The momblog world, it is a-changing.
(What hasn’t changed is my refusal to say mommyblog because I hate that word with the fiery passion of a thousand habanero chilis. But I digrees.)
Yesterday I read Kristen’s post about being introduced like a kooky mom at a professional conference, instead of a professional blogger who runs a successful website (if I do say so myself). Even if at times she is indeed both. I can attest to that. The post gave me pause about how far we still have to go in terms of being taken as seriously as male bloggers in some circles, and how hard that might be when we’re not all business all the time. There’s a reason Hillary wore pantsuits.
And then I just read Lindsay’s post about the lengths some moms are going to get free stuff from marketers. Bloggers are leaving their business cards on random shelves of a grocery store? Isn’t that like, up there with nail salons that stick flyers under your windshield wipers in the parking lot or attorneys who buy ads on the subway?
Like Lindsay, my jaw fell open and small pesky flies rushed in.
As a mom, I want to be supportive of what my fellow sisters in momhood do with their little corner of the www. There’s plenty of bandwidth for all of us, whether we consider ourselves memoirists, journalers, online scrapbookers, or honest product reviewers. I got no beef with self-promotion, twittering, facebooking, networking, conference attending and community building 864 ways to Sunday. If you’ve got the goods and you want people to know it? Go for it, mama!
What I am not supportive of, however, are moms demeaning themselves for crap.
(Demeaning themselves for crap? Ack, did I really just say that?)
This is an issue I’ve had ever since my mom told me about participating in focus groups to earn extra cash when she was newly divorced in the 70’s. The men were always paid 2-3 more times than the moms because their time was perceived as more valuable. Never mind that the moms actually controlled more of the household budgets and probably accounted for more of the sales. For years, moms have not been important in the marketing mix, except as spenders.
If we want to change that, if we want to be treated as professionals, we have an obligation to be professionals. There’s a fine line between self-promoting and shilling, between desire and desperation.
And then, we need to understand our value.
Nothing makes me more insane than knowing there are talented moms out there willing to give it all up for nothing. Whether it’s an advertiser asking to place a text link in your hard-written post for compensation, or a multi billion-dollar retail giant that spends $570 million on advertising in a year but doesn’t give a cent to the mom bloggers who write for them. It. Makes. Me. Crrrrazy.
(Trill the r if you can – Go on, it’s fun. And makes you feel kind of fancy.)
You are worth more than that. We, collectively, are worth more than that.
On the other hand – maybe we’re not. Are we?
If we’re not creating great content, building strong communities, and being discerning with our product reviews, then what is the value? What is the value to the marketer? Hell, what is the value to our friends, the ones whose trust we’ve worked so hard to build? I’m fairly certain that most moms are not coming to the parenting blogs to read about the new Clorox SKU, and that there are very few bloggers with the wit, the creativity, the humor and the smarts to turn a post about a new widdgitywhatchamacallitthingie into a thing of genius.
As Lindsey just wrote in her own comments: Three of my favorite bloggers have tricked me into reading a paid “advertisement” post in the last month, and I can’t describe how nauseated that made me feel, and disappointed in them for slipping that paid content into their main blogs
I’m going to be speaking with some amazing women on a panel at Blogher 09 about working with marketers in ways that are constructive and rewarding for everyone involved. How to act like a professional, be treated like a professional, and adapt to this new world where personal blogging and commerce are paired up and doing a sometimes clumsy tango–all without being perceived as a shill.
I will say that I strongly believe it all starts with amazing writing. If you write compelling blog posts, brands will want to work with you. Good ones. They might even lend you a car.
So if you’re going to fling your fancy new business cards around the doctor’s office or reach out to marketers and convince them the value of flying you to a conference, you’d better make sure there’s some worthy content under that banner of yours and not just some decent drive-by traffic because you optimize your headlines.
Because now? You’re the marketer.
Or as the old advertising industry adage goes: Nothing kills a bad product faster than a good ad.
Click here for the follow-up post, some clarity, and yeah, some funny pictures
99 thoughts on “And with that, the mom blog world subdivides once again”
Hmm. Food for thought. Do tattooed children count?
Man. What you said. >>I remember when you said a few years ago at BlogHer that we are not only the editors but the publishers of our blogs. I really took that to heart. You are v. smart.
God, I love you. I’m just going to go around saying: WHAT SHE SAID.>>(Kristen and Julie and Lindsay and Yvonne and Isabel and I had, like, a trillion discussions about this at Mom 2.0, with much nodding and gasping and nodding and I KNOW! I KNOW! and I’ve been trying to figure out how to put it into words, but you basically just did it, only better. SO.>>WHAT YOU SAID.)
Great post – your post should be mandatory reading to every Mom that starts a blog. I personally am willing to make flyers and pass it out at Blogher for ya this year! I have been known to read a blog post by a Mommy Blogger (I can’t stand the term either) and roll my eyes so far back in my head I fall over.
@HerBadMother>>Jinx. Check out the time stamp.
So I shouldn’t have left my business cards in the hotel room at the conference for the cleaning ladies? Seriously, as I was at the conference, I just kept wondering what would happen if we could get this marketing leverage that’s growing and turn it into political leverage.>>You KNEW I was all geeky like that!
I love it. I LOVE IT.>>I think we each need to set up parameters of what is or isn’t right for us. I have a really big, fat black line that I won’t cross, and I stick to it ever when I don’t want to. Because I drew it for a reason, you know?>>Excellent post. You make a great point. I’m going to miss your session at BlogHer because it’s at the same time as mine, and I’m really bummed about that. I’d really like to hear it.
Nicely written, although I’m saddened to learn that you don’t approve of my bid to tattoo my url on my forehead. Tragic.
Miss Grace, I wholly support your tattoo plans. In fact, I will post the photo in my sidebar permanently if you choose to do it. Just say the word.
