Mommybloggings Part Deux: The marketers are here to stay. Are we?

Once upon a time I wrote a post called Mommybloggings that is so out of date now it’s practically hilarious. In fact I think I may have been wearing a bonnet and petticoat as I dipped my quill feather in ink and described how some moms were here for community and some were here to become better writers, and how the division occasionally caused tension.

Of course this was all back in the day that you were a sell-out if you joined the BlogHer ad network, and it was rare to be asked to review much more than a book or the occasional ill-conceived personal lubricant. It was certainly before Nielsen started quantifying blogger “power” and moms accepted free trips to Disney and holy cow, is this the blog world I joined where people wrote funny stories about their kids? Or some wacky free-for-all where air fresheners and other assorted package goods fall from the sky and the goal is to grab as many as you can, quick! Quick, before someone else gets them!

Now people are fighting. Turf wars! Mommy gangland! The lines are drawn, the shivs have been whittled out of Fisher Price toddler spoons, the FTC is on the case, and it hasn’t been pretty.

One one side you’ve got the earlier “mommybloggers” (who I still choose to call parenting bloggers), people like Erin and Lindsay who have been outspoken about their distaste for the blurred distinction between editorial and compensated posts, among other things.

On the other side, you’ve got the moms who are very excited to share their opinions on the new Turtle Wax Miracle Towel or whatnot (provided they get one for free and an identical one for their readers which they’ll give away in a twitter contest) who say What do you care what I write about? You’re not the boss of me. And by the way, I totally love Turtle Wax Miracle Towel and always have and my readers want nothing more than to read about the Turtle Wax Miracle Towel and my personal experiences with it and by the way, did I mention you’re not the boss of me?

And they’d be right.

I’ve been saying for ages that there is a semantic issue here: We need to ditch the term mommyblog because it defines the blogger and not the blog.

There are review blogers and there are parenting bloggers. The fact that we are all parents is incidental. Jessica Smith would be the first person to agree to that. (The second would be Stephanie Smirnov who wrote a great post on bloggers and brands from the PR perspective.)

We’re different people here for different reasons, despite finding ourselves on the same pitch lists and Evites, attending the same conferences and sharing plenty of Twitter followers. We have different goals and different measurements of success.

But of course it’s not quite so black and white as those two categories, same as how it wasn’t with my original Mommybloggings post (as many kind readers pointed out back then).

There are bloggers like Kimberly of Mom in the City who posts reviews and while she might not fit into an old school definition of mommyblogging, is one of the kindest, coolest, most authentic, honest writers I’ve had the privilege of meeting. I’ve sat on panels with her and she brings a thoughtfulness to the conversation that most of us could learn from. Any time anyone disses a product blogger I think, well – look at Kimberly. I love what she brings to blog comments anytime I catch her name beneath a post.

Then there are also classic essay sort of bloggers – say, me? – who, while we write about our lives as parents, are happy to accept certain opportunities like phone calls with Gloria Steinem and sitcom set visits because they are experiential. They fit into our lives, they provide content for our blogs, and they give us the ability to make jokes about celebrity urine that then the Wall Street Journal can go and attribute to someone else.

Which means guess what? Pretty much everyone is in bed with a marketer to some degree. Whores, all of us!

Except Blog Antagonist, bless her.

So I’ve been reading all these posts over the past few weeks, asking myself why should I care?

Why should I care what anyone else does with her blog? Why shouldn’t I simply avoid the blogs I find distasteful and stick with the writers who continue to thrill me and delight me and entertain me enough to make up for the fact that there are other things I could be doing with my time besides reading their posts?

The truth of the matter is, I do care.

I care because how we behave in this space impacts one another. It affects the community as it is currently defined – that one with all of us in it together.

It’s the same way you would care if you suddenly found your neighbor in your overpriced subdivision painted his house purple and gold and flew pirate flags out all the windows and bred chickens on the front lawn.

I care because I hate seeing moms demean themselves and accept less than they’re worth – and I hate seeing them make demands that make us all worth a little less.

I care because I love this space. And I value the fact that that we can discuss–out in the open and with our real names attached–the issues that affect us. And because I think it’s worthwhile to put other perspectives out there than the one out there that suggests bloggers should spend their days writing to PR folks in search of free stuff “for review.” Because those PR people are horrified. And they are freaked out. And they are trying to figure out how to handle it, all the while floating phrases like shameless and unprofessional about our community–the community I love–behind closed doors.

Now of course I think that people have the right to write whatever the heck they want on their own personal blogs. There’s certainly enough bandwidth to go around. I also have no problems with bloggers aligning themselves with marketers and causes they believe in as long as they’re not misleading me about it.

But then, I am also sad that the marketing is no longer a small part of the blog world but what seems to be the biggest part.

I am sad that it’s making some of the most authentic, talented writers on the web question their relevance.

I am sad that when a mom decides to blog, she is not told that rule number one is write well (with the merciful exception of advice from Citymama and Lindsay) but that rule number one is to make sure your contact info can be easily found by people who want to pitch you.

I am most sad that marketing is pulling us apart.

Did we all used to get along and hug and love every single mom who launched a free Blogspot account? God, no. Hell to the no. But we never questioned each other’s authenticity. A blogger wrote what was in her heart and either we agreed or we didn’t. Now no one can mention a trip to the zoo or a great movie without someone questioning whether it’s been sponsored.

Gosh, that’s more than sad, it’s tragic. What do we have if not our integrity?

In the end, I wonder where it all this corporate interaction leave blogging. Where will it leave all these beautiful personal little virtual homes for self-expression and story trading and photo sharing?

I fear they’ll be deserted and left to litter the internet, like the endless strip malls in Florida abandoned when the newer, shinier strip mall across the street opens for business.

It’s flattering to be recognized by marketers, of course. But as I keep reminding myself, that’s not why I’m here.

You are.

{152 Comments}

152 thoughts on “Mommybloggings Part Deux: The marketers are here to stay. Are we?”

  1. What you said on my last post? I’m just gonna ditto that, ‘kay? (I WANT TO BOTTLE YOU AND THIS POST AND TRAVEL AROUND WITH IT AND SPRAY EVERYBODY WITH IT WHILE SCREAMING ‘BE HEALED’)

    Yeah. That.

    Perfectly, perfectly said.

  2. thanks for getting it out there that not all of us “mommybloggers” are product grubbing whores. I have a little old blog that I am trying to get out there, but so many of the recommendations are to go after PR and do reviews and giveaways and just push push push. Well, I don’t want to shove myself down other’s throats – I hope to get my name out there and achieve a following because people like what I have to say. And if that doesn’t happen, well, that’s okay too. Cause I’m basically writing for myself, and the audience I pretend to (and hopefully someday will) have.

    1. You said it best, although me personally, I would never put “mommybloggers” and “whores” in the same sentence, in fear of castration. I’m writing a blog called The Scared Dad, and though I want people to read, I too have friends who have been saying, “the way to what you want is PR.” And while I don’t mind saying what I’ve bought and shared what works best for me, I pray that I keep the integrity of why I started to write, instead of so-called “selling out.”

      I hope things work out for you Lonek8

  3. This was a good post. Since I’m a very small blogger in a huge pond, I don’t get offers raining down on me. I do the odd book review for a website, but only because I want the Amazon gift cards that come with said reviews. I’ve never been offered a trip to the corner store, never mind Disney World, but I probably wouldn’t turn it down if one came along. I think you can do reviews and accept offers of goods and services and still write a hell of a good blog.

  4. Very well done.

    I think blogging controversy has a life cycle all it’s own. Many moons ago, the big dust up was who was on whose blogroll. After that, the evils of blog awards was all the buzz.

    Granted, back then there wasn’t money and prizes at “stake”, but like a I said a few months ago, < HREF="http://www.busymom.net/archives/004136.html" REL="nofollow">it’s a group dynamic thing<>, there will always be people vying for whatever they see as the “top”.

    But? the “top” is always changing. Can you really ever get there?

    I have no idea. I try to maintain a knowledge of new developments such as this marketing business (there’s nothing inherently evil about it), but mostly I plan to just keep writing.

  5. I do think the heart of the problem is that, as adults, most of us don’t cotton to being dictated to by those we perceive as peers. Who is one blogger to determine if another blogger is an ”actual” mommy-blogger or simply a parent who likes to get freebies and run contests with giveaways? I don’t have the answer.

    Contributing too is that much like the person who paints their house purple and raises chickens on the sidewalk, those who are seen as the ”problem” in not asking for more, expecting compensation or fully disclosing, whichever unwritten rule they are breaking, don’t care that their purple house living chickens bother anyone else because if they did they may have asked for permission or advice beforehand. And you can’t force someone to name a higher price for themselves or care about their community; that is rather intrinsic to who someone is and I dare say it would be easier to teach fish to juggle than teach what would seem to be ”common” sense to an uninterested, unconcerned adult.

  6. Word.

    I don’t mind being called a Mommy Blogger if it isn’t a dirty word. And lately, it is. Which sucks.

    A lot of the issues you touched on here are EXACTLY why I have my blog. (My space and my voice.) And a review website, a separate entity where I can play with my friends. I think a lot of review blogs suck. The content is shallow, the designs are ugly, blah blah blah. Is my review blog better? Probably not. And if so, only marginally. Is it fun? Yep. Is it my voice? Nope.

    This was a great post.

  7. “I fear they’ll be deserted and left to litter the internet, like the endless strip malls in Florida abandoned when the newer, shinier strip mall across the street opens for business.”

    Perfectly said. I keep thinking to myself that all these people who are just in it for the money/goodies will follow the money somewhere else when the next big thing crops up. At least it’s easier to ignore the burnt out space on the internet than it is a strip mall

  8. Yeah.

    I kind of wish my neighbors would start growing chickens – I’d like the eggs. Maybe I should do it myself.

    I pretty much blog for me. And you. And not them. Read my post about “spread” that isn’t butter. I’m never getting invited anywhere again.

  9. Yes yes yes yes YES YES YES! (I’ll have what she’s having.)

    How come when < HREF="http://www.workitmom.com/bloggers/corneredoffice/2009/05/12/could-you-would-you-on-your-blog/" REL="nofollow">I try to write about this stuff<> I feel all awkward and rambly and then when you write about it I nod until I get whiplash? Oh, right. Because you’re a lot more concise than I am. ;) Thank you for saying it so well, Liz.

  10. As I was reading this, I kept saying, “Yeah!” “Yeah!” “Yeah!” And I wasn’t listening to Usher, either.

    This is exactly what I was talking to another blogging friend about on the phone last night. I don’t want to care what someone else does on her blog, but at the same time, I don’t want someone to find out I’m a “mommyblogger” and immediately get an image of a woman who’ll sell her soul for a free bottle of detergent. I don’t like where it all seems to be going.

    On the other hand, I don’t want other bloggers to be offended when I think aloud about these things. To me, it’s not about any specific person. It’s part of the greater dialogue.

    And ultimately, I don’t blame any of the bloggers- who OF COURSE want to accept cool products and trips and cash, particularly in this kind of economy- I blame the marketers for pushing the boundaries and pressuring us to blur the lines. And even the marketers are just doing their jobs. OF COURSE they’re going to push the boundaries.

    It all just kind of sucks right now, doesn’t it? I feel like the power’s gone out and we’re all just running around grabbing at each other.

  11. Hoo-fricken-Ray!

    As someone who has pretty much started blogging in the last year I’m pretty sick of being told that there are “rules” and I need to be working harder if I’m not getting enough traffic or having enough marketers contact me. I don’t do so well with rules – especially ones that basically encourage me to sell myself to the highest bidder.

    I blog for the community I’ve discovered and I write because I like the ideas flowing and I write because I’ve dicovered how much more creative I am ever since I started blogging. I don’t think Mommy Blogger is a bad name – we just need to make sure that WE define it – not someone else.

  12. Yeah…what Sweetney said.

    I’ve been mulling this around in my head for a while and I think you hit the ole nail on the head.

    I LOVE that you dismiss the term “mommyblogger”. Though I love my kids, there’s more to me and occasionally my writing than just me being a mom.

    I can’t help but wonder if some of this isn’t a media driven “mommy war”-the mainstream media’s attempt to fan the flames of something that before now was maybe only a smolder.

  13. 1) I would so totally love it if I had a neighbor raising chickens and flying pirate flags. That would RULE.

    2) Where will it leave all these personal virtual homes? Well, some people will continue on in the same exact manner in which they started, some people won’t. Good writing rises to the top, no matter the context. I can’t really understand the hand-wringing about marketing, because the people who are in it just to make a buck will do it one way, while the people who blog because they love it will do it another, and both ways are fine. I know what I’d rather read, but hey, people get to choose what they read, people get to choose what kind of content they produce. Diversity opens doors, even if what’s behind some of them is unsavory to you.

    3) I mostly read blogs written by parents that have an authentic voice. There are hundreds, thousands of them out there. Some do additional sponsored writing, some don’t. Most run ads. I’ve never once felt hoodwinked by a writer. Am I really in the minority here?

  14. I remember before I started my blog, I read a few posts/articles by <>established<> bloggers about blogging. They all made the same point: it’s about compelling content and about being authentic.

    So if someone can be authentic or compelling while writing about or recommending a product, and finds interested readers, why not? And if someone feels more authentic avoiding this, that’s fine. Readers will seek out their preference.

    I’m agreeing with you entirely. In the end, since we’re writing about the wild ride of parenthood, don’t we have more important things to worry about?

  15. You’re my favorite.

    Seriously, I don’t know how you manage to have a review blog (that only features groovy indy types), write a kickass personal blog within an ad network, and be in advertising and still manage to be the most authentic, genuine person blogging today.

  16. I stopped reading so many, many mom blogs because of this issue. I ducked and ran far away from the momosphere and I’ll be honest, I miss it. I am concocting a return and don’t want to get caught up in the business of blogging, I just want to write and connect w/ other parents.

  17. Mmm, I think it’s a bit like parenting in that if you get so caught up in needing to do this, having to do that, you forget about just enjoying and doing. I have no marketers interested in me, but then agin, my kid smells like the county fair right now, so I’d keep my distance too.

  18. As one of those people who once upon a time thought she was part of this ‘community’ everyone keeps talking about, what I find saddest about all of this is how everyone on both sides of the marketing fence has allowed the ‘marketing thing’ to cannibalize the ‘writing thing.’

    Inundated with offers, whether you take them or not? You count. You’re part of the problem or the solution or something at least. You exist.

    Once got a note from someone asking you to review a book and you told them no, because it had nothing to do with you, and that was the last thing you ever heard from anybody? You’re nobody, you have nothing to add to the debate.

    I used to think that you were a mommyblogger if you were a mommy and you blogged. Apparently, that no longer even gets you in the front door.

    In other words, I not-so-secretly wish I were important enough to have a ‘real’ opinion on this. And if I were, I’d want to be able to state it as eloquently as you just did. Instead, I’ll just sit here, read all of these comments and thoughts and ideas, and suck on some sour grapes.

  19. Nice post.

    That is exactly why I keep my parenting blog seperate from my review blog. Which isn’t necessarily a review blog as a things I love blog with a few giveaways thrown in. But that’s the point. My readers don’t have to see that stuff on the blog of mine they follow. If they want they can go over there and check it out but I don’t want to shove it in their face.

  20. Oh TC, your comment is most upsetting to me. You think what you do is of no value because no one is offering you products to review?

    Read Blog Antagonist who I linked above. She doesn’t have a spot of advertising on her blog and yet she writes beautifully, diligently, every day. To her readers, she matters. And that’s enough.

  21. Great (and funny!) post. I just wrote a huge and self-centered comment about why I blog what I blog, but then erased it because it doesn’t matter.

    I like your writing. Wouldn’t matter to me if you were writing about cartoons or free products or the weather. Good writing will always win out.

  22. I’ve been avoiding this whole brouhaha because it made me feel really uncomfortable. It felt like the momosphere was turning on itself, trying to say who was …more genuine? More worthy of being here? I’m not sure. But I didn’t like it. Your post is the first one I’ve seen that actually makes sense to me, that makes me want to chime in. We’re all here for different reasons, and the worst thing we could do is alienate each other. Group hug?

