After being couped up at home with three small children who kept getting sick all winter, Chatham, Ont.-based Shelby Gilbert decided to start a blog called Dress Down Moms. Using her daily life as fodder, she posts about the joys and struggles of parenting: power struggles with her kids, cabin fever and the squalor in her garage.
“The main reason for my blogging is so all the moms out there realize they are not alone. We all try our best, but there are bumps along the way with this whole parenting gig,” Gilbert says.
There are more than 10,000 Canadian blogs, many run by women motivated by creative expression and a need to forge a connection with others. Topics are varied, but many women’s blogs focus on traditionally female areas, such as parenting, cooking, design and fashion & beauty.
Henna, from Toronto, covers fashion and beauty news on her blog Canadian Beauty. Sara from Kamloops, BC, has a blog called i like to cook, where she posts photos of the dishes she makes as well as recipes, meals and ingredients.
And Montreal-based Kim Vallée runs an e blog about entertaining at home called At Home With Kim Vallée. She brings her readers new product news, trend reports and design advice.
Making the Connection
To make the connection with an audience, most blogs incorporate personal thoughts and experiences. But while bloggers enjoy sharing, they also keep some things private. Gilbert does not use her kids’ names but refers to them as the “The Wee Ladies.” Vallée also steers clear of information that is too personal. “I don’t go into intimate stuff,” she says.
Still, Vallée says readers want to get a sense of who you are; the personal touch is largely what draws a blog audience. Indeed, Sabrina DeShazo, a mom and blogger herself, who reads Vallée’s blog every weekday says, “I feel that I’ve gotten to know [Kim] as a person.”
Posting frequently is also necessary to keep people coming back. Vallée, who works on her blog full-time, posts three or four items a day during the week and at least once on the weekend. Gilbert, who is currently on childcare leave from teaching, posts during her kids’ afternoon naps, Monday to Friday.
And who reads these blogs? Like-minded readers. Jennifer Lemieux, a Toronto-based mother of two, is one of 1,500 visitors following Gilbert’s blog. “Shelby’s blog makes me laugh every day…Her blog takes a more realistic view of being a mom. Stuff that you can’t really talk about at your mom’s group. Like your kids are driving you nuts or your laundry is sitting in the same pile for a week.” Lemieux will also post a comment if an entry stikes a chord.
DeShazo gets decorating and entertaining ideas for her home when reading Vallée’s blog. “There’s all kinds of [products] that I don’t have time to look for that she’s got right there,” she says.
Fans aren’t the only ones who are interested. As readership grows, bloggers are starting to attract advertisers. Vallée, whose blog receives 3,000 visits a day, introduced advertising last October to generate revenue. She has Google ads and recently joined Glam Media in California, which places ads from brands such as Town Shoes, Oral-B and Herbal Essences on her blog. Vallée doesn’t yet make enough to support herself, but she’s getting there.
“These [blogs] are places that engage with women on a much more personal level than large portals and content sites, significantly amplifying the opportunity for advertisers to capture those readers’ hearts, minds and brand affinities,” says Scott Schiller, executive vice-president, sales, Women’s Markets at Glam Media.
But with advertising comes the challenge of keeping the integrity of the content. Gilbert and Vallée, who value the freedom to express themselves as they please, remain undaunted.