Monday, March 15, 2010

Much Ado About Nothing or Am I Missing Something

Hey all you SITS Girls and Mommy Bloggers out there. I have a serious question for you. Have you seen SITS today or the New York Times article "Honey, Don't Bother Mommy, I'm Too Busy Building my Brand"? I'd absolutely love to hear your take on this.

When I checked into SITS this morning there was quite a hullabaloo going on about this article which talks about Mommy Bloggers and the SITS Book Camp and Tiffany (of SITS) in particular. Many bloggers were interviewed and even linked to. Though, significantly I think, not SITS or Tiffany. Hmmm....

Heather and Tiffany had then linked several blog posts by "Mommy Bloggers" who are very upset about this article. Honestly, I read the article and I just don't get it. While the title is inflammatory, it actually doesn't even accurately describe the content of the article.

I will admit that I did not read all the posts from the offended moms, but I did read one at random and I read Tiffany's post. It seems the moms are offended about the article's reference to them as the "minivan crowd" and referring to "tutu tutorials". And Tiffany seems offended that she was described as having the energy of a barefoot sorority sister. Really? Was she barefoot? Was she high energy? You know what. I'd love it if someone compared me to a energetic sorority sister.

I get that bloggers want to be taken seriously. I get that. But I also get that Mommy bloggers do blog about making tutus, getting their kids to use the potty and every time their new baby smiles. I also get that some bloggers are trying to "build a brand" by having sponsors, reviewing products and having ads on their blogs. So what's the problem with the article? Truthfully, I'm in agreement with ScaryMommy who was quoted in the article as saying:

“I wish we could go back to where blogging was five years ago, when it was just about the writing and the connecting and none of the free stuff and the vacations and the swag bags,” said Ms. Smokler, of ScaryMommy .com. Her blog recently landed her a full-time job with the Nickelodeon social-networking site, despite her not having a résumé. “I think it dilutes the point.”

I realize I may have opened a can of worms here. And I am asking for your honest opinion on this topic. I really am wondering if this is "much ado about nothing" or if I truly am missing something. I just ask that all opinions be presented with courtesy and respect. No flame wars, please. (I have a delete button and I know how to use it).


Anonymous said...

I looked quickly at the NY Times article this morning, because of course I needed to see for myself what all the fuss was about. I didn't read the whole thing because I soon realized it wasn't what I thought it was. Maybe I don't take myself seriously enough, I'm not sure, but like you I wasn't offended. I thought I would be after seeing a few posts about it, but I think I was mislead.

I agree with Scary Mommy. I blog for me and no one else. I obviously care what my readers think because that's the point, but I'm not out to create a brand. It's just as a place to write, reflect and share with others.

Danielle said...

I couldnt agree more. I read it and thought, that title has nothing to do with the content.

Plus the title is just radical and ridiculous,, hence the draw to read the article but not at all substantiated. Silly editors.

My feeling is, if your looking for reassurance that your doing a good job being a mom or being a blogger, then you might just be missing the point.

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen the article yet, but I'm not a blogging mommy and I am part of SITS, and I don't feel that SITS and/or Tiff and Heather are brainwashing me into making my "brand" OR becoming a blogging mommy any sooner than I would've been :)

Sandy said...

Don't we all give titles to our posts with the intention of catching attention and getting someone to read further? I think that may be just what happened with the NYT article.

I read the entire article, and I don't see anything offensive in it. How many of the mommy bloggers drive mini-vans? Raise your hands. Did some attendees at the recent blogfest drink out of sippy cups? So what's the problem? The truth? And many write about all the things you mentioned.

I've said before, I'm not a SAHM or a WHAM but I've spent months with SITS and have found many bloggers with more to say than how to potty train.

Maybe the SITS girls need to lighten up a bit.

Anita said...

It says so much about my love of my favorite blogs over just SITS first, as I saw your blog first this morning Pam, and so you were my first inkling of such an article in the NYT.
So I dashed to my iPhone and read the article. I read it all, to be fair.
I do feel the author slanted her view a bit, at times giving the impression that blogging is trite and just for board SAHMs. While I am a woman, who is a mom, and currently not employed outside my home,I like many others am far from any stereotype.
I blog for me, I've considered the ads, and doing it more for $$, about wouldn't it be fun to parlay this into a paying gig, but in all honesty, I don't think my skills are on par with that level currently.
I love SITS, but I do believe they doth protest too much.Perhaps it's just more personal to them.

