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Apparently, I've Started a Newsletter
Helllooooo!!! Welcome to my new home. Is it a second home? My primary home? A pied a terre for my mistress? We shall see. What I do know is that I'm committed to writing here weekly for at least a year to see if this new space is the perfect place to build the second act of my mommy blogging journey.
But wait! I don't get it! You've already built this uniquely designed blog called Mommy Shorts with ten years worth of content! Why would you start posting somewhere else?
This is a complicated question with many answers. The first being— when you create a site for yourself with a name, a design, a color scheme, and very specific categories, you neglect to realize that as your life changes and shifts over time, the blog will stay the same. You can make minor changes without much consequence, but if you are craving a more major overhaul, then you run the risk of uprooting everything you love. I want to preserve Mommy Shorts, and still continue to post there, while also flexing my wings and trying something new.
The second answer is that my goals have changed. When I started my blog, I wanted it to get as big and widely read as possible. For awhile, I even thought I wanted to bring on other writers and make Mommy Shorts bigger than just me. But I've realized that the strategies to gain pageviews and new followers don't really align with my values. And I've learned that bigger isn't necessarily better. In fact, a lot of the time, it's worse. Over the past few years, as the internet has become a scarier place, I feel more and more at home with my current audience. My main goal is to keep you guys interested in what I have to say, as opposed to courting new people. I don't need to post clickbait, stir up controversy or blog about popular topics that might come up in a google search for increased traffic. I don't want to do loop giveaways or give out iPads to gain followers who are there for freebies. I want to post content purely for my very specific community of nice humans on the internet.
The third answer is more personal. My kids are getting older and writing a "mommy blog" suddenly feels very short sighted. At one point, I thought I could continue writing about babies and toddlers even though I no longer had babies or toddlers. Turns out, NOPE. I cannot. I do not want anything to do with babies and toddlers. I will even unfollow babies on Instagram because I don't like feeling nostalgic for the bygone days of baby wearing and first haircuts. I want to focus on enjoying the NOW. The big kids years. The tweens. The teenage years to come. I also want to write about non-parenting topics like internet culture, city living, politics, media, beauty standards, and how all of these things intersect with being both a person and a mom. I love writing. I love social media. I want to be in this for the long game, and that means making my stamp on the internet more about myself than about my children. I'm in the process of discovering who I am outside of being a mom and I hope you guys are interested in exploring that side of yourselves too.
The fourth answer (yes, there is a fourth answer) is that I'm hoping this new shake up will motivate me to write again. If you've been following my blog for awhile, you probably know I've been neglecting it more than usual. You see, just as my life has changed dramatically in the past ten years, the internet has changed too. Everything has shifted from personal blogs to social platforms, with social media apps expanding their content offerings so people have less reason to go elsewhere. The algorithms control who sees what, and all the powers that be (social media apps, brands, major publications) have decided that short form video is the most lucrative. Words and photos have taken a backseat. I like making tiktoks and Instagram stories, but part of me feels like I'm constantly trying to keep up with a younger generation, which is starting to stress me out. In my efforts to keep relevant, I've been following Instagram's lead, but Instagram is busy courting Gen Z. Recently, it hit me— THOSE AREN'T MY PEOPLE. My people are more interested in reading what I have to say in a long form essay than seeing me awkwardly dance out talking points in a 30 second tiktok. My people miss old school blogs and wish we could go back to a time when we didn't need headphones to scroll through Instagram. This might be a way smaller number of people than I'm used to seeing "like" my pics, but maybe that's okay.
When Substack approached me about writing on their platform, what they offered seemed to solve for a lot of my current issues. Their bet is that writing to a smaller, more invested audience of your core fans, has the potential to be more valuable than writing to the masses. Their subscription service gives me a way to get my content to my readers without depending on the whims of a changing algorithm. They also offered to pay me an advance to write for them, which made me understand why so many of my favorite bloggers and journalists have been leaving their full time jobs to write what is essentially a newsletter. Substack thinks writing is still worth something.
Substack calls what I'm launching a "newsletter" because, if you subscribe, my posts will be sent directly to your inbox. But to me, it feels more like the old school blogs of ten years ago. Simple, ad-free pages that are just about the writing. It's weird to say this, but after ten years of trying to build something larger than myself, I find the idea of scaling down very appealing.
I chose that name because it can be about parenting (see how the word "parent" sits nicely in the middle?) or about pretty much anything else that interests me. I also love that "apparently" alludes to the fact that I am always playing catch up when it comes to most things. Somehow, I have made a living online by not being an expert in ANYTHING. That's impressive, no? I think it’s because there is comfort in hearing from someone who is also in the process of figuring things out. And as a non-expert, I find I use the word "apparently" way more than most.