Thanks for this wonderful post. I got wind of it via a Parenthack tweet *after* just leaving a comment at Lindsay’s post (which I was sent from a similarly minded mom blogger). Confusing, no?>>Anyhow, I’m with you. I actually go into bouts of mini-depression when I see the shameless self promotion and selling out blasted over the airwaves. And don’t get me started on “advertorials” or other termed forms of paid editorial. >>As I mentioned at Lindsay’s post I consider myself a writer first. I’m glad to learn that even though some may think we’re going the way of the dinosaur there are still plenty of us left.>>-Christine
I was just having a conversation on my blog yesterday about this—how the social dynamics and structures work and using that for marketing.>>It’s an immediate conflict of interest, in my book, and frankly, although I went along with some of it a little at first, I’ve given it up because honestly it’s not worth me sacrificing my beliefs.>>Yes, I know that implies I’m for sale—but aren’t we all? Any time we work for money? I’d write reviews etc if I felt compensated adequately for it, and I feel sure I could pull it off in some form or fashion.>>But, like so many have said—I am a writer, and my blog is my conversation with my readers.>>I was intrigued a few readers thought some hawking was fine. I figured my readers would shun me in a heartbeat if I did that lol.>>I think there is a newer, better model out there. And it’s starting to take shape in my mind.>>Today at copyblogger I left a comment for Simone that in my genre of publishing, our authors earned their living more from speaking, less from royalties (which, if you can live off of those? You are a very, very successful writer.).>>I’m thinking hard about that.>>Oh and FYI, before my comment goes longer than your post lol, I cited Cool Mom Picks as one of the spots that is doing it RIGHT. 🙂
Aw thanks Julie. I’ll go check it out. >>I didn’t really get into cool mom picks here but I will say that we are incredibly selective about items we review, have stringent guidelines for what we write up, and we give away almost everything we receive to a reader. I think that part of why our readers trust is is they know we’re operating with integrity. >>We also operate it like a business, for better or for worse – Kristen and my personal blogs are not linked there or cross promoted.
I think we officially have generations now (dibs on X please)
I feel bamboozled when moms go-a-marketing and it has nothing to do with chips, milk or bread. And hell, I’m 45 and too old to feel bamboozled into anything.>>What *gets* is how every woman with a used uterus thinks she is her own brand and a parenting expert. I have no problem reading opinions and clicking links strewn throughout quality content – but ah, quality is the key. >>And the key is usually lost. >>I wrote a food/nutrition tips post on one blog – and because I linked to certain foods – was called out in the comments for writing an ad. Luckily a lovely commenter listed links to posts by others that blatantly name restaurants, stores and products from which they get kickbacks. I didn’t get anything free – nor was I asked to link. All I got was a headache!>>I think we are also so sensitive to this issue that we jump on the ‘don’t you friggin dare bandwagon’ too quickly sometimes.>>And sometimes we write comments that are too damn long.
It’s amazing the timing of these posts. A great friend (also a mom blogger) and I were talking about this last night. For those of us who have been blogging for a long time (I’ve been blogging since ’04) seeing the changes that are happening is quite startling. >>Leaving business cards in the grocery store and in doctor’s offices is a bit much. Mom blogging is spiraling in many, many wrong directions, to say the least.
I’ve been blogging on an off for about a year and the one thing that didn’t make me feel great about blogging was writing a review for something I didn’t really really care about. I chalk it up to part of the learning process of a relatively new blogger but I need to take down those posts because they aren’t consistent with what I want my blog to be. This was a good kick in the pants for me to actually do so. Thanks
Thanks for stating what I had begun to think was status quo for so many mom bloggers. It’s nice to know that it’s not. I blog a ‘deal’ site myself, and although I have never yet had advertising influence what I post, you’ve given me some food for thought.
I hope you know how much you’ve helped me with this subject. Part of me was SO flattered when a company asked me to review their product but part of me wondered “why would I do this”? I knew I never wanted that sort of stuff on my main blog, which is why I started a separate “reviews” blog, but even there, I find my time is too valuable to spend 5 hours writing an article for a company with no compensation.
@MOM101 I heard through the rumor mill that Mr. Lady’s organizing discounted tattoo parlor sessions at BlogHer. >>Sounds to me like the PERFECT opportunity. Maybe if I agree to throw a brand up there I can get it for free? I’ve got a high forehead, there’s space.
I un-subscribed from dooce.com because she was postingto often about “stuff”and I honestly didn’t mind it now and again but sometimes it got a big old/pushy.>>I think most people can tell when someone is pushing something. I have a knitting blog (and I sell my knitting patterns) and most knit bloggers post about the stuff they buy, in most cases we know the more well k nown designers with blogs have been given their yarn from the yarn companies, so it’s not as big a secrete or big deal, in fact we WANT to know about new and cool yarns. But when it’s genuine, it’s more powerful. It always is.>>I’ve never ever looked for freebies, so far I’eve recieved 3 that i can think of, all offered to me without my asking, and then other nice readers who have helped me or sent me presents which is different all together. As a designer though I do and will appraoch yarn companies asking for them to provide me with sample yarn, but that is an industry standard so I don’t think it counts, at least I hope not. I wonder if it could be seen that way? For indie pattern designers we are not paid by those companies to create patterns for them, nor do they make any money on the pattern sales directly, but many knitters want to use the same yarn the pattern calls for so those yarn companies then want the designers to be using their yarns.
I find this extremely interesting. This comment is going to get long. be prepared. I have noticed this trend in students going to college just as much as I see it in blogging. Kids are taught go to college graduate and make big money. I see SO many college students not in college to learn but simply with the idea that college=big money. Social Media/Blogging is getting BIG. I just saw an article in a magazine this morning about “mommy blogs” There have been television interviews of big money making mommy bloggers. So what is the price to pay for all of this exposure? A few trashy blogs. People are beginning to think blogs=money. I think this will grow and eventually those in it just for the money will die out. There will always be some professionals as well as some slackers looking for cash. >>again I apologize for the long comment. I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t misunderstood.
