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Mommy Gets Real

It's 9:50 PM. I'm in bed, with my laptop and struggling to keep my eyes open. My toddler is still awake, asking me to sing him the 'Way Up in the Sky' song, and I am half asleep, finishing up another day's work. I took a few minutes to read up on some great articles by influential mom bloggers from around the world. They are all so savvy- I feel like a little girl with a run in her tights, after visiting some of their blogs. One of the articles I read quoted from another article called, 'Honey, Don't Bother Mommy- She's too Busy Building Her Brand.'

Ah- I hang my head in shame, because I am so there. I have only been in the blogging game for a little over a year. I started doing product reviews, because I felt desperate and determined to find a way to help cut costs for our family. When we found out that I was pregnant in 2010, I was working toward a degree, and my husband was in his last semester of graduate school. He was working part time, and paying the bills. We lived in Maryland, not too far from the DC area, and lived pretty meagerly, well, at least I thought so. After Sach graduated, we had to move back home to North Carolina, because we couldn't afford to stay in Maryland. We had no jobs lined up, had to carry our insurance over through COBRA (Yikes!), and were scared to death about how we were going to make ends meet.

We found a great little house to rent, in a sought-after neighborhood in town. We scraped by with lots of second-hand and consignment items so our little bean could have a furnished nursery. Everything that I had romanticized about having a baby, was just that- a short-lived romance. Reality can be a real bitch. We had some fantastic baby showers, and received so many nice things from friends and family members... we thanked God for their kindness, and generosity. A long-time family friend offered Sacha a job- doing some odd jobs around the house. He took it- because even with a master's degree that cost us $60,000.00, and even though he spent day after day, hour after hour applying for every job ad under the sun, the well was completely dry- and we would soon have a little one to feed.

We managed, somehow, and scraped by the first few months of Balian's life. I prayed very fervently that something, anything would come our way. The last thing I wanted to do was to work outside of the home. I never realized how badly I would want to stay home with our son, until he was in my arms. A job opportunity for me came about, and I took two interviews. Despite my background in being an administrative assistant, knowledge of social media and communications, and education, I was passed over- and it hurt. After that, I felt pretty discouraged, worthless, even. I stopped looking for a job, because it seemed as though God clearly had a different plan for me- the only downside was that I didn't want to have to wait for the revelation.

Writing has always been a passion of mine. It's what I studied at Lenoir-Rhyne, and loved so well, even as a child. I recall many days spent around the dining room table, at the typewriter, with my sister next to me, writing mysteries about our stuffed animals, and even sometimes hosting our own pretend radio show. We were in such a hurry to grow up. I had started a blog while we were living in Maryland, as a way for me to vent, and also as a way to stay connected to our family members. When we moved back to NC, I used the blog to update everyone on my pregnancy- the growing belly, photos of the baby showers, etc. Then one day I came across a friend's blog, and found myself drooling over some of the items she was receiving from companies- for free. All I could think was, 'I want that. We need that! I can do that!' So, I decided that I would give the mommy blogging thing a try.

I had researched absolutely nothing. I had no idea that in order to work with brands, I would need a following- a pretty big one at that. So, I started small, and in April of 2011, with about ten 'followers,' I posted my first review. A few other small reviews followed, and a few more folks decided to follow the blog. As time went by, I did start researching, and found more and more places to connect with mom bloggers. I had stars in my eyes... these mom bloggers all seemed like celebrities... highly regarded and sought after by PR firms and marketing companies. I wanted what they had, and was determined to get it.

Did I mention that I HATE waiting? I kept complaining about my blog seeming like it just wasn't stacking up against the big blogs. At times, I almost even felt sort of silly when trying to explain to others about what I was doing with my blog. 'I review products and write detailed posts for my readers,' just didn't have an approving ring to it. My husband assured me that if I just waited it out, and worked hard, the rest would fall into place. So, I kept on, and started doing more research, updating, re-vamping, building a following on different social media platforms (there are way too many to keep up with!). Not long after, my pastor gave a great sermon on being content- something I hardly ever am. It struck a cord with me, though. God, in His goodness, has given me many talents- none of which I deserve. I want desperately to use them for good. It was then that I realized that blogging was about so much more than the products and opportunities I could get.

I went home, and started treating Mommy's Block Party like a business, because it is- it's my business, and my brand. It's a source of income for my family, it provides us a lot of wonderful opportunities, and I definitely pour my blood, sweat and tears into it (Sometimes I still think that people think I sit at home on the couch watching TV with Balian all day. I WISH!). A few weeks later, some pretty cool stuff started happening. Our following jumped- we doubled our fan base on Mommy's Block Party on Facebook in less than a month, and the numbers just continued to grow. Opportunities started hitting my MBP inbox, and we started to expand our team of bloggers. I cannot do this job well without the amazing help I receive from Steph, Jess, Britt, and Erin! We had an awesome group of independent consultants with different companies join us as Spotlight Sponsors, too- and we LOVE these ladies! They are so wonderful- both to our team, and to our readers!  I became pretty astounded by the outpouring of love from fans and sponsors, alike!

This only made me want to keep pressing on- so with the help of the awesome MBP Contributors, we have collectively posted over 900 blog posts (hit 900 this very week!), and are updating, pinning and tweeting to almost 15,000 people through all of our social media followings! We may not be the biggest blog on the block, but you can be sure that we care about our readers- and can very truly say that we wouldn't be where we are today, without them. 

Though we do receive many amazing, cool, awesome, beautifully made products, which we get to keep, the heart of this operation lies within being connecting threads between moms (and non-moms, grandmas, sisters, friends, and even some dads!), and consultants, businesses and brands that can be trusted. We love working with independent consultants and small business owners to remind women that it is possible for anyone to be their own boss, if they want to be! We love giving these amazing women in business a place to showcase their passions and expertise! We love working with brands and companies, because we want to be able to share about new, interesting products the whole family will love.

Today, I fully understand how influential mommy bloggers really are- generating buzz, and even becoming ambassadors for the brands they truly love. Can we say 'word of mom advertising?' We are five women strong here at MBP. You may hear from some of us more than others, but we're all in this together, and are committed to bringing our readers the best products, information, and ideas we can find. I never imagined (seriously) that my blog would become my business, but it has. God, of course, knew that I would eventually sow these seeds, and that this whole thing would grow. He gave both me, and my husband the determination to start our own businesses, which today, are thriving. Some days I wake up and still can't believe that this is what I get to do every day, and I am proud to be a mom blogger. Oh yeah- it's a lot of work, for the entire MBP team (I actually worked for 8 hours yesterday!), but the blessings... oh, the blessings! And I know that the best is yet to come.

Thanks be to God for this incredible opportunity. Thanks to our sponsors who have taken a chance on the underdogs. Thanks to you- because if you're reading this, you're supporting us, too!

A million times...

My MBP Signature 

*We receive many requests, asking if we are accepting applications for additional review team members. At this time, we are at capacity, and have created a waiting list. If you'd like to send us your information, we'd be happy to add you to our list. Contact Ondria at themommyblog83@gmail.com.

1 comment

  1. Ondria, you are truly working for what you want and we love you! Xoxo!


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