June is the essence of commencement, beginnings and fresh starts. Brand new sunny days. Brides and grooms. Graduates. I can’t remember how it came to be that I launched this site last year in June, but that simple action was definitely a commencement.
From the earliest posts (on Tumblr), very quickly there were enough comments and followers to let me know that The NotMom.com had friends. Some of them were sharing their own NotMom stories on blogs and podcasts that I hadn’t known existed. Now, I consider a couple of these women “e-friends”, and one lives in England! In marketing, we’d say that “the product resonated with the target audience”. Hell yeah.
From the start, the data itself was fascinating stuff, even though I am NOT the numbers and stats type. Creating a website was just a suggestion from some strangers in a breakout session at SXSW that I decided to follow up on.
The first Google search found the “1 of every 5” number from Pew Research Center’s 2010 study. Then, I learned that there are twice as many women without children today than there were when I was in college.
- It’s one of every 4 in Italy and Switzerland and Australia.
- Almost 60% of Americans disagree that childfree women “lead empty lives.” (As recently as 1988, only 39% thought that was true.)
By February 2012, I was itchy to leap the limits of Tumblr. Previous attempts to teach myself WordPress had almost led to tears, but now I was game to try again. The design you see now was in its infancy when I took the super-bold step of applying for a regional program with a $25,000 prize for female entrepreneur wannabes. In self-help, metaphysical terms, actually applying and hitting “SEND” (instead of just talking about “wanting to apply”) was the growth step for me. Who expected to become one of 10 finalists, whittled down from more than 60 entries?
I don’t know what you did to change your life when this year began, but my February through May was immersed in a de facto business school run by Bad Girl Ventures (BGV).
Classes. Homework. Late nights. So many new people. Stuff to learn, memorize and apply, immediately. I started taking Chris Brogan‘s famous advice to “step in do“: I didn’t wait for Fall trying to make the blog re-design perfect; we re-launched on Mother’s Day. The feedback so far has been good, and someone I’d never met before described herself –and her entire office– as “fans.”
Bottom line: In 10 weeks I transformed from someone who’d never seen a business plan to a woman who’d produced one and knew it inside out. The process forced me to do some deep thinking about myself and what I wanted from this website, personally, professionally and hopefully, financially. I’m not sure how to do that last part, exactly, but I ain’t the only one.
What next? On April 13, 2012, I was asked to speak at BlogHer ’12 primarily because of The NotMom.com. I know the date because I saved the email on my phone. I will never tire of seeing the subject line: “Invitation to Speak at BlogHer ’12.”
More than 3,500 women will be at the world’s largest conference for women in social media in New York city this August. Katie Couric is the keynote speaker and I’ll be on a panel about overlooked online audiences. As Bernie Mac used to say, “You don’t understand.”
My first “new media” conference ever was BlogHer ’09. I approached it with excitement and nervousness, not knowing what to expect or if it would all be over my head. Now, 3 years later, BlogHer wants me to speak about overlooked online audiences?! Who’s life IS this?
And oh boy do I meet women these days! NotMoms and Moms alike who encourage me, volunteer their help and share such personal stories that I’m honored to hear them. This website won’t cure cancer, but it may have a pinch of medicine in it nonetheless.
When the BGV selection committee decided in May that The NotMom.com had earned the right to force a three-way second-place tie, well, my head was basically blown. Still is. I’ve been told that the selection committee loves the NotMom concept and presentation, particularly because it represents an “undiscovered” slice of America that Madison Avenue loves: women with discretionary income. Even so, the committee has no clue how I’m going to make money at this, but they wanted to send me a signal to keep trying. It makes me weepy to think about it.
If women, media and even a kid doing a term paper use this website once a year to get accurate, up-to-date data about women in America without kids, I would be a happy camper. Can I have that kind of soul-level happiness with some real-world paper? Er, cash? Stay tuned.
The AA Serenity Prayer is big in my family, and as The NotMom.com begins its second year, “one day at a time” is the rule. Yes, a business plan forced me to project 3 years into the future (AKA “make stuff up”), However, the ongoing search for funding, advertisers, event sponsors, content producers and more is new, new, super freakin’ new for me. Even the very process of uploading blog posts is glacially slow because I’m so new at WordPress.
From this side of the keyboard, my NotMom life is a big ol’ bundle of professional and personal stretching, challenges and fun. I treated the entire month of June as my anniversary, especially on the heels of the BGV “graduation”. July is like the official kickoff to Year Two and my seat belt is fastened. I’ll share the business side of the journey with you in spurts and with giggles in posts with Start Up Newbie in the title.
Keep your hands inside the car until the ride has come to a complete stop.