Is Mom Blogging a Good Career?

03.3.16

Mom Blogging was good to me. I had a good run, great even. I and many of my peers had the obscene luxury of making a living simply by living our lives.

I’m not sure if Mom Blogging today could ever exist as it did in 2006 or even in 2009. Publicists certainly got involved with bloggers quickly but marketers were a little slower to come to the party. To be fair, bloggers were slow to behave like professionals, especially me.

I meet women all the time who want to be Mom Bloggers. The reality is that Facebook made everyone a Mom Blogger. The reason that Mom Bloggers were able to earn a living a dozen or more years ago was because there was a high bar of entry. You either had to know how to build a website or afford to have one built for you. That meant that blogs were interesting. They were written by smart or rich people, and who doesn’t want to peek into a wealthy lady’s life (I’m looking at you Pioneer Woman). Of course the smart people are engaging because – well, because they’re smarter than you and I.

I’m not smarter than anyone and I certainly didn’t have more money. I just sort of stumbled into Mom Blogging at the right moment and did it a little differently than the others. Sometimes being different is helpful. Mostly though it got me shunned. Surely today will be no different.

Recently in a Facebook group marketers were comparing notes about how difficult it is to work with Influencers and the conversation quickly evolved into storytelling about which Instagram famous dogs have the most difficult owners and how hard it can be to deal with their agents. Yes, really their agents. Instagram has changed the influencer landscape dramatically. Who doesn’t remember the (not particularly complimentary) New York Times article about Instagram Kids? The reality is that Instagram dogs will die and mom bloggers (I include Instagrammers and YouTubers in this) will have their children grow up and be less adorable. Some of these kids will have their adolescence shared with audiences of various sizes and some kids will have parents who phase out their parenting sites because the stories are no longer shareable.

The moment to blog daily about motherhood and earn a living has come and gone. The space is crowded, ad networks are routinely late with payments and there’s a limit to how many sponsored posts people can read.

Before you ask yourself if you want to become a mommy blogger ask yourself what your child will gain from it, what your child will sacrifice for it and how you plan to pay your child for the use of their image.

France is in the process of changing laws so that children can sue their parents for the photos they post online. Yes, it’s absurd but it’s the first bit of legislation that I know of which addresses the fact that entire families are making a living based upon the images of their children. I’m waiting for the Jackie Coogan laws from film and television to be applied to the children of mom bloggers.

Let me challenge you with this: is mom blogging when you don’t really talk about motherhood but only about your children?

mom bloggers make money on kids

When people ask me if they should start a mom blog I tell them they should do whatever makes them happy. When they ask me how to make money from it I shrug. I really don’t know.

I know one thing. I know that kids in France may soon be able to sue for the funds that their mother’s Instagram accounts generate and I wouldn’t be surprised if some bloggers’ kids here in the US called a lawyer and asked for some of the family money to be directed solely at them. My friend Heather Spohr has most of her blog revenue go into accounts for her children.

Here’s a question though. What happens if you’re the child of an #AssholeParent. Do you have to wait until you’re 18 to sue them?

Asshole parents are assholes

 

Should you be a mom blogger? Well, you can pick up a dog for $45 at the pound and they’ll never know if you’ve used social media to humiliate them. So, yeah, maybe that’s a better plan.

Naked Kid Pictures and the Fact that Your Children Have Their Own Lives

01.23.13

I know what it is to be a proud parent. There are pictures of my children plastered all over the walls of home. Curiously one of them kept getting put down flat.

Like this.

blogger children privacy

 

Every few days I’d put it upright and every few days it would mysteriously fall over again. Of course I was sure that the frame was broken so I was inspecting it one day when my daughter walked past me and said, “I hate that picture. Put it down.”

I found this crushing. My daughter is beautiful and I refuse to believe that a bad picture of her exists. As parents we don’t see our children the same way the rest of the world sees our children. We see their beauty and their strength, when they are babies we see chubby thighs and happy toothless smiles. Who wouldn’t want to share these images with the world? Well, your kids might not.

As parents we sometimes forget that our  children can be self conscious and not want to share every moment. 

I know people love to photograph their kids and share them with the world. Mom bloggers in particular have build careers from stunning images of their beautiful children. Typically there’s a drop off in photos after the child reaches an age where they can say (and be heard) I don’t want my picture on your blog. Bloggers love to write their birth stories, sleepless stories, potty training stories and first day of school stories but you’ll see a (merciful) drop off when it comes to entering puberty, dating, standardized testing and grades.

You see our kids don’t belong to us. They exist outside our bodies and the relationships they create and nurture may or may not have anything to do with us in the future.