  23. I think this is a wonderful post, but I must admit I understand TC’s point so well. I once felt like I had promise (as I often feel when something is new). I felt I had something to say to people and was excited to start a dialogue. But then it was only one sided. I could muster no dialogue. Still I stayed, and will continue to stay because ultimately it’s not for me I write. It’s not for the collective you, either. It’s for them, my children.

    I don’t know how many times I have to remind myself of that …

    For me stats are as bad as shills.

  24. Sigh… I feel the pain. Just tonight I was puttering in my kitchen and thinking that I want to get rid of my site meter and my google analytics and my feed burner counter and forget all the dang stats and stay off twitter so I can’t see all the pathetic yammering for free stuff and just write and answer comments. Like I used to. Back in 2006.

    I enjoy the free stuff and the recognition. I do. But I hate what it’s done to us.

  25. this is such a fantastically well written blog entry, and an important one. it’s one of the rare ones that oughta be sent all over the ‘net across Facebook and Twitter and wherever “people like us” tend to congregate.

    from a standpoint of where we are and who we are and what we are doing, this is one of the most important entries i’ve seen in any blog.

  26. WORD. This suspicion about compensation is one of the reasons I love bloggers who try to be impartial about reviews and disclose any perks.

    To me, it’s part of the larger conversation on whether bloggers should try to loosely adhere to journalistic ethical standards, such as disclosing any perks you receive from a review, refusing gifts that could compromise your impartiality or even the appearance of impartiality, etc.

    I’m not saying all bloggers should do those things, but It just seems that those ethical standards aren’t arbitrary–they evolved to where they are because newspapers found that that adhering to them was the only way they could be trustworthy to readers.

    Just some food for thought from a journalist/parenting blogger. (nom nom nom)

  27. I’ve been blogging since 2004 and have managed to avoid getting a lot of offers for free stuff. Even though my email <>is right there on the top of my blog.<>What am I doing wrong? Conversely, what am I doing right?

    I’m not sure, but I’d say there are a lot of us out there on the sidelines, pretty much just blogging for each other. And that’s fine.

  28. Well, I’m just a wee blogger, and while free stuff sounds nice, it isn’t why I do it. For some people, that is fine, but it isn’t for me. However, I do sort of hate that someone might think if I mention a favorite brand, or someone I dealt with, that I was paid to do it. If you get paid, disclose. True, I have a review blog should someone actually offer to give me something to review, but I doubt it will get used.

    However, the one thing I hate is mommyblogger as a term, let alone a field for a war. Seeing as these days I write just as much about exercise and the size of my ass as I do about my kid. Dude, I’m a writer. Not even blogger. I write, horribly. (sort of)

  29. I have always loved reading your blog. I have been blogging since 2007, when my first born was 18 months old. I love to write. I love to write about my kids. I love to read other people’s blogs, yes, mostly ‘mom’ blogs. I respect so many bloggers. I feel a great connection; it’s a great network. Comments make me happy; I love hearing that I’m not alone. There are the ‘Gods’ of mommy bloggers (sorry if you hate the term!) like you, and Girls Gone Child, etc. – and dozens more that I truly love – I read for content. For a story I can relate to. To see other cute kids and say ‘awww!’ I just a mom who loves to write. And loves her kids even more.
    I don’t even have my email address anywhere on my blog. I’m not interested in reviewing products; sure I enter a few giveaways now and then but only if it’s something I’d love to win. I think things are moving at a really fast pace and those who truly love to write will continue to blog. Those who don’t will just get bored. I have only had the most excellent experience blogging, from comments I receive, to support, etc. – only once was I told to stop commenting on someone’s blog because they felt like I was trying to get people to read my blog. It was completely absurd and clearly I don’t visit that blog anymore. Aside from that – so many great people I’ve met! It’s a great world. And YOU are an EXCELLENT writer. :)

  30. This is probably the best explanation of this issue I have read. But I have to say, I still believe that people should be able to write what they want to write. This is the internet. The most public of all public spaces. Not owned by anyone or governed by anyone. Should it be? Maybe. But who gets that job? Who gets to decide? And those PR people who disparage bloggers are pushy will be gone before we are. It’s the nature of the industry. I know, because I used to be one of them, and i never worked at any agency for more than 3 years. And I was the rule, not the exception. They move on to another agency and the next hot thing and will get out of sandbox soon enough. Remember when MySpace was the shit and going to revolutionize how companies marketed online? And those of us who are in this not for the marketing but for the community or the writing outlet or whatever your personal reason it, will still be here. This too shall pass…

  31. YES. YES.

    And YES to your olde fashioned post about writing vs community from ought-six, too. I’ve been trying to be diplomatic about all this and I know I’m not the boss of anyone and would certainly never try to tell anyone how or why to blog. But when it comes down to it, while I care about transparency and disclosure and ethics, I care just as much about the writing. More, maybe.
    While the community is great, I won’t read badly written blogs. It’s even worse when it’s badly written AND obviously shilling a product. I dunno. Maybe that makes me a blogsnob.

    And I honestly don’t care who accepts which products and why, as long as their first obligation is to their reader (i.e. write something I actually want to read–you know, that doesn’t sound like a commercial?–and don’t lie to me, and I’m totally with you). But even as I watch my print outlets dry up and start wondering how I’m going to make a living as a writer in this brave new world, I simply cannot imagine throwing myself in front of PR folk and begging for stuff. If that’s what it comes to, I’m going back to waitressing.

  32. Oy, am I the only one that is getting a little bored with this topic?

    I guess I belong to the who cares camp. Who cares what labels are put on which bloggers? Who cares what other people do? You said it yourself – we should be writing for our readers, correct? And if our readers like what we produce then who cares what other bloggers think?

    This is a transitional time when we’re all figuring out how things work and what’s important to us. The marketers aren’t getting it right – yet and neither are we. But it won’t be long before we do get it.

    What good does it do to chastise other bloggers for their choices, their purple houses – don’t worry, the paint will fade on it’s own and then maybe we’ll be able to respect one another for providing the content our readers are asking for.

  33. As I meet more and more PR people I hear the same thing-

    “I care because I love this space. And I value the fact that that we can discuss–out in the open and with our real names attached–the issues that affect us. And because I think it’s worthwhile to put other perspectives out there than the one out there that suggests bloggers should spend their days writing to PR folks in search of free stuff “for review.” Because those PR people are horrified. And they are freaked out. And they are trying to figure out how to handle it, all the while floating phrases like shameless and unprofessional about our community–the community I love–behind closed doors.”

    You hit the nail on the head.

    It is all becoming very stressful. I agreed to go on a trip recently and was quickly inundated with questions as to how I “did it.” What kind of “marketing campaign” did I go on to get a trip?

    My reply that I don’t do “marketing campaigns” and did nothing but answer my email was eyed with suspicion.

    I think, over time, this will die down. It’s all so new and the territory is unknown.

    I’m a hold-hands-and-sing-kumbaya kinda gal, so all the nastiness behind the scenes is really disappointing.

    Oh, and for this post?
    {licks your cheek}

    xoxo.

  34. People seem to have the word community mean ‘all the same’..we know that isn’t true.

    Being a mom does not make us all the same. We have ONE thing in common is all.

    Blogging does not make us all the same either.

    Look at the post BlogHer discussions that rage every year…people feel left out. dislike the ‘alleged’ cliques.

    People get jealous of the popular bloggers etc.

    Other bloggers – moms or not – are content to plug away for the joy they get and that is it.

    Or they blog because it is for their families.

    Other bloggers are paid to blog.
    Other bloggers get book offers because of their blogs.

    Other bloggers get cool jobs because of their blogs.

    So some bloggers get free stuff to review and others don’t.

    All different.

    Does one type of blogger take away from another?

    Does one type of blogger affect the other?

    Only if we are competing.
    Are we competing?

    For readership perhaps…perhaps not.

    We are all different.

    I may get 30 readers in a day, with maybe 5 comments. Others get thousands with hundreds of comments.

    Am I a poorer writer than the other? Perhaps?

    Have I not optimized my site enough?

    Between SEO and marketing and pr..it gets all a bit silly doesn’t it.

    Mom bloggers who review are targeted right now because it is a cheap way to advertise hence why print media is suffering..print ads cost a lot.

    Giving stuff away is cheap.

    The marketers have figured it out…so if people want the stuff and still be fair about it..fine.

