Susan Wenner Jackson co-founded the blog, Working Moms Against Guilt back in 2006. Read on to see how her blog evolved into a nationally recognized blog, with mentions and coverage on ABC News, the New York Times, Real Simple Magazine, and CNN.
Tell us a little bit about your blogging journey.
I started blogging way back in 2006, soon after our first child was born. As an advertising copywriter, I used Working Moms Against Guilt as both an outlet for my own personal writing as well as a way to connect with other women who were new to the whole “working mom” thing. Eight years later, I’m proud that it’s now an international community of women at all stages of working motherhood, inspiring thousands of moms to feel good about their choices and get help when they struggle.
What did you do before becoming an online publisher?
I started my career as a journalist, writing for daily newspapers, magazines and eventually websites as more content was being published online. I shifted over to PR, marketing and advertising around 2002, and worked for a number of years at ad agencies and marketing companies in the Cincinnati area.
How are you growing your audience?
Because my site has been publishing content for so long, we have a LOT of great material. My focus has now become distributing some of our best content to new readers in channels such as Pinterest, Facebook, organic search and our email list.
I also created a network of working mom bloggers to help us all develop a larger “universe” of content sharing and support. After just one year, the network now comprises 200 bloggers and publishers who target working moms. I’m so pleased to see how it’s taken off and given us all a boost.
What is your number one source of traffic?
Hands down, it’s Pinterest. Facebook is a close second. So far, I haven’t paid to promote content on either social platform. All the momentum has been from organic sharing and engagement.
What types of monetization strategies work best for you?
I haven’t monetized Working Moms Against Guilt much yet—at least, not directly. It’s always been more of a labor of love. But the blog has been a great launching pad for my career in social media and marketing, including my current gig as a VP of a fast-growing tech startup focused on Pinterest.
I’m a big believer in relevant affiliate programs and sponsored content, which are the two monetization strategies I plan to focus on in the coming year.
How did you take your blog to the next level?
A few years into publishing the blog, I decided to widen our focus and add some fresh faces/voices into the mix, beyond our original four writer-moms from Cincinnati. I opened up the doors for new regular contributors in 2011 and Working Moms Against Guilt really took off (in terms of traffic and engagement). Having women from many places and diverse backgrounds regularly sharing their experiences added so much dimension and readership—and still does.
What advice would you give to a new blogger who wants to monetize their blog?
Create your blog first and foremost because you’re extremely passionate about the topic. It should be something you’d do even if you never made a dime. Otherwise, you’re likely to run out of steam before you get enough momentum to earn revenue.
Be very choosy and professional about the design, quality of writing and balance of organic content with ads. Just because you’re new to blogging doesn’t mean it’s OK to look amateurish or sloppy.
Finally, approach every blog-related decision, from your editorial calendar to your design to monetization efforts, from a reader-first point of view. If lose your loyal readers, you might as well have a personal diary instead of a blog.
You’ve received some great press exposure on national media outlets — how were you able to do this?
A lot of luck and strong organic search rankings. The more you write about topical, relevant subjects that media outlets cover, the more likely they’ll call you when they need a quote or source for a story.
As a mom how do you manage your family time and your blogging time?
I am certainly not an expert on time management, so I’ve been guilty of “blogging while parenting” and being on my smartphone too much. But I recently got inspired to refocus my priorities and be more mindful of moments from a book called Overwhelmed by Brigid Schulte. She advocates for a healthy split between work, love, and play (leisure being mostly nonexistent for most women, particularly moms). I’m going to try hard to follow her advice in the new year.