Before having kids, most of us spent years mapping out our lives and plotting for successful careers. But when things shifted from late night boardroom meetings to sippy cups and potty training, being a "Working Girl" became a distant memory.
But with the rise of "mommy bloggers," the trend has shifted and moms are now able to marry all aspects of their lives. They're finding ways to market, brand and profit from their mommyhood ... and they're doing it from home.
One mom who's turned new motherhood into a full-fledged business (and obsession for other new moms) is Los Angeles-based Jen Levinson. Five years ago, Jen started Jen's List -- a daily newsletter that shares parenting tips, must-haves, and leads for moms in Los Angeles. She started with just 10 friends. It now reaches 15,000 people daily. She answered a few questions about how she got her start:
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My husband Mike and I have five boys. Zachary is 7. Identical twins Ben and Josh will be 5 in April, and our other set of identical twins, Matthew and Joey will be 2 next month. (Yes, that is correct, we are blessed with two sets of twins!) We live in the West San Fernando Valley, nestled among the trees, which drowns out the noise of seven people, a dog and a cat. We're like the modern-day Waltons.
What made you decide to start Jen's List? How did you start doing it?
Jen's List came in kind of a roundabout way. It began when I was pregnant with Ben and Josh; I was on bed rest and needed something to do. So every day I'd email my close-knit group of 10 or so girlfriends an interesting piece of info about something for the kids, clothing, baby items, etc. Within a few months, everyone began "expecting" the emails from me and they would pass them along to their friends who would email me and ask me to put them on my "list."
How did you make it grow?
Jen's List has grown strictly from word of mouth.
How did you create revenue and when did you start to see a profit?
For about three and a half years, I did not make any money running Jen's List. However, once the membership grew into the 6,000-plus range, the influx of emails became overwhelming and I was either going to sink or swim at that point. I decided that I would have one top sponsor for the newsletter every day for a small fee. I was not sure in the beginning how others would take to it; however from the start, I have been booked two to three months in advance for that first position in the newsletter.
How do advertisers or vendors get on your list? Are you bombarded with freebies? (Jealous!)
Those that want to advertise contact me. Because Jen's List is known to so many in the greater L.A. area, I have not had to reach out to find advertisers, to date. I do get requests sometimes -- but not too often -- from companies that want to send me samples in return for a blurb in the newsletter. I do tell them upfront that just because a product is sent, it does not mean that it will be included and only those that I feel are a good fit would be written up.
How do you balance the list with your busy life?
Balance is a word that I try every day to find a definition for. Without question, I put my family first. I sort through the vast amounts of emails that I receive on my phone, and when I can sit down at my computer between naps, homework and extracurricular activities. I have some editing assistance, but do most of it on my own -- often late into the night or early in the morning.
What kind of things do you like to post and do you find that moms are most drawn to?
I like to post pieces that are most likely useful to the "average" family. Household help, sample sales, recalls, recommendations for everything from nail salons to doctors. I try and cover all of my bases thoroughly.
Do you know of any competitors in Los Angeles or other moms in other cities doing the same thing?
There are a few forum boards and community networking sites, however in the L.A. area, I am not aware of anyone doing something like Jens List.
How can other moms start a list like this?
If you think your city needs a Jen's List, I am currently looking for other cities to expand to. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info!
What are the next steps for Jen's List?
We are growing every day. I went from having 10 friends, to 15,000 subscribers to date. Everything is changing quickly, so make sure your subscription is up to date!
Up Next: Jen shares her Top 5 Tips on how other moms can make money from mommyhood too!