Valerie Khoo

WRITER. ARTIST. CREATIVE EXPLORER.

This is the personal blog of Valerie Khoo – artist, author and podcaster. Valerie is passionate about exploring the worlds of creativity and business. She is co-host of the popular podcasts ‘So you want to be a writer’ and ‘So you want to be a photographer’. Valerie is a mentor to artists, writers and business owners on how they can turn their passions into thriving professional practices. She is author of ‘Power Stories: The 8 Stories You MUST Tell to Build an Epic Business’. Valerie is also CEO of the Australian Writers’ Centre, one of the world’s leading centres for writing courses.
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38 Comments

  1. Katrina Higham

    Great read Valerie. I am not a blogger, I like to call myself a microblogger. However, I am a mum but don’t want to write about daily life. I like to think I set myself apart by being a microblogger, and keep it relevant to my business. And there are businesses out there that don’t want the stigma of a mum blogger writing for them and vice versa. I say Ferrari for my next micropost! 🙂

    1. valeriekhoo

      And I say Aston Martin! Or if anyone wants me to review the latest Lear jet, I’m up for it.

    2. Dorothy @ Singular Insanity

      I’d be happy with Subaru 🙂 And I like your point about businesses not wanting to be associated with a mummy blogger. Perhaps it’s something those of us who don’t see ourselves as that, can capitalise on?

  2. Darren Rowse

    Thought provoking post Valerie.

    I’ve been watching this ‘rise’ of the niche with real interest this past 6-12 months. It’s amazing to see the momentum grow with more and more media attention, more brands targeting the niche and events taking place for Mums.

    As someone who is not a Mum… or even a woman I admit at times that there are twinges of jealousy – particularly on days like today when I see so many friends gathering together for experiences like meeting the PM.

    Having said that I’m usually pretty good at snapping myself out of feeling that way and reminding myself that there are plenty of other opportunities around for those exploring different niches.

    Perhaps we’re not getting them media attention of the Parenting Blogger niche but there are certainly some amazing opportunities to be had.

    There are a plethora of other brands becoming more aware of bloggers in Australia and a lot of other opportunities too.

    In the last 12 months I’ve met Aussie bloggers who are doing amazing things:

    – landing book deals
    – pitching TV shows
    – releasing profitable eBooks and courses
    – leveraging their blogs to build careers as speakers, consultants, trainers and more

    None of the bloggers I’m thinking of are known as Parenting bloggers (although 2 have young kids) – all are full time bloggers/online entrepreneurs.

    In fact two of them recently privately told me that they are glad to be flying under the radar and not getting the media attention that other niches are getting because they’re able to operate as the major players in their niches without thousands of others competing for attention.

    While I totally understand that some feel left out, excluded and marginalised by the current rise in the ‘Mum blogging’ niche I guess what I’m trying to convince us all to do is to get on getting on with working with the circumstances we find ourselves in.

    Just my two cents worth

    1. valeriekhoo

      Totally agree Darren. There’s actually so much opportunity particularly as more companies recognise the power of influence that some bloggers have. And I feel that the ones who will be most poised to take advantage of the opportunity are those who are professional, and who understand that every party has to win for it to work.

      I love this post by Nikki Parkinson from Styling You and think it should be required reading by most bloggers who are taking their first steps into leveraging their influence:
      http://www.stylingyou.com.au/2012/05/prs-and-bloggers/

      Of course, these aren’t the only opportunities. I love the fact that bloggers are also getting speaking gigs and consulting work because of their niche. I’m excited to see what unfolds over the next 12 months .

  3. Louise

    Great post Valerie! The term Mummy or Parent Blogger could do with chucking out all together because in the end we are all niche bloggers.

    1. valeriekhoo

      So true. I’m not fond of the term. But it looks like it’s here to stay. Some mummy bloggers love it though … but I know that some cringe at the term. We should all be proactive at defining our own niches instead of letting the media define it for us with a convenient label perhaps?

  4. Nikki Parkinson

    Great post Valerie and thanks for the very kind words. I kind of love that blog can’t be pigeon-holed into a niche … I cross over fashion (but not typical fashion) blogging, beauty (but not typical beauty) and lifestyle (where my kids and my life might come in). I’m very happy with the path I’m on and the opportunities that have opened up for me – being a mum who blogs (and earns a living from it) is way more flexible for my family and that was my aim with my business from the beginning.

    1. valeriekhoo

      I reckon you’ve carved out a really unique niche Nikki. And it’s working – I love the way you approach fashion and beauty. I actually believe that some of the mainstream media will follow your lead soon. Because it’s real – it’s so authentic and it works.

