You may have boobs and kids, but you aren’t a mommy blogger!

It doesn’t matter who you are, we all feel the need to be part of a group, part of a collective which we can identify ourselves with. It gives us a sense of purpose, a sense of belonging and direction.

In the blogging world, this is a great thing. Groups create influence and help drive recognition and traffic, however, it all goes to hell in a hand basket when that group gets infiltrated by marketers.

That’s what has been happening with mommy bloggers recently and they’ve been having a rather public crisis of faith as they attempt to define what a mommy blogger is.

It all came to my attention when Sara wrote about the storm surrounding the idiotic idea of a “Blogger PR Blackout”, and came up again today when Stephanie Azzarone asked:

One wonders what would happen if the marketing world instituted an extended “Blogger Blackout” in return — no samples, no giveaways, no coupons, no trips. And readers would then keep going to those blogs because … ?

Kind of shines a light on what the PR world really thinks of bloggers, right?

Mommy bloggers are facing this issue because some of them appear to feel the need to, as Maria from Mommy Melee puts it, “lump together every blogger with a vagina and a child”.

Are you female, do you have kids? Then you’re a mommy blogger!

It’s as bad as being a Roman Catholic! No choice is given, they take you as soon as you’re warm.

As I see it from the outside, the mommy sphere consists of two distinct types of blogger (and those who straddle the fence of course), the actual mommy bloggers who talk about their kids, their lives, their experiences plus anything else that interests them and then you have those who use their blogs as a marketing tool to shill products and services to other mommy bloggers.

Now before I go any further, let me make it clear that I know plenty of women who are mothers and do not identify themselves as mommy bloggers. They are not being talked about here. I’m only talking about those who identify themselves as such, not those who are identified as such by the defensive and needy mob.

I have no problem with monetizing your blog. I attempt to monetize this one.

I have no problems with mom bloggers doing product reviews and giveaway’s.

What I do have a problem with is identity.

Once the focus of your blog stops being your own content and your own ideas you stop being a mommy/tech/sports blogger.

When posts that are your own exclusive content start becoming filler posts between the next marketing article, review or giveaway, you stop being a blogger.

When the sidebars and content of your blog contain more adverts than the personals section of a cheap tabloid rag, then you stop being a blogger.

Do you know what it is you become? You become a marketer! If driving products and profit is your primary goal with your blog, then you are a marketer.

I would suspect that the most ardent voices within the “mommysphere”, fighting to say that blogs full of product reviews are acceptable as mommy blogs are those who have transcended blogging into marketing.

They know that by being identified as mommy bloggers companies will give them more products to hawk and by being a so called mommy blogger they have a built n market.

Remove the mommy blogger association and all they’re left with is a blog that would otherwise be considered a splog – a spam blog.

The “mommysphere” has split into two groups – the mommy bloggers and the “mommy marketers” and the sooner it realizes that, the better off it will be.

Emotion Versus Marketing

I’m an emotional being. Very much so. If I wasn’t life would be so much easier.

Today I wrote a post that was entirely based on what I thought was a logical / marketing approach to breaking out of a stereotype.

Unfortunately my post was met by some with very emotional responses. Some were so emotional that it took a reply comment before they revisited my post to see what I actually wrote rather than what they first perceived I wrote ( and I thank them for re-visiting).

But why should a post about what is essentially a marketing question be met with such open hostility?

is it because of the demographic involved? Or is it something more?

Thoughts are appreciated, even from those who tell me I wasn’t being logical at all 🙂

Pigeonhole Yourself And Reap The Consequences

I changed the tag line on the blog to “Paul O’Flaherty on Technology, Life and Passions” a few weeks ago.

As the long time readers of O’Flaherty know I’ve been concerned recently about being categorized as just a tech blogger and having to deal with the stereotype that comes with that.

I’m not just a tech blogger. I like to talk about other events and hobbies I have. I want to be able to talk about my passions and share any information whereby I feel I am genuinely adding something to a conversation that other people can benefit from.

Technology is still my main focus, but I wanted to show that I’m more than that. I’m not just a tech blogger.

Knowing how I feel about being stereotyped and how that stereotype changes how companies interact with you, it was with a hint of dismay that I read an otherwise excellent post by Erin Kotecki (The Queen of Spain).

