Dawn Meehan is a typical stay-at-home mom. She cooks, cleans, does laundry, shops and cares for a husband, Joe, and six children. And she's a storyteller: Meehan loves to share with everyone the wonder and amazement (and trials and tribulations) she goes through every day raising her "six pack," -- Austin, Savannah, Jackson, Lexington, Clayton and Brooklyn who range in age from 13 to one. Most mothers can only imagine!
But Meehan, 37, who lives in Chicago, Illinois, is also part of a growing breed of women who use the Internet to communicate: She is a blogger. And a very popular one at that. Her blog, Because I Said So is one of the most popular Weblogs about parenting on the Internet. Her success is due in part to a pair of eBay listings -- and the fact that she can tell a story like no other.
From eBay to Blogging
In March 2005, Meehan decided to auction off her sons' baseball after it broke a light in their bedroom. She very eloquently titled the auction The Ball That Started it All and included the following: "I'm selling the baseball that started my wonderful first day of spring break. Do you want to know why I'm selling the baseball that started off my wonderful first day of spring break? Only because Ebay won't let me sell my kids who were playing with the baseball that started my wonderful day. Is spring break over yet?! Here's the whole story..."
The ball sold for $1,125 and the listing received more than 220,000 hits. But it was about two years later when Meehan started her blog about her family and included many entries similar to the style in which her auction description was written. But the results weren't outstanding. They were mediocre at best. So, a few months later, she posted another of her kids' items on eBay. This time, it was a pack of Pokemon cards that they sneaked into her cart during a trip to the grocery store. Unknowingly she paid for them, but as a lesson to them, she refused to let kids have the trading cards. Instead, she auctioned them off on eBay, with another witty listing titled, Lot of Pokemon Cards that My Kids Tried to Sneak By Me. They sold for more than $200 and Meehan's life has never been the same. Within days, traffic on her blog soared and her popularity as the funny mom who told hilarious but true stories about her kids skyrocketed.
Meehan, who now has a book deal in the works, took some time from her busy schedule to chat with LoveToKnow Social Networking about her blog, her life and everything that brings the two together.
Life as a Blogger
How did you get started in blogging?
"I love to write and started my blog in June 2007, not only as a creative outlet, but in the hopes of earning a little money. I put some ads on my blog, hoping to make some advertising revenue to financially contribute to my family."
What made you decide to write up the description on the eBay auction they way you did? Were your children horrified?
"LOL! Well, as I said, I wanted to earn a little advertising income from my blog, so I updated my blog daily and eagerly checked my advertising account only to discover that I was earning a penny a day. Literally. I realized that you can't really make any money when the only person to read your blog everyday is your mother. I remembered an auction I had placed on eBay about a year and half [about the baseball]. I had hundreds of people write to ask me if I had a blog. At the time I didn't even know what a blog was!
Anyway, I thought, hmmm, maybe if I list another auction on eBay, it'll attract a bunch of attention and people will ask me again if I have a blog, at which point I'll be able to tell them, "Yes! Why, yes I do! Come see!" I was hoping to go from about five hits a day to 50 hits a day on my blog. What happened is that I went from five hits a day to 94,000 hits in one day. My children weren't horrified. The older kids don't especially like some of my stories though because I tend to exaggerate and take a little artistic license to make an interesting read."
Dawn Meehan's blog is more popular than she ever imagined. Since the eBay listing in the fall of 2007, she has been interviewed by various news outlets including National Public Radio, ABC World News Tonight and The Denver Post. She has also been contacted by Nickledeon to help create a television show, as well as various movie producers.Now that you are "famous," what do you plan to do next?
"I'm going to DisneyWorld! LOL! OK not really, but that seems like the thing to say. I'm not famous. My next plans are to clean the bathroom and go to the grocery store."
Tell me, what you can, about your book? When do you expect it to be published?
"Right now, the working title is Because I Said So and it's scheduled to be out the first week of August 2008. It's a collection of stories about the joy of parenthood."
