One wrote about her “frankenvulva” after the difficult delivery of her son left her badly torn.
Another, an LA party girl-cum-wife-of-a-cattle-rancher, chronicles the romance of her life on the prairie.
A third catapulted her blog to a must-read when she wrote about the short life and death of her premature twin baby.
These are three of the bloggers atop the new 2011 Babble Top 100 list, released today, ranking the most influential mom bloggers in North America. Babble first published its influentials list two years ago, looking at humor, confession, controversy, writing, design, and usefulness, to select the top 50. Last year’s Top 50 helped to make some bloggers, while cementing others’ status.
Now the list has doubled. ”There’s really an extraordinary momentum and growth in the mom blog world,” said Babble Co-founder Rufus Griscom. “Fifty was no longer adequate to map the influencers.”
Babble.com, founded in 2006, is itself an influential parenting site, named by Time as one of the 50 Best Websites of 2010, and by Forbes as one of the Top 100 Websites for Women. Babble was recently purchased by Disney, the parent company of ABC News.
The Top 10 from the 2011 Babble Top 100
- Rebecca Woolf, Girls Gone Child
- Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess
- Catherine Connors, Her Bad Mother
- Heather B. Armstrong, Dooce
- Alice Bradley, Finslippy
- Katherine Stone, Post Partum Progress
- Monica Bielanko, The Girl Who
- Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman
- Amy Corbett Storch, Amalah
- Kate Inglis, Sweet Salty
There are now 3.9 million mom blogs in North America alone, according to eMarketer.com. Of those, about 500 have considerable power and reach, Griscom said. Another 4,500 take blogging seriously enough that they might fly to a blogger conference.
Of the 32 million moms who go online each month, 54 percent say they visit blogs, according to emarketer.com. And those numbers are rising.
Still no reliable statistics have emerged to say just how much money has made its way to the mom blogosphere. But moms listen to other moms, according to the BlogHer 2011 Social Media Matters Study, which found that “women who read blogs routinely trust implicitly the advice and recommendations they receive, especially if it is from a blogger that they follow on a regular basis.”
And to behold the swag for bloggers at the annual BlogHer conference is to see just how valuable corporate America thinks they are; that is some serious courting.
The best estimates are that perhaps only a few dozen women are making big bucks blogging, from their sponsorships and advertising deals on their sites, speaking engagements and other media gigs related to the brands they have built with their blogs. Early this year, the New York Times profiled mom blogger Heather Armstrong of Dooce.com, thought to be the first mom blogger to meaningfully monetize her personal blog. The story suggested she may gross as much as seven figures.
The large majority, however, are writing for a miniscule audience of friends and family, with little or no compensation.
While blogging won’t make most blogger moms rich, “If you love it and throw yourself into it, you can probably get somewhere with it,” said Connors. ”But odds are you’re not going to be driving a Lexus.”
Whether their audience is big or small, paycheck or not, many bloggers say they blog because of the instant feeling of connectedness and influence among their readers.
Catherine Connors, whose blog “Her Bad Mother” earned the No. 3 spot on the Babble List, credits her start to Armstrong. She stumbled onto her site while she was struggling with postpartum depression.
“It was both a relief and a solace,” said Connors. “I can remember, almost a visceral memory, ‘Oh my god, it’s not just me.”
Bloggers also helped Armstrong through her own postpartum depression. “I didn’t have a village,” she said. “I would get on my laptop and read other women’s stories online. They changed the way I parent. Without their stories, I honestly don’t think I’d be alive today.”
That feeling of helping is what keeps many bloggers going. “You can’t say enough how big a reward that is to express yourself and in the process of expressing yourself, dip into a community and get a response, said Connors, who is also Babble’s director of community and social good. “It’s very free, very liberating, to get to say what you want and….immediately get the gratification of a community coming around you.”
Parenting, Griscom says, has gotten more confusing over the years. It used to be that moms sought advice from experts. “You had Dr. Spock and other singular authorities who would come down from the mount with the clear answers to questions. I think that the world of parenting has become more complex.”
Sleeping, breastfeeding, vaccines, he says, subjects that used to be black and white, are “no longer black and white.”
Add to that the really complex issues; like balancing work and parenting, and there is so much fertile fodder for honest conversations. Conversations that may best be discussed without the varnish of a glossy magazine and its many editors.
Stacy Morrison, the former editor-in-chief of Redbook, was just named editor-in-chief of BlogHer. ”The thing I find so interesting about the blogging community right now is that it’s a very different voice than so called mainstream media, it’s more authentic, more intimate and more immediate,” she said. “And once you get used to having conversations on that level, it kind of feels strange to go back.”
Just what the future holds for the mom blogosphere is anyone’s guess. Sree Sreenivasan, professor of digital media at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, studies technology and teaches classes on blogging and social media. Facebook and Twitter, he says, offer increasing competition to the mom blog space. “A lot of moms who might have turned to bloggers for everything, might also be saying, ‘Hey, I have to decide what formula to feed my kids’ are posting on Facebook and getting instant responses from people who know them.”
“Everybody’s an expert because they’ve all done it,” he said. “And what will separate you from the reset is your understanding of how to use the digital space, your sense of style, your writing ability. I think the mom blog world may be a kind of a true test of how good and interesting you are.”
For the complete list: http://www.babble.com/mom/work-family/top-mom-bloggers/