Guest post: Mummy blogging - has it all been said?
Their critics accuse them of being unoriginal narcissists, but Amy Ransom says bloggers have the power to connect people when that's what they need most.
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Surviving life and motherhood (just)
Posted on: Mon 26-Oct-15 12:42:46
(17 comments )
I started blogging just after my miscarriage, and I suddenly found myself struggling to make sense of what came next in my life. I needed something - anything - to give my loss some sort of meaning.
I didn't realise then that there were so many other mummy bloggers out there. I don't think I'd ever have started if I'd known. What more could I add? But, not knowing, I pressed publish. Not immediately on a blog post, but on a book. I finally self-published the novel that had been sitting in my drawer for four years. Once I'd done that, it was time to blog; I'd been told that blogs could be a good marketing tool. I didn't write about my miscarriage; I wasn't ready. Instead, I wrote a flippant first post about not having a bathroom bin. From that point on, I was hooked.
Why do so many of us do it? While many bloggers are secretly - or not so secretly - hoping to be discovered and land a book deal or lucrative column, in reality, many of us spend hour after hour writing in return for nothing more than a free foot cream or a trip on a potty-training tour bus. Two-and-a-half years after writing that first post, I've come to see the pursuit of blogging as more than a desire for success: as my blog has grown beyond the readership of my mum, sister and my friend's nan, I've come to realise what it is that makes so many people write - and read - blogs. It's the relatability factor (think X Factor with less Simon and more Cheryl). It's the opportunity to write something of value to someone. What you write might strike a chord with 10,000 people or with two: it doesn't really matter. When I've written about being a new mum, the fourth trimester and PND, I know that sharing those thoughts has helped others - because they've told me so. Blogging has the power to connect us. It helps us feel less alone.
Maybe there is some truth to the narcissism factor. Us mummy bloggers do enjoy sharing our thoughts and opinions. If we didn't, we'd just keep a private diary.
Despite this, as the number of mummy bloggers has grown, so has the backlash. The current trend for 'honest' parent blogs on which mums bare all has generated plenty of criticism. Some has centered around the view that mummy bloggers don't offer any original content - what they're writing has all been said a million times before. Others have implied that mummy blogging is nothing more than a narcissistic hobby. Who cares what another mum and her kids are up to? No one finds your kids as funny as you do.
Maybe there's some truth to the narcissism factor. Mummy bloggers do enjoy sharing thoughts and opinions: if we didn't want to have our voices heard (or read), we'd just keep a diary. But, actually, a lot of mums do care what others in the same position are up to, and where once we might have subscribed to a magazine, we now follow blogs. And this is where the wide variety of mum bloggers becomes a good thing: nowadays, there's something for everyone. The domestic goddess who wants to do crafts with her kids or needs inspiration to makeover her family home; the style-conscious mum who wants to stay in touch with fashion; the mum who thinks she's crap, takes comfort in knowing other mums are crap and needs a good laugh at the end of an exasperating day. Whoever you are, there's a blog for you. Yes, it might all have been said: the pregnancy tales; the lack of sleep; the 'carve a pumpkin' guides. But each of us are saying it in our own sweet - or not so sweet - way. The tale is in the telling.
My blog is like an old friend. It's seen me through the craziness of being a work-outside-the-home mum (combing my daughter's hair with a fork in a desperate attempt to get out of the house), the quandary (by which I mean insanity) of deciding to have a third child after miscarriage, the reality of three kids (spending most of your time getting small people in and out of the car), post-natal depression and the ultimate decision to give up work and embrace motherhood (and immediately enrol the children in nursery). It's also been there - like many other blogs - for that one mum, or 100, or 1000, who needed to read the words of a woman feeling the same way as she does.
By Amy Ransom
I think it's so common now to want to be heard, to share things whether others want to hear or not! I was a teenager as websites like LiveJournal became popular and I loved that chance to overshare
I think blogging is something I'd get into if I had time, but now I'm no longer a teenager I don't have that same ingrained self-absorbedness that made me think everyone was interested in what I had to say...
I think the people who call it narcissistic, or self-important, are lucky that they've not felt the need to read that someone else is going through what they are. When I got pregnant, I couldn't find any other blogs by young parents who'd chosen to stay at university - they'd all either dropped out, or hadn't been in university in the first place. So I started my blog, and I have had people telling me that they've felt supported or helped by my blog, because it has tips for balancing study and parenting, as well as more emotional support posts. That makes it worth it for me, and outweighs anyone who says mummy bloggers are self obsessed.
I don't market myself as PR friendly, I've never done sponsored posts or reviews, and I've turned down the offers I've received for them. That's not what my blog is about - it's about support and challenging the stigma that still exists against younger parents. I don't think everybody is interested in what I have to say, but I know that some people are because they've got in touch to tell me so.
The problem with blogs on any subject is that you have to wade through so much utter drivel to get to which is that little bit different, or which "talks" to you personally. There are some wonderful ones out there, some beautifully written ones, and then there is the other 99%. And sadly, unlike book publishing, no-one is there to wade through the dross so we don't have to.
