New York Times: About Monetizing Motherhood and Blogging

by Dagmar Bleasdale on November 6, 2010

The New York Times magazine ran an article about mommy bloggers two weeks ago: Monetizing Motherhood. It really only addressed blogging and the money companies are paying some moms to write product reviews and not all the other aspects of monetizing motherhood — books and TV shows come to mind.

Most mommy bloggers will at some point get approached by a company to do a product review for the first time. My blog, Dagmar’s momsense, wasn’t even three months old when the first PR firm contacted me, which was exciting because I had never considered doing a review and just the fact that they had found me was baffling to me. I still remember how much Landon loved that little frog we reviewed. Aw, how little L was!

Truthfully, I had no idea about the extent of the mommy blogging community and the different kinds of blogs when I started Dagmar’s momsense. I had never really read blogs before. I came to find out that there are moms who do nothing but review products — for fun and I guess to make a little bit of extra money.

My friend calls it “ice cream money” — because while it is fun to get the product for free, you still spend so much time writing the review, at least I do, that the payment would just amounts to that — a few extra dollars for your kids when you hear the ice cream truck rumble down the street.

I sometimes do product reviews and giveaways, but I’m very picky: the product has to be something I’m interested in using, I have to like the company, the product has to make sense for my blog (kids, breastfeeding, attachment parenting, green, frugal, etc.), and it has to be something my readers would be interested in or could benefit from. I don’t take money for the reviews because I don’t want my readers to think my opinion can be bought.

Unless you are offering an all-expenses-paid trip to Bali for my whole family…

Another thing: I write reviews on my own terms. More and more, payment comes with a lot of strings attached: the PR firm wants you to word something just so, insert this and that link… That’s just advertising. If companies want to advertise their products on Dagmar’s momsense, they are more than welcome to pay my affordable advertising fee.

I also decided on declining paid posts — I’m not interested in having sponsored post on Dagmar’s momsense. My readers come first and I don’t want to annoy them with those kinds of post. I think being so picky works in my favor because companies appreciate it more when I do take on their review.

After spending a lot of my own money on postage to send products to readers who won my giveaways, I now request that the company send the prize directly. I’m considering charging a small fee for giveaways, because they are more work and I only do them as a thank-you to my readers.

Mommy bloggers are still just beginning to figure out what they want and think is fair. I personally always knew that I wanted this blog to be something I’m making money with — and I boldly stated that in my first Dagmar’s momsense blog post. A lot of us who blog professionally have gotten over being shy to ask for payment because we realized how much clout our opinion has. If we are doing our job correctly, our readers look for us to inform them and they value and trust our opinion.

Apparently, products being reviewed on mommy blogs is a more effective advertising strategy than other forms of advertising, and that’s why companies don’t mind overnighting even a pricey item if they can get a free review from an influential blog writer and free press from the blog’s readers.

Blogging, SEO, and social media maven Kelby Carr wrote an excellent post a while ago, Mom Bloggers Deserve to Get Paid, in which she makes powerful arguments for bloggers getting compensated for all they do. I wholeheartedly agree: I expect to get paid and do get paid as a social media consultant, and that job only came about because of the success of my blog and my incessant tweeting and substantial following (10,400+ Twitter followers as of 01/15/2011) after thousands of unpaid hours I spent on both.

By the way, this is what a blogging mom looks like, to her little son: sweats, hair in a ponytail, no makeup, on the sofa, in front of her laptop. So glamorous.

Nobody sees this — you only get to see the hair down, glamorous version:

But back to my point: I would also expect to be compensated as a spokesperson for a brand or for being on a panel where the PR firm or brand is asking for my opinion, which is basically consulting.

My time is valuable — if someone doesn’t want to pay me, I happily buy one less sweater and spend the extra time with my son. I recently blogged about the toll my countless blogging hours are taking, The Never-Ending Struggle to Balance Motherhood and Work, and that I need to find a better balance between work and family time.

So in my view, and Kelby also touched on this, if you run your blog like a business, take it very seriously, and conduct yourself professionally, others will take you seriously and all your hard work and long nights will pay off and lead to other things that will — and should be — paid. I blog and tweet for an international speaker now, for example, and I get editing projects from promoting my company imPROOF on my blog.

