A BILAMBIL Heights mum who wanted to lose her post-baby pounds instead ended up birthing a lucrative online business with influence that reaches to the prime minister's office.
Chantelle Ellem launched her blog fatmumslim.com.au in mid 2008 while living in Sydney as a creative outlet and to keep her accountable in her weight loss efforts following the birth of her daughter Lacey.
The 32-year-old admits she's been unsuccessful in dropping the pounds, but her blog now boasts up to 40,000 hits a day and has major corporations paying to tap into her global niche audience.
On Fatmumslim, Ms Ellem blogs in a breezy style about various aspects of modern motherhood from economical recipes to sleep deprivation to a photo-a-day competition that has attracted millions of entries, including one from pop star Pink.
While she won't reveal her income, it's enough that Ms Ellem was able to quit her previous nanny job and most of her freelance online writing jobs to work on her blog full-time in August last year, coinciding with her family's move to the Tweed.
Chantelle was one of 25 of the country's most successful mummy bloggers invited to an audience with the PM at Kirribilli House last year.
Her only other job besides taking care of Lacey and her husband, is writing newsletters for a major baby product company, which helps supplement her fluctuating blog income.
Ms Ellem is happy to embrace the term "mummy blogger" despite some decrying it as a patronising term for an online writing genre that has grown in number and influence in recent years, so much so that it's making waves politically.
US President Barack Obama tapped into the influence of mummy bloggers to help in his re-election.
Prime Minister Gillard has also sought to do the same in the lead-up to the September federal election.
Ms Ellem was one of 25 of the country's most successful mummy bloggers invited to an audience with the PM at Kirribilli House late last year.
She said she didn't give much thought prior to the meeting to what motivations lay behind the invitation which, when it landed in her inbox, she almost dismissed as spam.
But many political commentators interpreted it as Labor attempting to cynically harness the bloggers' growing female audience and play up opposition leader Tony Abbott's "female problem".
"It was very surface and there wasn't much time to talk of anything of importance," Chantelle says of taking tea with the nation's first female prime minister.
"I think I went in naive and I didn't realise what we were playing with."
Ms Ellem, along with the other mummy bloggers, was invited back to Kirribilli for Christmas drinks but she declined partly due to the unease she felt about the situation.
"I don't want to be used as a pawn. I have a voice but I'm not going to use my blog as some kind of (political) pedestal."
Nonetheless she says she was pleasantly surprised by how warm, friendly and down-to-earth Ms Gillard was.
Such is Ms Ellem's success that like many of the leading mummy bloggers, she has an agent, Lorraine Murphy from The Remarkables Group, who negotiates her sponsorship deals that generate her blog's income.
A typical deal was being hired as an ambassador by American Express and tasked with creating content for a company competition and encouraging entries.
She insists she only accepts sponsorships from companies she has a personal affinity with and discloses all paid posts.
Other perks of the job include free overseas and domestic travel.
Alongside mainstream media travel journalists, Ms Ellem and her family have enjoyed trips to Singapore, Malaysia and Disney World in Florida and most recently a cruise from Sydney to Moreton Island.
There have been suggestions that the popularity of mummy bloggers are on the wane, that even stay-at-home mums are growing tired of other mums dissecting and airing every aspect of their lives.
But Ms Ellem is optimistic about the future, and with another baby on the way there's no end of topics to discuss with her devoted readers.
"It's only just beginning," she says.
Chantelle's blogging tips:
- Chantelle set up her original blog for free and suggests others do the same initially. But when she went full-time she paid $600 to have a new blog created and designed it herself.
- It will take a while to build up an audience from which you can start earning an income but it's definitely possible and the harder you work the quicker success will come
- Write in a conversational style to engage your audience
- "Just do it. People think about it far too much."
- More information at theremarkablesgroup.com.au