(What hasn’t changed is my refusal to say mommyblog because I hate that word with the fiery passion of a thousand habanero chilis. But I digrees.)
Yesterday I read Kristen’s post about being introduced like a kooky mom at a professional conference, instead of a professional blogger who runs a successful website (if I do say so myself). Even if at times she is indeed both. I can attest to that. The post gave me pause about how far we still have to go in terms of being taken as seriously as male bloggers in some circles, and how hard that might be when we’re not all business all the time. There’s a reason Hillary wore pantsuits.
And then I just read Lindsay’s post about the lengths some moms are going to get free stuff from marketers. Bloggers are leaving their business cards on random shelves of a grocery store? Isn’t that like, up there with nail salons that stick flyers under your windshield wipers in the parking lot or attorneys who buy ads on the subway?
Like Lindsay, my jaw fell open and small pesky flies rushed in.
As a mom, I want to be supportive of what my fellow sisters in momhood do with their little corner of the www. There’s plenty of bandwidth for all of us, whether we consider ourselves memoirists, journalers, online scrapbookers, or honest product reviewers. I got no beef with self-promotion, twittering, facebooking, networking, conference attending and community building 864 ways to Sunday. If you’ve got the goods and you want people to know it? Go for it, mama!
What I am not supportive of, however, are moms demeaning themselves for crap.
(Demeaning themselves for crap? Ack, did I really just say that?)
This is an issue I’ve had ever since my mom told me about participating in focus groups to earn extra cash when she was newly divorced in the 70’s. The men were always paid 2-3 more times than the moms because their time was perceived as more valuable. Never mind that the moms actually controlled more of the household budgets and probably accounted for more of the sales. For years, moms have not been important in the marketing mix, except as spenders.
If we want to change that, if we want to be treated as professionals, we have an obligation to be professionals. There’s a fine line between self-promoting and shilling, between desire and desperation.
And then, we need to understand our value.
Nothing makes me more insane than knowing there are talented moms out there willing to give it all up for nothing. Whether it’s an advertiser asking to place a text link in your hard-written post for compensation, or a multi billion-dollar retail giant that spends $570 million on advertising in a year but doesn’t give a cent to the mom bloggers who write for them. It. Makes. Me. Crrrrazy.
(Trill the r if you can – Go on, it’s fun. And makes you feel kind of fancy.)
You are worth more than that. We, collectively, are worth more than that.
On the other hand – maybe we’re not. Are we?
If we’re not creating great content, building strong communities, and being discerning with our product reviews, then what is the value? What is the value to the marketer? Hell, what is the value to our friends, the ones whose trust we’ve worked so hard to build? I’m fairly certain that most moms are not coming to the parenting blogs to read about the new Clorox SKU, and that there are very few bloggers with the wit, the creativity, the humor and the smarts to turn a post about a new widdgitywhatchamacallitthingie into a thing of genius.
As Lindsey just wrote in her own comments: Three of my favorite bloggers have tricked me into reading a paid “advertisement” post in the last month, and I can’t describe how nauseated that made me feel, and disappointed in them for slipping that paid content into their main blogs
I’m going to be speaking with some amazing women on a panel at Blogher 09 about working with marketers in ways that are constructive and rewarding for everyone involved. How to act like a professional, be treated like a professional, and adapt to this new world where personal blogging and commerce are paired up and doing a sometimes clumsy tango–all without being perceived as a shill.
I will say that I strongly believe it all starts with amazing writing. If you write compelling blog posts, brands will want to work with you. Good ones. They might even lend you a car.
So if you’re going to fling your fancy new business cards around the doctor’s office or reach out to marketers and convince them the value of flying you to a conference, you’d better make sure there’s some worthy content under that banner of yours and not just some decent drive-by traffic because you optimize your headlines.
Because now? You’re the marketer.
Or as the old advertising industry adage goes: Nothing kills a bad product faster than a good ad.
Click here for the follow-up post, some clarity, and yeah, some funny pictures