The founder and editor of Cup of Jo, Joanna Goddard, has opened up about everything from falling in love and building a family to postpartum depression, anxiety, and grief on the lifestyle website she launched way back in 2007. Being candid about her personal relationships and parenting, as well as branching out into style, culture, food, and travel content, has allowed the Brooklyn mom of two to foster a thriving reader community for 16-plus years.
Then, in February 2023, Goddard announced her divorce from New York Times writer Alex Williams after 13 years of marriage. In the wake of that split, she’s launched a new Substack, Big Salad, that details the end of her marriage. “There’s still such a deep stigma around divorce,” she says. “So it was really nerve-wracking and I was nervous to say anything.” But once she announced the personal news, that fear dissipated. “We felt so confident in our decision and like we were handling it in a way that we thought was good for our family.”
Tasked with not only navigating the challenges that come with being a single mom to her 10-year-old and 13-year-old, but overseeing both Cup of Jo and the newsletter, Goddard says she’s now “busier than usual.” But as she enters a new phase of life, parenthood, and entrepreneurship, Goddard is determined to do what she’s always done: be transparent about how she juggles the many facets of her life. She lives with her sons in a Cobble Hill brownstone, where she says supportive community members “come inside my home without saying anything, like Kramer in Seinfeld.” Here’s how she gets it done.
On her morning routine:
I haven’t set an alarm in 13 years, because my children wake me up every morning. It’s not frantic; we do exactly the same thing every day. My oldest son goes to school first, so he comes and gets me at 7:10 a.m. and I’ll get him ready. Then my other son will wake up and I’ll get him ready and take him to school, before taking a “coffee walk” with other parents in the neighborhood. We’ll gossip, joke, and talk about our kids. It’s an amusing way to start the morning. Then I come home and start work, usually around 9 a.m. I sit in this not ergonomically friendly, straight-backed rocking chair, and that’s where I do all my work. It’s really quiet.
On her typical workday:
Our team is quite small. We have one editorial person for the newsletter, one editorial person for Cup of Jo, and then our marketing director. We have a team meeting every Tuesday, which is pretty fun because it’s half work talk and half just chatting about our lives. I’ll also talk to everybody throughout the day, depending on what we’re working on. Then I’ll write posts, do some behind-the-scenes stuff — DMs on Instagram or advertising prep, payroll, that kind of thing. I’ll also do an interview here or there.
My younger one comes home at 3 p.m., so I’ll leave for 15 minutes or so and chat with him. I also have a sitter in the afternoon who helps corral the kids and serves as another set of helping hands in the house. Oftentimes she’ll help prep dinner or take the boys to get a haircut. She’s the best.
On her evening routine:
I usually finish work around 6 p.m., though work has been much longer since we started Big Salad. My work has ebbed and flowed so much through the years. Sometimes I’ve been too busy, sometimes there has been a better work-life balance. Big Salad is such a big project, but when I’m done at night, I’m done. I go hang out with the boys — I have them about 75 percent of the time, so most evenings, they’re here. We’ll either go out to get pizza, go to a friend’s house, have people over, or cook and hang out here. We really like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, so we’ll watch that, or my oldest is really into High School Musical — he’ll sing one of the songs and I’ll videotape him. Then we’ll read, take showers, and go to bed.
On the nights I don’t have the boys, I’ll usually plan something. People often crave being home alone — it’s like a mom’s fantasy, and it was for me when people were always here. But now that I have consistent time alone, I’ll set up plans. If I don’t have plans, I’ll go to the grocery store to just chat with someone. Sometimes, I need a ten-minute conversation boost.
On protecting herself while being vulnerable:
I’ve spent 17 years online getting all sorts of comments. So I really have a thick skin at this point. Silly comments don’t affect me in the way they used to. When people say things like: “Oh, I can’t believe you did this,” or, “You’re parenting your kids the wrong way,” it doesn’t mean anything to me as long as I feel centered about what I’m doing.
I do think anytime you say something that’s true to you — even, and almost especially, if it feels vulnerable — a million other people will feel that way, too. It helps, no matter what you’re going through in your life, to know that it will resonate.
On the advice that helped her grow her business:
You don’t have to like your job at the beginning. People think others love their job every single day, and that’s not true. As long as you like your industry, or the type of work you’re doing or will be doing, you don’t have to like your job every day.
If you’re uninspired, keep going. As a writer, sometimes you don’t love a piece of writing or feel like it’s quite right, but you just have to get a piece of content up. Not everything you write has to be your best piece or portfolio-worthy — just get it up because it’s 11 p.m. on a Friday night, and go back to writing gold the next day.
On the advice she’s glad she ignored:
In 2007, I kept hearing that you have to be specific about your “one thing” so advertisers will know who you are. I ignored it. For example, when I was planning my wedding, I was told I should make Cup of Jo a wedding site. I’m so glad I didn’t, because once you have your wedding, what is there to talk about anymore? It was nice, because the site could grow with me. I started talking about parenting once I had kids, then I started talking about whatever else I was interested in. Then I brought on colleagues who could talk about what they were interested in. I’m really glad that I ignored that advice.
On the people who help her get it done:
I’ve had so many great colleagues throughout the years who’ve been invaluable, and every one of them is a star. Before I had them, my mom was my colleague — I would call her to ask her: “Is this interesting? Would you read this?” I could never repay her.
I have had this fleet of babysitters over the years. We’ve always hired women who are in their 20s to babysit, and the problem with a younger sitter is they love you and leave you. So we’ve had many sitters cycle through. We’re in touch with basically all of them, go to their weddings, and they either visit us or we go visit them. They’re such a close part of our family, and I couldn’t do any of this without these young women. They sort of mother me, but they also feel like my daughters, and I feel like an auntie to them. I just have a deep, deep love for these women.
And Alex. I don’t refer to him as my “former husband,” because it sounds so negative, but he helped me and was a great support. He didn’t work on the site, but he would help me when I was stressed or worried about a comment. He was always such a good, smart sounding board.