What Makes a Mommy Blogger Famous?

Post BlogHer I’ve been following up with new folks I met and some who I was happy to reconnect with. I’m having tons of conversations with gobs of people about mom blogging and the micro community known as the Mom Blogosphere.

Conversations are awkward and they always begin with the tenative use of the term Mom Blogger or Mommy Blogger. Then whoever it is I’m talking with shyly asks me if that’s the appropriate term to use. “Yes it is,” I tell them, “That’s the term you use when you’re talking about the Mom Bloggers. When you’re talking to the Mom Bloggers be sure to call them bloggers, publishers or Moms Who Blog. Do not call them Mom Bloggers to their face.” I then go on to explain to them that yes, I am a Mom Blogger, and no, I don’t give a flying fuck what you call me. Please just make sure you call me.

Typically at this point there’s a sigh of relief and start asking what makes a Mom Blogger famous. Lots of stuff I guess… I try to not answer this one because it’s totally unanswerable. Mom Bloggers are NOT famous. I mean Heather Armstrong and Rhee Drummond are famous in a total D List sort of way. But let’s be frank, more people recognize Kathy Griffin and her new face than the most “famous” Mommy Bloggers.

Now I’ve put these folks at ease. Probably twenty minutes into this sort of conversation is where I admit that blogging is silly, that bloggers take themselves too seriously but By Gawd big business would be crazy to ignore the social stream the real questions begin.

“Sometimes people say that Mom Bloggers get famous because of tragedy.” This is typically whispered, because you know, I won’t repeat whispered words, right?

Right now about 55 people are flipping the fuck out thinking that I’m telling their secrets. Stop. Don’t panic, 54 other people whispered the same sentence to me. No one knows it was you. More importantly 372 other people thought about having the conversation, they just weren’t as tacky as you and I.

Yes, sometimes Mom Bloggers get famous because of tragedy. Certainly Dooce is known for getting fired because of her blog and for her struggles with Post Partum Depression. Casey Mullins is known for her battles with depression and later with infertility. Anissa Mayhew has blogged her way through parenting a child with cancer and two strokes of her own.

When you search for Moosh In Indy you see what she has overcome, depression, IVF, Infertility

What folks outside Mom Blogging don’t really understand is that it isn’t victimhood that makes these women famous. It’s their resilience. Dooce (Heather Armstrong) got fired for her blog and then turned it into a career that sustains both herself and her husband. Casey talks about her battles with depression candidly and other women feel a little less alone, a little less frightened. Anissa is sharing her recovery with the world. If I were in a similar situation Anissa is who I would look to for support and understanding.

It’s not just Mom Bloggers who discuss their ailments, tragedies and bumps in the road. Drew Olanoff had the entire twitterverse blaming his cancer. IHadCancer.com is a community that exists to support folks with and recovering from cancer. DiabetesMine.com is a fabulous resource for folks with diabetes.

Mom Bloggers love a heroine. We want to cheer each other on through our victories and celebrate. Maybe because Mom Bloggers are busy talking about our kids and our homes, the rest of the world feels free to mock us a little. I understand that from the outside it’s easy for folks to whisper, “She’s only famous because her baby died.” That’s just not it. She’s famous because she lived to see another day.

Facebook Comments


  1. Anonymous

    Damn woman…this is great. 

  2. Me too with the goosebumps on the last line.  Yes, there’s a lot of us ‘bloggers’ out there completely opposite of ‘the big girls’… and honestly I don’t care.  I would take being unknown over having something horrible or tragic any day.  :)
    GREAT post!

  3. I agree with everyone, that last comment said it all.

    I also like how you put it in perspective their not as famous and as popular as you assume they are. So much of popularity is entirely in our own heads and misconceptions.

  4. Oh I love everything about your words. True, true, so very true!

  5. I think you have a panel to lead next year in NY.

  6. I think you have a panel to lead next year in NY.

  7. ky


    “She’s famous because she lived to see another day.”

    Damn right.

  8. This is beautiful sweetpea. And it’s everything I like about blogging. It is a narrative, and you do need a heroine- and I love that my friends are mine.  That when you look for it, there IS a conversation about trying to be the best of ourselves in all the roles we play- and then laughing at the fact that we’re never going to be perfect at any of them. And that’s OK. Because depite ur lack of perfection, our community does some pretty damn amazing things. And that’s enough for this Mommyblawger.:)

  9. Minasirkin

    I think I like the term “Motha Blogger!”  Someone should coin that one!  
    Real heroine’s rarely show themselves to the world.  Tell us about the ones no one talks about. 

  10. Hmm. True some bloggers are known for the sadder parts of their lives but I think many more bloggers are know for sharing joys, tips and advocacy. 

  11. Wendy

    Who doesn’t love a heroine? Hardly a day goes by that I don’t read a post that teaches me something about bravery of spirit or action. It’s one of the reasons I keep reading. 

  12. Redneck Mommy

    I’m so glad I’m not known because my kid died.

    Oh wait.


    • Actually I believe you are known for having blue pubic hair.

      • Redneck Mommy

        Touche. I adore you. 

  13. Redneck Mommy

    I’m so glad I’m not known because my kid died.

    Oh wait.


