Maybe you’ve seen them on Instagram or Facebook – pictures of babies dressed up in grown-up suits like so many chubby-cheeked David Byrnes. It’s called “baby suiting,” and it’s the latest photo craze instigated by mom blogger Ilana Wiles, who just a year ago launched a surge of “baby mugging,” which is just what it sounds like (well, maybe not) – taking pictures of babies as though they’re sitting in coffee mugs.
Wiles and her blog – MommyShorts – are part of a growing and influential trend of moms who blog. According to recent research by eMarketer, there are roughly 4.2 million moms who blog, accounting for eighteen percent of all adult bloggers. An established mom blog can have hundreds of thousands of regular readers.
As Wiles and her MommyShorts blog has proven, mom bloggers wield an enormous amount of influence. If you can get thousands of other moms to dress their infants up in their husbands’ best jackets and ties, what do you think happens when she mentions – let alone reviews – a product she likes? And like Wiles, many mom bloggers are quite entrepreneurial, and actively court brands to advertise on their blogs or to submit products for review.
The Way I See It
- Blogs are an effective way to reach important demographics. Most moms have a list of blogs they read daily, and almost seventy percent of them believe the word-of-mouth information they get from blogs is credible. In fact, eighty-one percent of all consumers trust the information they get from blogs and social media.
- I see brands actively courting moms and their audiences, often participating at events like the “Mom 2.0 Summit” and other events for mom bloggers, which, among other things, also teach bloggers how to work with brands.
- I see the relationship between brands and mom bloggers, specifically, growing. Who better to receive advice from than a fellow parent?
The Way the Industry Sees It
I sat down with Ilana Wiles, founder of MommyShorts, to discuss mom bloggers and their influence as brand ambassadors.
What was your goal in launching Mommy Shorts, and how has that goal evolved over time?
Almost four years ago, I was laid off from my job as a creative director shortly after I returned from maternity leave. I had a hard time finding a full-time job at my level when most of my portfolio was in traditional advertising – television, outdoor, print. I had very little digital experience. Many of the brands at my old company had recently started paying attention to mom bloggers, and I thought if I got involved in that space, it could end up being a real asset in the advertising world. I decided to work freelance and start a blog in my down time. I became immersed in social media, building my own brand and creating content to engage a growing audience of new moms. As my audience grew, I received more ad jobs where agencies wanted to leverage my reach for their clients. They were building Mommy Shorts into their pitches and their proposals. I decided it made more sense to pursue the blog full-time and see where it could go if I focused all my energy on building my own brand. In the end, my advertising experience helps me be a better blogger instead of the other way around. As I work with more brands, I find the ideation and the partnership possibilities even more exciting than I did at a traditional agency. This year I started to realize my brand can be bigger than the blog. I have a show on ulive, a licensing deal in the works, and an Instagram following I am leveraging all on its own. I’m not going to be writing about my kids in the same way ten years from now, so it’s nice to know there are lots of possibilities of where this can go.
What’s your relationship with your readers like? Do you feel you have a responsibility to them? If so, what is that responsibility?
I put my readers first always. There are lots of bloggers who are writing entirely for themselves, and their readers love them for it. I am more about reader response. Their engagement determines my content entirely. Every sponsorship I take on means my content has to be that much better. You can’t just sell to people. They aren’t interested. You have to be entertaining and authentic.