How Parent Bloggers Are Killing Blogging

Dad can cook, clean and parent.

Dad can cook, clean and parent.

Way back in 2010 a blogger  wrote a post called Dear Angry Mommy Blogger that generated more than average traffic for him. Four years later he ran the same post and saw his stats spike again.

He shook his head and looked down from his self righteous mountaintop and wondered if those silly mommy bloggers would ever learn and then he looked at silly daddy bloggers and shook his head again because they had fallen into the same trap.

Instead of working together to save the blogosphere the parent bloggers were working to kill it. They were sending out thousands of pitch letters to brands and generating millions of blog posts about the same stupid crap that others had written about time and time again.

Even worse they had been conned into believing that they could give their content away for free and that the exposure that came with appearing on a major publication would be of great benefit to them. They didn’t recognize how the proliferation of players had left the blogosphere in a state of chaos and clutter or how badly the talent pool had been diluted.

Mediocre and marginal writers were given platforms to write about by self proclaimed editors who had no editing skills, no writing skills and no journalistic background to rely upon.

The blind were leading the deaf and dumb up the mountainside but instead of riches they headed directly towards cliffs and volcanoes.

Doom was upon them…Doom I TELL YOU!

And Then Jack Stopped Using The Third Person

Some of you may accuse me of being old and cranky, you might be right or you might not be. I turned 45 a few weeks ago and next week the blog turns 10.

When I started blogging my oldest was 3.5 and youngest was in utero. I blogged about all of the usual parent blogger stuff, what it is like to be a new father, potty training, pre school, kindergarten and elementary school.

I wrote about the conversations we had when pets died, when grandparents passed away and hit all sorts of religious stuff from how to deal with Santa Claus to Bar Mitzvahs.

There were posts about being laid off, how it felt to be forced to sell my house, words about friends divorcing and words about friends dying.

One reader sent me an email saying my blog was too depressing. They didn’t like reading about the real stuff that was happening. They liked stories about the kids, tales about grandparents and fiction.

I understood because I preferred the days when I was “classic father.” I earned enough for my wife to stay home with the kids and for us to have a nice life and then life happened and I got knocked out of the tree house and it felt like I hit every branch on the way down.

That changes you.

It wasn’t just me. Bunch of guys I knew had this happen around the same time. We had a college education and had done things the right way only to learn sometimes when shit happens it happens to you.

How Are Parent Bloggers Killing Blogging

I can’t point my finger at just one group because it is happening elsewhere too but I see more of it in the parent blogosphere. I stumble across more conversations about how to build a personal brand and turn your blog into a platform. I come across books and look at excerpts that make me wonder if people understand that self publishing doesn’t remove the obligation to edit.

Ask me to talk about great writing and I will always talk about how subjectivity plays a role, always has and always will.

What bothers me about blogging isn’t that I haven’t gotten more recognition. Nor is it tied into my feelings about blog conferences, nepotism and brand ambassadorships. (Some people have gotten gigs because they went to conferences and made friends with the “right people” not because they have talent.)

It  is the push to monetize and build a brand that irks me because we don’t focus on storytelling and writing as a craft as much as I would like.

Great writing, compelling content, storytelling–that’s what I love and what I want more of.

But it is not what I see.

Maybe I am hanging out in the wrong places. Maybe what I want is there and I just have missed it.

It is possible.

When I complain about monetization’s impact on blogging I have to include myself. I have been a brand ambassador and written sponsored posts.

It has been fun and I intend to do more of it.

Does that make me a hypocrite? Does it matter if I say I don’t play the game like others do and because of that I miss out on some opportunities that I could otherwise have.

Blogs & Bloggers Have To Evolve

The secret to my longevity is simple. I like to write and blogging is still fun. Add in a willingness to evolve and you have the skeleton of a ebook on how to last in the blogosphere.

It is all part of why I don’t write about one single topic.

I kid around about being old and grumpy. I am not old but my focus is not with the new and young parents.

