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F9: Hi I’m Rachel Hampton. I’m an editorial assistant here at Slate and I’m your host for this season working for the next few episodes they’re gonna be focusing on influencers taking a deep dive into an industry that’s changed from one that was really only understood by teens glued to their phones to one covered by journalists at The New York Times and The Atlantic. This week we’re talking to a lot of Wilde’s creator of mommy shorts which is a blog and social media presence that follows her life with her two young daughters. Elena started mommy shorts in 2009 when she was laid off shortly after returning to her job in advertising from maternity leave and she’s been a full time mommy influencer since November 2013 between her three Instagram pages she has over 700000 followers.
F1: She is the author of The Mommy shorts.
F9: Guides are remarkably average parents. As a former ad except she’s always intended to monetize her brand as she brings a really interesting perspective to influencing as a parent and how the space has changed over the past few years.
F2: What’s your name and what do you do.
F8: My name is a lot of wiles and I don’t really know how to describe it. I used to say I’m a blogger but I feel like that sort of antiquated now. So somewhere between a content creator and I guess what they call an influencer.
F3: Or as I told my doctor yesterday a doctor who I said I work in social media. OK.
F4: Then he had questions like How do you explain your job to people who have no concept of influencers or social media.
F8: I feel like that’s changing a little bit because even with the doctor yesterday who is probably like 75 or something he said as soon as I said social media I think that social media content creation. And then he started launching into this whole story about how they quoted him on like an article about Chrissy again but they misquoted him and he was trying to get back back to.
F5: I don’t know it was this very convoluted story but it was hilarious to me that even this doctor has some sort of like weird relationship online with Chrissy Teigen.
F4: Definitely I feel like social media certainly started infiltrating more into people’s general life but I guess when you first started what was it like explaining what you did.
F8: Well when I first start so I feel like I should say that I first was in advertising and then I feel like they were people were talking a lot about mom blogs at that time. But like sort of as being like kind of something that like stay at home moms did for free products or it wasn’t I don’t think thought of it like an industry. It was just more that I noticed that clients were starting to care about what the mom bloggers were saying. So I don’t know I think when I first started I thought it was kind of a hobby that could ultimately get me a better advertising job. Yeah but I didn’t think that would ultimately be my career. When did that change. I would say it took it took about three years I think before it was three years before I went full time blogger but like leading up to I mean I always thought that it would be very relevant within that in the advertising world. I just didn’t realize that everything would sort of go in that direction. So I thought I could use it to sort of get to the next level with advertising. So I mean I didn’t have. So I was I was laid off my job in advertising and I felt like I didn’t have. I had no digital experience at the time so I thought it was hit me really hard for me to get another job without that. So this was sort of my way of creating my own digital experience and I thought I could really learned this new upcoming world. Yeah and that could be a real advantage.
F4: It seems like kind of a steep learning curve to kind of do blogging to try and learn digital skills. How did you kind of start learning the tools of the trade.
F8: Well I’ve always been like a very ambitious career minded person. So I think when all of a sudden I was out of a job then I had just had a baby and I was like. And to me it was like I’m not like being a stay at home mom now like I was not my my plan. So I think while I was looking for a job I just like needed to keep forward momentum. So I just like research the hell out of it and figured out what platform I wanted to be on and like how to design things and how I mean it’s sort of amazing to me when I think about now how much I did to get the thing like off the ground. I don’t know that I could do that. It seems like a really heavy lift. Yeah I mean at the time it was just like Instagram wasn’t a thing and it was just kind of Twitter Facebook and the blog.
F4: So you were in advertising and then you’re laid off. What year was that 2010. And so then you started the blog and so what kind of country were you originally starting with. Was it always gonna be like a parenting blog or were you like this is just gonna be a general lifestyle blog my model and I don’t know if you will even know what this is.
F8: But do you remember I can has cheeseburger. Oh I do.
F5: Yeah. So that was basically just means yeah it was just like this running stream of mean and I thought I want to create I can has cheeseburger for parents.
F4: I see that with your parenting sites which are so funny. I now have kids myself but I look at them and these are hilarious.
F5: I feel like sometimes I was so much more creative back then when I was like trying to come up with what this thing was whereas now I feel like there’s a lot more like expectations of what you know what does well and all that stuff. And obviously like Instagram has changed everything but but yeah the time it was like I was just trying to create like very funny almost like soundbite images or that’s a meme.
F3: I didn’t know that word at the time.
F5: But that was sort of what I was thinking so if you go back to the very beginning the blog it really was like I would just post a photo with like one line or like a caption you know or I used to have the caption contests or I’d have like a video that was like 15 seconds or whatever and maybe like I’d write like a paragraph about something that happened. Yeah but it was very very short content which is why I called it Mommy shorts. Yeah. And now I feel like that’s that’s what you get from social media. You know you would never go to a blog to see one photo and read one line.
