fun, that's one thing. If you want to blog to make money, understand how you are going to make money. A blog is a great platform to share free content and build a following, but if you need to pay your bills, you need to understand how to make a blog profitable."
Grimm, likewise, cautioned against women trying to turn a hobby into a get-rich quick scheme. "Find something you are truly passionate about," she said. "You most likely won't make much money your first year... don't think this is easy work. Stick with it, be unique, provide awesome content and things will fall into place naturally." ♦
Categories: Culture Desk