April Mucci founded LakelandMom.com in 2015 when she struggled to find summer camp options for your youngest son.

If you’re raising kids in Lakeland, chances are you’ve visited lakelandmom.com at least once to find out about summer camps, school choice or kid-friendly outings. With more than 2 million page views per year, 36,000 followers on her Facebook page and almost 10,000 members in her Facebook group, Lakeland Mom has quite the fan base. 

But who is Lakeland Mom? 

Meet April Mucci

Her name is April Mucci, she’s 43, she has two sons and she lives on Lakeland’s south side. 

Mucci was born in Panama City but came to Lakeland as an infant when her parents returned to her mother’s hometown to open and run the Family Fun Center.

Mucci is a George Jenkins High School graduate. From there, she attended Furman University, in Greenville, S.C. She worked for Sen. Paula Dockery for six years and earned her master’s degree in political science from Florida State University. 

She left Dockery to stay home with her firstborn son for a year and a half and then returned to work for Polk Vision’s Leadership Polk program. But after working on that initiative for several years, she quit to be at home with her second son and has remained self-employed since.

The births of her two sons inspired her to create Lakeland Mom. When her youngest was four years old, she noticed she had a hard time finding a list of summer camp options for him. That’s when it dawned on her in 2015 to create a central website to help moms in Lakeland find things like summer camp options, and everything else in town related to children. 

“I just thought I’m really good at research. I can do this.”

April Mucci, founder of lakelandmom.com

“I just thought I’m really good at research. I can do this,” Mucci recalled. “In my head, I thought I was creating something I could work on part-time while (my sons) were at school. I started looking for other websites that were kind of what I had in my mind.  When I did that, I found all these amazing websites … in other places all across the country.”

Learning by doing

While some may refer to Lakeland Mom as a “mommy blog,” Mucci views it as an informational website with topics such as directories of businesses, seasonal activities, swim lessons, free things to do, birthday and event planning, youth sports and an events calendar.

She prefers to include “very little opinion.” She also sends out a weekly newsletter.

If she could do it over, she wishes she had hired someone to design the website for her. “Instead – I am not kidding – I Googled the heck out of everything and I taught myself how to design a website,” Mucci said. 

She decided to focus most of her social media efforts on Facebook because it allows her to share links to her website. It has also allowed her to grow a following through her Facebook group, Lakeland Mom, which she started in 2016, not long after creating the website. 

“I created the Facebook group so local moms could connect with each other and ask for recommendations and advice – especially on things where my experience is limited.”

april mucci, founder of lakelandmom.com

“I created the Facebook group so local moms could connect with each other and ask for recommendations and advice – especially on things where my experience is limited and I couldn’t answer their questions,” Mucci said. “I love when a mom genuinely gets the help she needs or answers she needs.” 

The group now averages about 500 questions a month, according to Facebook. Mucci has strict rules for what’s allowed to be discussed. She currently prohibits medical questions, any talk of vaccines, business advertising posts unless it’s a sponsored post and nanny/babysitter searches. Mucci said she put the rules in place mostly because the posts can get controversial or they open her business up to liability if something were to go wrong.  

“I am a worrier and an overthinker and so I always think (about the) worst case scenario. It’s a lot of decision-making. There are the posts where I have to stop and think is this really the place,” Mucci explained. 

She also doesn’t allow negative posts about businesses, since the group is limited to individuals and the businesses can’t respond to defend themselves. 

A labor of love, not money

With all of the traffic her Facebook group receives, many may believe her website is making her rich, but Mucci said that’s far from the case. 

“I always joke that I work full-time hours for part-time pay,” Mucci said, estimating she spends about 30 hours a week working on the website. “I didn’t make any money the first two years … It takes a lot of hard work to make money. A lot.”

“I always joke that I work full-time hours for part-time pay … It takes a lot of hard work to make money. A lot.”

April mucci, founder of LakelandMom.com

Most of her money comes from the ad network “Ad Thrive”, which pays her according to different metrics such as her page views. She said her website got about two million page views in 2022, compared with 235,000 in 2015, her first year. Since its inception, it has had more than 8 million visits.

“I’ve also learned a ton about SEO and the need to still produce content based on what people are actually looking for,” Mucci said, adding that people typically find her site using Google. 

 “So much of my traffic comes from search that that kind of has had to become my focus of like, okay, let me figure out what it is people are actually searching for and write those articles instead,” Mucci said. 

Lakeland Mom also partners with local organizations and businesses for sponsorships, both on the website and in the Facebook group. 

“I’m sure if I had made some smarter decisions and grown in different ways that it could have been more but I never did it for the money. I still don’t do it for the money. I do it because I’m proud of it. And because it helps people and helps make life easier for moms and dads and grandparents,” Mucci explained, adding that she also values the flexibility it affords her. 

After eight years, still a one-woman show

It’s Mucci’s one-woman show; she’s tried to hire folks to help with writing but it hasn’t worked out. She hopes to hire contributors in the future, but she’s really particular about her content. 

“It’s a very bad habit of ‘let me include every possible thing.’ In every article I write … like, I couldn’t just make a list of five places to go strawberry picking. I feel like I need to be sure I’ve included every single possible place that’s within an hour’s drive,” Mucci said. 

A bit of a perfectionist, Mucci said accuracy is really important to her, especially when it comes to the events calendar. 

“I take very, very seriously the responsibility to be sure the information is accurate. Like I cannot stand if a calendar event has the wrong date, or time or location … The thought that that could impact someone else’s business in a negative way terrifies me, because I never ever would want to do that to someone,” Mucci said.

One of her main challenges is time management. 

“(The website) just snowballed into a calendar, and lots of articles and lots of content and lots of emails, lots of requests, all the things,” Mucci said. “I’m thankful for it, I am. I just have a hard time compartmentalizing and not working all hours of the day.”

Mucci is a baseball mom who loves 80s and country music and Taylor Swift. She loves to travel and is the type of mom who bought her kids Disney passes and likes to take them to Broadway shows. When she’s not exposing her children to new places, she is an introverted homebody who loves to read. Her biggest struggle now is whether to sell Lakeland Mom. She said she would if the right buyer came along. 

SEND CORRECTIONS, questions, feedback or news tips: newstips@lkldnow.com

Stephanie Claytor has been a broadcast and digital journalist in Lakeland since 2016, covering Polk County for Bay News 9 and currently free-lancing for LkldNow. She is an author of travel and children's books.

Leave a comment

Your Thoughts On This? (Comments are moderated; first and last name are required.)