Why I Don’t Like the Term Mom Blogger and Don’t Write Many Reviews

by Dagmar Bleasdale on April 29, 2011

I’m mom and a blogger but don’t like to be called a “mom blogger.” I’m a big advocate for natural birth, breastfeeding, and green living, and I want to cheer women on with my blog to go after what they want, be that finding a way to work from home or learning how to breastfeed. I’m a writer who enjoys blogging about my life and helping moms, being my own reality show on Twitter, and entertaining people with my antics.

Here is the problem I have with the term “mom blogger”: it gets applied to review bloggers and moms who mostly blog about their life and review products only once in a while, like me.

When people talk about mom bloggers, I think they lump in those review blogs that often don’t even have much personal content on them with my kind of blog, which is all about my personal life.

You know how I can tell they do put both in the same category? Despite the look of my blog and the fact that I rarely review products, I get bombarded by PR firms and companies to review their products.

I personally don’t read blogs that are stuffed full of reviews and sponsored post. I’m a very visual person and if all I see is ads and pictures of products, I’m just not interested. I’m interested in human stories, not the latest review of one more kids-clothing deal site. But that’s just me, those blogs obviously have many readers.

I wish people would differentiate between review blogs where some bloggers, let’s be real, will “review” just about anything for free or a gift card — hence all the inquiries I get to do the same — and my kind of blog that just happens to be written by a mom. Me being a mom does not make my blog a “mommy blog.”

Blogging isn’t a hobby for me. I put Dagmar’s momsense in the category of blogs written by a blogger who distinguishes herself with the quality of her writing and garners opportunities because of that skill. Think Dooce or The Pioneer Woman or PhD in Parenting or The Feminist Breeder. That’s the group of bloggers I admire and I aspire to be associated with — all of these bloggers are exceptional writers and have book deals or get invited to speak at conferences or appear on TV shows because of the popularity and success of their eloquent, thought-provoking, or hilarious blog post.

Do I have lofty goals? You betcha.

Does every mom who starts a blog have big goals to be recognized for her crafty writing or ambitions to entertain or educate people about what she is passionate about? No, and that is perfectly alright. There is an audience for both review and personal blogs. You want to write 10 post about the next best plastic toy? Go right ahead. Someone who is interested in that plastic toy is going to read it.

Making money with your blog: are paid reviews, sponsored posts, or being a brand ambassador for you?

As a writer and editor, my blog is my professional resume, and I treat it as such. If it doesn’t look aesthetically pleasing or adds something positive to my blog, it doesn’t appear on Dagmar’s momsense.

My test for all offers I get to review or endorse something:

  1. Is this a product I would use anyway or already use?
  2. Will my readers enjoy my review and/or benefit from it?
  3. Does this product work with what my blog is about?
  4. Is the product worth enough/do I like it enough to sit and write a review for it for free and take time away from my paid work and my family? (I don’t charge for reviews because I don’t want my readers to question my opinion in any way.)

If I can say yes to every one of those points, then I’ll do the review, which is very infrequent. I see it as an added benefit for brands who work with me that I don’t just write about everything I get approached with.

If I get asked by a company to be part of their campaign as a brand ambassador, I ask myself the same four questions. If I can honestly say that this product/brand fits my blog, I’d consider doing a “paid” review/sponsored post. My opinion won’t be influenced by the money I receive — I view it as payment for the time it takes me to be their ambassador (emails, calls, writing the post, etc.)

I’m a professional writer and my time is valuable. I guarantee companies a professional review that takes me about an hour to write, and I expect to be compensated for it. I don’t work for free anymore — I paid my dues in the last two years and I simply can’t afford to work for free any longer.

I’m turned off by PR campaigns that tell me to incert “this link three times and say that three time.” Yeah, no. You are welcome to advertise on my blog if my “review” would look just like an ad in the end anyway.

My new rules for giveaways:

I do giveaway solely for the benefit of my readers — they are a lot of added work for me. So far, for over two years, I haven’t charged for them, but that is about to change: I’m going to start charging a $35 fee for giveaways.

