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?
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.