Super Blogger Yalanda P. Lattimore
How a Solo Mom of four children broke the mold with DryerBuzz.com
Yalanda P. Lattimore was working three jobs, seven days a week.
She held a full-time contracting position at Hewlett-Packard, she worked at Waffle House on the weekends, and she had a third side hustle selling gift baskets online. And she was a Solo Mom to four children.
“I was just like, this can’t be my life,” she says.
So she looked inward and relit a flame that had been burning inside her from a very young age. Lattimore, now 50, wanted to write. She hunkered down in a tiny closet-turned-office and set to work.
She taught herself how to code and how to build websites in those early days of the World Wide Web. She began blogging about news and happenings around her native Atlanta. Then she combined it all, and in 2002, DryerBuzz.com was born.
The dishy, socially conscious news site aims to make readers think and debate with topics ranging from success (or lack thereof) in diversity to trying out the raw-diet fad to celebrations of black hair. The site has exploded in popularity.
“Blogging helped me never miss a beat as a mom and now as my parents’ daughter,” she wrote in a recent DryerBuzz.com post. “Best part of blogging wasn’t the money but the time. Time to be mom.”
Here’s more about how Lattimore took control of her life and became a #superblogger:
Q: DryerBuzz.com is more than just a blog. How does it influence your community?
A: We try to facilitate great debates. We started out giving you content you would read in the salon and the barbershop because that’s where people usually have some of the best debates. Also, it filters into various communities in that, audiences online, they’re looking for an escape.
Because we are in Atlanta, we get a lot of questions about moving to Atlanta, living in Atlanta, raising kids in Atlanta, anything around the city of Atlanta—that does very well for us. The people who live here oftentimes don’t know what’s going on and then, of course, every day millions are coming to our city, so that drives a portion of it.
If you want something to do, want something to read, want to go somewhere, want to explore something, go to DryerBuzz.
Q: What were your dreams for yourself when you were young?
A: At 16, I was already involved in the community. I’m an only child, but I had millions of cousins. We all went to the same school, we played together every day. That was family. Family every day was who we were.
Writing was my passion. I was always intrigued by there being something more to a story. And I was always a news junkie. All my cousins would want to watch cartoons; I always wanted to watch the news, and I was like, “Well, why do they say it that way? Why is this a story?”
In high school, I had a typing teacher who allowed me to come back later on after school to use the typing room to put together a newsletter, a newspaper. And I had other friends who would type these articles, and we’d paste it down and go make these copies. I just basically distributed it at school in the neighborhood.
I always had someplace I was writing. That’s just what I’d always done. I never realized it. It was always drilled into us during that time: OK, you go to school, you get a job, and you start your family. My community didn’t know how to nurture a writer. My community didn’t know how to nurture a young woman who wanted to own a media outlet.
I wrote, I put it in an envelope, I stacked the envelopes. They then went into a box. That box then went into the attic.
Q: How did you come to be a single mom?
A: I became a single mom at the end of a relationship. I remember us having to start over and starting over pretty much with nothing—new space, bare walls.
I lived with the stress of being a single mom for one year: working seven days a week, worrying about the kids, getting to school, getting from school, worrying if we had enough food, worrying if we had enough clothes—just a year of worry. I said, “I know somebody’s done this before. It’s not that difficult.”
I remember I was at work one day and got the call, “Something’s wrong, can you get home?” I immediately left work and [it took a long time] to get home and [I] was thinking, This can’t be my life. I can’t sacrifice the safety of my children. This worry and anxiety that I feel, I don’t want them to feel. How do I fix this?
Q: How did you start reinventing yourself?
A: One day, this girl I went to high school with stopped by to see one of the kids. She honestly looked at me, and she said, “We always thought you would be a Monica Kaufman.” And Monica Kaufman [now Monica Pearson] was a top journalist news anchor here in the city. And I looked at her wondering where she would get that idea because by that time, I was fully engrossed in being a mom.
I went to the attic, pulled out the boxes, pulled out the envelopes of writing, and was like, Wow, this is what I did. This is what I was supposed to do. And this would help me be a mom. This is my stay-at-home opportunity. Had she not stopped by for a visit, I probably never would have known to go back to writing.
I started building a newsletter online. As I was distributing the newsletter, local businesses wanted to start advertising in the newsletter. So I ended up spending more time drafting these newsletters and doing all this content. And that’s when I turned the closet into a tech business.
I had a rule: if Mommy’s in the closet, she’s working on the website. I had two hours during the day that I had to come out of the closet and be Mommy.
When the school bus came, I would come out of the closet for two hours—and that was usually from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.—eat dinner, get homework done, and then I could go back in the closet somewhere around 6:00, and I’d be in the closet all night. I’d come out of the closet for another two hours to sleep.
The goal was to let Mommy stay in the closet and build so she didn’t have to work weekends, and it took off.
Q: When did you first realize you’d made it?
A: I knew Muhammad Ali was coming to town, and he was staying at a hotel down the street. I thought, Well, I’ll go down, and I can get pictures of him maybe getting out of the car or even just see him. I go, and I notice they have a press setup.
I explained the newsletter, how we published it in the community and online. And [the press organizer] said, “If you can wait, I can see if I can get you in.” Now this was a black-tie event. I had on overalls—mommy overalls.
She said, “Well, you’re not quite dressed, but I think I can rush you through to the back.” The reason she did that is because somebody I’d done an article on in my newsletter recognized me and that caught her attention.
She took me back to the press room. Muhammad Ali walked in. I lost my mind. I’m in this room, everybody has on ball gowns, all the press people. Muhammad Ali saw me in overalls, walked over to me. He pointed at my camera because he didn’t talk, and he started making his iconic poses for me to photograph. He then grabbed me and gave me a big hug and kiss. I swear I was going to hit the floor.
The newspaper ran only one or two photos. I published so many photos, including that moment of the hug and the kiss, and my e-mail, my phone—everything—just blew up: Can you cover this? Can you come to this? I think I even got a call from [a] Tony Awards [representative], and I was like, “I can’t travel, I’ve got kids!” It just blew up from there. Now 15 years later, that’s still one of my best blogging stories, meeting Muhammad Ali.
Q: What do you want people to know about single moms?
A: You don’t have to do it alone. You have support. You have friends. There are people who have mastered this and have raised healthy, outgoing, happy kids.
My children are aged 21 to 30. And now, because of the choices I’ve made to be there for them, they are now here for me and my mom.
Single moms may be single, but we are not alone by far.
Q: How do you find that village of support?
A: You have to get beyond not wanting people to know what’s going on with you. Every time I found myself in a tough situation, it was because I didn’t let somebody know what was going on. Every single time.
We worry about what friends are going to think, what family is going to think. You can’t do that. You have to say what’s going on. Don’t assume that somebody knows you’re having a hard time. Don’t assume that somebody knows you’re going through something.
Let people know. Don’t be afraid to let somebody know what you’re going through. That’s how you find your village.
Need to find your village? Join an ESME Tribe to find a community of support and connection just for you.
Sarah Netter, ESME’s Adoption Resource Guide, is a single mother by choice to a fabulous little boy and two neurotic Italian Greyhounds. She is a full-time journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and ABC News.