La Mere Joie said...

I think the followup quote from Philly Cat in the NYT Motherlode upset me the most. “stay-at-home parenting is not that hard, it’s mostly boring and most of the time just requires that you be physically present. So they’ve replaced the coffeeklatches and afternoon maj-jong games with blogging, which makes them feel more important and like they are actually doing work, while not having to cede any of their supermom cred.”

At home parenting is by far harder than going off to work everyday. Which is what I used to do. And I am very happy not to anymore. But by giving up a big career and the money that went a long with it, I see nothing wrong with helping my family earn a little on the side by promoting the products that my family uses everyday anyway. Not that I have yet, but I see nothing wrong with it if I was to. And if it means not having to go back to work full time, then definately!

Blogging does not make me feel “important”. It makes me feel happy. That’s all we can ask out of this life. A little happiness. And a lot less negativity.

I think the article's title was horrible and many things she said were just plain 'ole catty.

Sue Jackson said...

Hi, Pam -

Oh, so much to comment on! First, what exactly is SITS? I've heard you mention it before but keep forgetting to ask.

I agree with the blogger you quoted, that - from what I've read - there is a trend toward so-called Mommy blogs becoming over-commercial. Then again, where are all these freebies, trips, sponsors, and swag??? I've been blogging for almost 5 years and have never been offered any of this! Maybe because I'm not looking for it. And how does a blogger end up with a full-time paid writing gig from her blog? As a constantly struggling freelance writer, that's my dream...

And, yes, I'd love to be called an energetic sorority sister, barefoot or otherwise! I'd take energetic anything,actually...


K. M. Berry said...

Stopping by from SITS due to your great comment on the NYT article (please note that there were a couple other comments along similar lines).

Here here, Pam! I would contend that the title was merely literary, meant to catch the eye and little more. It was far from a hatchet job and mostly it seemed slightly nostalgic for a time a few years back when things were a little less commercial (and in this sense the title was related, albeit poorly). These are very normal things to long for, in my mind, as a community evolves over time.

Sometimes I think the product hawking is an empowering tool so that a person can earn a little extra coin while pursuing their hobby and/or dream. Sometimes I'm just happy to have the chance to win something useful. And other times I'm happy to read a review because it's a product I've honestly considered or never knew about. Many other times--perhaps even most of the time--it feels like product shilling, debasing one's self in a desperate attempt to increase page views. That's disingenuous and bothers me quite a bit.

Also, as a very new blogger with far too little time, are you telling me that the article is crazy for suggesting, ever so lightly, that one or two tasks are put off so that the blogger can craft a quality post? As the main domestic task doer in the house, I can assure you that I've forgotten about a load of laundry, or left dishes sit longer than normal, etc. while I tried to parse out this or that sentence. Note that the same holds for nearly any hobby (or part-time job as some folks treat blogging), however!

Elle said...

I agree with Scary Mommy's sentiment and with every word you've written here.I was going to write a post very similar to this today, but I just haven't had the time.

I'm not a mommy blogger, so maybe I just don't get it. As a female blogger, I think the article and the reactions to it are over the top.

Taking the tone away from the written words of the article, is what was written the truth? If so, I really don't see what the big deal is. From what I've seen, the truth is that quite a few bloggers DO seem to be more focused on the bottom line and "fortune and fame," and that's a huge turnoff for me.

I love some of the bloggers I've met through SITS, and consider them to be friends, and am very thankful to SITS because of that, but the angry mob mentality over there today is a huge turnoff.

Anonymous said...

Hey Pam,

Thanks for visiting my blog today and supporting my comment on SITS regarding this topic. I agree with you completely and I really think that those who are offended are only offended because they don't like the truth about how they come across to others. The truth hurts...maybe some of these mommy bloggers are spending too much time blogging, who knows? Getting upset about it seems to indicate to me that it's the truth.

I quit following SITS. I don't feel that all types of bloggers are properly supported by the SITS blog (doesn't mean they don't support all kinds of blogs at all, but I feel they could do a better job).

And frankly, I'm tired of being lumped into the same category with mommy bloggers.

Karen said...

I read the article and wasn't thrilled with the tone, but I couldn't really disagree with the content. It has started to feel like blogging is all about the free stuff. I sometimes get free things to review and/or give away, but I really don't want my blog to ever be just about that. It takes all the fun out of it.