My children are in elementary and middle school now, but high school comes in the Fall of 2015. College isn’t quite on the horizon yet but it is close enough for me to look at my finances and think about how to make it happen.

What does any of this mean? I don’t know. I am busying thinking about the differences between being a father and a man and trying to figure what a 21st century father is.

If nothing else I am too busy to worry about whether this post meets the guidelines of the social media experts. People will read it or they won’t but it is not going to be because I made sure to optimize it or give it away for free to some big publication who derives the majority of the benefit from my labor.

(Visited 290 times, 1 visits today)

18 Comments

  1. Sharon Greenthal May 31, 2014 at 9:52 am

    Clearly you are hanging out in the wrong places. There are so many thoughtful, funny, interesting and insightful bloggers out there. And you know what, if there are bloggers who are solely trying to monetize their blogs, that’s ok too. You don’t have to read them, that’s up to you. As for finding the good blogs – it takes time and effort to find bloggers that are worth reading, just as it takes time and effort to find books worth reading and films worth seeing.

    I applaud bloggers who are able to integrate earning some money into their writing. Why shouldn’t we get paid? We work hard at what we do. I am happy to write sponsored posts for things I believe are of value to my audience, and then I write personal posts that are far more meaningful and thoughtful. My readers don’t seem to mind.

    Yes, some people are mediocre writers. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t write. If you choose not to read them, that’s your decision.

    I don’t understand the need to be judgmental.

    By the way I am NOT a “parent” blogger, though I do blog sometimes about my adult children. I started blogging after my kids left for college.

    • Jack May 31, 2014 at 10:14 am

      I have been blogging for ten years now and I hang out with multiple crowds so I am well aware of the diversity out there. And there certainly are some very fine writers who I enjoy reading.

      But there is no doubt in my mind that things have become more cluttered and there is more junk being pushed, posted, Tweeted and pinned.

      Everyone is entitled to their opinion and there is nothing wrong with being judgmental. It doesn’t have to be used as a pejorative term because it can also be called discerning or using common sense.

      We teach our children to be judgmental about who they spend their time with and what they do.

      Anyone who wants to blog should be entitled to do so but I really take umbrage with people who work for free or cut rates and screw things up for everyone else.

      Some of that problem can be pointed at brands who take advantage of free labor.

      When I receive pitches that ask me to write for free it is because there are bloggers who do it. There are bloggers who put in 25 hours to earn a ten dollar gift card.

      It is bad business and it hurts many people.

      It would be wrong not to discuss these things.

  2. Andrea B ( May 30, 2014 at 4:37 am

    I think your title is a catchy one and is interesting, given the subject, as it’s sure to garner attention. But you already (I hope) know that I like you and your writing, and I figure you’re counting on honesty so I can say that.

    We all blog for one reason or another. We all blog for some sort of attention. I had a brainstorming session last night with about 8 or so other local bloggers who “happen to be parents” and some of us talked about money, some of us talked about products, and each one of us said we rarely write our posts with SEO or keywords in mind. Honestly – raw and open blog talk. And I believe that’s out there. I also believe, that even in doing so, someone like me who talks about the real and dirty of my life emotionally, I can want to make a few dollars off a campaign or two. And that’s allowed. And, as you said, so can you – you have done so – and it’s also allowed.

    So to generalize with the title like this? I’ll respectfully disagree. But after reading your complete post I’ll say we have some similar viewpoints and experiences, and we most enjoy the same sorts of things. Real writing. We all know the product stuff and reviews, etc? They’re for the money/product/exposure with hopes of more of that. But the reason we read blogs is for the real. And I just turned this into my very own blog post, it seems. 😉 Thanks for being so damned thought provoking before I’ve had my caffeine for the day. Damn you. *shakes fist heartily* -> as grumpy old women do.

  3. Jay Patel May 27, 2014 at 7:48 am

    You should probably take a look at the Indian blogger as well. You will be surprised to know that even 12th standard or college going are spoiling their career to earn just few dollars.

  4. Larry May 22, 2014 at 8:58 am

    I imagine each one of my posts as a short story and put real thouht into them .I take pride in my writing. I do see plenty of blogs that seem to simply worry about SEO and include poor writing.
    Anyway, I think even though we bloggers may hit similar topics we can still be original in terms of how we view these topics, react to these topics, etc. After all, I believe you should write what is on your mind and what is going on.

    • Jack May 23, 2014 at 6:52 pm

      Hi Larry,

      It is obvious to me that you think about what you are writing and that you are interested in storytelling and that is a big part of what I enjoy about your blog.

      I agree that multiple people can write about the same topic but bring a different spin and or approach. Our voices are different and that works.

  5. Didactic Pirate May 21, 2014 at 7:04 am

    Hi Jack,
    You make good points here. Luckily, the Internet is big enough to hold all kinds of bloggers: the storytellers, the poets, the artists… and the young ‘uns who simply get off on competing for page hits and actually think they’ll be able to monetize their blogs on a fast track.

    I know what I like to write, and I know what I like to read. The surplus of “strategic” bloggers haven’t kept my favorite writers from writing, which is why I keep on coming back. Thanks for writing this post.

    • Jack May 21, 2014 at 7:06 pm

      Hey Pirate,

      Good to see you. Yeah, it is a big place this Internet of ours. I kind of love that it is seemingly endless, makes me want to see how far I can go in any one direction.

      I recognize the hyperbole in saying that parent bloggers are killing blogging. Nothing will kill blogging, it will just evolve.

      But I like the conversation and I like looking at all corners so this sort of thing always attracts my attention.

  6. Sean May 21, 2014 at 7:03 am

    John:

    I’m relatively new to the whole “blogosphere,” having resisted for a long time, with the mistaken belief that blogging was the same kind of narcissistic trash that eventually led to the whole “selfies” movement, or Twitter updates about every minute action of a person’s life.

    I started a website instead, but found that while it was a great place to put more structured content, it just wasn’t the right platform for storytelling. That led me, eventually, to blogging. I’m glad to say that in the 9 or so months that my blog has been alive, I’ve been lucky to connect with quite a few other bloggers (and particularly Dad Bloggers) who love storytelling and prose as much as I do.

    The other side, however, is that I now have a timesink that gives nothing back expect the opportunity for creation (which I do value, but have to weigh against other priorities). Heck, I even LOSE money providing content, when you take into account my webhosting fees. From that angle, I can see why so many bloggers fall into the trap of continual sponsored content. Not only does it alleviate a bit of the timesink issue, it also turns their blog into a source of revenue–something I would love to be able to do.

    At the end of the day, though, there has to be a balance; posts need to offer value to both the reader and the writer. I’m still struggling to find that balance over at Nerd Incognito, but I hope that, one day, my efforts will bear fruit, not just in increased readership and connection with people (still my primary goals), but with enough revenue to at least justify the time it takes to keep my blog updated.

    • Jack May 21, 2014 at 3:03 pm

      Hi Sean,

      I see value in content creation that provides you with pleasure. If you enjoy blogging there is an upside to the time we spend working on the stories/posts we write

      I am torn by what happens here because I love writing and because I have a dream of being paid to do this. A dream where I can earn enough to just write as I want and sometimes I get irritated by the chaos and clutter out here.

      Because that chaos makes it harder for me to live that dream. Maybe it is unfair for me to say that and or hypocritical to say I am not a ‘fan” of people trying to use blogging as a source of passive income.

      It is a free world and all should be given the opportunity to succeed, but sometimes I wish more wrote because of the joy.

      • Sean May 22, 2014 at 6:22 am

        I can’t argue with that; it’s always been my dream to be paid to write, as well, and it’s been a bit of a rude awakening to realize that without some form of platform or “brand” behind you, it’s exceptionally difficult to do so.

