The Business of Mommyblogging

I’m getting myself very out of sorts lately following all the J&J, Disney drama. It has nothing to do with who got invited, who got snubbed, who got an email, who got a pitch, who is going, who is staying silent.

Nothing.

It has everything to do with the buzz word of the moment: ‘brand.’

Queen of Spain Blog is a brand. CityMama is a brand. Sarah and the Goon Squad is a brand. Mom101 is a brand. Karen Sugarpants is a brand. Table for Five is a brand. Suburban Oblivion is a brand.

From Heather Armstrong to Sparks and Butterflies to those of you getting 3 hits a day-2 of which are your husband-YOU ARE A BRAND.

I didn’t believe it either, then all these other people told me. Not that I needed them telling me, it was just the wake-up call to a slumber that started somewhere in San Jose about 2006 when I was cornered between a Weight Watcher representative, a Disney PR person, and a cameraman, all while nursing my daughter in the middle of a conference.

The proof is not in the community we’ve created. The proof is not in the ad checks we receive. The proof is not in the press or the interviews or the issuing of credentials to important functions.

The proof, my dear friends, is in the shift in corporate America.

Remember when we used to say “if only they knew how great and powerful we are they’d partner with us and pay to have us use their shit and we’ll all live happily every after!”

Guess what-they know. They know, they’re pitching, and they are finding you a wide-eyed doe in an open field. Not that I don’t love my does, but it is time to be re-educated in Mommyblogging. More important the BUSINESS of Mommyblogging.

I don’t know about you, but when I started Queen of Spain it was because I was at home with kids and needing something. I needed to get out my fears and my frustrations. I needed to talk about what I loved about being a mother, what I loathed about being a mother, and I needed to find other mothers like me to talk more about what we liked about being mothers, what we loathed about being mothers, and so on and so on.

Very few of us went into this thinking we were doing anything other than writing, finding friends, talking shop. Even fewer of us went into this realizing we were creating a business.

I want you to understand in no uncertain terms: Mommyblogging is a business.

I know half of you are shaking your heads and saying things like “I’m not really here for that, I just want to lament about potty training and gab with my girlfriends and maybe make a few extra bucks to pay a few bills.”

While all of that is true, understand you have graduated from “make a few extra bucks” to “they want us so bad they are sending us on all expense paid trips, filling our inboxes with press releases (fyi PR peeps-I’m not the New York Times I’m a mommyblog. If I were a reporter your release might come in handy, in my email-not so much) and partnering with some of us to consult, sit on a focus group, even blog on their corporate website.

You. Are. A. Business.

Here’s the problem: most of us don’t know shit about business (myself included) and they are taking advantage of our ignorance.

I’m sorry ladies, truth hurts. You’re getting snowed, fleeced, taken, abused, used.

I am too. Correction, I was.

I am the first to admit I want an open and transparent partnership with companies that come a courtin’. But I want it at market value. If my market is WOMEN ONLINE, what’s the value?

Recently I about lost my mind reading a very sweet post over at the LadyBug and her Blogging Mama. It’s something that has popped up a few times on many of the blogs discussing all the recent PR and marketing dust ups.

The idea goes if we are not nice to corporate muckity mucks, and if we don’t mind our Ps and Qs like good little girls, none of us will get flown anywhere, ever again, and we’ll be stuck to wallow in our silly little community. In other words: ‘you Mommybloggers need to quit your bitching or the big boys and their big money are going to go away.’

Heh.

As you can imagine I started to type a rather half-crazed response, when I noticed something else over at Self-Made Mom’s comment section,

“This Disney event was a test, one that now may not soon be duplicated.”-Maria Bailey

Now for those who don’t know, Maria is paid by Disney to arrange these sorts of meetings. Maria contacted me in September of last year to attend a similar event for Halloween. We went. We had fun. Apparently no one objected to it being held on Satan’s Holiday and all went off without a hitch.

I too have consulted, and have gotten paid, by Disney to help them better understand Mommyblogs.

