I’ve been feeling for a while that the so-called “momosphere” – the blogging community made up primarily by women and generally called mommy bloggers – is at a sort of crossroads. After a decade of huge growth (it’s estimated that right now 4.4 million mothers blog), mommy blogging is a heavily saturated market and has become intensely competitive, particularly in the part of the mom blogging community that focuses primarily on product reviews, giveaways, and working extensively with brands.
After the BlogHer conference last year, where I saw some blogger behavior that frankly appalled me, I felt frustrated by this newer competitive atmosphere. As a blogger that focuses primarily on personal storytelling (or, as I like to call it, self-centered naval gazing), I missed the sense of community and camaraderie that was what made me fall in love with blogging in the first place – and frankly, I think it’s gone for good. Blogging is a business now, and that means we need to define the standards for our behavior as business people. Hence the crossroads: we are changing from community to business, and we need to begin acting like businesses.
We were all furious at the Wall Street Journal article that diminished a ground-breaking mom who blogs and also made our business conferences look more like slumber parties, particularly the Mom 2.0 Summit – which is beloved by many bloggers that are full-time professionals (as are several other blogging conferences). While there is an element of blogging conferences for women that can seem a bit frivolous to outside eyes, our conferences have NOTHING on the bad behavior and party atmosphere at social media conferences that are more popular with men. And what looks “frivolous” at mom blogging conferences is actually part of some of the best business networking I’ve ever seen.
There are voices, though, that are beginning to ask about our professional standards, and it’s given me more food for thought. Stephanie Schwab and I spoke at the Mom 2.0 Summit about the Wall Street Journal article, and she feels the article was actually good for the blogging community. She also suggests in a piece in the Social Media Explorer that some of us need to remember that we’re business owners.
Start acting like the business people you (mostly) seem to want to become. Because if you’re not becoming business people by attending these conferences, then you really are doing it just to get out of the house. And then I don’t blame the WSJ for calling a spade a spade.
I’ve been chewing on her article (and, in fact, wrote a piece here on Babble’s MomCrunch last week that I took down because I wasn’t done thinking about it), and today I ran across Fadra’s piece about entitlement in the mom blogging community where she compares bloggers to actors, pointing out that while both Lindsay Lohan and Meryl Streep are called actors, they aren’t really in the same league.
The same is true for bloggers. Some are experienced professionals. Some work hard, play fair, have ethics, build relationships, and generally still stay true to the nice people that they are. Others… not so much.
I might not fully agree with everything Stephanie and Fadra wrote, but I confess that some of it rings true. More than once I’ve been in the awkward position of explaining to a new blogger with only a handful of posts and even fewer readers that, no, she can’t ask a brand for $500 to review their product and have a reasonable expectation that the brand will say yes. The rare bloggers that make substantial money on sponsored content (not, I should point out again, for reviews; reviews shouldn’t be paid) have both the experience and the page views that allow them to ask for big money when doing sponsored content. But, frankly, most bloggers do not.
I worry that the mommy blogging community is beginning to fray at the edges, and the bad blogger behavior I’ve both heard about and personally witnessed is becoming less rumor and more standard. If this bad behavior continues to be so highly visible (and, as bloggers, most of what we do is visible) it will overshadow the majority of mom bloggers that are professionals. I feel like we can all do better (and by that I am starting with myself; I haven’t always behaved professionally and I know it).
We all know that Wall Street Journal article was ridiculous; let’s keep it that way. I’d hate to see it become prophecy.