        That said, I also haven’t finished any of the partially-completed draft novels or story collections that have littered my writing files for years now, so it seems a little ridiculous to complain of lack of success in marketing them… That’s actually what I’ve liked best about blogging is that it’s much easier for me to come up with short, meaningful (or I think so, at least) pieces of work in blog format than it is to construct stand-alone worlds in novel or short story form. The format also lets me employ what I think of as my primary genre: satire and parody, which I’ve found to be almost completely unsaleable in the paper world, unless you’re a pretty big name already.

        All of this is to say that I certainly do enjoy the process of writing, and it brings me pleasure to create the content that I do for my blog. And while I would love to live in a world where that love and the content I create brought in enough revenue to at least justify the time taken away from my family, it seems to me that it simply isn’t enough. Without branding or sponsorship, the opportunities for revenue from a blog are exceptionally slim, or so I have found–though I’ve managed to rack up nearly $5 via Adsense in the last 9 months, so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice 🙂

        I will agree, though, that if your entire blog focuses on sponsorship, branding, or re-posting other people’s work, the internet should automatically punt you somehow–if you add nothing of value, STFU.

  7. Lori Gosselin May 20, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    Hi Jack!
    LOL “self publishing doesn’t remove the obligation to edit.” If we do it we should do it well, right?
    And though I’m not a mommy blogger, I’m with John – it’s all for the joy of it.
    Lori

  8. RJ Licata May 20, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    Jack,

    I understand your pain and your concern. I wish search engines were more apt to find posts that had substantive value as quickly as they find carefully optimized product promos. In the short time my blog has been around, I’ve been careful to try and weave a greater message into my posts, because just as John said, I too wonder what will become of my blog once the kids have outgrown the cute photos and silly conversations. From what I’ve read of your blog, you’ve also worked to write from an angle that suggests something more is at play, something other than a simple recounting of your weekend. For what it’s worth, I’d rather read “Sometimes Father Doesn’t Know Best” type posts 100 times out of 100 over a baby jumper product review. Keep up the great work.

    • Jack May 20, 2014 at 9:40 pm

      Hi RJ,

      I am a grumpy old man who likes to rant about the new kids and tell them to get off of the lawn. I understand how the game is played and if I wanted to I could game the system like so many others do, but it just doesn’t work for me.

      Part of me loves the chaos and the chase. I am obnoxious enough to enjoy saying I have been around longer than most bloggers and that I will outlast others but the real reason I am here is I just love writing.

      And I love being able to love back at old posts and see what my 7th grader was doing in preschool. There is something really nice about it.

  9. John Kinnear May 20, 2014 at 10:39 am

    There is a battle inside my blog. I want to write long form prose. I want to be introspective and outrospective. I want to make up words. I also want to pay for daycare. I agree with everything here. I worry about what will happen when I work my way through every typical parental stepping stone that there is to write about. I worry that I start too many sentences with “I.” What happens when my kids stop being cute? Whose phrases will garner likes on my Facebook page when all my kids say is “Leave me alone”? I will not become a lifestyle blogger. I don’t have it in me.

    So for now, I know that blogging (not writing) is a temporary gig. I will enjoy the parts that bring me creative joy. I will cash the paychecks for the posts that bring me paychecks. I will try to create a venn diagram where some of those posts meet in the middle. And then, when people get sick of me, or my words, or my kids, I’ll start putting my writing back in a shoe box under my bed – where it is probably better off anyway.

    In the meantime, if I kill blogging… oh well. At least GOMI will be happy.

    I sure enjoy your words Jack. Thank you.

    • Jack May 20, 2014 at 9:33 pm

      I will try to create a venn diagram where some of those posts meet in the middle.

      Hi John,

      That is really all we can do. I don’t fault you or anyone else for trying to make a buck doing this. Hell, I do it too and I understand the various sides of it.

      Don’t go back to writing in a shoebox, not if you really love this. I still think there is a lot of magic out there, just waiting for us to discover it.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  
Please enter an e-mail address

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

You may also like