Mommyblogging for passion or products?

Mommyblogging for passion or products?

I want you to want me. I need you to need me.
I’d love you to love me. I’m beggin’ you to beg me.

– Cheap Trick

Now, I know you have seen the chatter on blogs, in blog comments, in newspapers, on Twitter and probably- if we ask NASA- even some chatter on Mars about it. Mommybloggers are the flavor of the day and PR people are all over it. Johnson & Johnsons’s Camp Baby? Sony’s Mom Blogger event? Disney’s MomBlogger Mixer? Ring a bell? What bothers me the most about all of this is the way some people have stooped to levels of name calling and shunning of the bloggers who are invited to these events or outcry that they were not included. Seriously? Is this where we are? Is this where we have come?

It seems like a lifetime ago, but in fact it was only three short years ago that Jenny, Meghan and I sat in a crowded room at the very first Mommyblogger BlogHer session. You know the one that held with it the assumption that it would be non-eventful and wouldn’t have much carry away? The one that launched a session every year following as well as an entire mommyblogging track this year? Yeah. That session where I actually heard the phrase “What do they have to offer?” (Meaning Mommybloggers as a whole. As a blogging genre.) Oh, how things have changed. In that session we discussed the term “mommyblogger” and whether to claim it as our own or shun it as offensive and dismissive. We talked about the recently written article that basically called mommybloggers/parent bloggers navel-gazing narcissists. We were about as low on the totem poll as bloggers came. It was the first time I heard the phrase “She’s a good writer…for a mommyblogger.

Now look at us.

But don’t look too closely because it is not always pretty. Some mombloggers were hurt that they were not invited to some of these events. Some were rude about the moms who were invited. Some cried out that we need to claim our brand and own what we have created and not be so willing to be “bought” by a trip. Others were just happy to be able to dump the kids for a few days and hang out with friends and make new ones. It was “educational” to sit back and watch it all unfold. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I was invited to the J&J Camp Baby but in the end had to pass on it since it fell on my daughter’s seventh birthday. At this age, she still needs and wants her mom home with her on her birthday.) But these events did raise quite a few questions. The main one being: has blogging–specifically mommyblogging– changed since the advertisers and the PR people have become so involved?

Two of my favorite takes on this came from comments on Lindsay’s post The State of the Mommyblog.

Jen Lancaster commented:

However, there are plenty of sites I stopped visiting because it’s obvious the blogger is posting due to the desire to continue the steady flow of traffic and revenue, and not because she (or he) created something she’s inspired to share.

Building a community – the whole reason blogs exploded – seems less and less important and quantity is starting to trump quality. Many people blog because they want to write professionally, but the danger is if they don’t bring their A-game to every post, they diminish their chances. (Agents DO read blogs to find new talent, and they aren’t going to tap someone who’s just calling it in.)…

…I guess my point is it’s OK to reap the benefits that come from having a blog – just be careful not to lose your audience, your sense of community, and your credibility over a free keychain and a sub-par case of apple juice.

Have I phoned it in more than once because of network requirements? Hell yes I have. Does my agent want to kick me in the shins for it? Probably. But Jen brings up a good point. Has it become less about building a community and more about being seen? Having the most traffic and quantity of posts? I don’t know. I am asking you.

The other comment that kicked me in the gut was this one by Busy Mom:

I’m not sure it’s the advertisers that are the cause of any shift out there. They are just doing a variation of what they’ve always done, and there are many I enjoy working with.

The shift is how people (bloggers)respond to and them and behave.

That is where I see the most change. And after 5+ years blogging, I have seen the changes. Many changes. It comes in waves. From what I have seen, it isn’t what is being offered that is changing the way some bloggers are blogging. It is how some bloggers are changing they way they are blogging because of what is being offered.

Are you still blogging for the same reasons you first started? Are you enjoying it as much as you once did or are you trying to just “get that damn post up because it has been so long and I have to write something”? Do you feel a part of a community or an ad agency? Are you writing to write or blogging for dollars?

Don’t get me wrong. You see on the left I have ads. I was one of the first blogs in the BlogHer Ad Network when it launched. It was personal and I had faith in what they were doing. And, yes, I have met and worked with some incredible and very professional PR people. People I absolutely adore and think of as friends now. I have received some amazing products for review and am honored that I have. Does that make me a sell-out?

