How Misinformation And Refusal To Talk About Money Is Keeping MommyBloggers Poor

by anna on May 27, 2010

Hey guess what? I’m angry again (Surprise, surprise.)

Somebody sent me this article from Ad Age this morning by Lenore Skenazy of Free Range Kids, a blog that gets between 150,000-300,000 pageviews per month and which has received various mommyblogging accolades blah blah blah. The article talks about sponsors and bemoans the fact that it’s so hard to monetize and blah blah blah where is my coffee?

I don’t know Lenore, and I’m sure she’s wonderful. She’s just the latest person to voice what is the easiest opinion to have of blogging as a business when you aren’t making any money — that is: that there must not be any money to be had. And by the way, it is totally in my best interest to encourage this erroneous line of thinking because the more people who have it, the more room for me to succeed, and the more people who will give up and drop out.

But it’s totally wrong and I cannot stand to see it continue.

Look, here’s the thing. You cannot start blogging and expect that you’re going to be successful overnight without any work. I can’t really believe that I even have to say this. You have to hunt down sponsors on your own. And by “hunt down,” I don’t mean send out a few emails or join an ad network or post regularly.

Here’s the deal, Lenore. The reason you’re not having success is because nobody is talking to you about numbers or being straight with you about anything. In fact, Ad Age is publishing your post because they love the idea that bloggers cannot make it — old media eats that shit up. Let me level with you, you have done quite a bit, and you should be proud of yourself, but with 150,000-300,000 pageviews, you are still not at the level where you can make it on display ads alone — at least not from ad network income. Here’s what you’d be making if you were on the various networks under current market conditions:

At BlogHer View definition in a new window, under the current market regime, you’d be making a MAXIMUM of just over $1,000 a month, assuming you can get the ad inventory filled.

At Federated, you’d be making a little bit more than that, in all likelihood — again, assuming they are able to fill the ad space.

It’s a little bit more difficult to say with BlogAds because the model is different — but with some initiative on your part, you could be making quite a bit more than that, perhaps even as much as $2,000 a month, depending on how much you were wiling to push your own ads, and how many hives you could join.

If you sold your own private ads, you could probably sell them for as much as $150 per month for a square 125 x 125 ad, but you would have to solicit as many as 1000 different businesses to fill ten ads. That’s right — one thousand. You have send out that many in order to fill up all of your space.

If you did product placements, you could get as much as a couple thousand for just one placement, depending on the product and the circumstances of how you sell it. To sell one of these, you probably will have to pitch a ton of companies and really sell them on the concept. You need a good media kit. You need to tell them about SEO and why your blog will help them with it. You need to really sell the concept of the mommyblog to them. Can you do that? You need to be able to. If you can, you can make a lot of money doing product placement. A lot.

There is a lot of money you can make, right now, TODAY, if you want. But none of it is going to happen just as a result of writing blog posts. That happens later. That happens when you have millions of readers and have been doing it for five years or more. And even then, you cannot rely on one income stream. You are in a startup business. You are not in a business that allows you to sit back and wait for money to come to you.

I don’t really mind if people want to convince themselves that there is no money to be had in the mommyblogosphere because it’s easier than getting off their asses and making money. That’s fine. Do that. But it’s irresponsible to preach that to other people, or to pretend like contracts with companies like Tide or whatever are the only way, or that if you haven’t made it after a year you aren’t going to make it. That just isn’t true. It is a disservice to your fellow women to suggest that it is. And I find it insulting that “feminists” would engage in this behavior.

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{ 17 comments }

1
Susan Tiner May 27, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Well, not everyone has what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur. It’s a lot of work, and requires some basic talent, no?

2
anna May 27, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Well, I mean maybe there are some instincts that not everybody has, but there is information that is out there now, if people want it. And I think everybody has the ability to work hard. You might not be able to magically make your blog have 300,000 pageviews today, but you can certainly track down small businesses that fit your audiences, work up a pitch and start sending out emails. I just get so annoyed with people who talk about how there are no people making money in blogging except for Dooce and PW when it is not true. I’m not talking about Lenore here, BTW, she’s voicing what other people have told her is true, and it is NOT TRUE.

3
Somo May 27, 2010 at 1:32 pm

I don’t know if this is on topic or not, so if you choose you may delete it. What gets my goat is when some of the “top” mommybloggers complain, 1. about being called mommybloggers and 2. about other mommybloggers getting paid in products or trips instead of money. What gets me about the second part is that these so-called expert mommybloggers (is that annoying, yet) never give advice on how to get paid for their writing or getting ads on their blogs, but continue to put down those who are trying anything to get their name out or get a little something for efforts. Maybe I am naive and these mommybloggers are just out for any free stuff, but it would seem worthwhile for those who are taking this seriously to help those who may not know what they are doing. And that is why I read here, even though I have no delusions that I will ever make a living off my blog.

4
anna May 27, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Those things annoy me, too. I think bartering it totally legitimate, and in some cases, it’s a smart deal. An example: When Design Mom did the product placement for Mayflower. I’m guessing that was in the tens of thousands of dollars in terms of value, and I think that’s way more than what she could have gotten them to pay out in cash for a product placement at that time. So bartering gets a bad rap. Bartering is smart and shouldn’t be looked down upon, IMO.

