Is Mom Blogging A Time Consuming Hobby or a Career?

The Mom Blogiverse is aflutter about a post by Amy Suardi over at Frugal Mom where she announces that she is no longer in the business of blogging. In addition to hitting on every point that a work at home mom would feel conflicted about she states the following:

Jockeying for attention in the age of a million blogs and still trying to care for my family, live by my values of meaning and connection, and maintain a simple, sweet, slow life was an impossible ideal.

Is mom blogging saturated? Are we competing with one another for some spotlight? Are the kids neglected? Sort of yes, not really, I hope not but probably.

Every private forum and facebook group is talking about this post. I’m hopeful that at least a few women who are pouring time and money into blogs that don’t create joy or revenue will rethink how they wish to spend their days. It’s important to define success for ourselves wisely and though a large online audience may make you feel good your family will always feel better. Some of us are lucky enough to be able to work a small number of hours so that we can be with our families, some folks really don’t have that option. Giving up even a few dollars a month could be tragic. These are tough times and quitting a job (even a freelance one) isn’t always an option.

I read Amy’s post and was quite puzzled. I think that Amy has four kids, they look to be little. I’m trying to understand how much a babysitter costs for four kids (my mom was my only real babysitter and we paid her in hugs and gratitude) because of statements like this:

The money I made from writing a post for Parentables did not even cover the cost of a sitter. Freelance writing is not about the money, I eventually learned. It’s about the flexibility of working in your pajamas, the freedom to write about your last vacation, and the cachet of being associated with a large publication.

I’d never actually heard of Parentables before today but I’m trying to understand how a writer could make less money than a babysitter? This confuses me in every way. If you’re new to freelancing I’d really hate for anyone to think that it’s about flexibility, sloppiness and cachet. Freelancing is about owning your time, knowing your value and writing your passions. I was recently published in a large publication and I assure you I was not paid in accolades.

I asked some other folks what they thought of the piece and Kori said, “I thought it was a good article because I can relate to what she is saying.  I think all of us have to find a balance that makes sense in our lives. With that said though, I think you can find a balance and still make money blogging.”

Jenn thinks she’s not much of a blogger anyhow so the conversation isn’t applicable, “Do you consider making a TV show blogging? Now I’m even more confused.” I’m with Jenn. It sounds like being in front of a camera was a lot of work for a mom with little kids. Some folks aspire to be on camera, some just sort of land there. I think it’s a softer landing when it’s actually a goal but it’s a tremendous amount of work and it’s not time that you’re in control of. I’m not really clear on the show but some talent isn’t particularly well compensated. Perhaps that’s the cache she’d mentioned?

Trisha suggests that a successful career blogging comes from being a savvy entrepreneur, “The key to being online and making a living is learning to know your worth. You have to absolutely learn to say no when there is no benefit to your brand. That clears up your time to dedicate to the companies that are more seriously dedicated to you resulting in better posts, and more importantly, better opportunities.”

I wish Amy well and I’m sure she’ll have great success. She’s a smart lady because she knows that success is self defined and putting family first is her truest measure right now.

Blogging serves many masters. I’ve recently changed the way I do things and it might look like a not-very-smart move to some but for me it was the best thing I could have done.

Can a new blogger come on the scene, set up shop and make a good living? Are we quite simply saturated? I don’t know the answers to that. I’ve often compared blogging to the MLM industry. There are many more women who will lose time and money (time that cannot be replaced, money that can) from jumping into the business of blogging. They’ll be sold websites, templates, mailing lists and conferences that are all unaffordable but allow them to feel like part of the workforce without really entering it. Is this a bad thing or just a thing? Is working at home part of a phase that stay at home parents need to experience?

I really don’t have any answers. I do know how to run a business. I’ve been working for myself since 1998 and I know that I’ve redefined success a thousand times in as many days. Sometimes I need to stretch a little more, sometimes the new definition of success means doing less.

Bloggers, ladies in particular, it helps to be realistic. If you’re making less than minimum wage it’s a hobby. Hobbies get different hours than jobs.

Photo courtesy of Flickr via creative commons. 

Comments 15

  1. Freelance writing is not about the money

    That quote grates on my nerves. It is simply wrong. I can’t say whether the author did a good job or a bad job, but freelance writing can provide a respectable income.

  2. Her post is one that I have to read multiple times to understand. I don’t know if that’s because I’m a natural blonde or what, but I’m just confused. Like Josh is saying, freelance writing CAN provide a respectable income, comparable to a full-time job and I know this from personal experience. And like you say Jessica, hobbies are what you do on the weekends, during nap time, and maybe after everyone is in bed. But a business, the business of blogging? That’s full-time for most of us, there is so much we are trying to do and for a lot of us, that income we make is paying off medical bills, or student loans, or is just plain providing a roof over their heads and food on the table.