I'm not knocking blogging. I write 2. But let's stop pretending that the vast majority of them are anything other than the 21st century equivalent of a diary. We haven't reinvented the wheel and most of us are not going to get rich on what we write.
I think the Mummyblog comes in for the biggest stick because it's a very small, and quick to date market. If I've got a 2 yr old with sleep issues, I might read blogs from parents with the same issues for as long as that issue exists. And then? And by their very nature, the Mummyblog is extremely self-absorbed, of course it is, by definition. It's about a woman's relationship with the most important thing she will ever create. Her child. Most other people don't need that amount of detail about someone else's children. It's like birth stories. Yes, in October 2003 I read hundreds, nodding along and saying "yup, that was me". Totally and utterly irrelevant to my life now with a 12 yr old.
You want to blog? Go for it. But recognise it for what it is. And more importantly, what it isn't.
I think if you blog to involved in a community of like minded people, or to help with a personal struggle, or just for fun then brilliant. If you blog to get free stuff then you'll end up boring everyone.
I don't like the many blogs I stumble across selling a lifestyle. Even people who claim to be so relaxed and not at all bothered about having a perfect life manage to come across as stealth boasty.
Also if the blog takes off then we get inundated with the recommendations of free crap they've been offered. I don't read advertorials in magazines, why would I choose to read one online?
I suppose I might possibly be tempted to read a blog on a very quiet day when I really have nothing better to do. I wouldn't go anywhere near anything that identified itself as a "Mummy Blog" though.
I've always thought of them as activities for people who don't need to work but want to play at something and pretend to work. I'm too busy working to read blogs. When I'm not working I'm doing something with my children.
It's a very middle class activity.
The product reviews are dre.
The only people who comment on blogs are other bloggers. I'm amazed any average member of the public reads some I've seen where almost the whole content is advertorial. Do they get the page views to justify the amount of free stuff, or do brands work with bloggers so that when I Google for eg a holiday company, I will see loads of positive content?
Interesting post and I agree, although I would say that as a blogger...
I think there ARE some very self-indulgent blogs out there, a lot of narcissism too but I see that on Facebook every day - it's certainly not just a mummy blog thing! It's down to how some people see themselves, or want others to see them.
I'm firmly in the honest parenting blog camp, and whilst I don't expect to make my fortune or change the world; it has been excellent experience for me as a writer, led to freelance opportunities (writing not reviews) and given me confidence to (finally) start my novel. I know the subjects I cover have been done before, just like many books and magazines cover the same themes - because they are popular ones that people want to read about. Everyone writes differently though and I think it is that which people either do or don't relate to, and regular followers from social media I and other bloggers get shows that.
If people stop reading my blog posts, I will stop writing them - but where's the harm if as a writer you want to reach, touch or entertain others and you are doing so? If blogs aren't your thing, you simply don't need to read them. Just as many things aren't mine. I really don't get the hatred!
I would write a blog if I could be bothered. I think a few of my friends woudl enjoy it ..,, they have said on Facebook that I should but I can't be arsed. I woudl like to print out my Facebook posts as some of them comments and things the kids have done are funny.
I do keep a journal but I don't write very often maybe once a month depends what has been going on, been on same book since 2011 so can't write that often!
I don't read any Blogs, I sometimes read shares on Facebook and find them funny, then go on and read a few more posts. I don't have the attention for them. I think I have ipad/modern life induced attention deficit disorder. I coudk barely read the opening post when I saw how long it was! I am a bite sized chinks kind of gal!
I don't have time to read blogs as I'm too busy on Mn - didn't read the passage above!
I think the problem with 'mummy blogs' is they are only read by other bloggers and it's the same stuff regurgitated over and over again. There's even a sodding conference, Britmums, where they can hear the same stuff but in person It never used to bother me but Twitter this year seemed to be full of people asking for brands to sponsor I.e. pay for them to attend Britmums and then the week before blogging about what they were going to wear on each day. It made me a little bit murderous.
Dickie, Mumsnet also hosts a conference about blogging called BlogFest. How have you managed to avoid the advertising and promoting about it all over the site ?
I've just had a look at the Bloggers Chat topic on Mumsnet, which was set up for bloggers to discuss their blogs and blogging. It is as dead as a dodo in there, with threads started by people who are accidentally in the wrong topic outnumbering any actual threads about blogging by about 20 to 1.
I have attempted to start a blog a couple of times but I lose interest quickly and I think after one or two posts I re-read them and start to think that actually, no one's going to want to read this stuff and I don't have the charisma or the writing skills to draw people in in the first place.
I do follow a couple of 'mummy bloggers' on Facebook but very rarely to I read their actual blog posts unless it's something that really resonates with me. I mostly just enjoy the titbits they post on social media.
Mintyy I mainly use the app so have managed to avoid what sounds like another lovely opportunity to grimace ;)
I think that by reading blogs and especially real ones like the post above, makes you appreciate life more. It allows you to connect with the person or the writer better and to feel as a part of a larger community.. community of people that have similar struggles..
Who cares what anyone things or says anyways. If some choose to call a person a narcissist.. well, they don't have to really read this blog at all.
Plenty of other choices for those people out there!!
Thank you for sharing!! Great read!!!