In posing such a question, perhaps it best to examine some of the history of blogging.
First there were weblogs, followed by Live Journal, and then Blogger and WordPress.com. In the last 15 years, blogs have exploded to become an integral part of Internet culture. In 1999, there were 23 blogs. By 2006, there were 50 million. While the most up-to-date numbers won’t be compiled until the end of the year, we do know that it exceeds 200 million. That would be some exponential growth to say the least.
It’s rare to come across a blog (mom blog or otherwise) that isn’t one big ad. Somewhere along the way, blogs became incorporated. I, personally, love that they overlap, but many don’t. Community and business together? Yes, please. Hosting a Twitter party for money? Sure, okay.
The inception of Audioblogger made it’s debut soon after blogging became an industry and thus vlogging was born. The scent of money was strong and AdSense was launched, a pay-per-click ad affiliate program that matched ads to the content of a blog. Blogs became a major player in mainstream media and corporate advertising, and the term “mommy blogger” became relatively well known. By 2012, Forbes reported that there were 18.9 million women who wrote blogs.
Why are they so popular? For one thing, blogs dig deeper into current news and pop culture. Digital storytellers (of the personal, narrative kind), play a pivotal role in the blog ecosystem and connect more personally to their audiences at home. I, myself, am much more inclined subscribe to a blog based on the quality of their content. Regardless of whether or not they write sponsored posts or have sidebars of corporate ads or get free stuff. I have learned so much about health, nutrition, and cooking thanks to recipe blogs, how to sew thanks to YouTube tutorials, and which coconut oil and fabrics — at the best prices — to purchase (for example), to boot.
Yet, for all of the success blogging has had as a profitable industry, mom bloggers in particular have been met with a lot of criticism along with the popularity. I’ve found that one of the reasons for all of the hand-wringing when it comes to mom bloggers in particular seems to be in the name of protecting the children. Parents who write about their kids and share it online when their children are too young to consent are often considered to notoriously disregard the safety and privacy of her own children. They are then doubly judged if their blog is monetized or if they freelance elsewhere sharing personal stories and pictures. Judged if not for undermining the safety of their own children, then in the very least for “shilling” their kids and their family for the “sake of a buck.” Another (completely justified) reason for all of the bloggy hate are the mere existence of sensationalist style streams, content farms and (some) self-published writers, who really … really (!) shouldn’t be quitting their day jobs.
This sort of disdain usually occurs when a woman (whether she’s excellent or mediocre at what she does), decides to do something professionally that a man hasn’t sanctioned. Especially if she manages to stay home and raise her kids at the same time, involving her kids while doing it. I like that blogging has challenged traditional hierarchies in politics, science, and the media. The monetization of blogs via personal storytelling is judged combatively and harshly (in particular by other women). I often find myself wondering why, why is it that we, as women, lash out in such low-ball, down and dirty ways towards other woman who choose this as our profession, yet blink nary an eyelash at being bombarded with corporate advertising everyday, everywhere.
There’s lots of fluff out there on the internets (along with rich, quality content), like the content farms and sensationalist streams I previously alluded to — and it sells. People click, people “read” (or rather, skim.) Most media outlets are known for this. Bloggers did not create the wheel of mediocrity. (Popular music, hello.) Averageness — for whatever reason — has always attracted audiences in droves. I, myself, take in some fluff every now and then. I’ve written it, too. Probably will again. In the mom-blogging world such type of “fluff” could be niched as: Lipstick and hair tutorials, Fashion Fridays, “roundups” beaconing readers to spend money, sensationalist click-bait, smuggery, etc. penned largely by upper middle-class white moms. All fine by me! I’m into fashion and pretty hair and drool over many an Etsy shop. I have many a self-obsessed moment of my own. (Don’t we all, really?) I also love deeply thought-out prose, articles I can sink my teeth into. Ranging across a wide variety of topics, written by and representing other demographics and cultures. And those Daddy Bloggers? More of that, please.
Yet, on the other side of the spectrum, there is this snark. This dripping hatred for mom bloggers. Lines get crossed and the mud-slinging ensues. Women who work from home and make a living writing stories about their lives as mothers are prime targets for receiving the wrath of the deep, dark under-belly of the internets. Sharing recipes, DIY tutorials, thoughts on feminism, parenting, love, relationships and everything in-between brings in a readership along with the critics. Tales from the crypt, the sidelines; the beautiful madness of parenting, stories about our children … it all gets commiserated with, but judged as well. We’ve found the community and we’ve found the hate. “Hate-reading” is a popular pastime, and an actual term. Time seems endless behind the anonymity of a computer screen where (questionable) nuggets of wisdom seem to flow.
While I’m not always a fan of the above described “genres” of blogs, of which there are many, I’m not going to waste my time snarking on them. I’d rather waste my time snarking about heathens online who are changing the landscape, the diminishing safety net of community, and shrinking global trust in which we raise our children in. Annoying mommy bloggers aren’t hurting anyone, except maybe their kids who will hate on them when they are older for posting pictures of them having a huge meltdown, or perched atop the toilet. Not my business.
To have an occupation as a blogger, is to have thick skin. As much as many would like to say that blogging is a dying industry, (of course there have been ebbs and flows as within any industry, now it’s just getting a new-fangled name of, “The Stream” aka, Tumbler, Reddit, Mashable, Buzzfeed, etc.), here I still sit and write, a relatively unknown mom blogger, and I’m getting paid to do it. With the advent of social media and social networking in the past five years, my blogging (and that of most other online storytellers) is only a small part of my online persona. All I see is growth and innovation with a generous dose of industry politics. Sashaying around a minefield of hate comes with the gig, I suppose.
According to the The Guardian, “… bloggers should be excited, not downhearted. Roughly 15 years after the beginnings of the format, we have arrived at the essence of the blog – a highly trafficked, commercially appealing platform whose best years are ahead of it.”