I suppose it goes back to why you started. I’m all about being passionate about what I’m doing. >>Ans even I can’t get that passionate about baby booties and nursing bras.>>True that people need to make money to live, but I always wonder if the energy that’s used into sites that can’t be making that much money and putting it into a biz or site that will wouldn’t be more worthwhile.>>And like a great woman said, when it comes down to it, what are you left with. A series of greatclips and stories for your kids, or a bunch of not so great posts singing the praises of a dog contest. >>Eh. I’d rather see cock rings and hemorrhoids when you google my name than that.
This may be easy for me to say, since no one is interested in advertising on my blog or having me review things, but I can’t imagine that I would feel comfortable promoting anything that I wouldn’t want to promote if I weren’t being paid for it.>>If CMR and I don’t get jobs soon, however, all bets are off! (Just kidding–but not about the job part…)>>Liz, I admire you so much because you are a terrific writer and because you really know how to navigate all this stuff and remain true to yourself. Brava!
I was just tweeting about this the other day! As a chronic under-value-er of my own time and work you *know* it’s getting bad when even I am pounding my head against the desk. >>I’ll be tweeting your genius for (hopefully) all to come and read. It’s a message every mom blogger (ugh! the term!) needs to read.
As a newby Mom Blogger who is recently being asked to review things A LOT, I take your words of wisdom to heart and will proceed with caution. I never intended my blog to be a money maker for me, though a few pennies for milk wouldn’t hurt. My site is my story, and I was surprised, yeah, there I said it, when others thought it was worth anything enough to want to be reviewed on it. So thank you, thank you! I will put me, and our story first…and give it the value it deserves…with more passion this time : )
What Her Bad Mother said. And also what YOU said. >>Also, you made me get all weepy that you included me in that group of women you listed– Been feeling very irrelevant and outsider-ish with this whole blogging thing and that made me feel good.
Don't read them.>>I'm perpetually annoyed by sites which I have enjoyed, that then seem to turn into commercials. I've removed more than a few from feeds because I don't want to see it, I don't care about some cheap plastic whatsit-I was reading content, period. People with stand alone review sites-doesn't bother me. I can scan at will. That def-con 4 BOOM! review or link to something from P&G or Wal-Mart? No thanks.>>Tried it myself twice, not a fan, not worth it. If I wanted to sell my soul, I can think of many more interesting ways to do so.>>And here I thought I was alone in getting annoyed. I suppose I just don't understand how it seems to be ok in some circles, and not in others. Are we more forgiving to this type of annoyance if it might still drive traffic?>>hrm.
That’s a great question Thordora – who gets annoyed and why. >>I think it comes down to expectations. Different people read blogs and find community for different reason. If there are a group of moms together in “the game” of getting the most stuff, it’s probably fun to keep track of each others giveaways and reviews. >>If you’re here to read personal posts, connect with like-minded people, and be entertained, then anything that diverges from that will be frustrating. Whether it’s a product review or a meme or a bunch of links to you tube videos.
As always, Liz, you are not just savvy, but a true class act. >>Maybe I’m naive, but I still believe the cream rises; the “schilling for crap” blogs reveal themselves pretty quickly. I just think it’s a shame when a writer with some real promise takes that wrong turn.
I completely agree with you but have to say this goes across the board into other niches. I am a mom (of 4) and a blogger, but not a mom blogger. I write a beauty blog. Back when I started in 2005 it was about the love of beauty and to work the business I had at the time—but now there are many who do it simply to get free beauty products and get invited to events. That is their only motivation. Not to connect with their readers, not to develop and build relationships, not to be a resource, which in the end makes us all look bad as bloggers as a whole and makes it more difficult to be taken seriously.
I hate reviews. I actually started a review blog a while ago when I joined PBN – but it's blank. I get asked to review things but then I just can't make myself do it. I hate reading reviews. I've deleted most of the blogs that spend time reviewing products from my reader. Why would I want to subject my readers to it? >>I also hate it when fourteen bloggers in my reader are all giving away the same free crap. And that's usually what it is – irrelevant crap. Seriously, I don't need M&Ms that badly. >>I might not end up being one of the blogs loved by advertisers, but hopefully I'll be loved by my READERS, who know that when they come to my blog, they'll usually find something funny to read.
This is the best post I have ever read on advertising on mom blogs (mommyblogs makes me cringe too).>>I am relatively new to the whole blog thing. I have a parenting blog where I write about things my family goes thru being blended and interracial. What I write about means everything to me. I have decent traffic on my blog, and I was considering advertising. I started feeling like I was missing out or wasn’t doing as well because I had no ads on my blog and don’t ever do product reviews. I even added the “your ad here” little boxes at the top for about a week. I took them down because something just felt OFF, but I wasn’t sure what.>>This post pretty much put that gut feeling into words. Thanks, truly.
I think advertising can be a really fine line to walk, when you’re mostly writing about yourself and your kids and your life. How do you do it in a way that is respectful of everyone?>>I briefly had my own baby carrier business. It was crazy to me how much women undercut themselves, selling stuff at a loss. If you don’t value yourself and your product, no one else will. And the people who feed into that, reinforce it by subtly undervaluing the work women do, it makes me sort of sad.
I really hope I can make it to BlogHer this year and see your panel. I have so many questions!>>How should PR/Marketing firms compensate bloggers? A check? Free product? And if they do compensate the blogger with dollars, doesn’t the blogger run the risk of looking like a paid advertisement? Is that worse than doing it for free just b/c she genuinely likes the product? Should ever mom blogger have two sites – one for personal posts and one for reviews? >>See…so many quesitons!
you one of da best.
