July 30, 2017 was the six-month anniversary of the launch of 3AM Mea. The blog’s conception emerged from a commingle of suggestions from readers of my micro-blog on social media and from the desire to regularly write again: creative analytical-style blog conversations were something I hadn’t yet found in the parenting sphere. I verbally tested out the idea of a blog for a year before actually studying how to kickoff. Knowing that I wanted to do more than just generate, I soaked up all I could find on website development and blog monetization for novices. I envisioned a diverse readership who would feel empowered to share in my experiences as a first-time mom and drove forward with the idea of eventually treating the site as a part-time business.
I got goals.
The skeleton of 3AM Mea took some time and money to shape, but my little dream was realized on January 1 with six hot-off-the-press tales of my children, distinctly organized (and scrolling!) on a piece of Internet real estate fitted with my name.
That evening was a great one. I almost cried. Really.
Since the January 30 launch day, I have been blessed to have had a number of opportunities in blog outreach. 3AM Mea was featured as a sponsor for a podcast early this year. In the spring, I drummed up my first guest writing week with a series focused on the goodness of children called “SPRIG.” In April, I was invited to do a two-hour workshop on starting a blog for the Georgia Writers Association, a public speaking engagement that I didn’t know would make me feel sparkly. In that month, I was also selected to join Top Mommy Blogs, a rank-based, interactive conglomerate of parenting blogs, where I have remained Top Ten in my category. I hosted a second guest writing series for Father’s Day in June, this time highlighting daddies about their daughters, called “Power Tools and Hair Bows.”
They may all seem like modest movements, but for a self-taught mommy blogger, I am so thrilled at the fortunes I have received to connect with real people and to continue to work towards building an audience.
Now, I am often active in conversations regarding how I started my blog. I shrunk down the process here to a four-step procedure to consider for those interested in writing a parenting blog, even though my actual planning for 3AM Mea was, like, 108 tiny steps. Most of the phases in this system are adaptable to other genres and subgenres of the blogging world. All that is needed is some imagination!
- Step One. Have a kid. Birth a child. Adopt a baby. Borrow one who doesn’t mind living under the loving guise of observation. Then, let them run amok, as children are wrought to do. Note what they break.
“Passion” is a must-have! There is no sustainability behind writing on a topic that feels like a bore or a task or a never-ending scientific dissertation. Never chase the “going” trend, particularly if there is no invested interest in the topic.
The best advice I could find regarding whether I really wanted to be a mom blogger was, “If you can readily list 10 topics under the umbrella blog subject you are considering, you may be ready to move forward with that idea.” When I tried out this experiment, I filled up two pages of college-ruled notebook paper, front and back, with ideas based on just what the kids had done recently. I even filled the margins. Seems like I had something like a manic rage for personalized parenting stories.
- Step Two. Develop a niche and scope out competition. Like, really scope them out. Peek over that fence. Talk under your breath in gasp-y whispers. I won’t tell.
A coincidence to avoid is becoming another “me too” voice, which is easy in parenting blogging. Honestly, I considered backing out the entire initiative when I kept pulling up “the top 100 parenting blogs” on the Internet…and each list was rarely duplicated. There are, literally, thousands of them. It was highly intimidating. I remember drilling the hubs on “what makes me special” and “why do you think people will want to read what I say?” Being witty merely wasn’t enough for me.
My niche research took months, but I figured out that there were few voices who were doing a semblance of semiotics in parenting. There were so many individual family life narratives, but not many in-depth “whys” of children behavior and how that behavior is reflected in the world. I wanted to be more theoretical, but still project humor. Parenthood is a culture; why does it exist how we see it?
- Step Three. Strategize blog names, backgrounds/logos, web hosts, and categories/tags from the point of view of the intended audience.
Here’s some true-life honesty. My first blog name that I stood by until right before publishing was “3AM Milk.” In my brain, it worked because I had planned a logo that involved a sippy cup and a crescent moon. Parents often feed kids at 3 a.m…while serving milk is when I received my best ideas…etc. I ran it past my nephew and my hubs first. The nephew asked, quite innocently, “What does that even mean?” The hubs immediately called it “wack.”
I didn’t speak to him for a day. The truth hurt.
The hubs substituted my real name. I thought of adjusting it to read “Mia” so that readers wouldn’t call me “May-ah.” He told me to give them the benefit of the doubt…because I am catering to an educated audience, they would “get it.”
He’s so smart.
The name the blog is given will stick because, hey, it will not be completely deletable, like, ever. When naming, I had to think about my topics and the mental space I was writing from. I kept plugging ideas into the search box to ensure that no one else had the names while making sure they were short enough to be remembered.
When it came to web design, I quickly learned how complicated it was and was referred to a seasoned web designer who is the guy inside in the overall look and functionality of the site. The pennies I stockpiled to hire him has been worth it from the top. Otherwise, one of the free blog hosts online would have been my happy route.
- Step Four. Get to writing. Then, please, please copyedit.
Memes are awesome. Some of the best viral memes also include typos that are hard to unsee. The same thing can apply to the funniest, most valuable, most useful blog posts.
My initial writing process contained many editing stages for each potential post. My first two stories for the blog, written back in November, took me two weeks to write.
Way too long. I was so overly thorough. But who has that kind of editing time as a mother?
Now, I can compose in three hours, if needed. I have a streamlined technique that means I edit as I go…not recommended, but can be tapped into if I’m running behind schedule.
Check out this book for other much more detailed and enlightening blogging starting-up tips. I ate an earlier edition of this thing cover to cover, then back again as I also consumed a WordPress manual.
Building a parenting blog takes as meticulously the attention as the task of parenting itself: like taking two toddlers to Walmart…like trying to get wired kids into bed…like handling boo-boos and being hugged and told how awesome and magical and beautiful you are.
Which I haven’t been told today by either of my two busybodies, but whatever.