No. Because my opinion cannot be bought. If I hate your product, I am going to email you and tell you. I will not write a positive review for a crappy product. I won’t accept a product that I have no desire or use for. And no matter how nice you are or how much you want to woo me, you cannot buy my opinion. And that, my friends, is how I came to be friends with some of these PR people. They know that. If I accept something, the are going to get the truth. AND I would only accept it if I sincerely wanted to find out more about it.

I was recently extended an offer to take an amazing trip. A trip of a lifetime. I mean, I would be insane to pass it up. Yet, I had to go back and tell this extremely generous woman that I just could not accept the incredible life-changing aspect of it because the terms of it wouldn’t be beneficial for my entire family. Was that painful to pass up something so awesome. Hell yes! I am not stupid! Would it be worth it if it upset members of my family? No.

I guess for me it all boils down to this: If you blog because you love the community and love writing and have a passion for it, do not be swayed by the things tossed your way. OR hurt when they are not. Keep on writing. If you are blogging because you want to be one of the bloggers who is sent on these trips, gets these products and is top tier meat for the PR firms, by all means, go for it. There is nothing wrong with that if you that is what you want. But whatever you do, follow your passion.

What I am trying to say is, if you are not one of the bloggers being courted, do not let it kill your passion for writing. Write because you want to write. Blog because you love to blog. Because you love the community. Because you cannot imagine not writing. Money or no money. Products or no products. Trips or no trips. Blog for the reasons YOU want to blog. Not for anyone or anything else.

Want to know the best thing I ever received from my blogging?

My agent.

Want to know how we found each other?

I was following my passion and bringing my A-game.

(Something I have been guilty of not doing as much lately. I know. Many apologies to those who miss it and thanks to those who have hung in there with me over these bumpy times.)

Are you blogging for passion or profit? Do you know? Because ultimately, you decide. No one else. You. It is your blog. Your name. And your reasons. Why do you do it?

I’m just asking.

28 thoughts on “Mommyblogging for passion or products?

  1. I blog because I love to write. I write about all of the crazy things that are in my head, which does mean a lot of the mommy blogging.

    I haven’t made any money blogging, if I had the chance I might, but I might not too. I mean I do this because I LOVE IT. I love the people I have met who make me laugh, cry and feel like I am not alone.

    But if Starbucks called, that might be another story…

  2. Jenn, this is great, and you hit on the heart of the issue: why do you blog?

    If I had to give up blogging tomorrow, I might miss the free stuff or the tiny bit of money I make. But that is nothing compared to how much I would miss the community of friends I’ve made. Being unable to keep up with the amazing women and men I have met because of blogging would be devastating to me.

    Whenever my head starts to get filled with ideas of free trips and book deals and money, I think back to this and remember that this community is why I blog. I do it because I love it.

    Thank you for this post. I hope it makes people think about the greater reasons for why they keep at this.

  3. A very balanced and thoughtful post. There is much to ponder within it. I must be blogging for passion because there is no profit for me.

  4. Can I say all of the above? I started blogging about a year ago about our family decision to pick up our life in the Bay Area and move to Costa Rica, with our kids, our dreams and our stuff. I started to explain why we did it, to keep people we loved aware of what we were up to and to help anyone else that thought they might like to do something similiar. And hey, since we had no jobs any additional money would be welcome. I am still waiting to hit the minumum for Adsense.

    While we are here, we have met others through blogs – some we click, some not. And I have found a way to follow my dream. I am about to publish my children’s book this September. Time will tell if it is a good book, if it is a marketable book, and if it is a profitable book. But I did it. And I am not sure I will ever be able to again. BUT I think that I may be good at the book business, so I started my own publishing company. This makes me self-published (that is a dirty word in the book business, but we will see how it goes). So I have started a blog for “that” – it is a blog from a writer, a blog about the business of children’s books, and a mommy blog. So it is for profit. Through the book. But if I get a free pack of diapers, I probably wouldn’t turn it down either…..

    Enjoying your blog. It is nice to get the perspective from a pro.
    Jen

  5. You remain the coolest of the cool. This post is an example of why I love you. 🙂

  6. Being an Italian mom living in Amsterdam, I had no idea how things go down there. PR-people, heavens.

    I guess we are not missing that much, we blog as an outlet, most of us blog for the pleasure of it and for the pleasure of having an audience tha gives you feedback.

    My extra advantage is that I write from an exotic place, so I think I look at Dutch reality as an insider, but I do it in Italian and from an Italian point of view. As I always say, one’s everyday routine is someone else’s exoticism.

    I find this an extremely interesting post, but I truly hope PR-people wont discover us too soon. The informality, the personal exchanges, the real-life friendships coming from blogging are too precious to me to wish to get commercial matters into it.