F4: Yeah. So do you think that you said Instagram kind of changed everything. Was that when you shifted more towards like longer post on your blog or had you kind of started making that shift before Instagram.
F5: I think I made that shift. I think I made that shift by sort of becoming involved in the like the blogging community and you know kind of when I started it I wasn’t reading any blogs like you know. So I think through sort of seeing what other people were doing I sort of got into longer form writing and also I think with Facebook I sort of recognized that if you’re going to drive someone away from Facebook there should be a reason for them to be heard. You know you should be able to stay there for a while or whatever. So I think that shift came just from sort of like learning the space a little bit and then I will say with Instagram I feel like I could talk for like 10 hours alone here all day. Security is everything but I think that sort of changed because I think it made everything go in a much more personal direction.
F6: When I was originally writing I was trying to write sort of things that would appeal to you know all parents. Yeah. And I think when you have like babies and toddlers a lot of the things that you’re going through are very very universal. So and I note I knew that the things that did well on Facebook were sort of they weren’t really like me talking very specifically about you know my parent is more like less posts that like everybody can really do. Yeah. And at that time I think Facebook was by far and away like the main traffic driver. I think that’s how I built my entire blog. Just like word of mouth on Facebook which was nuts.
F4: I’m fascinated by how Instagram basically changed. The blog can change your approach could you just talk a little bit more about that.
F6: Yeah. So I think that first of all it made it a lot more photo based. So like when I used to post something post a blog post I would be like one photo at the top and then I would be all writing and then I think as I got more into taking photos it’s like now it’s like there’s tons of pictures within a blog post and it just makes people like very familiar with you and your family. So on Instagram I feel like people really gravitate towards when you’re talking about yourself like they really want to get to know you they want to get to know your family or kids. Whereas Facebook was more universal content and the things that will get clicked on were things that anybody can relate to. So I always found that the things that did well on Instagram didn’t do well on Facebook and vice versa.
F4: I don’t know it’s interesting. So would you have to make different content for Facebook versus Instagram. I
F3: mean I guess technically that’s Yeah.
F5: Yeah I mean I think I definitely had different things in mind like OK this would be a post that would do well on Facebook or this would be opposed to do well on Pinterest or this would be something that people on Instagram will really like. But I actually when I started Instagram I really just really loved the platform and I think that’s one reason that I’ve done well there. It really wasn’t as part of a blog strategy. OK it was just like I just started getting into like I love looking at it. I felt like a lot of photographers at first. So it wasn’t even really part of like the mom blogging community there. OK. It was more like I was appreciating the way. Like seeing how people took pictures and I think it changed the style very much of how I took photos of my kids which you can totally tell from the photos of my older one when she was little compared to photos of my little one. But I think I just really enjoyed it and I was using it just really for for me. Yes I mean I’m a personal than a business decision. Yeah. And it took me a long time actually to even like I never. I never was never promoting the blog like I never said like hobbling like yeah no I posted this today or whatever. I don’t I can’t remember if they had links out at that time.
F4: Isn’t it though still like you have to do link in bio even.
F5: Yeah. Are you opposed or you can do this swipe up now. Yeah I’m sure it helps a lot. Yeah yeah. So for a very long time I was just posting photos and I wasn’t saying come come look at the blog it wasn’t until like I feel like I was like a year right then I had this audience that was really invested.
F3: I’m like by the way do you want to learn real you know.
F6: But yeah. But I feel like that’s sort of why I did. Well there was because I wasn’t using it to promote something else.
F4: Yeah that’s definitely something that’s kind of come up is that Instagram users really seem to understand the difference between consent made just to sell them something and consent. That’s actually about someone else’s personal life which is why most people go to Instagram is not to get sold something even if you do get sold something.
F3: Right. My husband get sold stuff. Definitely.
F4: So you said the Instagram kind of made your blog more personal because that is what people are invested in. How do you kind of keep your life personal and private or how do you like kind of bridge that gap.
F5: Yeah my rules and restrictions around this has definitely increased as the kids got older. I think when they were younger all the things that I were talking about were things that all parents were talking about. So like any problems with like taking your kids to a restaurant or do you Trina like those. It didn’t feel like I was really revealing anything very private about myself. I mean I I certainly like we have stories that were very personal to me but it just sort of seemed to relate to what goes on in general at this time in your kid’s life. And I was I think I always thought about it like OK Mike at some point my kids are going to read this and I don’t want them to be embarrassed and I want them to think it’s funny and all of that. So I always sort of had that in mind and the stuff that I shared. You know I never I don’t think I ever said anything bad about my kids if anything like I was the one I was like I was the kind of you know fumbling around not knowing what I was doing.
