Mommy Blogger Mayhem – A Few Quick Thoughts

31
Jul
2009

I really didn’t want to get too involved in the whole mommy blogger bullshit scene, but after this AdAge post, I’ve decided that it was time to say a few things. (Note: I’m posting those thoughts here instead of in a comment on the AdAge post, because I refuse to comment on any blog that forces registration first.)

  1. Mommy bloggers aren’t special. – This cult-like mentality drives me insane, really. It’s not just mommy bloggers (and by all means it’s not all mommy bloggers – I know plenty of honest and sane ones). It’s a subgroup of the whole WAHM group which I’ve taken issue with for years through my freelance writing work. It’s the epitome of mob mentality. They need to stop isolating themselves. They’re bloggers – just like every other damn blogger out there.

    Yes, they may have a natural audience. So do a lot of other niche bloggers. That doesn’t make them special. It doesn’t mean they deserve special treatment. It doesn’t mean they deserve loads of free shit just because they want it, and (god forbid) blogging actually involves some work! Frankly most bloggers (including mommy bloggers) do not deserve half of the swag they get as it is. They only get it because some PR and marketing folks responsible for it with companies are simply too f*ing lazy to find out exactly what kind of reach those blogs have.

    Guess what ladies – if they did their job and took a hard look at your stats, chances are you’d get a whole lotta nothing. Count your blessings.

  2. Nobody “hates mommy bloggers for their swag” – What we hate is the fact that not only do they get the swag, but then they proceed to bitch about it! If you think PR folks (or marketing folks more accurately) are evil for doing their job just because you’re too greedy to say no when people offer you free things, then learn to say no instead of biting the hand that feeds you (or more accurately buries you in your precious swag).


    BlogHer wasn’t the issue alone. The PR Blackout wasn’t the issue alone. It was the hypocritical combination of moving from “PR people suck for giving us free shit” to “Gimme, gimme, gimme!” in record time! Again, not all bloggers fall into that group, but I seriously found myself wondering at the time how many of those swag-in-arm mommy bloggers at BlogHer previously decided to spit in the face of the people (and companies) offering them those goodies.

    That’s the difference between mommy bloggers and others – bloggers behaving badly, and doing it as a group. I can’t recall the last time I saw people up in arms about other blogger groups who get equally valuable review material. Why? Because they don’t act like self-important snobs who demand more than they can justify deserving – at least not on such a grande scale. They don’t tell PR / marketing people to shove off because they can’t juggle their own responsibilities, and then run back when they want free crap again. They also don’t pretend to have an incredible reach for products they simply want as opposed to those best targeted to their readers. Do moms care about cars? I’m sure they do. But that doesn’t mean a mommy blogger deserves one (even for a while). There are better targeted publications and sites, and ones with bigger audiences.

  3. It doesn’t matter what print magazines do. - The argument that the behavior is okay because women’s magazines get swag is as absurd as saying they deserve it because blogging is such hard work. Bullshit.


    First, if blogging is such hard work that you can’t do it without feeling compensated, then do as every other online business owner has to do and learn how to properly monetize  your f*ing blogs. If you’re too lazy to learn the business side of the game, you don’t get to use the compensation / hard work argument.

    That’s the equivalent of lazy writers complaining to me constantly that they can’t earn more than $5 per article. No, they’re just too lazy to learn how to move beyond that – all of the information is out there for them to improve their careers, and all of the information is out there for mommy bloggers to learn how to (ethically and effectively) monetize their own blogs if they want something for their time. Swag isn’t meant to be compensation for the oh-so-exhausting work of blogging.

    Back to magazines – unless you’re one of the few mommy bloggers who have a comparable (or greater) targeted audience (targeted being the key – meaning after weeding out all of the crap traffic), then you can make the argument that you deserve equal treatment. Maybe. IF the company’s target audience is the type who reads blogs (hint: your blog doesn’t fit into the marketing mix of every company that happens to target women).

    At the same time, why should mommy bloggers (who specialize in writing for moms, not women in general) equate themselves to women’s publications? They’re not the same thing. They’re focused on a narrower niche within the female audience, and not all companies are specifically targeting moms – more general publications make more sense to them. It would be like me saying I should get all of the same crap BusinessWeek journalists get just because I run a PR blog. PR is a narrower niche. BusinessWeek reaches a much bigger, broader audience. Of course they’re going to be treated differently!

    Marketing budgets aren’t endless. Companies can’t afford to send samples out to every Jane Doe who happens to yap to other mothers on the Web. Get over it.

I don’t hate mommy bloggers. I really don’t. Some of my favorite people are moms. Some of my favorite people are bloggers. And some of them are both. But there’s no excuse for the kind of behavior some have had recently. It’s as if they had no idea people would be watching – and if you don’t realize that, it’s time to get out of the blogging game.

While the PR blackout was a poorly thought-out plan, it did get one thing right – how about everyone shutting the hell up about all the crap they get and start getting back to your readers? It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t review products if you want to. But do that. Review them! Don’t post just because you got something. Don’t brag about how important you think you are because people are giving you shit (you’re not). Instead, go through all the swag and ask yourself “of all of this crap that I really don’t need, would any of it be truly useful to my audience?” If the answer’s yes, then write an honest review for your readers. If not, then scrap it. It’s not a difficult concept. In the end remember this — you can survive without swag, but you’re nothing without your readers.



22 Comments

  • Carol Ferndale says:

    Very interesting read! I certainly agree that mommy bloggers do not represent all women bloggers.

