Musings of a Marfan Mom

The Business of Blogging

| 11 Comments

This evening I had the opportunity to participate in an interesting conversation about blogging and money, specifically getting paid for blogging, whether that’s via ads, giveaways, or particular posts. The discussion was fueled by the LA Times article, “Blogging moms wooed by food firms”. Major companies, most recently Nestle, are paying big bucks (and other perks like steaks, fancy hotels, etc.) to prominent “mommy bloggers” in exchange for favorable articles about their products.

But what is ethical?

This is so murky that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has even gotten involved, creating stringent yet vague rules for blogger disclosure, which go in effect Dec. 1st.

So tonight the Twitter conversation #blogmoney started off about ethics, but became more. We talked a lot about bloggers disclosing their business practices to each other. In American culture talking about how much we make is taboo, but should it be the same in the blogging “business?” This is something I’ve experienced first hand. Taking my blog public has been an interesting process, and I sometimes feel like I’m trying to beg my way into a secret sorority. How do increase readership? How could I go about convincing a company to sponsor a giveaway? As I’ve tried to ask these questions I haven’t heard a response. I assumed that there was a fear of competition, or maybe I was just being incredibly rude.

The interesting point made this evening was that maybe by NOT talking about these issues we’re actually shooting ourselves in the foot. Companies might balk at paying reasonable rates if they know other clueless bloggers will pay much less than their time, their writing, and their readership is worth. If veteran bloggers, one woman suggested, took new bloggers under their wing to discuss these issues, new bloggers might be able to get a better estimation of their worth. Some women got very upset that anyone would ask even how much they make from their blog, let alone tips of the trade. In my opinion, that misses the point. I don’t care who makes what, but it would be great to compile a general range of “going rates” for bloggers to draw from. When a few bloggers underestimate their worth, it affects everyone.

We also discussed the legal implications of the new FTC guidelines (and how little any of us understand them), how we operate our individual sites, how we got started writing, and which domains/servers we use. Ms. Single Mama created a poll about Mommy Blogger Earnings as well.

To summarize a tweet from Faten aka ConnectingWomen (because direct Twitter quotes often don’t make sense) “This conversation is a milestone because critical thinking has been awakened in all bloggers: newbies, middle, and veterans.” I would agree: tonight we were able to get a great conversation going, I met some really interesting women, and I hope these conversations will continue.

What do you think? Should talking about “blogging money” be done more? Is this another facet of the Feminist revolution? Is it ethical to take money for reviews or giveaways on your blog? Please leave a comment!

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11 Comments

  1. I’ll be honest, I’m not really sure why the FTC would feel the need to get involved for blog sponsorships…I don’t like the slippery slope that might follow from there. It is the job of the reader to determine if a blogger is a corporate shrill…the FTC has far more important things to worry about.

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  2. Thanks for posting this. I came in at the end of the conversation last night, and was slammed by someone for being a sell out that the “marketers” could take advantage of for cheap. REALLY? If that person thinks that about me, then they could engage in conversation with me and possibly MENTOR me and give me some good advice on what they think I am doing wrong.

    Like you and many other mommy bloggers, I love blogging and would love to continue to grow my blog. I would love advice from bloggers who have done this successfully without anyone getting offended.

    I believe I’ve been quite savvy in operating my blog as a business, but I’m still working on a) increasing my readership and b) attracting companies who will partner with me as an Advertising opportunity (i.e. spend $), not just as free PR.

    I’d love to continue the conversation with anyone else who’d like to e-mail about it. :)

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  3. I don’t understand why there’s so much secrecy around it. You’re right, sometimes it feels like the in crowd doesn’t want to let the rest of us in on it.

    But there’s PLENTY of advertising dollars to go around – and there will only be more if “mom bloggers” as an industry get a little more organized about it.

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    marfmom Reply:

    @typeamom (twitter) is trying to organize a guild

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  4. Maya

    So good to see you forging forward.Wish I were along for the ride—may have to grab onto your coattails when things get better here. Let me know if another convo is coming up—I would like to participate.

    WTG Chica

    “Never fear forging your own path if a trail is not obvious”

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  5. Thanks for your comment on my blog!! You’re not the only person who doesn’t understand the new FTC guidelines. We discussed them in my Administrative Law class because my professor is very tech savvy. I think the goal is transparency, but I’m not sure that they have necessarily thought through the implications of the regs…and from what I gather they won’t be enforced against “small” bloggers. I don’t really know what that means!

    I don’t think it’s unethical to earn money from blogging, specifically the reviews and such on “mommy” blogs (which I think is the crux of the issue, right?) …however I think for the sake of their readers, bloggers should be up-front with the fact that a post is sponsored, or an item was donated, or they are receiving money for whatever else. If people respect somebody’s opinion about diapers or whatever they’ll follow their advice regardless of whether the Huggies were donated or not.

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  6. i really love your idea about seasoned bloggers taking newbies under their wing. there’s a lot of information out there and as a newer blogger it’s hard to figure out how to begin to build a following, etc. i appreciate your perspective.

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  7. Hi just stopping by from SITS this is a great post I agree we bloggers should share about the business more.

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  8. Stopping by from SITS! :)

    I know i used to question some of the “OMG this product is so amazing!” reviews i saw on some blogs. I’m not sure this law is the correct way of going about fixing the problem but at least people are talking about it.

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  9. I, too, would love to have more info about making money with your blog. This is the first time I’ve seen anyone bring up the topic. Kudos!

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  10. Your email is NOT enabled and I could not email you back with my twitter handle. Do ya think maybe you could fix that? Thanks! :)

    My Twitter handle is Aquamarine76. We’ve tweeted before.

    Good night. I’m tired.

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