Why Top Mom Bloggers Have Greater Earning Power

If you ever want to know how to make money as a mom blogger then you have to think like a businesswoman! Every blogger, no matter the niche, who continually works with brands is constantly sought out because they:

a) produce quality work
b) consistently deliver
c) are versatile
d) are always willing to learn
e) are careful about their online reputation and
f) know their worth

If you don’t have a business background it can be extremely intimidating to hear that you need to start thinking like a businessperson. The hard truth is that unless and until you start thinking like a businesswoman and become a “big picture” person you will continue to struggle to flip your blog into the business you envision. It’s that simple.

There is a reason a lot of the same mom bloggers work with brands. It’s because when they wake up in the morning and look at themselves in the mirror they see a savvy businesswoman, not just a mom blogger. They understand that perception is everything and they have made the conscious decision to perceive themselves as “more than” than “less than”. Some mom bloggers take several years to recognize the transformation from mere blogger to businesswoman. In fact, it took me several years to see it. I clearly followed the Malcolm Gladwell 10,000 hour rule except I sped up the process by working as a blogger more than 20 hours a week and I am still working to improve the work I do.

The great thing is brands are recognizing, too, that these moms are businesswomen and treat them as such. The brand-blogger relationships are symbiotic because brands call on these moms time and time again for campaigns and in return the moms do everything in their power to produce the results the brand is looking for. These moms are not selfish in their outlook. Rather, they think about the brand and what they can deliver first before thinking about the pay-off in the end.

These mom bloggers are versatile. They can tweet about a live event or put together a video series for a brand. They can pen creative content for a sponsor or drive their readers to get involved in a cause they believe in. They are never limited by always working to their strengths. Instead they figure out ways to bolster their weaknesses if that means a better outcome for a brand.

These mom bloggers are always learning and never get stuck in a rut. When they hear about the latest blogging trend or social networking site, they open an account right away or ride the trend wave for a while. They test everything because they are regarded as trendsetters and wouldn’t be caught not “in the know”. How do these bloggers know when new trends and sites come about? They are keen observers and don’t miss a beat.

Additionally, these mom bloggers guard their online reputation and keep it safe. They understand that people are always watching and that brands base who they work with by the reputation bloggers create. These moms understand the true power of their words and influence and don’t abuse it.

As I write this I am definitely thinking of several moms who embody these traits and I love them for it! I’m sure you know mom bloggers like this as well. They serve as great examples to us all.

What the Next Year Holds for Mom Bloggers + Brands That Court Them

Flying cross-country affords me the rare opportunity for uninterrupted thought. I started this post while flying home from LA on Monday and put the finishing touches on it today.

While it is always difficult to accurately predict what will happen in the next year for mom bloggers there are already actions in place that make me think the following trends will either emerge or pick up.

One thing I know for certain is the collective voice of blogging moms will remain one of the strongest in the country. No one can tell a brand’s story like bloggers. That’s what makes our community so unique and influential. Even though millions of moms currently read blogs, millions of moms don’t blog yet. We’re not even close to the saturation point of mom blogging because thousands of new mom bloggers come into the fold every month.

That said, the upcoming year will be even bigger than last and the year before that with opportunities for mom influencers.

The following are predictions for the next year as I see them. Make sure  to share what you think about the next year for moms who blog.

1) Select Mom Bloggers Will Really Make Money: There is already evidence that 2010 has been a big year for some mom bloggers. Moms are really starting to make money either with one big partnership or with several partnerships facilitated with various brands as either ambassadors or spokespeople. This trend will certainly continue as moms demand more and as other blogging industries, particularly beauty, fashion and food look to mom bloggers to continue to set the earning trends.

2) The Year of the Financial Services: I wrote in a recent post that the financial industry is lagging in their outreach to mom bloggers along with the pet and automobile industry. After talking with a few financial brands and seeing evidence already on blogs, look for the financial industry to kick into full gear especially as the holiday season gets underway.

3) The Year of PR Selectivity: Parts of the PR industry are starting to realize there are definitive nuances and hierarchies in the mom blogging community and a blanket approach to outreach is not as effective as being selective about the bloggers they work with. Some have even figured out that when newer, smaller bloggers are pitched a product and run with it, influencers won’t touch it. Look for PR firms to tighten up their outreach efforts in the coming year.