F3: So the jokes would come out of my mouth the word incompetence self-deprecating was like Yeah what about you. Yes.
F5: And I was never like mean spirited and I feel like there’s a lot of you know post that I read where people are like very like talking about how you know awful parenting is like how this is so difficult. And I really tried to strike a balance which is how I actually feel which is that like it’s really hard but like you know it’s awesome as well. So it’s it was more about sort of. And it seems like everybody talks this way now but at the time it felt sort of new was that you could sort of acknowledge what made parenting hard by still being totally thankful that that’s where you were and that you have these amazing kids and all that. But I always tried to talk about things in like a very real sense like I feel like a lot of the blogs at the time when I started like the mom blogs were people that were like you know doing lots of recipes or DIY projects or like here’s how you organize your closet. That’s not like that’s not me. I feel like but I feel like most more people are like me than people who are doing like perfect crafting.
F4: Definitely. I think it’s material. Yeah I think that’s what brings in people especially who like aren’t parents it’s kind of the same with our parenting advice column where a lot of people who aren’t parents read it because it’s just good. And it’s about life in general and it’s not like here’s how to create your perfect life with your perfect children.
F5: Right. And I’d say that is also the interesting thing that has happened because of Instagram is that I have a whole audience of people that don’t have kids because I think it’s just it’s younger. It’s the younger audience. And then I think people just like finding entertaining people to follow and it doesn’t necessarily have to be like yeah I’m looking for tips on how to get your kids to do homework.
F4: So I just kind of going back. When did you begin monetizing. Well it started as a hobby and had a bull’s that transition like. And how did you kind of get the business acumen you started in advertising so I mean you had a leg up the most people who kind of just start blogging.
F6: Yes. When I first started I always knew that I wanted to do branded content. So that was one thing that like I always wanted to weave branded things in there whether I think just coming from an advertising background so it’s like whether I was recommending a product or you know or I knew that it would come eventually so I didn’t want it to come from left field.
F5: So I think I did it like you know I tell personal stories and then I would do product recommendations and then the first the first like branded assignment I got was actually for Cheerios and it was twenty five dollars less than expected. I mean this is you know but for me I was like it didn’t matter to me how much they were paying. It was like I just wanted to sort of establish that this was part of the blog and it was like. So it’s pretty early on and I always tried to write like you know branded content like as if I would write anything else like I wanted to be just as entertaining. I don’t like. I love doing branded stuff because that’s what I used to do. Like that. I think it’s fun to figure out like how to weave these things end as long as it’s like something that you feel good about you know a brand that you feel good about working with so. So that was my first post and it was and it was I did it because I wanted to.
F6: Not my first post flight went first branded post but I did it because I wanted to sort of establish with my audience that this was going to be something that happens here. The other thing that I was doing a lot was I was doing a lot of like photo submission stuff and contests and I realized that a really easy way to weave brands and like in sort of a seamless way would be to have them as the prize. So. So I think I want to say at first like maybe I want to say I was doing kind of very sort of like joke prizes and I don’t even think I was like paying for them I’m like you win the honor whatever you get to be me. But my first big branded contest was I wanted to do a cake smash contest so that. So cakes mash is like it’s something that like parents do with their kids when their first birthday. They’ll just like put a cake in front of them and then they go to town. Yeah and there’s all these funny pictures online. So I was like Let me have people submit their cakes mash pictures and then I’ll find a brand to be the the prize. Yeah I’m trying to think if they had come to me or I went out to them but I feel like because at the time I feel like a lot of people offered free product so I want to say and I’m not sure that’s 100 percent correct but crumbs bakery and I feel like they were they are promoting these like big cake sized cupcakes. So I got back to them and said I would love to have you as the prize for this contest. And I had done a bunch of these contests so I knew how much traffic they got. And I knew how into them people were. So I I you know I packaged it together and made this whole proposal to them for like what the time what was a significant amount of money much more than 25.
F5: So I sold this big I ended up selling this big contest to them and that was like the first thing where I was like oh the blog can make real money. It’s just a matter of convincing brands that it’s valuable because I don’t because brands didn’t have social media teams then or anything like that. It was just sort of figure out a way to convince them that that that space was valuable. But I did I did have a considerable page views at the time so to say this many people going to see it they’re all within your target audience. And that was the first time I did like a real sponsored initiative actually paid some bills for campaign.
F4: So this was before you started going full time on the blog.
