C. Jane Kendrick: Be careful with term 'mommy blogger'
Yesterday, my sister and fellow blogger pulled up to my house to pick up her children. As I helped transport them into her car, she rolled down the window and said, "Thanks for what you said about 'mommy blogger.' I really don't like that label."
She was referring to a recent opportunity I had to speak out about why the term "mommy blogger" is not embraced by all female bloggers.
Some bloggers have no issue inserting this description in their professional bios and wearing the term proudly. Others find it a term that was forced on them simply because they are women who have children and blog.
In preparing for the speech, I was prodded by my husband to speak honestly on why this term isn't accurate in describing what I do.
I am a professional blogger. I make money blogging by renting out space on my blog to an advertising network. Depending on my traffic and the network's ability to sell ads, I can support my family on this livelihood — which I think is fair, given that it requires the same hours as a full-time job.
I started blogging before the term "mommy blogger" was born. I didn't cultivate a blog with the intention of writing from a specific voice. I started a blog simply because I had quit my real job for a chance to become a professional writer. I saw blogging as a smart way to self-publish and gain an audience.
At the time, I wasn't a mother. In fact, I was going through the intensity of infertility, which I used as the basis for my blog. I was a writer creating personal essays around an experience.
This was also before blogging genres were identified, such as "design bloggers" or "political bloggers." There was just blogging. We were just bloggers.
And still today, I prefer that simple description above all else. I am C. Jane Kendrick, a blogger, or someone who uses a website to log experiences using mostly text.
In my experience, the terms "mom," "mama" and "mommy" became buzz words for bloggers trying to drive traffic. About the same time, direct online advertising was picking up on the same trend.
Moms were seeking out mom-founded websites and blogs for networking, information and support. In response, corporations saw that the women flocking to the Internet were a powerful way to push products, trends and goods.
And women were seeing a way to make an income by writing "advertorial" posts for payment. Because of this, I always associated the term "mommy blogger" with a woman who cultivated her blog content for mom-centric advertising.
I've experienced this type of blogging myself. I've been given products, sent on trips and asked to write clearly marked paid reviews. From a business perspective, it's a great relationship. Using moms to influence moms to buy better products or create a better standard of living is more effective than the corporate-driven approach.
I've been so grateful for posts I've read on various topics from maternity leggings to natural cleaning products. This type of blogging can be a solid network of women helping women.
For me, the pressure to be a third-party influencer is hurtful to my intentions. I find writing posts for the sake of advertising to be counter-intuitive to what I hope to create online as a writer. If I am a good writer, if I blog well, I have no problem being paid for the traffic it accumulates. But my content should be as independent as possible.
The term "mommy blogger" also carries with it the same complications we find in other labels placed on women. It's ill-fitting. As of today, "mommy blogging" describes blogs that focus on the young mother's experience (which could be an accurate description of my blog on some days). But what happens when these "mommy bloggers" no longer have little children at home? What happens when they outgrow that label? Will we create a "post-mommy blogger" genre?
And what about those female bloggers who write beyond day-to-day mom-centric postings and focus on describing a human experience?
Until I can answer these questions comfortably, I will always see "mommy blogger" as an inaccurate description for my lifetime career.
But perhaps the ultimate argument is more personal. "Mommy" is a term of endearment our children use in our evolving relationships with them. It's a phrase that should transcend marketing ploys and target audiences. In a sense, it's a sacred term that comes with it a very personal responsibility. To see it flung about to describe anything from websites without substance to million-dollar businesses is a bit heartbreaking.
As one fellow blogger said to me: "Mommy. Only my children are allowed to call me that."
C. Jane Kendrick writes for blog.cjanerun.com, is on Facebook as C. Jane Kendrick and tweets as CJaneKendrick. She lives in Provo with her husband and two children.
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