Lately, the title “blogger” has come to mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people.  For some reason, I distinctly remember the first time I started thinking about the term.  It was during the 2000 Presidential election when I heard talk radio hosts referring to early predictions in the “blogosphere”.   I didn’t think about it again until years later when a mother in my daughter’s playgroup mentioned she blogged for Oprah.  That was in 2005.  Lots has changed, but there is one thing I’m sure of: neither of these kinds of bloggers accepted free baby gear in exchange for product reviews.

Now, I work with mom bloggers every day.  I get to know many of them through a private Facebook group I host.  When I first started recruiting moms to be in my panel for almost a year ago, I discovered that many indicated they were “mom bloggers”.  Working with mom entrepreneurs, I knew there may be a need to connect the two groups, so I developed profiles for bloggers to complete.  I made a list of topics and asked them which they “cover”.  I also asked questions about traffic, platforms, and types of distribution.   That’s when the real lessons began because I quickly realized those metrics aren’t really what make mom bloggers valuable to mom entrepreneurs.  I ran some large experiments that helped me measure the real value of individual bloggers and here’s what I found:

1. The title “Mom Blogger” is way too vague and extremely misleading.
There are mom bloggers who are journalists.  They are well-informed on specific topics like children with special needs or how to live green.  Other mom bloggers are women who enjoy writing and sharing about their day to day life with friends and family.  But, the fastest growing group is the one who focuses on reviews and giveaways.  They are also great at finding and sharing coupons and deals.  They certainly don’t get rich doing this, but it can turn into a lucrative hobby.  When a client comes to me now asking for a campaign with 5-50 bloggers, she is usually thinking of the mom journalists.  That would be fine, except the same clients will also ask that each blogger have over 10,000 followers.  Now there we have a problem.  Bloggers with that kind of niche content and over 10k followers are not likely to be looking for $10-$50 products to review.  You can pitch them, but it’s much like pitching a press release to a bunch of editors: it requires time and contacts.  Understand the different kinds of bloggers and how they can help.
2. Your objectives need to be clear.
The most common complaint clients have about previous blog reviews is that “there were no results.”  They sent products to dozens of bloggers, but didn’t get a boost in sales.  Bloggers don’t sell your product.  Most provide a combination of improved SEO, positive public reviews, and targeted impressions (your market seeing your product).  That rarely leads to instant sales.  Instead, you need to think of it from a buyer’s perspective:  If I’m a mom looking for a great way to solve a problem I’m having, I’m going to do one of the following:  a) ask a friend if they know a solution, b) do a search online for a solution, or c) remember that I’ve seen a solution before somewhere.  The blogger ‘s review is there to be those resources.  They have lots of “friends”, their review creates a page that points to your product as a solution to a problem, and they get in front of a lot of potential customers who may need your solution in the future.  Rarely are those instantaneous results through sales.  Write out your objectives in realistic terms like obtaining hundreds of new Facebook fans, increasing SEO, providing awareness of a promotion, or establishing positive reviews for future customers to find.
3. You need a solid plan.
If you are working with a couple bloggers and have connections, you can find the right ones, email them a pitch, and work directly with them.  If you are doing a major campaign, you need to create a plan that involves targeting the right bloggers, sending product, communicating expectations to the bloggers, following up on the product being received, verifying links, directing traffic to the right social media sites, pages, etc., and measuring results.  You also need to think about what’s in it for the bloggers.  Some are simply hoping for a free product, but others are truly doing you a favor.  Pay it back by allowing them to host giveaways and by promoting them.  Combining special offers with a blog campaign is also very effective.  Take the time to create the plan including who the bloggers are, what they will get and give away, when they will post, how they will drive traffic to your sites, and where you will link back to their efforts.
4. Followers do not equal traffic.
I’ve tracked the effectiveness of dozens of bloggers in several campaigns.  The biggest surprise to me was how little the bloggers “follower” numbers mattered.  It makes sense though: if a blogger posts multiple times a day about special offers and coupons, when they blog about your premium-priced baby accessory, it will not result in click-thrus.  The followers of that blog may come fan you on Facebook in order to enter a giveaway hosted by the blogger, but they won’t be making any purchases now or later.  On the other hand, a mom with a modest blog following who writes about green products can send qualified leads to your green baby product website.  Bloggers use different ways of promoting their posts.  If they simply write it and let followers see it when they visit, the traffic will likely be low.  Other bloggers cross promote with other bloggers, tweet and email links to their posts.  Pick a blogger based on effectiveness for your product, not just how many followers they have.
5. You don’t NEED an agency, but agencies can improve your campaign.
Big brands are experimenting with bloggers.  You’ve likely seen the huge campaigns and the numerous social media promotion companies that are popping up.  They’ve been learning some tough lessons.  I heard privately about one major brand that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a mom blog campaign.  It was such a disaster that the company policy is to not work with bloggers at all now.  Personally, I think it failed because they took an overly opportunistic approach.  The concept of hundreds of moms promoting your product sounds great.  However, that doesn’t happen simply by sending them a free product.  Mom bloggers are actually being asked to be promoters, marketing specialists and even sales reps.  Some agree to do it.  Unfortunately, mom bloggers don’t have the training to do it right and they need to understand their obligations to properly disclose that they are being paid or incentivized.  Utilize agencies if you need assistance contacting bloggers, designing a strategy, or organizing a large campaign, but don’t pay a fortune.
As someone who has managed million dollar marketing budgets for corporations, I still think mom bloggers are a wonderful marketing investment.  When I consider a print ad for $8k that may get 10,000 impressions or delivering $100 in free product to a handful of bloggers for the same impressions plus increased social media following, improved SEO, and great quotes about a product, the choice is simple.  With a database of over 1000 mom bloggers who’ve completed profiles on, I’ve become very picky about which ones I contact for promotions.  I’ve developed a small group of them to be my army of “promotion specialists” for my clients.  In the end, it’s about relationships and communication.  Mom bloggers are real women, not impersonal advertising websites.  Let me know if you’d like help connecting to them.