    Just stop the flood of giveaways on twitter and we will all be happy in our little corner of the blogger universe.

  35. I think you can only be responsible for what you do. I don’t think you can say that you would like to not care what other bloggers—mommybloggers—do in the same breath that you equate other mommybloggers to chicken-raising, purple house-painting people who don’t give a damn about the community because we will accept review samples.

    I’ve read a couple of posts you’ve written, including this one, in which you excuse certain product review writers because they’re great writers and you know them and they’re cool. Well, some of us that you don’t know are as well. And even if they’re great writers and cool people, the PR folks are still going to see purple houses and chickens, according to your analogy. And if you don’t care about the PR folks, then why do you care what others do?

    I’m not irrelevant because I wrote about a Glade candle.

    All you, or I, can do is represent yourself in the way you want to be represented and hope that comes across. I don’t agree with a lot of what you say, but I will give you the respect you deserve for conducting yourself in the manner you see fit—for you. But I have to say that I’m a little offended by your claim that the rest of us out here are tarnishing <>your<> good name by <>our<> unthoughtful actions.

    I draw the line before some and after some. I wouldn’t presume to tell another blogger what to do. Who am I to dictate the rules or to say what is ethical? Who are you?

    I have integrity, writing ability, and a community spirit. I don’t blog in order to get free stuff, but I <>have<> accepted it and written about it. Why can’t we all just get along and live and let live?

  36. Great post! This is my first visit here (found you through sugarjones via twitter). I love how passionate you are about this issue. I only read the blogs I enjoy which are generally the more authentic ones. Ads don’t bother me but a blogger who has sold out to them and lost their authentic voice does.

  37. So…wait…do I take down the “Advertise Here” tab or leave it up? Even though advertising on my blog would be like spray painting on the side of a mesquite in the middle of nowhere West Texas…at night?

    And what the hell does that have to do with my writing again?

  38. Great post, very insightful and well written. I am new to the blogging world and am still finding my way. I love to write and am happier now than I have been in a long time since I have started expressing myself and writing about issues I care about. I had thought about doing a give-away just as an incentive to gain readers (and hopefully my writing will keep them) but decided against it. When I come accross blogs that are all reviews I think–what is the point? That would become a chore to me and be zero percent fun.

    Thanks again for your post–you seem to really rock the house and I will be visiting often :)

  39. I completely agree. I have done a contest. And I found, while I loved it because it was a “pay it forward” it was not me. I am not a brand. I am a person. I have a story to tell. I want to tell it.

  40. Stimey, forgive me if I somehow gave the impression that all product review bloggers are bad or irrelevant. < HREF="http://coolmompicks.com" REL="nofollow">I am one<>, so I’d hate to do that.

    But let’s be honest here, most product reviews are crap. They just are. The first consideration is the product, and not the audience (as Megan nicely put it). I have never been to your blog until just now, but if you have awesome ones that you pour your heart into then kudos to you.

    However it’s a little insulting to insinuate that I “excuse” the writers I know. Because they’re cool? Mama, we’re <>bloggers<>. None of us are cool. I simply acknowledge good writing when I see it, whatever the content.

    So do the good PR people, by the way. Trust me on that one.

  41. For the first time in a long time, a post has left me speechless. I have nothing that I could add to this conversation except to thank you for saying this in a way that I never could. Thank you!

  42. As a PR person, I can tell you that good writing absolutely makes a difference. I have to believe that people read blogs because they enjoy the writing and the storytelling. That’s what I do. With a full-time career and two kids under 4, I don’t have time to read anything that isn’t great! Valuable post. Well written. Kudos to you!

  43. I love you. Have I told you that lately? No? I do. Truly.

    All of this *making sweeping circle with hand* is the reason why I’ve been pulling back from blogging. Why the writing muse has taken herself to the corner, stuck her finger in her mouth and refused to move. There’s too much pressure to perform for outside companies and not enough real content out there in blogland. It makes me sad. And sadness does not make for great stories.

    Not that I would take food out of anyone’s mouth. If this is what you want to do with your blog, more power to you. Take care of your family with your blog. But the rest of it….

    I’m just going to stop here before I get myself in trouble.

  44. I have absolutely no interest in product reviews, either reading them or writing them. Unless it’s written by a great blogger, who could make paint drying fascinating.

    Recently, I posted my summer reading list and noted that one of the books on it was a freebie that I received from the publisher. I felt a little goody-goody and it seemed like too much disclosure, but I was heeding your wisdom and Queen of Spain’s and erring on the side of caution.

  45. I really like your post.

    As a new parent/mom blogger, the whole concept of mommy blog wars is overwhelming to a newbie and quite frankly, it’s disappointing that it’s even an issue.

    I don’t mind if people get free stuff, give free stuff, make money on ads etc. but I do wish that it would be done without being at the expense of a follow blogger – it’s not a competition(is it?! Did I miss the memo?). Wouldn’t it be great if we could all make enough $ to work full time at this and other interests?

    Thanks for bringing this to everyone’s attention in a very well stated (and non-heated) manner.

  46. As a reader of several “mommyblogs,” I do also care about the community aspect and the divisiveness of the controversy around PR, marketting, advertising etc….

    However, I don’t care that the PR people are horrified. As a complete outsider, it seems to me that in a way, you reap what you sow – and yes, I realise it is collective and unfair to the good PR people.

    I used to read a lot of blog entries about annoying pitches. Some PR people were annoying lots of bloggers. Now some bloggers are annoying lots of PR people. People are annoying. Deal.

  47. Liz, you are amazing and I now have a raging blog crush on you. I love this post (and am honored to receive the link love). This PR person for one hates whatever role we/our clients have had in polluting the waters of your pool. Irony: we love and woo and chase you precisely for the thing that seems most in peril here — your authenticity and your unique voice. Separate review blogs help, disclosure helps, refusing to accept cash to review a product helps (that tarnishes everyone’s reputation involved), always reviewing honestly (easier to do when you don’t accept my client’s money)…let us PR types pay for your consulting expertise and your connections. Keep telling us how we can do OUR jobs better. And please forgive our brethren when they do really stupid s**t like spam you with pitches that have nothing to do with you/your blog/your bio — there ARE smart and good PR people out there, trust me. We want to be your partners. I personally want to be a more effective conduit between you and my clients who, by the way, are big sophisticated marketers with products and services you might actually get excited about. But I want you to be excited about them on your terms, in a way that feels authentic to you and comfortable for my client. And trust me, that’s not “blogola” and it’s not asking you to write about crappity-crap crap that you don’t honestly like and want to use.

  48. I plan to go back and read all the comments once my kid goes down for the night, but this was just fantastic. Thank you for writing it. I have sidebar material I’ve had for awhile (posts and products and movies I like) and for awhile now I’ve felt I need to put a disclaimer up that no one is asking or compensating me to rave about these things. That’s a disclaimer I wouldn’t have thought to put up (and obviously didn’t think to put up) two years ago when I started blogging. That’s kind of sad/strange, right?

    I also loved what you said about authenticity. It doesn’t matter, to me, what your content is or what relationships you build because of your site (with marketers or otherwise) as long as you are being authentic in your content and in your message to your readers and, I suppose more importantly, if we can feel that authenticity in the words you write.

  49. So on target in so many ways; thank you for writing this.

    Call me an idealist but I truly believe that there are enough of us who care about quality content and sharing and community to keep the authentic fires burning. (All body parts crossed on this one…)

    -Christine

  50. I must say I enjoy reading your posts mainly because you say whatever you want regardless of what others might think. I like that kind of honesty! I, myself enjoy writing a “parenting” blog as you put it for my own satisfaction because I simply enjoy writing. However, I would like some more traffic to my site without becoming a product grubbing whore, ha ha! Very well put and keep up what you’re doing!

  51. Can I at LEAST mud wrestle? It will be like THUNDERDOME but better. One blogger enters…

    We could do a giveaway for it! I bet you a detergent company will sponsor the clean up! (bwahahahaha)

    Fine. Fine.

    (for those who will now commence running around claiming I am serious…I am NOT serious…I’ve just chosen to have a sense of humor about all this, instead of using my shiv)

  52. When I met you at an event last week, all I could say was, “I love your blog.” Hardly a hello and full-on dorky. Uh, yeah. That was me.

