Dionna Ford is behind one of the most-authoritative parenting/family blogs in the Technorati Blog Directory.
Her posts are impactful for many reasons, but her success is likely due in large part to her willingness to open up and be completely honest with her readers. In a recent post about the difficulties of naptime, the mother of two even shared an old message board post saying she might "explode."
Being able to relate on a human level has built Code Name: Mama a large following. Ford took the time recently to open up to us, as she weighs in on her part in the controversial TIME magazine "Are You Mom Enough" cover shoot, the inspiration she receives from reader letters, and she even offers up a tip or two for those starting out on the personal blogging journey.
Technorati- When you decided to transition from working as a lawyer to being a stay-at-home mom, did the decision to start a blog come at about the same time?
Code Name: Mama- I transitioned to working at home when my son was a newborn. I did not birth my personal blog, CodeNameMama.com, until my son was a toddler. I'd kind of hit my stride as a new mother working at home, and I needed a creative outlet. I started blogging like many parents do - to stay in touch with friends and family. But it quickly became apparent that there were so many more possibilities for people who liked to read and write about parenting. In fact, within only a year of writing for and networking through Code Name: Mama, I had cofounded two other sites: NaturalParentsNetwork.com, another popular parenting resource, and NursingFreedom.org, a site dedicated to breastfeeding advocacy.
Technorati- What is it like to share so much of your family's life with the entire blogosphere?
Code Name: Mama- Blogging has certainly widened my circle of acquaintances and friends! But for the most part it's not much different than if I was sharing with a smaller audience; I just get a lot more feedback, especially on Facebook. Because I do write about advocacy issues, however, blogging has brought about opportunities to share parts of our life that would not normally be in the spotlight. The most drastic example of this was our participation in the controversial Time photo shoot that accompanied the "Are You Mom Enough" cover story. As I wrote for Huffington Post, I'm proud that my efforts can be part of normalizing breastfeeding past infancy.
Technorati- What has been your biggest obstacle as a blogger?
Code Name: Mama- Finding time. While I have three websites, they are not a "job" by any means; they're more of a labor of love. On top of my work with Code Name: Mama, Natural Parents Network, and NursingFreedom.org, I'm also working from home part time, mothering full time, co-managing a local homeschool cooperative, and I do volunteer work with Best for Babes (occasional writing and I'm on the Advocacy and Legal committees). It's hard to fit it all in!
Technorati- And what about the biggest triumph?
Code Name: Mama- Letters from readers. They are the biggest motivation and my greatest joy in writing. When I get a letter that says "I used to spank, but I've started using more positive methods, thank you for writing about them!" or "I thought I was alone in nursing my toddler, thank you for standing up for us." or "We assumed we were going to circumcise our son, but we decided to keep him intact after reading through your resources." Those personal stories are what makes everything worth it.
Technorati- If you had to offer up one piece of advice to someone starting a personal blog, what would it be?
Code Name: Mama- Unless you are blogging just for friends and family, one of the great things about blogging is creating online community. If community is what you are going for, my advice would be to find your tribe on Twitter and Facebook, take advantage of opportunities to collaborate with other bloggers (such as through blog carnivals), write quality guest posts for blogs that have similar content, and play nice - write and interact like you are sitting next to your audience.
You can follow more of Ford's writing here, and also check out this interesting rebirth of a T-shirt.