Word of Mom: Ondria Witt’s ‘Mommy’s Block Party’ blog has 100,000 followers
Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 23, 2019
By Susan Shinn Turner
For the Salisbury Post
In the early-morning hours, while her family is sleeping, Ondria Witt is at work, fingers flying across the keyboard.
Witt, 36, started blogging 10 years ago as a way to keep up with family while she and her husband, Aleksandr “Sacha” Witt, 33, lived out of state. They have two children, Balian, 8, and Sabine, 3. When Balian was 6 months old, Ondria launched a blog aimed at fellow moms.
Mommy’s Block Party now has 100,000 followers and a staff of seven.
Witt has collected followers and accolades. In 2019, she was named the No. 2. blog behind Scary Mommy in the Top 50 Parenting Blog listing. Other awards include Top 65 Mom Blogs for Party Ideas/Inspirations; Top 100 Mom Blog in 2019; and Top 50 Shopping and Deal Blog in 2018.
“Mommy’s Block Party is a must for all mommies and caregivers,” says Melissa Rhyne, who lives with her husband and two daughters in Salisbury. “I have always appreciated the open and honest blog posts about parents and concerns many of us face. The giveaways are the cherry on top.”
Rhyne and her family loved the fantastic seats they won for “Disney on Ice.”
Emily Rhyne’s big sister Mallory was clearly excited by the Disney on Ice tickets her family won from Mommy’s Block Party.
Photo by Susan Shinn Turner
A decade ago, Witt notes, the blogosphere was less crowded. She had a direct-sales business, and a friend new to the business approached her. Would Witt test out a product, post a photo, and write about her experience?
“I thought it was a fun, new project,” she says.
Two years before, she and her husband were living in Maryland while Sacha was in graduate school. A professional musician, he teaches music appreciation and introduction to jazz at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. He also teaches private trombone lessons at Catawba College and plays with the Piedmont Wind Symphony in Winston-Salem and the Western Piedmont Symphony in Hickory. In the summer, he does home improvement projects for local clients.
Ondria Witt with her husband Sacha. Submitted photo.
“I needed an outlet, so I started a personal blog,” Witt says. “It was a good way to keep in touch with people. Facebook was still geared toward the college crowd, and social media was not our main vehicle for communication with family members like it is now.
“I had no idea of what I was getting myself into.”
In a good way.
She and Sacha had decided she’d be a stay-at-home mom.
“I was getting up at 5 in the morning to write my blog posts, so I’d still be fulfilled outside of motherhood,” she says. “My mom stayed home with my sister and me when we were young.”
She wanted to do the same for her children.
Witt joined a direct sales group on Facebook to learn how others marketed online.
“Then I was approached by a lot of people,” she says. “Everybody kinda wanted in on it. They wanted to be featured.”
Originally, her personal blog was called “Witty Ones,” she says, “punny and corny.”
As the focus changed, so did the name.
“I wanted to build a community to support moms, where we could learn from each other, and have a safe place to ask questions,” she says. “When I thought about a bunch of moms, I thought about a block party — connecting in the neighborhood, bringing a covered-dish and having a good time.”
When the blog grew, she connected with family members for help. She enlisted Sacha’s cousin, Stephanie Adler, a mom of three who lives in Indiana.
“She came on to lighten the load and it worked out really well,” Witt says.
Next came Ondria’s sister, Brittney Brownfield, who lives in Oklahoma, and Stephanie’s sister, Jessica Harris, who also lives in Indiana. Witt and Brittany’s parents, Rob and Leslie Durocher, still live in Salisbury.
The three women volunteered to help and were compensated with the products they reviewed, Witt says.
Witt now has a team of eight fellow moms: Vanessa Wigglesworth, associate editor and content manager; Penny Moss, senior contributor; Karla Adler, Jessica Belair, Lindsey Stratmann, Michele Fraze, Bailee Weisensel, contributors; and Pam Allen, virtual assistant. Penny, Lindsey and Bailee all live locally.
“I love working with Ondria,” says Wigglesworth, who’s never met her boss in person. “We work well together and have one another’s backs. The saying, ‘It takes a village’ is so true. I love that our village is online so that people who may not have connections in their area have somewhere they can reach out and feel comfortable and validated.”
While Wigglesworth organizes the content schedule and keeps followers engaged, Witt pitches to brands and PR firms about grand openings and new products. She also does a lot of working when others would be playing — a busman’s holiday, if you will.
For example, she and her family recently attended the advance screening for “Toy Story 4.”
“We love to work with Disney,” Witt says. “They are every blogger’s dream, and we received 40 free passes for our readers.”
Thus Witt operates, she says, by “word of Mom.”
She and Sacha also recently took the children to “Day Out With Thomas “at Tweetsie Railroad.
“The kids get to play and Mom gets to work,” Witt says, but they know the drill for the sponsored trips. They gamely smile for the photos before having fun with dad.
Despite working with a fantastic list of brands, Witt’s loyalty is to her readers.
“If there’s ever a problem,” she says, “we don’t want to be untruthful. Readers rely on us to share informed decisions.”
Witt says she’s had problems with products just twice, and both times, the situation was resolved.
Witt now works about 35 hours a week, including those early mornings and hours the children are in school. Sabine will begin the 3-year-old class this fall at First Presbyterian Church, and Balian will be a third-grader at North Hills Christian School.
When she’s not at her keyboard, you can likely find Witt on the contemporary worship team at St. John’s Lutheran Church or digging in her herb and flower beds. Although she probably won’t be gardening anytime soon as she was stung by yellow jackets this past week.
“We’re going camping this weekend for the blog,” Witt says. “I’ve got to work!”
Somehow, you get the feeling she’ll figure it out.
You can find Mommy’s Block Party on facebook, on instagram at mommysblckparty, or on the blog at mommysblockparty.co.