Passionate Voices: The Accidental Mommy Blogger

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Not everyone can make the transition from print to Web – but some talented writers not only manage it, they commute back and forth all the time. Dana Wood has been a beauty and wellness journalist at print magazines for 20 years and has also spent time in the luxury group of L'Oreal working with brands like Kiehl's, Lancome, Ralph Lauren fragrances and Giorgio Armani Cosmetics. She was also the Health & Beauty Director of Cookie. Her first book, Momover: The New Mom's Guide to Getting It Back Together, was published in 2010 by Adams Media, and she has been blogging in support of that effort at Momover.

Though she considers herself an "accidental mommy blogger," and would never dream of trying to compete with the Dooces of the world, she absolutely loved discovering great mama voices - both established and up-and-coming - via the Say 100 where she curates the parenting channel.

We caught up with her about what it's like to be an independent voice among the zillions of mommy writers out there, what posts are guaranteed to start a firestorm of comments, and her advice for marketers and moms.

You’ve had a great career being a print editor, and you’re also a Mommy blogger now. What’s that like?

One platform definitely informs the other. I spent a good chunk of this year in-house at InStyle, and it underscored, for me, the rigor involved in producing really great women’s magazines. I think that’s why a big percentage of my blog posts on Momover are “reported” – with tons of links and outside sources – and not purely riffy and ranty. I riff and rant plenty, but my point is that I’m a really disciplined blogger, in both actual | factual content and the absence of typos, etc.

Talk about the Mommy blogosphere from your point of view – what does it look like to you?

Verrry crowded! I always joke that there are as many mommy blogs as there are bedbugs in Manhattan, and I don’t think that’s too far off the mark. I consider myself an “accidental” mommy blogger, in that I just happened to have landed at Cookie because my previous W editor was overseeing the launch. While at Cookie, I needed to figure out a way to contribute to the magazine’s deeply awesome website. Et voila, Momover. But that was in 2006. I never would have launched a mommy blog circa 2009, or whenever this category exploded. But now that Momover is out of diapers, there’s no reason to give her up for adoption!

What are your tips for new mom bloggers?

Unless you are a really - and I mean seriously - good writer, I might advise that you don’t go the strict navel-gazing route. Rather, pick an untapped niche around your interests or hobbies, and write about that, peppering it with “mom stuff.” Do you make the world’s most kick-ass blueberry pies? Are you a helicopter pilot? An ER nurse? Blog about that rather than Sally Sue’s runny nose. Not that Sally Sue’s runny nose isn’t important. It totally is. But maybe not to thousands of readers.

What do you love about other mommy voices - and what do you not relate to?

There are some hilarious writers out there, and for that I am extremely grateful. (Cliché alert: Exploiting My Baby.) But here’s what I find a head-scratcher: All the give-aways and coupons, etc. Is that stuff fun to write about? Maybe I’m missing something.

What do you get out of writing about Mom stuff? Why do you do it?

I just love to blog – period, end of story. When I went back to W for the second time, I blogged like a banshee. For Momover, I don’t know that I write about actual “Mom stuff” even as much as I probably should. It’s essentially a wellness and self-improvement site for women, cleverly disguised as a mommy blog.

What mom blogs do you read regularly? Who’s doing some really interesting things?

Lately I’ve found myself drawn to the daddy blogs, which are just the – dare I say – more insecure, less marketing-savvy side of the same parenting coin. To that end, I like Backpacking Dad, Filets to Fishsticks and one that also has an animal-advocacy agenda that I personally admire: These Little Piggies Had Tofu.

What are the most controversial parenting/mommy topics guaranteed to start a firestorm of comments?

The upfront disclaimer: I don’t spend a lot of time in the forums, etc. But my sense is that the universal hot buttons are, and have been, a mix of serious stuff (autism, the environment) and judgy fare, i.e, whether you’re the devil incarnate for having a scheduled C-section or opting out of breastfeeding.

What are your all-time most popular posts?

Anything having to do with Kyle Richards’ eyeshadow! I’m not kidding. What else…a post about spotting Julianne Moore outside a West Village restaurant in Swedish Hasbeens clogs is off-the-hook popular. Others: The one about my decision not to shoot my face full of Botox and fillers; the one featuring the star-studded panel of wellness gurus chatting about cleansing and detoxing; and my obsession with having a home office that looks as good as design goddess Kelly Wearstler’s. What can I tell you? My “Momoverettes” are a superficial bunch. Collectively, we don’t do a lot of deep-thinking.

You mention a lot of brands and products you love on your site. What products do you like to write about and why?

Beauty and wellness are my professional wheelhouse – and my rabid interest – so I do post a lot around those two categories. However, I’ve always been a big proponent of people and ideas, so I’m forever writing about some great new book I read, some expert who is catching my ear or some televised costumed drama I am completed besotted with. That’s just my print experience spilling into digital. Momover is a fan site. I love a lot of stuff in this wacky old world of ours – people, places and PBS - and I like to celebrate it.

What’s your advice for marketers when approaching mommy bloggers? What does a win-win look like for the writer and the brand?

Ooooh, tricky. For marketers, I would recommend looking beyond the metrics to pure quality of content and design. I would want both – regardless of what my product is. For writers, I would suggest trusting your immediate visceral reaction when a marketer reaches out to you. Can you instantly think of what you’d write? Yes? Then that’s an excellent fit.

Do you think the Wee Lass will ever read your blog? Do you want her to?

I really hope she does. But then again, I’m just hoping she learns to read! (She’s only in kindergarten.) The other night I had dinner with a friend who mentioned that she’d been reading Jennifer Grant’s memoir about her father, Cary. Evidently, Cary kept an insanely meticulous archive about her. In an actual vault. I never even kept one of those “mommy scrapbooks,” so I guess Momover will have to serve as a digital version of Cary Grant’s archive. And when and if the Wee Lass reads it, I think she’ll feel the full force of my love, and really know how much time I invested in taking care of myself and being healthy. That’s pretty much the Momover mantra: Moms need to attend to their own wellness needs, so they can then take care of everyone else.

Follow Dana Wood on Twitter @momoverlady