How Scary Mommy Became the Most Hilariously Relatable Parenting Site
Mommy blogs are a great way to connect with like-minded mamas who get it. Sometimes, having it all isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. The reality is that being the mom you are right now, however imperfect and messy, is awesome and more true than “having it all.” Busy moms who are busting out work while managing sick kiddos understand that some days you’re reheating leftover sweet potato fries and saying it’s totally a vegetable in your head as you feed it to your kids. In this week’s How to Quit Your Day Job, we sit down with Jill Smokler, who started her blog Scary Mommy as a stay-at-home mom. Smokler chats with us about how she turned her daily journal into a popular (and hilariously honest) parenting website. (And for an instant mom pick-me-up, check out the Scary Mommy Instagram for very accurate mama memes.)
Meet the Mommy Blogger Pro: Jill Smokler
Before she started the Scary Mommy blog (well known by all “bad” moms), Smokler worked as a visual merchandiser for Anthropologie. In March 2008, Smokler began honestly documenting her own journey as a lonely stay-at-home mom. The blog grew as her motto of “no parent is perfect” resonated with an eager parenting crowd desperate for this kind of similar soul. Since launching her mommy blog, Smokler has penned two books — Confessions of a Scary Mommy and Motherhood Comes Naturally (and Other Vicious Lies) — and in 2015 she sold her company to Some Spider Studios, staying on board as the Chief Content Officer.
Brit + Co: What’s your morning routine?
Jill Smokler: I like to wake up before anyone else in the house to get a head start on the day. I’m not one of those people who makes lunches the night before or even always cleans up from dinner before going to bed, so I get that done first thing every morning. I listen to the news on my headphones and wake the kids up anywhere from a dozen times on a good day to 50 or more on a typical Monday. It’s a really good morning when my throat isn’t sore from yelling by 7am. I’m home from drop off by 8am, so that’s when I start responding to emails, touching base with my team, and tackling my to-do list.
B+C: What inspired you to start your company?
JS: Scary Mommy began simply as my personal blog, but my motivation to make it more than that was always my desire to stay home with my babies. I’d hated working in an office before and was determined to find a way to stay home while also making an income. As I grew Scary Mommy, I also wrote for other websites and managed message boards and communities. It took about five years before my site really made any money, but I was able to piece together enough different gigs along the way for us to get by until then.
B+C: How do you challenge yourself as an entrepreneur?
JS: I’m always doing little side projects — planning a party or refinishing a piece of furniture or redecorating a room in the house. I constantly need something to focus my creative energy on, or I start to go a little crazy.
B+C: Tell us about how your family and friends help support your business.
JS: My family and friends have been my biggest cheerleaders from the start. They were the people who helped spread the word in the early days and were the fodder behind the stories I told (not always an easy place to be). It’s been 10 years, and they still excitedly reach out if they hear Scary Mommy mentioned on TV or conversation or come across a magazine article. They know better than anyone how hard I worked on the site — and I think feel a sense of pride over what it’s become.
B+C: What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
JS: To breathe. I’ve gotten it many, many times from many different people, but it took until recently for me to really listen. I have a tendency to get very wound up and anxious — both in my personal life and work life — and taking the time to focus on simply taking a few really deep breaths does help to ground me. Hopefully soon I won’t need to be reminded of that!
B+C: What do you love about your job?
JS: I love knowing how many lives have been impacted by Scary Mommy, whether through employment, or friendships being forged, or just general support and camaraderie. And I love working with women whom I consider to be some of my closest friends. Work feels so much less like work when you truly adore your coworkers.
B+C: Name two female heroes who you think should get a shout-out.
JS: My mom. This last year was pretty brutal, and she stepped back into full mommy mode to take care of me. Homemade chicken soup really can work miracles. My second hero is Irena Sendler, a Polish nurse and social worker who saved approximately 2,500 Jewish children from perishing during the Holocaust.
B+C: If you could tell aspiring creative women anything, what would it be?
JS: You can’t be good at everything. As women, there’s so much pressure on us to do it all well, all the time, and that’s an impossible standard to live up to. If you’re creative, you might struggle with another part of the business like finances, and there’s nothing wrong with admitting that.
What’s your dream career? Tweet us @BritandCo to let us know, and we could feature it in the next column!
(Photos via Jill Smokler)
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