Liz your very smart about this whole thing and I really like reading your ideas. >>However, I feel like it all comes down to what you want your blog to be. I left a comment over at Lindsay's blog as well.>>I'm not going to lie and say I didn't start for money because I did. I had an idea for a content-based website and went with it. I like being frugal as well as helping other moms find ways to save money, win stuff, and get free stuff so that is why I started the site that I did. It is my job. There is a huge community for it. >However, I didn't start a mom blog for money. I started it for fun and to feel connected to other moms who were going through things like I was as a work at home mom. Now, even though I don't blog as often as I used to, I talk about a variety of subjects and not just mommy stuff. Also I do review things on another site when time permits. I review things that I think I will like and no longer take everything thrown at me. I will admit however that last year I took almost everything that was offered. NOT ANYMORE! >>>I'd also like to throw in that I started CFM long before there were review & giveaway blogs!>>As always thanks for your great thoughts. >I've also noticed a few sites popping up where some “popular mom bloggers” are writing review like posts obviously for pay. What do you think of that?
This is the very topic I’m speaking about at BlogHer 09. Claiming the great value of our work, whether it be freelance writing, freelance web design, or any number of freelance careers that have blossomed from blogging is important. We have to stop looking for validation in terms of an ‘atta girl’ and charge what we would get if we were doing these things in the corporate world. Do I see the bloggers you listed as professionals? Absolutely I do. For someone who’s been around the block a while, I’m well aware of how hard we all work. >>Claim it. Own it. Grab it. You’re working long hours and damn hard enough for it. IT’S YOURS.>>And if someone is not seeing what you’re worth, or decides to introduce you as a kooky mom? Call them out, right then and there. Correct them. It’s your career.>>As Kristen wrote, we wear many hats. Does mean we don’t own a hat rack. Heh, I said rack.
It’s lay people suddenly launched into professional dealings and not knowing how to handle it, in part. I hope this gets addressed more and more. Some people just don’t know.
My husband summed it up once in calling the lot ‘the mommy blogger review mafia’ It can be very divisive if you’re not in it for the cool factor. >>I think it’s time to more clearly define the types of bloggers that want to camp out under the mom blogger umbrella. >>I know that many who have review blogs have backgrounds in PR/Marketing or related fields so are naturally leveraging the mom angle for profit.>>There are bloggers who are brilliant academics or wannabes at least and the writing itself is the thing. Motherhood or no.>>I guess I’m just tired of the idea that we all have to ‘play nice’ if we are moms and bloggers.
I feel like Fancy Nancy when I trill my Rs. I’m sure you know who she is!
I have no problem with people wanting to make money from their mommy blogs. (Seriously. NO PROBLEM WHATSOEVER. SEND ME MONEY.) But for myself, I’d rather it happen because so many people are reading my fantastic content that BlogHer has to send me enormous checks every month. Not because of product reviews.
Ditto what you said and what Mir said!
I’ve nothing valid to offer other than to thank you for taking the jumble of thoughts out of my head and articulating them into a brilliant blog post.>>Well done.>>(I’ll just stick to my fancy cooter talk and let you do the heavy lifting, m’kay?)
Great post with a lot of food for thought. I’m looking forward to your panel at BlogHer.
@Amanda, (hi Amanda!) I have zero issues with review blogs – I write one myself. But creating a business like you did around reviews is I think a little different than handing your personal space over to any PR flack with your name on a mailing list. I also am worried by the allure of “feeling wanted” as Fairlyoddmother mentioned and how flattery really isn’t ample compensation for what we’re able to do.>>I have no problems with bloggers writing paid reviews by the way. I mean, Frank Bruni and A.O. Scott do, right?>>I think it comes down to doing it in a forum that showcases your talent, and permits you to do it with integrity.>>@Ambershow holy cow I think you just hit it on the head. And fast!>>@willtherebecake so many great questions. Maybe need another post? Or your own?
Crap. I’m supposed to have business cards for my blog? Oh well.
These women consider themselves to be running a small business. How does one promote a small business? Flyers under windshield wipers, cards on magazine racks. >>Sorry, but mass-media PR is not available to everyone. I don’t market the way you described, and I still find it kind of snooty. And I’m kind of tired of seeing the same people promoted, over and over again, as being the wits and creative minds of the blogosphere.>>This issue is far more nuanced than people are acknowledging–writers of all types have always had to make a determination of how far they could push the marketing aspect of things in order to get their craft out into the hands of the people. This is just the Web 2.0 version of it.
I’ve been blogging for less than a year, so the demand for my input regarding products isn’t great, but I think good writers can make a product review interesting and shitty writers couldn’t interest me in the finale of Rock of Love Bus (when will that show be back, btw?!)
I love that you said “If we’re not creating great content, building strong communities, and being discerning with our product reviews, then what is the value?” >>That’s SUCH a good way to summarize things. That’s why I don’t like this new “brand” of mommy bloggers – or rather, since I don’t know them, this new trend in mom blogging – because to me they spoil it. What attracted me to blogging in the first place is that you get to share things but also create a community. I rarely do reviews, and when I get offered something interesting, I like to organize giveaways. But I don’t just do it with whatever, and I’m not interested in becoming just a big commercial break in the blogosphere. That might be a way to get attention, but I doubt it’s a way to get respect.>>I would prefer if we were getting respect as writers, or because of people understanding how much we actually work, and why SAHMs are NOT second-rate citizens. I would like them to respect us because the fact that some of us stay home doesn’t mean that we aren’t smart. >>I *don’t* want them to think that we are all in it for the free crap. Because really, that spoils it. It reduces us to little girls at the fair and takes away the value that we could really be showing.>>I’m sorry for the rant, this bothers me.
