I’m Coming Out of the Closet: I Want to Be a Mompreneur

Leigh is joining VendRaleigh, and is declaring herself as a Mompreneur.
Leigh is joining VendRaleigh, and is declaring herself as a Mompreneur.

The other night at dinner I made some comment about the time I worked in a hospital.

My son looked puzzled and in an “inquiring minds want to know”-type voice, said, “Hospital! How many jobs have you had?”

My husband chuckled and added, “Yes, your mom has had some good paying jobs through the years, but she gave them all up and now gets paid none.”

I rolled my eyes.

What would have really been nice is for my husband to have said, “Your mom put her career on hold to raise you both, and now she is pursuing her dreams as a ‘Mompreneur.’”

Yes, that would have been nice.  But if my husband had said those exact words, then my annoyance may have turned to worry because I would have been afraid that an alien had snatched his body and left someone else at the family dinner table.

I married an engineer, and he is always about the bottom line. Nothing is abstract.  It’s either black or white.  For the past seven years, I have not contributed to our retirement because I’ve not worked, and what little money I have made from my writing, I’ve spent on myself in the form of cosmetics, hair appointments, and clothes. We’re talking “little money” here, people. 

In 1991, I was paid $16,000 a year to be a TV journalist.  As a part-time blogger, 22 years later, I’m paid about 95 percent less than that figure a year.  Some may say I'm going  backwards at the almost age of 45. 

But I’ve worked hard at my writing, and many opportunities have certainly come my way because of my blogging.  Opportunites? Yes. Money? No.  I’ve been able to provide travel for my family as if we had two incomes, not just one.  I am much happier now than I ever was in my 17-year journalism, P.R., marketing, and communications career.  My blogging combines everything that I loved from those jobs without any of the negatives I hated.  And I absolutely adore the topics I write about now.  I no longer have to write about a city council meeting as I did when I first started out as a journalist  in my 20s. Nor do I choose to write about a tube of toothpaste on my blog unless it causes me to lose five pounds and makes my teeth sparkle.  That may spark some interest, but, regardless, I only write what interests me, and, hopefully, my audience.

I love the creative process that writing allows me. It’s a blank page that one can fill with a story.  I love the freedom of no set schedule.  I love meeting people outside of the playground and being part of a working network.  I love being able to write and still be able to pick up my kids from school.  Honestly, I spend 20-plus hours a week writing because I love it.  It doesn’t feel like work when you love it, and I honestly believe that is why my Dad spent all of his time at his own business.  I think he gave me the drive I have in me to work for myself.

I’ll go ahead and admit it. Being home with my children has allowed me the opportunity to give travel writing a try. It has allowed me to take chances, find my writing voice, and experience life as a starving writer without really starving.  Luckily for me, I’ve been able to be a start-up “Mompreneur” without the worry of not having financial gain. 

About six months into writing my own blog, I stumbled upon another blog with a very unusual name. I will never ever forget this post titled “Blogging as a Lifestyle Choice by Katja Presnal.”  It spoke to me and gave me direction.  It encouraged me to blog to achieve the lifestyle I wanted, and, for me, that meant luxury travel on one income. I didn’t even leave a comment after reading that article, but it was just the guide I needed to help me see a clear plan for my future. 

One year later, after building up a strong luxury hotel writing portfolio, I crossed paths with that same author again by chance on Twitter.

I joined Katja Presnal’s writing team as her Luxury Travel Editor as soon as she turned her popular Skimbaco Blog into an online lifestyle magazine.  Skimbaco is a startup magazine with an international flair that, in my opinion, can be even bigger than what “Garden and Gun” is to the South. 

So today, I am going to say publicly that my blogging/writing is not really a hobby, but you all probably already knew that.  But I’m taking some steps toward being a Mompreneur, locally.

I have joined Vend Raleigh, a place for mom-owned business owners to collaborate, network, and provide support.  I plan to attend its second business conference Sept. 13 in Holly Springs, and I look forward to networking.  I’m probably not going to market my blog, but rather my services as a freelance travel writer/columnist.  So when “Walter” magazine starts covering the luxury travel family market outside of Raleigh, then it will know whom to contact.  Raleigh families have to travel, right?

But seriously, more than 1,000 women have already joined the Vend Raleigh Association.  This month, Vend Raleigh founder Cary Heise launched the new Vend Directory, which gives readers access to mom-owned businesses in the Triangle.   For more information about Vend Raleigh, you can visit its website and learn more.  I’m glad I did.

It feels good to come out of the closet and write my goals publicly.  I feel fortunate that the News and Observer has trusted me with this space, and has given me my shot of having a column. You can also read my other work on the HinesSight Blog and Skimbaco Lifestyle.