New Orleans Moms Blog Turns Five; Celebrates Millions Of Page Views
Megan Kirchem brought her four-year-old son to Touch-A-Truck at the Lakefront Airport in March. He got to climb aboard a variety of trucks, big and small, at the family-friendly, interactive event. Kirchem, a Lakeview mom, said if it were not for the New Orleans Moms Blog (NOMB) website, she never would have known about this fun and educational opportunity.
“It’s a resource for everything for local moms,” the 32-year-old Humana administrative sales coordinator and Senegence International independent distributor, said about NOMB. “For example, I recently planned a birthday party for my younger son who just turned one. I found some useful tips and options on the website about when to start planning the party and what to do. It’s hectic with two small children, and I feel the New Orleans Moms Blog is there to help me. It’s great for local moms because they post stories that all seem to pertain to us.”
The NOMB started off with a handful of New Orleans moms sharing personal stories about their experiences. Five years later, it’s become a full-blown community and business.
“When we started NOMB, we were both new moms ourselves,” co-founder Elizabeth Schmelling said about herself and business partner Ashley Angelico. “We not only were looking for something to help us along on our journey in motherhood, but we also wanted to connect with other moms in our own communities to do this parenting thing together. Along the way, we’ve been able to connect our readers with other mom-owned businesses right here in our own city, as well as introduce them to other brands out there that we trust and recommend ourselves.”
“As New Orleans natives, we felt we knew the city extremely well, but when you become a parent the city is new again,” said co-founder Angelico. “As a mom, all of a sudden you see New Orleans, which is familiar, through the lens of ‘what makes the most sense with kids in tow?’ Couple that with the fact that modern parents are always on their phones and mobile devices, we believed there was a distinct need for an online resource created by local parents for local parents that was updated frequently. Apparently our intuition was correct, as the idea has morphed from a vague idea into a thriving business thanks in part to the dozens of local partners who rely on our website to reach New Orleans parents.”
The NOMB attracts about 100,000 page views a month, and in 2016 it received a total of 1.3 million for the year. It has more than 40,000 Facebook friends, more than 15,500 Instagram followers and more than 7,500 email newsletter subscribers. Still owned and operated by the original co-founders, the NOMB boasts a team of 26 local mom bloggers, and the website produces more than 15 sell out events a year.
“Prior to launching NOMB, we completed a pretty thorough market analysis and collected a lot of anecdotal feedback from our friends,” said Linzy Cotaya, NOMB project coordinator and media relations specialist. “We started NOMB in direct response to a need in the market, though most days we are blown away by how quickly the site and its events have grown. The neat aspect of what we do is that new families move to New Orleans daily, and couples living here eventually tend to become parents. In a way, our customer base is never-ending, which definitely keeps us busy.”
The NOMB celebrated its fifth anniversary Saturday, Aug. 19, at a sold-out event for more than 600 moms, vendors, writers and contributors who reveled in five floors of party space at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. The NOMB’s “We Woke Up Like This” party encouraged attendees to dress comfortably and enjoy an evening out with their girlfriends at the “Moms Night Out” ticketed event that sold out in minutes. Some of the vendors included Kranz Coffee, ALG Style, Diaz Markets, Abita Brewing Co., Engel & Völkers, Sarah Ott, Kendra Scott, Mimosa Handcrafted Jewelry, Sucré, Katie Malone, Kismet and Swegs Kitchen.
“If you can think of a local company, chances are we’ve partnered with them,” said Cotaya, mom to daughters Annelise, 6, and Emmeline, 2. “Early on, LCMC Health, the parent company of Touro Infirmary and Children’s Hospital, made it clear they wanted to be our exclusive medical partner. The reality is that when you think about any household ‘purchase’ decision, from healthcare to schools to snacks to pediatricians to cars, mom has a vote, often THE vote. We don’t say that lightly, as we know what an important demographic we serve. What’s unique about NOMB is that we are likely one of the only online platforms in the city that is owned, operated and run exclusively by its target market, New Orleans moms. When you think about the value that adds to clients, we are advising them daily on how to reach us. We know what will work because we are the target market.”