Is life any different at home now that you are a "celebrity?"
"Oh yes! I have a maid, chauffeur, personal cook and butler who all wait on me hand and foot. Ha! I'm not a celebrity. Life is pretty much the same. I still help the kids with homework. I still change diapers and pull my son down from the fridge. I still get frustrated when my daughter misplaces her glasses. The usual."
What type of opportunities has this media attention given you? Has it changed you or your family?
"Well, obviously, the biggest thing, of course, is the book deal with Guideposts. I never really thought I'd be able to get a book published before all of this. My mom, on the other hand, keeps shaking her head, saying, "I told you so!" LOL! Another thing that happened is that the folks from Discovery Cove in Orlando flew my whole family to Florida and gave us a dream vacation; staying in a beautiful hotel, swimming with dolphins, and going to Sea World. My kids absolutely loved that! And the income I'm receiving from my blog has enabled my husband to cut down on his hours so he's working a normal 40 hour week now which is really, really nice. We're very thankful that our lives are a little more balanced now."
Mom First; Blogger Always
If you are a regular reader of Meehan's blog, you will know that she always puts her family and friends first -- before blogging or any book deals. Her love for her kids is evident by the humorous stories and anecdotes she tells about them (her husband has been known to be "victim" a few times too). She was first a mother and a wife and plans to keep it that way.
What did you do before you started your blog?
"I can't remember what I had for lunch yesterday. You expect me to remember what I did last year???"
What is the goal of your blog now besides sharing your family with the world?
"Hmmm, I guess I just want to let other parents out there know that they aren't alone. I want to remind moms that we all experience the daily struggles, chaos, and joys of childrearing. I want to let parents know that they aren't the only ones in the quest to find the source of that mysterious odor emanating from their child's room, the half dozen missing socks, or the answer to the age-old question, Who started it?
I want to tell parents it's OK if there's marker on the walls. It's OK if you don't manage to get in the shower today. It's OK for kids to be kids. And most of all, it's OK to be an imperfect parent who loves her kids but sometimes finds it hard to make it through the day without curling up in a fetal position, rocking back and forth, and muttering in incoherent syllables."
Social Networking in the 21st Century
Many moms, whether they stay at home, work at home or work out of the home, blog. How do you feel this type of outlet helps them either as parents, spouses, employees or friends?
"I think for many, blogging is cathartic. It's a nice outlet. For some, it provides a little income. For many, I think it's a way to connect with other moms in similar situations. Especially for those stay-at-home moms who maybe don't have a lot of friends in real life and don't get out much to talk to other adults, it can be a real blessing to connect to other moms through blogging."
How would you compare blogging to the "chatting over the fence" of our parents' generation?
"I personally like the "chatting over the fence" better than blogging. I am blessed to have several wonderful friends and I love talking to them face to face or on the phone. The thing that's great about blogging though, is that you can do it at all hours of the day and night and you can connect to so many more people than you would ordinarily meet in the course of your day. I speak with people from other countries which is incredibly interesting. I wouldn't be able to chat with someone in Australia over the ol' picket fence. I think blogging is great for a lot of moms - for example: those who have husbands in the military. Maybe they move around a lot and don't have the chance to make many friends in real life. This gives them an outlet, a way to "talk" to other moms, a way to share stories and know that they aren't alone."
Tell us the funniest or most outrageous thing one or all of your kids have done that you have blogged.
"Oh what to choose, what to choose.... the time my husband sprinkled lemon-lime Kool Aid on fish for dinner, the time my 3-year-old climbed on top of the fridge, or tried to cook eggs in the microwave for an hour. Maybe the time my daughter tried to swim in the toilet, or one of the many times she got into some sort of markers, make-up, or food coloring. Of course then there's the time my baby ate some staples, and the time the toddler got his sister's purse stuck on his head, and the time he super-glued his sister's hands together. It's so hard to choose."