By Mary Anne Evans
Check out this slideshow featuring Canadian Family’s Top 53 Mommy Blogs.
Summerland, B.C. mom Angella Dykstra started her blog, Dutch Blitz (dutchblitz.net), with the sole purpose of keeping distant family and friends in touch with her growing family. “I soon realized that there was a whole world of women just like me, who were entrenched in the baby stage and trying to muddle through the sleepless nights, the diaper blow-outs and the toddler meltdowns,” says Dykstra of her online obsession. “My kids are getting older and with each new stage it’s great to read the stories of people who are either in it with me, or who have gone before me and can encourage me through it.”
Short for weblog, a blog is an online journal — a medium that’s gained massive popularity with moms. This makes perfect sense when you think of moms stuck at home while our little people are sleeping.
Interestingly, Canadian moms are in the forefront of this online revolution, clocking in 1,000 more online minutes a month than our mommy friends south of the border, according to the Canadian Digital Mom study published in November 2009.
Some of the best (and most addictive) bloggers gain recognition by pouring their hearts out on the screen. They report from the trenches of motherhood, with humour, unabashed honesty and style. Over time, with hard work, talent and perseverance, they hone their craft and build a sizeable audience, the kind that can bring in the bucks.
The poster girl for this A-level of blogging is Utah’s Heather Armstrong, best known
by her online blog name, Dooce. Armstrong has built a successful personal brand through her hilariously candid blog, dooce.com. She now employs both herself and her husband (who handles the business side) full-time through her daily musings. Together they earn an “upper middle class” salary, estimated a few years ago at approximately $400,000 US. Since then she’s published a memoir and most recently inked a deal with hgtv.com to be a weekly contributor to their decor blog.
News of Armstrong’s success has driven many moms online, hoping to get a piece of the blogging pie so they can financially support their desire to spend more time at home with their kids.
The most obvious way a blogger can go from hobby to profit is via advertising. Many sign up for existing blog ad networks, such as Google AdWords. The unpleasant reality is that for every Heather Armstrong, there are hundreds of thousands of bloggers who earn, at best, “mani/pedi money.” It takes a lot of hours, patience and determination — much like any small business — to earn a living from maintaining a blog.
Another way bloggers can earn some spare cash is through affiliate programs. If you’re writing about books a lot, for example, you can sign up to earn cash back through amazon.ca or chapters.indigo.ca for every referral to or sale from their site.
Some bloggers decide to sell merchandise to their fans through sites such as etsy.com and cafépress.com. You can buy your favourite blogger’s artwork and crafts or get their best quotes on a mug or T-shirt to help support them (so they can continue to bring you free content).
Interestingly, online publishing is the gateway to old-fashioned print. The highest echelon of bloggers graduate to the big leagues, with what is affectionately referred to as a “blook deal.” Aside from Armstrong’s It Sucked and Then I Cried (Simon Spotlight Entertainment), other notable mommy blogger books include Petite Anglaise (Anchor Canada), based on Catherine Sanderson’s blog of the same title, and Rockabye: From Wild to Child (Seal Press) by Rebecca Woolf of Girl’s Gone Child.
Of course, all this media attention around mommy blogging has brought another player to the table: marketers. Marketers, hoping to get some grassroots attention to their brands, offer bloggers a product to test and hopefully write about. (In extreme circumstances, bloggers are flown to product camps or vacation spots.) The controversial part is that it works. A blogger is less likely to say something negative about a brand that’s given her a year’s worth of laundry detergent or just flown her family to Mexico.
In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission has legislated some rules around bloggers disclosing their relationships with advertisers. The Canadian government has yet to follow suit, leaving mommy bloggers content to carve out their little pocket of the Internet — to tell stories, make a few new friends and maybe a buck or two.