Are you yawning over the endless stream of blog posts that tell you “How to do X” or “Why you should do Y”?
Yeah, me too. So this month on Be a Freelance Blogger, you’ll get the chance to peek into the lives and careers of two other bloggers we like.
Our first blogger of interest is C. Lee Reed of Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad.
C. Lee is a freelance writer and blogger based in Tampa, Florida — and she’s famous for being an overprotective parent. Her blog, which she runs with her husband Khris, has become such a success that publications and businesses in the parenting industry seek her out to write for them or about them.
To find out more about her blogging life and how she used her blog’s popularity to drive her writing career forward, I asked C. Lee to explain the secrets of her success. Here’s what she told me.
How Helicopter Mom took off
C. Lee is a “helicopter parent” — the sometimes derogatory term for parents who hover around their children, ready to provide support at a moment’s notice.
She wasn’t familiar with the blogging world at first, but she started doing some online research into the topic of helicopter parenting. When she didn’t like what she read on the web, she decided to create her own source of online truth about parenting choices:
I came across the Free Range Kids website and it hit a nerve with me. I got angry about the blatant “persecution” of parents that choose to stay involved in their kids’ lives, and decided that I’d talk about the positive traits of overprotectiveness.
We fully believe that our parenting style can strengthen the relationship you have with your children and does not always have to end tragically. It’s a lot of work to constantly hover in your children’s lives but we’ve always felt it was our most important job, beyond our 21 year marriage.
Making money from a parenting blog
As a hover-prone mother myself, I’m not surprised to hear C. Lee and Khris got some attention. Oh, yep. Total strangers and well-meaning friends just love to tell you all about how you’re smothering your child, stunting their development and creating a co-dependent nightmare you’ll live to regret.
Personally, I tend to deal with that by suggesting they fuck off and worry about their own kids instead of mine. But C. Lee and Khris weathered criticism with a lot more grace, and their commitment to their mission got them noticed.
Once I started doing the interviews and voicing my opinion, the brands found me, traffic revved up and income started coming from ads or sponsored blog posts. It was a good 6 months before I realized that given the proper SEO and topics, I could probably do this full time. I decided to learn everything I could about blogging and I’m still on my journey.
Becoming an expert
When we discussed how expertise and authority boost a writer’s career as well as readers’ expectations, C. Lee told me she didn’t appreciate how that worked when she first started the blog. She used it as many new bloggers do, to tell fun stories about her family and memories of her now-teenage daughter’s childhood.
But C. Lee’s audience wanted more than that:
Once I realized that my readers [and media] were coming to me as “the helicopter parent” for advice or quotes, I understood the responsibility I have to produce content that is family friendly and also helpful.
Part of the reason for C. Lee’s success is that she had the insight to realign her blog to provide more of the stuff her audience and her clients want.
Becoming an author
Thanks to her blogging at Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad, C. Lee is now a published author, contributing to a book on the perils of motherhood entitled The Mother of All Meltdowns.
That opportunity came to her through a Facebook group, where Crystal Ponti of the Mommifried blog invited C. Lee to collaborate with 29 other authors “to show that meltdowns, as a parent, were common and normal and nothing to be ashamed of.”
Her story in the book is about all the “firsts” in her daughter’s life, right up to her first day as a licensed driver and C. Lee’s realisation that soon her beloved daughter will grow up and leave home. It’s funny, honest and gives less helicopter-like readers a glimpse into the mind of a parent wishing she could protect her child forever.
The Mother of All Meltdowns reached #1 on the Amazon Kindle charts for its category, raising C. Lee’s profile as a writer even further.
How does she do it all?
In a word, badly.
Yep. That’s C. Lee’s big secret: sometimes things have to be left undone so that other things can be completed.
Her family’s support is another major factor in her success. She admits she writes about things that could be embarrassing for her teenage daughter, but her family is “all in”. They believe the rewards of C. Lee’s writing career are worth the hard work, skipped chores and occasional embarrassment.
With a day job and a writing career, C. Lee spends a lot of time working. But as a helicopter mom, she doesn’t shut herself away in an office to write:
It’s easier for me to get into storytelling mode when I’m smack dab in the middle of my dining room alongside my family. I utilize a daily calendar for all tasks and for blogging specifically, an editorial calendar keeps me on track. As crazy as it sounds, all calendar “changes” are scheduled! After my daughter has gone to bed each night and when my creative power is not needed as much, I handle the administrative tasks for my blog, such as commenting, analytics audit, responding to emails and networking.
C. Lee’s story in a nutshell: a busy mother starts from zero to become a freelance writer, blogger and author despite her lack of professional experience.
That’s the power of a mission you believe in enough to write about it year after year.
Who else is a “blogger of interest”? Let us know who you’d like to see featured on Be a Freelance Blogger, and we’ll invite them to chat.