After Heather’s pedo experience I thought that mom bloggers had wizened up. But according to Facebook some Moms are still unable to think about their children as independent beings.

stop posting naked baby pictures

 

Maria has a great point about it. She’s not screaming pedophile, she’s just noting that it’s unfair for parents to share images of their children that the children wouldn’t want shared. It makes not difference that the kids don’t know that the pictures are out there. Even when we are holding our babies and calling them “the baby” they are still human beings with separate lives than ours.

Had anyone told me this when my children were toddlers I’d have ignored them. I’m lucky that cell phone cameras came later in my children’s lives.

I don’t know what anyone’s boundaries are regarding their own children but it’s important to have some established. Surely as your children grow older the boundaries will change. In my odd case they loosened up. If you’re sharing images of your kids on facebook what are your boundaries? Does everyone know them? Are you using your child’s real name? Can they be in a diaper only? I’ll put on my judgy hat for a moment and suggest that they never be nude.

Whatever you decide as parents to do about sharing your children online be sure that the folks around you know too so you don’t have the embarrassing “can you please take my baby’s picture off flickr” phone call.

Jane is About to be Grounded for the Rest of Her LIFE

03.7.12

Earlier this week I got an email. Here is the exact text:

Hi!
Just letting you know that Jane volunteered for the 6:45-7:30 shift at the pancake breakfast.  If this is a problem, please let know!
I’ll leave the front gate popped open so people can get into the school.
See you then!

What am I supposed to say? Perhaps, “Listen if you want Jane on your doorstep before 7am may I suggest a sleepover at school?” Or maybe, “Sorry, that’s when we milk the cows.”?

After setting three alarm clocks last night I woke up late this morning. Clocks in my room and each of the kids’ rooms had failed. More likely I’d failed at setting them properly. At 6.05 Mr G tapped me awake whispering, “Don’t you have to get Jane to school early today?” I flew out of bed and woke the kids, threw my hair in a ponytail and got them to school on time. Cow milking time that is.

We had a nice breakfast with kids and parents from the school and I ran home to make myself presentable. I was home for 30 minutes and then ran to the school we’ve applied Alexander to for 6th grade.

There were a lot of parents there and only a few spots for admissions. The head of school gave a spiel and then there were questions. Lots and lots of questions from the parents. Most of the questions were about admissions and financial aid, which seemed weird and like a total waste of time because the applications were due months ago and acceptance letters will be mailed in a few weeks. Either you’ll get in or you won’t, either you’ll get financial aid or you won’t. I wanted to know more about the academics and I swear I almost dropped on one knee and proposed to the headmaster when he went on a tangent about self esteem being a crock of shit (my expletive not his) and went on to explain that kids need to be challenged but then you have to back off a little too. It’s like a dream come true and if Alexander doesn’t get in I think I’ll be crushed.

Conversely if Alexander does get in I think I’ll be petrified.

After the admissions event I had exactly 25 spare minutes to walk the dog and run to the LAPD. There’s a non profit that supports the LAPD traffic division and I was invited to one of their meetings. I thought it was weird that Alex invited me to attend and suggested I text him when I get there. I go to meetings all the time. I don’t need hand holding… I was wrong.

Luckily I parked my car and arrived at the same time as Alex because we walked in to a giant room of uniformed officers and a few detectives. To say I was intimidated is a gross understatement. I was having a pretty good hair day (my friend Jeannie asserts that our power lies in our hair) and I realized in that setting it didn’t make me look better but rather more hopelessly suburban. At least I’m out of the station wagon.

The meeting was interesting but brief. It’s scheduled to be two hours but I could only stay for one because I had to bring Alexander to the eye doctor for his two month post operative exam. The results were as I suspected, wait and watch, but probably another surgery. If I hadn’t have been so fucking tired I might have cried. So I guess I won’t punish Jane for volunteering at that ungodly hour.

We left the surgeon’s office, ran to get Jane from school, returned home for smoothies and homework (just 20 minutes of it mercifully) and then I ran kids to soccer and tennis. I’m home, hitting publish and then running to get my kids. They should be smelly and tired.

I know I am.

Football Girls and Very Bad Parenting

10.18.11

When Jane was in the fourth grade she wanted to play football. What you may or may not know is that within the private schools in Los Angeles there are intramural sports starting in fourth grade. During the fall season the boys play football and the girls play basketball. Three years ago Jane wanted to play football with the boys. I said no.

I love sports. I play a lot of tennis, I’ve coached Jane’s soccer, before I was a soccer mom I was soccer girl. Sports matter for their own sake. I’m the mom that gets it.