Although, hats off to anyone who's managed a career, or at least a bit of income, out of it.

MrsM said...

I agree with you entirely and plan to post on the subject. I also stopped following SITS. The NYT article didn't say anything that wasn't true and I will not be lumped in with an angry mob because they refuse to see their actions from another reasonable view point.

nan said...

Okay, so I don't know what SITS is, and I guess I am not a traditional "Mommy blogger." Just as some of the commenters here have stated, I blog for myself as an outlet and I love the connections I have through the interconnected communities... I don't advertise, and I do share experiences. In blogging I tap into my own *voice* - which for me is different than a "brand." However, I do think that many bloggers out there are creating a brand of sorts. I read the NYT article with enthusiasm, because in the interest of full disclosure, the author is a friend, and the sister of a friend, and I think she did a great job covering the topic at hand -- with some humor to boot. Am I completely biased? I thought I read balance in this piece. We also have to remember that story ledes are often not written by the contributing writer, and they are designed to get people to read the article. I don't think people should read so much into the title. My two cents.

Jennifer, Snapshot said...

Thanks for this! I hadn't seen it, and I have to say that it's right on.

If you've ever attended a blogging conference, you will see that this is exactly where many bloggers are now. I agree -- I liked the way it was before. I mean, I like the perks, and I'm okay with people running ads and making a little money, but people who are calling their blog a business?? For a few it will, and like the person you mentioned, for some blogging can lead to a real (i.e. paying) job, but in general -- blog if you like it. Take advantage of the perks if you are offered them, but remember the Mommy in mommy blog.

Kita said...

I agree with you 100%. The title of the article could have been better - but I don't think it was a negative article.

Grace's Mom said...

Is there anything wrong with the premise of the story? No. But it definitely has a biting tone to it, don't you think?

It reminds me of how certain people are SO quick to be against something just because it's popular. That is one of my huge pet peeves.

The write definitely has an "above it all" attitude toward mommy blogging, which is really offensive to some of the mommy bloggers she pointed out. I can see why there is an uproar.

But it didn't offend me personally. I'm a mommy blogger. I like reading blogs about making tutus and I like to write them. I don't care that this writer thinks its trivial. When my daughter has the cutest tutu ever at her next birthday, and her daughter is tutu-less, we'll see what she thinks of mommy blogs then!

lori said...

Maybe I need to read the article again, but when I initially read it, I didn't think it was negative. I agree with everyone that the title most likely was just to grab attention - and that it has! If some moms (or anyone, for that matter) have found a way to do something they enjoy, like writing, and make money doing it, then more power to 'em! Isn't that the dream job?

Lora said...

Ahhh, a breath of fresh air. I commented on the original SITS post, and then began clicking the links to those who seemingly agreed with me. There aren't many of us...but I don't think that makes our perspective any less valuable!

I almost resent the implication that I should "support" the negative backlash to the article. I think it takes all viewpoints to make the world go round, and I see absolutely NOTHING wrong with the article.

Thank you for speaking up!

injaynesworld said...

I think people need to remember that old show biz saying, "There's no such thing as bad publicity." I didn't think it was all that bad, but then I'm not an MB. I do have to say that, having signed up now for the SITS bloggy camp in San Francisco this coming August, that I was very disappointed to hear Tiffany say there would not be cocktails in sippy cups after all. Bummer.

Wendy said...

Thank you for your comment on my blog, (response to my comment on SITS) and obviously, we are on the same page! As I have thought more on this, I believe that...those who are reacting must be feeling a little guilty, and hence, overreacting! If there were no truth to the title and picture (with its intent at humor) of moms "neglecting" their children because they're absorbed in blogging, there'd be no reaction! It's easy to become obsessed with blogging, to be sure, and difficult to maintain balance--all of us must admit that. I think the article hit too close to the truth for most. And many, having not even read it, jumped on a "ranting" bandwagon, only making themselves look foolish, certainly not doing themselves, or blogging, any good. The main gist of the article, IF you read it, is positive to mommy bloggers and others in the blogosphere.
I totally agree with your title, "Much Ado about Nothing". And no, you're not missing a thing.
Wendy (go here to read my response and comments, including Pam's:

Dorkys Ramos said...

