matt jill
25 Jan

A Baby…And A Blog, The Benefits of Blogging

How to keep working in television and media after having a baby? My first piece of advice: Don’t panic… life might be changing in a different direction, but it just might be okay.

The date was January 17, 2010, it was the first Golden Globes red carpet I wouldn’t be working (on account of my longtime contracted job as an entertainment reporter with an up-and-coming cable network ending the month before… and I hadn’t found myself another gig yet). It was also the day I found out I was expecting my first baby. To say the whole thing was shocking and unplanned is the biggest understatement of my life. My husband was happy. I immediately panicked.

My mind raced. If I don’t find another on camera job before this belly pops, I’ll never work in television again. You can’t interrupt momentum in the entertainment industry or else… and at that time I had serious momentum. Momentum that was now seriously interrupted.

I networked and interviewed and auditioned like only a desperate and borderline-crazy hormonal pregnant woman can. I even barged my way into an audition about 2 weeks before my due date and tried to convince the Executive Producer that I’d be up and ready to travel and work again one week after having my first baby. Thankfully he didn’t believe me and just smiled and nodded, knowing better than I. Small gigs happened for me here and there throughout my pregnancy, but no longtime contract scored.

I’ll never work again. All that hustling, hard work, long hours and working my way into the industry I’d dreamed about working in since I was a little girl… gone.

I was now going to have a baby. Back then, the whole put-a-no-name-pregnant-woman-on-tv was less accepting and common as it is now… AND, I also always felt that, once I became a mom, I’d want to be home with my babies and only work on a part-time basis.

After crying and mourning my soon-to-be-over mini-career for close to 8 months, one of my digital-savvy friends suggested I start a mom blog. Keep in mind, I barely knew how to compose a group email at the time. Writing has always been a serious love (since elementary school) but technology had never been my strong suit. (Still isn’t actually!)

I searched domain names anyway. Everything that remotely felt applicable to me, that I felt I connected to, was taken. I searched more. I typed every domain I could think of and then plunked out variations of it to make sure I hadn’t missed a domain that was available. And then it happened: TheFabMom.com was available! (As found on GoDaddy…)

In a flash of destiny I decided that ‘fab’ would stand for ‘focused after baby’ and enlisted a web designer and started writing a few days a week just before my daughter was born. Talk about throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what stuck… I learned how to navigate this brand new digital world and what it meant at the time to be a ‘blogger’ along the way. I made BIG mistakes that, looking back at now, I still can’t believe I made and am embarrassed about. During my baby’s two naps per day (during her first year), I’d sit down at my computer and write, click, read and educate myself about the digital world. I joined Twitter. I started posting on Facebook. I researched resources and sent random emails to popular influential bloggers and digital video organizations asking if I could pick their brain and/or write guest posts for them. I’d like to say I became a whiz, but I’m still learning.

Starting my blog got me thinking, kept me creative and has proven to have built something that kept me relevant in the media world so that I can continue to do what I love… The key was jumping in and figuring it all out later. If you start it, you can build it. But you have to bungee first.

Am I making a ton of money? Nope. Could I pay for all things food and mortgage and wholly support my family with what I’m earning now? No way -- but that’s pretty typical for the average on camera talent working in showbiz, whether you’re an actress or reporter or host. The near-unbelievable circumstance of my mom blog being the thing that scored me repeat gigs on the TODAY Show? Well, that’s just the Universe rubbing irony in my face. Despite my panic about pregnancy ending my career, I’m still plugging along and working in television and media… and also thankfully able to be home with my kids and all.

Start a blog. It just might change your life. It kept my dream career going!

I will be joining the "Benefits of Blogging" panel at MomFair LIVE! on January 31 with the editors of Babble and Modern Mom (I am a contributor with both sites) and Sharzad Kiadeh, mom vlogger and personality.

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