[Featured photo: Screenshot of The New York Times feature of Heather B Hamilton from 2011. Source.]Until a couple of days ago, I had no idea who Dooce was, and then she was everywhere in my feed.
Heather Brooke Hamilton, a.k.a. Dooce, mentioned as “the queen of mommy bloggers” in her obituary by The New York Times, wasn’t someone I’d expect to know. Mommy blogs aren’t my things. I don’t have kids nor do I plan on ever having any. I’ve steered clear of most mom bloggers unless I’ve followed them from the before times — before they became moms.
I do not bring up Dooce to talk about the blogger behind the empire, how she lived, or how she died. As I said, I didn’t even know who she was until recently. Had she been alive now, I probably would have gone on without ever knowing about her.
But then she died, and then she was everywhere. The more I read about her, the more her story made me reflect on a generation of bloggers, many of them women, who were somehow able to make their writing — a profession previously thought of as a poor man’s trade — into a financially successful business, and in doing so, influenced others to take a chance in blogging for a profit.
Back around 2016 and 2017, I was going through a particularly difficult phase. I wasn’t just broke briefly, I actually tasted real poverty for a period of time. I started to pick myself up when I began freelancing for folks — mostly women — who wanted to blog as a business.
Like Dooce, I had taught myself HTML and CSS and knew how to code websites or customize WordPress templates. So I started offering these services to these women who hired me, so I could pay my friend “whatever I could” for the spare bedroom he had kindly offered me so I wouldn’t become homeless.
But in doing so, I was also learning about the world of blogging. My clients wanted me to set up their websites like the ones by Melyssa Griffin, Michelle from Making Sense of Cents, Amy Porterfield, Joanna Goddard from A Cup of Jo, and others like them. In trying to understand these women who inspired my clients, unbeknownst to me, I was also being inspired and influenced by them.
Had it not been for these women, I wouldn’t have braved my own blog, this blog — The Side Blogger. This little blog not only replaced my former full-time job salary as an electrical engineer, but it also gave me the kind of financial and emotional freedom I couldn’t have imagined for myself just a few years prior.
I owe my success and my current physical and mental well-being to providence, of course, and also to these women some of whom, in their pre-blogging days, were likely influenced by Dooce just as I was influenced by them.
Yesterday I pulled up dooce.com and read her latest blog post — You’re the one that I wanted to find. This wasn’t just your typical mommy blogger mumbo jumbo — not some 15-ways-to-organize-your-home-when-you-have-two-kids BS. No. This was a personal essay full of the kind of writerly chops I expect from some of my favorite authors.
So, thank you, Dooce, and those she inspired, who in turn inspired me, for paving a path and guiding me and others like me, to live a life we didn’t think was possible, through writing and blogging about our lives, our skills, and our thoughts. Thank you. Thank you.