Nov. 28, 2011— -- Soleil Moon Frye starts her day like millions of other moms, waking up her little ones and making them breakfast, but she has found a way to turn the mundane details of her daily life into dollars as a mommy blogger.
Most people know Frye as the character Punky Brewster from the 1980's sitcom. She played the bubbly orphan, taken in by a grumpy old man. Today, she is a 35-year-old stay-at-home mother to two daughters, ages 6 and 3.
Frye left the TV spotlight to raise her daughters, but she quickly found a new line of work as a "mom-trepreneur." She has a new book called "Happy Chaos," a website for organic children's clothing called "The Little Seed," a web series called "Her Say," and now works for Target as a "Mommy Ambassador," all of which have turned into an enormous online following.
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"When I hit a million people on Twitter, as a thank you, I dressed up in the Punky garb and literally, it was hysterical," Frye said. "My girls were like, 'you are not leaving the house like that.'"
The stay-at-home mom shares what she calls those "messy moments" of motherhood through her website, such as asking her followers questions like, "is 3-and-a-half way too young to pierce your ears?" via video, and has in turn created an empire.
"I will always love acting," Frye said. "But I also love this platform where I get to share with millions of people every day."
Mommy bloggers number in the millions. They, like Frye, solicit and offer advice and anecdotes on parenting, essentially creating massive online support groups, and there doesn't seem to be any topic too taboo for this mommy blogger.
"I talk about when I had my first baby, none of my friends, no book had told me that I was going to literally have a baby and someone was going to give me a pair of mesh panties and an ice rubber glove and say 'this is where you put it' and a can of spray to numb down there. I was like, 'why didn't anybody tell me this?'" Frye said.
It started with typical Twitter and Facebook posts that turned into a diary of motherhood and spawned a blog. She has 1.4 million Twitter followers, a huge audience, and mega-retailer Target took notice. She is now their "Mommy Ambassador," telling new moms what products she used to survive and what products they shouldn't be without.
"One of the things I could not live without was an entertainment center," Frye said of the baby jumpers outfitted with toys. "It was really, really awesome and it was great when I was trying to take a shower or get ready or make breakfast."
Being a mommy blogger is big business. The most successful blogs like Dooce.com can net tens of thousands of dollars a month, but making a career out of giving tips can be complicated. Mommy bloggers love to share the "do's" but rarely share the "don'ts."
"I don't talk about products that I don't love with anything," Frye said. "I talk about products that I love. I talk about the companies that I connect with. I share so much of my life, but I don't share anything that isn't genuine to me."
More often than not, mommy bloggers are more women like Tonia Sanders. Between home schooling and dance parties with her young daughters Isabella and Gabriella, this mom from Virginia has started building her own online brand, blogging as "The Chatty Momma."
"After I had my first daughter, I just really wanted to start 'The Chatty Momma' as a place to kind of share what was going on in my life and my world as a mom and then also kind of infuse a little bit of products that kind of helped me," she explained.
Sanders said she never thought her personal account of potty training and keeping the romance alive after baby would be anything more than a way to connect with other moms. Much to her surprise, her blogging has turned into a pay check.
"It was probably six months into the start of my blog that I received the first call from a PR firm representing Burger King," Sanders said.
For companies trying to connect with moms and families, mentions on blogs like "Chatty Momma" can mean big bucks in sales. As a result, they send her everything from shampoo to make-up to food pads for free -- in hopes she will hawk them online. Sanders said she has even received iPad apps for her daughters to review.
"Sometimes when you review a product, you may just receive a product in the mail. Other times, it's a paycheck and that's a sponsored post," Sanders said.
When Sanders chooses to endorse a product that is paying for her praise, she makes sure her readers know it.
"I think it's important, though, with every post -- always put your disclosure at the bottom, so that it's not a secret," she said.
The lucrative shout-outs aren't just on Sanders' blog, but on her Facebook page, YouTube account and Twitter too. She has 5,500 followers – relatively small compared Soleil Moon Frye – but significant enough that mom-centric companies like Baby Einstein and Huggies want to reach moms though her.
While being a mommy blogger is not yet as profitable as her former career working for a publisher, Sanders said she has big dreams for "The Chatty Momma."
"I want to do a lot more reviews," she said. "I want to spend more time on my YouTube channel which is one thing that I have been working on 'Chatty Momma TV' and just monetizing it even more."
Frye is also an advisor to the San Francisco start-up ShopSquad, which is betting on mommies to explode their business. The website connects online shoppers with expert reviewers. They can then buy the products right on the website. When a sale occurs, the expert get a commission, and often half of the recommendations on the website are in the baby category.
"We reached out to mommy bloggers when we initially started this site by the time their kids get to be 2 or 4 or 5 they've researched every single product under the sun, rather than starting from scratch, they now have the opportunity to tap into this existing set of experts," said Charles Katz, founder and CEO of ShopSquad.
The most obsessed-over product: strollers.
With her mommy blogger portfolio constantly expanding, Frye said she thinks she can turn her website into a multi-million dollar empire.
"I look at what Martha Stewart created," she said. "I look at all these incredible entrepreneur and 'mom-treprenuers' that have come before me. I think there's a huge missing space and I think there's a huge void in where is our everyday mom that we just get to connect with and be sincere with. I think the sky is the limit. I think it's endless. I think the opportunities are endless."