F5: This was before full time and then I. So I think that from that point a lot at the beginning it was me reaching out to brands telling them who I was and why they should work with me. So I was sort of educating a lot of the brands on why my audience is valuable and you know what it could do for them. And I did get bring on you know a bunch of people that way but definitely not enough to like make it my fulltime thing I was also freelancing in advertising that whole time which like pretty much full time and doing the blog at night. And then I met somebody that did partnerships for big brands and she was looking for like sort of a convoluted story but ultimately I convinced her to try and do what she did for these big brands like she worked for like hotel brands and things like that to try and do that for me. And within like the first month that she started working with me she sold a really really big campaign which was for Allstate and originally they had come to me because they wanted me to blog for their Web site and I was like I have no interest whatsoever but I had started this series called Monday Mornings and this was a series that was like that I actually would go to people’s houses and document their mornings and I just did it in New York and it was it was this whole thing to like show people that their mornings were more beautiful than they were. And so cool it was it was and everybody loved it. It got really really great reaction and it was like We want you to go across the country and like all different kinds of people like not just New Yorkers. And I said there’s no way I gonna be able to do that without a sponsor like I said I’m not going to pay the like Oh yeah. So then we built a proposal around Monday mornings that we were trying to sell and when Allstate reached out to me about blogging for them her name’s Kara Kara was like well why don’t I ask them if they do Monday morning is and I’m like You’re crazy.
F3: We’re gonna do that.
F5: And they ended up doing it. And and again it was like and that was like a yearlong partnership. It was a pretty definitely the biggest blogging Page. CONAN Yeah and that sort of proved that you know us working together was like she was kind of doing it while she look for another job and at the end of that I was like I think you should just you know do this for me just where this is working out.
F6: And so and she’s been working with me for now seven years and she has a few other bloggers she works with works with as well.
F4: So this kind of gets one of my questions which is you’ve been in the space for a while. Yeah. Did you find when you’re first starting out that you were kind of convincing people that this is like a viable business model and not just like a hobby or like kind of convincing brands that didn’t understand social media that this audience is important.
F5: Yes for sure. I definitely like I feel and I miss that a little bit. Really. You know well I miss the thing that I miss about it is when we were going out to brands and saying you know I want to do this like I was coming up with the campaigns like that’s what I love doing. So you know I was coming up with ways to work with brands we were building proposals and sending it to them and then convincing them that my audience is valuable and we should do that. Yeah. And that that whole process is really fun for me and it also meant that all the content that I was producing were completely original and all my they were all my ideas and all my campaigns. Now I feel like because every brand or advertising agency whatever has you know entire departments built around social media a lot of the time they’re coming up with their campaign and then sort of wanting to see if you want to participate you know along like they’re getting a bunch of bloggers to do something or whatever. So I always. There’s still tons of opportunities that come through where it’s a little bit more free form and I can you know I can come up with my own idea. I always like that stuff better but I feel like when we were like like I was just coming up with things I wanted to do and then being like what would be a good brand fit for this. And then we were reaching out to multiple people to see if they’d want to get on board. That felt a lot more I mean that I love that that piece of it seems like a really creative way to kind of go about it.
F4: It seems like really cool to have your own ideas instead of having a brand approach you. And so I guess now when brands approach you how much input do you have over ad campaigns that they want you to participate in if they’re getting like a group of bloggers together.
F5: It depends. I mean sometimes there’s still I think I still have a lot of input and obviously if somebody is going to be if a brand can be really strict with what they want to do unless that thing is awesome.
F3: Yeah and I’m going to do it.
F5: Yeah I know that I I feel like it’s almost easier now because I feel like so much so many things like revolve now around like real time experiences or events or and like stories has definitely changed everything so I feel like a lot of brands now will come to you like we’re doing this event and we want you to come and like put together a story about the event and a photo. OK. I feel like that’s a lot of what happens now.
F4: When did you kind of know the moment that you could do this full time.
F5: I think it was when we sold but all state campaign. Yeah I think that was a that was a big moment. And then there was at one point the agency that I had been freelancing for for a long time. They sort of start I think they started making because they knew what I did and they were very very supportive of it. And I think that started becoming like a bigger piece of their presentations. So they were incorporating the mom bloggers like into what they were selling. And I was always like a big piece of that. So I think I sort of also recognized how much more important what I did was becoming to the ad agency I was working on. So I think that was sort of helpful to see and then the other part of it was that when you work for an ad agency a lot of the time like if you if you present an idea to the agency and they you know they present it to a client that client owns the idea whether they run with it or not. So yeah. So I mean I believe that was how it was and definitely the agency would own it if it’s something that you they’re paying for your time and you’re presenting it to them. And so a lot of the brands that I was working on were parenting where you know baby products or whatever. And so I remember like this one moment we’re brainstorming things and like something came up and I was kind of like well they don’t use that I’d like to use it for the blog. Like I could run with that and then sort of realizing that if I presented it it wouldn’t be mine anymore. Then you don’t realizing that it wasn’t really that fair. Yeah. To be in that position where like you’re not you’re not going to give them your best stuff you know. Yeah. So that was that was another piece and then it was also I think at one point they did there was like a job offer and it was I had to make sort of a decision like OK it isn’t is my career going to be at an ad agency as a creative director is it going to be forging this path on my own is this whatever you want to call it blogger content creators influencer influencers a word yet but at least not in that sense. But I chose the blog. I just thought that that had the better. I thought there was more there was more to be done there. There was more success to be had there and it was more exciting for me.
