Podcasting Moms Making Money From Home

Maybe you're one of the millions of American parents getting ready to head off to work — and you're daydreaming, again, about getting out of the rat race and staying home with the kids.

But how are you going to afford that?

CBS News correspondent Joie Chen met two moms in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., who found a way to make money at home.

From the looks of it, Gretchen Volgenzang is just another suburban mom. She meets her son Avery at the bus stop, asking him, "did you have a good day?"

She whips up snacks for him and his brother, Tyler, and gets them together for a playdate with her friend Paige Heninger's five kids.

No one would guess that two mommies are leading a world-wide revolution from a spare bedroom upstairs.

Welcome to MommyCast. And meet the two women who are arguably podcasting's biggest stars.

"They were referring to us as the 'rock stars,' " Volgenzang said. "And I'm like, 'whatever'."

"My son would be like, 'noooooo,' " Heninger said.

The duo is on the microphone for 40 minutes, more or less, usually once a week.

The show lets an Internet audience — estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands — listen in on what's essentially a kitchen counter chat between two moms.

"We say it's like an Internet radio show," Volgenzang said, "but the difference is that you can download and listen to our show at any time."

Anyone can listen on their computer or on a digital music player — more than likely an iPod.

Podcasts are all over the Internet: just pick a program, download and listen — or, in some cases, watch.

Most people just have music playing in those earphones, but in the last 17 months some 80,000 podcast programs have gone online.

Some podcasts are produced by traditional media organizations — you can check out CBS News' selection here — but most are the original musings of folks like Paige and Gretchen, who believe someone wants to hear what they have to say.

"It's a fairly small audience right now," said Michael Gartenberg of Jupiter Research.

Exact numbers are hard to come by, but Gartenberg, a marketing expert, said about 4 percent of the online audience tunes in to podcasts, which means there are millions of people out there listening and acting on the advice of podcasters.

Case in point: the mommies went to see a movie about penguins with their husbands and told listeners it was great.

When "March of the Penguins" became a mega-hit, the film's distributor credits them for the movie' success, saying one out of every four tickets sold was because of MommyCast.

Advertisers have caught on, which is why the MommyCasters are suddenly in the money.

Five months ago — unsolicited and out of the blue — Dixie, as in Dixie Cups, offered MommyCast the very first corporate sponsorship of an independent podcast.

And it was a big one.

"It's north of six figures for Dixie for a year," Volgenzang said. "Yeah, I know, it's crazy. I mean it's just amazing."

Now a second sponsor has come on board, and MommyCast is becoming more of a business.

But the mommies have other goals.

"It's really a lot of fun," Volgenzang said. "That's really the most important thing for us — that it's fun."

After all, they got into podcasting to be mommies not moguls.
  • James Klatell

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