There is nothing thinly disguised here, but I can see your point.

This is a response to a longtime reader who feels we’ve sold out and are no fun to read anymore. I had to agree with her to a point. I replied to her privately, and then realized that that is exactly the sort of thing that is invisible to the world, but important and real. And I just can’t get to enough of the important and real stuff anymore because I have to make a living. And I suppose I didn’t realize that anything here could be interpreted as thinly disguised. It is what it is. Anyway. Onward.

AtomicMomma wrote:

I’m done reading. Not just this mom blog but all of them.

You guys are no fun anymore. I understand the need to earn a living and capitalize on success but it seems all of you are just in it for the money now. The shameless promotion and product placement these days has taken a feel of sincerity out of what I’m reading. The ads on the pages make all of these blos look like garbage. Everything is sponsored by some corporate interest but thinly veiled as a random event or discussion. As a loyal reader of this blog and others I am feeling sold out by you guys.

I miss the simpler times. I just feel like it’s all become about money for mom blogs.

I replied:

Atomic Momma,

I hear you, I really do. We didn’t get paid for that show. Or any others. It was just fun. And a lot of work.

And I hear you on the blog’s appearance too. What was supposed to be the transfer of information and display and acknowledgement of recognition by others (Social Moms, Blog with Integrity, Blogtrepreneur, Red Tri, Babble, Interflora) looks like advertising. I didn’t accept any money to display those badges. There are really only 4 paid ads on this site. The rest are colorful buttons that make it look, well, worse.

As for being in it for the money, there ain’t much of it. I earn enough for about a week’s worth of groceries from those ads each month. The real money (which btw still has me below the poverty line for a household of four) is the web design and other consulting I do, but readers can’t see. I’m also writing a book on divorce, which while a business decision, is still close to my heart. Those things keep me away from the real writing I did more frequently here in the past. I have to support my family and right now what does it is stuff you don’t see.

I’m sorry you feel sold out. I’ve really liked having you visit, and I feel like I’ve known you for years. I sort of feel sold out, too, when companies have to know how many visitors, twitter followers and facebook fans we have before deciding whether to toss a commercial or frankly anything at all to us. I’ve lost jobs to other bloggers because I don’t actively pursue/inflate those numbers.

But stepping back and looking at my site, I can see exactly what you mean. I miss the fun days too, back when I had an executive job that paid the bills but also sucked the life out of me and limited the time I spent with the kids. I nearly didn’t survive those days. Literally. I still have nightmares.

I wish I had a solution. I just don’t know what that is. I’m so busy paddling underwater that I honestly can’t think of a way to go back. Unless someone wants to support me while I do it for fun like I used to do. But I supported myself then, and I do it now, only the economy has narrowed the options. It’s what we have until we have something better.

I could marry a rich man and let him support me while I wrote full time, but that would REALLY be selling out.

You know what? I’m going to post this exchange. I think it’s important for your (increasingly common) comment to be heard, and for me to have a chance to answer. This was going to be a private email – and there again is a glimpse of the stuff I spend my time doing that is invisible to others. I do a lot of private communication out of respect because some people really do come to me for help and advice and I want to do it, but don’t need everyone to see it. Unfortunately, that’s not the kind of stuff that gets us paid, but it’s what makes this still worthwhile for me, and probably for a lot of other bloggers too.

I hope this helps. Your comment helped me. Maybe the stuff that I thought was returning acknowledgement in the sidebars just isn’t necessary, especially if it looks the way you say it does. It’s hard to be objective over here, because, you know, I don’t have anyone else with a paycheck to contribute.

Best,

Mindy

As an aside (since I’m pretty sure someone will bring this up), I live with Guy, but we split everything right down the middle; he takes care of his three children and ex, and I take care of my three children. We both struggle, but are not dependent on anyone else, and never will be if we can help it.

P.S. I’m going to try an experiment: I’m removing all non-paid placements for a few days to see how it looks. The boxes will remain so you can see the difference. I really do appreciate the people represented by those badges; they are my top sources of traffic and I want to give back. But let’s try it out.

 

Comments

  1. SusannahS says:

    Bravo for posting this exchange. Over the years, I have been an occasional reader, but recently I started from the very first post and read through the entire blog (over the course of several weeks, of course.)
    Yesterday was the first day I tried to visit since the ‘face lift’, and although my Mac is only a couple of years old, it was taking so long to load everything that I thought “This is it. I’m done.” Because I read to learn more about this in and outs of your family life, not to see which badges and buttons and banners you have to display, and I couldn’t even scroll down to the latest entry while my ‘puter frantically tried to process all the bells and whistles. The corporatization of the mommy bloggers is truly a buzzkill. It’s not just you, but you are the first I’ve seen to address the issue head-on. *Applause from the peanut gallery*

  2. Mindy, you are not an ounce of wrong. The fact is that dollar driven decisions are all around us, in every industry. No way to work around it but as long as you are having an honest discussion with your readers, product placement, ads etc. should not matter all that much. It’s the content, not the delivery.