4) The Cream of the Crop: As much as this pains me to write, there will be a gradual separation of the influential bloggers and those who are trying to make their way up the mom blogging ladder. At the end of the day, brands need to deliver value to their clients and most brands equate value with hard numbers. Bigger, more influential bloggers have larger numbers. It’s hard to measure influence with relatively small numbers.

That said, however, there is still ample room for movement for new mom bloggers who have a stellar work ethic and professionalism to boot. Many small bloggers will be relegated to working with small companies while influencers will continue working with large brands.

5) The Rise of the Mom Blogger Spokesperson: More moms will be offered spokesperson duties (not ambassador roles) with brands either on a campaign by campaign basis or for an extended time. Brands are realizing mom bloggers are less expensive than celebrities, but possess more authenticity and are definitely more Net and social media savvy. This circumstance can result in a win-win situation for bloggers and brands.

6) Non-Mom Industries: Industries that traditionally do not market to moms will begin inching their way into the community as they seek to discover new ways into the family bank account. Most of these industries have only heard of the infamous “mommy bloggers” and will want to figure out how to tap the market to drum up buzz.

7) Product Reviews Will Still Rule the Space: I know this will make many of you unhappy, but product reviews aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. They are too valuable to both bloggers and brands. There are still large companies we all know that are scared of working with bloggers. I’ve talked with a few, in fact. There are also small regional PR firms with large national accounts that are just getting wind of the mom blogging community and want to tap into blogging promotions. Product reviews are here to stay, at least for another year.

8) The Year of Tricky Gimmicks: Some companies and marketers will seek to take advantage of novice mom bloggers by promising a lot, but in actuality the return is not much at all. Yes, this has been going on for years, but the approach is definitely getting more sophisticated. False opportunities promise mom bloggers a lot, but  really turn them into free endorsers for huge brands.

9) SEO Wars: As more brands fight to snag the most influential bloggers, moms will look to stretch their influence by using SEO tactics to up their blog rankings and get on the radar of brands making keyword searches for bloggers in various niches.

Using SEO to get better search rankings is one thing, but the war over keyword bidding is an interesting phenomenon to watch. Look for mom bloggers to increasingly stake their claim to blog searches on Google.

10) Brand vs Brand: The mom blogging community is much smaller than most of us realize. That means brands need to outdo their competitors in the space to really establish relationships with key bloggers before their competitors.

11) Best Behavior: As the stakes rise and there is more to gain and to lose, there will be less mommy spats on Twitter, Facebook and on blogs and a more professional tone will arise from those whose brand is intimately tied to their earning potential.

12) Blog Skins: I have no idea why mom bloggers have perpetually stayed away from skins as a source of income. I foresee daring mom bloggers getting paid to run skins as a revenue source.

Amended to Add (9/2/2010):

A word about skins: Yes, they are essentially sponsored backgrounds. Check out Perez Hilton’s advertising page and see examples of skins he has run. I think this would be a very smart way for mom bloggers to also earn money.


13) Agents: I mentioned this in my last prediction post and I still believe this to be true: As mom bloggers are presented with more spokesperson jobs, they will need skillful agents to negotiate their contract.

14) Sponsored Bloggers: I still envision forward-thinking brands sponsoring a group of bloggers, paying them really well, and signing them to an exclusive contract to work with them only for at least a year. This is a perfect fit for those bloggers who want to work with brands, but don’t want to write tons of reviews and who don’t want to be a part of a lot of mini campaigns, but have a throng of loyal readers. I think it could really work and push forth a new revenue model for bloggers and an innovative way for brands to work with influential moms.

What trends do you think will emerge over the next year?

6 Real Ways to Earn Money From Your Mom Blog

Even though it seems hard to make money on your blog, it really isn’t that difficult. Let that soak in! It’s really not that hard to earn money on your blog. This is especially true if you have a loyal readership. Make no mistake about it, the only way you are going to make money on your blog is if you have readers. A lot of people poo-poo the importance of traffic to the earnings equation, but honestly, it’s the way the online world works. If you have Dooce traffic, you’re going to make a lot of money. If you have significantly less (and I mean significantly less) traffic, you’re not going to make that much cash.

So, how do you make money on your blog?

You must write a blog that people remember and want to read. Period. How do you create a blog like that? I believe it’s a three-fold approach:

1) pen great stories or share useful advice
2) establish a consistent voice and point of view (let people know where you’re coming from)
3) have a beautiful blog (people like pretty!)

1. Private Advertising

Once you have worked on creating the best blog you can and are ready to accept advertising you should start selling private ads. Small businesses are always looking for affordable advertising options. Make sure they know you are accept ads. Why? Unless you have a lot of traffic, being a part of an ad network is not going to net you a lot of money and you have to wait for your checks to arrive. Also, affiliate advertising won’t work that well either unless you are clever about placing them in your posts or on your blog where there is also full disclosure.

Private advertising is effective because companies pay for ad space up front and you have complete control of the advertising that runs on your site, unlike on ad networks. If, however, you have a lot of traffic, then an ad network is an optimal option for you. Ever since I started creating sites in 2003 I have always sold my own ads. I use AdSpeed.com to monitor impressions and clicks, which companies — large and small — really like.

Bloggers Who Sell Private Ads You Should Look To: Gabrielle at DesignMom.com, Stephanie at Adventures in BabyWearing,  Amanda from SouleMama.

2. Write An E-Book

If you have advice to share that you think is valuable to your readers, you should capitalize on your know-how. Writing an e-book is never a task to be taken lightly, however. Due to the sheer volume of competition, your e-book needs to have fresh content, be well-written, and be packaged professionally. And you never know, your e-books may turn into a book deal. Just ask Australian blogger, Sarah Prout.

When you sell your e-book, consider using e-junkie. They provide an easy way to sell your downloads and even help you accept affiliates as well.

3. Sell Your Wares or  Merchandise

If you are creative, be sure to sell your wares. Your readers will love supporting you and will be happy to own something you’ve created. Use Etsy ArtFire, or Bixbe to sell your handmade products.

Or, if you have a loyal following and readership, you might want to sell merchandise that your readers can purchase where you earn money on each sale. CafePress has been a leader in the custom merchandising arena for several years. You can sell everything from mugs and t-shirts to totes and journals either with your unique branding on them, or you can create designs from templates they provide.

4. Write for Others

Establishing a strong point of view eventually gets you noticed in your niche, no matter if you blog about family life or are a gardening guru. This is particularly true as large blogs and traditional media sites clamor to discover new voices to make their editorial presence stronger. For example, if you are a really great book reviewer and write an exceptional literary blog, it is only a matter of time before a large media site asks you to blog for them about books and pays you for your words. Think about all the bloggers who now blog for Lifetime Moms or CafeMom’s The Stir.  Or, take Josie from Yum Yucky, for example, who was asked to write for her local newspaper about her quest to live sugar-free.

Aside from media sites, brand and product web sites are also realizing the importance of creating their own original content for their core consumers. This is going to be an area that balloons over the next few years. And who is creating quality content on a day-to-day basis? Mom bloggers! It’s you and other mom bloggers who brands will tap to lead their editorial efforts. For example, as a Land O’Frost ambassador, I contribute monthly posts to LandoMoms.com and blogger/writer/author extraordinaire Jen Singer has been writing original content for Pull-Ups for years. Even Kellogg created a microsite called SnackPicks.com and staffed mom bloggers as freelancers.

This is all to say, keep writing and developing your voice and expertise because there is going to be ample opportunity to spread your writing far and earn money. But first, you’re going to need a springboard and that’s a well written blog with a strong point of view.

5. Dabble in Vlogging and Podcasting

Extending your voice off your blog to other media platforms is also a way for you to earn money. It’s never an easy move to create another project aside from your blog, but give vlogging and podcasting a try. They could earn you money in the long run.

Just like selling private ads on your blog, you can also sell private ads and sponsorships on your vlogs and podcasts. Visit Kimberley Blaine, the Go-To Mom, who has partnered with several brands like Yahoo!, Sony, and Vimeo as a vlogger.

And, if you want to aspire to the success of the mom podcasting juggernauts, visit MommyCast.com and ManicMommies.com. They have built their audiences over the years and both work with major brands as sponsors and advertisers. While you won’t become MommyCast  or ManicMommies overnight, you can always start small and attract small advertisers and then grow bigger as your following grows on both your blog, podcast, or vlog.

6. Create a Community

I am a huge believer in Ning. Ning allows you to grow a robust community for your blog. Just look at what I’ve been able to do with the Mom Bloggers Club. When I started MBC three years ago, I had no idea moms would even join the club. I am here to tell you you can create a community for your blog if you are consistent. Unfortunately Ning is no longer free, but as you grow your community the amount you pay to host your site is far less than you can earn as a community owner. And Ning will soon offer easy ways for you to host skyscraper, leaderboard, and footer advertising on your community.

Also, consider adding a forum to your blog. Giving moms the opportunity to talk to one another on your blog is a clever way of creating more space to sell advertising. Check out what Amy did with MomSpark.net for inspiration.

One final note: The skills you learn as a mom blogger easily translate into areas where you can also earn money in the corporate world. Companies often look to mom bloggers as consultants when launching new campaigns and when they are in the product development phase. The social media skills you are developing organically is already in high demand. Brands also are increasingly working with mom bloggers as paid brand ambassadors and spokespeople.

Mom Blogs Are Getting Younger: What That Means for Brands and Mom Bloggers

Recently, I looked at a group of the latest 1000 moms to join the Mom Bloggers Club and who listed the year they began blogging. The results probably will not surprise you. The vast majority of these moms started blogging in 2009 and 2010. In fact, 33% started blogging in 2010 and 32.31% started blogging in 2009. The numbers fall off considerably starting in 2008 at 15.91% and plummet each year thereafter.

What do these numbers reveal? These numbers could mean one of these things, or all of them working together.

  • Moms who started blogging in 2008 and later are experiencing blogger burnout now or are less interested in connecting in a club like the Mom Bloggers Club.
  • The Mom Bloggers Club is largely a social network that attracts new mom bloggers.
  • Many mom bloggers who have been blogging for 3 or more years are already a member of the club. This could be true since the club has been around since 2007 and is nearly 10,000 members strong.
  • Moms are starting blogs like never before.
  • The age of mom blogs is getting younger quickly.

Looking at these percentages, they’re not surprising! As mom blogging grows in popularity and the benefits flood in, the more new moms come into the fold and join our community. Moms will not stop blogging at the same pace moms begin which will prolong its peak for many years to come because the benefits are too abundant. At some point the novelty will wear thin, I’m sure. I just don’t see that happening anytime soon. In general terms, mom bloggers are born every day and there are even millennial bloggers who are already being primed to become parenting bloggers once they become moms and dads.

Right now we’re seeing an influx of new mom blogs, at least that’s the trend I am seeing at the Mom Bloggers Club.

What does this mean for brands?

1) It is going to be harder to catch the attention of those bloggers who have been around the block for three or more years (see the graph on the right). These are the bloggers whose inboxes are out of control with pitches and subsequently are extremely picky about the brands they work with.

2) Brand ambassador programs where moms are paid for their collective influence will continue to increase. The only other option is to blanket the community of smaller bloggers with product and pitches, but the ROI might not be there, or pray influencers notice your pitch or even care about it.

3) Brands will have to work harder to build relationships with influencers. That means pitches need to be spot on and influential parenting bloggers need to be courted.

4) This also means brands can become extremely picky about the bloggers they work with, too. It may become easier for brands to work with a select group of influential mom bloggers with a longtime readership who they trust, know and respect as opposed to working with a huge group of mom bloggers they don’t know.

What do these numbers mean for mom bloggers?

1) As mom bloggers continue to enter the fold, there is greater opportunity for your voice to be lost in the crowd. That means you have to work more creatively to be noticed.

2) Building a loyal audience is going to be key and set you apart from the growing sea of bloggers who are joining the blogging community every single day. Brands will be looking for personality over the number of product reviews you can post.

