As I sit here typing this, I am enveloped in the joy of having just dropped my little baby boy (5 years old) at school. He was looking pretty handsome in his dress shirt and excited for picture day. I thought it funny that he chose to stand next to his teacher at the school yard as opposed to running around with his friends because he didn’t want to get dirty before photos.
I drove away from the school absolutely loving being a mom and being his mommy.
But I am just his mommy, and the mommy to my other two boys. When they call me mommy I absolutely melt and love it.
However, that emotion quickly fades at the face of being called mommy by anyone else, and when it comes to my work as a travel blogger, albeit a family travel blogger, it’s even worse.
I have had endless upon endless discussions about the term “mommy blogger”. There are those who stand by the term, embracing it wholeheartedly. There are others who despise it with all their might, leading to their heads exploding at the mention.
And though many have presented some very eloquent reasons as to why the term “mommy blogger” should never be uttered, I wanted to state my opinion as to why I agree here as well.
Identifying the niche of a blogger is a difficult task for public relations, brand, and marketing professionals. It would be a daunting task to identify every blogger as they accurately define themselves: Food blogger? Fitness blogger? Pet blogger? Lifestyle blogger? Travel blogger? Coupon Blogger? Tech Blogger? Review Blogger?
And the task becomes even more daunting when the bloggers themselves don’t know how to define what it is they blog about.
“Ah, you know, a little bit of everything,” is not helpful at all to businesses who need to know where to place your blog, your audience, your content in their efforts to identify target audience and media for marketing and campaign outreach purposes.
In that sense, the responsibility of blogger identity falls upon the blogger herself. What DO you blog about? What IS your purpose? WHY ARE YOU HERE?
Maybe you are here to learn. Maybe you are here to connect. Maybe you are here for the free…uh…stuff.
And that’s fine. Blogging as a business is not everyone’s goal, nor does it have to be.
But if you are here to build a business and establish professional relationships with businesses and agencies, you must first develop your brand identity and “a little bit of everything” is not going to cut it, and sadly neither does being a “mommy blogger” because it says nothing about what your passion is other than that for your children.
Figure out what you are most passionate about (besides your kids), what you love enough that you can do it as a job (notice I said job), and stick to that. Even if it means rejecting free things and other opportunities that don’t apply to the focus you have chosen.
Then, identify your niche. Do this before you go to another conference or networking session. Take your time. Try it out. See if it fits your lifestyle, budget, plans, and most importantly, your voice.
Prepare yourself so that next time someone asks you “What do you blog about?” you are clear and confident in your response. And if in the end, you are a mom blogger, than be a mom blogger, no need to get all diminutive and cute by calling yourself a mommy to other people, especially to those whom you want to see you as a professional.
As for businesses, brands, agencies, and other non-blogger types, Mommy Bloggers is not ok and even if you find the two or three who say they don’t mind, the general consensus is that most female bloggers do.
This is because in identifying women who blog as mommy bloggers you run a great risk of offending a large number of women in the room, not to mention the few others who aren’t even mothers.
It is a professional risk really to throw the mommy blanket out on us all, because we don’t all identify as such, and professionally we feel it diminishes our efforts and work. It makes our success suddenly seem so frivolous and flaky.
And because I almost murdered someone over the fact that I take this stance, when I used to blog under NYCityMama, let me clarify – when you are addressing me in a professional environment it is best to address me by what I do professionally. If identifying me as a travel or food blogger is too difficult to remember or too much detail to take on in a larger blogging environment, I understand this and happily take blogger…mom who blogs is kind of cool too. But “mommy” with all its fluff and cutesiness just does not apply. In any setting, ever.
If for tracking, record, media filing, and in-house purposes, it is just easier to put us in one category, I understand that too.
But we all know that how we manage our records and in-house communications, is not always how we distribute or disseminate our external communication efforts. Removing the term mommy blogger from all communiqué would probably be best to help change the overall mindset, but I am taking into the consideration the challenge that this may be when managing so many media representatives, and so many bloggers. However, my advice? Make it a goal.
Now, I have heard numerous people whom I love and respect use the term mommy blogger, and I know in my heart of hearts that never, ever would they think that we are anything less than wonderful, capable, strong women.
My point is that there are many others who still use the term to degrade and discredit what we do. To separate us from a skill that is considered only to be serious by others who have degrees and titles, awards and experience. It feels bad to walk into a room of professional writers or executives and be identified as the “mommy”, when the reason I am there has probably more to do with the fact that I have more to offer than just chatter about my kids.
Of course being a mom and incorporating how that plays a role in what I do professionally has definitely helped open doors for me and has provided me with opportunities I never thought possible, but I like to think that even if I wasn’t a mommy to 3 gorgeous boys, I still would have applied the many other skills that have helped me to grow and succeed in this career – just as they did before I had babies. I also realize, and encourage others who see profit in being called mommy bloggers, that one day your kids will grow up. And then what will you do? What is your plan? Are you here for the sudden cash flow, or for the long haul, because if so, locking in on the “mommy” might not be a good strategy.
It would be wonderful if we lived in a world where women could walk calling themselves whatever they please without having to battle the stereotypes and limitations often set before us because of our reproductive statuses, and we are certainly making great strides. But I still believe that despite the never-ending pride and love we have for our children and families, as individual we relish in the sense of accomplishment knowing that we can be recognized, respected and appreciated for being so much more.
The thing about being called a mommy blogger is that it takes those feelings and reality away.