Black Blogger Month: My Brown Baby, The Mother of Invention

Addressing issues relevant to the Black family, Denene Millner provides an online forum for parents with My Brown Baby

Denene Milner of MyBrownBaby.com

Denene Millner, mama knows blogs best

Denene Millner is on a mission to reverse the negative stereotypes of the Black family. With over 20 years in journalism, the New York native, who currently resides in Atlanta, has used her talents with words to create a network for other parents of color to share in her goal via her popular blog, My Brown Baby.

Noticing the lack of a forum for African American adults to dialogue about the nuances of parenting, pregnancy and managing personal time, she created her own in 2008. Since then, the site has not only gained a loyal following but a plethora of notable recognitions, including Black Weblog Awards for Best Parenting Blog and Best Blog Design in 2009, and allowed Millner to share her expertise on The Today Show, The Rachel Ray Show and The Nate Berkus Show. Moving forward the enterprising mother is working on a My Brown Baby app and a few e-reader plug-ins. As part of Black Blogger Month, Millner speaks with BlackEnterprise.com about how she carved out her own niche in online space.

I started blogging because…

I wanted to create a site that spoke to who I am as an African American mother who was very deliberate in having children, who loves her children, whose opinion was cool, and who is surrounded by Black moms and dads who do the same. The point of my writing was to give us Black moms a voice in the national debate on motherhood. What I find all too often is that when you talk about motherhood, Black women are only invited to the conversation when we’re talking about teen pregnancy, low test scores, poverty, welfare, or single motherhood. What I wanted to do was give us a voice and show us in a positive light.

My Brown Baby stands out because…

Of the writing. There’s just an incredible amount of good writing happening on the blog. The writers that I’ve been so blessed and fortunate to work with are very thoughtful, introspective, well versed people, who have no problem digging deep inside themselves to expose a whole lot of flaws and, more importantly, a whole lot of love for their children.

People trust my brand because…

I’ve spent two years just exposing myself. A big part of a successful blog is making people feel connected and I think that connection is there. Readers know that when they come there, they’re going to get some sort of perspective put out there that they just can’t get in mainstream magazines, newspapers, radio shows, television shows or other websites.

My biggest influences are…

My children. They are absolutely at the top of that list. The blogs that I write are all written with them in mind. There are so many different influences that are hitting kids left and right; so many different things that take away from the amount of time that you spend actually instilling values and morals into your kids. So for me, everything that I write about is geared toward how I can be a better parent. I’ve made it my personal mission to be a better mother.

The biggest mistake I ever made in business was…

Not getting paid. I’ve been a paid journalist for 20 years, and if I’m going to put together an award-winning article, review, or site I should get paid for it.

What I learned from that was…

There’s always another opportunity that will come. At first it’s hard to say no because you want to make those connections and that might be an opportunity that I just lost out on. You want to network with these brands, but another opportunity will always come. I have to put my foot down.

Networking has helped me to…

My Brown Baby logo

Talk to people and see what they’re doing, what they’re interested in, and what everybody’s talking about. Networking is critical not only for the social part of it but also to take your blog to the next level. You want to make sure that you’re able to make the connections with the brands that are working with blogs and thereby making it possible for you to get advertising and sponsorships that bring money to you and your writers.

I realized blogging was a business when…

I got my first big sponsorship with Dove. From then on I was able to put together some really good partnerships with Dove and with other brands. So that’s when I realized that this is very much a business.

Having a day job is…

Nothing compared to being your own boss. If I got tired at my day job I knew that 6 pm was my limit and nobody could make me stay past that. If my work would be finished, then I could move on to the next project. With My Brown Baby, it’s a 24 hour, 7 days a week, 365 days a year proposition—it’s no joke being your own boss. But I wouldn’t trade it.

Building a brand is important because…

I have a mission to provide a space where Black parents have a voice. There’s so much more to us than what mainstream media saddled to us. We all have our issues but that’s not something that’s exclusive to Black people. Parents are imperfect. I just want My Brown Baby to be that space where you can come and say, “Oh, Black moms do think very deeply about these things, they have some really valid points, their voice is valid, and it deserves to be heard.”

Anyone that wants to follow in my footsteps should…

Try to find a niche that no one else is doing. Make sure it’s something that you love because blogging really is a labor of love. You have to find something that you’re passionate about that isn’t already done exhaustedly on the Internet. Write a detailed business plan on how you are going to make this website viable, what it’s going to take to make it that way, and whether or not it’s going to stop at the blog or if you’re going to think bigger.

I measure my success by…

The legacy. When I will no longer be here; what will people say about me? What will people say I contributed to this world? I would hope that my legacy is that she cared deeply about African Americans; she cared deeply about us being recognized for the good that’s in us, and that’s something that I’m always focused on.

Being a mother has made me…

Fierce. Having daughters specifically made me realize that being shy wasn’t going to work. There was no way that I was going to be able to do what I need to do to show them how to be good strong women, specifically Black women, if I’m sitting in the background letting folks walk all over me, and being quiet and going along with whatever. They made me use my voice, square my shoulders, and be a leader.

Be sure to check out the rest of the digital thought leaders as they’re revealed each day by logging on to BlackEnterprise.com/BlackBloggerMonth.

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