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BCB Mom IRL: Karen Alpert

By Lindsay Pinchuk

Karen Alpert and BCB Founder, Lindsay Pinchuk Photo by TK Photography, 2016

I vividly remember the first time I heard of Baby Sideburns. A friend texted me a link to one of the funniest blog posts I had ever read (you can and should read it here.)  After realizing we had some connections, Karen Alpert and I connected with each other. Over the last seven years we’ve hosted a couple of events together, spoken on panels together, and have become friends. 

Two moms, working for themselves, often out of coffee shops around Chicago.   From the start we realized we were connected in this crazy way.    Karen is so humble and so modest about her success, and about how funny she is. I am so thankful for the time we had together during this interview prior to COVID-19.  I am thrilled to introduce you this week to our Mom IRL, my friend, Karen Alpert. 

Your website and social media community are HUGE!  Congratulations!  When did you realize that what you were doing was big? 

I still don’t know.  It wasn’t until  very recently that I realized I could make a career out of it.  My first book was very eye opening.  That hit the New York Times Best Seller’s List the first week it came out.  It was crazy.

When I started Baby Sideburns, and had that first viral hit, I was sitting at gymnastics class. My first hit happened and it climbed to 60K.  I remember thinking that it was a glitch and I started seeing all of the comments. I went from 190 readers that morning, and at the end of the week I had 120K.

I didn’t start this to make money. I was a writer and I had funny stories to tell.  I look online and there are so many bloggers with bigger numbers and prettier pictures.  But, that’s not  its not mine is like.  Mine is really created for entertainment purposes and humor, and to entertain moms when they desperately need it.

 How did you decide to write your first book? 

My first book was self-published. I had been looking for literary agents for awhile, and then I did the kickstarter project.  I wanted to raise $10,000 in a week, but and I got $20,00 in a week!  Kickstarter was in April, and I promised the book in July.  There was no way.  I kindly asked the people who pledged if I could have until October and they said yes.

When the book came out I used CreateSpace to self-publish.  The woman who answered—she knew exactly who I was. She said,  “OMG! You’re Baby Sideburns!” And they immediately helped me get it together and get it on Amazon for preorder.  The reviews and Amazon orders pushed to the top of the best sellers list.  The book came out and did great and then agents started calling and publishers started calling.  I have since written a second book:  “I want my Epidural Back.”  And there will eventually be the third.

Books are hard to write. It’s a lot.  

Your kids are getting older.  How do you know what material you can use or not from home?  

It’s getting harder to know what I can share because my kids are getting older.  Recently one of Zoey’s friends was asking about my blog and he was looking stuff up.  Not that my kids don’t know, but the kids are seeing it on social media now.  At some point I can’t stop my kids’ friends from following me on social media.

Kids don’t have the capacity to know the implications of sharing something online. If one of my kids says, “Don’t share that,” I put it away.

What are the best and worst parts about your job? 

The best part is that it is only work sometimes.  Forty percent is work these days.  The flexibility is the best part and the getting to be with my kids. My best posts are the ones where I travel. It takes the pressure off.

The worst part about my job are the trolls.   I used to answer them and I still do sometimes and kill them with kindness.  Or an allusive answer. I don’t provoke them anymore.  I try to take the high road. I usually ignore. We have had to pull police reports.  I have a wonderful audience that comes to my defense, but then sometimes it gives attention to someone who wants attention and adds fuel to the fire. Often I hide their comments.

What has been the biggest learning curve for you in embracing this life as a mom blogger and influencer? 

The biggest challenge I had is that because I came out writing from the heart, I wrote a lot of stuff that was inappropriate and bad language and for fun. Now that I have real sponsors and it matters. I have to filter myself a little bit and figure out whats ok. And I hate that I have to filter myself. People love this page because it’s genuine and unfiltered. I have to find a happy medium.  I feel like I have to apologize for paid content.

How do you deal with people knowing you when you’re out and about around town or on vacation (as I know you have been recognized!)

I am gracious. To be a writer that people appreciate your writing and that you get read is a huge thing.  I have been a writer my entire life. It’s been a part of me forever.  Ninety-nine percent of the writers in the world don’t get their stuff read.  So to have an audience who appreciates you and comes up to you and tells you that you make a difference in their life is huge.

What’s coming next for you? 

I don’t know, I’m trying to find a way to work this into my life so that I can not write on the blog as much and I can enjoy my life a little more.  I don’t know.  I want to decorate cakes (smiling.)  I don’t know how but I kinda want to. I am a creative person. I would like to do something visually creative at some point.

How do you balance life working for yourself and your life as a mom? Is there such thing as a balance? 

OMG no.  My husband and I both work from home, so we have a ton of flexibility. With that said,  as our own boss’ you work ridiculous amounts.  No one tells you to stop working or when something has to get done.  We work every night.  I don’t as much as I used to.  Especially when I first came out with that first book. After the Kickstarter campaign,  I stuffed, signed and put a note on every book that was invested in that.  We pulled half all nighters.  And took multiple trips in the mini van to the post office with the books.

Your husband is incredibly supportive and a really good sport….

Greg is supportive from everything to letting me make fun of him, painting a picture of what our husbands are like.  I love sharing the amazing things he does and also the stupid things he does.  He has allowed me to do that.  He has also supported me in ways like packing and shipping the minivan (during the Kickstarter campaign.)  He started a business the same time as me.  We have supported each other.  I have a feeling that at some point I may move to help him more.

Ten years ago, what were you doing and how is that different from your life now?

I was having a baby and I was shocked as hell. No one can prepare you for having a baby. In the beginning I remember saying: why didn’t anyone tell me it was going to be like this.  But they can’t, and they also don’t want to rain on your parade.  No one wants to make you worry.

It’s the best time of your life and also the worst time of your life.  People weren’t telling the truth. I remember sitting in my first mom group in Boston and one woman definitely had post-partum depression, she couldn’t stop crying.   I remember breastfeeding Zoey next to my friend at a children’s store and we were like what the F are we doing. No one prepared us.

What would you tell yourself ten years ago?

I would say to enjoy it, but I have.  I can’t tell myself something I haven’t done.   I think I try to be myself with my kids and I feel like as moms we put a ton of pressure on ourselves to do the right thing.  But I think in your gut you have a good idea of what the right thing is to do.  Go with your gut.  But who knows my kids might be serial killers and drug dealers later on. Who knows.  We all think that we know what to do.  Who knows what are kids are going to turn out like. We might be right we might be wrong.

Make sure to find Karen on Facebook and Instagram for a whole host of mom fun and non-stop entertainment. 

Each week BCB introduces you to a mom we think is amazing through our Mom IRL feature.  Check out Bump Club & Beyond for more moms we love!  Are you doing something amazing that we should know about?  Or do you know someone who we should meet?  Be sure to email us with your recommendation at info@bumpclubandbeyond.com for a chance to be featured.

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