metro mama

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The So-Called Politics of Blogging

This topic is being beaten to death, but I’ll beat it some more.

Firstly, I agree whole-heartedly with Catherine's assessment of so-called blogging “politics”. Like she says, it’s not politics; it’s hurt feelings. Many bloggers are aspiring writers. We want to be heard. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t put our writing on the internet, it would be in a journal, hidden under our beds. I’ll admit it hurts my feelings when my readership doesn’t grow as quickly as I’d like. It upsets me when bloggers I admire, and visit faithfully don’t return the favour. But I accept it, and I stand back and look at the reasons: I’m relatively new to the community, my writing needs work, and I often post about trivial matters (there are probably more reasons than this). I know other bloggers with little traffic for different reasons: they don’t update regularly, they don’t visit, their subject matter is not compelling. Since I’ve started blogging, I’ve become acutely aware that the blogosphere is a big pond and I am a very small fish indeed. There are many amazing writers and lots of stories being told—with this much “competition”, I’m happy anyone’s reading me at all!

My point is, don’t whine; suck it up. If you want to be a writer you’d better get used to rejection.

The second hot topic is the “commercialization” of the blogosphere. Some folks think there is no place for advertising in the blogosphere, and earning money for blogging is inherently corruptive.

I couldn’t disagree more. First of all, correct me if I’m wrong, but are we really talking about a lot of money? Is a blogger going to alter her message for beer and popcorn money? If I am wrong, if we are talking about a lot of money, again, what’s the problem? As long as it is clear that something is being sold, we have a choice whether or not we want to buy it. In addition, is this not supposed to be a supportive community? If a blogger can make a few bucks, shouldn’t we be happy for him or her? If a blogger can even make enough money to be a stay-at-home parent, isn’t that a good thing?

Perhaps if more women earned money blogging, the blogosphere would become more representative. It really isn’t right now, don’t you think? Most of the bloggers I’ve come across are writing from a privileged position—they’re educated, reasonably financially secure, with some amount of time on their hands. I don’t know any single parent, minimum wage earning bloggers, do you? Tell me if I’m wrong.

Please, let’s stop wringing our hands over this. If you really can’t take rejection, maybe a diary under your bed is better for you. If you really hate blogs with ads, there are plenty of other blogs to visit, but there’s no need to disparage those who choose to advertise.

Above all, let’s be more supportive of each other’s choices.



Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Dude, I love you. Each of the points that you make here is clear and direct and true.

I like your point about the ridiculousness of the idea of 'selling out' for money-for-gum. Who among us would conceal an advertising agenda for beer money? For that matter, who among us would conceal an agenda? I don't personally know of any mom-bloggers who hide advertising in their postings - anybody who uses advertising or writes about free products is totally open about it (and, hell, usually proud of it! Somebody thinks that I'm important enough to send free stuff! Yay!)

And I especially like your point about privilege and making money. The mom-bloggers who are able to devote time to leisure-blogging without regard for recompense are most likely moms-of-privilege, however you define it.

Gloria Steinem asked Liz and I at the launch whether we had ads on our blogs - Liz, yes; me, soon - and our answers prompted a brief but interesting discussion about how women have to use whatever means necessary to empower themselves: if that means using ads to ensure that we can afford to keep getting our message out (hello, Ms. Magazine!!), then more power to us.

I'll be writing about this myself, soon. And I'll be linking here when I do.

11:13 AM  
Blogger Mary-LUE said...

I just typed and deleted a three paragraph comment responding to your words Metro Mama. I don't think I am awake enough to be clear. Ultimately I don't know what I think about the commercialization of the blogosphere. I don't have ads but I don't read only blogs with no ads. And like you, I don't see the point of making too big a fuss over it.
There is a lot to the chemistry on a blog that brings me back. It can be a very well-written blog that "does everything" just right but if something doesn't click for me I don't go back. It isn't anything personal. I read some blogs with major traffic and some with just one or two commenters.
And finally, while I think some good discussion on the nature, etc. of blogging is great once in awhile (Bub and Pie's recent Blog Ambition post,) I don't think we need to go over this ad nauseum.
Okay. I'm not sure this is any more clear. Oh well.