If all you want to do is reviews, there’s nothing wrong with that, but I have other aspirations. I’m first and foremost a writer and editor who gets to write about what I’m passionate about on my blog, and I hope to make a difference in my reader’s lives — with making them laugh, or empowering them, or some new information or useful resources they benefit from.

The beauty of blogging is that you can make it what you want it to be, you can make it a hobby or profession, you can be as open or as mysterious as you feel comfortable — and if you are tenacious enough, you can even make it the springboard to your dream job.

Dare to dream — and learn to say no to work that doesn’t pay and takes precious time away from your family.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Karrie February 16, 2011 at 11:31 PM

I so agree with you, our time is valuable as a parent and as a blogger. What a great article!

I have been blogging for a little over 2 years now and have a really hard time saying “no” to every giveaway opportunity that comes a long for my readers. Even though the giveaway’s take soo long to post and write up, select winners, and all other aspects of it, I always feel like if I say “NO” my readers will suffer. They are always so helpful to me so I feel like I should run giveaways as often as I can.

Although I will tell you my favorite free wordpress plug in for choosing a winner of your giveaways is called ” And the winner is.” It randomly chooses your winner from your entries quickly.

Anyways, this article definitely makes me rethink my thought patterns of “I MUST DO THAT GIVEAWAY”. My time is valuable! :) Thanks for the great post.

Oh and I was so cracking up about how blogging is so not glamorous. So TRUE!! I can be found on any given day in pajamas. I may or may not be wearing a bra either…


Angela R February 16, 2011 at 2:35 AM

Love, love, love this! So glad to have found you & your blog!

My blog is going to be two years old this week (WOOT!) and I am just now earning a decent part time wage for my work.

Like you, I’ve decided I would much prefer to focus on furthering my writing (I’m also a copywriter). I’ve also become more selective with the reviews and giveaways I do. I have an idea for the direction I want to move my blog in and I recently wrote a Business Plan & that has helped tremendously.

It occurred to me mid-last year that if I wasn’t intentional about my blog, I would passively go along, posting about whatever giveaway or topic I felt. I’m much more on-target now and feel very much in control. I’m hoping to position myself to nab some great opportunities in the near future! (Yes, I want a full-time income from this!)

BTW, can you guess what? I’m sitting on the couch in sweats, no makeup, hair in a ponytail, with my laptop. In fact, I’m sitting on the exact same side of the couch you are in your photo! Scary! LOL!

Thanks for sharing your very honest thoughts on this topic.


Capability February 16, 2011 at 2:13 AM

What a great post – and great advice – Thanks!


Desiree Fawn January 1, 2011 at 2:23 AM

SUCH a good post. I have a feeling I’ll be reading this one a few times <3 Happy 2011!


The Frugal Free Gal December 3, 2010 at 4:23 AM

Great article! I recently started having people contact me about “giveaways” and getting prize packs to promote their businesses and it was new to me! Guess I never thought it would head in that direction! Thanks for the comment. Im trying to figure all of this out! I started my blog as a hobby but it is turning into more than I expected!
The Frugal Free Gal


Debbie Gartner December 1, 2010 at 8:21 PM

OH, and wow amazing that you are already up to 8,900 followers. I remember when you were at 3,000-4,000. I just reached the 1,000 mark, which isn’t bad considering it’s not a main focus for me.


Debbie Gartner December 1, 2010 at 8:19 PM

Good for you in taking pride in your work and time. It’s always a fine line.


Kim - Mommycosm December 1, 2010 at 3:16 PM

Great post!

After attending BlogHer and Type-A Mom this year, I changed my views of product reviews and giveaways. I don’t work for just product nearly as much. Thankfully, a lot of companies are now offering monetary compensation for larger promo campaigns. My blog is my business and I deserve to make more than product and ice cream money;)

I am using my blog as a means to connect with marketing companies and PR firms. As a result, I am branching into other areas – vlogging, on-site correspondent, etc.