F4: Were you like nervous at all when you kind of made that leap.
F3: Maybe a little bit.
F5: I mean the other thing is by the time I left and decided to go that way it was already I was already making more money from the blog that I was in freelancing to kind of take me through like what your day to day looks like like what do you do sir. Like the beginning to the end of the day it’s so funny because I feel like because now there’s so many different things like there’s so many different platforms and all of that. So it’s I think for a while there it was when I come into the office I’d want to like writing the blog post to be my first priority. And then I think probably like a year ago or maybe two years ago I think it switched to being like OK Instagram is the top priority. So now I have four Instagram accounts. So now a lot of my day is like figuring out what I’m going to post on each of them. You know I want to write a blog post. Yeah I want to post something on mommy shorts which is my personal not my personal but my personal flash blog account. I have average parent problems Instagram account which is where I put like more of the you know funny meme type content. And then I have something called Mommy shorts squad which I started so that I could sort of tell parenting stories that weren’t necessarily mine. I feel like like so much is focused on Instagram but so much of my blog was like about parenting in general or like featuring other families. And whenever I would post someone else on mommy shorts like people it was I don’t feel this person. So mommy short squat I sort of put together so that I could I could feature other people and it wouldn’t be so dependent on what was going on exactly in my life. And then me trying to like relate things that I wanted to talk about to my family you know. So I started that six months ago. I’m not sure and it’s been doing what it’s been doing really really well. So that’s exciting.
F4: But like engage your audience to like have this separate account for them.
F6: Yeah. So it’s it’s it’s interesting so I do I I’ll call people a lot or I use the comments and things like that and my audience to sort of create the content instead of like you know finding a funny tweet on Twitter that I know I don’t know that person but I assume he wants it shared.
F5: This is all coming from the people that are commenting on my blog or on Facebook or on Instagram and I we also have a pretty successful group at the moment called remarkably average parents that’s on Facebook that’s been like well the thing that’s really growing. Also I’ll go on there to you know I’ll usually pose a question that I think might elicit some really good responses that I can pull from to put a mommy short squad then it’s like OK if I get enough responses that are really good. Do I make a blog post with even more more responses. Yeah I don’t know it’s interesting I feel like more and more like even you know with the things that I do or working like with my own content and then also like working with brands it’s like almost you can try and figure out a way in for each one. So like each brand for know for each Instagram.
F5: Because that becomes something that it’s more content number one and then it’s also like something more that you can sell. So like now it’s like if a brand is coming to me to work with me we can say we can do this on mommy shorts we can do this on average and problems we can do this and mommy shoots squad and they’re all very different. So it sort of creates like a larger package.
F4: Do you see different audiences between each Instagram account.
F5: There’s definitely a different audience on all the accounts. I’ll say like my you know the people that are the biggest fans definitely follow all of them. But yeah no there’s definitely difference and I notice a lot like because I think more and more like you know when people post like I think like the whole blogosphere is sort have gotten into like you know posting more you know political things or you know like big issues of you know that are going on today. And so I noticed that on mommy shorts and mommy shorts squad it seems like like 99 percent of people are like aligned with me with what I think. Or at the very least very open to having a discussion. So you know I’ll get comments a lot like I don’t have the same political views you or I don’t agree with you or you’re saying but I appreciate you know that you’re using your platform in this way or whatever but on average parent problems it definitely like elicits a much more controversial reaction which is just interesting to see you know it is really interesting.
F4: So do you. I’m assuming you have the Taylor consent or do you kind of not want to cause controversy unlike the average parenting problems or I feel like that ship has sailed.
F5: For. For me I feel like there is more value in posting something on average parent problems if it’s a big issue like that because you are talking to people who might not necessarily be aligned with you whereas you know if you’re just talking to people who are all in agreement that’s not going to move the needle at all but maybe you can change a few minds over an average parent problem.
F7: Yeah but it is like you know I have to like sort of brace myself for that. You know it’s coming and you’re always going to lose followers from that kind of thing too. But I try not to care about it.