I got the idea from another blogger who started this policy to weed out all the PR requests that take me an hour a day to read. I’d be happy to never get the “Dear Mommyblogger” emails anymore or do another giveaway, but if someone is serious about wanting a giveaway on my blog, then I’ll know they are serious when they are willing to pay this small fee. This way I don’t feel taken advantage of, plus I’m hoping there will be less “junk” mail in my inbox.

The explosion of blogs written by moms is still a new phenomena, and moms are still figuring out how to monetize their blogs. I wonder if there will eventually be a clear differentiation of review blogs and personal blogs. I’d like that.

The tricky thing is that we all have different goals and ambitions for our blogs, and I guess that will never change. Not every mom who starts a blog aspires to be the next Pioneer Woman.

I do. I want it all.

I want the book deal and the TV appearances. I want to touch as many people as possible with what I’m passionate about — breastfeeding, attachment parenting, green living, and encouraging anyone to follow their dreams. Why put limitations on yourself? Your successes are as big as your dreams.

I came to America with a visitor visa, two suitcases, and an address of an illegally-run hostel in my pocket, and now I’m a UCLA graduate, got married in a castle, and write a blog that is getting noticed more and more. It’s amazing what happens when you do what you are meant to do — don’t be afraid of failure, just go for it!

Want to monetize your blog? Think again.

Making money with a blog isn’t easy, as with any entrepreneurial endeavor. For me to do a paid review or sponsored post it has to fit the theme of my blog, look good, and be worth my time. So those paid opportunities are rare. After two years of working way past midnight I now finally have an income from advertising on Dagmar’s momsense.

I’m very successful with reaching people through Twitter (13,100+ followers) but again, it takes an enormous — unpaid — amount of time to tweet that much. I wouldn’t recommend it.

I also would advise against “giving up your day jobs” to become a social media maven or blogging guru tomorrow. Money will only come to those bloggers who do it because they just have to and do it in a profession­al manner, with ethics and a lot of knowledge about their craft — be that writing, gardening, homeschooling, or putting something on your dog’s nose.

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Rona August 16, 2011 at 6:26 PM

This was an interesting post on the subject of reviews and such. My son and I were actually talking about the fact that there are so many bloggers out there reviewing products and service and always respond “I love this”!
Early on in my blogging days a marketing company sent us free products to review. We shared our family’s opinions and they weren’t always good.
I do give giveaways but I always pay for them. And I’m okay with that. During our rough times people helped us out and this is our way of paying it forward. In exchange I’ll share a link to their website, Twitter and FB. This works great for the small Etsy business that’s looking for more exposure. Sometimes I’ll receive extra thank you items in our order or they’ll give me a discount on shipping. That works for me.
Thanks for sharing your opinion with us.

Reply

Manda July 18, 2011 at 6:19 PM

Hi Dagmar,
I have enjoyed what I’ve read of your blog, and we share some of the same opinions, so I’m glad I found you on twitter (due to you following me) over two years ago. It’s so wonderful to spread correct, encouraging information about breastfeeding. I just want to say that since you call yourself a professional writer, I would like to see you make fewer spelling mistakes, grammatical errors or typos.

Reply

Lin May 5, 2011 at 5:28 PM

I’m just going to be honest here. This comes off as very elitist to me. I’m no less a “mommy blogger” simply because I choose to write reviews or do sponsored posts. I have a day job that I love, and blogging is a hobby for me. A hobby I’m proud of, but a hobby nonetheless.

I’ve blogged for many years, mostly about our infertility journey, but recently started Mom In Orbit where I focus more on products for kids and families. I made that decision because I research things to the hilt before I buy. Offering my opinion on a product may help another mom make a decision on a product for her family. As an added bonus, review blogging has provided some unique opportunities for my family, as well. I see it as a win-win for my readers and us.

I wish you all the best with your aspirations. You work hard and clearly deserve all that and more. However, I do think there is room under the umbrella “Mommy Blogger” for all of us. I, for one, hold that title rather dear since it is only by a miracle that I am able to call myself that at all.

Reply

Kathy Morelli May 3, 2011 at 11:48 AM

Hi Dagmar – Great post…those are the blogs I aspire to as well…..kudos to you!

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: