Instead of a suit, Silvia Martínez puts on a robe or pantsuit and walks only a few steps – to her kitchen, to be specific – where she sits down and starts typing on her computer.
After everyone goes to sleep, Martínez, a blogger, also goes to bed, only instead of relaxing and watching a movie she starts typing again to finish her article, “Diaper Diaries: Farewell Until We Meet Again” for her blog, MamLatinaTips.com
The mother of two boys, who took part in the BlogHer conference in San Diego, California, is part of the fairly new trend of Latina bloggers, one that is rapidly growing and taking everyone by surprise.
Latina bloggers have been around for a long time, but in the past they didn’t identify themselves as Latinas.
“And others wouldn’t write articles that would categorize them as Latinas,” says Elianne Ramos, vice-chair of Latinos in Social Media (LATISM), the largest organization of Hispanics engaged in social media, who last year conducted “The Latism Bloguera Survey.”
The findings of the survey, which had about 1,000 participants, are eye-opening to organizations, brands and companies who still don’t know what to do with the explosion of this influential group online.
Who are the “Blogueras”?
The year of the Latina bloggers’ explosion was 2009, when 62 percent of the blogs that participated in the Latism survey started.
“One of the reasons is, a lot of these bloggers started using Twitter and Facebook, so other Latinas saw an opportunity and launched their own blog,” Ramos said.
In 2009, the website, Blogs By Latinas, had only 156 registered blogs. Today, there are more than 1,600.
Latina bloggers are generally well-educated women, the survey found. Martínez, for instance, is a former college professor.
Ana Flores, from Spanglishbaby.com, is a former television producer who was unemployed two years ago and discovered blogging as another avenue to work.
“I said, ‘I can do it without money, with nap times, so I launched my own site,’” Flores said.
Latina bloggers are U.S. born, acculturated, and bilingual, according to the survey; moreover, 72 percent prefer to blog in English, it found.
“I feel more comfortable to write in this language, “ says Melanie Edwards from ModernMami.com who has a degree in industrial and systems engineering, but quit her job to spend more time on her site.
Other blogs like MamiTalks.com are in both Spanish and English language, while some ,like Migdalia Rivera’s Latinaonamision.com, uses Spanglish. Rivera, for one, believes that approach appeals to a broader demographic.
When it comes to family dynamic, 70 percent of “Blogueras” are heads of household (single, divorced or separated) while managing to keep up with the demands of both producing and marketing a blog. Only 30 percent report being married, a significant 43 percent manage more than one blog, and 57 percent write two or more posts a week.
On the whole, the Latina bloggers write about Latino issues, heritage and culture, cooking, beauty and fashion, and technology. But since 83 percent of these Latina bloggers are mothers, the majority – 62 percent – write about parenting.
“That’s what I know. I know my children, I know how to be a parent,” Martínez said.
Latinas blog for much the same reasons that others blog: to share their opinions, to connect with others and to promote their business or product. There are certain success stories, however, that specifically demonstrate how self promotion can work.
Ana Roca Castro, the founder of LATISM, runs PremierSocialMedia.com and says that “70 percent of my clients come from by blog, which is my only marketing tool.”
For many of the “Blogueras,” their site is not a hobby. It is their business and it plays a role in paying the bills.
“I contribute between 25 to 30 percent of my household income,” Martínez said.
Latina Bloggers Power
According to the research company Sophia Mind, Hispanic women in the U.S. are one of the fastest-growing online demographics, and more than 85 percent of Latinas visit social networks on a regular basis.
“Brands have started to realize that through these Latina bloggers they can reach a vast audience that follows all these bloggers,” Ramos said.
Amy Sobel, marketing manager of Mom Select, a platform that allows mothers to choose to participate in marketing programs, said mothers can connect on a level that other endorsers perhaps can’t.
“Mom to mom has a lot more weight than celebrity endorsements,“ she said.
An example of the power Latina bloggers are flexing is the new partnership between LATISM and BlogHer, a media network that reaches more than 25 million women monthly through its conferences, website and publishing networks.
“This partnership will drive exposure for new writers, marketing and revenue opportunities for Latino bloggers, “ said Lisa Stone, one the founders of BlogHer.
“After the Census 2010 came out, more companies have approached me,” says Martínez, who has been sponsored by companies like Kraft, ConAgra Foods and Clorox to travel around the country and promote their products.
Not Everything is all Roses in the Latina Blogosphere.
Companies like Disney, Ford and Procter & Gamble – which this year launched “Orgullosa,” a campaign celebrating being Latina – have specific plans to reach out to Latina women.
“We understand that being a Latina-Americana is very complex. A Latina wears many hats: Mom, wife, daughter, comadre,” said Monica Sakamoto, who works for the U.S. operations and marketing division at Proctor and Gamble.
Other companies are “still testing the market,” said Sara Matheu, director of communications at Sara Lee.
Moreover, some companies may still be trying to understand the power of Latina bloggers.
Flores, of Spanglish.com, understands why some companies hesitate when it comes to investing in “Blogueras.”
“We’re still growing as a business model ourselves and, in spite of the growing number of Latinas online, they’re not necessarily blogging,” she said.
Martínez agrees that Latinas are not fully engaging in the blogging conversations.
“Latina moms are visiting my site but most of them don’t know they can leave a comment for example,” she said.
In the blogosphere, some Latinas believe they get less opportunities from brands than non- Latinas.
“Traditionally the budgets for multicultural is very small, and when it comes to blogging [they] are even smaller,” Flores added.
She said that some companies try to pay her less because she is a Latina, but she insists on charging the same hourly rate as her counterparts in the general market.
“I make it very clear that I’m bringing the U.S. population that they need,” she said.
“Passion and love for their culture is what differentiates Latina bloggers from non- Latina bloggers,” Ramos said.
Working Together to Gain More Influence
Today, Latina bloggers are being interviewed on national television, courted by many companies and getting book deals. But one thing is certain – they have not even come close to maximum exposure.
By providing resources and guidance to Latina bloggers, Latism is trying to empower the “Blogueras,” Ramos said.
“We try to give them access to conferences like BlogHer so they can learn the business,” she said.
Ramos also cautions that Latina bloggers should remain united to gain the power they deserve.
“Educate themselves in the business, organization, create social media groups on Facebook, Twitter and mobilization,” she advised. “They have to be more proactive in reaching out to the brands.”
And if they do, big corporations might come to learn that the voices of online Latinas are perfectly positioned to reach other Latinas, both online and off.
I wrote this story as a freelance contributor for Fox News Latino.