Monday, 23 May 2016

I Never Meant to Become a Mommy Blogger


There has been a lot of emotive discussion lately about what it means to be a mommy blogger and the potential negative connotation this label carries. There has always been the perception that mommy bloggers are inferior to other bloggers out there and then there was this very angry viral post which had mommy bloggers everywhere up in arms. Of course, there are one or two truths hidden beneath all the anger in that post but for the most part, the various accusations in that post are not true for the bulk of 'mommy bloggers'.


If you had to tell me a decade ago that I would become a mommy blogger, I probably would have pointed you in the direction of the nearest mental assylum. At that time, I had just finished studying and was establishing my position as a task to be reckoned with in the corporate world. Sure, I had always enjoyed writing (I was even the captain of our high school newspaper club) and had for a brief period in high school considered a career in journalism but found that academic writing was more my cup of tea (yes, while my style of writing for this blog is very colloquial, I spent many years engaged in more formal academic writing).

Then things changed. I had two mini-me's. I decided to work from home. One day, on a whim, I decided to start a blog. I went with the free blog platform as I had no idea whether I would tire of this side project after a few months (note to self: upgrade to a more professional domain). With zero coding or graphic design experience, I designed all my own headers and social media icons (note to self: get a professional to sort all that garbage out). I learnt about foreign terms like search engine optimisation, Google Analytics and even a little bit of coding. Here I am, a year and a half later and still enjoying my thought outlet. 

When I started this blog, the intention was for the blog to have more of a business focus- writing about the struggles of establishing a professional home-bases business (back before I was deluded into believing that was possible)  and about achieving adequate work-life balance. There was always going to be a mommy aspect to the blog (there is the term 'mom'right there in the WAHM title) but that was not going to be the focus. What changed? For one thing, my entrepreneurial articles seemed to bore people and nobody read them.I think my focus changed a little bit too- spending more time at home with my children meant that parenting and lifestyle topics were at the front of my mind. I still do entrepreneurial posts sometimes but they are the exception these days.

Do I believe that mommy bloggers are sell outs as implied by that infamous article? For the most part, no. The mommy bloggers I have met are all likeable individuals with a strong moral backbone (part of the job description for being a good mommy). Part of being a decent mother is to conduct yourself in an honorable manner in order to teach your children about building good character and I think most mommy bloggers endeavor to do just that.

The truth is, that mommy bloggers are sometimes persuaded to 'sell' a certain product by PR companies. More often than not, these PR companies will not even pay for these services, instead paying in a currency called 'exposure' (a promise to drive traffic to your website), which carries no Rand value and so, usually do not pay said mommy bloggers' bills. Sometimes there is a freebie product or two delivered to said mommy blogger. It can sometimes be difficult to draw the line between pleasing a 'paying customer' and giving an objective review. However, I think most mommy bloggers realise that there is never any obligation to publish posts (unless there is a specific contract in place) and I personally have on several occasions refused to post about products that I am not convinced by. I will criticize where needed and I refuse to change this even if it means not pleasing everyone. I choose to have more personal posts than product and event related posts as I do not want this to become an advertising dumping ground. I will not buy social media followers even if that means that my following remains fairly small and I do not get a lot of paid work because of it. All of the above is true for most of the mommy bloggers I have encountered too.

So, while being a mommy blogger is not something I ever imagined myself doing, it is something that I love doing and this journey is not ending yet, even if there are a few scorned individuals out there who have a problem with this.