Every now and then a new rant against mummy bloggers will hit the internet, raising the question of what is the point in the so-called Instamum?
Outraged fellow mums complain these bloggers are forever parading their “free shit” everywhere, rubbing it in everyone’s faces. There are claims that influencers – as they’re known by brands who employ them to boost their products’ visibility – aren’t transparent and are pretending to be a part of the “sisterhood” while secretly rubbing their greedy hands together.
I’ve read many a comment, clearly written with a big old roll of the eyes, that these “mum blogs” are simply peddling stuff that women don’t really need, that it’s so annoying to see their amazing lifestyle being flaunted in every Instagram post and every tweet from a beautiful faraway destination.
Others simply state that certain influencers are just plain irritating,
They complain about the “midwife with four daughters” who’s “cashing in hugely” and declare how “the one who does the flex appeal thing bugs the living daylights out of me”.
It used to irk me that people would speak in such a negative and venomous way about fellow women who have dared to attempt to make a living. Of course everyone is entitled to an opinion, but slating people and making personal attacks on public forums just doesn’t sit right with me.
Now I am a “mummy blogger” – albeit as a hobby rather than a job – and the negativity around it outrages me even more, because I know the amount of work and thought that goes into even a tiny blog like mine. More than that, I know that the assumptions about bloggers are just plain wrong, founded on a mountain of misinformation.
Not only do they not understand what a blogger actually does on a day-to-day basis, but they’re also not really paying attention to the content being produced – favouring a snap judgement over a well-considered and rational one.
So for the record, I would like to explain what the point of an Instamum is, coming from someone who has been studying them all pretty closely since launching my own blog 10 months ago.
The full-time mummy bloggers are indeed making money from what they’re doing – how dare they, right?
But I would like to put paid to the myths right now.
While bloggers are often sent products – and even sometimes given a fee on top of the product – to review or place in a social media post, this is not for “free”.
Many bloggers have spent years earning zero pounds from their blog, and in fact spending money on site hosting and other associated costs to keep it online while they grew their following. They may have spent money on Facebook advertising to get their name seen more widely, and invested in blogging tools that help them schedule their social media posts so they can do the school run while still checking in with social media.
You do not build up a blog from scratch for free. It takes hours every single week of dedication to writing, improving picture quality and engaging on social media.
And then when it comes to actually working with a brand, they need to get creative and think of a way to make the product look beautiful in pictures, which they will take themselves, as well as craft a beautiful caption or blog post to discuss why they can recommend that product. This process can take hours, even days.
And in between those posts with #ad you will find totally free content, posts and pictures that were produced purely to entertain the audience, or sometimes just as a cathartic release for the blogger. Take a look at any popular blog and you will see most have detailed some of their most painful memories, personal stories and difficult times for all to read about.
A full-time mummy blogger cannot maintain their blog without continuing to give their audience what they want, which is entertainment.
Yes it’s true that influencers are not recommending these #ad products because they want to, it’s because they’re paid to – though speaking for myself I can’t write positive prose about anything unless I actually do like it. But if the consumer doesn’t want to buy it, they don’t have to. It’s clearly labelled advertising, not daylight robbery.
Think of it as being like reading a newspaper or a magazine. In between the features, news stories and comment pieces, there are advertisements for jewellery, holidays and more. You either glance at them and move along, or something catches your eye. Either way, you still get to enjoy the content you paid to consume.
To put it another way, following and engaging with a mummy blogger is kind of like watching Coronation Street. Most of the 30 minutes is purely entertainment as you see the cast of characters act out the latest drama. But in the middle, you need to watch about five minutes of advertising. Because, as we all know, the advertising pays for the production, actors and technical aspects of the show.
The difference is, this is real-life. These people actually are sharing a slice of their soul with you, and inviting you to chat with them, to engage in a conversation. You see their highs and lows, the times when they’re just having an absolutely crappy day and are close to tears.
You only need to take a look at the Instagram accounts of some of the bigger parenting bloggers, to click through their top nine most recent posts, to see that far from being a bombardment of advertising, it’s actually real snapshots of their life.
And yes, every now and then a picture will pop up of a product, and the caption will plug that product. Every single time you see this product placement, you will also see “#ad”.
I have never seen a blatant or subtle advert that did not include this hashtag or the “paid” headline accompanying the post from any of the big influencers, because they all respect the advertising rules. Why? Because they’re professionals and, believe it or not, they actually want to be transparent with their audience.
People don’t get into the blogging business to hoodwink fellow mums. They get into it because it’s a flexible career option and they like engaging with people on social media. If you didn’t like the people who were following and commenting on your posts, believe me you wouldn’t get anywhere with your blog or social media.
You cannot “fake” engagement day in and day out. So maybe your favourite mummy blogger isn’t your best friend, and maybe you don’t go for coffees together, but no-one has the energy to pour into socialising online with people day after day if they didn’t actually want to do it.
To each their own opinion, of course. My blog won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, the same as anyone else’s.
But the beauty of the internet and social media is that it’s very simple to not see this shit if you don’t want to. Just click “unfollow”, ignore the link, hit “unsubscribe”, and move on. There’s no ranting required.