Mom Blogger: Joanna Goddard of Cup of Jo
The writer speaks to us about her unexpected career as a blogger, motherhood, and why she no longer blogs in her PJs
Joanna Goddard is a true authority on everything from mom-friendly bathing suits to the dynamics of New York City's most coveted park benches. Here, like always, Goddard tells it like it is. —Melissa Schweiger
What was your goal for A Cup of Jo when you first started it?
When I started A Cup of Jo five years ago, I was a full-time magazine editor and had just broken up with a boyfriend. I needed a distraction (other than eating potato chips and watching TV), so I started the blog to help fill up my evenings and weekend. During the course of the blog, I met a great guy, got engaged, and married. Then we had a (surprise!) honeymoon baby. Over the years, my blog became big enough to become my full-time job, which was an unexpected pleasure.
What was the first A Cup of Jo blog entry about?
Funnily enough, I wrote about staying home on New Year’s Eve. I baked cookies, watched Grey’s Anatomy and secretly had an awesome time.
When did you realize that blogging was more than just a hobby?
Shifting from blogging-as-a-hobby to blogging-as-a-career was a very slow transition and one that I hadn’t even anticipated. After a year or so, I started featuring a few ads on my blog to earn some pocket money. And after a couple years, I quit my job to focus on freelance magazine writing and grow my blog, so it became about half my income. But only about a year ago did I finally realize that my blog had officially become my full-time job—both financially and time-wise. And I was happy and surprised.
What is your typical day like?
Our toddler son wakes up at around 7 a.m., so we get ready and hang out, and then our babysitter comes. I work from 9 a.m. to 4:30pm, then I spend the late afternoon hanging out with Toby—usually riding bikes or going to the playground. My husband is home by 7 p.m. and we put Toby to bed. I usually work again until 9:30 p.m. Then we have a very late dinner (my husband cooks!), drink wine, and hang out. Bedtime for us is around midnight. I also squeeze in some work on the weekends. It’s busy but a good balance for us.
Where do you get ideas for blog posts?
All over the place! Often in the shower, funnily enough! Since my blog is personal, ideas frequently come from regular daily life (like when I’m dressing up for a date night or kissing my baby, or from things friends say when we’re at a party or chatting over dinner. I’m always on the lookout. The New York Times is also full of amazing articles that I love discussing with my readers. I also read tons of other brilliant blogs and magazines that are inspiring. I have a gazillion clips and lists of ideas on my desk.
Do you get dressed up to blog or usually just lounge around in your PJs?
I blogged in my PJs before we had a baby but now I have to look presentable for the babysitter! So I take it up one level to jeans and a t-shirt.
What’s the biggest misconception about bloggers?
How hard it is to run a big blog. Blogging can be a part-time hobby, it can also be a demanding career, and it can be a million things in between. But many people assume that all blogs are (more or less) created equal and that everyone is just doing it as a hobby. My uncle said to me last summer, “Isn’t it so nice that you can be a stay-at-home mum and have your blog as your labor-of-love?” His well-meaning comment made me realize with a forehead slap that he—along with many other people—probably assume all bloggers write quickly during their baby’s naps or after work. I’m sure some people do, and that’s awesome of course, but the bigger your blog gets—and the more you focus on it as a money-making career as well as a creative endeavor—the more work it is. You have to keep up with (tons and tons) of reader emails and questions, answer comments, produce ambitious original content (fresh ideas, thoughtfully written posts, and original photography), sell all the monthly ads, negotiate with brands and ad networks, deal with lawyers and contracts, stay current on new brands, books and products, do strategic outreach via social media, promote your blog through interviews and guest posts… The list goes on and on. When it’s done right, blogging should look easy—just how magazine articles and books should look easy and fun. But it doesn’t mean that it is easy.
What are some of your other favorite blogs?
My friend Sharon writes a hilarious blog—NYC Taught Me—about raising three kids in New York City. And Swissmiss is a fun design blog written by a graphic designer with two kids—she finds the best (and often funny) design on the web.
How does being a mom inspire your work?
When I first had Toby, I wrote swoony personal posts about him but didn’t write too much about new motherhood overall—I still focused primarily on fashion and design. But after a while, I found myself yearning to talk about the day-to-day of motherhood more openly—both the ups and the downs. So I started a weekly blog column called Motherhood Mondays (here’s the very first one!), where I talk about everything from having a boy to kissing your husband to traveling with a baby to postpartum depression. My husband has also shared some of his thoughts about fatherhood, including eight confessions of a new dad and his side of our birth story. It has been AMAZING and often profound to have a conversation with so many other women—through blog comments and emails—all about life and motherhood.
Do you see yourself blogging in 10 years?
If they still exist! I’d love to be.