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.


  1. As I keep seeing more and more of these posts (and having friends tell me to go and read them), I have to say that there’s something about all of this that makes me feel uncomfortable.

    It is one of those feelings that I just can’t put a finger on, can’t shake my proverbial stick at, but I do know it is there.

    I’m probably not saying this the best, but I guess I can’t help but keep thinking about how this is all about STUFF and ADVERTISING. As other people are saying, these people are targeting moms, even though women who have children aren’t the only people in the world who are capable of buying things. It is just this “you’re a breeder, so here, have some shampoo and a free trip” that gives me the heebie jeebies.

    The amount of advertising they’re getting from all these blog posts is GOLD for them.

    I’m concerned as I’ve slowly watched blogs turn into “free advertising” for people. Look! I drove their mini-van! Wasn’t it fun? Look! I’m going to some getaway by our friends at Johnson and Johnson! While you’re at it, please stop by my beautiful, brand new product review blog, where you can feel free to send me all the samples you like.

    I do understand the concept of branding. Having an “image” or brand for a blog is great. You know who you are and you can often venture into other mediums with it. I can understand empowerment and the thrill of being able to feel that you’re using a hobby to help out your family.

    It is just that…this, this is all becoming about STUFF. (Well, that and money.)

    About 2 years ago, I was (most likely) “high enough” that I might have been invited to some of these things. I did get (small) offers at the time and I always turned them down. They made me feel creepy. Now, far removed from those stats and far from J&J’s target demographic, I have to say that I feel far more creeped out than I ever did.

  2. AMEN. Damnit. Couldn’t agree more.

  3. they have yet to figure out that not only do we drive their demographic but we ARE their demographic. You anger one member with such a faux paux, 10 other moms will hear about it, you anger one mom with a BLOG and potentially millions of moms will hear about it.

  4. I work as an editor for a small business publishing company and have a background in PR, and I also happen to be a mommy blogger a soccer mom, a Southern woman, a child of the 80s…I fit into several demographics. Hear me roar! 😉

    I am going to the J&J trip and hell yeah I’m excited to go on a “mom retreat” but I’m also taking some blog business cards.

    First and foremost I started blogging for fun and as a creative outlet when I was home working after I had my second daughter.

    I do turn down a lot of random ass PR requests that are obviously just cut and paste “Dear So and SO, we are huge fans of your blog!” But I review things I enjoy or that my girls would enjoy. I am the CEO of my blog. It’s mine, all mine. Mwwaa haa haa haa. 😉

    J&J has also made sure to let us know we aren’t “required” to blog about the event, but of course you know most of us will.

    Any way great post. I’m tired and rambling.
    I feel very lucky that I’ve had several opportunities come my way via blogging and that I’ve made friends and met some incredible people over the past 2 1/2 years.

    I love what Selfmademom said, “…some of us are in this whole thing to be agents of change, which is terrific, and then there are others who just like to write and have fun and meet people and putz around on the internet and that’s fine too. We just need to figure out a way to coexist with each other without creating a “right” or “wrong” way to be a mommy blogger.”


  5. Sorry for the obnoxious novella!

    Must. Go. To. Bed.

  6. You’re right. When it comes to dealing with corporations, mommybloggers need to consider themselves a brand and the entire transaction a business deal. Someone earlier stated that mommybloggers should not put a dollar value on their blog. But I’d argue why not? If you’re dealing with PR agencies or businesses who give you product samples or info to put on your blog, you can bet they’re putting a dollar value on you.

    When I got my first pitch well over a year ago, I was so stunned and flattered that someone wanted ME to try out their product for free and write a review. I didn’t even care for the product that much, but I did it just because I wanted to stay on the list.