    You said, “Which one?”

    “Both!” I said.

    I was thrilled to meet just one of the many bloggers that I’ve read for years.

    But really, it’s posts like this that illustrate exactly why you’re so admired.

    As someone else already said, thanks for putting this out there and for being so eloquent.

    But about the pirate flags? We just tape them on our stroller and call it a day.

  53. I was approached by someone to do a product review and I admit, I am still on the fence about it.

    Not so much in that I wouldn’t be interested in reviewing what they were offering – just that I’m not sure it’s where I want to take my blog. It’s great to get some perspective from someone that I admire.

    Still haven’t made my decision yet…

  54. When I became a parent two years ago I stumbled upon your blog and fell in love with it. I’d had no idea “mommybloggers” existed, but I realized I was one. Over the last two years I’ve seen more and more of the product review type/giveaway crap blogs and it makes me sad. It took me 2 years to join the BlogHer Network, because I’ve been wanting to reach a larger audience with my parenting essays but didn’t want to feel icky about it. I’ve come to strongly dislike the term “mommyblogger” because it puts labels on me that I don’t want to own. I have no interest in doing product reviews. No energy to enter, let alone orchestrate, giveaways.

    I guess my point is thanks for eloquently summing up how I feel about the whole stupid thing. And thanks for keeping up the exact type of “parenting blog” I love to read. :)

  55. i think i’m the shy little blogger who hides in the wings because i am sooooo in a special niche. does that make sense? i have only had one ‘offer’ which was kinda silly (reading glasses? huh?) but i KNOW that my writing is terrible and i’m not out to market it. or get loads of readers. i’m just not a writer. i’m a woman who writes on her blog. i tend to ‘avoid’ a lot of american blogs because 1) i think it would make me homesick and 2) i feel really left out a lot of the time. i have NO idea what’s going on. *sigh*

    but there are some blogs i read (obviously, otherwise i wouldn’t be commenting here) because they are written so well, they speak to me and hey! i need something (good) in english to read! so i want to say thank you. for this post, for your blog. thank you.

  56. Liz, your first drink at BlogHer is on me for putting together many of my thoughts and saying them far better than I could. That was simply perfect.

    I look at my blogs today versus two years ago as a reflection of how blogging has changed. My personal blog’s traffic has been slipping more and more over the past year, even though (I hope!) I still write as well as before and put a lot of effort into it.

    Yet my product review blog that I barely put any effort into? Its Page Rank is now higher than my personal blog. Google thinks it’s more relevant than my personal blog. How the hell did that happen?

  57. How about a message from a non-blogger, just a reader?
    I am interested in this subject as blogs I used to read, for content, because they were great writer, become shills. Its getting really obvious, and yes its nice for them to get things, but really, its the writers I will continue to read, and ponder.

  58. This is the first time I’ve read your blog (<>I know, where have I been??<>) I haven’t been consciously avoiding it or anything, I just already have 685 unread posts in my reader -and climbing- and am afraid to add any more.

    Where was I??

    Oh yeah.

    I wanted to add a hearty AMEN to everything you’ve said. I hate feeling pitched to every time I visit a blog. It gets old. Fast.

  59. I guess my take on all of this is I don’t want anyone telling me what to write what I write. My site isn’t an essayist site, it’s an informative deals site. But, the thought of working with PR and such does apply to my content. I certainly don’t want PR to look at bloggers and think we’re shameless or a cheap answer to their marketing solution. We are some of the best resources companies have and we can’t sell ourselves short!

    Now, related to actual content, outside of the deals, I do share personal stuff from time to time (like my journey with weight loss/fitness). If I want to share that I love my Nike ear buds (which I bought myself), I’ll do it. My voice will be the same whether I share about a great sale at CVS, review a product, or tell the funny about my kids’ mullet being chopped away. I am who I am and I won’t create another space to share any of that. Plus, my readers like it :)

    Your issue about caring, I get that. But, my issue is that my blog is my space so I am only concerned about what my readers think. If they are cool, then so am I! Many of my decisions I make regarding PR, trips or advertising include what value it adds to my readers. Because, like you said, my readers are the reason I do any of this.

    And, dangit I wrote a book. See, maybe I need to write some more essays to get it out…I clearly say way too much in comments!! :)

  60. Thanks for such a great post. Like Amy, I’m not quite sure how I’ve managed to overlook your blog up to this point. Situation now corrected. :-)

    I co-host both a personal and a book blog with a friend and fellow writer. As a reader, I find myself shying away from blogs that are blatently promoting products, but I would also love to be able to make some money out of blogging.

    I receive free review copies of books and find myself this is quite a controversial topic amongst book bloggers. I am currently working out how to clearly but unobtrusively state on my blog whether a book is from my own personal collection or an ARC.

    I do get annoyed with posts that imply that because I receive ARCs that my integrity should be questioned, but I guess this is an unfortunate consequence of the bloggers (parenting, personal, book and otherwise) that do shamelessly plug products for profit.

    Thanks for offering such eloquently phrased food for thought on this topic. I’ve added you to my Google reader so that I don’t miss any posts in the future.

  61. Andrea, you write a coupon site, you call it a coupon site and I’d imagine your content consistently meets your readers’ expectations. Keep doing what you’re doing, mama. Sounds good to me.

  62. Awww…thanks for the kind words. You made me misty-eyed. You are right. The truth is that not everything is black and white. Many of us bloggers who do include reviews on our blogs also share aspects of our family lives. (i.e. Around Mother’s Day 1-800-Flowers got an (unpaid) mention on my site but “The Most Beautiful Bouquet” honor went to the paper bouquet that my son made for me at preschool out of his handprints.)

    P.S. Stimey, Liz is totally excusing me because I’m cool. (Just kidding!)

  63. I’m willing to blog about any cute octopus stuff that marketers send me. A very niche market, perhaps, but I have high hopes.

    It’ll all be properly disclaimered, I promise.

  64. Love the post, love your writing. I will share what it feels like for me, the newbie: I’ve been called a “mommy blogger” more times than I can remember, never really gave it much thought, but have come to realize that maybe I was being insulted a few of those times? Don’t know, never really paid attention. I started my blog to write…and it has helped me improve my writing, I think it’s working cause people read it? That last point is a plus, I never really expected anyone would. Lastly, love finding something I like and telling people about it, and asking the company to donate so I can spread the love. Now, I would whore myself out…a little…to get to go to Chicago and chat it up with you Liz and the other amazing bloggers I’ve met, but since I haven’t figured out the tricks of the trade yet, I am not going. : ( Love what you do, do what you love. In the end, if you are true to yourself won’t all else follow? Thanks again Liz…you rock.

  65. It’s all been said in the comments here – I can’t add much, and you know how I feel anyway. So I’ll just give you a high five for the content of this post and a big air kiss for your very kind words about my writing. ((MUAH))

  66. Oh, and also, I’ll express some chagrin that my life has been so crazy lately that my content does not live up those kind words. ACK! Must. Write. Something. Brilliant!

  67. This is a great post and it’s made me think but I’m still not sure I share your concerns…

    I am not too concerned that the people who are shamelssly courting marketers are impacting how I am perceived, I’m just not…It’s like any other business in the world – it’s really easy to determine who’s quality and who’s not and people know the difference.

    If the “authentic” bloggers are just here because of the community and the opportunity to improve their writing, then why are they continually wringing their hands over their words being overlooked by the masses?

    Personally, I like to think that the more the blogosphere fills up with vapid, advitorial (sp?) blogs, the more likely it is that blogs like mine (where I do try and write poignantly and with heart) have an opportunity to shine.

  68. Ah, seems like old times. Almost. Thanks for the virtual bitch-slap and for reminding me just why I chose to “write” a blog, in the first place. And still write. Comments or no. Mostly, no. Still. You make parent bloggers (like me) very proud, indeed.

  69. Love this post, Liz! As always.

    You said something in your comment to Stimey that I wanted to echo. Good PR people recognize good writing. We know who the review bloggers are, we know who won’t work with us unless we’re offering something relevant, we know who runs with which circles and approximately how many readers you have. We know. Not all bloggers are the same and it would be very unwise for any PR person to lump all “mommybloggers” together. I am vehemently against that.

