So here I have been writing this blog for free all of these years when I read an article in the New Yorker of a woman who makes over a million dollars a year from her blog. Each month she gets 23.3 million views and 4.4 million unique visitors, which she estimates are 95% female. Wow, I am impressed and not at all jealous. I am just amazed how she can do it.
Her name is Ree Drummond and goes by The Pioneer Woman. You can read her blog at http://thepioneerwoman.com/ She is a successful author who once lived the privileged life as the daughter of a California orthopedic surgeon, but gave it all up to live on an isolated Oklahoma cattle ranch with her four children and rugged husband that she refers to as “Marlboro Man.” The nearest town, 19 miles away, has a population of 3,413. She writes about her daily life and posts lots of recipes and photos she takes around the ranch.
When you visit her site, you may think you entered the wrong address if you are expecting something like this one. Hers is a first-class, very commercial, on-going Internet magazine, and, like a magazine, has ads that pay the freight and then some. She has seven sections that can be accessed from the opening page: Confessions (about her daily life), Cooking (cowboy-friendly recipes with photos), Photography, Home Schooling (she home-schools her children), Home & Garden, Photography, and Tasty Kitchen (about, I think, recipes others send in).
Some describe her style as Ozzie and Harriet on a ranch. She doesn’t indulge in politics, cultural criticism, or even gossip. Hers is a universe free from credit card debt, teen pregnency, and family strife, which is just what her readers want. She writes about cleaning out her closet, buying an organizer for her jewelry, and her basset hound’s snoring—that sort of thing.
Her life is not entirely that of a typical ranch-wife, however. Her first book, “The Pioneer Woman Cooks,” was tops on the NYT best-seller list in 2009, and her latest book, “Black Heels to Tractor Wheels” is in the works to become a movie. This takes a lot of time for business consultations with entertainment moguls, and she recently completed a rigorous book tour complete with luxury hotels in major cities and TV interviews, such as on the Today show. And not many ranch wives have over a million a year to spend.
This dichotomy has drawn critics. There is a satirical Web site called Pioneer Woman Sux (www.thepioneerwomansux.com) and a fictional Twitter feed, Pie Near Woman (www.pienearwoman.com). Both I find to be funny adjuncts to the original that help dilute the saccharine, but that’s just me. Be warned; they are pretty profane. Her detractors find her patronizing as she portrays herself as a regular gal when she obviously does not live that way. One said, “If the size of her kitchen didn’t give her away, then you weren’t paying attention.”
The Pioneer Woman pays a marketing and Web design firm (that also does eBay) to host her site and manage her server. From reading her blog you might think she is a very laid-back person, but her husband says she is type A when it comes to her blog, and a friend says she is like a duck that is placid above the water but is paddling like mad underneath. None of this matters to her avid group of followers.
I say, “Yeah, you go, girl!” I will be among her viewers.