    It started to hit me that we’re important at BlogHer 07 last year, when I was walking down a hallway (Mira was in the baby sling) and a man in a suit saw me and practically sprinted back to me. He looked a little crazed. He glanced quickly at my nametag and said, “A Mommy Story. So you’re a mommyblogger, right? Do you have a card I could have?” I was a little weirded out, until I saw he was also at the conference, and looking at his nametag, realized he was a PR person. I gave him my card, and he nearly jumped up and down with glee as he told me, “My company will be in contact with you about possibly trying out some of our client’s products. Thank you so much!” I guess he was trying to meet his quota for the day?

    I’m slowly learning to place a value on my “brand”, I guess, but I have a long way to go, too. I need to remember that my advice and opinions are worth something. I’m going to the J&J event this week, and I plan to have a good time, but will also remember that this is a business trip.

  7. someone above said something about not making this (blogging) a career. really, what’s wrong with that? i’m a writer by education, by choice, & because i love it. while i’m not trying to make a writing career out of my own personal blog, i do blog elsewhere for money. i see nothing wrong with that. i’m a writer. THAT is MY brand and i’m fully aware it’s a biz.

    my personal blog? eh, i’ll never get invited to the cool trips. would it be fun? probably. but the same bloggers getting all of the writing gigs, all of the opportunities? sometimes it’s frustrating. and then i go network to get my writing out there and i get over it.

    do i want to be taken advantage of? hell no. are mommybloggers the only women out there? absolutely not. in addition to being a mommy, i’m a techie, a geek, and a MAD macophile. stop treating us so one-dimensionally! guess what? i’m not girlie-girlie. strongly scented lotions and soaps make me ill. so why do we get lotions and makeup? because we’re women.

    once again: stop it! stop trying to put women in a little compartment because you (PR & companies) think you know us. stop and get to know us first.

  8. Queen of Spain says:

    I really am enjoying the discussion here-and I think it’s really IMPORTANT it continue. Some fantastic points are being made and I think that is all part of dealing with how *we* or how you, yourself, handles this.

    BlogHer Business is getting ready to kick off in NYC. I’m home for this one (I spoke last year and am headed to New Comm Forum-see my sidebar-in a few weeks) as we moms know traveling is hard on the wee ones. I’m excited to hear what comes out of NYC and am expecting full reports from those of you at Baby Camp, at BlogHer biz, and at home watching tweets and posts with me.

  9. Absolutely fabulous. Not much more to say than that.

  10. Wow- I got here via socalmom and I am so way out of the loop I have no idea what you are talking about!? You are a force of nature. I am a working mommy and can’t see how anyone has time to write daily but I am extremely interested in what writing I get to do and read. Great point- how do I get in this club?

  11. That was a lot to think about. I am a bit dizzy trying to digest it (compounded by the screaming children in the background). I am coming back later when it is quiet to re-read and read all the comments as well.. thanks.

  12. I have a huge comment to make, but I think I can say it better in a blog post – hope ya don’t mind!

  13. I really enjoyed your post. Obviously I’m not a mommy (or even a daddy for that matter :)), but the way you wrote about this whole topic (that I have followed through some other blogs) really caught my attention.

    Congratulations for the very good article, and keep up with the mommyblogging business… 🙂


  14. Queen of Spain – I love your brand name, btw. And you are right, your blog name and blog itself is a brand. I’m new to your blog and will definitely check it out. So far, I love your attitude.

  15. I have been reading your blog for a while but I don’t think I have ever commented. I have been considering this very subject. In particular do I want to make money off my blog. Is it worth the trade off. The age old question, does my hobby become work when I make it my job, and therefore lose it’s appeal?
    I am still on the fence. I appreciate your insights and straightforwardness.

  16. Very powerful post that really gets to the heart of the matter. If you have ANY money making activity on your blog be it adsense or the odd affiliate link then yes you are a business. Even if you review products for your own pleasure, if you have any sort of a following at all, you are in a position of influence and corporate America will come knocking. Thank you so much for being so open and upfront about this issue.

  17. Great post – now, there’s very little chance of my EVER getting to sleep tonight – there’s so much to think about here.

    To put it into more simpler terms – why by the cow when you can get the milk for free?


