The Mommy Blog Phenomenon
By Anna Marevska
The moment mommy bloggers jumped from seeking camaraderie online to becoming a full-fledged Internet phenomenon is still a bit unclear. But one thing is certain: they have become an undeniable presence in an ever-growing Web community.
According to recent statistics of mommy blogger outlets added to its media database, Cision US notes a 50 percent increase of mom blog additions between June 2008 and October 2009. Likewise, the 2009 Social Media Study by BlogHer, iVillage and Compass Partners indicates that the female Internet population is reaching 42 million, with 43 percent visiting blogs to get advice or recommendations.
In any case, many mommy bloggers will say their online aspiration is to connect with women who share the same experience. And many readers will say that prior to blogging, the honest truth of motherhood was scarcely found in mainstream media.
“Women flourish in community,” said Janice Croze and Susan Carraretto, co-founders and bloggers at the 5 Minutes for Mom blog. “Mommy blogs are a huge force online because there are creative, educated, ambitious women at home raising their children and they want to grow and share their experiences. These women have powerful voices and most importantly, they value their opinions.”
Mom blogs matter not only to the women who write and read them, but also to new media on a larger scale. Motherhood and parenting have been the focus of media before, but recently mommy blogging has taken on a life of its own. They are everywhere. The popular parenting Web site The Bump, for example, recently launched The Bump Mommy Blog Awards, a program that invites mommy and daddy bloggers and their fans to nominate their favorite sites.
The Today Show also jumped on the mommy blog bandwagon with NBC announcing the launch of TODAYMoms.com, a site aiming to engage Web-savvy moms by offering parenting news, advice and tips from the show.
Hollywood is tapping into mommy blogging power, with the recent release of Motherhood starring Uma Thurman, whose character Eliza is a frustrated mom and fiction writer expressing her desires in a mom blog called The Bjorn Identity.
“Mom bloggers are extremely vital to the new media landscape,” said Jennifer James, founder of the Mom Bloggers Club and a blogger for The Mom Salon. “We use new media like nobody’s business and are some of the most digitally connected people on the Web. We have extended our sphere of influence off of blogs and into social media, where we engage our audiences through Twitter, Facebook, podcasts, radio shows, mobile apps and through our vlogs.”
James has been blogging for nearly six years and says she has had the privilege of seeing the community grow and mold itself into what we see today. Even though a handful of mom bloggers have been around since the late 1990s, the online presence started to grow significantly in the mid-2000s. By 2007, mommy bloggers became an online phenomenon. And companies have started to connect tech-savvy writer-moms to women consumers spending $2 trillion a year on their families.
“When marketers came, it gave many of us options: from earning money through advertising and consulting to blogging for a living and testing out products on regular basis,” James said. “The growth of the mom blogging community has seen some growing pains here and there, but right now I think we are in a great place.”
Some, like Renee Limon, co-founder and blogger of EnviroMom, disagree.
“There are a ton of mom bloggers out there who have great insights, significant buying power and an ability to influence their peers,” Limon said. “I can understand why big companies try to pitch products at mom bloggers -- it’s all about the bottom line. Yet, I’m hopeful that the flow of free stuff will stop. It undermines the credibility of all bloggers.”
All that free stuff has gotten the mommy blogging community in hot water recently, with bloggers accused of taking free products from companies in exchange for good reviews. And the products go beyond baby formula and diapers: some test drive cars for months, others are flown in for tours of company headquarters, or sent on lavish paid trips to places such as Disney World.
“I was one of several influential mom bloggers invited to the Sears/Kmart Home Design Bloggers Summit,” said James, who has attended several blogger junkets but hasn’t blogged about them. “Junkets don’t guarantee coverage and positive reviews. As long as mom bloggers are transparent about going on a junket and companies are transparent about bringing moms to their corporate headquarters, then I don’t see a problem with these trips.”
Croze and Carraretto agreed. “Overall the goal is for communication between bloggers and companies, and to provide bloggers with opportunities to find content for their site that promotes the company. As long as there is disclosure, I don’t see it as a problem. Media have always been invited to events and bloggers are simply new media. Ultimately, we bloggers deeply respect our readers and our blogs and carefully protect our content.”
5 Minutes for Mom
Susan Carraretto, Blogger
Janice Croze, Blogger
The Mom Salon
Jennifer James, Editor
Mom Bloggers Club
Jennifer James, Editor
Renee Limon, Blogger