Obviously, I owe Suburban Turmoil a little drive-by because WHAT? Bloggers have done WHAT?>>Lol. The blog I just started is new, but I’ve been in and out of the blogosphere for eight, nearly nine years. Things have changed so much around here and I cannot believe that anyone would stoop to begging for free stuff like that. Anyone. Male, female, blogger, not. Anyone.>>I hate being tricked into reading product reviews too. I will stop reading a blog if it happens repeatedly. It’s ridiculous. I go to blogs because I like the content or the people or the topics, etc, not because I want to know about Disney’s new product and how it’s going to make me so happy I float.
Everyone else has said everything I would have written, so I guess all that’s left is for me to say, about 50 or so “ditto’s” and leave a smiley face emoticon.>>🙂
When I saw the links to my blog today I thought “Liz must be talking about reality TV or the Housewives of OC again”. >>Then I read the post and even had to put down my funnel cake because I was so moved by your kind words.>>The fact that you linked to me,and then you grouped me in with with Her Bad Mother, The Bloggess, Bossy.>I’m honored, delighted and I know exactly how it feels to be called a kooky mom. >>As usual, I think you rock. >>I’m now going over to Kristen’s blog to comment and then kick the butt of the person who says she’s kooky.>>Because when you mess with one of my friends…you mess with the whole trailer park, you know?
PS-Confession. I am in the blogging for the free Little Debbie snacks. Now you know.
Add me to the chorus of those saying what a great post this is. I’m a relatively new blogger and it’s been surprising to see the number of blogs that are reviewing products consistently. Just … not what I would have expected. Thanks for presenting this in such a great way.
Totally agree with you, but I have to add something. The biggest reason that I can see for this divide is that blogher representatives have been shilling for years that we aren’t bloggers, we are BRANDS. I’ve never been a brand, I never want to be a brand, and I wouldn’t ever shill for an organization that preaches that attitude to women. Hate it even more than the mommyblogger term.
A very close friend of mine encouraged me to start a blog a few months back. She wanted to give me a platform to speak my mind as a bald woman. It was something I had never done before, and on top of it, I have very little skills as writer or as a computer savvy person. With a lot of fear, I stepped out of my comfort zone and she helped me get started. After my family ran into some very difficult times, it was suggested that I start to monetize my blog. After getting to know some of the other bloggers, I discovered what I liked and what I didn’t like. Since my blog is three months old now, I joined different review sites, became an affiliates and stuff like that…but…and this is a big but, I have yet to see something from an advertiser that I really wanted to review. Not just that, I have seen what they are paying, and I am just stunned that the payout would be so little. So, I’m waiting to see an offer that I feel is worthy of my blog…just as I don’t put every Tom, Dick or Harry onto my “Great Links” page(blogroll). I value and cherish every single person that reads my blog, and the thought of turning it into some cheap advertising ad sickens me. I have seen some great sites that had the most witty and awesome reviews ever, and I admire them for doing it that way. If I never get a chance to review a product because it would compromise the integrity of my blog or even me as a person, than so be it. I have had many offers I have had to turned down. The flip side to advertisers paying to little is the enormous amount of money that I could be making selling something that I do not believe in for women…Hair Transplants. Just a lead pays out over $250 each. All my family’s financial woes would be gone and we would no longer be suffering if I was willing to compromise my integrity and suggest something that I know would be harmful to other women. Not for me! It’s not worth the money.>I really appreciate your post and I also loved a lot of the comments that were written as well. >Keep up the great work!
OMG YES to this line! “If we’re not creating great content, building strong communities, and being discerning with our product reviews, then what is the value? What is the value to the marketer?”>>YES YES YES YES>>Why am I suddenly feeling like some kind of anti-mommy-sisterhood snob because I admit to valuing good writing?>>If it isn’t great writing holding up these entrepreneurial vessels of ours, then WHAT IS IT? and WHAT’S THE POINT?>>Some would argue that blogging isn’t necessarily only for writers and I think that can be true. It’s not like you can’t start a blog just because you aren’t a pro (or even particularly good) writer. But if you’re going to be turning it into a money-making venture, it still has to offer some value to somebody besides marketers. Or else, again…what’s the point? What’s holding it up? How can a business model based on a written medium succeed if the writing is no good?>>If print media really “dies”, this is, by and large, what’s left. And frankly, given the badly-written advertorial crapola I have to wade through online to get to anything of value these days, that makes me a little sad.>>I said this elsewhere but I think it bears repeating: here’s what worries me about the model of one person as everything: money-making publisher, writer, marketer, editor, etc all at once. As somebody who writes for a living, I absolutely believe good writing deserves compensation. But the magazine or corporate website model works (WHEN it works) because of the separation of the roles. If I tried to be all five of those things and make a decent living at it at the same time by running my blog as a business, I fear that I’d come up very short somewhere. And honestly, I see it happening everywhere. Writing is made better by editors. Publishing companies need ethical standards to separate the advertising from the content. It helps when there are separate ad salespeople to keep those ethical lines very clear. If we’re going to abandon the traditional model entirely, the least we can do is study it to see what we might be able to learn from it.
Margalit, that’s a theory held (and promoted) by one of the hundreds of women involved with blogher. I know you repeatedly tout your issues with blogher and hold them singly responsible for the subjugation of women in the blogosphere, Abu Graib and global warming, but I don’t think that Blogher is the reason things have changed. >>The web and social media have entirely redirected people’s media consumption habits and marketers are desperate to tap into the new media and find new ways to reach consumers. Some bloggers want in on it – they just might be going about it a little wrong.>>This is the dawn of a humongous shift in consumer-marketing relationships. I think everyone is navigating it awkwardly right now.
