Mommy Blogger Mayhem – A Few Quick Thoughts
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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.