The truth about 'mummy blogging'
"Blogging gives both women and men an outlet for their creativity, and has created intensely supportive virtual communities."
There’s been a lot in the media lately about the ubiquitous ‘mummy blogger’. See, for example, this piece in The Australian and this piece on The Sydney Morning Herald. There are a few different angles to the stories, but the themes are much the same.
1. Mummy bloggers are everywhere, and pose a threat to traditional journalists.
2. Brands are flocking to mummy bloggers. A good blog can generate $2,000 to $3,000 in advertising revenue per week. At the very least, mummy bloggers get lots and lots of freebies.
3. Actually accepting advertising or sponsorship on a blog is akin to ‘selling out’. And as mummy bloggers aren’t bound by a code of ethics, they are not required to disclose their interests, and so can potentially fool their gazillions of readers.
4. Mummy bloggers are not real writers. They are bloggers. There is a difference.
Well, I can’t comment on any of the above, because I am a professional writer – I get paid for writing my books and columns. Except that I can comment, because I started my career as a blogger, and I still blog to this day. What’s more, as I often blog about my family life, I guess I'm a mummy blogger, too, though plain 'blogger' would do just fine.
So from an insider, here is the truth about blogging.
1. Yes, mummy bloggers - and dad/food/fashion/craft/political bloggers - are everywhere. There are literally hundreds of thousands of blogs worldwide. Blogging gives both women and men an outlet for their creativity, and has created intensely supportive virtual communities. But bloggers - 'mummy' or otherwise - are not journalists. Bloggers don’t give the news. We might comment on the news, but our stories are usually personal. Blogs are an emerging genre, but that is nothing to be afraid of, and they are not replacing traditional journalism.
2. Yes, brands are flocking to bloggers - particularly mummy blogggers. I get inundated with offers from PR agencies every day, and most are woefully unimpressive (despite their enthusiastic use of the exclamation mark). ‘Hey Kerri!’ they write. ‘I thought you’d be interested to learn about our new range of foot scrubs/ dishwashing tabs/KFC chicken! I know your readers would, too!’
Well, I’m not, and they aren’t, so I just hit ‘delete’. However, I could press ‘reply’, and get loads of free products – things like foot scrubs and dishwashing tabs and buckets of KFC. But if I did, could I earn tens of thousands of dollars? Please. A blogger needs a seriously massive following to do that, and - even though mine is sizeable – it’s not going to make me a millionaire anytime soon.
What’s more, it is extremely challenging to do sponsored posts well, without alienating readers who aren’t interested in foot scrubs. I’ve seen more than one fabulous blog go downhill when they started doing sponsored posts, so all kudos to those who manage to pull it off.
3. No, a ‘monetized’ blog is not a sell out. Am I ‘selling out’ as an author by charging money for my books? Are radio announcers ‘selling out’ when they start reading ads for yoghurt ? Of course not. Similarly, bloggers who are talented and work hard and have built up a readership over many years have a right to earn money from their product and services.
And fear not, because no-one is being fooled. Readers can smell a sponsored post a mile off. If a blog breathlessly extolling the virtues of hypoallergenic socks does not specifically state that ‘This is not a sponsored post’, most of us will assume it is.
4. No, not all bloggers are ‘writers’. Some bloggers don’t write much at all – they post pictures, or recipes, or short anecdotes of a couple of lines. But there are others who write beautiful, lengthy pieces that bring their readers to laughter and tears and gasps of insight. Are they not ‘real’ writers? Of course they are. If a piece of writing is amazing, it's amazing, whether or not the piece has been commissioned by a third party.
So I hope this is the end of the blogging debate. But it’s certainly not the end of the blog. We bloggers are fiercely proud of our place in cyberspace and we have earned it.
And trust me, we’re not going anywhere.