Shelley Straitiff spent 15 years managing corporate marketing in Silicon Valley before starting her own company.  Always looking for smarter, more creative and less expensive ways to market, Shelley built to provide a place where entrepreneurs can get market feedback from moms and connect with bloggers at an affordable price.  Shelley writes about marketing smarter and getting measurable results from what you do.

Michael Marston is not a mom, but he’s a dad and the head of America’s Family Network and which he started in 1994.

His company offers a nationwide network of online family guides. When it comes to balancing work and family, Marston said he subscribes to one basic principal, “family first.” He admits it is sometimes difficult to find balance and maintain everything, but he encourages other parent entrepreneurs to do their best to keep family first ahead of business.

To find a family guide in your area, visit their main website. Or, you can find US Family Guide on Facebook and Twitter. If you have a blog, you can also submit it to their online directory!

It’s that time of year again, the end of summer. The end of summer break means no more late nights, sleeping late in the morning or playing outside till dark. This is the time of year when kids and parents are thinking about school supplies, new classrooms and teachers, making new friends and getting back to the school routine. Whether your child is starting pre-school or going to high school, it can be an anxious time for both the kids and parents. However, if you prepare your child for school you can sooth their nerves and have a smooth transition into the school year. Here are some great tips to get the school year off to a good start.

  1. After a long summer of going to bed late and sleeping late, it will be hard for the kids to go back to their old school schedule. The best way to get your kids back into their old routines is to start off slowly. In August you can start the process. Each week have your kids go to bed a little earlier until they get back to their normal school routine. Each week my daughter goes to bed 30 minutes earlier by the last week of August she will be back to her school schedule.
  2. Make school fun – have the kids go shopping with you. Let the kids be involved with their school shopping including school supplies, back packs/lunch bags and school clothes. The younger kids have fun picking out their pencil bags and lunch bags. The more your kids are involved the happier they will be. This will also make the parents lives easier; you won’t have to go return things they don’t like.
  3. School visits – most schools have special days before the school years starts that are for visiting. Take this time to go to your child’s new school or new classroom. Walk around so your child knows where her/his locker is, the bathrooms, etc. Most of the teachers are usually there on these days so you can meet your child’s new teacher(s) as well. This will help your child to feel more comfortable in their new environment and it also makes us parents feel more comfortable as well.
  4. Always talk positive about school. Kids are more “Aware” then we think. They watch and hear everything you say. So, if you talk negative about school or teachers, you can change their perspective on school. Be positive.
  5. Have your child prepare for school the night before. This helps with the morning confusion. Have your child set out their clothes/shoes the night before, make their lunches or set out the lunch money. Both you and your child will feel more prepared in the morning.
  6. If your child has any special needs (physically or cognitively) talk to the school and teacher(s) before the New Year starts. Let the school know what your child needs to have a good learning experience.
  7. Ask your child if they have any questions about school. Ask before school starts and the first few weeks of school.  Be an Empathic Listener – imagine how your child is feeling. Always put yourself in their shoes. What might seem like a small issue to you could be a big issue to them.