  14. It’s the oversharing of the battle w/tragedy or adversity in a way that seems “plucky” in a women’s melodrama/romcom kind of way. Everyone wants to believe that they too would handle disaster with wit and wisdom and these bloggers provide that hope. It makes it less scary. It’s Susan Saradon Syndrome. We all want to be self-deprecating and slightly sexy while staring down the worst thing that ever happen to us.

  15. Thanks for this, Jessica.  You always get to the point and in the most interesting way.  I agree: It’s not the tragedy as we can all talk about the huge challenges we’ve faced…it’s about how we move forward.  You are the best…Thanks, Nancy

  16. Gigi927

    After reading kate Granju’s post at Babble-Crunch-whatever-it-is about whether mom bloggers are celebrities, I enjoyed this immensely. 

    What I find interesting is that on one hand, you say that mom bloggers are not really famous. And then you say they are, because they live to see another day.

    IMO…Mom bloggers are not really famous and any real belief that any of them/us are is a slippery slope. I think there is a difference between being famous and garnering respect from your colleagues and peers and fellow moms. The bloggers you mention, IMO, are respected, maybe they’ve even earned some “fans.” But in my world outside blogging, even Heather Armstrong is not famous.She doesn’t even exist to most people outside our bubble.

    We have heroines in the blogosphere every day, large and small. I’d much rather have our community be noted for its daily heroism and humility than its celebrity or fame. While it’s semantics to some, it’s an important distinction to me. Great read, Jessica.Thank you.

  17. Kerry

    They is that not only have they faced tragedy or issues..but faced them with great writing and true open honesty that many of us are just not prepared to do so. We can’t forget the writing.  The top women are all great writers who are willing to bear it all.

  18. Desiree Eaglin

    ah, good point. I never thought of it that way. I always thought I never even stood a chance (not just because i’m a crummy writer) but because I haven’t suffered tradegy and my kids are perfectly healthy. I guess it goes without saying, that if you have something interesting to say-people will listen.

  19. Mocking is the new black, isn’t it? Love when posts make me think- thanks- nothing tragic about that. Bravery in sharing and keeping it real, as you’ve done here, Jessica, that’s worth a lot of klout. 

  20. As always, very well said, Jessica. Tragedy always puts things in perspective. And sometimes I feel like I need a tragedy to stop sweating the small stuff. (Not a wish, God. Just thinking about this.) Didn’t realize that with a tragedy I could also expect fame. ;) Thanks for the great post.

  21. Love it! Resilience, fortitude and having the balls to do it all over again the next day.

  22. I agree with everything you said but would add that a little popularity begets more popularity. Bloggers/commenters (and they’re most often one in the same) seem to want the association of being in popular company. Perhaps there’s some hope that @thebloggess or @dooce or @CecilyK will RT them, or mention them in a blog post. Maybe Ree Drummond will visit their recipe site or Anissa will invite them to write something for Aiming Low. There’s a disingenuous side that’s not often discussed, but when a blogger gets on a famous TV show? Makes the WSJ or NY Times? Gets some coveted gig or sponsorship? They’re thought to be on their way “up” and there’s a whole lot of people who find that appealing in of itself. 

    • I was just on Twitter and saw that Rumer Willis has 122K followers. Which makes me think, yeah, people not only like the success stories, but those that are close to them. 

  23. Jessica Rosenberg

    I love this. It’s true. That’s why I read those blogs. Reading about women who live through challenges and blog about it with grace and eloquence… it gives me strength and inspiration to get through my own.

  24. Anonymous

    You are spot on.  Everyone loves the story of a strong woman who has overcome tragedy or adversity.  I also think there are different levels of “fame”.  If I can be well-known in my own little circle of the blogosphere, I’m pretty happy with that.

  25. Your so right. And I think those people become famous because there are a ton of other people that live like that, or have hardships of there own. So they gravitate to the people that are speaking out about these things. They feel more normal because they know they aren’t the only one dealing with it, and than it will get better. You can live with it.

  26. Shop with Me Mama (Kim)

    This is so true!! It is their inspiration to pull through the tough times that keep us coming back to read more and cheer them on!

  27. Fabgrandma

    It is very true that misery loves company. People also relate to others who have been through what they have been through. And like you said, it is because they survived whatever tragedy they endured and lived to tell about it.

  28. I’m FAR from famous, but I’ve had my share of shitty luck.  I’ve buried three babies and one of my 2 yr old twins was diagnosed with cancer at 4 months old.

    I know  for me, reading about others who’d lost a child and how they survived made me feel less alone.  If they could do it, so could I. 

  29. Anonymous

    I agree with that last part so much. The feeling I get when I find a blog that has someone going through something tough like I have is amazing and like Jayme said, it lets me realize that if they could get through it so can I. Sometimes when you’re so far down on your luck, it’s easy to forget that you’re not alone and it’s easier to find a small spark of something in an online blog just because there isn’t that awkwardness of real life conversations, no talking back and forth. Just reading and soaking it all in.

  30. So true. No one wants to experience tragedy but it happens. In such cases it is comforting to read of the inner thought someone else who went though something similar. Plus, each of those ‘mommy bloggers’ had talent and strength that allowed them to touch thousands with their photos and written revelations. Kudos to them. For some though, to use that as scapegoat for why THEY are not succeeding, it is cheap and shallow.

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