The number one question I get is: How did you start your blog?
I had been a commercial print model and an on-camera actress appearing in local television commercials, public service announcements and corporate training videos. A perk of being a local actress was receiving invitations to a lot of fascinating events in the area. There were restaurant openings, grand openings for new clothing boutiques, opening nights for new performances at various theatres, fashion shows, exhibition openings at museums, charity events, launch parties, festivals, galas, celebrity book signings and red carpet movie premieres.
A lot of these events were free and open to the public, yet most of “the public” didn’t know about them. The publicists promoting the events had an exclusive list of VIPs that they wanted to attend the parties and also to help get the buzz out so that their friends would visit their clients’ businesses. The DC scene included people of all different ages and various industries. It was a very small, well connected group of people that seemed to be at every single event.
After I became a mom, I still received a lot of invitations to some of the fun and exciting events in DC, but something changed. I began to feel lonely at these events. Although it was supposed to be a “moms night out” for me, the only moms I was mingling with were the owners of the PR agencies, the events planners hosting the event or the celebrities being featured at the events. Where were the moms? I wondered if I was the only guest that was a mom? That couldn’t be possible! And yet, for me, it felt like I was the only new mom in a sea of the young and fabulous. I wanted to connect with people on the same page.
I decided to create an event page for the moms in my neighborhood so that they would know about the events and hopefully attend. I live in the Courthouse-Clarendon neighborhood. I decided to name the event page Clarendon Moms. Courthouse Moms would’ve had a far different connotation, obviously. I named the event page for the moms that lived in Clarendon and really, for moms that lived in the entire Arlington/DC area. I wanted to let them know about all of these fun and free events they could attend. I updated the event calendar on the page almost daily with events happening in DC, Arlington, Alexandria, Tyson’s Corner, Bethesda and Loudon County. As the community and audience began growing, there was also an increase in the amount of businesses wanting to connect with me and my local audience.
Within a few months, diaper brands, baby wipe companies, businesses selling strollers, baby bottles and kids clothing lines started reaching out to me and asking me if they could send me products in exchange for a review on my blog. It seemed like fun and so I accepted the opportunity to share my honest, unbiased opinion on my blog. I hosted giveaways. I contributed to other family and parenting magazines as a guest blogger.
A lot of my readers were interested in connecting with other like-minded women and they asked me to host meet-ups where we could all meet each other. Brands wanted to reach new moms and they invited me to host events where readers could meet each other and learn more about their products and companies. It didn’t take long for local PR agencies to notice the hyper local small community of readers. Agencies reached out and invited me to host networking events. And what was surprising and cool was that they offered to pay me to host these events. It was like a dream come true. I hosted an event almost every month for the first year. And every month, new people started attending. And just like the parties I had attended in the past, the events I was hosting began to grow and a real community of moms and “non-moms” was born.
Readers began to request that I cover more topics like the best pre-schools to send their kids, places to have kids birthday parties, what builder they should use to build their new house or what realtor to use to sell their old house. They also began asking me to share my day to day diary of what was going on in my life.
I remember researching mom blogs and discovering the three mommy blogs I still enjoy to this day: Heather Armstrong’s Dooce, Jessica Shyba’s Momma’s Gone City and Naomi Davis’ Love Taza. I absolutely loved what they were doing. Their blogs were so different from each other. Dooce was full of truth and grit and I could feel every raw emotion behind every single word of her blog. Momma’s Gone City was beautiful and full of color and perfection and featured lots of pictures of her young babies sleeping with their gorgeous dog. Love Taza documented a day in the life of a fashionable mom gallivanting around New York City. Their blogs were their businesses. I didn’t know yet that would eventually become a reality for me too.
My family and I love to travel. We enjoy sharing our authentic experiences through this platform. I love working out as much as I enjoy dining at new restaurants. I love introducing people and helping people as much as possible. I rebranded and converted my event page into a blog six months after it was first published. I am actually using my journalism degree and combining my passion for writing, photography, connecting people, sharing community resources and reporting on events.
This March marks seven years for Clarendon Moms. I never in my wildest dreams would have thought of blogging as a full-time job. If someone would’ve told me seven years ago or even a few years ago that you could make a living blogging or that there would be an occupational category called “social media influencing,” I wouldn’t have believed it. To think that all you need is an Iphone to have your own business in social media is mind-blowing.
I am very happy I’m able to do what I love while earning a living. I feel very lucky to have a fun, flexible job where I can still be a good wife, a good mom and a good friend. I am grateful for the wonderful friendships I’ve developed along the way and for the most amazing collaborations. I am grateful that at my age, there is still a market where I’m not being “aged out.” I find that the most fulfilling aspect of blogging and becoming a social media influencer for me is my ability to connect people to other people for what I hope is a connection that will last a lifetime.