Going to get slightly soap boxy here.. It think this is deeper rooted then blogging. I think this goes back to women still thinking that they are worth less than others. We are still paid less, worth less, treated like less and expect to be less. That is the problem. I am trying so hard to teach my girls that they are worth more than that. But, it is so hard when they hear from everywhere else that they are not.
I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve been offered opportunities but only if I changed or modified the content of my site. I’ll admit I thought about it but in the end, it wouldn’t be me anymore. People come to me for a laugh and on most days I try to give it to them and there is just very little humor in Clorox Wipes.
@abdpbt I agree with you to some degree that people are doing what they can, although I’d argue that if you’re a “social networking expert” you should be able to use it to promote your own brand, expertly – right?>>You write that people are just trying to get “their craft out there” and my fear is that craft has become the marketing in itself. It’s like a magazine (as @meganfrancis smartly compared) spending all their energy selling ads and forgetting to write the articles. There would be no long term benefit for the advertiser, the publisher, the readers, or the magazine industry at large.
smart, smart, smart, professional, witty & smart. i'm a fan.
You have some amazing readers here – I have gained just as much from the comments as from your original post! I had the great privilege to be at the Mom 2.0 Summit, and my head has just been swirling with these ideas on moms & marketers. Thank you for your great insight, and for adding perspective to this topic.
I understand that advertising makes the publishing world go ’round, but I stopped reading women’s or lifestyle magazines because 95% of the articles were basically product placements. When I started this comment, I was going to say that I wasn’t interested in either writing or reading reviews unless I was looking for something specific. But the more I thought I about it, the more I realized that there are some exceptions.>>When Saturn loaned some of the Bloghers cars for their road trips – that was fun and interesting to read. Also, Kyran Pittman’s trip to Montreal that has currently become an advertisement all on its own. How do I get that gig? 😉
@lisse >There’s one more mantra I love in advertising: People don’t read ads; they read what interests them.
P.S. I can accept that as a writer and a potential business person (getting writing assignments is a business) I could be thought of as a brand. I see that as a thing to be protected and not cheapened, like my professional reputation or my reputation in my real world community.
Fabulous post and great comments. I really loved what Meagan said: that there are checks and balances in the print media, and we need to remember that they improved the final product.>>I’ve been blogging since 2004 and feel that we’re replicating the dynamics of the way the internet, once the sole province of geeks, became ubiquitous in everyone’s life. >>Is anyone out there old enough to remember when PC-DOS users looked down on Mac users? Or when early internet adopters looked down on people who used AOL? >>Well, now the first and second generation personal journal bloggers look down on mommy bloggers who are basically in it for the perks. >>In each case, the early adopters decided what the medium was supposed to be used for, and then were dismayed when a mass of new users crashed through the gate and did what they wanted to do.
Bingo Poppy. I think that’s spot on. I venture to guess that there’s also an underlying fear that the new wave denigrates what the old wave sought to build. But I suppose it’s everyone’s internet, isn’t it.
Really interesting and well said. >>I do think professional women (including bloggers) need to demand respect. I was very recently had my first appointment with a top OBGYN in the city. This doctor (a woman) admitted to me that she kept me waiting for over 2 hours b/c she thought, “I had no where I needed to be.” Sometimes I feel like we have a long way to go. Sigh…
I also agree that this is a great post. I’ve just recently started a blog other than my family life one… and I started it with the intent to (gasp) share actual ideas and information. 😉 I had no idea about this whole other world where people are getting paid to review, write mediocre content, etc. Anyway – thanks for the all the thought provoking info as I grow and continue my blog. This gives me good insight to some things – and helps me narrow the focus on what I’d like to do.
Great post. Thoughtful and relevant, especially as we think about who we want to be in this brave new world.>>It’s about patriarchy setting the rules. Again. As long all women and men of color (with all do respect to our dear president)continue to be seen as Other, everything we do or say is suspect. When white men shill and pimp we don’t seem to notice or we call it ‘business as ususal’. In fact, when Bernard Madoff stole 50 billion, we didn’t call him a corrupt white man, but women and men of color are still pointed out as traitors to their race or gender when they break the rules that we did not even create.>>Until we change the rules, we still need do it just like Ginger Rodgers: backwards and in high heels!
I don’t like seeing any blogger, regardless of gender devalue our work. Well said.
Interesting article!>>A few years ago I started a cosmetics company with inspirational quotes on the packages. Of the hundreds I read, my favorite will always be:>>“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt>>Women too often give others permission to treat them poorly and blogging is no exception. It took me nearly two years to understand my value as review blogger. Even now, without a background in public relations or knowledge of industry standards, I continue to learn and grow as a blogger each day. But once I and other “mom bloggers” understand the landscape, it will be easier to hold others accountable for the their interaction with us.
As you know from reading my post, I'm in full agreement here. If you don't have something worth coming back for, you're nothing more than an ad floating by on the internet. >>Everyone would love to make money from what they enjoy, but selling your soul to do so, and compromising your writing, isn't worth it. Two years ago, I'd take any review offer, because “Hey, they think I'm important!” Now I'm a lot more picky on what I review.>>I know little about SEO optimization or aggressive self-promotion. I write what's on my mind, choose to work with organizations I support (like March of Dimes), and while I get a little money & some stuff, what I love more are the people I chat with and the community I've found.>>I'd also add that in this world of sponsored blogs, transparency is critical. If you're not upfront with your readers about sponsorship and items provided to you, people will quickly find out and lose all trust in you.>>But you said it all far more eloquently than me.
Good Stuff! Just cause I’m a mommy does my blog fall under “mommy blogs” ???