  8. Active Listening – ask how your child’s day is each and ever day and then really listen when they speak. Ask what they did in school. Stop any other activities and have eye contact with your child. Ask questions if you’re not sure about what they are saying. Don’t interrupt. Don’t think about other topics while they are talking. Think before answering. When you’re an active listener, you show your child that you are really listening and that you care about what they are saying.
  9. Set up a school calendar – I set mine up on the refrigerator so everyone can see it. This schedule should include the lunch menu, after or before school activities, who is driving to each activity, etc. This will take away from the confusion.
  10. Basic needs – make sure your whole family has their basic needs met. Is everyone eating a healthy breakfast, taking their vitamins, drinking plenty of water, getting plenty of sleep and exercise? Everything will be better when your basic needs are met.
  11. Set up some “Free time” in the morning. The Just in case, “extra” time. I wake my daughter up 10-15 minutes earlier and get her ready for school. At the end we usually have 10 minutes or so free time which is nice or if she gets pre-occupies, the extra 10-15 minutes is used up but either way we are ready on time ( most of the time)
  12. Take care of you first. I wake up at 7am and my daughter at 7:30. That half hour gives me the time I need to wake up and take a shower so I’m refreshed and ready to go. This takes away from the crankiness of the morning.
  13. Use positive reinforcement and a behavior chart to reward the good behavior. Set a positive reinforcement board up on your refrigerator where everyone can see it. Put the behavior that you want to change on the board and every time your kids do it right, they get a sticker or a check to say it’s done. After a specific amount of time of doing the right thing, they get a reward.  The key factors are: Every day they put the sticker up for the good behavior, you give positive reinforcement as in praise. When they have done the good behavior for a specific amount time, the reward has to be specific to the child’s wants/needs.  For my daughter, after a month of making her bed and putting her clothes away, she got an in ice cream sundae. It’s what she wanted, what she picked. Another rule: you can only work on one behavior at a time. 
  14.  For younger kids they feel more comfortable at school if they can take one of their small comforts from home. It could be a picture of their mom or dad, a very small stuffed animal, etc. Having something from home brings them comfort. They don’t need to carry it, just put the little memento in their backpack.
  15. Keep your kid’s school ready by keeping up with math and reading over the summer. The libraries have great reading programs with tips on what books to reach for all ages and positive reinforcement.  You can buy a practice math book at your local book store and have your kids practice during the summer. It’s a great way to keep their cognitive skills strong and makes for an easier transition into their next grade.

Therapist, educator, author and life coach Diane Lang has dedicated her career to helping people turn their lives around and is now on a mission to help them develop a sustainable positive attitude that can actually turn one into an optimist, literally. A parent herself, Lang has taught Positive Parenting to parents and written extensively on the benefits of using it with even the youngest children. She has also spoken or conducted seminars on postpartum depression, striving for balance versus having it all and practical tips on interviewing, networking and dressing for success and is the author of “Baby Steps: the Path from Motherhood to Career” & “Creating Balance & Finding Happiness”. Lang has an M.A. in Counseling and a B.A. in Liberal Arts from the New York Institute of Technology.

Why should anyone buy your product or retain your services? What do you have to offer that makes it worth anyone’s time and/or money?

This is an uncomfortable question, but it is the secret sauce to build your business.  You must have the UNIQUE point of differentiation also known as the USP, Unique Selling proposition.

We are all gifted with creative self expression; we all have something of value to offer.  Here is the kicker, many of us have no clue how we stand out in the marketplace.  We are not able to tell someone 10 reasons why they should buy our product, retain our service or invest their time and money in us. 

Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump, Martha Stewart, Iyanla Vanzant, Tony Robbins, Lisa Nichols, Gary Vaynerchuk, Chris Brogan, Ali Brown all have used creative self expression and their authentic voice to create rock star brands. They created extraordinary business models from ordinary ideas and dreams.  They demonstrated the big “WHY”.  Why you should consult with them, invest in them, showcase them and highlight them.  Why them? Because these creative visionaries moved by force, determination, passion and consistency.  They turned the ordinary business deal into an extraordinary opportunity.

If you’re going to create an extraordinary brand, you’ll need to keep showing up and showing out. You must be willing, able and ready to do something and say something interesting, relevant and transforming. You need to have a big enough WHY? Why you? Why here? Why now? Why should I choose you?

How can you create a micro product that clearly defines what you do and WHY it is important to the reader or listener?  Record using, or to add video and screen shots for illustration and demonstration purposes. Think about the following:

 What are 10 problems you solve for people?

What are 10 problems that your market has?

What are 10 biggest challenges they encounter on a day to day basis?

Remember: If you are your authentic self and operate at your highest and best, you have no competition.

Lucinda Cross is a teacher, an innovator, a change agent and an author. Lucinda uses speaking, training and mentoring to help business moms attract quality clients and grow their business effortlessly by becoming an expert in their field. She is the author of Corporate Mom Dropouts and has a blog by the same name.

Staci Egan has been making jewelry since 1999. A year later, she made it a business and founded Contempo Jewelry.

Egan creates custom and original jewelry for any occasion. “My designs are nature inspired; featuring wire working techniques precious metals, freshwater pearls and natural stones,” she said.

When asked how she balances family and business, she was quick to admit that it’s not always easy for her. “I want to be a savvy business woman with a powerful enterprise. But, I also want a clean home, stocked full of groceries and a beautiful homemade meal every night. The fact is – I can’t have it all,” she said.

Egan said she simply tries to do her best to balance and hope that everyone understands. Right now, she said, she feels it is important to grow her business.

When talking to other aspiring mom entrepreneurs, she tells them to trust their gut. “It will always lead you in the right direction.”

Egan has offered Market Mommy readers free shipping simply for mentioning this blog post! In addition to her main website, her jewelry designs can be found on Facebook, her blog, Twitter and Etsy.

When I first began working with Mommy Perks, small business giveaways were a rather new concept. Only the larger businesses were giving things away, Online, and my partner would reach out hoping to get a “yes” from at least one business owner each week. “Please – can we run a giveaway for you? We need content!”

Things have changed a great deal. I became full owner of Mommy Perks in early 2009. Soon after, the mom blogging community exploded and reviews/giveaways became a norm. Although Mommy Perks is not a review/giveaway mom blog, people assume that we are because of the name. In turn, I receive countless emails now, asking me to review and give products away. I can’t say yes to everyone because I simply don’t have time.

From the business owners’ perspective, a few things need to be taken into consideration before you have a blogger review or give your products away.

Here are some tips…

WHY have someone review your product or give it away?

If you are hoping that a review/giveaway will bring you big sales, think again. Most often, reviews and giveaways are a great way to help Brand your name and get your links in front of new eyes. The key words used inside the post can also boost your SEO. Review/Giveaway posts can bring you new traffic or bump your traffic up for that week but the reviews/giveaways are not likely to bring you big sales. Remember: the people entering your giveaway are hoping to win something for free!  Keep this in mind so you don’t feel let down when big sales…do not come.

Are reviews and giveaways in your budget?

Many marketing books will tell you to spend about 50 percent of your start up money on marketing. This can include reviews and giveaways, should you view reviews/giveaways as a marketing tool. Are you seeking back links? Traffic? New eyes? Reviews and giveaways can offer this and really, it’s an affordable way to promote. When you compare to the prices of Print advertising, you’ll quickly find that reviews/giveaways are much more affordable and many times, they bring more return (traffic, etc) than print ads.

Pick wisely

Don’t go out and buy a $400 media list or blogger list and then shoot one email to the entire group. This is not a wise way to use your list resources. Most places charge money for a blogger list but at Reliable Bloggers you can request the list for FREE (60 bloggers on list #1 and there will be more than 60 on list #2). Go through your list(s) and read about the bloggers, learn about them and check out their blogs to see what they write about. Don’t send the same pitch to every one of them. Write your pitches according to their blogs and personalities. If your product is not a fit for a specific blog, don’t push it. Find someone else! Attempt to work with bloggers and sites that fit your product and needs. Casting your net too widely here will only frustrate you in the long run.

