The ins and outs of mom blogging
It’s a staggering stat: Recent counts estimate that there are nearly 4 million mommy blogs floating around in cyberspace. Four million moms who feel the need — for personal or professional reasons — to document their family lives in a format that goes beyond the glimpses offered by the myriad social media channels available.
To understand why they devote time and energy to their blogs, several of the two dozen area mom bloggers who contribute to MetroKids’ MomSpeak blog told us why they blog and what they get out of the practice.
“Journal their journey”
“I started blogging three years ago when my toddler asked me to draw a ‘helicopter-caterpillar’; I happily obliged, ” says Marion Kase, a Berks County, PA mom of two, who named her blog after this requested “genetic engineering marvel, um, crude stick figure, I was amazed by his outlook on life and tried to hold that thought for a few extra minutes. Fleeting moments like these eventually fade, despite my best efforts to preserve the kids’ phrases and expressions. Writing down happenstance conversations or excursions was my attempt to slow the inevitable forward momentum, like writing about the gap between my son’s dangling feet from the chair and the kitchen floor — a gap that has long since closed and no longer presents a visual opportunity to marvel at his sweet smallness — or capturing my daughter’s suggestion that the local power plant is really a cloud factory, which has since been replaced by hard scientific facts in middle school.
“My blog is an attempt to journal their journey.”
South Jersey mom Lisa Weinstein also began blogging three years ago, though she claims to have written her first “blog” three decades ago, at 13 — “If you can call a short story scribbled into a spiral notebook a blog. I called my short spiral notebook story 'The Mixed Up Brains of Missy Anderson.' When I decided to write my ‘grown-up’ blog, I paid tribute to the story written so long ago by calling my new venture ‘The Mixed Up Brains of Lisa Weinstein.’
“Like my original short story, a teen named Melissa gives me most of my fodder, although this time instead of a fictional character modeled after me, she is my real life daughter. Thanks to Melissa, my husband Bob, my step-daughter Jessica, extended family and friends, I have created an online outlet to share my life with others. And each time the statistics indicates that someone, somewhere, has viewed the stories of my life, I am greeted with a sense of satisfaction and pride that no other aspect of my world can deliver.
“I don’t blog for money or fame. I blog because I love to write, and my computer allows me to reach a world beyond that spiral notebook. And as long as people continue to read my stories, I’ll continue to write them.”
“I blog because I am a ‘sharer’ — I have an intense urge to share all the great stuff I know with as many people as possible, and blogging made that a reality,” says Hillary Chybinski, a Philly-burbs mom of two. “Blogging brings a fulfillment to my life — when I hit ‘publish’ on a post, I feel as if I have made the world a slightly better place. If I can help one woman restyle a shirt she’s had in her closet for five years, one mom make a new craft with her child, then I’ve accomplished my mission.”
Chybinski began My Scraps as an extension of her scrapbooking hobby. “All the cool scrapbookers were starting blogs; I was tech-savvy, so I did, too. Dear Lord, if you read those early posts. . . . When I got laid off from my last auditing job four years ago, I discovered that people were making money through blogging, that it was a ‘job’ of sorts or could be a stepping stone to something else.”
Next page: The business side of mommy blogs
Pleasure and business
That blogging was a bridge between motherhood and career appealed to Chester County mom of two Marissa Kiepert Truong, PhD, an expert in children’s literacy who began her blog, Land of Once Upon a Time, to “keep active in the education field. I frequently met parents who were eager to learn how to instill a love for learning and books in their babies and toddlers, so I thought I'd share my own journey of doing so with my own daughter,” she explains. “Fast-forward to a few years later, and I've expanded the ideas and tips from my blog to consulting, workshops and story times.”
Wayne, PA mom of two Darla DeMorrow started blogging in 2011 to support the release of her book, The Pregnant Entrepreneur. “It became a way for me to connect with other women who were working full-time outside of the corporate world.” Today, she posts mostly on HeartWork Organizing, a marketing avenue for her organizing and design business. “I love having a way to share ideas and inspiration with my clients, even if I don’t see them personally. Over the years I’ve started to connect with people across the country, many of whom I may never meet. I’ve found an amazing community of writers and interesting people who have replaced my former corporate networks.”
Similarly, Erin Flynn Jay also started blogging to support a book, Mastering the Mommy Track. “Every author today has to have a blog page just like every business needs to have a blog. For me, blogging has just been part of my platform. When inspiration about motherhood hits me, I try to blog about it. My first priority is paying clients and prospecting for new business. However, I do push out a blog every month or so, with the goal of encouraging other moms to take care of themselves, seek help when needed and take control of their careers.”
Though Chester County mom of two Lisa Lightner earned her bloggy bona fides as a deal/coupon blogger, she shifted her focus to something that meant more to her as a mother of a child with autism, and she joined a friend to found the special education advocacy blog A Day in Our Shoes. “My site is mostly a labor of love,” Lightner says. “It brings very little income, though it does pay for itself [through advertising]. We enjoy the little perks that go with it sometimes — getting to go an advanced screening of a movie or try a toy before it's sold in stores.” Lightner is in the process of opening a private special education advocacy business, “and yes, it is my hope to use my blog for leads on clients. But it’s too early to tell if that’ll be successful or not. I think of it as the hub of a bike wheel, and the spokes would be all the different things I do — lobbying, advocacy, public speaking. They all lead back to the blog.”
South Jersey mother of three Jennifer Auer, whose blog Jersey Family Fun focuses on low-cost ways for parents and kids to spend time together, “got started by having a Facebook page, but that quickly grew into needing a blog to better connect with families and provide more information than I could with just Facebook. I blog for so many reasons. It's wonderful to show families how they can have fun together without breaking the bank.
Blogging has opened up so many doors for my family. My children and I have had experiences we might not have had, had it not been for blogging. They've seen plays, visited new locations, met celebrities like Laurie Berkner. To think that it all started with me sitting at a computer in my kitchen is quite incredible. To see how far we’ve come, how my children have benefited and the response we get keeps me going.”