11:28 AM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

I think you're right in many points here. First off, may I say I love anyone who tells people to suck it up over trivial things (since I know you wouldn't if it was serious!).

Secondly, yes, I suspect that the money to be made in most cases is just a tiny bonus, not enough to make a blog a commercially-driven venture except in those cases where corporations set them up just to push a product, and I think most of us could sense the voice at work there.

And thirdly, I think you and HBM< are right about it not being political. what I loved about BubandPie's post on this was her honesty. It's not about the blogosphere, it's about the blogger, and she is quite open about the fact that it's her own obssession. I'm fine withthat discussion, but bored by the endless rounds of "It's like high school."

12:37 PM  
Blogger crazymumma said...

Well said. I comment quite faithfully, the only times I do not is when I cannot find anything to say (rare), ot I have to go and deal with something somewhere quickly.

I really liked the edginess to this post by the way, I knew it was there somewhere....

1:24 PM  
Anonymous mamatulip said...

I think you expressed yourself very well in this post. I agree very much with what you said regarding the 'politics' of blogging -- I think a lot of people start blogs with the intention of it being for them for personal reasons, and then end up realizing just how big the blog world is and vying for what other (much bigger) bloggers have -- readership, a zillion comments, a paycheque -- and they lose sight of the reasons why they started a blog in the first place. I think people also forget that outside of the blog world people are living lives -- raising children, working, being a part of a marriage or relationship -- and that because of that "outside life" we might not able to be there, commenting every day, on every post. I think, like you said, people should stand back and look at the big picture.

And the ad thing really doesn't bother me. I've considered putting ads on my blog on and off for a while now (but I've never gotten around to it because frankly, I'm too lazy, LOL) -- I mean, I spend a lot of time blogging, why shouldn't I reap a bit of a monetary reward? I don't think bloggers who have ads on their blogs are selling at all -- to each is own, and I want to support bloggers -- and writers -- in that.

Great post. Sorry if I got a bit rambly. :)

1:30 PM  
Anonymous mamatulip said...

Oops. Selling OUT. OUT. Gah...I need a nap.

1:31 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

THis is such a fantastic post! I agree with every point, and with how you've stated them. I'm also glad to hear your defense of advertising.

My feeling was what the hell, you want to pay me a few bucks a month for doing what I do anyway? Yeah! Go for it! It doesn't cross my mind for a second when I post that I've got some advertiser or another on my blog. Remember, when you're in composing mode on your blog, you don't see an ad there. It's just not on your mind for one second. I've read a couple accusations that bloggers secretly get paid to tout products and it just makes me laugh. Like it wouldn't be obvious if suddenly I was all, "hey everyone- just wanted to point out the joys of new Rainforest Fresh Downy fabric softener. Okay, back to my political rant..."

6:28 PM  
Blogger Mommy off the Record said...

I've been seeing this topic come up a lot lately and I'm not sure why, but I am interested in reading people's opinions on this topic cuz what blogger DOESN'T like reading about BLOGGING? LOL

I completely agree with your "suck it up" philosophy. Totally. The whining on this topic is getting a little bit old. To be clear, discussion is OK, but whining is annoying.

And re. ads, well, they wouldn't keep me from reading a blog unless they were completely distracting me from the writing. Some bloggers have them all over their homepage and I think it looks tacky. Others simply have one add running on the sidebar and I rarely even look at them so they don't bother me. I personally haven't run ads on my page b/c I don't think I'd make much money from them and I don't think I'd want to promote just any product on my blog (e.g., products I don't agree with). But never say never...if someone offered me $100 a month to run ads on my blog, I might be tempted. Anyone? Anyone?

8:08 PM  
Blogger penelopeto said...

good points. let's not make this more complicated than it is - a nice hobby for privileged women with time and money (read - computers, internet) on their side.
yeah, some aspects of this blogging thing are annoying, childish and seemingly 'unfair.'

boo hoo.

I'll take the huge sitemeter numbers, but I feel like not getting them helps keep my voice honest - I am still writing for me, not 'my fans.' But the ad thing? C'mon, there are ads everywhere. It's philosophically shitty, but don't click. How many people out there can truly say that they have maintained Lloyd Dobbler's parameters for work?

8:34 PM  
Blogger bubandpie said...

This post says exactly what needed (still!) to be said on this topic.

I would never make a choice about whether to read a blog based on the presence or absence of ads. And I would never think less of someone for putting ads on their site. At the same time, though, I'm not a big fan, mainly because I think it feeds the dark side - not commercialization or dishonesty, but just the investment we all have in numbers and in competing for those numbers. When you attach a dollar value to how many people read your blog, suddenly more really IS better.

8:50 PM  
Blogger tomama said...

I'm loving the discussion! I too am torn between wanting bloggers to get paid so that, exactly like you stated, it can become more democratic (I do know a few single, minimum wage earning bloggers but they are few and far between) and worrying about how advertising might 1) influence the message or 2) (more likely since as you pointed out the stakes are too low) influence the perception of the message (like bloggers having the validity of their experiences questioned because they are seen as "profiting" from the drama. I think it all comes down to transparency. Blog ads are pretty clearly selling something and I have no problem with that.

9:19 PM  
Blogger tAnYeTTa said...

Hi, I clicked crazyhipblogmamas and found your page! Stopping through to say hello!

12:55 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

You just wrote much of what I've been thinking lately. When I was new to blogging, I did whine a bit, but I've since learned to suck it up. I love comments, but I don't expect everyone to comment on everything I read.

As for ads, I agree totally. Very few people make a living off of blogging. The rest of us are happy for a few bucks and maybe a free book now and then. I eventually want to leave Blogger, and I'd like to make enough to cover my hosting costs.

1:01 AM  
Blogger Ann D said...

These are the kinds of tactics that I object to -- calculated efforts to capitalize/exploit online communications (more specifically mom-to-mom communications) in order to market products.

I'm all for moms money from their writing -- online or offline. :-)


3:02 AM  
Blogger Ann D said... 2005/11/14/

That was the link that broke


3:05 AM  
Blogger sunshine scribe said...

Excellent post my friend. Consice and bang on.

My favourite two points that I am cheering for over here:

"don’t whine; suck it up. If you want to be a writer you’d better get used to rejection."

"Perhaps if more women earned money blogging, the blogosphere would become more representative."

Here here

3:00 PM  
Blogger hautemama said...

Or as we say in Vancouverwood, "put your big girl panties on and deal with it".

10:27 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I've been out of the blog loop for a few weeks here. So I'm just hearing this from you and a few others. I added ads to my site in hopes of generating money to help some dear friends out. But it is slow going.

I don't know why someone would get so upset over an ad on a site. It takes alot of clicks to rack up even $.75 cents.

But just wanted to also say, I love your blog. I love your voice and you are doing a great job. I don't know why some people have tons of readers and why some don't. I stopped guessing a long time ago.

12:32 AM  
Anonymous jennc said...

Nice post. I've missed the whirl on the subject...

I've found that if the written content of a blog is good, then I'll be back. It doesn't matter to me if there are ads. I have a couple of ads on my site and sometimes I'm amused with what gets put up there, but I don't conciously tailor my posts.

Sometimes I wonder why I have ads in the first place. I have very little traffic but whatever. It's just another web tool.

11:09 AM  
Blogger karrie said...

re: I don’t know any single parent, minimum wage earning bloggers, do you? Tell me if I’m wrong.

My biggest complaint when I whine is the lack of diversity. I'm sure women without a great deal of money, as an example, are out there, but they're probably not widely linked to, and likely lack the time to comment and attract readers that way.

8:34 PM  

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