    And any PR person who doesn’t see it that way, probably isn’t worth working with anyway.

  70. Thank you for this post, from one parenting blogger to another.

    What I love about this gig is that I can write about the good and bad of our experiences and read the wisdom of other moms struggling against the same current as I am.

    I find other perspectives enrich my own.

    As for the incessant marketing offers, I understand that I’m giving something up by ignoring them. But for me, it’s worth it.

    - Julia at Midwest Moms

  71. This is a great post. I follow “mommybloggers” because I have a blog peripheral to parentblogging about postpartum depression. I have noticed on Twitter and elsewhere the preponderance of “buy this” and “go to this sponsored event” and “get this freebie if you email me NOW NOW NOW”. It’s getting weird. I’m not at all against people reviewing things, but it’s beginning to look like we moms are useful idiots for the marketers of the world. (And I’m not against marketing – I was a marketer for one of the world’s biggest brands before I became a full-time mom/blogger/advocate.) Ladies, for one free this or that you are giving these companies beaucoup bucks in free advertising.

    Because of my topic I don’t get any offers, which is ok since I’m not looking for any. But I do get nonstop emails from health-related PR people. Apparently I’m on someone’s medical blog list and I get all sorts of news releases about things like cancer and erectile dysfunction. Do they READ MY BLOG?!! Do they have ANY IDEA what I write about?! Bueller?!

    The PR and Marketing tsunami that’s been created by blogging is getting tedious.

  72. Excellent post, as always.

    I work on marketing for a major CPG in my day job, which makes pimping out my blog for free dish soap so not compelling.

    Besides, who wants to read about it? I know I don’t.

    P.S. All this mommyblogger self-promotion and giveaway nonsense? Reason #1 that I left Twitter.

  73. I so want to join this conversation, but can’t do too much during PST work hours. My initial thought is that the blogspace is evolving, like radio and television did once, as a medium. Some folks who write great blogs also market, and that is what allows them to write for a living instead of having to take a day job. On the other hand, if you are looking for non-commercially influenced content, then go to NPR, which is partly audience-supported, or find someone who doesn’t need the income and can write purely for the love of writing. I agree some people take it too far. But as with other mediums, how many of us watch the QVC shopping network? And yet, there is an audience for that.

    I think the reader must be discerning, and there is room out here for quality content, and commercial fluff. Their blogs don’t reflect on yours.

    I’ll check back later to read all the comments, I am sure I will have more to say.

  74. Great post!

    I’ve been blogging for right about a year so in comparison I’m a newbie and still learning from all of you awesome ladies!

    I blog because I love to write. Would I enjoy getting perks for something I love to do? You bet your keyboard I would! But at this point I don’t and if I never do, I will still blog.

    I’m thankful for my handful of readers who rarely post a comment -I know they exist because they send me e-mails or twitter messages telling me how they feel about a certain post. Oh how I’d love a few of them to comment on my blog, THAT would be thrilling for me – forget the free loot!

  75. I have been reading, if not writing, in the parenting blogosphere for years. It’s so strange to me now, but when I found your blog, you had like four posts. Lol. Time flies.

    When I started writing my own blog, which is an itty bitty blip in the blogosphere, I did so after a two-year blogging break. And I decided that this time around, I wanted to make a genuine effort to connect with other parent bloggers. So I have. I mean, I’m awful at e-mailing and I forget to comment sometimes, but I do my best. And on the way, I’ve started to join a community in the blogosphere that I thoroughly enjoy.

    I cannot imagine wanting it to be any different than that.

    A few weeks ago, I started getting a few PR pitches here and there. I showed them to my husband and felt a little warm and fuzzy that someone actually sent me a pitch, but I’ve been promptly refusing them all ever since. It’s not that I have a problem with product reviews and the like, and I don’t mind what other women do on their blogs, it’s just…

    I don’t know. I don’t want that community to be diminished or demeaned because I saw a way to make a quick buck, you know? Selling products I create, paintings or photographs that I take time and effort to get just right is one thing. But giving away something for no reason other than that it was given to me? No thanks.

    Maybe someday I’ll change my tune, but in the meantime I’m just glad that there are other bloggers out there who remember what the blogosphere once was and who, like me, value the community and the story-telling. I love your writing, but would I read if you only wrote reviews? Probably not. As testament to this, I read Cool Mom Picks probably 1/3 as often as I read your blog.

    So that’s that. I know in time, this marketing THING will fade and there will be a new crisis in the blog world. I hope it happens quickly because I’m tired of the blurred lines.

  76. This is so much why I keep reading you. And you’re one of the women who inspired me to blog. It’s so amazing to have a place to write freely (particularly because my day job is to write marketing copy). Thanks for being a good voice!

  77. I feel a little outside the loop with debates like this one. I don’t have advertising either and I’ve considered it but am just…undecided.

    I look at blogging as a hobby and as a creative outlet and as a way to connect with others who have interesting things to say. So, the mass-marketing, reviewing, looking for free products, branding and all of that is a bit out there for me.

    I have felt the shift, though, that you’ve described and it seems what I see is the broader public’s dawning awareness of this enterprise of blogging. My sister-in-law was talking about starting a blog, for crying out loud.

    GAWD.

  78. Well, I do want chickens. .. and BHJ’s comment was perfect. How I wish you had a Turtle Wax something or other to give away.

    I put ads on my blog b/c I thought it’d be kind of cool to do. Now, though, I’m not so sure—when you’re as small as my site, the money isn’t exactly rolling in and the ads feel like a bit of an intrusion. And, plus, I love Blog Antagonist and want to be just like her when I grow up (hell, I stole her hair color, no lie).

    It’s sad though, b/c I don’t trust a lot of the blogs that do totally positive product reviews of everything under the sun. But, I am dismayed at the traffic those sites get. It’s like everyone is excited to read an advertorial.

  79. {Sigh} Everytime I read your posts, I so wish I had a pinky finger’s worth of your writing talent.

    Such a well-written blog. And if we could elect a President for all of Blogdom, I would vote for you all the way.

  80. I really loved this post. I’m another very small fish in the blog ocean and have just started to get a small community of readers who I adore. I find the posts I get the most personal satisfaction from are those that I write for ME and no one else. They always seem to be the ones to get the most response. I have no illusions of the corporate machine having any use for me and I’m not sure if I want to. The again…the cash might help fund my crafting addictions!

  81. “Mama, we’re bloggers. None of us are cool.”

    EEK! Really? I always have this debate with my best friends. None of them blog. They ‘sometimes’ read my blog, and practically never comment. I always wonder out loud if they are the cool ones – or if I’m the cool one? I think we’re cooler for blogging. I think people who are passionate to write and share stories with others are just cooler. :)

  82. I go back and forth about advertising and reviews, etc. I’ve never written an untrue word about any product (in my opinion) but I’m not positive I’ve made it clear in every review that I received the product for free to try. Before I got into more reviews I’ll admit I never thought anyone would review a product without getting it for free. Maybe I’m expecting too much from consumers, but REALLY? You thought all of these people were reviewing a ton of products for free? I don’t know how the review things work on Amazon, etc, but I always wonder about people’s motivation for reviewing. If I knew the people got the product for free to review? That is helpful info to me.

    Also, the parent bloggers that I’ve read for years? Their opinions do matter to me even if I know they’ve received the item for free.

    I review only things that spark my interest. I write only my honest opinion. Sometimes it isn’t so positive. Yes, I try to word it in some way positive. Maybe I’m the problem then. But I do not write many reviews, they have never been for any high dollar products and I can honestly say that if I did not like any aspect of the product I would not write the review.

    Aaaaand. I see the issue with that too. I do. And I have no answer for that.

  83. I think this is my favorite part of your post:

    “It’s the same way you would care if you suddenly found your neighbor in your overpriced subdivision painted his house purple and gold and flew pirate flags out all the windows and bred chickens on the front lawn.”

    Are you saying you have a problem with my Chickens?!!! Cause they are free range and I have been totally transparent about their feed…

    But seriously, if there need to be a Blogging HOA, I would hope to see someone as thoughtful as you on the board.

  84. I always enjoy reading your posts and hearing your thoughts..because they are almost always – well always the most well thought out. ;) I TOTALLY get your concern. At this point I’m not sure mommyblogger is the right term for me for so many reasons – not just b/c what is going on right now.

