17 July 2007

Beyond Bizlex: Julie Marsh

One of the limitations of the "traditional media" newspaper column format is you're limited by column inches and valuable discussion contributors sometimes don't get their say. My column in this week's Business Lexington mentions global mom-trepreneur Julie Marsh, co-founder of the Parent Bloggers Network, but the discussion we had didn't survive the last round of edits.

I've pitched Julie on ideas for her posts and I've worked with her Parent Bloggers Network on behalf of clients. I hadn't worked with PBN until after I submitted the column. (By the way, Julie made a little announcement on her personal blog, Mothergoosemouse, yesterday. Drop her a note if you'd like.)

Another important reason Julie is a leader in the blogsphere is her passion for politics. Brad directed me to an outstanding piece written by BlogHer Political Director Morra Aarons for techPresident that everyone should read.

Of course, the fact that women are moving online in greater numbers is just the beginning. Online issues management professionals see the same trends Morra Aarons does. The best in this biz aren't simply looking at women as an audience - the best are looking to women to lead discussions and drive opinion.

As the author of Imperfect Parent Magazine's Parental is Political column and contributor to the Soccer Mom Vote, Julie is clearly an opinion leader. But unlike many political blogs, Julie doesn't just scream at the "base" about how wrong or how bad the other side is. It's a combination of her own values and the mommy-blogger effect. She gets into substance and she follows the rules moms teach their kids, like "play fair." So while ideologues like Arianna Huffington or Michelle Malkin have throngs of people nodding in agreement with anything they say, Julie has one the largest audiences of "undecided" or "persuadable" politically-oriented people on the 'net. Guess who's opinion they value more?

Sometimes it's important to feed the base the red meat it craves. Julie's actually more interested in the food pyramid they've developed at USDA and may have some thoughts on it.

Julie approaches her online entrepreneurship in a similar fashion -- she's thoughtful, she works well with others, and she encourages a diverse range of opinions in PBN. Here's what Julie had to say to me for the column.
Why do you blog?

I began blogging as a means of regaining my sense of self after a series of sudden changes (most notably, moving cross-country and leaving my job of five years to be a SAHM). Now my reasons for blogging depend on which site I'm talking about, but overall, I do it because I love the interaction and the attention.

When did you discover you could make money doing it?

Enough money to upgrade from a Grande to a Venti now and then, or REAL money? When BlogHer invited me to be a part of their Ad Network a year ago, I was pleased to start receiving a small check each month. But I honestly was more excited about the potential exposure and traffic increases than the money. It was when Kristen and I launched the Parent Bloggers Network and received such an overwhelming response from both bloggers and clients that I began to realize the business potential of blogging.

How has the Internet helped you build relationships and global businesses?

My online relationship building began in 2002 with the Babycenter.com Working Moms message board. It was an incredible source of support and friendship, and after a group of us met in person in 2003, these reunions have become an annual event. My experience there led me to see the potential in blogging for an actual community. Because blogging encompasses an even wider range of demographics than a single message board, the sphere of influence is that much larger and the opportunities for collaboration are that much greater.

Is this something you'd like to do long-term?

Hell yeah. In my last professional IT position, I worked hard to demonstrate the value of technology to my clients. Sometimes they saw it; sometimes they didn't. I hated being beholden to someone else's budget and constrained by their limits of understanding. Working on my own or with trusted partners, I can do so much more to bridge the gap between technology and business than I ever could as a cog in Corporate America.

What advice would you give moms who are starting out?

Write about what interests you. Give yourself time to develop a style. Don't write anything about anyone that you wouldn't say to their face. Read other bloggers; comment when you have something insightful or witty to say. Click on comments from other bloggers - when you leave them a comment, tell them where you came from. Link, but don't be a whore about it. Learn some basic HTML. Join blog rings. Join BlogHer. Above all, remember why you started blogging (and it shouldn't be because you want to be the next Dooce).

I honestly thought that Julie's comments about working to bridge the gap between technology and business was the best of the original piece. But in a local business column where local people get priority, not everything gets published. At least not on paper.


Mom101 said...

Yay Julie!

Nicole said...

Julie rocks our socks. We are glad to have her as part of The Soccer Mom Vote and thrilled to support all of her many other projects online!

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