  3. This has been the source of conflict in my own life. I never felt like I had anything unique to say in a blog that would make anyone read it, much less be able to sell advertising, etc. and make it pay me a living. What i end up doing, though, is messaging people I feel that I can help w/my life experiences and those could probably be blog posts. I started a couple different blogs, but began to feel that maybe it’s just me and I’m not cut out for it. That’s okay, too. Now, I just need to figure out how to charge for my fb therapy! ;)

  4. I could not agree with you more – it’s fine… totally fine to blog for passion or hobby but if it is intended as a successful business then have a plan if that is the intent and even then it may not work. The entrepreneurial world is tough!

  5. Here is one place where being a midlife blogger can be an advantage. With grown kids in college and working, I feel no guilt or pull towards other’s needs at all. I can spend hours each day connecting, writing and reading other’s blogs. I would have loved to have had an outlet like blogging while I was a stay-at-home mom, but I do think I would have been distracted to the point of it being problematic when my kids were small – it’s just too compelling.

    As for the money, if you want to make a living, find a job, in my opinion. The money comes in drips and drabs and hour for hour it’s laughable. Blogging AND writing are passions before they are professions.

  6. I definitely feel it is oversaturated and many bloggers will tone it down. Even though I’ve been blogging 3 years, I haven’t had a lot of success and really see mine as a hobby more than a job or career. Even though I try to make money I don’t se myself as a WAHM mom. I am still a SAHM first and even though my blog suffers because of it, I am happier for it.

  7. While I could understand some of her points, I think in a way, she overburdened herself. Everyone has to learn to say no and learn to work in moderation- and that moderation point is different for everyone. Not that I am an expert in either of those, but I think we make that choice for ourselves.

    Do I question how I spend my time sometimes? Sure- what mom wouldn’t? But for now, my family and I are happy. If that changes, then it’s time to quit.

  8. Blogging has been over for a while. I’m always surprised to see people still excited about it. Commenting on FB and tweets have surpassed the blog. I got one paying job off my blog (blogging 6 years now) and have gotten 7 jobs off Twitter. Some of them paid!!

  9. Okay, so she bowed out to focus on her family. I can respect that. However, it wasn’t blogging that caused her to have her time sucked up from her kids… that was her choice not the industry. She was getting underpaid because she chose opportunities that didn’t even out her cost.

    That just isn’t smart business. For any business to have success you must outline your goals clearly as well as knowing your limits.

    Freelancing IS about the money if it IS your business. Not all bloggers are freelance writers and not all bloggers have the same goal. So, therefore, not all bloggers ARE freelancers… they are simply bloggers and there isn’t anything wrong with any direction in it. Just define it and stick to it.

    I think the ultimate issue is that many people get into blogging with this vision of free stuff, free trips and moneymoneymoney pouring in as soon as they hit “publish”… It doesn’t work like that.

  10. I’ve also been working from home, successfully, since 1998. I only recently started a mom blog because I needed and wanted an outlet. Writing in some insane way has always been a stress reliever for me. I could certainly keep a handwritten journal or diary, but I no longer enjoy using pens. Pens cannot keep up with my thoughts; they quickly piss me off. And I have a hard time reading my own handwriting, so what’s the point?

    Anywho, I would love to see something great happen with my blog, but I didn’t go into the mom blogging thing with hopes of becoming the next Babble or CaféMom. If anything, it’s my goal to start a social good project once I am better established. I’d like to help expecting women who don’t necessarily have existing support networks. I think you do raise a good point – are we reaching saturation? I’d have to say yes, unfortunately. There are only so many eye balls, so many brands. There are just way too many bloggers. Many will phase out in coming years, particularly those who went into blogging to make a profit, as they realize they are not turning a dime. It will be interesting to see what the so-called mom blog industry looks like in five years.

  11. As a blogging novice, I’m fascinated that people can actually make money at it (?!). In all honesty, I’m a “veteran” (code word for beyond the prized 18-54 year old network demographic) actress who turned to blogging as a means of connecting with television viewers with an interest in seeing me on TV again. My hope was that an internet following could translate into another series.

    Realistically, though, I have no control over any network honcho hiring me. But I do have control over HIRING MYSELF. So, my new goal is to come up with entertaining & informative content that is “worthy” on it’s own — via my own narratives or as my performance art character, “Ginger Peeche-Keane, Adult Sex-Ed Evangelist & Mojo Motivator.”

    I’m open to all suggestions and advice, so if you have any, please tweet or facebook me!


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