Maybe I’m the mom that only sort of gets it.

When Jane wanted to play football with the boys I could see what she wanted. She wanted to prove to them that she was equal, she wanted to show the other girls that she was faster, stronger and smarter than the boys and the girls, everyone really. Jane wanted to physically dominate. I said no. Mr. G. said no to Jane and we didn’t offer her an answer, we just vetoed the whole football notion and sent her off to play a crappy game of basketball. Jane’s fourth grade teacher said I should fight for her to play football. We didn’t reflect on this, as we were pretty sure we did the right thing.

Alexander is in the fifth grade and he is on the football team. This year there is a fourth grade girl on the team. At the dinner table Alexander would talk about how there was a girl and at practice he had to block her. “You’re not allowed to hit her.” I’d say. Mr. G. would roll his eyes and ask why there’s a girl on the team. I’d be unable to answer, Alexander would be unable to answer, and Jane would just glare at us and say, “I wanted to play football but you wouldn’t let me.” I’d smile and say, “You’re not allowed to block a girl, tell your coach your mom won’t let you.” and then we’d move on to another topic.

Alexander would occasionally revisit how awful it is to practice football with a girl on the team. He’d moan about how it sucks when you can’t block the person you’re practicing with. I’d nod, Mr. G. would remind him to be nice to her.

They played a game today. It was a good game and the team dominated but I felt conflicted about it. I liked the little girl being there and I felt like her very presence was a victory for little girls everywhere. At the same moment I felt like her very presence ruined the experience for the boys.

I understand wanting the world to be equal. I understand wanting all the same opportunities. I also understand wanting boys to play boy games.

My Kids Never Hit First But They Always Hit Hardest

04.20.09

I’m a pragmatic woman, and that’s translated into my parenting. My son is seven and my daughter is ten. In ten years of parenting I have not uttered the words “don’t hit”. In our family the mantra is “don’t hit first”. If you hit hardest, it’s entirely likely I’ll take you out for ice cream. Why? Safety.

My son Alexander is a red head, not just any old red either. Alexander’s hair is an incredibly rich shade of deep red that doesn’t quite shift into auburn. Alexander started wearing glasses when he was four months old, and as wisps of pinkish red hair sprouted from his head people started touching him. At first he would cry, and the old ladies would retract their hands apologetically. After a time, Alexander became accustomed to the world touching him.

As I would push my double stroller down the street people were rubbing my son’s head, and my daughter who is three years older was watching. We taught both children to say, “don’t touch me”. At first Jane, who was just older than three would try out her new found power with her Grandparents. “Don’t touch me!” she would declare. My parents would honor her requests and dutifully release her from an embrace. It would only be a matter of seconds before she would return for a snuggle.

Our family taught our daughter that her body belonged to her, and she never failed to tell folks, “don’t touch my brother”. To the casual observer it might have appeared that we were in the process of raising two terribly rude little children. To my husband and I, it was a parenting success. We would deal with nuance when the kids were older. We are duty bound to empower our children.

When Jane attended Kindergarten there was a lot of pushing. I told her to not let the boys push her, but I didn’t know exactly how that would happen. “Just don’t let them” I would say. At some point, Dad just needed to step in. I held my tongue and my heart skipped a few beats while I watched my husband show my wisp of a girl how to throw a punch. I knew that if she ever dared punch someone it would only hurt her knuckles. I also knew that my husband had some pretty strong feelings about how his children were going to be raised, so I watched and waited. The kindergarten teacher regained control of her unruly lunch lines, and Jane never needed to punch anyone.

Until third grade.

Jane punched a boy. She slugged him hard, many times over and exactly as my husband had taught her. Jane’s school called us to let us know that she’d been caught slugging a kid, they sent an email admonishing her and with a wink and a nod they also reminded us that every little girl should have a strong right hook.

You see, Jane didn’t just hit a boy. Jane hit back. I’ve taught both of my children that their bodies are their own. Although the schools tell them that there is a zero tolerance for striking a peer, I’ve told both of my kids that I will always be on their sides. I will always defend my children in their right, their need to defend themselves. We’re not raising bullies in this house, but we can’t raise doormats either.

For the most part the kids don’t worry much about being bullied. They go to a tiny school and they have a spectacular peer group. Still, I rest easy knowing that my kids have boundaries. Jane will date one day, and I don’t want her to be worried about anyone’s feelings. I want her to worry only about herself, and her body. We need Jane empowered. We need Alexander secure.

So yeah, when my kids hit back, I reward them.
But only when they hit really hard.