TheFunFamilyMom November 15, 2010 at 3:47 AM

What an excellent post. I thought this article was well written and really expressed many mom bloggers views. I have only just begun in the blogging world and I hope to be able to succeed so that I can choose the stay at home option. Good for you Dagmar!


amber November 14, 2010 at 7:14 AM

Great post, I think especially when starting out it really is just so exciting to think that anyone is willing to give you products to review or use your blog as a form of advertising…As my blog is evolving, the line between what they want and what I want is become considerably clearer. Thanks for helping bring things into focus. Stopping by from SITS Blogfrog.
Amber :)


Marni November 12, 2010 at 4:57 AM

I am favorite-ing this in my reader. Oh, and I’d like to sign up for more lessons. Wait, that’s repetitive. I just said you were in my reader! ;P

What a great bunch of tips. I can’t wait to get onto doing more reviews and sponsors and stuff.


Joanna November 11, 2010 at 5:16 PM

Blogging really is such an open-ended field right now – and I both love it and am terrified by it. I truly enjoy blogging and networking – I especially love social media. Every now and then as a blogger just starting to monetize, it seems that like an insurmountable task – it can be daunting to look at all these moms who have done such an awesome job for so long and wonder if little ol’ me will ever get to be part of that super cool club. But you’re right, there are plenty of opportunities. Some times the dreaming of them is harder than the doing of them!

Thanks for this post, it’s awesome and I love the photos!


Tonia Sanders @thechattymomma November 8, 2010 at 10:53 PM

This is a great post. Thought provoking and written from a great perspective. Thanks!


Serene November 8, 2010 at 5:24 PM

I decided early on not to do product reviews. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with doing them if people feel like it, but I don’t think that for me, it’s worth a little money for people to feel like my blog is an advertorial space rather than a collection of, I hope, helpful and entertaining articles.


Chris in South Korea November 8, 2010 at 3:48 PM

Greetings from a fellow professional blogger,
Our niches are different, but our desires are the same. A well-written article – and a reminder to the respected businesses that our time and effort is worth as much as someone you meet in the off-line world. As a foreigner in South Korea, I often face some legal restrictions (e.g. people on certain visa types, such as English teachers, are not allowed to make money doing anything outside the scope of their visa contract). As a result, a number of legitimate companies shy away from working with some foreigners – even those with more readers / followers – which can be a wee frustrating.

Keep up the good work :)


JackieC November 8, 2010 at 6:06 AM

Wonderful article! I appreciate the inspiration, useful links, great writing style : ) And the “in-house” photos — I certainly can relate!


Jodie ( November 8, 2010 at 3:34 AM

Thanks for such an informative, honest post. I began my blog in September, and while I am enjoying blogging tremendously, it does take a lot of my time.

I also am blogging in the hopes of making extra money, and because my blog is a creative outlet for me, I don’t mind the extra hours blogging takes. However, I also get annoyed when mommies are expected to work for free. We are educated women with valuable insight and the patience and work ethic of Saints. Our time should be compensated as well.

Thanks again for your post!


LuAnn November 8, 2010 at 3:33 AM

I appreciate your frankness and the reality check. Thanks for stopping by on Blog Frog. “O)


Yakini @ThePrissyMommy November 6, 2010 at 10:34 PM

This is phenomenal! I agree, we really ought to be be getting paid for all that we do – nothing in life is free, and it’s so important that we realize this and know our worth. I think it’s terrific that you’ve set your limits (with PR companies) in this way, and it has clearly paid off for you (pun intended :-)

Great minds must think alike, Dagmar, because I just blogged about product reviews as well (a different take on it though – more of an “intro” on how to do them, for new bloggers who’d like to get started with this).


semi-crunchy mama November 6, 2010 at 4:26 PM

Very informative post! I’ve been trying to figure out which direction I’d like to take my blog in. Thanks for all the info.


St. Louis Smart Mama November 6, 2010 at 4:20 PM

“My time is valuable — if someone doesn’t want to pay me, I happily buy one less sweater and spend the extra time with my son.”

I love this!!! While not all moms are blogging to make money, the fact that companies actively solicit mommy bloggers with the expectation that they will work for free drives me crazy. In my mind, it’s just more proof of how undervalued mothers are in our culture.

You’re right, it’s great that moms can share products and services that they love with their readers (and that’s something I’ll happily do for free if I genuinely think it will help other moms), but the minute companies want to tell you what to say or want you to share something that you don’t believe in with your readers, that’s advertising. And they should pay for it just like they would anywhere else.

Moms have more power than we think. We just need to realize it . . .


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