“In addition to being a platform for getting the word out about important causes, we are making meaningful connections between local New Orleans moms and businesses daily,” she said.
NOMB’s “sweet spot” is New Orleans moms aged 25 to 45, and while the website provides resources for all parents and grandparents, repeat customers and the core demographic are moms in that above age range who typically have at least one child and are still expanding their family.
Cotaya said the group’s event pricing skews high and that women who follow their blogs and fill their events are those who have disposable income for luxury services like shopping and spa treatments. In addition to courting an enviable demographic, NOMB’s goal is to engage in community service and funnel proceeds, generated by the more than 3,000 guests who have attended NOMB events in the last few years, to multiple nonprofits that have received much needed supply assistance.
“Each and every one of our events has a charity component,” said Cotaya. “Over the years we have donated thousands of diapers to various diaper banks for babies in need, collected tens of thousands of art supplies for the Children’s Hospital Art Cart, restocked the Ronald McDonald pantry multiple times and ensured that organizations like Communities in Schools had pencils for students. Our reach is vast. While we sell out events and work with dozens of businesses at a time, we are also improving the lives of local children and organizations by ensuring we also use our platform as a community service vehicle.”
The NOMB is a company that provides tangible resources to moms in the community and capitalizes on filling a market gap by hosting well-planned, high-end, all-inclusive events for moms and their kids, Cotaya said. The events are so well attended, they struggle with adding capacity and access to events while maintaining the quality and intimacy that made them popular to begin with, she said.
“I love that NOMB keeps me up to date with all of the amazing events going on in our city,” said Lakeview mom Kirchem. “And the moms share stories in such a personal way on the site that really helps you to relate and feel like you're not the only one going through stuff. And it’s ideal for first time moms or moms moving here from other cities because you don’t always know what’s going on. NOMB also makes it easy for moms to connect to other moms.”
Kirchem said she doesn’t have a favorite NOMB blogger because she enjoys all the personalities, writing styles and diverse subject matter the website provides. Some recent featured stories include a guide to summer camps; a journey through postpartum anxiety and depression; 25 free, or almost free, date ideas; how to survive getting laid off; tips for visiting New Orleans with kids; how to cope when your kid first goes to school; a guide to working out in and around New Orleans; living life as a young widow; summer reading for grown-ups; new restaurants in Metairie; and things to do in New Orleans when it rains.
On social media, NOMB has active community pages that connect moms in all areas of town. There are also specialty groups for special needs moms, moms of multiples, a book club, a fit moms club, and there are even buy, sell and trade pages. The NOMB offers free forums for local moms to connect with other moms who they would otherwise not have connected with.
“In regards to online content, pieces on marriage and intimacy always do exceedingly well,” said Cotaya. “Moms want to know that they aren’t alone in marital challenges, or that their relationship with their partner is pseudo-normal after welcoming kids.”
“The biggest reward has been to see moms connecting across the city, not only in our community groups on Facebook but also when a deep heartfelt post by one of our writers really touches our reader and lets them know they are not alone in this journey,” said NOMB’s Schmelling, a Northshore property management controller and mom to daughter Addison. “That’s when you sit back and realize what we hoped NOMB would bring to moms in New Orleans is actually happening.”
“There is nothing better than receiving an email or call from a client that says ‘thank you for all you did to help my business grow,’ or a message from a reader that says ‘without NOMB, I wouldn’t know about the job I have, my children’s school, my OB,’” said NOMB’s Angelico, also a co-owner of Red Stick Moms Blog and a mom of three. “Seeing the tangible proof of our ability to connect local moms with each other and local businesses, all while having a positive economic impact on the city, is incredibly rewarding. There is never enough time to execute all of the ideas we have, so prioritization of the projects that will best enhance life for New Orleans moms is critical.”