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.


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.’


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 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.

Gut Check

Why is it we doubt our instincts?

When I had my first child in 2003, I doubted my instincts constantly. I read all the books and listened to everyone’s advice. But I always had my own instinct on how it should be done. Eventually I went with my gut. Breastfeeding, co-sleeping, all those issues everyone researches and debates…I went with my gut. It was based in fact, but littered with emotion.

Now, as my youngest turns three and my first born five…I am positive my gut was correct.

It’s really not unlike my gut decision to vote for Senator Obama. I read all the books, I researched the issues and listened to the advice. But in the end I went with my gut. It was emotional, but based in fact and information.

On February 5th I cast my vote for Senator Barack Obama. On February 12th I asked Senator Hillary Clinton to step down. On February 19th I am convinced my gut was correct. Seriously, go click on that last highlighted portion-Baratunde is my new blog crush.

While I watch the pundits spin tonight’s Wisconsin and Hawaii wins and hear them discuss the enormous weight of the next primaries, I’m packing for Ohio.

I’ve found my winter coat, which is good news because it’s been snowing.

This California girl also went out and got some tight/nylon type things for her legs thinking my usual sleeve-less dress with strappy, toe-less heels might not work so well in below freezing temperatures.

Why? Because another gut decision is proving itself successful and I’m off to Cincinnati to do some work.

To be fair, I also make some really insane, emotional, gut decisions.

For instance-look what I’m doing at SXSW Interactive Festival. It should be noted my Diva demands for my appearance include an 8lbs., pink, Hello Kitty bowling ball. Vodka Martinis-extra dirty, on demand. 4 bags of Fritos (which I don’t really like, but seemed like a Britney thing to do). Fiji Water-iced. And one of every t-shirt from, to be donated to the unfunded start-ups of my choosing.

Gut check says I should also go leave post-it notes all over the house for various reasons from exactly which child gets which medicine and at what dose to “the butt wipes are in the cabinet upstairs.”

My gut and I will check in from Ohio soon, if I survive the weather.

If you are still on the fence about Social Media…

It’s about friendship, communities, support. It’s about connecting on a global scale, fundraising, and coming together with the ideas that launch companies.

And sometimes, it’s simply about making a very special friend for your 4-year old.

A very big THANK YOU to Christine and her awesome brother Nick.

Cows Make Milk

My not-exactly 5-year old loves cows. He sleeps with a stuffed cow named Kaiser (that’s the name he came with, I swear) and begged me to take him to the county fair so he could see cows live and in person.

He likes their teats.

Go ahead-make the “you breastfed him too long” joke or the “a man who knows what he likes” as I’m over it. Whatever the reason, the boy really, really, really is udder obsessed.

Thus began my (and Nana’s) search for a stuffed cow with udders. It’s been a good year of searching, at least. You’d be surprised how many stuffed cows are out there, and how zero of them have udders.

Enter Sim from I met Sim at Blog World Expo in Vegas and while I was *supposed* to be talking business, I was instead explaining to him how his company’s mascot, Bessie, would make my son the happiest little boy on planet earth.

Time passed.

I continued to use Utterz (if you haven’t yet, go check it out, it’s fun) and exchanged a few emails with Sim here and there.

Then a box arrived at my door, and my son’s world changed forever:

Boobs On Ice

My Friend Susan is undergoing breast cancer surgery Friday. For those who don’t know Susan she’s Second Life and Twitter’s resident Nana. That’s right, Susan keeps my mouth in check.

This isn’t our first brush with Second Life and cancer. Some of you might notice the WHY MOMMY badge in my sidebar over there. I’m proud BlogHer brought their conference onto Second Life because WHY MOMMY got to participate while she continued her fight.

As for Susan, some of you may have heard the story that she used a frozen pea ice pack to comfort her owies during the first days of testing and diagnosis. It started very simply, with friends on twitter changing their little icons to reflect a “peas” theme. So now we’re all showing our support for her, one way or another, and I’d be pea-sed if you’d join me:

Follow Queen Around the Web…and eat

As many of you know I’m’s Evangelist and Blogging Consultant. That means I’m working for a start-up and learning about all sorts of fun things like…um…start-ups. Now, we’re in Beta, invite only. That means you need to be invited to test our beta. (I’m not explaining this because I think you’re dumb, I’m explaining because before I started doing all this, someone had to explain it to me.)

So while I love me some social media, I was unwise in the ways of the start-up, unless you count BlogHer...but you get what I mean. Sure I am in Second Life and jump around the web, but I never really grabbed onto and found myself cheering for a start-up like I do Photrade….but you guys know that….and I just said “cheering” but it’s 2am and I take no responsibility for myself right now…

Right around the time I started really getting to know and love the ways of a web start up, I began to Twitter. Of course I was on FaceBook until they sucked, brought the tit brigade to Myspace and tend to dabble on blogs all over the damn place.

Enter my two new toys- Utterz and Seesmic. Now, some of you have heard (or is it ‘herd’) me Utter over on Twitter. Basically you can phone in a tweet. Or a blog post. Or just an Utter that can post at Utterz. I love it. I can tweet and post while no where near my computer. I also got to meet Sim from Utterz at Blog World Expo in Vegas and we bonded over cow tits and lemondrops (I’m not kidding) and I can’t wait to see what they have in store.

I’m new to Seesmic and am still confused, but blaming it on my noobieness. The idea is to auto-video post (I think) to twitter or wherever and to have a “conversation” with those people you are seesmic-ing with…I think. Either way…all of this came in handy today while I made about 14 dozen cookies for many of you….

I Twittered how I was making cookies…who wants some? I got my invite to Seesmic (they are an “alpha” site-don’t ask me what the hell that means other than it comes before my Photrade baby’s Beta) and then I did some Seesmic’s on the cookie ( or ‘twookies’ as I dubbed them) progress.

I used Photrade to document the fun.

I Uttered for good measure.

…and TADA!…a blog post on my twookie mania in multi-media goodness. Or badness if you were hoping for porn.

So why the hell did I just tell you all of that? Either I just want you to drink the Kool-Aid with me, or I just wanted to lament on how much I must love you all to bake so much.* I’m still learning about Utterz and Seesmic, but I can answer your Photrade questions…don’t be afraid.

BlogWorld Expo

BlogHer Co-founder Jory Des Jardins, MEEEEE, Photrade’s Krista Neher in Las Vegas, NV at BlogWorld Expo!!!!!