September 5, 2015

"Can Mommy Bloggers Still Make a Living?"

A piece in The Atlantic — focusing on Heather Armstrong ("Dooce") and the problem of "native" advertising:
“My readers see sponsored content and they want to close the browser immediately,” she said. “The problem is I have to give my readers what they want, I have to give the brand what they want, and I have to be authentic to who I am. And combining all three of those needs is so so so exhausting that I was having panic attacks routinely.”

Over the years, advertisers increasingly wanted Armstrong to post photos of her family using their products. But if [her daughters] Leta and Marlo didn’t want to do that activity that particular day, Armstrong felt tempted to pressure them to do it anyway so she could fulfill her advertiser obligations...

“I wrote a blog because it was fun, and I loved doing it,” she said. “Then it became my job and I hated it. You never want to get to the point where you’re like ‘Ugh I have to go do that thing that I love? Ughhhh.’”
ADDED: There's a larger problem here, beyond making your money as a mommy blogger and beyond blogging and advertising, and that's making a living doing what you love. It seems obviously good to love your work, but that doesn't mean that if you love something that is not your source of income that you'll be happy if only you can generate income through it. You might do better getting your income from something else — which it would be nice to love to some extent — but to keep your truest loves disconnected from your need for income. The word "amateur" is built on "love" (amare)

14 comments:

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

It's been my experience that precious few people love performing tasks for their own sake.

Rather, people love doing things that make them feel loved.

When it comes to that, we all get off the bus at different stops, and there's really no good way to find out except for trial-and-error.

Me? I'm still looking.

AReasonableMan said...

Eric the Fruit Bat said...
people love doing things that make them feel loved.


I blame their mothers.

Phil 3:14 said...

Who will underwrite my life?

Laslo Spatula said...

“The problem is I have to give my readers what they want, I have to give the brand what they want, and I have to be authentic to who I am, and I have to pimp my daughters. And combining all of those needs is so so so exhausting that I was having panic attacks routinely.”

I am Laslo.

amielalune said...

It would be nice if we could all stay home, spend a few hours on the computer each day writing about our lives, and make a living from it. Duh.

If her experience is so popular and so important to share, she could charge her readers instead of using advertising.

Montgomery HOG Blog said...
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JAORE said...

I would love to make a living as a sketch artist featuring nude, female subjects of my choosing.

Alas, life is so unfair. The models seemingly refuse to volunteer for free sessions. My potential patron refuse to see the beauty and elegance of my work.

Bastards!

Gordon said...

Geez. Everyone loved Paul Harvey. But he did rather smarmy product ads in every broadcast. "That's TRUE Value!" The thing about Heather was that she started with a fairly high level of anxiety and depression, and tended to let her idiotic readers' comments affect her too much.

Bill Peschel said...

The difference, Gordon, was that Paul was authentic in his inauthenticity. You didn't believe that he was personally using the product. The pay to play was obvious.

Dooce was pushed into a position where she had to insert the ads into her life and into her daughters' lives, and she realized that had to stop. I'll give her credit for that, at least.

"It would be nice if we could all stay home, spend a few hours on the computer each day writing about our lives, and make a living from it. Duh."

Try doing it daily for years, or even think about how much work that involves (and it's not a few hours if you're also dealing with running the site, taking pictures, editing your copy and putting it up).

Birches said...

Is this First World Problems or White People Problems?

Either way, color me unsympathetic.

EMD said...

Her business model is fundamentally flawed if she's looking for her own advertisers, or if she has to endorse products to make money.

Her content, if it's good enough and can get eyes on its own mertis, is the money-maker. A less lucrative but less stressful model would have had her syndicate the writing or find a media sugardaddy.

amielalune said...
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amielalune said...

"Try doing it daily for years, or even think about how much work that involves (and it's not a few hours if you're also dealing with running the site, taking pictures, editing your copy and putting it up)."

I promise you, it's still not as much work as I and millions of others have been doing daily for years. With the added burden of being separated from our children, and unable to stop and throw in a load of laundry or do anything else we want at any time.

Unless you are Matt Drudge, you'll never convince me that blogging is as exhausting as you like to think it is. Too many of the really good ones also happen to have full-time jobs.

Ann Althouse said...

I think the onerous part is the engagement of emotion and the need to create new material out of immediate relationships, especially with young children, who are demanding. To feel obligated to advertisers and in need of them for money for your family and to be using your family and needing to make them into fresh material... it's very stressful! It's not the time, per se.

It's much easier to put up blog posts in response to news stories and legal cases and so forth like I do. The material is external, even though the response to them may be personal.