The Mommy Blogger’s Online Toolkit
If you have a kid, a computer, and a love of sharing stories and opinions, you’ve probably thought about starting a mommy blog.
You’re not alone – there are about four million moms in the US and Canada with their own blogs, according to mommy blogger coach Candis Lynn Hidalgo. Clearly, blogging is a popular hobby, and for some bloggers, it’s also a source of income.
So how can you start your own mom blog? First, you’ll need to assemble your online toolkit. Here’s what you’ll need.
1. Your mommy blog needs a goal
Decide before you begin whether you want your blog to be a hobby or a business.
There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that if you’re approaching it as a hobby, you can skip some elements of the toolkit, like finding marketing affiliates, and focus on crafting your posts, photos, videos and/or podcasts. Another reason to clarify your goals early on is because if you plan to make money from your blog, you’ll need to treat it like a part-time job, with a regular posting schedule, professional networking, and outreach to brands.
2. Choose a niche within the mommy blogger universe
If you’re purely a hobbyist blogger who wants to experiment with words and images, do what you like. However, if building an audience matters to you—whether you’re a hobbyist or a professional—you’ll do better if you choose a niche.
With millions of moms blogging, it’s not enough to write up your kids’ antics and share recipes. Today’s most successful mom bloggers describe life through a lens that’s both unique and relatable. Here are a couple of very different but successful examples of moms who started blogs and have gone on to become authors, media figures, and experts in their own niches.
Lenore Skenazy at Free Range Kids has been pushing back against helicopter parenting for nearly a decade. She’s taken heat and won praise for things like letting her son ride the New York City subway unsupervised when he was 9 years old. She’s built her blog and her niche by calling out intrusive laws that restrict kids’ freedom to play outdoors and by collecting statistics on child safety.
Emma Johnson at WealthySingleMommy.com combines two concepts that often don’t go together in American culture — the notions that a mom can be a single parent and financially successful. Always direct, sometimes profane, Johnson has built a following of professional single moms who want to thrive at home, at work, and on the dating scene.
One way to find your own niche is to think about what motivates you as a mom, your own personal interests, and goals you have for your family.
Maybe that means you’re an attachment parent who also knits and wants to raise llamas on some land you own. Maybe you’re the mom of special-needs teens, so you’ve not only learned the ins and outs of dealing with schools, IEPs, and the healthcare system, but you’ve also helped those kids get into to college. (I know this mom, by the way, and I wish she’d start a blog.)
Whatever makes your life and family yours, that’s your niche.
3. Your blog needs a web host
Your blog will need a web hosting service that you pay for, rather than a free third-party blogging platform or a social media account. That’s because if the third-party site or social media provider decides to suspend or close your account (or shuts down, like Vine did in 2016) you no longer have access to your content or your followers. That’s bad if you’ve built an audience for a hobby blog. It’s a disaster if you’re blogging for money.
For less than $10 a month, you can have your blog hosted with a service like HostGator’s WordPress Cloud Hosting that keeps your blog up and running, loads your content fast, and won’t arbitrarily vanish.
4. Your blog needs a name and a URL
Naming a mommy blog, like naming a baby, is a big project, not to be taken lightly.
First, you’ll want to choose something that clearly tells readers what your blog’s about (Attachment Mama with Llamas, for example) and that’s not already taken by another blogger. Then you’ll need to see if the URL for that name is available. If it is, you can register it, and then you’ve got an address for your blog-to-be. Dive into the details of choosing a domain name for your blog here.
5. Your blog needs a design
Just like decorating a nursery or a playroom, there’s no limit to the time and money you could put into designing your site. But when you’re just starting out, the most cost-effective approach is to use a WordPress theme that saves you lots of time and will display nicely on desktops and mobile devices. Later, if your blog is profitable or you feel like spending more on design, you can.
6. You’ll need a blog-related email address
Another advantage to having your blog hosted by a professional service like HostGator is that it gives you the ability to create email addresses using your domain name.
This looks more professional than a third-party email address—important if you’re looking for sponsors and affiliates—and it can help you sort out your personal email from your blog correspondence. It also makes it easier to set up your email list.
7. Your blog needs an email list
Part of your blog design should be an email signup form so visitors can subscribe to your blog and newsletters. This is a must if you plan to monetize your blog, because your subscriber count will matter to prospective affiliates, and because email marketing is an effective way to reach readers with your own offers of paid content like ebooks and courses.
Sweeten the signup invitation by creating a compelling freebie for new subscribers. For example, Emma Johnson offers subscribers her free “15 Secrets to Thriving as a Single Mom” guide.
8. You need a decent camera
You don’t need to buy a digital SLR camera just yet, but good photos and videos are an important part of blogging, so make the most of your smartphone camera and learn to light your shots well.
If you’re recording podcasts, the built-in mic on your laptop won’t deliver the sound quality you need. It’s worth investing in a standalone mic, and you can find a good one for under $100.
9. Your blog needs at least one social media account
Don’t try to do all the social media platforms. That way lies madness and burnout. Instead, go back to your niche and think about where people who are interested in the same things as you spend their time. Maybe it’s Pinterest, maybe it’s YouTube, maybe it’s Instagram. Pick one for now, and use it to drive traffic to your blog.
As your blog grows…
As your blog grows, if you’re running it as a business, you can start adding affiliate links, a press section to show off your mentions in the media, and a resources section where readers can find your books, online classes, or mentorship groups. In the meantime, keep posting and growing your audience, and keep tabs on our HostGator blog, where you’ll find tips on everything from creating video tutorials to monetizing your blog.
Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelancer who enjoys writing about business development and marketing, e-commerce payments and fraud prevention, and travel.