Dot.com moms

Kelby Carr will be the first to tell you she's not really a girly girl.

"I'm not a pink-powder-puff, teddy-bear kind of chick," she says. But surfing the Web a couple of years ago, that seemed to Carr to be the general flavor of parenting blogs written by women.

Power mom: Kelby Carr, one of Asheville's most Web-connected bloggers, has organized Asheville's first mommy blogger conference, which is expected to bring about 250 women to town for a weekend of networking and workshops. Carr is pictured here with her twin 3-year-olds Kara, left, and Ethan, right, and her husband, Mike. Photo by Jason Sandford

The mother lode

Local moms have taken over the blogs!

by Brian Postelle

They are mothers and they are bloggers, but don't think that means they have everything (or anything) else in common. Western North Carolina's mommy bloggers have one of the strongest presences in our local blogging community, but they feature all the variety you would expect in our region. Here are 10, lifted directly from the blog roll at Blogasheville.blogspot.com, where local moms are doing more than just sharing pictures of their children.

The Adventures of Supermom (theadventuresofsupermom.com)
The Adventures of Supermom hits all the good, the bad and the exhausted moments with daily posts ranging from the comic to the absurd in a tone that conveys the understanding that yes, your kid is a genius and prodigy, but she also poops in her pants.

Barefoot Mama (thebarefootmama.blogspot.com)
Posting only for a few months in 2008, Barefoot Mama wrote longer-than-average entries, built mostly of introspective themes including perseverance, resolution, transcendence and single motherhood. She worked above the tag line:  "…one step at a time."

Crankypants Blog (crankypantsknits.blogspot.com)
Primarily a launch site to promote the author's locally loved knit kiddie pants, the entries here are cool and conversational, reading more like a diary of family life than an online screed.

Mountain Mama (blueridgedreams.typepad.com)
A photo-heavy blog, Mountain Mama prefers to say it in pictures, going as far as to have "Wordless Wednesdays." Her written observations are as understated as the photos, and her occasional dialogues with the kids focus primarily on tender graces.

Golden Sun Family (goldensunfamily.blogspot.com)
That nature and motherhood fit together so well is probably, well, natural. Mostly through the use of photos, Golden Sun Family charts a family and the cycle of seasons through craft, food and outdoors exploration. 

A Husband Wanted (ahusbandwanted.blogspot.com)
Soon after her arrival in Asheville, this single mom hit the web with the mission of finding a husband. Subsequent posts centered on the frustration, difficulty and sometimes near success of filling that role. The blogger has since returned to San Diego, but she wrote an update for her followers last month.

Mommyface (mommyface.blogspot.com)
The tagline says it well enough: "Attempting to grow as we consume less. Changing the world while changing diapers." It sounds like quintessential Asheville motherhood, complete with crafts, nature, farm, garden and cooking.

Stupid Mommy (stupidmommy.blogspot.com)
Before it ended abruptly (and with no shortage of swearing) in June 2008, Stupid Mommy specialized in the bizarre, blue and left-field experiences of mommyhood. Sometimes the best portraits of family life are painted off-color.

Sweet Mess (kloomer.blogspot.com)
A fitting summing up of parenthood in two short words, Sweet Mess mixes the author's installation art, gardening, slice-of-life photography and small-yet-huge victories like toilet training. She is currently blogging a pregnancy-in-progress.

Yoga Mama Me (yogamamame.com)
Peace in motherhood may well be found in the details, and Yoga Mama Me gives plenty of details. The blog entries are play-by-play essays about child (and parent) development. Many finish with a segue into yoga philosophy.

Carr envisioned a Web site that got more to the heart of her experience as a mother of three trying to meet all the demands of home and career. Dreading the weekly mountain of laundry. Spacing on filling out school forms. Recalling the days going out on a weekend to share a drink with friends.

So one long holiday weekend in the spring of 2007, she created a site called Type-A Mom with the tag line: "real moms sharing real advice." It features a range of writers covering all sorts of topics, from practical tips and advice to personal essays.

The site took off, and Carr has established herself in the blogosphere. Later this month, she will draw on her extensive virtual connections to host about 250 mommy bloggers in Asheville at her inaugural Type-A Mom Conference. The gathering has attracted women from around the country interested in workshops and panel discussions about blogging and writing, as well as networking.

The conference's other benefit, for Carr, is simply spotlighting Asheville. Carr, who worked as a newspaper reporter and at the Asheville Convention and Visitor's Bureau before leaving to concentrate on her Internet writing, has scheduled tours around town as well as a series of "Accents on Asheville" speaker dinners at local restaurants.