  18. I’m fairly new to blogging and I have been reading about this in other blogs. I never really thought about making money from blogging but from the looks of things it will end up happening.

  19. We don’t really blog to make money of it, we really use it to interact with customers. Nor we have ever gone to other bloggers who might be interested in testing one of our products and use them for our own benefit. It’s great that you expose this for other moms to know as we’re moms ourselves who have our business online.

  20. Funny, once I began to write frankly about surviving child sexual abuse, the deluge of PR pitches and junket offerings stopped flooding my inbox,(except those from Cynthia Samuels, a PR professional with integrity and sensitivity).

    Ah hell, I’ve always been a weird niche anyway – menopausal-older mommy-feminist-abuse survivor-Bikram yoga student-Jack Russell Terrier owner-on my third (and last marriage) blogger. I suppose I could promote a yoga mat, but really, that’s about it.

    Excellent post. Carry on with your badass ways, my Queen.

  21. You see, this is why I love you. No seriously, there are tons of mom’s out here who don’t know this and if you weren’t talking about it and blogging about it, they may never have. Keep blogging about what you are passionate about, keep helping us all stay connected (with each other) and keep telling the corporate bigwigs like it is.

  22. AW-FREEKING-SOME! You tell it like it is! LOVE IT! You are leading a revolution and I am willing to be a mommy soldier in this mommy REVOLUTION! YOU GO GET ‘EM

  23. You don’t have a choice if you want to be a brand or not. Branding is perception.

    You’re being perceived – like it or not.

    In knowing you are a brand it gives you the choice to steer and control that brand as opposed to throwing it to the wind and letting the rest of the world decide your brand for you.

    While I understand most people think of “branding” strictly in a business sense, to do so allows people to feel they can “opt out” of something. You can’t opt out. Branding (intentional or not) is inherent in the choice of medium used to express oneself. To try and opt out only serves to make the person opting out feel a little better about a decision to not take responsibility for their creation.

    I don’t mean this in a negative way. The mommybloggers that choose to pay attention to their brand will be more on point with what the goal of the blog is by having a brand that helps remind them of the goal. This, in turn, will create a more cohesive blog that is easier to read and makes more sense.

    Even if you’re not making a dime, your children will thank you for creating a cohesive story with a goal, even if that goal is just to remember to love your children and remember what they did every day.

  24. Amen, sister!

    So important — “Don’t sell yourselves short.”

  25. What I enjoy most about posts like this is that it makes us *think* (or, it should) about the consequences that there are for publishing online. Although I have to admit, I do sort of echo the sentiment of Kathy (2nd comment), since I’m not a mother myself. This post is still relevant, though!

  26. I think a lot of people are misunderstanding what you’re saying but I get it. It’s not about changing your blogging into a business but rather expecting to be treated as if you are one by people or companies who want something from you and to respect your own worth and writing enough to not compromise yourself for fear of being left behind. Am I right?

  27. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

    6,000$ to fill out a survey ? Where do I sign up ?

    Disney is in the marketing business.

    Put actions to those words & go solo.

  28. You had me at $6000! I’m in…seriously though, I’m new here, found you through Fussy. I love what you wrote. I am so guilty of the deer in the headlights. I haven’t been approached much, but when I have, I know I have been way to eager to just be noticed without really thinking. Well said.

  29. I found you through Fussypants and I think you are right on. Very important topic!

  30. Well, this has been a very eye-opening read for me. I had no idea all this controversy was going on regarding J&J and Disney or that there was such a push by PR firms and other corporations to woo mommy-bloggers to write about their products. But it makes total sense that they would do so because moms are the primary decision makers when it comes to making purchases. In the past I’ve been approached by a couple of companies to write about their products, which I did, but it didn’t occur to me how much more valuable my opinion probably is. In fact, I just got another pitch just the other day. I haven’t contacted her back yet, but after reading all this, I am going to be very careful about how I go about things. By the way, I found your site via Fussy, too. I have found a lot of new, wonderful mommy-blogs today.