3) There will be greater opportunity to work in closer relationships with brands as they look to work with influencers who have been around for a while as opposed to those who started in the last two years or so. That is certainly not to say younger mom blogs aren’t experiencing success now, it’s just not as many as the longtime mom bloggers.

4) Due to the sheer numbers of new mom blogs, the definition on mom blogging will continue to change on their terms. What used to be “mom blogging” when I started five years ago will never be again. That age of mom blogging is gone — forever. If you’re a old-timer you will have to figure out how to stay relevant in this new age of blogging without losing your voice or your passion.

I am excited to see how the community will continue to change. It’s always fascinating to see.

What do you think the growing number of new mom blogs mean?

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Brand Ambassadors — Do They Work for Free or for Pay?

The term “brand ambassador” has been thrown around quite loosely lately. In fact, it seems PR firms and Word of Mouth agencies are employing the term in an attempt to attach a new tier of importance to mom bloggers they work with, hope to work with, or is used to identify teams of moms who have been chosen to represent a brand for a particular amount of time. Where it gets tricky is whether brands believe their ambassadors should be paid or unpaid

I know from observation and from my own personal experience that the level of compensation varies for brand ambassadors in the mom blogging community. Some moms are paid in product and/or travel to conferences and others actually sign contracts and are sent a check. 

It’s funny because I was reading Sommer Poquette’s post about a trip she recently took to a company HQ where they called it Ambassadors’ Day. From what I could tell it was just a junket (press trip), but the brand decided to jump a step and call the moms “ambassadors” before they even knew about one another. That’s a bit presumptuous and another example of how the use of “brand ambassadors” is getting muddled quickly! 

If you follow my blog, you know how I feel about mom bloggers working for free. In my estimation any work done by a blogger for a brand that goes beyond the basic product review should be compensated, which brings me back to brand ambassadors.

Yesterday, while catching up on Celebrity Apprentice I heard Leslie Dance, Vice President and Director, Worldwide Brand Marketing at Kodak, say (59:00) the following about Summer Sanders who she thought did a great job showcasing the Kodak products during the task in episode 2: “Summer Sanders, I would hire as a brand ambassador in a minute. That woman really got it down.” 

Three key words here: Hire, brand and ambassador. 

I don’t profess to know everything about this new world of social media, marketing, brands, and influencers, but when I get validation like this I have to share it. Even Kodak believes in hiring brand ambassadors. I think that’s the way it should be. 

Let me know what you think!

‘Mommy Bloggers’ make corporations sit up and take notice

‘Mommy Bloggers’ make corporations sit up and take notice

Social Media + Brand Ambassadors = Success

Last year when I came home from Blogher I sat down and tried to figure out where the trends in the mom blogging community were headed. I knew those huge junkets would fizzle out quickly and they have for the most part. Product reviews and giveaways are great to a point, but they have to be coupled with a comprehensive campaign (shout-out to Mom Bloggers Club advertiser, Tommee Tippee US, for doing a fabulous job on a comprehensive campaign to moms). I said six months ago that mom blogger spokespeople (what I called them then) would be the new wave of the future and I’m happy to say I was right on the money with this one.

In today’s NY Times article, Any Way It’s Sliced, Appeal of Social Media Grows, the new LandOMoms.com web site was featured along with Audrey McClelland of Mom Generations, Rachel Matthews of A Southern Fairytale and me. We’re all brand ambassadors for Land O’Frost.

It’s unmistakable that the success of LandOMoms is because of social media. I love when social media works! Land O’Frost forged a presence on Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube, and engaged real moms to help connect with their communities. Here’s a definite measure of success of their efforts from the NY Times article:

Land O’Frost is offering the first visitors to landomoms.com, which went live last Monday, an opportunity to download a $2 coupon for Land O’Frost products. Plans called for giving away up to 25,000 coupons — but they were all gone by Wednesday. The amount was then doubled, to 50,000, but the additional coupons were soon gone, too. So as of this week, the amount was raised again, to 75,000.

This is further evidence that brands should engage more moms in the brand ambassador capacity. And, another thing, microsites are your friend! Embrace them.

And for you, bloggers, Ciara Blumenfeld penned a great post, Advocates, Enthusiasts and Advertising: Bloggers on the Brandwagon, that is a must-read.