  7. I went public with my blog to share information about something I had had trouble myself getting info about (to do with breastfeeding) and have kept it up because I enjoy the community and the exercise of writing regularly is good for me and enjoyable. I don’t make any money off it and am not interested in doing so.

  8. This is excellent post, thank you for writing. I remember when I was offered the first free product I was like “wow, this is nice”, but now I notice myself saying no more than yes, just because I can not sign my name under something I don’t believe in. This was yet another reminder for me to remember to keep it true to myself, and be proud of it.

  9. Another advantage to not being popular is that I can write what I think without fear of trolls or cruelty toward me and my opinions. The people who read my blog are all very kind and it allows me to express my real self.

  10. I love you’re site! I stumbled over it looking for PTA MOM. I think that post was so hilarious. I went to a Catholic school so I know how those Mom’s can be. My mother is the the rebel mom. Heh. My other favorite is that damn paperclip. It’s so irritating.

    Good luck with your blog! Not that you need it…

  11. I am not a popular mommy blogger, and I write because it was my outlet after having twins and living in a new palce with no friends or family near.
    It was a way to feel connected with the outside world, I had no idea anyone would care about my words or feelings.
    I really didn’t know PR people would be calling.

  12. Great post…we do not make money on our site however, we surely wouldn’t turn it down. Our mission, and we have one is to unite parents and kids with us grandparents..grandparents can bring wit, wisdom and support to the family today. And with everything we have to do to purely survive…gas, food and medical expense. Grandparents can be a resource for a hot meal, a safe harbor or just to listen.

    We hope to continue and get our message out…

    Best to you…and much success..

    Dorothy from grammology
    remember to call gram
    http://www.grammology.com

  13. I’m not an amazing writer, not is writing a passion, but I needed an outlet. Somewhere I could vent and brag and generally not be judged. Somewhere to connect with other people with my shared interests and feelings. I don’t have neighbors, and my real life mommy friends aren’t up chatting with me at 11pm, but that’s when I need the outlet. So, to my blog I go.

  14. Definitely the writing only. If I can ever make enough to cover hosting fees, I’ll feel like I’m ahead of the game, but that’s ALL I’m looking for. And it’s not expected.

  15. I started blogging because I was the only 42 year old widow I knew and I was imploding and needed an outlet. NO ONE had any idea what I was, where I was coming from or what the hell I should be doing. That was the middle of 2006. I blogged sporadically at first until I found others on a message board – sorta like me – people widowed young and some even blogging. When I met my now husband, I decided to blog to give other widows a window into the rebuild to what is referred to as the “new normal”. I also was rediscovering the joy of writing and thought blogging was a good way to build “muscle”.

    I have looked at Blogher. I even registered, but never did anything with it. I have toyed with the idea of googleads but don’t think my rather scattered topic approach will hold much of an audience. I only blog about grief issues when I have them personally and not on a daily basis. I write about my husband and my child and what interests me and sometimes about writing. Does that make me a mommyblogger? I don’t know. I just blog because I like to and get a kick out the fact that some people like to read what I write. Do I wish for a real audience of size? Sometimes but the few times I have had pieces that attracted crowds it freaked me out a bit, so I don’t really know. I like knowing most of my readers and interacting with them via the comments on my blog and theirs.

    I wished I could have gone to the Blogher convention last summer. It looked interesting but I was just landed in Canada and couldn’t travel back and forth without my husband too easily. Immigration, go figure. I have looked at the set up for this year and am I bit torn. It still seems fun but I can’t justify it. I am really not in that league of blogger.

    Blogging is fun though. It reminds me of the thrill I used to get as a teacher before NCLB when I could be creative and really teach. I love finding topics and writing pieces and putting myself out there. It’s cool and the pay-off is……a comment or an email now and again that tells me I have really touched someone. Look I knew people who taught for the paycheck, the health insurance and summers off. I taught because it was fun and I was good at it. Blogging is the same thing.

  16. I started blogging because it was cheaper than therapy.
    I continue blogging because I enjoy it: the process, the writing, the creating, and the online community I’ve found.
    Ads pay me almost nothing because my readership is fairly small. I do enjoy getting a free book to read and review now and then, but it’s not about the money. It’s about me. (Yes, I’m selfish that way.)

  17. Quite obviously I have no delusions of writing professionally. I’m told that might involve talent and something called hard work (shudder). However, I can safely say that my little personal diary did have a big shift in style and content once I punked that little site meter and ad space on it. I am much more conscious of writing for a nebulous “public” with a broad spectrum of interests and experiences rather than just spouting off. BlogHer ads has been very good to me, and I try to be good back. As for freebies for reviews? Please tell DeBeers I’ll be happy to try their products.

