I wasn’t so sure myself.
What I knew was that I could use this Internet thingy to build a following so I could publish some books while simultaneously finding validation among my fellow moms who had also survived colic, potty training, and the Teletubbies.
In the past decade, this mom blog gig has become so much more than I ever imagined it could be back when I crammed in blogging between preschool carpools. That was the era when the New York Times, in quoting me for an article on some parenting issue or another, refused to cite MommaSaid.net, I suppose because websites not run by large corporations were considered hobbies back then. Contrast that to this morning, when Fox News pitted me against another mom blogger over another parenting issue. This ain’t no hobby. (Personal victory: They chyroned “mom blogger” instead of the ever-annoying “mommy blogger” on the screen after I pointed out that even my own kids haven’t called me Mommy in a decade.)
I have been a mom blogger since before anyone put the two words together. Before Facebook. Before Twitter. Before Pinterest. Before BlogHer and Babble and Parenting.com. And in these 10 years of blogging, I have learned 10 things we could all stand to know:
- If you build it, they won’t necessarily come. Simply posting and then tweeting out a link isn’t enough to build a lasting readership for your blog. You need quality content, consistent posting, inbound links from high profile sites, and smart SEO. Failing that, post funny videos of your baby dancing to Beyoncé, and declare breastfeeding dead. Traffic-palooza!
- Just because you can write, doesn’t mean you can speak. No one will ever see the first half dozen videos I recorded for MommaSaid 10 years ago because I look like I am giving a deposition for an accounting crime. Since then, I have been on live national TV numerous times, and I have even had the CBS Evening News and the Today Show in my kitchen. Now I feel comfortable on camera because I have been media trained, practiced talking on camera, and even took a storytelling class. Practice, practice, practice.
- You don’t have to write well to have a successful blog. You don’t even have to know how to spell “you’re” or “its” correctly, and you can even spell “you” as “u.” Sometimes it makes me wonder why I bothered to turn in my papers every week in the College of Communication at Boston University. Oh yeah, I just went all Grammar Nazi on you. We old-timers can be curmudgeons.
- The line for what is okay to share has been pushed to the limit. This is the first generation of kids to grow up with every burp, poop, word, and wobble recorded and chronicled, sometimes for thousands, even millions, to see. I sure hope they turn out okay.
- If you reach for the best swag at mom blogging events, you could lose an arm.
- Don’t poke Crazy with a stick. You know those whackadoodle commenters who rail against everything you post? Here is the secret for dealing with them on your own blog: DELETE. Your blog is like your living room. You don’t have to invite rude people in, and you can kick out Crazy.
- Your Klout score matters, unless it sucks. Then you can poo-poo it as bourgeois. Otherwise, you will check it obsessively and hope it matters to someone who wants to hire you for real dollars and everything (and not swag or “exposure.” Bloggers could die of exposure.)
- Twitter should be like kindergarten. Share, share, that’s fair, by re-tweeting your colleagues’ great links and amusing bon mots. Also, say thank you when someone else shares your tweets.
- Remember, your kids will learn how to read. Also, write, and possibly, blog. Think before you post.
- If you do it right, your blog can make people laugh, cry, think, act, feel, and much more. Done well, your blog can touch people that you don’t even know and move them. You can make someone’s day, and make people feel better. And you can have a damn good time along the way. I will share how in the next 10 years.
Thanks to my readers and fans, new and long-term, for coming back time and again, and sharing your likes and comments. Momma Said Thank You!
*There may be a handful of still-standing mom blogs that originated before January 20, 2003. Please share them below.