19 July 2007

Beyond Bizlex: Liz Gumbinner

I introduced myself to Liz (and her blogging compatriot Kristen) last year in an email entitled, "Actually, Gloria Steinem may want your number after all." The love-fest between GreenStone Media and dozens of women bloggers that followed was beyond anyone's expectations, but know this - it all started at Liz Gumbinner's Mom101.

Liz is the award-winning Creative Director at David & Goliath advertising. They're based in LA, but she lives in New York. (Move to Boston, Liz. They have a better baseball team.) She's the co-founder of Cool Mom Picks - you know, the one that gets mentioned in Time and Advertising Age, not to mention by my wife and her friends. She will be speaking at BlogHer on the "Professional Blogging: Art and Commerce" panel, so I hope the Q&A she provided for my bizlex column serves to spark everyone's interest.

Why do you blog?

Because it's there. (haha)

My personal blog, Mom101, is like having a newspaper column with no editor. And no guidelines. And no pay. I use it both to document events in my life as a mother, and to explore various aspects of parenting culture that facilitate provocative discussions with dozens of people I have grown to respect and admire. While the community aspect of blogging was secondary to me at first, it's definitely grown to be an essential part of the experience.

How did you decide to go into business with Kristen and the gang?

Kristen emailed me about this idea she had to start a blog just to promote some of the great products she was seeing around the blogworld that were made by moms. It was called Cool Mom Shit. I of course jumped right in and demanded a 50% split and for some crazy reason, she agreed. Our first business decision together however was to go with a name that was a wee bit less PR-restrictive. Thus, Cool Mom Picks. I never could have imagined how big it would grow and how quickly, with a mention in Time and magazines like Real Simple picking up our content.

How have folks at your "other" job reacted?

My ad agency colleagues have been amazingly supportive of CMP submitting friends' businesses as potential "picks" and forwarding on potential pr and business opportunities. Although I must be honest, I think a few of them thought I was doing some "cute little website project" on the side, until we were featured in Advertising Age in February. I even have a few co-workers who read my personal blog. It's probably what keeps me from writing anything that could get me dooced.

Has there been any overlap?

Plenty. Now that I finally know that "html" isn't pronounced "hatemail" I think I've gained some more credibility with our interactive department. I've also tried to ncourage clients to explore blog-related marketing and PR efforts, although admittedly without a whole lot of success just yet. But I'm not giving up.

What do you enjoy the most about blogging?

I love the freedom to write whatever I want, however I want to. There's no such thing in advertising. Or most fields to be honest. I can't think of another writing venue in which you really have total carte blanche. Maybe stand-up comedy. And there's no way I'm doing that.

What advice would you give women who want to achieve some level of financial independence and are thinking about using blogs?

I think as with any profession, do what you love and the money will follow. If you set out to blog to make money I think there will be something inherently disingenous about your writing and blog readers can sniff that out in seconds. But if you find your voice and stay true to yourself, there are plenty of financial opportunities that will follow.

You'll have to hear me come speak at the BlogHer conference about balancingart and commerce for the rest of this!

One final post before I drag this "beyond bizlex" thing into the ground: tomorrow, Elisa Camahort, co-founder of BlogHer.