Mommy Bloggers Mayhem – A Few Quick Thoughts

When it comes to blogger relations and swag, it's time for some "mommy bloggers" to stop acting like entitled children and behave more like the business owners they are.

The mommy bloggers scene isn’t something I generally involve myself in, even though I work as a professional blogger and a PR rep who helps clients build relationships with them. It’s a scene loaded with more bullshit and entitlement than I have the stomach for.

However, a recent AdAge article* on a BlogHer event demonstrated just how bad the situation has gotten. So it’s time to chime in with some reality checks.

To summarize, caring more about swag than your readers is not OK. Dragging companies for not giving you freebies is also not OK. It’s time for mommy bloggers to be a little more aware of this bad behavior in their community. And it’s time for PR pros to stop enabling this nonsense.

Here are some important takeaways from the BlogHer coverage:

1. Mommy bloggers aren’t special.

This cult-like mentality in the mommy blogger community is something to behold. To be fair, it’s not exclusively mommy bloggers. They’re just a group that demonstrates these issues fairly regularly and were a key group at the event in question. And by all means it’s not all mommy bloggers – I know plenty of honest ones who don’t engage in the kind of behavior here.

It’s a subgroup of the whole WAHM group which I’ve taken issue with for years through my freelance writing work. It’s the epitome of mob mentality. And they need to stop isolating themselves, acting like they’re special in the blogging world.

Yes, they may have a natural audience. So do most niche bloggers.

That doesn’t make mommy bloggers special.

It doesn’t mean they deserve special treatment. It doesn’t mean they deserve loads of free shit just because they want it, and (heaven forbid) blogging actually involves some work.

Yet that’s where the entitlement stems from. Some of these bloggers get into this because it’s fun. Then they realize publishing involves… wait for it… real work. So they decide they should be compensated. But they don’t feel like they should have to earn that compensation through well-planned, responsible business practices. They just want companies to “buy” them and their attention.

Frankly most bloggers (including mommy bloggers) do not deserve half of the swag they get as it is. They get it because some PR and marketing folks responsible for securing coverage are too damn lazy to find out exactly what reach those blogs have. Guess what folks – if they did their job and took a hard look at your stats, chances are you’d get a whole lot of nothing. So rather than demand things you haven’t earned, maybe count your blessings.

2. Nobody “hates mommy bloggers for their swag”

What we hate is the fact that not only do they get the swag, but then they proceed to bitch about it.

If you think PR folks (or marketing folks in many of these cases) are evil for doing their job just because you’re too greedy to say “no” when people offer you free things, then learn to say “no” instead of biting the hand that feeds you (or more accurately buries you in your precious swag).

BlogHer wasn’t the issue alone. The PR Blackout wasn’t the issue alone. It was the hypocritical combination of moving from “PR people suck for giving us free shit” to “Gimme, gimme, gimme!” in record time.

Again, not all mommy bloggers fall into that group.

But I found myself wondering at the time how many of those swag-in-arm mommy bloggers at BlogHer previously decided to spit in the face of the people (and companies) offering them those goodies.

That’s the difference between mommy bloggers and so many others. It’s bloggers behaving badly, and doing it as a group. I can’t recall the last time I saw people up in arms about other blogger groups who get equally valuable review material. Why? Because they don’t act like self-important snobs who demand more, more, more — at least not on such a grande scale.

They don’t tell PR and marketing people to shove off because they can’t juggle their own responsibilities, and then run back when they want free crap again. They also don’t pretend to have an incredible reach for products they simply want as opposed to those best targeted to their readers.

Do moms care about cars? I’m sure they do. But that doesn’t mean a mommy blogger deserves one (even for a while). There are better targeted publications and sites, and ones with bigger audiences who reach the same kinds of buyers.

3. It doesn’t matter what print magazines do.

The argument that this behavior from mommy bloggers (demanding free things and complaining loudly when companies don’t cave) is okay because women’s magazines get swag is as absurd as saying they deserve it because blogging is such hard work.