  18. That is funny, I just blogged about this very topic today. I stumbled upon one of the blog posts that you are talking about, and have not been able to stop thinking about this mommy blogger phenomenon since. Me personally, I fall somewhere in the middle. My problem is figuring out what actually qualifies you as a ‘mommy blogger’. If you get a chance to look at my blog post please do. Thanks.

  19. I think, for the most part, it gets easier and easier to separate the bloggers who do it mainly for the love of it vs the bloggers who are basically grovelling for shit.

    I went from being a columnist for our local paper to the blogosphere because that’s where everything is going – to the internet and less and less in print.

    Would I love to diversify my writing forums and audiences? Of course. But I won’t beg or transform into someone else in order to make it happen. But not everyone feels that way.

  20. WOW! All I can say is, WOW! I am a very new “MommyBlogger” and had no idea it got this big. I’m at the level that I’m sure most everyone started at…… I love to write. I love to blog. I, by chance, came across BlogHer and just got accepted last week thinking, that’s pretty cool.

    Passion or Profit? Hmmm… I never knew there was an option. This will help me to keep my eyes peeled and my heart in the right place. Thanks!

  21. I started blogging for fun and a hobby. There is so much more out there that I could learn and do, but I just don’t have the time. I am going to BlogHer though, so I am excited about that!

  22. Only one company has ever asked me to review their product. It was a good product and I was honored to do it. That was three years ago, and nobody has asked me since. I got no money for it, but they did send me some nice samples.

    However, on my own, I often pimp a product that I personally used and found good. I also occasionally warn my readers NOT to EVER under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES so much as TOUCH a product or service or apartment complex because of the experience I had with it.

    Nobody asks me; I just do it sometimes.

    Would I do it for money? I might, if I really liked the product.

    As for the BlogHer ads, I bow in their general direction.

    Can’t say much good about BlogAds, though. They dumped me after three years because I just wasn’t cool enough.

    See? That’s how I do!

  23. This couldn’t have been any better said.

    For me, I blog because I like to. There are days that go by where I’m just not feeling it so I don’t force it because nobody cares that I’m tired and crabby in that moment.

    I like your statements about bringing out the A-Game. Need to remember that!

  24. You bring up a great point, and I’m going to be embarassingly honest with you here for a moment.

    I started blogging because I loved to write. I kept blogging because I loved the feedback.

    I have always, always dreamed of writing.

    And then I started to see others getting “more” for their writing than I was. And I thought, what the hell? I am just as good a writer (OK, fine, “or BETTER!” I said to myself) as these people. I deserve that!

    And I noticed myself changing my writing. Changing my focus.

    And I stopped loving it.

    Here is where I am now:

    Do I want to be “discovered”? Yes. And someday, somehow, I will be. Because I have a passion for communication and I BELIEVE that I’m meant to use that in some way. But when it happens, I want the real deal to be what is “discovered” – the genuine, passionate me that brings the words to life – not some fault imitation that I’ll never be able to maintain anyway.

  25. I was one of the ones watching wistfully from the sidelines while it seemed like everyone else was going off to Camp Baby, etc. But I have had to remind myself that I started a blog in order to write, to hone my ability to spin a yarn, and to record some of the poignant highs and lows of raising small humans.

    Would I love to have some of those great opportunities? Of course! How do I think I should go about that? Begging probably wouldn’t do a lot of good. 🙂 I feel like I’m still in the “finding my voice” phase of blogging… after 5 years. I have a fervently devoted, if relatively small, audience and they are very supportive. I’ve been lucky enough to avoid nearly all hatemail and/or trolling thus far.

    I think it’s all a trade. You have to really WANT to expand your audience and hone your persona in order to become someone the advertisers will look at as a “heavy hitter”. But along with that comes, inevitably, The Hate. It’s all about at what point you decide you’re ready to make the trade and face the uncertainty in the more competitive world of so-called “commercial” blogs. I see nothing – not a thing! – wrong with doing that. I think those doing the lion’s share of complaining and name-calling are either just complainers by nature or afraid they won’t measure up in competition.

  26. Right now for fun. I love the buzz knowing others are reading and appreciating what I write.

    I have yet to go the advertising route as I am not sure where to go. And barely have time to research. It would be nice to have some sheckles or freebees thrown my way but being in Australia it is unlikely!

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