Q&A With Amanda Rodriguez
Name / Title: Amanda Rodriguez, blogger, founder of DudeMom (www.dudemom.com)
First job: At 14 my dad got me a job as a receptionist at an alcohol and drug addiction counseling center. I literally never did drugs because of that experience. Well played, Dad. Well played.
Best advice for busy moms: Don’t sweat the small stuff. If you can’t clean the bathroom, mop the floor, make homemade bread, DIY the teachers’ gifts, and do ALLOFTHETHINGS, believe me, no one will care.
Favorite pastime: Before motherhood: going to the movies and writing. After motherhood: sleeping and writing, but you should know that writing is a very far behind second.
What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Amanda: Funny, easy going, exhausted.
What is your personal mantra?
Amanda: “Choose Joy.” I actually wear a Mantra Band with the words engraved in it to remind me, because it’s one of those mantras that is easy to forget when you’re scrolling through Facebook and sighing all of the sighs.
What inspired you to start blogging? What was your vision for your blog, DudeMom?
Amanda: My BFF said I should do it because my kid stories were funny. Secretly, she was probably sick of hearing them and figured I needed an outlet other than calling her at work to tell her about my newborn/toddler/preschooler woes.
As far as a vision — when I started blogging, my blog was called “parenting BY dummies” and I just wanted to write about how I was being outsmarted by my children on a daily basis in hopes that the reflection would help me get the upper hand. There was no real vision behind it and originally, only my mother was reading it. More thought has gone into the creation of DudeMom of course, but it’s still a place where I write about my life with my kids in an effort to keep the madness in perspective. And community, I love the community it provides.
How did you come up with the name “DudeMom” for your blog?
Amanda: I’ve always called my three sons The Dudes. Like, always. So, when it was time to rename the blog, it was fitting. They are known around our town now as The Dudes.
DudeMom has become so successful that blogging is now your full-time job. What steps did you take to get the word out about your blog and grow your following?
Amanda: I did a lot of the traditional social media promotion that people do when they are in the blog game. I think a few things have worked better for me though: being authentic in this space year after year after year is the most important. I keep it real and I think that’s something people like about me because my real is also relatable (ie: I’m not rich, or overly good looking, or super skinny, or anything that the everyday average mom chick can’t identify with. I have daily mom struggles that include questioning my sanity and convincing myself to put on a bra every morning). Even in my sponsored posts there is a realness that I think people get. I accept things I have a true connection with so that writing about a product from my heart comes easily.
Also, relationships. I think blogging, like life, is so much about relationships and I’ve built a lot of strong ones: with my readers, with other bloggers, with editors, with brand reps. I try to always be kind, reliable, authentic and professional and those things seem to keep my relationships intact.
Oh, and I was on TV a few times. Being on TV helps people know about your blog.
While blogging is a burgeoning industry, it is still fairly new and many people don’t understand how blogging can generate income. How do you make money off of blogging?
Amanda: I do a combination of things and don’t just consider myself a blogger. I used DudeMom to open up other doors for myself. I write for a number of websites and publications where their entire staff is not made up of just bloggers. Plus I own a photography business that works sort of in conjunction with my blog.
As the world gets increasingly more digital, blogger relations is playing a larger role in companies’ marketing efforts. What do you think the value of blogger relations is from your own perspective?
Amanda: Our relationships mostly. We have them directly with people in a way brands just can’t. People who read DudeMom trust me because they “know” me. They relate to me, like I said before. Brands who use bloggers can effectively connect with their target audience in a special way. And I think when there is so much competition for basically every single thing, brands need that.
What should every good pitch to a blogger include?
Amanda: Proof that you know your audience. I once got a pitch saying something like, “We have the most adorable mommy/daughter outfit picked out for you.” It’s bad enough that my blog is called DudeMom and I clearly have three male children, but they sent the pitch on the day that I posted about how my heart broke a little when I realized I would never have a daughter to share with my mother. I don’t expect brands to know everything about the bloggers they pitch, but some basic recognizance would be great.
How do you determine what you do and don’t cover?
Amanda: It has to truly fit into my life. Be something that we truly enjoy using. Or something that I know will resonate with my readers in a meaningful way. It’s mostly about finding a connection to my life though. Blogging is a pretty narcissistic thing (and not totally in a bad way), but this space is truly the only space on the planet that is just mine. So the things I cover there and share there have to have meaning in some way to me.
What advice would you give to businesses that are trying to get their products or services covered by bloggers?
Amanda: Build relationships. Be creative. And recognize that budget is important. Blogging is my job. It is how I make my living. With that said, not all of my posts are sponsored. If a product, initiative or topic is really, truly powerful, I’m happy to write about it and share my honest opinion about it with my readers.
Also, think about creating ambassador programs. I can say for certain that my level of effort and commitment increase exponentially when I am working as an ambassador/spokesperson for a brand. I usually spend more time choosing these relationships and I work harder to cultivate them, enhance them and promote them too.
Taking care of three sons and contributing so much online content must be demanding. How do you make time for yourself outside of the day-to-day chaos?
Amanda: I go to the gym. It’s my thing. I talk to my friends there. I dance there. I have fun there. And I make up for the fact that I spend most of my day sitting on my couch, laptop on my lap, Cherry Coke Zero and/or a cupcake in my hand, while my dog nuzzles my feet. Other than that I have zero time for me, and that includes sleeping. Someone usually needs something even when I’m supposed to be asleep.
What exciting / new things can we expect to see from DudeMom in the near future?
Amanda: More style posts for sure. I am working more with Redbook Magazine to do some mom style posts over the next couple of months. And more work with the NFL. I am passionate about youth sports safety and football and the work I do there helps my boys and their friends so much. So football and fashion: it’s basically what I do with my life.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I make a mean chocolate chip cookie. It’s a serious skill and if you ever come to visit expect that to be my go to. I burn most everything else.