    I have a bazillion different blogs and each one has a different audience. I only do reviews on my review blog/site but I sometimes mention things I like on another blog. Still, all this review stuff is something that’s been on my mind. It’s taking over right now but like pay per post and all that – it will end or evolve into something else. Hopefully something good.

    I admit it is sort of flattering for companies to contact you – I get over 15+ pitches per day. I decline almost all of them NOW because it creates more work for me and no pay. I’m not someone who can sit back all day and play with products while my husband is out working all day. ;) Seriously, I have to focus on what does pay and what opportunities are a good fit for me – as both myself and my husband work from home.

    Also, I don’t mind what anyone else does to a point- yes, the internet is big enough for all of us. And many of us NEED to make a living -myself included. I just wish there was a better solution.

  85. crying in my corn syrupy coca cola that i just left my husband over. they don’t care liz, it’s our job to care for them. thank goodness you and the ladies who you just mentioned are bold and still at it.

    but make no mistake YOU ARE WRITERS, not bloggers. mothers? of course. the people who care most, but that’s coincidental. you are women of opinion and influence, WRITERS of opinion and influence. the internet is your medium, but blogs died when dooce got famous and the FTC started crawling up the arses of the ladies who love to talk about what they love –or don’t love.

    it is my short-term life’s goal to shift this oppressive paradigm. you and your internet memoirist sisteren and brethern are a good start to making the undulations that will create a siesmic shift.

    we are women. we have the power to make babies and make change.

    thanks for being ever insightful.
    dana

  86. I have to say I’m with Sundry (Linda) who is wayyyy up there at the top with her comment.

    *shrugging shoulders and wondering WHY this is becoming such an issue? Can’t we all live and let live? If you like it, read it. If you don’t, DON’T.*

  87. I came for the turtle wax contest. Did I win?

    I still do this (or well do this again) for the same reason I did it to begin with; the community. I remember when having BlogHer ads was suspect, now we all have them. I think there will always be people in it for the stuff. Then there are the rest of us, who continue to put ourselves out there for a bunch of different reasons. I guess it’s an integrity thing and some, don’t really feel that way. That’s their choice, but it definitely turns me off.

    Now really, what did I win?

  88. Can I add, In previous years, I struggled with some of the same things TC talked about in her comment. I felt like if I wasn’t in some in crowd, my voice didn’t matter. Now, I feel like it doesn’t really matter. Each of us has a voice, it’s what you do with it that matters.

  89. Trenches, thanks for your comment. (And Sundry – to whom I’ve already thanked.)

    I’d like to agree as I tried to articulate in my post but maybe I’m not doing a good job. The truth is, live and let live only works if we don’t actually impact one another in terms of reputation, respect and yeah, even marketing opportunities.

    I suppose I don’t think it’s such a bad thing to challenge one another to be better writers, smarter self-promoters, more transparent bloggers, and more committed to creating great content for our readers and for each other.

    Is it?

  90. I don’t watch commercials on TV (DVR) and I don’t read commercials on blogs. I read for the writing, I write for the writing. But that’s just me.

  91. oh, SO amen to that. I brought up the same points when commenting on another blog post about this: I’m not here for the free stuff, I’m here for the community, and the real people, and the sharing, and the lack of judgement. (that last part has been lacking a tad in recent times but whatever) If I do manage to get one of the things on my wish list or shopping list for free in the process, I’ll count that as a bonus. But if I don’t that’s fine too.

    people keep saying that writing well is no longer enough, that you have to play by the rules to be noticed. Who said I wanted to be noticed? It’s flattering sure, but again, that’s not why I’m blogging.

    Just like in real life, I find that you can have lots of connections and lots of acquaintances, but in the end you’ll only have a few close friends, those you can count on, those you can be yourself with. I approach blogging the same way.

    And one of the things I love best is that sometimes we are lucky enough to find someone intelligent, someone who inspires us. You are definitely one of those someones :-)

  92. All this stuff floating around was obscuring my vision, too. I really did feel bad — I write my heart out on my blog, in all it’s nakedness — and I was all “why aren’t I influential? why aren’t I powerful? why am I in the middle all the damn time?”

    I took a step back and tried to focus again on crafting stories about the people and things I care about.

    It helped.

    And you are so so so right. So perfectly right. Bravo!

  93. Wow. Great ending. Also love the neighbour metaphor. Perfection. GREAT WRITING….

    I think we all need to just get out there and keep doing what we do — keep WRITING WELL no matter WHAT’S going on around us. As hard as it is, I myself am completely ignoring the problematic blogs and just reading GOOD WRITING, and continuing to write as I always have.

    Because, yes, it’s all about the writing. We all have to KEEP WRITING right now, and to KEEP GOOD WRITING first and foremost on our blogging priority list.

  94. Please tell me its OK to have a blog with so-so writing if you aren’t marketing! I’m only halfway kidding. I read a lot of blogs that have excellent writing (i.e., yours), and I know enough to know that my writing doesn’t compare. But I keep blogging. I blog for a lot of different reasons, and the primary reason changes weekly. I revived my blog when my daughter was about 6 months old. I had to take my first post-partum business trip, and I searched and searched for useful information about pumping on a business trip… well, in the end, I learned by doing and decided I wanted to share what I had learned.

    I put up Amazon referral links (I’ve made $1! I think I can safely say this revenue stream is not corrupting me) and I once reviewed a DVD. I only link to things I’m actually reading or have read, and the one time I reviewed something someone sent to me for free, I made it really clear that is what I was doing and why. I felt I owed my 20 readers that transparency. I click away from blogs that aren’t as honest with me. I don’t need whatever they are giving away enough to be lied to.

    I hadn’t given it much more thought until this latest discussion started on some of the blogs I read. The shameless, sort of dishonest review blogs don’t bother me personally, but I think that is because blogging is not my business. It is a small hobby to me. However, I completely understand why those of you who DO have a business associated with blogging would be bothered. It is for the same reason that bad science bothers me. It cheapens my work community, gives other people a false impression of that community, and (in some cases) violates the ethics of my chosen profession. The only difference is, in science you are expected to speak out against such things when you see them. In blogging, it seems, you are more often expected to just live and let live.

  95. @Cloud…. “So-so writing” can be great blogging – if it’s from the heart, transparent, authentic, and written with the right intentions. Absolutely! I guess, then, there’s a difference between “writing well” and “good writing.” Not sure, though, that there’s a difference between “writing well” and “good blogging.” :)

  96. Like most everyone else, I’m gonna commend you on a great post. You stated very clearly what you feel is plaguing the blog community you love. I agree, marketing and marketeeers have made a mess out of what used to be high content blogs. And I no longer read them because of that.

    However, like many here, I do an occasional review on my review site. Not a lot, and not on my personal blog unless it’s a product that I’ve discovered on my own and am not being sponsored for. I’ve been on a trip, I’ve gotten free stuff, but of the pitches I get, I’d say I refuse 99% of them. And I tend to write back to the marketeers pointing out that my ‘babies’ are 17 and don’t need diaper covers, thank you very much. Or that our family is Jewish and we don’t NEED Christmas cards, thank you very much.

    I do have a couple of questions I’d like answered though. I value your opinion both as a ad person and a blogger, and I’ve been wondering about this stuff since the initial brouhaha started a while back.

    1: How much responsibility do the bloggers themselves hold for this divide because they were told over and over again that they were BRANDS? (You know my opinion on this subject.)

    2: Are bloggers responsible for constantly mentioning their business trips, complete with photos, and their parties, complete with photos, and their junkets, complete with photos, etc? Does that kind of continual pushing of their BRAND tend to be helpful or hurtful to the cause?

    3: Would it be less intrusive if marketers worked harder to find bloggers for their trips other than the top 20? The same people get the WIIs and the Disneyland trips, and all the other stuff. Do you think that if this largess was spread out amongst a bigger population there would be less annoyance about it?

    4: Is having a separate review blog a bad thing if the content on your personal blog remains consistant and of good quality writing?

    5: When you use your personal blog as simply postings of links to paid reviews and paid sites, are you responsible for part of the problem?

    Thanks for writing this, and I hope you get the time to ponder these questions.