Cross promote!

Many small business owners ask me to review or run their giveaways. The ones that do the best are the ones who understand the value of cross promotion. I tweet – they tweet. I facebook – they facebook. I email my list – they email their list, showing where their current reviews/giveaways are being held. We both work hard to promote to our readers so that more eyes will view the information. Leaving everything up to the blogger is not wise. Take matters into your own hands and understand that the more tweets/hashtags/facebook links – the better for BOTH of you! You are now supporting each other and will likely both get increased readership, blog followers, twitter followers and so on. The more you help the blogger, the more the blogger will help you (hopefully).

Plan ahead

Are you going to offer reviews or giveaways every month? Quarterly? Yearly? Plan ahead and budget out accordingly. You don’t need to overdo things, either. Take your time and work with bloggers who are giving you as much as you are giving them. The smaller bloggers will likely review and run giveaways for free, as they need the content. Veteran bloggers are going to charge you for their time, promotion and audience loyalty. The Veteran bloggers have earned their stripes and should be respected for it (much like a photographer just starting out will take photos for free, for their portfolio, but a professional photographer is going to charge you). However, a nominal fee for their time is different than a $500 fee. If someone is charging you $25-100 that’s probably reasonable (depending on their audience base and Klout). If they are charging you $500, I would pass. You can find 5 bloggers who will review or run your giveaway for $25 each and in turn, you’ll spend $125 for a large amount of promotion, numerous back links and new traffic. Weigh the pros and cons and go from there, doing what’s best for your buck. (Note: Some of the smaller bloggers are much kinder, far more responsive and they often become long-term friends who will refer you, even months later!)

Shara Lawrence-Weiss has a background in education, early childhood, special needs, freelance and marketing. She owns various websites including: Mommy Perks, Kids Perks, Personal Child Stories, Early Childhood News and Resources and Pine Media (co owner). Shara is an active member of her town charity group and a Library Board Member. Learn more about her and get more business tips at Mommy Perks.


Michelle Pittman is the mom behind Hair Candy by Michelle. She officially started her business in September of last year. Hair Candy by Michelle offers hair bows, hair clips, headbands, flower clips, crocheted caps and headbands, embellished bow flip flops and crocs.

Pittman is a stay at home mom of four and somehow finds time to run a successful business from her home studio. “My family comes first so my business sort of fits itself into my life,” she said. She works while her older three boys are at school and her daughter is napping. “I also work some late nights and get up early on weekends if needed to get orders done.” Like others, she said it’s not always easy balancing her business with her family.

“Occasionally, I do have to work when my kiddos are all home but we make it work,” she said. “At least I’m still at home with them even if I am in my studio working.” Her children can color, read or do puzzles in the studio while mom works.

Pittman encourages other aspiring mom entrepreneurs to share their business with everyone and never give up. “I love using Facebook as a source of marketing. It is such an amazing way to reach so many people … so easily,” she said. “Be creative and think of fun and unique ways to get your business known,” she added.

Pittman has generously offered 10% off to all Market Mommy readers on their first order. Simply enter HairCandy4Me at checkout. In addition to her main website, Hair Candy by Michelle can also be found on Facebook.

Custom-cleaning Rags are not your ordinary cleaning rag.  These cleaning rags are one of a kind.  The embroidery stitching displays Signature Rags’ distinctive trademark logo and the area the rags are to be used.  These unique rags are cleaning tools providing safety and organization. 

No mix-ups of using the wrong cleaning rags in the wrong area.  No mistakes by using wash cloth
to clean areas in your kitchen or bathroom.  No cross contamination of chemicals being introduced in

your laundry or anywhere else that you don’t want them to be.

After laundering your Rags they can be stored in the appropriate area that’s displayed on the rag.
The embroidery stiching displays the area of use and our trademark logo “Rags” identifies its purpose.

*This is a sponsored post purchased as part of our MM Biz of the Week promotion.


by Christy Busbey

Let’s face it, our lives are a three-ring circus and we are the master juggler, moving from work, to family, to home, all the while trying to keep our commitments or “balls” in the air. 

