Feature: Mom blogger aims to turn "stay-at-home" status into profit-making operation

Once we’ve got more exposure, we will have opportunities open up: Shannon Sawicki

Mom bloggers, who write about their children and family life for other mom readers, are a growing trend in Richmond. 

“There is a whole stack of (mom bloggers) out there. They are all writing, and the numbers keep increasing,” said Shannon Sawicki, a Steveston mom of three who started blogging two years ago after being encouraged by another mom blogger, who is a friend.

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After constantly posting at least twice a month — sometimes once a week — Sawicki has built up more than 1,000 subscribers and receives around 1,500 views a month. She also has thousands of followers on social media.

Sawicki just had a breakthrough — her blog VenusFitness has been selected as one of the 2018 Top 30 Vancouver Mom Bloggers by VancouverMom.ca. The exposure should give her blog a lift.

Apart from a mom’s passion for sharing, Sawicki attributes the popularity of mom bloggers to the increasing cost of living in the province.

“Alternative income streams, aka side hustles, are becoming more and more prevalent,” said Sawicki.

“Moms are looking outside the box for creative ways to contribute without sacrificing time with their families, and blogging provides this.”

Mom blogger
Sawicki's poster to invite people to vote for her for the 2018 Top 30 Vancouver Mom Bloggers. She told the News that she blogs about fitness, family and fun.

Sawicki said the key to a profitable blogger is to build up the readership, which equals influence in the community.

“Once we’ve got more exposure, we will have opportunities open up. Companies might come and ask us to blog for their products or we can write for other publications,” she explained.

Sawicki used to have multiple jobs, including working full-time as an administrative staff and part-time as a personal fitness trainer. She quit her personal training business two years ago to spend more time with her family and take care of her newborn baby.

“I thought, why don’t I start a blog instead? I can do it at home when my son is asleep or napping,” said Sawicki.

Like most mom bloggers, her target audience is moms — those who have a busy life trying to fit everything in, like Sawicki herself, and would love to read stories of others who are experiencing the same thing, gaining access to support or helpful advice.

Sawicki also found herself a niche — fitness — something she was always passionate about. Many moms pick a niche to stand out in the market; some do art, photography, sustainability or food.

Sawicki’s blog is a mixture of topics such as how to organize a boy’s birthday party, her Sun Run review, healthy tips for Halloween and exercise tips for moms. She is working on building a bigger readership and eventually attracting advertising or a partnership for her blog.

mom blogger
Shannon Sawicki at the a Color Me Rad 5km run. She likes to post run or walk reviews on her blog.

However, an ongoing debate has been how to keep the fine line between blogging and a private life, especially when mom bloggers start to experience the benefits of high click-through rates that generate revenue.

A well-known U.S. mom blogger, Heather Armstrong, was one of the first moms whose blog went viral and teamed up with sponsors. She took her kids to events and posted them on her blog, as requested by companies.

But in 2015, she stepped away from the blog, saying it had taken over her life. And she would like other mommy bloggers to look at her story as a warning. Now Armstrong is back blogging with much less involvement of her children.

“This used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing…You want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars,” wrote Armstrong on her blog bio.

Also, having a blog might mean exposing your life to people you don’t know. Sia Cooper, a U.K. mom blogger, took to Instagram last month to share some of the most offensive comments she has received, including someone calling her “fat, ugly, annoying, stupid and a bad mom.”

Sawicki said she feels lucky that she hasn’t heard any negative comments about her blog, adding it is a very “supportive community,” and she has been protecting her children from over exposure.

She rarely posts her kids’ photos on her blog, and will ask her older kids, age 11 and 18, for permission if she posts photos of any of them on her social media account — without revealing their names.

“I won’t ask them to take pictures or do anything they don’t like to do," said Sawicki.

"And my focus is on fitness and my writing; kids are not my selling point for clicks.

“After all, family always comes first, others come second. I started this blog to spend more time with my family in the first place.”

Sawicki still has a long way to go to achieve her goal of turning a profit from her  blog. Now she earns just enough money from Google advertisements to pay for the operation fee for the website.

“I only write things I want to write. I don’t know if that’s the right way to blog or not. I write on my instinct,” she laughed.

“I have become more reflective after I started the blog, and I feel good inspiring families to be active.

“Maybe they will start going for walks with their families after reading my blogs, or take a decoration from my post and throw a birthday party. They get good memories from that. Then I have done my job,” she said.

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