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. Read More
Many of us think of blogging as the answer to earning an at home income. Ask any blogger who's been at it for a while and they will tell you that creating the blog is the easy part, making money from it is a whole other ball game. Yes, there are many successful bloggers out there who are earning a living just from running their sites. But many of these successful bloggers are also marketers who understand how to build audiences and how to work with brands to accomplish marketing goals.
For instance, Andrea Fellman of SavvySassyMoms has worked tirelessly to build online content that resonates with readers. She has a tremendous following both online and in social media. With more than 55,000 twitter followers, 7,000 Pinterest Followers and 8,000 Facebook fans Andrea is able to to reach a lot of Moms and for that advertisers will pay. In fact Andrea has done so well as a blogger that she and her family moved to Costa Rica last year. This is an amazing example of why it pays to blog. Congrats Andrea!
But don't let the money be your motivation. Blogging develops skills. To be a blogger you must learn to write and write well. You will learn to manage WordPress, which is a highly sought-after skill set these days. You will also have to learn how to properly utilize social media to promote your blog. Hootsuite, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest will become your best friends. You may even become a video producer and learn iMovie or other editing software and become familiar with posting to Vimeo and You Tube. If you look up job descriptions for Social Media Managers online they all list these skills and tools in the job description. But you can't just know how to use the tools, you have to have shown proven success with building audiences and developing messaging with social media.
In a recent article on BlogHer, CB Harmon writes "With great trepidation, I sat down to write my resume last summer, after a 13-year (yes I'm old) hiatus from corporate America. It was only then, when I sat down to reflect on what I'd been doing since I began blogging in 2009, that I realized the vast number of skills I've acquired, skills that employers want." Those skills included understanding of SEO, an ability to write keyword rich content, writing and editing skills, expertise in producing and delivering effective email campaigns, social media expertise and video recording and editing experience. WOW! That's exactly what most Digital Media Manager jobs ask for in the skill set.
Also, blogging is a way to stay sharp, to keep your head in the game and give you some time out of Mommydom and "kids speak" all day. It's also a way to build your business network. I have met so many companies, decision makers and business professionals because of my blogging. It also gives me something else to chat about at cocktail parties and the Dads I am chatting with don't instantly walk away when I tell them I am a stay at home Mom. (Working Dads often find that having one stay at home Mom - their wife - to chat with is often all they can handle at a cocktail party.)
So start blogging ladies! All it takes is one simple topic. Pick something you know, something you are passionate about writing about and just start writing. Here are some examples of Moms who took their passions or their kids passions and turned them into a blog.
SkateMamas tagline is "Move over soccer Moms." Eva G and Bernadette R are moms of boys who love to skateboard. They hold court at the skate park, but they will always make room for one more. Just be sure that you have enough snacks for all of them. The ice cream man joins them at around four each day, and he never has any change. Just sayin.
My blog, MomAngeles, is a curated online resource for busy LA Moms. I started by gathering info on the places we were hosting playdates and it just grew from there. My passion for everything LA is what fuels my site.
My friend Susanna blogs at NotJune and she and my other friend "Pauline" both blog about their divorces at DivorcedMoms, the leading resource and community for divorced moms to connect, communicate, express their passion and thoughts, share experiences and find expert information and advice.
There's also a gazillion food bloggers out there. But son't let that stop you. You have a voice. Figure out your niche and go for it. But we also recommend checking out this list of Top Food Bloggers because it might give you some ideas.
How do you get started? I recommend just picking a free WordPress template to get started. Why spend any money until you know for sure what you are doing? And don't let a clever name or web address hang you up. MomAngeleswas originally called LA Toddler Fun. You can always come up with a cute name and port all of your content to a new WordPress site later. Just buy a web address on Go Daddy and set-up a WordPress hosting account. They walk you through the whole process. Don't buy any extra bells or whistles. Remember - you are just starting out.
Ready to hire someone? I wish I had a list of inexpensive WordPress designers. But I don't. Hopefully as our Directory grows more and more web designers will add themselves to our listings. And as I find them I will add them to this post too.
Also - see these great tips from The Mommyhood Project. Great content advice! We borrowed our pic from her too. Thanks Mommyhood!Read More