With two kids under 2, you wouldn’t think Ashley Angelico would need another baby in her life.
But that’s pretty much what she took on in creating, with north shore mom Elizabeth Schmelling, the New Orleans Moms Blog, a website devoted to all things maternal in the greater New Orleans community.
“Elizabeth and I both had small personal blogs,” says Ashley, “but it was more a way to share family pictures with out-of-town family. Neither of us intended to be ‘big.’ “
But that is just what New Orleans Moms Blog has become – big – with a dozen contributors writing daily about parenting, community and, their shared passion, the city of New Orleans. The site offers advice, outings, events, products, support and, when needed, commiseration.
“It grew a lot faster than we anticipated,” says Elizabeth, who has an 18-month-old daughter. When she first started her personal blog, she recalls ruefully, “I was on bed rest in the hospital, and said, OK, I will just do one post a day.”
That was hundreds of posts ago – and she’s also a full-time controller for a real estate company.
The two women are successful examples of a new niche group of entrepreneurs, so-called “mompreneurs,” women who want to combine stay-at-home parenting with start-ups. And as a hyperlocal publication, The New Orleans Moms Blog covers mom-driven local enterprises, too, with regular “mompreneur” spotlights like the recent feature on Heather Hays, who created an indoor playground in Metairie for rainy day outings.
“We all care about New Orleans as a city and want to see it thrive,” Ashley says. “So if we can buy locally or support local moms, we push that – like a mom who makes dresses on the side, say. We’re using blogs to create community.”
“All of our contributors are passionate about living here,” Elizabeth agrees. “We try to incorporate as many local businesses and activities as we can to remind people that the area really is family friendly.”
The local site is part of the national City Moms Blog Network, which began in Scottsdale and now has sister sites in 13 cities, including Chicago, Dallas, Austin and San Diego. The New Orleans site launched in August 2012, and immediately connected with local parents – and not just in cyberspace.
“The general idea is to bring the online Moms Blog offline into the community,” Ashley says. “It’s highly relevant to local readers, and the majority of them are in this community.”
“The offline community involves mom-driven businesses, events, support groups,” adds Elizabeth. “That kind of personal networking is not possible with a general information national blog.”
Like most parenting blogs, New Orleans Moms Blog caters to those with younger children.
“One of our contributors has triplets who are 5 years old, and she jokes that they’re the oldest of our kids,” Elizabeth says. “But it’s true that moms of younger children are the ones drawn to blogs. I have friends with 10- and 11-year-olds who don’t look to blogs for information.”
And, of course, despite the name, parents of both genders are welcome online – although, say its editors, they’ve only gotten one question so far from a dad, who was researching local daycare centers.
The blog offers a mix of content, with any particular day’s articles ranging from a piece researching sippy cups to the best local spots to take family photos, from headlines like “Perspective of a Mardi Gras Virgin” to “10 Reasons I’m Grateful to be a New Orleans Mom.” Ashley and Elizabeth do all the editing, selling, counseling, recruiting, and even more HTML coding than they ever envisioned.
“It’s a lot of learning as we go, and a little intimidating,” Ashley says. “It was for fun, but now that people know us and turn to us, part of me feels this great sense of responsibility. It’s definitely like having another child.”
To read the New Orleans Moms Blog article, “10 reasons I’m grateful to be a New Orleans mom,” click here.
Renee Peck is editor of NolaVie.