F4: It’s worth it. So I guess with brands when you’re kind of pitching yourself I mean you’re pretty openly political about certain things like I’ve seen on your blog like you mentioned Trump and you talk about like racism. You talk about like raising like young girls and this current world.
F3: Has there ever been a problem with brands or is this one I won’t name things but I do.
F7: I mean I lost a huge partnership over it. Oh which. And you know and I’m just kind of like well I wouldn’t want to work with those people anyway.
F5: But I definitely like that that one hurt because we’ve been trying to sell it for a really long time and I was really excited about the campaign. It was something that I had like. It’s like this idea I’ve had for a while and we finally sold it and then came back and said that they and they’d seen some you know tweet I’d put out there also it’s like half the brands are I think making political statements all the time now too. So I would say most brands I think don’t don’t have an issue with it. We also lost something recently that I won’t discuss. But then I have my suspicions that that might have had anything to do with it but it hasn’t been explicitly said.
F4: I’ve noticed I guess advertising and brands have gotten more political over. It seems like the past five or six years so has it become easier in any way where you feel like less brands are pulling out for that reason.
F5: I mean we only had that one that one big one that like we knew that that was why. So I don’t know what it feels to me like a lot of brands have a more liberal or release the brands that I’m working with have a more liberal point of view. So it doesn’t appear to be an issue. I feel like as long as I mean in most contracts are going to say we don’t want you to talk about anything political like for this piece of printed content which I wouldn’t do anyway. But it doesn’t seem like distancing seem like most brands have an issue. There are a couple of times we’ll get a contract which is which I’ll say something about like you know saying things that are controversial like in general. And I always sort of push back on that because to me it’s like if you haven’t done your research it’s not like I’m hiding anything.
F4: Yeah I think you should know who I am when you’re approaching me right.
F7: Which I assume I assume that that they do.
F6: I mean there’s been a couple of times I’ve worked with someone where like I’m alerted to something later but I’m like oh I didn’t know that.
F10: Yeah I think that happens so it’s just like I’m supporting this never mind.
F3: But you asked me before about like my day to day. Yes yes.
F5: So my day to day would be I come into the office and I sort of you know we have a to do list that we go through and that’s usually and it’s just everything sort of at different stages. So it’s like there’s always like the there’s the editorial content and there’s the sponsor content and you’re always working on all those things at once. And I think what people don’t usually understand is that there’s more than one sponsor thing going on at once and you might not be posting it for you know weeks or whatever but you’re still working on it. There’s nothing more frustrating than like what are you working on like you know five different sponsor things in a day. But none of it’s posting for a while and then it feels like I have nothing to show for my day.
F3: My audience thinks that I’ve just been like relaxing and watching TV.
F4: I’ve been like working my ass off you just when you don’t post something nobody knows what else do you think you’re some of the more common misconceptions of your job.
F5: Well I always say that like the people who are really good at social media make it look effortless the better you are at it probably the less work it looks like but that’s not the case at all because it’s like you work so hard like stories now for instance like if you were doing a branded story which I feel like that’s become more and more brands are asking for stories you were getting approval ahead of time on those as well you know. Do you not do that. I do not. So well. You know you’ll go to an event you’ll be taking video and pictures and all that stuff but you’re not actually posting it. Then you have to put together the whole story. So I have like a fake account where like I’ll put together the story so I can send it to the brand to get approval and then you have to rebuild the whole thing again. So is where I like with the video. You’d actually have the piece of content you could just send then they’d send back whatever this is like you have to rebuild things. Very time consuming.
F10: I didn’t realize that I think at the moment I realized that people weren’t just posting directly to their stories as when someone I followed like Oh yeah. So I added all my story photos and I was just like you added may I just take a photo and stick it on my story and I do nothing with it and that’s when I used to do Snapchat a lot like that was all in the moment.
F5: But with Instagram Stories I have always not really done it in real time. I try and do it within the same day but I always feel like when you’re with your kids like it’s sort of impossible to like I’m finally taking photos videos I feel like all parents do that but if you’re also gonna sit there you know post Instagram come up with a witty caption and put a filter on it and like you know like I mean that to be a good time but you’re not in the moment.
F3: So you’re doing.
F5: I’ve been at like parties or like a quote party we’re like it’ll be a branded event. Yeah. And like everybody there has been like hired to come and cover it and you know everyone’s there creating their own story but nobody’s really had no really doing anything.
F3: Yeah. Yeah.
F6: Which is funny or like sometimes it’s like the first like half hour of an event we’ll be like everybody trying to get their their story together and then you can sort of relax and ensuring that we finish that and now we’re gonna have fun.
F3: We’re at an event recently where like you know everybody got a drink and the first thing they did was you watch like 10 people I was like holding it up to this thing a photo of me while I’m sitting there I’m like they haven’t read the contract because in the contract it says you’re not allowed to post any alcohol story.
F10: That’s hilarious. Yes. How much do your kids know about like the blog and the Instagram and everything.
F5: So now they know a lot. Yeah. You know my older daughter has sort of you know it’s been like a slower process to sort of understanding everything. I think my younger daughter because of my older daughter sort of finds out about stuff and figure things out much more quickly. They. So I think a big piece of it is that I came out with a book a few years ago and the book is like all about like the first five years ago life but sort of like you know more entertaining. So recently I would say over the past like year and a half magazine my older daughter has actually been reading the book which has been really interesting to see. And it’s sort of like the test of like what I’ve been doing this whole time because I always said I wanted to be something that you know they’re going to enjoy and like feel good about it like you know that they have this document of their lives.
F11: And so far so good. She loves me. She thinks it’s amazing. I think she just loves reading stories about herself.
F6: There’s also there’s so many things that I would never have remembered if I hadn’t written them down for the blog. There was one night where like I was putting them to bed and I think I like told one funny story about like you know something they had done when they were little and Maisy was like We want to hear more stories like this just like I don’t care remember anything I’m like oh wait a second like you know I feel like 2013.
F3: I was like googling funny stories Mommy you and like you know all this stuff comes up but I started reading them and there was literally like a blog post that was like 10 hilarious things Massey did like know. And so I started reading them and she they were cracking.
F5: What’s funny is I don’t remember any of this stuff happening either. Like I never ever would have remembered this stuff. And so I was laughing too because like it’s almost like I’m reading them for the first time. So I feel like there’s so much like I feel like now I’m starting to like reap the benefits and they’re starting to reap the benefits of having this like living dog living document. Yeah. And then I think now what’s interesting is Harlow’s still she’s six so she doesn’t really understand about Massey now like knows about Instagram. So she’s nine like some of her friends are on it. I always say you’re not supposed to be 13 is like like that’s what Instagram says legal so she’ll ask to like see the photos and things like that. And at first it was like I was a little bit weird about it not because of what I posted because I really think and whenever she reads sits there reads them I always get a little bit nervous but when she reads them she always thinks they’re funny and they’re they feel true to her that it was the the seeing the likes that I was like worried about I just didn’t want her to start like seeing how many likes that she got in a certain photo compared to another one it doesn’t seem to me like she’s thinking about that at all not like registering Yeah or like see like how many people have viewed something you know it doesn’t. I don’t know whether she sees it it doesn’t seem important to her she she likes looking at the photos and reading my caption and I think it’s sort of like helps her cause I’m always like I think I’m funnier on paper than I am in real life. So I feel like it’s helped her appreciate my humor and yeah like a more because I’m writing for adults. So she gets to sort of hear how I’m like with other grown ups like peeking into your mom having a conversation with their friends. Yeah. And it’s like my whole thing and like I’ve always just loved storytelling. So these are you know stories about my family my kids and she reads them and she’s like Yes but honey you know help me. So she really loves it in that sense. I think she also is now understanding that having like a following on Instagram is like a desirable thing. She’s also certainly like witness like people coming up to me and oh yeah God I feel like it started when she was smaller so I think it’s like it’s not like all of a sudden like I remember it happening and like in a hotel that was like the first time it happened and her being like you know that person. No but it’s someone who reads my blog and you know they like me stories so. So as she’s sort of like seen more people come a to me in sort of understands that you know this is something that like I’m sharing with a lot of people and a lot of people are reading it. I’ve sort of tried to like help her understand that.
F11: Like like I’m not a celebrity because you can like kids like they don’t understand like the interviewer wants and she at one point like asked me if she was famous and I was like No.
F5: Taylor Swift is famous but you know that was my initial reaction to just be like No. But then I was like Well she has to sort of understand that there are like like this small little faction of people that who would recognize her. So that’s what I’ve said you know being like Instagram famous is very different than being like a real celebrity.
F3: And then even in like Instagram fame I’m pretty small.
F5: So it’s that you know there’s a weird nuances that are really tough to explain to a child. But I kind of feel like she she gets it. I think the best thing is that she really and I think this would like my husband as well. I think they just like they trust the way that I write about things and that I’m not going to reveal anything that’s like super personal. I think that’s that’s been or anything that makes anybody look bad. I don’t want her to come back to me and say I can’t believe that you put this out there and I’m also kind of aware that you know her friend’s parents are now reading it or like people maybe at my husband’s work or whatever. So I think I always keep that in mind when I’m writing that it doesn’t just affect me.