I scanned the comments, love the post Liz – great topic and obviously has hit buttons. My blog is simply a posting drop to keep family up with our ongoing life – since all our family is all over the place and I don’t have time to keep them each up to date as they’d like personally. Best I can do and I’m working on finding more of myself in it.>>So I consider myself an “audience member” in all of this, and a novice one at that (37 working full time w/2 kids 2.5 and under and a husband that travels 200 days a year, I have no energy to become an expert). Though I wish I could if I only had a smidge of the talent I see here. >>That being said, I read for content and commraderie, not for product tips and tricks…I can go to the brand site for that. I do like review blogs, but am glad they are kept separate, and feel free to market them on your sites – easy link for me. But when it comes to what I’m looking for among the momblogs out there…it’s wit, intelligence, laughter, agreement, confidence and sisterhood. The core group I find from this blog meets just those expectations, consistently.>>Oh, and is it ironic at all that the intro at the conference that started some of this controversy was a man? (And let me clarify, I am not a man hater, my man is my hero – he did the V, then un-did the V to bring me to Momhood and I love him for it!)
Wow- for the first time, I think I’m glad my blog (and that’s a word I hate- go figure) is just starting out, and I can rant or rave about any product I want without worrying about who’s paying me- because no one is.>>I’m a new reader here, too- great post!
I’m with Mrs. Embers here. I’m new to blogging and I only recommend products that I use and like or that I really want. It’s nothing I wouldn’t do in a casual conversation at a playdate. >I’ve never received a dime and would never take a dime for something I didn’t believe in. I would never pimp myself out to a company like wal-mart because I don’t agree with their business practices. I loved reading this because as someone new to blogs, it gave me a little perspective. I was, just yesterday reading a few blogs begging for sponsors to Blogher and was wondering if this was normal and acceptable in the community. Now I know. Don’t beg. Good rule any time, I think! I have a friend who loves giveaways and thought I should do them but I couldn’t care less about them and get annoyed at blogs that seem to be all about the giveaway. So,no giveaways from me. I prefer reading content that interests me and I prefer writing about things that I would like to remember later. I’ve been terrible about keeping scrap books and writing little things about my kids. Now that I have a blog, I’m more focused on getting those things down. That’s enough for me.
LOL Ditto, and yes … “what she said” !!!
Male bloggers are taken seriously? Really? I need a better agent. Or a sex change.
I’ve been contacted twice by a website that wants to use my copy (FOR FREE) but will allow me to be blogrolled on their site…you know…in lieu of payment. Screw them. I may not be one of the uber-popular celebrity bloggers, but I’ve been paid for my writing before and I’m not giving it away now.
Look at the intelligence here! The conscientiousness! And they want us to use it to sell dryer sheets. Sigh.>>As one of your commenters mentioned, I just participated in my first sponsored review, a family vacation to Quebec, brokered by Blogher, my ad network. I did it, not just because it was a great gig, but because I knew it would have tons of narrative potential, that it wouldn’t contradict or interrupt my blog’s larger narrative, and because I have tremendous respect and trust for Blogher.>>All the same, I was extremely grateful that Blogher’s policy mandated that I set the review up as a separate blog. I think transparency is the answer to so many ethics questions. >>Thanks for this, Liz. Perfect timing.
And Kyran, I really loved how that whole event was handled. Kudos to you and Blogher. Let me know when they offer you another one and you need a stand in!
I have a special place (like separate blogs) for my paid stuff because I hate forcing my readers who actually like to read my stuff to read other junk…>>that said, I think we all saw this coming in the blogging world way before now, it was just slow to mature, but just as I wrote on Lindsey’s blog (I think I wrote it or maybe I just thought it), the blogging stuff doesn’t bother me near as much as the twitter because now, you can’t have a good time in twitter, every other tweet is an advertisement and people take everything that you write there and everything they read and eventually try to use it against you, even if you say it in jest….I miss the twitter of last summer……blogs, eh, I can take it or leave it, but I wish they had left my twitter alone…>>common sense would say, just don’t follow those people and you don’t have to read it, but it’s people that I’ve followed the entire time, they just succumb to tweeting links to gain popularity as well as retweeting to gain popularity and I simply just get so annoyed with it…like I said, it’s people I enjoyed reading but have fell victim to the marketing ploy….I miss twitter, the real twitter
I have been recently contacted by a couple of PR people from a couple of different companies. I just don’t feel the need to promote their products. Frankly the PR people didn’t even take the time to look at my site to even see if I was a good candidate for their products. Waste of their time, waste of my time reading the emails. However, if I ever stumbled on a product at a store that I firmly believed in, I would write a heartfelt promotion of the product, free of charge.
I will say, that I personally know the individual that was quoted in the former post, and her comment was taken completely out of context! Too bad for that…>>Speaking from my own experience as a blogger who happens to be a mom, I have forged relationships with my readers and they trust me. I would NEVER do anything to compromise that trust for anything. But, when PR comes calling and it makes sense for the niche of my site, I will certainly listen – and I’ll pitch my ideas too if there is a cool idea that would add value for the company and me. Of course, all of this is being done on my terms too. Oh, and you’ll see buttons and adspace on my site too but they all relate to the content of my site (which I could see how they wouldn’t if I wrote for a different niche).>>And, my husband will keep my business cards on him and hand them out to those people who talk about needing additional money or another income. Why? Well, my site can help them save so much that it is like another income – the money I save (and not what I make on my site) is similar to a part-time job for me. So, if having my husband keep cards to act upon an opportunity to share our testimony of saving money and living a better life in this economy that provides little hope for doing that, we will do it! And, I only wish someone would have done that for me several years ago!>>Like you said, at the end of the day it’s what that worthy content under my banner that will add value to my readers and PR. >>*and, I also write comments that are too long too – forgive me 🙂
Andrea, you have one awesome husband. I think handing out business cards is just great. That’s how people do business.>>I even understand being creative with how you distribute flyers or postcards advertising a blog or website. But there’s something about strewing personal business cards around that to me is kind of…I don’t know. Desperate. Those are the keys to your inner sanctum. Hand them out discriminatingly, with confidence and pride. >>I have no idea who those bloggers are (and I’d feel bad if their feelings are hurt by this analysis) but I would hope that they’d have enough sense to separate personal networking from website promotion.
