Berend, of Minneapolis, launched her blog in March and already has readers from 48 states and 33 countries. She adheres to a fairly strict schedule of three posts per week, juggling her blogging commitment with her work as an independent contractor for a legal publisher and her life as a mom.
On Mondays, Berend addresses a specific legal issue on Motherly Law, on Wednesdays she revisits the topic, providing supplemental resources and websites, while Friday is what she calls "motherly advice" day, offering ideas she suggests readers can "take with a grain of salt, or not."
"The structure of a legal issue can seem intimidating," said Berend, who earned her law degree from the University of Oklahoma. "I love the law and I love doing research. My personal angle, as a parent, can hopefully help readers see why a particular issue matters to me and why I think it should matter to them, too."
Berend connected a recent post on effective decision-making to a "when good laws go bad" theme, citing several laws that have produced unintended results, including bike helmet regulations. Through her research, Berend learned that studies in more than 20 states have shown a reduction in head injuries due to increased helmet use, but also found indications that fewer kids are riding bikes, possibly due to helmet costs, which could potentially have a negative impact on the issue of child obesity.
Other popular topics with readers have included adoption, parental leave, wills and estate planning, texting while driving and bullying, her most widely read post to date, in which Berend tackled the specific angle of adult bullying in the workplace.
Words on their minds
Bloggers such as Berend, who create a particular niche, are the ones most successful at finding an audience, according to Missy Berggren, who has her own blog called the Marketing Mama and is co-founder of the Minnesota Blogger Conference.
Berggren, who launched her blog in 2007, originally started writing about life as a mom but after her daughter was found to have severe food allergies, her focus shifted to health topics, including extensive information about food allergies for parents.
"Blogging gives me a platform to talk about what's interesting to me and what will hopefully be interesting and helpful to other readers," she said. "Blogging continues to grow because there are a lot of people out there who want to have a voice, who want to connect."
Berend, who like Berggren also has Facebook and Twitter accounts to attract readers to her blog, has been amazed and gratified by the support of the blogging community.
"If I've had questions about something related to blogging, all I have to do is put it out there and before long, I have an answer," she said.
Berend has become friends with many local bloggers, some of whom she has never met in person, but said that because of their social network interactions, the connections are solid.
At the recent Minnesota Bloggers conference in St. Paul, Berggren overheard another blogger.
"As this woman was walking out of the event, she said 'I've found my tribe,'" said Berggren. "That's exactly what it's like."
Julie Pfitzinger is a West St. Paul freelance writer. Have an idea for the Your Family page? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org with "Your Family" in the subject line.