Entrepreneur: Tomi Akitunde

Biz: Mater Mea

Tilt: “Black mom Google”

Primary Channel: Website 

Other Channels: Instagram (14.3K); Newsletter; Facebook (6.5K); Twitter (2.9K); YouTube (122); SoundCloud (106)

Time to First Dollar: Two years

Rev Streams: Brand partnerships, advertising (plans to add memberships soon)

Our Favorite Actionable Advice: 

  • Identify a gap: Mater Mea began when Tomi Akitunde couldn’t see herself and her interests in the available media.
  • Believe in yourself: This mom blogger says she held back early on because she feared failure.
  • Seek content partnerships: To build her audience, Tomi published and worked with other parenting sites that would mention and link to her website.

The Story

A Black woman living in New York, Tomi Akitunde struggled to see people like her represented in the media. “I was in my mid- to late 20s, thinking about my career and finding the person to have kids with. I wondered what does that looks like, and how is it done?” she says. Unfortunately, there weren’t a lot of great examples. 

“When I started Mater Mea, there was a lot of negativity in media depictions of Black women and Black families. Google would auto-populate with the worst terrible stereotypical imagery of single Black motherhood as being inherently flawed,” Tomi says.

When I started @MaterMea, Google would auto-populate single Black motherhood in the worst terrible stereotypical imagery, says Tomi Akitunde. #contententrepreneur #startup #creatoreconomy. Click To Tweet

So she set out to change it through an online magazine. Now, Mater Mea (“my mother”) affectionately describes itself as “Black mom Google.” It is a comprehensive website and active Instagram community that answers questions about motherhood, careers, health, and more. 

Backlinks bring audience

Early on, Tomi found her community through content partnerships. By going to where her target audience already was, she was able to build a loyal following. “A lot of these parenting sites still didn’t have diversity. So, I offered them an opportunity to have beautiful original photography and written content for free if they would just link back to Mater Mea,” she says. 

This mom blogger also worked on other projects and used that exposure to build her following. “I was on the editorial board of The Longest Shortest Time, which was a huge parenting podcast. At the end of the podcast, the credits would say, ‘Tomi Akitunde, founder of Mater Mea.’ A lot of people have found me through those kinds of things.”

@MaterMea grew its audience by publishing content on other parenting media sites, which mentioned her and included links to her site. #backlinks #guestblogging #contentbusiness Click To Tweet

Get out of your own way

One of the hardest parts of her entrepreneurial journey has been getting out of her own way. “I think my biggest challenge has been some limiting self-beliefs that kept Mater Mea really small.  I had a huge fear of failure. You can’t fail if you’re not trying. You can’t fail with a passion project that is just something you’re doing on the side,” she says.  

“I didn’t even think I had a business because of my self-limiting belief. There were a lot of opportunities that I just wasn’t ready for when I was under this weight of perfectionism. I’m ready for it now because I’ve done a lot of personal self-work,” Tomi says. 

She continues, “I didn’t realize how much your self-esteem would affect your business. I thought that there would be two different things.”

I didn’t realize how much self-esteem affects your business. I thought they were 2 different things, says @MaterMea creator. #entrepreneur #creatoreconomy Click To Tweet

Now, however, Tomi has the confidence so Mater Mea can grow. “I have a business. I am a businesswoman; therefore, I have to move differently. In order for me to move differently, I had to confront why I felt like I couldn’t move that way in the first place – a victim mindset and this fear of failure,” she says. “Getting out of my own way has allowed Mater Mea to grow.”

Advice for content entrepreneurs

Tomi says she didn’t have a clear plan early on for her site. It took two years before Mater Mea brought in any revenue. “I used to work at a content marketing agency that did influencer marketing. I started to see what mom bloggers were getting from brands, and I was like, ‘Wait a second. I am a journalist. I’m a great writer. I have all these pieces. Let me start putting them together.”

The first dollar that Mater Mea made was through branded content in a campaign with the retailer Target. She has grown her revenue by 30% in the past seven years, allowing her to hire contractors to help grow the site. Soon, the mom blogger plans to add a paid membership program to further connect with her audience and add another revenue stream to the business.

“I had a lot of blinders about making money and how to monetize Mater Mea. I think that was a huge disservice. As a content entrepreneur, you should have a clear sense of how this endeavor is going to make money,” she says.

About the author

Kimmy Gustafson is a freelance writer with a passion for sharing stories of bravery. Her love for world traveling began when her family moved to Spain when she was 6 and since then, she has lived overseas extensively, visited six continents, and traveled to over 26 countries. She is fluent in Spanish and conversational in French. Currently, she is based on Maui and, when not writing or parenting, she can be found kiteboarding, hiking, or cooking.