Thank you!! I read the article yesterday morning and though the writer did try to poke at the mommy blogger group (to cause a stir, I'm sure), I didn't think much of it.

I thought maybe it's because I'm not a mom. Maybe I just don't "get it." But I like to think it's just hoopla about certain sterrotypes that may or may not be true.

I didn't even bother reading the comments or commenting myself on SITS because I figured everyone would be up in arms, but I really enjoyed reading the comments on this post. Thanks for standing up and voicing your opinions even if the majority are rallying the troops and torches.

Ronnica said...

I don't get the big deal with the article either. Personally, I hate all the sponsorships and ads that many bloggers are tempted with. It's why I don't tend to follow a blog once it's hit the big time, since it usually also is big-time sponsored (though not always). I'm with Scary Mommy...I wish it was all about the connections and writing!

Confessions From A Working Mom said...

I had major issues with the article, and I'll tell you why. As a journalist, it is our job to be level-headed and keep our sense of balance. We also need to keep ourselves OUT of the story.

So the fact that this "journalist"-- and I use that word lightly-- used a salacious headline then backed it up with absolutely ZERO facts, then pushed her own blog after acting so flip about so many others just rubbed me the wrong way.

She did me wrong in two ways-- first, she was patronizing and condescending towards my habit, and I don't think she executed her job (and mine, too!) well either!

Confessions From A Working Mom

SITS Girls said...

I don't think I ever used the word "offended".

In fact, my response to the article came only after a number of other posts which had comments that were attacking the conference with inaccurate information.

Jennifer had the opportunity to write a great piece- she asked intelligent questions, spent 20 minutes talking with a woman who raises money for pediatric cancer with her blog , spoke with another woman who traveled across the country because of CONNECTIONS she had made with women through blogging- none of that was mentioned.

She made about my barefeet (yes, I took my shoes off with about an hours left and made a joke about it} and, saying "You Guys" a lot.

Were both things facts? Yes. But there were many other details that could have painted a more realistic and balanced picture of the event. YES.

THREE women out of 90 had a sippy cup. How is that a detail that accurately portrays the conference?

It's not about the sippy cups, its about the fact that many would take that detail and laugh off the event as a silly gathering of silly women, and she chose to use it over many, many other.

Tara's presentation on SEO was one of the best I've ever heard. To say it was about a "tutu" tutorial is ridiculous. Period.

Was I expecting a PR piece on boot camp? Of course not- but I didn't expect to be trivialized either. Jennifer came to me as a free lance writer and also mentioned she was mom with a blog who was interested in writing about moms working with brands. I don't think that's the article we got.

The article also suggests the conference was focused on making money on your blog {as many of the comments here suggest) Sure, it was referred to and, we spoke about working with PR. But we also talked about finding your tribe, setting up word press, blogging communities and blogging from a place of authenticity. {If you look at my personal blog, I don't do ads or reviews.}

We also laughed a lot.

I even teared up at one point thanking the attendees for being so open, so warm, so willing.

SITS isn't for everyone. And, that's okay.

Heather and I work really hard to welcoming, kind, and inclusive to all women.

And, we will continue to do so.

I am a supporter of all women.

Even the ones who think I am over-sensitive and need to lighten up.

Anonymous said...

hi again Pam,

an award for you!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Midlife Jobhunter said...

Funny. I read this article and saved it to a post to write about at future date. Just looked up what I had jotted down - only had referenced the article but the title - Blogging for money or hobby or writing practice.

Hmmm - never know what I'm thinking.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

I think an awful lot of people have mistaken what reporting is (too much time blogging, perhaps?) - reporting is not about being supportive. It's about reporting. You may not like it, but if a conference organizer is running around in bare feet, she's making a statement and that's going to be picked up and reported on.

There seems to be a lot of emotion wrapped up in the response, which isn't surprising given that people are blogging about their personal lives, which doesn't jive with what reporting is about.

Mommybloggers aren't the first community to feel the sting of a reporter's pen. It's par for the course - things always look different on the inside, but I'm not convinced that the insider's view is necessarily the more correct one than that of someone (in this case a reporter) looking in. The closer you are to something, the harder it is to maintain objectivity. As the backlash to this article clearly shows.

At the end of the day, this is mostly a bunch of dissatisfied, white, middle-class women whining about the choices they've been fortunate enough to have in their lives.


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