F4: I guess one more question I’ve had about people who kind of like their kids are on Instagram if you know your daughters grow up and are like I don’t want these photos of me online anymore. Do you kind of have a contingency plan for that or kind of like an explanation.
F6: I mean that’s really one of the reasons that I created Mommy’s short squad was so that I could have a place that was sort of my that was my voice and my tone and things I wanted to post about that had nothing to do with my family.
F5: I just didn’t I didn’t want it to live or die with you know an average parent problems as well which is much larger than mommy shorts at this point. That’s all photo submissions are shared beams or things like that. So I think if they ever decided like you know we don’t want any part of this I would still have these to flourish like we can shatter that. I can’t imagine that they would ever come back and say we don’t we want you to take down everything that you had and they might say like I don’t want to be on there anymore but I think the way that kids are now and I know I was still like at 13 you know they’re like your kids are going to go online they’re going to post the most embarrassing stuff in a completely accurate way. More embarrassing than anything that I’ve posted about them when they were like two you know. So I think everybody used to sort of worry like you know when you try and get a job and someone Googles you and then you just and then this stuff comes up you know it’s like there’s going to be so much that they’ve posted online by that point that has nothing to do with what I’ve put out there. I don’t know I just don’t think it’s going to affect people in the same way that we used to worry about that stuff.
F4: Yeah I definitely think that’s true. I think there’s like a certain level at which social media has become so normalized that having a photo of you as a kid is completely normal like whatever things you’re good at 16. So what are your plans for when your daughters get of age to be on social media. Do you have like this shouldn’t be online or like the account needs to be private or X Y and Z.
F5: Yeah I think they’ll definitely. Their accounts will be private and I’m already seeing this a little bit with Massey is that and what I hope is the case is that because this is what I do for a living that I will be a endless resource of information for her and like how to sort of navigate this world because it’s so incredibly tricky. But already it’s like you know I thought I was like so ahead of the game and then you know then you hear about like tick tock and whatever it’s like I don’t understand. I was so invested in like get an understanding Snapchat because that to me felt like it was so much like younger than me. And I’m like I don’t understand this at all which means that I really have to understand this. And I spent so much time sort of like figuring that out and getting it. And now it’s like I feel like Snapchat isn’t nearly as relevant anymore.
F4: What is something about your job that people don’t understand but you wish that they did.
F5: I think that it’s a real job. Honestly I feel like the term influencer is just such a like a bad word now. So I guess it’s like there are people in this industry first of all there’s a whole industry around influencers. You know all the PR people and the managers and the the people you know coming up with the campaigns that they’re giving to them for us. And so for some reason it’s totally respectable to say like I’m a social media manager or like you know or any any of these jobs that revolve around working with influencers. But to be an influencer is considered like totally stupid and not a real job. So what I would like to say first of all that like you know there are plenty of people that are creating content out there. It’s a really fun wonderful thing to do. But it’s a ton of work. I think people do not understand nearly how much work that most people put into it. And I think that is because if you’re good at it it looks like it’s not a lot of work but so much of people’s time and energy is focused on watching or reading or you know this kind of content and to not respect the people that are reading it I think is I don’t know what the word is is a I want to say something really profound.
F4: I just didn’t want the word we like this dissonance between how much time we all spend on social media and the people who make it their job. And I think there’s this weird feeling where it’s like oh since I post on social media and I’m not getting paid for. Why is this other person getting paid for it. I don’t see the work that they’re actually putting into making this content. It’s a really weird breakdown in thought between like Instagram is fine for me but for other people it’s like lazy and stupid.
F6: Yeah I yeah I think it’s like the people who have audiences they have that for a reason. You know it’s like either they’re being really honest about something they’re being really creative about something.
F5: I mean obviously for some people it’s just that they’re really attractive but it’s not like you really you know I’m really I’m I’m writing I’m producing videos I’m taking photographs like it really is sort of like it’s almost like using all these different creative things that I’ve always been like somewhat good at my whole life but not like amazing.
F3: You know you get to combine all that stuff.
F6: I feel like advertising was like that too. It’s like getting to combine all of these elements of creativity into like something that you know actually can elicit a response.
F10: Yeah it’s like a one woman magazine. Yes well that’s all the questions I have. Thank you so much for joining us. Thank you very much for having me.
F9: That’s it for this episode of Working. Thanks for listening again. I’m your host Rachel Hanson. Special thank you to Justin do you write for the AB music. Thank you so much to our producer just Molly. Please remember to rate review and subscribe on Apple podcasts. And if you have any questions or feedback you can always reach us at working at Slate dot com. Join us next week for another episode on.