Reflections and musings on the state of blogging 2012

I admit I may not be the best person to be giving advice on this thing we call blogging, after all my blog is small and despite being on Babble’s list of 2011 Mom bloggers, I don’t exactly earn a living with this gig. It’s a good thing that I am pretty damn good at my day job and despite some dreams have no intentions of giving up the day gig.

That said, can I just be honest and say I am so tired of reading tips on how to make it as a blogger.  It’s at the point that most of the so-called tips and suggestions sound like a rehash of every other article written on how to make it as a Mommy blogger. First off, I am not a fan of the term Mommy blogger, I am a woman who happens to be a Mom and yes, I do blog. I personally don’t have a niche which a blogger I look up to suggested may be holding me back. I agree that is entirely possible and I am okay with it. One of the reasons that I started blogging in 2008 was that I was tired of writing that required that I fit into a box. I have been writing for publication since 2003 and most of that work is focused on diversity, as a paid writer/columnist I have guidelines and word counts that I have to adhere to and frankly it can be a drag at times.

Blogging allows me to be me, and I can say as little or much as I want to say. I mean shit; this is my space, my slice of the interwebz.

The thing is that with over 3 million blogs that fall under the Mommy genre, let’s get real for a second, we can’t all think we are going to find our fortunes as Mom bloggers. Despite what the blogging/social media experts tell you, I don’t think there is enough room for everyone to cash in. In fact at a certain point I feel the so-called experts are selling us on these dreams so we keep them employed. Let’s face it, and believe me I am right there with you, but would blog conferences like Blog Her and the others be so popular if we weren’t all hoping we might be the next Bloggess or Dooce? Of course not! I mean how many of us beg, borrow or do whatever to attend these conferences to learn valuable tips? I mean hell, I have a tip jar on this blog in hopes that maybe I might actually attend a conference this year. Yet will I even make an amount equal to what I will pay out to attend even one conference? Probably not.

Yet we dream.

The thing is after blogging now for several years and reading blogs since 2004, can I tell you that there has been a change in blogging. As more and more of us are striving to earn a living or some parts of a living via our blogs we are following the formulas and I am not sure it really works. One of the things that made the big bloggers big is their willingness to be themselves, they told us a story, and they shared their lives and became our pals. When the girl child was a baby, I used to love grabbing a minute to look at SouleMama’s blog and dream that I too could be crafty like Amanda. As if by the simple fact we were both Mamas in Maine that would turn my two left fingers into crafting fingers. Sure, it was silly but I believed and bought her books. (Probably should give em away)

Yet the newer bloggers in following the “rules” no longer share so much of themselves. I have started trying to search out the work of newer bloggers in part because I want to pay it forward. I still have no idea who brought my work to the attention of Babble and while I admit in the past I have had issues with Babble and their lack of diversity, in 2011 I felt they made an effort to change things. However in my search to pay it forward, I have found very few newer bloggers that resonate with me. I want a reason to come back to your blog, share yourself. I need more than three hundred words and a shiny picture. I know…attentions spans aren’t what they used to be. That’s bullshit. People will read if you give them a reason too! No, you don’t have to give me every tidbit of your life but don’t be afraid to be real, to be yourself and have fun.  For me I love bloggers like Liz at Siz Year Itch and Mamapundit…why? They are not afraid to show us who they are. Showing who you are does not mean you have to get messy, look some of us do messy with no problems and some don’t.

I think that while blogging has become a business, the reality is it started to grow because readers liked the stories they read. If you stop having the stories, you stop having the readers. Yes, social media helps but if you are a Twitter gal, don’t worry then about Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube or anything else. Pick the media that you like best to help promote your blog and stick to it. Granted I think the best way still is reading other people’s blogs and commenting. Sure a thanks on twitter is nice but who doesn’t like seeing comments?