First, if blogging is such hard work (it is) that you can’t do it without feeling compensated, then do as every other online business owner has to do and learn how to properly monetize your damn blogs. If you’re too lazy to learn the business side of the game, you don’t get to use the compensation / hard work argument.

That’s the equivalent of lazy writers complaining to me constantly (because I guide new freelancers elsewhere) that they can’t earn more than $5 per article. No, they’re just too lazy to learn how to move beyond that. All the information is out there for them to improve their careers, and all the information is out there for mommy bloggers to learn how to (ethically and effectively) monetize their own blogs. Swag isn’t meant to be compensation for the oh-so-exhausting work of blogging.

Back to magazines…

When you’re one of the few mommy bloggers who have a comparable audience (and well-targeted), then you can make the argument that you deserve equal treatment. Maybe. IF the company’s target audience is the type who reads blogs. Hint: your blog doesn’t fit into the marketing mix of every company that happens to target women.

At the same time, why should mommy bloggers (who specialize in writing for moms, not women in general) equate themselves to women’s publications? They’re not the same thing.

They’re focused on a narrower niche within the female audience, and not all companies are specifically targeting moms – more general publications make more sense for them. It would be like me saying I should get all the same crap BusinessWeek journalists get just because I run a PR blog. PR is a narrower niche. BusinessWeek reaches a much bigger, broader audience. Of course they’re going to be treated differently.

Promotional budgets aren’t endless.

Companies can’t afford to send samples out to every Jane Doe who happens to yap to other mothers on the web. Get over it.

I don’t hate mommy bloggers. I really don’t. Some of my favorite people are moms. Some of my favorite people are bloggers. And some of them are both. But there’s no excuse for the kind of behavior some have demonstrated recently. It’s as if they had no idea people would be watching. And if you don’t realize that, it’s time to get out of the blogging game.

While the PR blackout was a poorly thought-out plan, it did get one thing right.

How about everyone shutting up about all the crap they get and start getting back to your readers? It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t review products if you want to. But do that. Review them. Don’t post just because you got something. Don’t brag about how important you think you are because people are giving you shit. You’re not.

Instead, go through all the swag and ask yourself “of all this crap I really don’t need, would any of it be truly useful to my audience?” If the answer is yes, then write an honest review for your readers. If not, then scrap it. It’s not a difficult concept.

In the end remember this — you can survive without swag, but you’re nothing without your readers.

* As of 2019, the referenced AdAge article has been removed from their website and is not available via online archives. You can read similar coverage that demonstrates some of the same behavior discussed in this post here.

Jenn Mattern is the owner of 3 Beat Media, a 3-prong business where she offers consulting and freelance writing services (predominantly for small and mid-sized online businesses and creative professionals). Through this business, she also runs a variety of online properties and manages a small publishing brand.

Jenn has over 20 years' experience in PR and marketing, specializing in digital PR and new media (blogging, social media, SEO, thought leadership publication, and related areas). She also has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor, with 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing / development experience.

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20 thoughts on “Mommy Bloggers Mayhem – A Few Quick Thoughts”

  1. Very interesting post indeed. Pretty darn eye-opening. I didn’t partake in the “scene”. I am a mom and I am a blogger but don’t consider myself necessarily a Mommy Blogger. I just happen to like blogging! I also don’t think it’s “hard” work at least for me. 🙂 I just write for myself and if anyone likes what I write then “cool!”. 🙂

    I was approached by several mom bloggers asking for handouts for their swag bags from my online boy store. I’m glad I didn’t cave, I can’t believe they put their contributors down!

    I might be misunderstanding.. I’m going to check out the link to the AdAge that you linked and see if I’m really understanding this correctly.

  2. Nancy,

    If you want to learn more about the initial issue, do a blog search for “PR blackout,” and you’ll find a lot of recent commentary.