They paid me $6,000 for what essentially amounted to a few emails, a survey, and a meeting. (that last sentence is called being TRANSPARENT-goes right along with that ‘brand’ word we discussed at the beginning)

But here is the important part and why I am pointing out Maria’s quote- “…one that may not soon be duplicated…” which, in my opinion, implies Disney told her to this isn’t going to happen again if we keep yapping on our blogs.

Despite the fact that I’m a bit confused by this is an ‘experiment’ when I did something similar months upon months ago and it was a huge success, (and they did something in Palo Alto awhile back too) I’m more confused by Disney possibly not wanting to connect with influential Moms. Or the idea that companies don’t want to come inside social media and use us as their advertising because we might actually talk back.

At what point did I miss them not needing Moms. Are you seriously trying to backhandedly threaten me, and imply Disney doesn’t need Moms? Are you telling me Johnson and Johnson doesn’t need Moms to buy their baby shampoo too? Maybe they will market J&J babywash to single males instead??

If sales are dropping dramatically for magazines, if viewership has dropped dramatically for television, if MILLIONS OF MOTHERS ARE NOW ONLINE READING AND WATCHING AND CONSUMING are you really trying to tell me my mouth is what is going to drive them back into their corporate headquarters???!!!

“Oh, shit! Those Moms have OPINIONS! Holy fuck! Quick-get me the best team in the world and let’s figure out how to get all those Moms offline and BACK watching Days of Our Lives because marketing to a person as opposed to throwing a shitty 30 second spot together is waaaaaaaaaaaaay too hard!”

…and then Mr. CEO realizes we still hold the pursestrings and he doesn’t have a motherfreaking choice. He has to assemble that social media team to come play by our rules or we’re buying the organic shampoo at half the price a friend of a friend blogged about last week.

My latest and greatest concern in this entire Mommyblogging Coming Out party is very simple: don’t be a sucker. I too have been a sucker, don’t be me.

Take the free trip but take it knowing what it means for your brand. Take the free box of diapers understanding this is a business deal. Treat all of this not like a star-struck fan, happy to get some bibs in the mail, treat it LIKE A BUSINESS.

They want you to blog their product? Charge them for ad space. They want to know if you think other Mommybloggers will like their new website? Charge them a consulting fee.

And for good measure, you might want to know who you are dealing with on the other end. They want a piece of the action too, and allegedly don’t mind stretching the truth to get it.

This is business, not personal. This is about me saying ‘yes, I help out Photrade.com and if I ask you about using our new ad format -this is business.’ This is about you saying ‘yes, I’m blogging this humidifier because some PR company sent it to me, and they followed up with 30 emails and I’m afraid if I don’t say Vic’s Humidifier on my blog they may never send me anything again.’

This is also about realizing the true value of our community and what it’s become. Make no mistake, they need you-make them treat you appropriately.

If they give you shit, send them to me.

Comments

  1. I agree with almost eveyrone here. I find that I’m constantly branding myself to my mommyblogging peers. I’m new to this world, and feel like a freshman pledge at a sorority party. I keep hearing about the brands of “Blogher”, “Kirtsy”, and “Dooce”. We brand ourselves to each other, so why shouldn’t we to corporations?

  2. Thanks so much for the blunt honesty! I haven’t been Mommy blogging for long, and recently when a show coordinator emailed me to advertise for their event coming to our area I was thrilled someone had found my tiny, little bog! My brother asked what they were paying me to blog about them & as I answered “no money, just a few free tickets for me & the kids” it dawned on me – They were getting free advertising & I felt bad asking them for a few tickets. DUHHHH! I really needed to hear what you said! Thanks!!!

  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you. This was well written, well articulated, on point.

  4. Thanks for writing this post. Over this past weekend at Mom 2.0 Summit is Houston this was a big topic. It’s nice to hear it on your blog as well.

  5. Hello Miss Queen of Spain!

    Great to see you at the BlogHer gathering in Pasadena.

    This is a great post! I found it via Velveteen Mind, and blogging as a business. It’s helpful and such a healthy way at looking at your brand. :)

  6. My blog is only a few weeks old and your post was illuminating. Thank you for saving me a great deal of confusion and giving me something to chew on.