"I realized the potential of having all these bloggers who are highly influential and saw an opportunity to showcase Asheville as a tourist destination," says Carr. The conference also includes a "mommy mart," where businesses — mostly small, local shops — will offer their goods for sale.

Over the past few years, more and more companies have realized the sales and marketing punch that mom bloggers pack. A 2009 Social Media Study by BlogHer, iVillage and Compass Partners found that there are about 42 million women online, and noted that 43 percent of them read blogs for advice and recommendations. With women making key decisions about household spending to the tune of billions of dollars, more and more companies have sought them out.

The maturation of blogs has caught the attention of the federal government. Later this year the Federal Trade Commission will consider adopting new rules requiring bloggers to disclose whether they've been paid by an advertiser to write about a product. The potential action has set off an ongoing debate — especially among mom bloggers — about blogging ethics. Carr says a "town hall" discussion during the conference will tackle those issues.

Women planning trips to Asheville for the event say they're looking forward to solidifying the already strong bonds they've created through their blogs and Web sites like Carr's.

Sarah Pinnix, a 35-year-old mother of three who lives in Boone, started blogging 12 years ago as a hobby. The success of her Real Life Blog led her to create an online magazine called High Country Mom Squad, which she says "has become a central location for family information here."

Pinnix, who is branching out into social-media marketing and consulting, finds the beauty of mom blogging in the opportunities it provides to talk with others about your shortcomings, before laughing them off and learning from your mistakes. She says she's looking forward to the conference because "once you get that many creative individuals in one room together, the ideas just come flying."

Buzz on the 'net: Mommy bloggers are some of the hottest writers on the Web, especially so in terms of companies who seek out their advice and positive word of mouth. This Wordle, or "word cloud," is a graphic depiction of key words associated with the upcoming Asheville mommy blogger conference called the Type A Mom conference.

Blog conferences help women support one another "in motherhood, in sisterhood and in livelihood," says Mishelle Lane, a mother of four who lives in Dawsonville, Ga. Lane blogs as Secret Agent Mama and has her own photography business. She'll be teaching conference-goers how to improve their photography.

"As an only child, I value all the friendships I have made — and will continue to make — on line, because they help me get through the daily grind. The times spent together, at conferences, fasten and strengthen the bonds that we have formed online. We learn from each other and grow accordingly."

Type-A Mom Conference

by Jason Sandford

What: A mommy blogger conference that's expected to draw about 250 people to Asheville. It's organized by Asheville resident Kelby Carr, a former newspaper reporter who turned to online writing and launched the Web site www.typeamom.net in 2007 as a way to feature the work of mommy bloggers.

When: Thursday, Sept. 24, through Saturday, Sept. 26.

Where: The conference is based at the Crowne Plaza Tennis & Golf Resort in West Asheville, but there are tours and speaker dinners scheduled around Asheville.

Cost: $200 for the weekend. Use code to get $75 off the ticket price.

Highlights:
• General panel discussion on Friday from 8:45 a.m. to 10 a.m. on social and collaborative blogging.
• Mom Market 8-10 a.m. on Saturday featuring local businesses and mom-made wares.
• Blogger Town Hall, 1:30-2:30 p.m. on Saturday, to discuss a variety of issues connected to blogging ethics.

Visit www.typeamomconference.com for full details.

Megan Jordan, a 32-year-old mother of two boys in Gulfport, Miss., began blogging after Hurricane Katrina hit her home in 2007 and she lost 50 hardback journals containing decades of entries. Her blog, Velveteen Mind, led to another Internet site, Blog Nosh magazine, which aggregates the best literary work of bloggers. Jordan says she's excited about the connections she'll make at the Type-A Mom conference. She's a conference speaker who will be talking about social and collaborative blogging.

"I write a lot about community," Jordan says. "You have to identify a niche when you're writing, but if your end goal is not building community, you probably won't get there. The most important thing is still the people you connect with."

With Type-A Mom, Carr has created a vibrant online community and, along the way, established herself as one of the 50 most influential women in social media based on Internet search rankings, according to the Immediate Influence blog. She hopes her conference, with break-out sessions on everything from banishing blog trolls to burnishing a brand, will improve bloggers' skills while putting Asheville in a positive light.

"These are multitasking super moms," Carr says. The world is taking note.

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4 thoughts on “Dot.com moms

  1. Michelle Lee

    Thank you for including me up there!!!

    Michelle @ The Adventures of Supermom

  2. Dulcita Love

    I like what Kelby Carr is offering to parents attending the Conference: a Kid Conference with their very own workshops and conference totes.

    It’s given an opportunity for local schools and performers to be involved with the Kid Conference and provide an enriched experience for the children. @dulcitalove

  3. Bugg

    I’m glad to know that all of these yuppies will be in one place. That way, we can avoid them.

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