Furthermore blogging should be fun. Despite the fact that my job is pretty intense and I have a family and life is crazy. The reason I keep blogging is because I enjoy it.  Would I like to make money, sure, I am not rich but that is not why I blog. I blog because I am a loud mouth who enjoys it.  My advice to anyone looking to blog, is keep writing, find your voice and trust that the rest will come. Don’t allow yourself to become so formulaic that you lose the you in your blog.

When Mommy Bloggers Fail, and Babble is just Bad

As a woman who happens to be a mother and also a blogger, I rarely refer to myself as a mom blogger and suggest if you want to stay on my good side you never refer to me as a Mom blogger either. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against so called mom bloggers, there are some good ones out there. Back in late 2004 when I found myself pregnant right before my son’s 13th birthday, it was sites like mothering, and many of the mom blogs that helped refreshed my memory on what pregnancy and babyhood would be like. Since when you find yourself pregnant when your only other child is entering his teen years, the reality is you need to relearn all that baby stuff over and boy did I have a lot to learn!

Pregnancy and motherhood was pretty simple back when I did it the first time in 1991-92, thankfully I did not have the internet telling what to do or not to do. All I had were a few books and second hand stories from other women who had survived the process. That said, knowledge is key and in 2004-05 it was the internet along with a persistent midwife that made me give breastfeeding a shot. As I have shared on this blog before, with my eldest there was no discussion of how he would be fed, he got Enfamil and survived but by 2004 I knew I had to make a decision. In the end I went from being a reluctant breast feeder to nursing my daughter three and a half years! Considering that as a whole Black women have lower rates than other races when it comes to breastfeeding I admit I take pride in that decision. I still smile when my now 6 year old looks back fondly on how wonderfully sweet my bickie milk was but at the same time am very firm when she asks is there anymore left. Sorry love, that train left the station.

While I won’t ever call myself a lactivist or any other type of activist on parenting issues instead saving my activism for the economic ignorance and disparities that exist in this country it does not mean I don’t get pissed off when it comes to certain issues. I must admit that the state of online parenting advice and so called mommy blogs disappoints me greatly. Now that the monetization of parenthood has started it seems that gone is the great advice of only a few short years ago. Instead we share our stories in hopes of earning the most page views since high page views and many followers on places like Twitter and Facebook often mean cold hard cash, which of course means we go for controversy. I realized that today as I ran across this piece on my twitter feed.

Sites like Babble seem designed to create controversy and are only one reason that I feel maybe it is time for mommy blogs to die. I know some of my readers will read this and seethe and that’s okay. But it seems almost irresponsible to promote ass-backwards views under the guise of sharing which is what that piece does, I am also tired of reading pieces written by women in most instances who have been parenting a hot minute trying to suggest they are authorities on parenting. Look, I have a kid in college and I will be the first to tell you I know jack shit, my six year old made sure of that. I am not saying you must have fully grown kids in order to try to give parenting advice but someone sharing their “should” on an issue when they really are not fully versed in a topic makes no sense. If you have been parenting a grand total of less than 5 years are you really an expert? Hell, you don’t even know yet if the choices you made while your snowflake was a baby really are going to have an impact on the kid, let the kid grow up before you start telling us how we should parent!

In the Babble piece we have the writer suggesting it’s easy to throw a towel over the kid so no one sees a boob while nursing…oh Mama! Wait until you hit that 12-13 month stage where they just pop off and want to show your boob to the world. Believe me, my daughter went through a phase where I knew if she needed to eat outside discretion was not going to happen. So that meant there were times my breasts were on display and ya know what? So what? Breasts are to feed babies and if anyone has an issue that’s their issue, not mine. I have an issue with an organization that markets itself as a place for a new generation playing into these same tired shaming thoughts when it comes to nursing. I just do.

So in the future I will make sure the next time a Babble link comes across my path to avoid it which is a shame since there are a couple of bloggers I enjoy that do write for them but as a whole, sorry Babble you are not a new generation of parents. Just more of the same old shit dressed up.