  7. First, thank you so much for this excellent post which is indeed timeless considering it was posted about 18 months ago and mommy bloggers are still struggling professionally to be understood and respected by brands and PR.

    In responding to the original message, it’s important to know that I come from a background that includes 20+ years in public relations (agency and corporate) as well as working as a freelance journalist for traditional media.

    Now working full-time as a mommy blogger, I’m as serious about this new career as much as I was about the ones I had before it. As a professional mommy blogger, I am building my business — not playing it as a game or passing the time as a hobby.

    Similarly focused mommy bloggers — whether newbies or seasoned pros — need to be ever mindful of how we would like to be viewed by consumer brands and public relations agencies: as legitimate business women representing established brands. The realities of how consumer brands and PR agencies see and treat us begins with our own self-images as mommy bloggers. If we act professionally at all times, there will be no reason why the business world should treat mommy bloggers as non-professionals.

    Remember, each of us has complete control over how we wish to be individually viewed as a mommy blogger and how we will allow ourselves to be treated by the business world. The choice is yours: do you want to be seen as the doe standing naively in an open field or would you rather be the mother bear who is always on alert to protect her cubs, in this case, our livelihood?

Trackbacks

  1. […] on the table. If a company emails you with questions, charge a consulting fee for answering them. Queen of Spain received a consulting fee of $6000 from Disney “for what essentially amounted to a few emails, a […]

  2. […] on the table. If a company emails you with questions, charge a consulting fee for answering them. Queen of Spain received a consulting fee of $6000 from Disney “for what essentially amounted to a few emails, a […]

  3. […] on the table. If a company emails you with questions, charge a consulting fee for answering them. Queen of Spain received a consulting fee of $6000 from Disney “for what essentially amounted to a few emails, a […]

  4. […] on the table. If a company emails you with questions, charge a consulting fee for answering them. Queen of Spain received a consulting fee of 00 from Disney “for what essentially amounted to a few emails, a […]

  5. […] on the table. If a company emails you with questions, charge a consulting fee for answering them. Queen of Spain received a consulting fee of 00 from Disney “for what essentially amounted to a few emails, a […]

  6. […] of blogging about six months ago, around the time I read Queen of Spain’s post about “The Business of Mommyblogging.” Until then, my blog was like a child’s sandbox, and I was just having fun. And then, […]

  7. […] Even though we’ve been friends for a while, it was this post that officially launched my girl crush on her. But my crush turned into full-out envy when Erin landed her gig with BlogHer as their Political […]

  8. […] Yes, you are a businesswoman. You are a professional. Please don’t make me go over this again. […]

  9. […] on the table. If a company emails you with questions, charge a consulting fee for answering them. Queen of Spain received a consulting fee of $6000 from Disney “for what essentially amounted to a few emails, a […]

  10. […] on the table. If a company emails you with questions, charge a consulting fee for answering them. Queen of Spain received a consulting fee of $6000 from Disney “for what essentially amounted to a few emails, a […]

  11. […] the top was when I started being pitched by companies and PR firms. This is when I stumbled upon The Queen of Spain Blog and a fire was lit under my ass and I realized, my time is valuable. I’m sharing this with you so […]

  12. […] hat tip to @queenofspain for this post : The Business of Mommyblogging […]

  13. […] up on the latest drama as my friend, Erin, Queen of Spain, who once rallied mom bloggers to “become a business,” now outs new bloggers as “carpetbaggers,” because they skip the […]

  14. […] had a great conversation with Erin over at, The Queen of Spain Blog , the other day because I wanted her “expert” opinion and she was so wonderful to even give me […]

  15. […] and services for free. Two years ago, Queen of Spain blogged about this very topic with her post, The Business of Mommy Blogging. The post reminded parent bloggers that our personal blogs are our brand. And businesses value the […]

  16. […] As for favorite post ever from someone else’s blog…are you kidding? I have so many that there’s no way I could pick just one! My Bloglines currently has 182 posts that I’ve saved so I could read again. I can tell you that today’s favorite post for me is Queen of Spain’s The Business of Mommyblogging. […]

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