  31. [Just catching up here!]

    Great post. While blogging where I live has a lot to catch up to where you guys are at, a lot of these points are relevant to me at this point in my life….. good food for thought!

  32. I’ve said this before (although not here, first time commenter…hi) but I think ads and marketing are ruining the blogosphere. They are exploiting our creativity and harnessing the power of our need and it just ANNOYS me to no end. I miss the purity of blogging. Once, it was just about the content, the comraderie and the free exchange of thoughts and ideas. That’s gone now. And I will probably not gain any points for saying so, but I think BlogHer is one of the biggest culprits. They are masquerading as a beneficient entity by wooing women bloggers with empowerment speeches and fancy soirees in their honor, but they are exploiting us right along with the rest of them.

    I don’t do ads, I won’t do ads, and I wouldn’t go to a “Baby Camp” even if they did pay me. I’m not a spokesperson, I’m just a Mom and a blogger. And I’m going to stay that way.

    Naieve? Probably. Marketing makes the world go ’round, and I get that. But I don’t have to like it.

  33. Came here today via Velveteen Mind, and I have taken a step back from blogging right now because I feel absolutely left behind in the dust of all the big ‘mommy blogger’s out there – and I find myself agreeing with Blog Antagonist – her comment fits very closely to my own views on blogging right now. It comes down to a personal choice, like you say.

    Having been a corporate marketer, and keeping up with marketing blogs at present – I agree with you that companies and marketers take social media extremely seriously and they know exactly the goldmine of consumer opinion they are tapping into. I suspect they don’t expect mommy bloggers to be as aux fais, and they are attempting to garner top quality qualitative consumer research at a bargain price.

  34. I have been thinking about this post all yesterday evening and this morning. I just wanted to add that I initially considered the ‘events’ to be research based and perhaps I have misunderstood this. I wrote a lengthy comment at Velveteen Mind in response to her post (should really have just written my own blog about it).

    As I said already, and as many of your commenters said – it’s a personal choice thing – many mommy bloggers will not be brand or marketing savvy, and that’s fine – some of us are brand and marketing savvy and yet choose not to make our blogs about money, and that’s fine too. To those of you wanting more remuneration for working with companies, endorsing their products – good luck.

  35. I am so inpired by your post. I get more emails, requests, PR and calls each day and it’s time consuming to research and write the posts. Plus I really promote my blog and spend hours on it. I didn’t start out as a businesss but I am being taken advantage of. So I’ve started asking for payment for my time and I actually had someone get mad and tell me that’s not what blogging is. That I wasn’t being tranparent. You see my opinions and finding are 100% mine. The payment is for the ad space and my time. They are taking advantage of my time, my niche, my readers, and my experience and education.

    Before your post here is what got my attention. My husband said to me that I have a masters in education, I’m spending time, looking at their products, trying them and marketing them because I market my blog and get nothing? He told me it was bad business. BUSINESS!!!!!

  36. Just how and when do these corporate entities come courting? Really, I’m utterly fascinated by this entire topic. I even blogged in my own blog today, about what I read in your blog about blogging!
    I’ve been blogging for all of 8 weeks now, but I’ve developed a nice little following over at Blogger. I thought getting 2000 hits in a month on a brand new blog was just great. Apparently it isn’t enough for anyone to be beating down my door with offers for, well, anything.
    Hell, I can’t even afford a plane ticket to the BlogHer convention in San Fran in July. You think maybe if I tell United Airlines that I’ll blog about it, they’ll spot me a ticket? First class please.

  37. Thanks for this post. I was sent an e-mail, thought it was junk and deleted it. I’ll have to be more careful in the future and put my business cap on. Again, thanks for the heads up on this situation.

  38. I loved reading this. This is exactly how I feel about corporate America re: Moms in general, never mind ones with a keyboard and an Internet connection. Clearly I need to amp it up a notch because no one is paying me a dime. So, thanks.

  39. Damn Mama! Say it proud with yo fist in the air!


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