So, Offbeat Mama launched exactly one year ago yesterday! WHEW. What an intense year of learning it’s been — of course Offbeat Mama is all tangled up in my own experience of my first year of being an offbeat mama (Tavi’s birthday is coming up in a couple months) but it’s still been a pretty twisty turny learning experience.
Here are four lessons I’ve learned from publishing Offbeat Mama for a year:
You CAN have a low-drama parenting site
One of my biggest concerns with starting Offbeat Mama was that it was going to be non-stop drama. I’ve seen what the comments look like on most parenting websites. I’ve read mommyblogs since before they were called that. I’ve peeked into parenting forums. I know what happens when sleep deprived women get online and start debating parenting issues and the next thing you know it’s ALL CAPS YOU ARE AN AWFUL PARENT AND I HATE YOU. When I announced the launch of Offbeat Mama on Offbeat Bride, one of the first comments I got was from a reader saying, “Yeah well, be ready for lots of drama. You’ll seeeee.” And you know what? Like most people touting “you’ll seeees,” she was thankfully wrong. (This is mostly thanks to a commenting policy that’s fiercely enforced, and an attitude that if you don’t like the policy, don’t let the door bump ya on the way out.)
A mothering blog doesn’t have to be about one mother
I worried a lot when I started Offbeat Mama that people would expect it to be about ME. Thanks to privacy and stalker concerns, I knew I wouldn’t be writing that much about my personal experiences here … and I worried that the result might be off-putting and confusing. But you know what? Offbeat Mama is 10 times awesomer than Offbeat Ariel’s Mommyblog ever could be. I’ve only got my one experience to share. Y’all have such a wonderful wide, deep, delicious well of knowledge to tap into. I love sharing your stories on this site!
I can’t do it alone & a good managing editor is EVERYTHING
There have been a few editorial fits and starts with the site, the worst being when I spent the winter trying to manage it myself while also dealing with a newborn and running Offbeat Bride. Things were gruesome, and while I did the best I could, things improved 500 times over once a Managing Editor came on this spring. Have y’all noticed?
Business-wise, the mommyblog market is over-saturated and this website doesn’t make sense
From a business perspective, Offbeat Mama has had its challenges. This corner of the web is pretty well over-saturated, mostly by hobbyist bloggers who are willing to trade ad space for, like, a sample of laundry detergent. Not gonna lie: Offbeat Mama barely breaks even. I’ve had some very serious moments of wondering whether I could financially justify continuing to publish it. The Offbeat Empire is my full-time job. It’s how I support my family. And if a site can’t pull its own weight, then I have to cut bait. There were some dark times when I looked at the financials and shook my head and thought about tossing in the towel. But I told myself I’d give the site all of 2010 to start earning its keep, and you know what? It’s alllllmost there. It’s close enough that I’m calling it good, and looking forward to 2011.
So, what’s next?
Well, I’m embroiled in several big Offbeat Empire projects these days, including trying to get Offbeat Home launched in a few months. I’m aiming to do an Offbeat Mama reader survey posted soon so I can get a feel for what kinds of content y’all love best.
Mostly, here’s to another year of big lessons and big love. Thanks for being a part of the site, and a part of my learning process! 🙂