  97. Margalit, my take:

    1. Some blogs are brands and some bloggers are brands and some are writers with blogs. Like I said in my post, there are different kinds of bloggers and I think actually “knowing your brand” might keep you on track better. < HREF="http://whitetrashmom.com" REL="nofollow">White Trash Mom<> for example is a brand. And she got a book deal out of it. That’s awesome.

    2. Bloggers I read can write about any aspect of their lives they’d like as far as I’m concerned, as long as it’s interesting. < HREF="http://www.sundrymourning.com/2009/05/15/night-at-the-museum-premiere/" REL="nofollow">Sundry’s description of her movie premiere trip<> was awesome. I’d be happy if she had one every week to write about.

    3. Ok, I think this is a statement posed as a question – but no, I don’t think that more bloggers getting trips would change anything. First of all, there is always something for someone to bitch about as Busy Mom described in her post. It used to be blogroll mentions, then it was free products, now trips, soon something else.

    It’s not a democracy. It’s also not a marketer’s job to “spread the wealth around.” At all. The same way it’s not the movie studio’s job to spread the leading roles around; they’re looking for a return on their investment.

    Ideally, we’d stop looking at “free stuff” as the ultimate validation of what we do here. We can’t make someone can give us a car. The only thing we can control is our own envy.

    4. I have no issues with reviews per se. Mostly they’re on separate blogs because of ad network guidelines. Also I think that some people keep them separate because they know that it’s not their best content but they want the product, and that creates a compromise. There’s no right or wrong. For me again, it comes down to writing well; if you can’t write engaging reviews, why do them at all? What is the value to your readers?

    5. Same answer. I just personally like blogs with great content. For example, < HREF="http://suburbanturmoil.blogspot.com" REL="nofollow">Lindsay<> or < HREF="http://girlsgonechild.net" REL="nofollow">Rebecca<> often link to their paid writing elsewhere. I never cease to be happy I clicked over.

  98. So, I've finally figured out what I disagree with about the premise of this posting.

    And I want to start by saying I love your writing, and I believe discussion is a good thing, even if we don't all agree. So keep bringing it up, maybe we will eventually evolve to some consensus.

    I don't buy the purple house in my neighborhood analogy. There are so many blogs out there–some are great, and some are crap. Someone else's transparent content no more reduces the value of your intelligent writing, than does the commercial laden primetime sitcom channel reflect badly on thoughtful documentaries on another channel. TV is the medium, and the viewer chooses what content to support. Same with blogs. If there is a purple house floating around, it is not in your neighborhood unless you choose to link to it or list it as one of your favorite blogs to read. Then, indeed, their poor content would reflect on you for having recommended them.

    But I couldn't articulate properly the part where I agree with you, and I understand the frustration of seeing bad behaviour that would reflect on you (or me or any of us) as serious writers. I figured it out. The problem is not the neighborhood–it is the STEREOTYPE. We don't want those other mommybloggers (dreadful term) to act tacky and sell out their readers, because we are concerned that the world will think ALL parenting bloggers are the same. This is the same issue that people of color had for years when an actor/actress of their same ethnicity took on roles that made them shudder. Yes, the actor was free to earn a living and do whatever furthered their own career, but can't they see how they are degrading their own race/gender? They are hurting us all!

    So what is the difference between the neighborhood and the stereotype analogy?

    The key difference is in who we blame. As an Asian-American, I hate seeing Asians portrayed badly in film, and I really wish the actors who took those roles had thought better of it. But really, I don't know their situation, and who knows that they don't have a starving grandmother they are trying to support with whatever work they can get.

    With a stereotype, the people who really deserve our ire, are the ones who paint us all with one brush. The people who can't see the difference between GOOD content and pandering marketing deserve what they get–BAD content. The way to fight a stereotype is to educate, and point out the incorrect assumptions. And you are already doing that with your postings on this topic.

    So, I think they have the right to their purple house. And you have the right to point out how their behavior affects the rest of us. But in the end, it is up to the reader to decide.

    And you said all that in your original post too, so maybe my comments are not really adding anything to the discussion. But I felt a need to say it.

    I am new to blogging, and thank Mir for encouraging me to jump into all this. While I have missed the early days where it was all kumbaya around here, there is still enough authenticity and quality writing out here to make me happy I'm finally joining in. So much, in fact, that I can't find enough hours in my day to explore all the awesome posts in YOUR neighborhood, as defined by the blog lists you all are kind enough to recommend.

    Don't close the doors to the party just yet, some of us just got here.

  99. Last time, I wrote to say Happy Birthday. This time, I am writing to thank you for reminding me why you ROCK. Keep on doing what you are doing – and keep on keeping all of em sensible ;)

    @thinkmaya

  100. Thank you. I love reading what you have to say on this topic. And I agree with you. If people can’t trust the words you write, and view them as authentic, that requires some serious thought. At least, it does in my mind.

  101. Great post!

    I've been writing online since 2003 and I am most assuredly not “in bed with a marketer”. I went to BlogHer expecting it to be something like the old JournalCons and was a wee bit dismayed to see how much of it was about marketing and monetizing your blog. I've only recently given in to the “blog” label instead of primly asserting that I write an “online journal”. Gawd I feel old now!

  102. As someone that writes a blog pretty much for herself, I can comment as a bonafide non-marketer mommyblogger. When I see a blog cluttered with ads that pop up all over the place, reviews that try to trick me into thinking it's a real post and stuff that is obviously PR, I leave immediately. I am positive that the blogs that will have staying power are the ones that know how to market themselves yet place the weight of their content on beautiful honest storytelling and writing.

  103. God yes. Even while I am considering putting ads on my book sites, maybe, my personal blog is my personal space. I don't pin ads up in my living room, either.

  104. SMOOCH!

    And I agree…Blog Antagonist is one of the most elegant and eloquent, most diligent writers out there. She should be on everyone's speed rack.

    That's my pimp for the day…another blogger.

  105. Very well written (unlike my blogs – both the private one I've been writing for several years now, and the new public one that is devoted solely to pregnancy & what follows being a new mom – which is why I could never even hope to get the readership that y'all have – but that's okay) :) and I think you make a great point… keep on doing what you're doing… being true to you.

  106. I'm glad you wrote this. Frankly too many bloggers who like to write about their personal lives and want to get paid for it, are not clear enough about telling their readers which posts they're being compensated for (shill posts) and which they are not. I don't care if people get paid, but the handwringing about whether getting paid is OK, the handwringing about whether “my readers” want to hear the shill posts, the handwringing about “am I still being honest OH NOES!” — it's oh so tiresome. I just want honesty. And my experience has been that once one is good an sponsored, the blog is no longer interesting to me personally b/c the content just gets too conflicted, and I couldn't care less honestly about a blogger sorting out her feelings about how she gets paid. So when she is honest that that's what she's going to write about now, I can move on.

    Now if some of these gals were to actually start BUSINESS blogs, exploring these situations and talking about all the things they go through as they build a blog into a business, I might be interested. But the whole “what am I blogging about really, momhood or money or my personal personal feelings?” — gah I have seen that way too much, and it has never turned out to be interesting. I eagerly await the phase where everyone has gotten over that.

  107. Wow, thank you Lisa and Jory and Elise. I wish there were an award for blogher commenters of the week because I would give it to every single one of the thoughtful people on this thread.

  108. Just wanted to pop over and read your BlogHer of the Week post. Congratulations!

    This was a thought provoking post and I appreciate your willingness to write honestly about what speaks to you in this very complicated issue. And, you're right the comments are full of further discussion!

  109. Congrats on BlogHer of the week.. and I think I must have my head buried in the sand, because this is the first time I've visited you and I'm like “where have you been all my blogging life?”.

    Well, you are certainly in my head. There are two bloggers having this debate in my brain as we speak. One that blogs from the heart, the other that is tiptoeing into PR territory with trepidation.

    Your post has certainly put this issue in great perspective.

    Thank you for this. It was beyond excellent!

  110. Aw Liz – This is just why I stepped out and back in 07 – it wasn't my community anymore. It was something else, where people felt it was all right to sell others out and not give credit where it was due.

    But – as you know – we all plug on, find our own ways in and out of the forest and make peace with ourselves first.

    I decided that I had to write for me – and only for me. Everything else comes after.

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