So how is a mom supposed to keep it all together?  

By staying organized, and I don’t mean the unrealistic type of organized.

Asking for help. The last time I looked there were no labor laws against asking kids and husbands to pitch in and help.

Letting it go. Now I am not suggesting you be on the next episode of that hoarders show, but are your personal expectations too high?

Now let me give you some realistic ways to help you achieve these things:

Staying organized: How about having a designated bag with your cleaning supplies in it? Our organizing utility tote is perfect for this. You can freely move from room to room and clean to your heart’s content. You can also use the bag for your errand day. Collect all your lists, returns, etc., in this bag until the big day, and then everything is in one place. Our square utility tote is great for laundry, and the little munchkins can put their own things away. Open your mail next to the trashcan. Throw away unnecessary things and file those necessary things right away. Our large utility tote is great for the junk in your trunk, as a laundry basket, a Sams/BJs/Costco bag, or for toys in the living room.

Asking for help: Now we all have different views on this, but take it from someone whose significant other was not required to help out at all, your future daughter/son-in-law will thank you for this little bit of household training. You can choose one day, make a master list of chores and have each family member choose items from the list to complete. When all is done, take them out for ice cream. The person who did the most chores gets that many toppings on their ice cream!  Or use a system to help divvy out the chores during the week/month.  There are a couple of really nice FREE systems out there. Choose a menu planning service. These are a great way to get healthy meals on the table without a lot of work and there are even a few out there that will match your menu up to your local grocery store sales. Do you coupon? There are several services out there that will again match up your coupons with what is on sale at your local store saving you time and money.

Letting it go: I have been married for 18 years. I have a 16 yr. old, 12 yr. old and a 3 yr. old.  I have to say I had pretty high expectations of myself until the little man was born (can you say SURPRISE!) and I started my successful Thirty One business, but I have learned to let some things go. We are on the week/month system in our house and right now you will find spots on my kitchen floor because they aren’t mopped until Wednesday. I have learned to let it go. It also frees my mind because I don’t have to constantly think about the things that need to be done. I know that because of my system, eventually it will get done. We really need to make sure that we are making the most of the precious time we have with our family. Clean houses never last, but hugs, kisses and memories do.


by Jill Salzman


Sleep is not a hot topic.  It gets discussed a lot when there is little of it, and it’s almost never heard of in classrooms or board rooms.  It’s one of the fundamental ways to get work done and done well…but are you getting your 8+ hours?   

I didn’t think so.


The average American should get eight or more hours of sleep per night.  Only 20% of Americans are doing it right.  Heck, the CDC declared “Insufficient Sleep Is A Public Health Epidemic” since lack of it has been linked to car crashes, industrial disasters and medical errors, among other things.  Women, by the way, have twice as hard a time falling asleep as their male counterparts.  So why bother trying?


I spent one year working in a sleep lab, and that year was a life-changer.  It’s incredible how simple sleeping can be, but due to stress, work, and the kids, we working women have it pretty hard.   But there are ways to cope.  I promise.


Did you know that it’s all about routine?  If you hit the hay at 2AM, that’s okay!  Just hit the hay at that hour every night of the week.  If you prefer 11PM, that’s just fine.  But keep it to that hour every night of the week.  You’re going to tell me that routine sleep is nearly impossible in your busy house, and that once the kids are down you get a lot of [pick one: work/relaxation] done (or you can simply get a good floor mattress and sleep in any other room which is quiet). And I’ll throw right back at you that routine sleep is a lot like working out — you must find the time and make it happen or you can excuse yourself into insomnia.  Once you are sleeping at regular times each night, your body will eventually wake you up at the same time every day, and I can’t even begin to tell you how refreshed you will be.  (Hint:  so refreshed.)


Try to skip that wine late in the evening.  Alcohol will help you dive into a nice, deep sleep, and then it will interrupt your circadian rhythms all night long.  It’s The Great Disruptor when it comes to sleep.  So if you’re drinking it to help you get through the night, drink again.  Another time.  Bloody Mary in the morning, anyone?


Take it to heart when someone bids you a “good night.”  Really make it good.  And by good, I mean make it unconscious for as long as your children will allow.  You will thank yourself, especially if you wake up to a Bloody Mary.