If you haven’t already heard the news, two weeks ago, I launched a newsletter called “Apparently” with all those posts being archived on a different platform called Substack. Will it be 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 there weekly for at least a year to see if the 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 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, 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 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. And perhaps most importantly, I want to focus on ME. 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. Suddenly, 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 than the people 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.
Here’s how Substack works:
There are three options. There are free subscribers. Paid subscribers. And founding members.
Free subscribers will get access to pretty much all my written blog posts. 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. Founding members are longtime fans who wish to show support by paying upfront for the entire year. You’ll also get a special little founding member icon next to your name whenever you leave a comment.
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 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 (Home Polish, my eyes, Harlow’s new school, Mazzy getting a cell phone), it gets put on a list and then gradually moves further and further down as 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. Paid or unpaid, let’s do this.
I like 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. Pop culture, current events, new hobbies, etc. 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? 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.