Perhaps no segment of the blogging population is as nebulous—and popular—as the “mommy bloggers.” Writing about children, relationships, life in the suburbs, or even politics and culture fall into this category, and some choose to do it with humor and sarcasm rather than straightforward information.
Since there are literally millions of women who identify as mommy bloggers (though only a few hundred are considered influential by other moms), the forms that the blogs can take are also diverse:
Some blogs are filled mostly with writing, while others are mainly videos, sketches, and parodies that live as much on YouTube as the blogger’s personal site. There are also bloggers who use their pages to send people towards the Amazon landing pages for their books.
If you’re a “mother” who’s interested in “blogging” about that part of your life, you’ll probably fall into the category of mommy blogging—whether you agree with the label or not.
But as it turns out, the endeavor has proven to be quite lucrative for plenty of mommy bloggers. For some, it started as a hobby. Others use their public writing space as therapy, or to connect and inspire those going through similar issues.
“I create whatever inspires me or whatever I feel like I want to say at the moment,” says Deva Dalporto, creator of MyLifeSuckers.com and a YouTube empire that sends up motherhood, pop culture, and other YouTube stars. “The videos are all humor. With the writing, I go deeper and I get serious. I share in the writing more about the vulnerability of being a mother. And that’s what’s amazing about having a blog: you can share whatever you want to share.”
For some people, a blog is just about having a platform for their writing. But if you’re interested in pursuing blogging as a full-time job, be prepared to work in a highly saturated market… And work hard.
“I probably work 60 hours a week on mylifesuckers.com, and an average parody takes me about 60 hours to produce,” says Dalporto.
As with most creative endeavors, the most important and perhaps most difficult part is just getting started.
In order to do it, as they say: just do it. Start writing and producing. Don’t worry about it being perfect at first.
Dalporto actually got her start writing for Nickelodeon’s parenting blog, which gave her the chops and the internet savvy she needed when she first began creating her own content.
“In terms of the practicality, you need to start a blog—WordPress is awesome, and some people still use Blogger,” says Dalporto. Another popular platform is Medium, which has built-in tools to make sharing over Facebook and Twitter easy. And social media is the next big important area to cover.
“You need to start a Facebook page, since it’s all about social media now. For moms, Facebook is where it’s at: it’s the number one driver of views to my blog,” says Dalporto. “I also have Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter, and the first two are exploding right now.”
It might be difficult to stay inspired when first starting out—why write a blog that only a few people, mainly friends and family, will read?
But Jen Mann, whose blog People I Want To Punch In The Throat has become a phenomenon and led to a number of best-selling books, says this time is about finding your theme and voice, as well as learning to write consistently. You should also write as if thousands of people are already reading you.
“I wrote, not hoping I’d be discovered, but to get my therapy session in. But by doing this, I had built up a nice archive of work… So when I was finally noticed, people stayed and read,” Mann says in her blogging FAQ.
This way, if you’ve set up your blog to monetize through advertising, you won’t have to worry about losing out on revenue if and when your blog does pick up steam or go viral.
As with any website, there are general upkeep and maintenance fees. Platforms like Blogger and WordPress are free, but to own your own domain name and upgrade the look, you’ll need to pay extra for hosting—likely not more than a few hundred dollars a year.
There are also marketing and advertising campaigns—like a newsletter powered by a service like MailChimp, which can cost around $50 a month.
If you’re going to just create a video channel or focus on multimedia, Dalporto still recommends creating a property of your own.
“I originally just created my site as a landing page for my first parody video. I didn’t think of YouTube as its own thing at the time, but that was just my frame of reference. And now looking back, even though Facebook and YouTube are the huge drivers of my traffic and where my content is mainly consumed, I’m glad I have my own property that I have full control of.”
Plus, having another page is also good for SEO ranking purposes, helping your content climb higher in Google searches.
Video production, however, is on a whole different scale when it comes to costs.
Dalporto got her start on a video camera her husband gifted her and taught herself how to edit using the free iMovie program. Since then her production value has stepped up considerably, and she recommends a decent camera that can cost anywhere between $500 to $5000—though an iPhone can do in a pinch.
Of course, good videos are made with more than just a camera and a laptop editing program. Mama Natural has a rundown of all the tools she and her husband use to create their video content, including lights, microphones, and cameras that shoot in 4K. For the cash-strapped, or beginners who aren’t sure how much video content they’ll be producing, she recommends a kit that includes a Canon camcorder with microphone jack, a lavalier microphone, and tripod for $350.
The question most people have about creating content for the internet?
How does it make money?
That question is no different for mommy blogs, though the answer can get pretty complicated.
The most obvious revenue stream for a blog is advertising money.
This is also, especially when you’re just starting off, likely the smallest stream.
“I started blogging in the spring of 2011 and I added Google AdWords after a few months,” says Mann. “It wasn’t until I went viral in December of that year that I started actually making money from them. I’ve added more ad networks since then. The amounts they pay fluctuates, so I’m always looking for more sustainable income. At this point, the ad revenue is actually my lowest revenue stream. Most bloggers that I know have multiple revenue streams, because just ad sales or just sponsorships won’t be enough.”
Sponsorships are an option once you get the blog ball rolling, even for smaller and less influential outlets: the offers will just be smaller than what the big-time blogs and channels can pull in. Dalporto credits her decision to build her audience first for her current ability to choose which sponsorships make the most sense for her brand.
“For the first year, we made a conscious effort not to do any sponsored videos, even though we were first approached by brands after five months,” Dalporto says. “When you’re an online influencer, you need to have the trust of all these people—they view you as a friend and I view them back as friends and my community. So you really have to stand behind a product.”
“The first sponsorsed video I took was with responsibility.org for their anti-drinking-and-driving campaign, and that was something I could really get behind. I did one with Clorox that went well, and I think those videos do well because they’re something I would’ve done anyway. I choose things that I know work for me and my life and that can work for my audience.”
Another way to turn your blog posts into revenue is by leveraging your writing and your audience into book deals, which is the direction Mann ended up moving in.
“I started out as a blogger who was posting 5 times a week and then transitioned to book writing,” explains Mann. “I used to put everything on the blog, but once I started seeing that book sales were a better source of income and a more enjoyable path for me as a writer, I started pivoting towards publishing more often.”
Though Mann still maintains her blog and writes the occasional newsy post, she recognizes that the best return on the investment of her time is in books. She expects to keep the blog going as a platform for bringing in new readers and updating existing fans on what’s new in her career.
“Anything that’s a substantial story or opinion piece gets put in a book. But the blog has become my brand and it’s the number one source for book sales, so I’ll definitely keep it going.”
It’s more likely that mommy blogging, at least at first, is just a part of your overall earnings instead of a main source.
“I think your general mommy blogger doesn’t make that much money—it’s not a great return on investment or time,” admits Dalporto. “I know some who make a lot, while some will freelance other places to get extra income.”
That said, content is king on the web—and more people than ever are looking to blogs and multimedia channels for their information and entertainment.
If you’ve got a clear and unique voice, you have a chance to carve out your niche and capitalize on it. Even Dalporto admits that she let doubts stop her from moving into what has become a lucrative space for her:
“For a long time at Nickelodeon I wanted to leave and start my own thing, but I kept thinking, ‘The market is so saturated, so why is anyone going to look at my stuff?’ That kept me back, and I’ve kicked myself for it ever since,” she says.
So start writing, producing, communicating over social media, and engaging with your target audience. At the very least, you’ll tap into a network of women with similar issues and outlooks—and you’ll set yourself up for success well before it arrives.