Years ago, when moms needed advice or wanted to vent, they stepped outside and knocked on a neighbor’s door. Now they log onto the internet to find other moms seeking nutritional tips, the best places for ice cream, or how to handle a temper tantrum. Mommy blogs have become a daily stop for many mothers who want to connect with others.
In Pittsburgh, there are a variety of mom bloggers writing from distinct points of view. Some bloggers only want to connect. Others have found a way to monetize their blogs, featuring ads and sponsored content. Other mom bloggers have found specific niches.
The only thing missing?
Blogs by dads.
“We would love to bring a dad on our writing team,” says Meghan Meabon, founder and owner of Pittsburgh City Moms, a blog that provides advice on parenting and motherhood. “We’re also a good resource for dads.”
When Kelly Hughes and her husband moved to Pittsburgh in 2009 with their first child, then five months old, she didn’t know anyone. Interested in starting a playgroup, she set up a Facebook page that listed family-friendly events.
Kelly heard from a lot of moms who weren’t necessarily interested in play dates but wanted more information about the events. The Facebook pages morphed into a website, companies started contacting Kelly about marketing opportunities, and Pittsburgh Momtourage was born.
“It wasn’t something I set out to do,” she says. “It happened organically.”
At first, Momtourage was like many other mommy blogs, sharing ideas about parenting and motherhood. But when Kelly and her husband decided to become foster parents in 2013, Pittsburgh Momtourage took a different focus. She started blogging about her experiences with foster kids. Currently, Hughes and her husband have two natural born children and two adopted children who joined their family through foster care.
Through Momtourage, Hughes was able to raise awareness for the Foster Love Project, which she started to collect clothing, toys and other items for kids entering foster care. While donations have increased – the non-profit organization put together 7,000 bags of goods during its last drive – the most satisfying result is raising awareness of what “an average foster family looks like,” Kellie says, “and also, the kids who end up going through foster care and all that that entails.”
“Originally (the blog) was about providing a resource for families that wasn’t there,” she says. “I enjoy finding needs that exist and trying to plug in and fill those holes.”
Pittsburgh Moms Blog
There’s no singular viewpoint featured on Pittsburgh Moms Blog posts. That’s because there are more than 40 contributors to the local site, which is part of the City Moms Blogs network of mommy bloggers.
“Those are moms in the Pittsburgh area of all different stages of life, of parenting,” says founder and owner Meghan Meabon. “We’re very diverse in many ways. Moms of just boys, moms of just girls, moms of kids with disabilities, married moms, divorced moms, you name it.”
The posts on Pittsburgh Moms Blog range from when to start kindergarten to being a lawnmower parent who rushes ahead of a child to make sure all is well. There are links to local events, the Visiting Mom’s Guide to Pittsburgh, and road-trip suggestions.
Meghan thinks mommy blogs provide connections that aren’t always available in contemporary society due to an increasing sense of isolation caused by hectic work schedules and children’s activities.
“Being isolated and being in the trenches of the daily routine, often times there’s a feeling that there’s nowhere to turn,” she says. “`Am I the only one that feels this way?’ You can put a blinder on that everything is peachy-keen and happy-go-lucky, but when you dig through that and get to the core, there are a lot of people who just want someone to talk to.”
Diary of a First Time Mom
Heather Hopson’s blog Diary of a First Time Mom started while she was on maternity leave with her first daughter. She admits it was a difficult shift after being a full-time news reporter in the Cayman Islands and traveling around the world.
“I tried to merge the two things I loved most: my daughter and reporting,” Heather says, noting she launched the blog on her first Mother’s Day seven years ago.
Heather’s blog will soon undergo a transition built on the success of Single Moms Defined, which debuted at the Three Rivers Arts Festival as an online and in-person platform and art exhibition. Her focus will veer from the challenges of raising newborns to combating stereotypes about single mothers in the African-American community.
“I wanted to create a platform elevating black moms in conversations about race in America,” Heather says. “Often times, just due to the numbers game, black moms aren’t necessarily featured in the media as much as their white counterparts. We don’t necessarily have positive images. If you Google `single black moms,’ all these horrible things come up.”
Before she launched Diary of a First Time Mom, Hopson tried to emulate the business models of successful blogs. A grant from Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh, via the Pittsburgh Foundation and the Heinz Endowments, provided funding for website design and site hosting. Because the blog developed a loyal fan base, Heather was able to make money from the venture and launch Motor Mouth Multimedia, a communications and marketing business that features “creatives and consultants of color.”
To be successful, Heather sats, consistency is a must.
“You want to show up regularly in the lives of your readers,” she says. “People come to your site because you’re a source of information.”
Brynne Conroy started Femme Frugality seven years ago out of necessity. Expecting a child and living below the poverty line, she needed a source of income that would sustain her until she could resume working full-time.
Thus, Femme Frugality was born, targeting moms looking to save money and cut costs.
“I found ways to exercise more frugality than I already was,” says Brynne, the mother of two kids in elementary school. “I tried sharing that with the people in my life because I was so excited about it, and eventually got to the point where I was annoying them. But I knew that other people could use this information.”
Brynne’s posts range from upgrading a toddler bed cheaply to tips on saving money and family finance.
This fall, she will release The Feminist Financial Handbook, a guide for women who want to improve their finances. The blog has become her full-time occupation, and she’s passionate about reaching others who face the same dire situation she did seven years ago.
“I do write to readers who are lower-income or are lower middle-income,” she says. “That’s my primary audience, and surprisingly, a lot of them are college educated. That says a lot about the job market in this country.”
Adventures of the Mommy Homemaker
Maria Briggs is a stepmom to three boys who are mostly wonderful, she says, but can sometimes drive her a bit nuts. Her blog posts at Adventures of the Mommy Homemaker provide a release from parenting – lavish recipes that reflect her Venezuelan-Italian heritage, the pros and cons of buying a home with a hot tub, and tips for plus-size fashions.
But family always seems to seep into her work despite her original intent “not to be a mommy blogger,” Maria says. “But when you’re raising three kid, that’s kind of what happens.”
She tries to keep her posts lighthearted. At least once a month, she writes about a family drama – “take out your popcorn or grab a strong cup of espresso, because I’m about to hit the roof,” she jokes in her bio. But there’s a serious side to Adventures of a Mommy Homemaker. Maria suffers from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition that has rendered her infertile and has no cure. Her posts about infertility draw readers from across the country.
“The posts about infertility struggles pick up tons of traffic,” she says. “I could easily do them two or three times a week. … I’m a stepmom, too, and a lot of the messages I get are from women who are trying to conceive or have blended families. A lot of them don’t leave comments because they like their privacy, but I do receive at least 10 emails a day saying thank you for the posts.”