  5. Ann Nolan

    Great post Valerie,

    Now, I’m a mum and a blogger so technically you can call me a mummy blogger. But I don’t consider myself a mummy blogger and neither would anyone else I would venture.

    I don’t blog about my kids (though I may occasionally mention them) I don’t post their pics or my blog (I want them to create their own digital footprints not me), I don’t blog about what I consider are the personal details of my life (which many mum bloggers do in such an engaging way…and good luck to them) and truth is I have no desire to.

    But then do you need to constantly blog about your kids or being a mum to be defined as a mummy blogger? I think many people might say ‘yes’ automatically and then they might think about it and go…”ah well… maybe not!”

    Most (all?!) mum bloggers blog about a heap more than being mums or parents (you don’t just stop being a woman when you become a “mum”!) . Opinions and observations are often at the top of the blog list for many mummy bloggers. Maybe calling them ‘personal bloggers’ is more descriptive and like Louise says we could do with chucking out the term “mummy blogger’ altogether as it schews the whole landscape?

    On another but related note, I think Australian bloggers have been around for a while but lets face it have been at the fringes of “traditional” literary and ‘media’ society – until recently. And while I might look with a little envy at some bloggers basking under traditional media’s and politician’s (em.. PM’s!) limelight and wish if only a little could fall on me I also realise a lot of hard work has gone into getting them where they are today. Most have been blogging away unnoticed by traditional media for years. What am I saying? I guess its like Darren, keep blogging and worry about the limelight and all that palava when (notice I said “when”…but only if you want it to of course!) it arrives.

    1. valeriekhoo

      Hi Ann,
      Labels are always going to be around. It makes things so much easier for mainstream media to categorise – even if it’s not entirely accurate. I think that people should definitely just blog away for the love of it … but the reality is if some bloggers want to monetise and create a profile, then a “label” helps other people understand where they “fit”. Happy blogging!

      1. Ann Nolan

        Agree Valerie – humans love to sort + categorise. And blogging is included. I was just saying that the term “mummy blogging” is limiting. However some bloggers embrace it. Others hate it. Each to their own.

  6. Shaggy

    I always relate to your posts. As a fellow childfree, cat owning blogger this was very interesting to me. Of course I’m not really looking to position myself as an influencer at this stage. I like being able to blather about whatever takes my fancy. Perhaps that will change, perhaps not. There are opportunities out there though for those who want them.

    Personally, I enjoy a lot of “mummy blogs” that don’t just focus on kids. There are always things to learn. Like Darren, I often envy the social cache that the mummy bloggers seem to have built up. Can not-mothers really become part of that group?

    I watch with interest.

    1. valeriekhoo

      Maybe we should start a new category “child-free cat-loving bloggers”! World domination awaits. Where are Whiskas and Fancy Feast when we’re looking for sponsors?

      1. Shaggy

        I love it! Though I think the cats will be the ones who end up ruling the world.

      2. CaAtherine

        I too am a CFCLB: Child Free Cat Loving Blogger, and I’d be very happy to have Supercoat as a sponsor, as would my furry feline children.

        I love the communities that the (I too hate tags) ‘mummy bloggers’ generate, and even though I’m a CFCLB I’ve been embraced by the sisterhood. Like Shaggy, I too will be watching with interest. I will also be hoping that the success of these bloggers will be recognized simply as amazing women.

        Thanks Valerie.

        1. valeriekhoo

          I’m still waiting for Purina or Eukanuba to call …

  7. Catherine J Archer

    Great post Valerie. I started my PhD on mums who blog 9 months ago and all of a sudden it seems to be big news. Coincidence? I knew it was big in the States when I started but thought there might be one or two bloggers here! Wooooah! I don’t personally like the Mummy Blogger tag – no one calls me a “Mummy Academic”. My kids don’t call me a Mummy Mum either! But as you said, some mums who blog embrace it. So that’s fine by me…What will blogging look like in three years when I have (hopefully) finished my thesis? BTW – I am still recruiting for interviews (though DPCON12 was a big help) so, dear readers of Ms Khoo’s fantastic blog, please contact me on Twitter if you would like to speak with me. And Ms Khoo, I would love to talk to you too! And I hope no one “steals” my topic, though there’s already research interest in Italy, China and the States, to name some places.

    1. valeriekhoo

      What a fascinating thesis topic Catherine. I can’t want to see the results of your research. Would love to chat to you 🙂 Feel free make contact – details are in the “contacts” section.

