But something insidious has happened to them which has made them not so interesting to read anymore and also it’s become difficult to distinguish one from the other.
They have been literally taken over by adverts and sponsored posts.
Many mum and dad blogs carry the same ‘sponsored posts’ or blatant adverts thinly veiled as ‘reviews’. A quick trawl through a few reveals a competition to celebrate Cadbury Pebbles chocolates, a review of a Volvo V60 car and the asus VivoTab Smart (whatever that is – it didn’t look inviting enough read.) Others are batterystation.co.uk Christmas competition, Barbie DVD review, contemporary kitchen tools review and Dreams indulgence Hamper…. and many many more all with the obligatory ‘no-follow’ links (yawn.)
In fact mum blogging – which used to be more about the competitive world of parenting – has now turned into a different sort of competition. I can imagine rival mummy bloggers feeling chuffed they were the chosen one for the chocolate ad or bragging about how they were the ones picked out to go on a holiday (if they promise to write about it.)
So if you have a mummy blog your main interest will be which mum is getting asked to write the most sponsored posts? Which mum blogger is attracting the biggest brands? Which parent do advertisers like best to ‘review’ their mind-numbingly dull products. After all, if these gizmos were the least bit interesting, or could get such positive mainstream editorial publicity (where a journalist mentions you or your product in a piece they are writing through choice rather than you bribing them with money or their hamper of goodies, a holiday away or whatever), they would hardly be bothering with blogs. That is not to denigrate blogs in any way at all – you are reading this on my blog – but 99 per cent of blogs can’t exactly compete with the circulation of a national newspaper for example and their associated websites.
From an advertiser’s point of view this is an easy and cheap way of advertising to lots of mums. I doubt they care whether their products appear on so many mum blogs site – after all mums are still writing and reading about them. They are therefore getting their message out to mums who are their target market to buy these things. The amounts paid will be minute compared to mainstream advertising, even if the readers must all be other mum bloggers just seeing what sponsored post their rival blogger has put on.
Mum bloggers feel they can still be virtuous shamelessly writing posts for these things by putting on disclaimers or other self-righteous little comments, which justify giving space to so many PR puffs.
‘I only review something if it is relevant to me or to my family’ they say adding reviews will be ‘honest’. If they don’t like it they will say – presumably if someone wrote too many shocking reviews however they might not get these people sending them so much stuff. However, it’s worth noting that bad reviews are still spreading the brand name and therefore advertisers might not care.
Many mum blogs have shamelessly turned themselves into mini businesses. ‘Work with me’, is a common boast, with a list of things an advertiser must fulfil is common. Of course there’s nothing wrong with anyone making money from blogging – but the problem is that there is now so little real blogging. Fewer mum bloggers come up with their own ideas, simply relying on receiving a freebie to write a post about instead. It’s a real shame that on so many blogs when you scroll down the posts it is difficult to find one that isn’t sponsored (tip: it’s usually much shorter and not imaginative – my half term, autumn, Christmas with a quick snap of your child …)
So can this state of affairs continue? I don’t believe they can … The reason it won’t continue is because so much advertising is killing off the mum blog we once knew. The reason advertisers liked mum blogs was because getting a parent, with well respected views, or witty posts that were widely read, to write about your product was a feather in your cap. The whole point was when a blogger wrote about your product, it didn’t look like an advert. Now everyone is at it and your review is just one of very many on these sites, as an advertiser you will find they have less effect.
If the sponsored post were a rarity in a list of well written posts – allowing that writer to earn some cash – then that might be fine. But sadly that is not what’s happened. Mum blogs are now looking the same – they are losing their individuality to the sea of similar ads on them. At the same time many bloggers have become lazy – sadly, they are losing sight of why they started writing their blog in the first place. For many their real blogs which we loved to read, about their lives and their chlidren, appear to have become a rarity, a chore – reduced to stick a photo of your kid on a post and write a quick paragraph about how you love kicking leaves in Autumn – allowing you to get on with the more important part, writing those sponsored blogs. Yes that will do, you might think, no-one will notice …
But people do and real readers want more than that!
Are you a mum blogger who writes sponsored posts? Do you agree or not? Let me know your thoughts below…