  3. Mindy – while I do understand what atomic momma is saying, it feels unrealistic.  It’s like a view of marriage, or having small children, or being a grown up in general before you are actually doing it yourself.  Once you are there ‘in the trenches’ of that job, suddenly all the realities become clear and you have a completely different view of the complexities involved.  I’m not knocking Atomic Momma, because in a way she is right.  It’s just an ideal that cannot be realized in real life.  I love idealistic people and principles – but often those ideals are not applicable all the time.  You’re doing a great job of providing us with honesty and humor while selling yourself.  That makes you sound like a high-price word prostitute, but you know what I mean. xo

  4. I wouldn’t care an ounce if every inch of the sides of your blog and banners were covered in ads and buttons as long as there were still content worth reading.  I started reading your blog because of the funny stories you told or how I could relate to your hardships.  So many days go by and you post nothing, and when you do it’s kind of boring.  Gone is the Mindy that attracted everyone.  I feel like you post sometime just because you half to.  If you can no longer share your life because of restraints imposed on you due to relationships, than stop blogging. It’s not worth it.

  5. I have to agree with Katie…the older posts are distinctly different from the newer content. If it were me, I’d go back and look at the posts from when people were still reading this blog and see if I could bring a little of the mojo back.

  6. “From when people were still reading…” Jesus, it’s like you’re writing my obituary. Classy. 

    You know what’s missing? Babies and tiny, dependent children. A stressful,traumatic work environment. A falling-apart marriage. Untreated depression. Chaos and disaster. That fueled all that came before. Unfortunately for readership, we are fresh out of despair and wreckage. Hope you find what you’re looking for somewhere else.

  7. You know what? I still read you. So there.

    I have to say, you were a lifeline for me back when I was also in an executive/family breadwinner position with very young children at home. You were the voice that told me that I wasn’t alone. That is was just as hard as I thought. And I can never thank you enough for that.

    Now days, my life situation has changed just as much as yours has. Because, good grief, that’s just life.

    You have to do what it takes to survive, and take care of you and yours.

    I do miss the stories and the personal diary nature of the blog. It made things feel a lot more genuine. But I’m not going anywhere. Because, occasionally, they do show up and pop in there and I love to read your writing. Good luck with all your side projects! Glad that you are able to pay the bills doing what you love. That’s awesome, and don’t let anyone make you feel bad for that.

  8. This is SOOO interesting. I start to feel this way right around this time every year, and I wonder if it’s the conference buzz that builds up before BlogHer that makes everyone throw their hands up in the air and say “enough.” If you get a moment (because you have so many extra ones) (and you are busy today, Mama, I’ll talk to you at 12:30 Pacific Time) check out my latest post. It’s aptly titled The Cranky Veteran Post. And the comments are gold.

  9. Wow people. MINDY is boring? Good lord, what would you say about my life. Wait, you are sitting there reading about HER life and then calling her BORING? Time to check yourselves.

  10. Dear Mindy . You are such a wonderful person and I simply love you for always keeping it real, honest and being helpful with people in the dark (I had the privilege to exchange emails with you while I was going through my Divorce and I could never thank you enough for that!! you are a lifeline and a true example for so many women around the world).  
    I am just concerned that with the  mean tone of certain messages you will one day decide that it is just not worth the effort that keeping a site requires…. And it would be such a great loss to all of us who do care and do appreciate the work that you do. I hope that day never comes. Because I know for a fact this is a such a labor of love, and who cares about the ads, really??? I would only hope there are a million ads on every page that you post or write so that you could be a millonaire and devote more time to relaxing, traveling and enjoying life with your loved ones!   Reading you is always a pleasure because you are real and you never sold out. And you never will.  And I love you and admire you for that.

  11. Haiku smackdown!  haiku smackdown!!

    Love you Mindy.  Have read you since the gorgeous background with light blue & the little boy.  is that right?  you have different phases in your life just like we all do, and I for one totally understand that.  I am not even blogging anymore—–  like I”m sure you understand, too much fallout.

    In MY humble opinion, you blog about what you want to blog about—- or not.  You are not OBLIGATED to give out any more information than you WANT to.   you do what works for you.

    Although dang, wouldn’t we all love to hear about the crazy ex that apparently is unwilling/unable to move on, and instead resents the fact that someone else might care about and for her children?  Someday…

    In the meantime, hang in there, do what it is that you do so well, and keep all those balls juggling in the air.  love you!!

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