Mom-101,>>Wow, honestly, there was some of that conversation that was taken out of context, and I’d really like to share the details. >>It wasn’t even me that was leaving my business cards on the grocery shelves. I mentioned how my husband told me he’d been doing this without my knowledge and that I thought it was sweet and endearing.>>That said, I think it’s pretty brilliant of him. My blog is about couponing and helping moms save money, and if him leaving my business cards means I can help one more person stretch their paycheck a little further, then the flak I’m getting here is worth the price.>>My husband’s been laid off three times in as many years, and it would have made a world of difference if I’d have stumbled across a card like this when we were experiencing the first one. >>However, I would venture to say that my readership hasn’t grown so quickly because of him doing this. It’s grown because of my integrity and loyalty to my readers. I value the trust that they’ve placed in me, and I’m an very conscious of this trust when writing every single post that I put on my site.>>Thanks for letting me speak my piece.>>Tara
Echoing my tweet on this subject, I selfishly thank you for bringing this up at this particular juncture, since it’s something I’ve been wrestling with for quite some time. >>For a variety of reasons, I stepped out of the blogging world and walked back in barely recognizing the community I’d once been a part of. And, as of late, I’ve been wondering if I had seriously missed the boat. What happened to just blogging for the sake of blogging? >>Thanks for reminding me of why I started a blog to begin with. Looks like I’m going to go back to kickin’ it old school.
I am very new to blogging, and I do it because writing is the only thing I’m really good at, and I lost my mind a little bit (read: totally) after the birth of my third child, and I figure maybe this is a good way to find it. Then I discovered that the more I write, the better I do it.>Would I like to make money at it? Hell yes! But money, mostly, not schwag. And I see it as a future goal.> And here’s a confession: I leave my business cards everywhere. Coffee houses, bars, I pack them in my etsy packages and gave some to my therapist. And my son’s therapist.>I just think with so many blogs out there, how would anyone find me? If my writing stinks, no one is going to stick around, nor will they be back for more. But now I’m embarrassed. Should I stop doing it? I don’t have the money to do a conference and network. (The business cards were free, but not because I hawked the company lol)>I know it hurts us that some are willing to put out for nothing, but those sites aren’t going to build the kind of relationships I see in the mom blog world. I might be new, but I already see the community being built by all of you. I really hope to be a part of it, and I hope that linking sometimes to brand name items won’t cause me to be shunned, especially because I don’t get paid or get stuff for doing it. I also hope I learn to navigate what can feel a little bit like junior high before I feel like I can’t hack it as a writer in the blogosphere.>p.s. Stiletto Mom – I’m certain we could think of some way to make clorox wipes pretty damn funny 🙂
For the record, I’m not sure why Tara and friends (who weren’t there) keep insisting the remark about her husband putting her business cards on store shelves was taken out of context. I looked at it again and it was about as close to verbatim as it gets… and there was no underlying discussion at the table that night that would have made it have sound any different. Her husband puts her business cards on store shelves. It’s a simple fact. I’m not even opposed to it, beyond the fact that I think the return on that strategy is probably not worth the investment. My point was that it’s not me to even think like that, so how can someone who’s not very market-savvy keep up with the new mom bloggers who are?>>Tara, I’d love it if you’d address, either here or on my blog, how that remark was taken out of context, because you haven’t explained yourself and I’m totally confused.
Keep it simple review site for reviews and inspiring words on the journal blog. and no tattoos here
I had no idea this was even going on. I suppose I need to pay more attention.
I don’t see what the big deal is. Seriously.
Mom-101, >>Glad I found your blog. This is a timely post as I’m wondering where all this social media and mom blogging is headed. I completely agree with your assessment of “talented moms giving it up for nothing”. But what would happen, say, if mom bloggers formed a marketing mafia and told the big guys to pay up?>>Blogging for blogging’s sake definitely still exists, but it’s inevitable that social media can’t and won’t stay purely social. Would it be such a bad thing if moms could earn a decent paycheck as a part of an “alternative marketing” drive? Is that even possible? >>Interested to hear others’ thoughts…>>La Mom >An American Mom in Paris
P.S. Anyone know of any European conferences like BlogHer? Chicago is a bit to far from home…>>La Mom>An American Mom in Paris
Fantastic questions @La Mom and I think what’s tough is that so much of this is convoluted – giveaways, advertorial, advertising, sponsored conversations…>>I think #1 most important: Transparency. If you’re getting paid to review something you’d better spill it. >>#2 most important making sure there is value in your marketer relationships – and that doesn’t mean extorting them for cash, it may just mean insuring that you only feature truly great products that you can write about in a compelling way that adds value to your blog for your readers. >>Maybe the money and the reviews should be mutually exclusive? If nothing else a blogger’s value comes down to authenticity, trust and integrity. I think some bloggers need to decide whether a packet of chips or even a free trip to a conference is worth giving those things up.
You know that I am constantly feeling torn up inside over this issue. I have a blog just for reviews, but sometimes I get an offer and they request that I post on Table for Five, and it’s something I genuinely think those readers will enjoy, so I post it there. >>But, I never do what Lindsay mentioned, which is “trick” anyone into reading a review or giveaway post. I put it right in the post title- “Review of Blahblah” or “Win a BlahBlah”. I’m hoping that reading such a title will help my readers make a choice as to whether they want to read that post or not. >>What Karen said about charging for our writing? I reply to pitches every week stating my fee for freelance writing, and I either never hear from them again or they reply and say “our client doesn’t pay people for this”. Unless every single one of us can stand up and say yes, you WILL PAY US, there will always be bloggers who will write for free.
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