There was another story in the news recently about a “successful” mom blogger who decided it ruined her life and went on to trash the profession. Go ahead and skim over that one if you haven’t yet. I’ll wait.
Mommy blogging is just the act of oversharing online, but some years ago women figured out that by partnering with advertisers they could actually make a living from it. I’ve been doing just that since 2011. Much like Josi, I was working in a high powered business job where I was doing a good job of adulting (That’s what I tell myself. Don’t burst my bubble.) and decided to come home with my two small children. I got bored at naptime and when the kids were playing on their own so I started my very own mom blog. My first ever addition to the blogosphere was to show a board game I had made for my kids with print-outs and cardboard. The tutorial to recreate it was full of tiny photos and nervous writing, but it launched a happy career for me.
Companies started reaching out to me with everything from horribly spammy knock-off products to mainstream brands that I saw in the grocery store every week. Every single blogger who has ever dipped their toes into the big wild advertising pool has had a moment of anxiety about that very moment. It’s validating to get paid for your writing. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t jumping for joy the first time a company dropped a payment into my account. The key is to not sell your soul right along with it.
The blogging communities all know those people. The ones who will copy/paste just about anything for five bucks and an empty promise of “exposure”- That magical, vague word that means a whole lot of nothing at the end of the day. I’ll be perfectly honest with you guys. I’m totally guilty of it too when times were tough financially. I’ve copy/pasted a generic press release in exchange for $75 because it wasn’t something I was exactly against, but not really all that interested in, and I needed the money. You know what happens when you do something like that and decide you don’t like the way it makes you feel though? You don’t keep doing it for years and let it destroy you. You stop, remind yourself frequently not to do it again, and move on to write about things you love instead.
The two photos above are from a sponsored post I had written for Kraft a year ago. Actually, I was paid to do it from the same middle-man company that was alluded to in the NY Post article. They provided me with a bit of money to purchase the food for the party and a bit more to compensate me for what I’d written. Want to know the difference between Josi and I though?
Where she felt that doing these things made her feel distant from her family or like she was using them as props, I was having the party first and foremost, and working as an advertiser second. And you know what? I had a freaking blast doing it. I was playing with my kid and the others at the park, enjoying the spread of food we’d put out, and meeting all of the other Kindergarten moms. Writing about the food we put out for picky kids and the party favor bags that we put together was easy because it was real. That’s truly the difference. It’s not a soul-sucking profession if you’re genuine and don’t just whore yourself out to every company that flashes you a dollar.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with being paid for what you do well. It doesn’t have to be some life-shattering endeavor though. Maybe I’ll never be considered as successful as her because I think like that and at the end of the day I don’t mind. I won’t sell out our free time to every advertiser that knocks on my digital door and I won’t stand behind a cause or product that I don’t believe it. I promise you that I’ll be happier for it and I’ll make sure that the footprint I’m leaving behind with this blog will be something I can be proud of even if I hardly make a dime. It will be somewhere that I can tell you when life’s good, when it’s bad, and show anyone else who feels the same way that they’re not alone.
As a blogger if you treat your readers as your friends inside the computer instead of faceless customers for your partners, you’re golden and welcome to this crazy corner of the interwebs. If you can’t, then it’s just not the right profession for you anyway.