  8. Mrs Woog

    I think it is about the writing and not necessarily the topic that drives people to certain sites. Also, how long can the mainstream media be so intensly interested with a group of women writing on the internet that have been doing so for years? It is fascinating. x

    1. valeriekhoo

      Totally fascinating isn’t it? But what a wonderful opportunity to leverage while the attention is there. You are doing an amazing job of it – love all your appearances, commentary – and of course … your blog that started it all!

    2. Darren Rowse

      My suspicion is that many brands will start to look for more targeted audiences – while ‘Mums’ is definitely a market that some brands want they will begin to find that within that demographic different blogs will reach different groups….

  9. Dorothy @ Singular Insanity

    Well said, Valerie. It’s not just about mummy bloggers for me, it’s about women who blog being heard and being seen as influencers. There are probably tons of people who want to read about a Crazy Cat Lady with a Dog 🙂 And what a sitcom that could make!

    1. valeriekhoo

      I should go pitch that to Channel 9 asap. It’ll be bigger than The Voice!

  10. Nicole

    Great article. Snort laughed. I don’t have kids, cats or dogs. Can I be ‘Crazy Big Jewellery Lady’ blogger?

    1. valeriekhoo

      Defining your niche is the first step. I think “Crazy Big Jewellery Lady” blogger could be the Next Big Thing.

  11. Deborah Cook

    Great post… I have two blogs (debbish.com & dietschmiet.me) and feel niche-less most of the time. But… I like your notion of being part of a long tail!

    I’m just starting down the monetisation route so need to give my audiences and brands some more thought!

    Deb

    1. valeriekhoo

      Good luck Deb. When you want to monetise, I think it’s vital to treat your blog like a business and a brand. It’s great to have an audience (of readers) but ultimately advertisers/sponsors/anyone who will pay you will want to know what you represent. Have fun!

  12. Paul Wallbank

    Good points Valerie, there’s an interesting and not wholly unexpected piece of snark about the PM meeting meeting mommy bloggers in the SMH.

    http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/pm-gets-more-than-a-cuppa-and-a-catchup-as-mummy-bloggers-spread-the-goss-20120617-20id2.html

    What I think is really interesting with the rise of mommy bloggers is how we’re now seeing media fragmenting into specific interests just as online advertising has.

    As people are finding blogs more relevant to their daily lives than much what is served by the main stream media, we’re finding more than just parenting issues being blogged out.

    Personally I think the mommy blogger phenomenon is one of the future models of the future media.

    It’s interesting times.

    1. valeriekhoo

      Yes, that story took an interesting angle huh? I agree with you Paul, I also think that one of the future models of media will definitely centre around niche communities. It will be interesting to see how businesses, governments and organisations – and people – work with these emerging communities.

  13. Kerri Sackville

    Hell yeah. But I think the #PMtea was slightly misrepresented in the media – it wasn’t just for ‘mummy bloggers’ – there were women without kids there too: Clementine Ford, Marieke Hardy, and the new Ed of Mamamia amongst them. Girl Power – no matter what the fruits of one’s loins x

    1. valeriekhoo

      Wish I could have been a fly on the wall. Oh wait, I kind of was … with your fab post about the event 🙂

  14. Zoey @ Good Googs

    The fact is that there are plenty of people who don’t blog about their children and they are still referred to as mummy bloggers. It can be a double-edged sword. Because although I totally get that the current obsession with one niche can be frustrating, it’s equally frustrating to field questions like ‘so what are you going to write about when your kids grow up?’, or ‘why do you write a blog, shouldn’t you be playing with your children?’ or my personal favourite ‘don’t you think you are exploiting your children?’

    1. valeriekhoo

      I hear you. People love stereotypes. There was a time when people would find out I’m a writer, and say: “Oh are you doing ok? Is it hard to make ends meet?” Apparently, my profession means I have to be be very poor and starving in a garret somewhere. Or “You must have a lot of time to go to the gym and see your friends?” or “What do you DO all day?”

  15. Bachelormum

    Val u are such a savvy entrepreneur you are already at the forefront of this Eureka moment in socialmedia – kids or not.

    1. valeriekhoo

      Thanks Bachelormum. I’m excited to see what the future holds for bloggers 🙂

  16. Naomi

    Great piece Valerie, I agree with Paul in some ways in regards to relevance of content and what draws audiences in. I’m still not sure about the term ‘mummy blogger.’ Just seems so limiting. Have never been a fan of labels.

    1. valeriekhoo

      I agree. I’m not a fan of labels easier. But I reckon that society just finds it easier to work with them. So sometimes, if you think you’re being labelled the wrong way, it’s time for a re-branding exercise!

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