  • Nancy says:

    Very interesting post indeed. Pretty darn eye-opening. I didn’t partake in the “scene”. I am a mom and I am a blogger but don’t consider myself necessarily a Mommy Blogger. I just happen to like blogging! I also don’t think it’s “hard” work at least for me. :) I just write for myself and if anyone likes what I write then “cool!”. :)

    I was approached by several mom bloggers asking for handouts for their swag bags from my online boy store. I’m glad I didn’t cave, I can’t believe they put their contributors down!

    I might be misunderstanding.. I’m going to check out the link to the AdAge that you linked and see if I’m really understanding this correctly.

  • Jenn Mattern says:

    Nancy,

    If you want to learn more about the initial issue, do a blog search for “PR blackout,” and you’ll find a lot of recent commentary.

    I agree with you completely that not all moms who blog fall under that “mommy blogger” label — in fact several prominent mommy bloggers have been trying to distance themselves from the herd (even going so far as to stop blogging for moms or changing blog names to dis-associate from the label). Can’t say I blame them. Here are two of the posts I came across a little while ago that were worth the read:

    http://www.dianaprichard.com/?p=148

    http://badmommyblogger.com/234/dont-call-me-a-mommy-blogger/

  • Lynette says:

    OMG I could *KISS* you! There is nothing more I could say that you haven’t already. THANK YOU!!!

    @LynetteRadio

  • I love you a little.

    I didn’t do the swag, what I did get was left for my hotel concierge, who almost toppled over in delight. She prolly has more reach than I do anyhow, so it’s still a win for the marketers.

    I only periodically whine about bad pitches. It’s when I’m asked to post a banner for a theme park that includes a discount code. Well, it looks like an ad except it doesn’t come with any ad money. If it wasn’t a multibillion dollar, multinational corporation I wouldn’t scream so loud. But it is. And I do.

    The more I learn about blogging, the less I see it’s value for anyone. So I just won’t talk about brands, and I’ll continue being a mommy.

    • “Marketers” is a key word here. A) I find their pitches very often do suck on targeting. B) The fact that it’s marketing people doing a lot of this kind of pitching is precisely why it was so utterly insane for anyone to initiate a “PR blackout” (it just demonstrates ignorance and alienates those PR people who pass along news, set bloggers up with key interviews, etc.). And C) I don’t know anyone worth their salt in either marketing or PR who tries to make excuses for bad pitches. They do for the PR profession what bad mommy bloggers do for moms who blog everywhere.

      There’s a lot of value in blogging (PR value, marketing value, monetary value, and even personal value), but if it’s not there for you then it makes sense to either stop or change your strategy. And I wish you the best of luck with that move away from talking about brands.

  • Ryan says:

    Jennifer: Couldn’t agree more about alienating PR people with the blackout. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you!

  • This post was one great read. I’m off to follow the links and learn more about this topic!

  • Some of the Mommy Bloggers are great. This is a must read post.

  • Myles says:

    I think that MommyBloggers are fine and all, there are just so many of them out there saying the same thing. There is really a dichotomy when it comes to MommyBloggers: The first half write it like a diary of their everyday lives with their “amazing children.” The other half give you tips on how to save money for your family. Whether it is your telling the world about your stupendous husband, or your telling moms like you how to save money, you’re not being too original because there are thousands out there doing the same thing!

  • Dana says:

    AMEN!!! You are a rockstar! This post needed to be written, and I thank you for doing it. All the best to you. Keep up the phenomenal work!

  • John Harsk says:

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with mommy blogging, it is just hard for them to make a living.

    • John, no one said there is anything “wrong with mommy blogging.” What this post says is that there’s something “wrong” with mommy bloggers who act like spoiled little brats. Whether or not it’s hard to make a living is completely irrelevant. Blogging IS a hard way to make a living (coming from someone who does). Most people can’t do it. That information is readily available before anyone starts blogging with that intention. If they didn’t do their research, it’s their own damn fault, and it doesn’t justify their behavior when they decide to act badly towards groups or entire industries. A lot of mommy bloggers out there (although not all), just need to grow the hell up. Problem solved.

  • Rena Kosiek says:

    I don’t think “Mommy Bloggers” represent all women, but I think this whole topic is just going way out of hand. Why are people getting so wrapped up in it? I know it is ridiculous, but I don’t think it’s worth the time to get worked up about.

    • 1. Nobody said mommy bloggers represent all women. No one even said the bad ones represent all mommy bloggers.

      2. When a group of people behave badly on a mass scale, they make a bad name for everyone else in the industry (in this case demeaning the value bloggers can provide to companies, as well as creating trust issues between readers and “bought” bloggers). That’s absolutely “worth the time to get worked up about” for any serious blogger or company using a blog as a communication tool where that trust is key.

  • Anastasia says:

    Hi!

    What an interesting topic to post about. I am a student in PR and also do some tweeting and social media for my job and I have come into contact with a variety of Mommy Bloggers.

    I have had mixed experiences with these bloggers as they are so influential in the “family type” market but I do agree as them coming off sort of entitled. However, I agree with Rena that “Mommy Bloggers” do not represent all women, nor do they represent every mom that blogs.

    However, thanks for your honest opinion and insights. I’ll be checking back in the future.

  • You lookin’ at me? You talkin’ about ME?! Just kidding! I’m a mommy, I blog, but I don’t fall into any category of BadMommyBloggers – you know that, of course. The only swag I ever received as a Mommy who Writes for a living were gifts from clients when I was pregnant with my second son. It was awesome, especially since I love those clients, but it wasn’t marketing – it was just a nice gesture from generous clients who happen to work in the baby/family market.


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