    I agree with you completely that not all moms who blog fall under that “mommy blogger” label — in fact several prominent mommy bloggers have been trying to distance themselves from the herd (even going so far as to stop blogging for moms or changing blog names to dis-associate from the label). Can’t say I blame them. Here are two of the posts I came across a little while ago that were worth the read:

  3. I love you a little.

    I didn’t do the swag, what I did get was left for my hotel concierge, who almost toppled over in delight. She prolly has more reach than I do anyhow, so it’s still a win for the marketers.

    I only periodically whine about bad pitches. It’s when I’m asked to post a banner for a theme park that includes a discount code. Well, it looks like an ad except it doesn’t come with any ad money. If it wasn’t a multibillion dollar, multinational corporation I wouldn’t scream so loud. But it is. And I do.

    The more I learn about blogging, the less I see it’s value for anyone. So I just won’t talk about brands, and I’ll continue being a mommy.

    • “Marketers” is a key word here. A) I find their pitches very often do suck on targeting. B) The fact that it’s marketing people doing a lot of this kind of pitching is precisely why it was so utterly insane for anyone to initiate a “PR blackout” (it just demonstrates ignorance and alienates those PR people who pass along news, set bloggers up with key interviews, etc.). And C) I don’t know anyone worth their salt in either marketing or PR who tries to make excuses for bad pitches. They do for the PR profession what bad mommy bloggers do for moms who blog everywhere.

      There’s a lot of value in blogging (PR value, marketing value, monetary value, and even personal value), but if it’s not there for you then it makes sense to either stop or change your strategy. And I wish you the best of luck with that move away from talking about brands.

  4. I think that MommyBloggers are fine and all, there are just so many of them out there saying the same thing. There is really a dichotomy when it comes to MommyBloggers: The first half write it like a diary of their everyday lives with their “amazing children.” The other half give you tips on how to save money for your family. Whether it is your telling the world about your stupendous husband, or your telling moms like you how to save money, you’re not being too original because there are thousands out there doing the same thing!

  5. AMEN!!! You are a rockstar! This post needed to be written, and I thank you for doing it. All the best to you. Keep up the phenomenal work!

    • John, no one said there is anything “wrong with mommy blogging.” What this post says is that there’s something “wrong” with mommy bloggers who act like spoiled little brats. Whether or not it’s hard to make a living is completely irrelevant. Blogging IS a hard way to make a living (coming from someone who does). Most people can’t do it. That information is readily available before anyone starts blogging with that intention. If they didn’t do their research, it’s their own damn fault, and it doesn’t justify their behavior when they decide to act badly towards groups or entire industries. A lot of mommy bloggers out there (although not all), just need to grow the hell up. Problem solved.

  6. I don’t think “Mommy Bloggers” represent all women, but I think this whole topic is just going way out of hand. Why are people getting so wrapped up in it? I know it is ridiculous, but I don’t think it’s worth the time to get worked up about.

    • 1. Nobody said mommy bloggers represent all women. No one even said the bad ones represent all mommy bloggers.

      2. When a group of people behave badly on a mass scale, they make a bad name for everyone else in the industry (in this case demeaning the value bloggers can provide to companies, as well as creating trust issues between readers and “bought” bloggers). That’s absolutely “worth the time to get worked up about” for any serious blogger or company using a blog as a communication tool where that trust is key.

  7. Hi!

    What an interesting topic to post about. I am a student in PR and also do some tweeting and social media for my job and I have come into contact with a variety of Mommy Bloggers.

    I have had mixed experiences with these bloggers as they are so influential in the “family type” market but I do agree as them coming off sort of entitled. However, I agree with Rena that “Mommy Bloggers” do not represent all women, nor do they represent every mom that blogs.

    However, thanks for your honest opinion and insights. I’ll be checking back in the future.

  8. You lookin’ at me? You talkin’ about ME?! Just kidding! I’m a mommy, I blog, but I don’t fall into any category of BadMommyBloggers – you know that, of course. The only swag I ever received as a Mommy who Writes for a living were gifts from clients when I was pregnant with my second son. It was awesome, especially since I love those clients, but it wasn’t marketing – it was just a nice gesture from generous clients who happen to work in the baby/family market.


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