There are 3.9 million women with children writing blogs in the United States. Does anyone else find that number staggering? 3.9 million! And that is just one estimate. These so-called “mommy blogs” cover a wide variety of subjects, including parenting, work/life, health, cooking, product reviews, money saving discounts, travel, fashion, and just about anything else you can think of. Blogs written by dads are also becoming increasingly common.
“Successful” bloggers attract hundreds of thousands of followers and subsequently advertisers who end up paying them to promote their products and services to their loyal followers. Many of these blogs turn in to financially rewarding jobs and online businesses for their creators. Is this strictly a byproduct of the new social media economy? Or is there something more personal driving these high numbers?
A 2012 article published in Computers in Human Behavior asserted that women blog for a variety of reasons and that there seems to be some evidence that these reasons may be based on fulfilling unmet needs. In addition to providing a creative outlet and a vibrant social networking opportunity, some women appear to meet more complex psychological needs through their blogging experiences. Need for self-disclosure and affiliation were two drivers the article analyzed, yet the authors point out that there appear to be even more complex, interrelated motivations behind women’s blogging impulses, and that more analysis is needed.
To me, an obvious motivator is work-life fit. It cannot be a coincidence that most “mommy bloggers” became bloggers after they became mothers. That is certainly not the time in a woman’s life when she all of a sudden has an abundance of free time for self-expression – but it is definitely a time when she has a lot of unmet needs. It seems logical that the high work-life integration associated with blogging and online businesses is a major driver of this phenomenon.
“Blogging is the perfect way to integrate my work and family life,” says Erica, who started her blog What Do We Do All Day? when her son was three years old. What began as a way to break up long days and discover new activities for her son has turned in to a money-making blog with over 7,000 followers. “Because I work for myself, I can set my own hours, and have complete control over how many extra projects I want to take on,” Erica says. “I’ve decided that my workday ends at 2pm every day when I go to pick up the kids from school. I do recognize that it is a luxury for me not to have to worry about relying on my blog income to pay the bills, but I’m happy to be contributing to the family budget.”
Charmi says she started her blog Kids Canines Coffee to share her “feelings, thoughts, and ideas about uprooting a family to a new city and the child-friendly discoveries (she) was making.” Her blog served as “a scrapbook of memories” for that time in her family’s life. She simultaneously started taking courses in digital marketing and now with a degree under her belt has created her own business website The S Curve to provide useful digital marketing tips and showcase her work – another example of a creative outlet turning into a business.
Blogging was a path to career reinvention and work-life fulfillment for Audrey McClelland and Colleen Padilla, well known bloggers and authors of “The Digital Mom Handbook – How to Blog, Vlog, Tweet, and Facebook Your Way to a Dream Career at Home,” In their words, “the portability of computers and smartphones, the connective powers of social networks, and an overwhelming desire to happily mix work and family enabled us to move past the Mommy Wars (i.e., stay-at-home moms vs. working moms) into a territory all our own.”
If we were to survey the millions of other “mommy” and “daddy” bloggers out there, I have no doubt we would find many similar stories and trends. This speaks to the prevailing urge many of us feel, after becoming parents, to tailor our careers in ways that afford greater involvement in our children’s lives. And it offers 3.9 million examples of how blogging and creating online businesses can offer legitimate opportunities to pursue one’s desired work-life fit, while satisfying interrelated needs such as earned income, self-expression, creativity, and social connections.
While this may not be revelatory, it is indicative of our collective need for greater balance and a by-product of a work culture that is still out of sync with its workforce. The upside is that millions of moms and dads reinventing themselves and their careers through far-reaching blogs and online start-ups will surely move us closer to a cultural tipping point that supports the work-life integration we are striving for.