For instance. APPARENTLY, kids grow up. Whenever someone used to tell me that, I would hold my hands over my ears and shout, "lalalalala I can't hear you!!!" But I'm sad to say, denial does not slow your motherhood journey down. Take it from me— if you decide to leave your pre-kids career and start a "mommy blog," you should be aware that universal topics like potty training, picky eating and sleep training dry up in about five years. You can stretch that to ten years (as I have done), by making numerous twists and turns (hello family travel tips!), but at a certain point, you are going to realize that a career focused on your kids is unsustainable, unless you put the spotlight back on yourself.
Hi. My name is Ilana. I used to want to be an actress but that dream went up in flames when I developed a terrible case of stage fright right around puberty. Go figure. I can't wait to tell you more about me.
Here's how Substack works:
There are three options. Free subscribers. Paid subscribers. And founding members. Here’s how it breaks down…
Zero Dollars. For the low, low price of $0, free subscribers will get access to pretty much all my weekly long form blog posts. I say “pretty much” because I’m almost 95% sure that there’s gonna be a post about my eye surgery with before, during and after photos that will most definitely be locked down.
$6/month or $60/year. Paid subscribers will get added benefits that include commenting privileges and weekly discussion threads. They will also be able to read certain posts that I prefer to keep more private. In addition, they will have access to bonus features like monthly Q&As, Currently Consuming Lists and other new ideas as they come up.
$100/year suggested, but it’s whatever you want to pay above $60. Founding members are longtime fans who want to show an extra level of support. No, you are not getting a deal. This is more an opportunity to show me you’re invested, you’re excited and you’re fully on board for this new endeavor. Maybe you’ve been reading me for the past ten years and this is a bit of payback. Maybe you just inherited some money from a distant relative and need to get rid of it for tax purposes. Maybe you’re just the generous kind. For your patronage, you'll get my undying devotion and a special little founding member icon next to your name whenever you leave a comment.
Wait, you want us to pay? Why should we pay for something we’ve been getting for free?
Here's a few reasons why I am asking for paid subscribers (even though you by no means have to choose that option to follow along on this new journey):
1. It gives me the ability to create a smaller but more meaningful community of readers.
2. It gives special access to invested fans and creates a safe space for us to speak freely, without worrying about trolls and spam in the comment section.
3. It gives me the option to write about sensitive topics behind a paywall that I don't want open to the entire internet.
4. There will be no distracting display ads from online networks.
5. It gives me incentive to really put time into the things I wish to write about.
Let me explain that last point. Like I said, I love writing. But as advertisers have shifted to social media, there is less and less money to be made in writing blog posts, whether that is branded content or display ads on your website. Add that to the fact that social media platforms have made it harder and harder for you to reach your audience without dedicating all your time to posting pics, videos, reels, tiktoks, stories CONSISTENTLY, many bloggers have been forced to choose between what we love and what sustains our income. So, every time I have a topic I really want to flesh out in a longer essay (how many apartment renovation went so wrong, what exactly I did to my eyes, why we sent Harlow to a new school this year, etc.), it gets put on a list and then gradually moves further and further down because I spend all my time trying to keep engagement up on my various social channels and meet client deadlines. You know, the things that pay.
If you think about it, so much of the internet has changed for the worse because people read it for free. Sites make money the more clicks they get, which is why clickbait was born, not to mention the godawful slideshow. It's why when you click on a craft tutorial on Pinterest, you'll get sent to a site with 100 links to other craft tutorials instead of anything actually explaining how to do the craft. The only way to make money is to drive a ton of traffic, which means quantity over quality. Substack is flipping the model. Instead of depending on advertising dollars through clicks and pageviews, Substack is asking readers to make an investment in their favorite writers. As someone who loves the internet, it's a pretty fascinating experiment.
Okay. Who's still here? I'm sure I've lost 90% of you. But that's okay! That's the point. If you've made it this far, you are my people! You are the true fans I want subscribing to this newsletter and trying out this experiment with me.
My goal for this space is that it will become a community of like minded people in a similar phase of life. A community similar to my blog comment section when I first started Mommy Shorts, similar to the Remarkably Average Parents facebook group before it got too big, similar to what Instagram felt like five years ago.
Paid or unpaid, let's do this.
If you’re in, please share your excitement by commenting below!
Important Note! I’m gonna leave everything accessible to free subscribers for the first month, so if you are on the fence, please do not feel pressure to pay before you are ready. Click the free option, check it out and then make your decision down the line. Additionally, if you are a longtime fan and do not have the means to show support the way you would like, please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If this newsletter came through your inbox, you can just hit reply and it will come directly to me!