In her post Erin bemoans the treatment of “Mommy Bloggers” as a group (sparked by the recent Johnson & Johnson Baby Camp display of corporate idiocy) and calls essentially for the companies targeting “mommy bloggers” to engage them and not talk “at” them.

It’s a damn shame these companies, marketers, PR flacks and social media opportunists don’t actually READ the blogs of the Moms they target. They would learn an awful lot in a very short period of time if they did.

I hate to say it but this kind of thing happens to every perceived “group” in the blogosphere.

Whether you are a tech blogger, mommy blogger, knitting blogger or sports blogger, there are and will always be corporations and groups who just don’t get that we as bloggers are more than what we just blog about.

Erin’s post really shook me this morning because what she keeps going on about is how corporations are treating mommy bloggers as a demographic and little else.

Yet Erin’s post does little to help “mommy bloggers” out of this sad perception.

Before I go any further, let me stress that I agree with Erin with respect to corporations treatment of bloggers. This is a universal problem and not one isolated to the mommy blogging community.

Yet as I said, Erin’s post does little to help the perception of “mommy bloggers” with respect to corporations or even with respect to other members of the blogosphere.

Bloggers are individuals right? Bloggers make up a community. That community is usually representative of a certain type of demographic.

In this case the community  is called “Mommy Bloggers” and it’s exactly that term that is causing the pigeon holed approach you are seeing from corporations with respect to the community.

Dell wants to talk to tech bloggers because of a perception that so-called tech bloggers know more about technology (it doesn’t matter that other bloggers are equally savvy).

The way we present ourselves and what we call ourselves, tech bloggers or mommy bloggers automatically influences how corporations react to us as the have an instant perception of our field of blogging and supposed field of influence.

If you want to break away from being perceived as being a certain demographic, then stop advertising yourself as being that demo graphic!

Not blogging under your real name is another problem that the “mommysphere” is suffering from badly.

Look at the most successful bloggers out there. They all (with very few exceptions) blog under their real name.

My general impression of “mommy bloggers” is that a large percentage tend to blog under names such as “Queen of Spain” (no offence Erin I like that name ) without giving their real name.

I’m sure their are some perceived reasons for this (don’t want hubby knowing they blog about his constant flatulence or something) but if you’re trying to win the respect of the people holding the corporations purse strings (no pun intended) then you need to step up to the plate and show that you are a real people.

A corporation cannot engage an anonymous entity because that entity could be anybody.

The bloggers who blog under their real names can afford more of the proper corporate attention because their is a perceived safe guard that the blogger in question has his or her face, name, and personal reputation out their for all to see.

Anonymous bloggers are a liability. They can say what they want, then piss off and start another blog tomorrow under another identity. They could even have two blogs, one where they are promoting your product for the potential rewards and one where they are promoting your competitors, both under different names.

That’s not so easy to do when you blog under your real name. You may try it. But if you are found out your personal reputation will be shot to hell.

Who cares about the reputation of an anonymous character?

Oh, don’t get me started about some of the names for the blogs in the “mommysphere”!

If I see another (fictitious blog names but you get the gist) Jens mom, mom of five, lonely mommy, happy mommy or Californian mommy,  blog name I will scream.

Talk about stuffing yourself into a box.

Don’t get me wrong, this happens in other sub divisions of the blogosphere as well, but with respect to the “mommysphere” this (at least to me) is very evident.

If you label yourself as one type of blogger, you’ll get treated as such. It’s a simple as that.

Be original. Show that you are more than a “mommy blogger”. Drop that title. Show that you are a blogger, with multiple interests, with a readership and a sphere of influence.

So here are my tips to the members of the “Mommysphere” and to any bloggers who feel they are cornered into one demographic.

  1. If you don’t want to be categorized as part of a demographic quit advertising yourself a such.
  2. Blog under your real name. Your reputation is what gives your blog value.
  3. Choose a blog name that does not drop you into a demographic.
  4. Show that you have interests in topics outside of the box your trying not to be stuffed into.

Remember, it doesn’t matter if you’re a mommy, tech or sheep shearing blogger,  you can’t complain about being demographically stereotyped if you propagate the stereotype.