I mean, sometimes I get these PR invites and I do get a little confused because I don’t really understand why I’m supposed to be excited about going, because I’m not being paid and they’re giving me a flip camera. Now I understand THAT. Because I would much rather just get paid. Like if they want me to write about something or whatever then I’d need to be paid for my time and even then I don’t know if I would do it, but that’s a whole separate issue. I’ve never understood looking down on bartering. That is a part of legitimate businesses everywhere.

And yeah, part of why I write about this crap is that I looked EVERYWHERE for this when I was trying to get started and I couldn’t find it, so I thought, well, if I ever find any of this out I’m going to write it all down so other people won’t have to hassle with it. It shouldn’t be so difficult!

5
Kate May 27, 2010 at 8:01 pm

Somo, I was just thinking the same thing! This site is one of the few places where I’ve seen actual concrete advice.

6
Susan May 27, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Okay I just saw your tweet about no comments on your rant and I have to apologize cause I was going to comment but I had a three year old with constipation, which is actually a perfect segue to your post.
You know everyone poops, that’s life. But you can’t expect to poop if you don’t eat the right foods and drink your fluids. Pooping is hard, you got to work at it to make it happen. If you work hard enough, you will poop often and a lot. If you just expect the poop and do nothing, it might never come for you at all.
Did you know Elvis dies of extreme constipation? So even “The Greats” can fall hard if they don’t keep up with the hard work.

7
Susan May 27, 2010 at 1:51 pm

And I meant died because Elvis is dead- like I said on Twitter it’s been a long day

8
anna May 27, 2010 at 1:53 pm

HAH! Now we have come full circle, talking about poop in a post about mommybloggers complaining about not making enough money. Thank you.

9
beth aka confusedhomemaker May 27, 2010 at 4:19 pm

It does fit, given you help give the poop on mommyblogging. And we do like to talk poop.

10
Kerry May 27, 2010 at 2:53 pm

I am not sure I can top Susan’s comment. You really can’t beat a poop metaphor (or analogy or whatever the hell).

It’s funny, because American history is full of people who did impossible things. That’s the essence of the American spirit. We build stuff out of nothing. It seems like we’ve lost some of that in the past 20 years. Where are the people who say, “Naaah, I can totally do this?”

11
anna May 27, 2010 at 3:31 pm

I honestly think the entrepreneurial spirit gets washed out after a few generations and you get so complacent you have to be reborn or something. It’s just so much easier to sit back and say “well, nobody is making any money,” and then when somebody says,”No, actually, they ARE,” say, “Oh, they’re exaggerating.” It’s ABSURD.

12
Missives From Suburbia May 27, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Between this post and Susan’s poop analogy, I really think there might be no more brilliance left in the world. Seriously, two of the smartest things I’ve read all year.

Thanks for telling the truth, Anna.

13
Jenna May 28, 2010 at 8:51 am

Sounds like basic brand marketing to me. Know as much as you can about your 300,000 monthly viewers and then tell advertisers about them. Aggregated information, of course. Then negotiate your butt off and expect it to take awhile. Thanks for sharing this information Anna!

14
Melanie @ Mel, A Dramatic Mommy June 2, 2010 at 8:12 am

I came by way of a newsletter. You’re exactly right. Liz from Mom 101 did a great post about bloggers giving away the farm for free. In her comments I said something to the effect that finding someone to sit down with me, evaluate my site and its numbers to come up with a concrete plan has been like pulling teeth. Money is taboo in our community. No one wants to talk about how much they got to write X post or to run Y banner ads. People are too afraid that someone else will undercut them and muscle in on their action.

For all the talk about how great our community is (and it IS most of the time), there seems to be an inherent closed door policy when it comes to money. It’s sad and frustrating. Fortunately, someone read my comment and emailed me with an offer to help. We had a great discussion, I’ve got some ideas and a place to start. To me, that’s an example of real community.

15
Melanie @ Mel, A Dramatic Mommy June 2, 2010 at 8:17 am

Oops, I’m visiting from Megan at Velveteen Mind not the email newsletter. Also want to clarify that I don’t feel people need to talk in concrete dollars but can easily provide a ballpark figure.

16
Aury (Thunderdrake) June 3, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Bravo. You hit the nail on the head here.

Being an aspiring blogger who understands the importance of generating traffic, what most people seem to neglect to understand that while traffic is king, the monetizing strategy is queen. That traffic can be all for naught without the good monetizing strategy.

Speaking from first hand experience, I’ve been at it for a good couple of months now, and I’ve only got a dollar to my name doing so. But I accept that. I realize that it’s not overnight, and there’s a lot of hard work to be had.

But what else is important is embracing failure should it ever happen. Blogging is an awesome way to make a living. People have made fortunes doing that. But you gotta understand the process. I know I’ve yet to!

17
Damaris June 7, 2010 at 10:16 pm

1000 to get 10? seriously? yikes.

anyway this blog post is very very very interesting and I’m bummed that it only NOW showed up on my feed.

keep up the good work.

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