Tracey Gaughran-Perez has been keeping an online diary since the days of MS-DOS. "I've always loved to write," she says. "But then it started becoming more narrative and I actually gained followers."
So, in 2004, she started her own blog, Sweetney, where she is brutally honest about parenting, divorce, and life in general. She's also become an online mogul of sorts, creating three other websites for parents.
"I think I'm different than most mommy bloggers," she says. "I've always been a person who says what I really think, even if it pisses people off."
On Sweetney, Gaughran-Perez, 41, talks about living life in Lauraville with her 9-year-old daughter. She's capitalized on the success of open and honest mommy blogs, like that of her friend Jill Smokler, who writes Scary Mommy. Sweetney's blog posts range from the sarcastic ("Because If They Don't Eat, You Go To Jail") to the ponderous ("Friendship In The Age of 'Friending'").
"I write about everything: relationships, the Internet, depression, my daughter," she says. "I just really write about being human, how it can fail and how it can be beautiful."
A few years ago, she grew her brand beyond her personal site and founded MamaPop (pop culture), MoxieBird (lifestyle), and Foodie Parent (food).
"I liked the idea of having these indie blogs for parents," she says. "We post dirty martini recipes and about silly pop culture."
But her main focus is still her personal blog, Sweetney, which gets 70,000 page loads a month. One of her most notable posts, entitled "Wonderwall," was from 2009, in which she wrote about telling her daughter she was getting a divorce.
"My posts about going through a divorce were really just about how I felt, not what happened or why," she says. "I put my feelings out there, which I'm happy about."
Gaughran-Perez explains that because of her openness about her own divorce, she's become somewhat of a counselor for others going through the same experience.
"I have this standing in the community as one of the more prominent divorced parent bloggers," she says. "I'll get three e-mails a week from people seeking my advice and needing help to get through it."
She says she'll continue her full-time job of maintaining the websites and writing her personal blog in the same no-holds-barred style that she's known for.
"I've always seen it as this expressive art project," she says. "There's no point in blogging unless you're going to truly be yourself."