Nixdminx
The life and times of a happy go lucky blogger in London
BUMS – the Blogging Unpaid Mums Society
Categories: blogging mums

There seems to be a lot of controversy around the subject of being paid to blog or taking money from brands to create content. How did this ever happen?

I may have jokingly referred to Mummy bloggers as BUMs on Radio 4 Woman’s Hour last week but I felt that the Blogging Unpaid Mums Society needed to be highlighted. It’s by no means a bitter and twisted post feminist reference to the drudgery of domestic life, it’s a lighthearted one with a message.

Integrity, transparency, authority and credibility are the watchwords of social media; and we all take heed, so why take offence when it becomes a business opportunity? I’m not advocating a take the money and run scenario but I do support the needs and desires of bloggers to become more professional, and paid. A new media is emerging and Mummy blogging has earned a place within it.

Having done many a stint of unpaid work in media over the years to get ‘experience’ (6 weeks at a press agency, one month on a radio station presenting a show and all sorts of other stuff) and not to mention funding my blog for ages, I wonder if it will pay for itself one day and that day I hope is not too far away.

On the other extreme, over the years, I have found myself working with very well paid interns in media agencies who are given plum opportunities ‘just in case they get bored’ – they still moan about getting paid, but at least they do. It seems on that basis, that if you’re starting out opportunity knocks but, if you’re experienced you should throw your hat into the ring for free. It makes no sense at all.

So why I ask is it such a thorny issue for women, who have children and decide to blog, to get paid in one way or another?

Many of us with children find ourselves uncomfortably cushioned between the younger generation and all it’s associated needs and the older generation, our parents, who may need care and attention through age related illness and disease. This is a fact of life and many women often feel they have lost a sense of themselves when they are sandwiched in between these pressures and responsibilities.

It’s hard not to function on autopilot when other peoples needs are put before your own. Washing, cleaning and shopping vye with doctors appointments, hospital visits and playdates for the most time and attention in your diary. It may appear utterly selfish to want to go the gym or have a beauty appointment or take time out for lunch but sometimes it’s what we really want to do. And then there is the negotation and haggling over ‘time off’ and ‘free passes’ just to get out of the house – plus what I call going out tax (£7-£10 per hour for a babysitter). It’s exhausting just writing about it and that’s before I’ve even started on the topic of have a job or trying to work from home.

And my point?

Daily life is not about the cold hard facts and statistics that we spun out in the media. We individually make up the masses but we also have the luxury of first hand knowledge and experience that we want to share. And so, this is why many of us blog. When the toys are put away, the homework done and the house is occasionally peaceful we let our creative sides have free reign and write. It helps us connect with other people out there doing the same thing and we also influence readers. Whether we like it or not, that’s the way it is.

If you blog, you are actually a publisher and this has associated costs. I’ve spent quite a lot over time on this fabulous and addictive habit because I really enjoy it. I am not urging everyone to sign up to google adsense, skimlinks and any affiliate scheme going, but you might want to try them out if you’d like to get your yearly hosting covered or even pay for your broadband bill or, dare I say it, a new laptop?

I wouldn’t say I’m a typical female, but I’m a working single Mum and every penny counts and my time is precious to me. My blog is my property and my own little scrapbook of musings and tales – just like the rest of us who have been blogging a while, it has started appearing on lists and communities and groups and it now has a life of it’s own. I don’t mind trying out commercial stuff. I don’t mind finding out what it’s like to run a digitorial.

While I never started my blog as a way to make money, it would be foolish not to investigate the routes which are now becoming available to us all as the UK blogging scene emerges and forms a whole new medium.

There, I’ve said it. It is what it is.

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27 Comments to “BUMS – the Blogging Unpaid Mums Society”

  1. Natalie says:

    I’m not sure why it’s a thorny issue but I think it’s Yet Another Thing To Get Judgemental About. I just don’t understand why people seek to undermine and criticise the choice of others. Nobody is holding a gun to anyone’s head and saying ‘Make money from your blog’ or ‘Become a commercial vehicle’! It’s different strokes for different folks and I don’t think anyone has to apologise for or have to legitimise the fact that they have decided to see where some commercial opportunities take them. It’s all in how it’s done and I do think that if people want to work with brands, they need to get savvy so that they don’t do stuff that inadvertently calls their integrity into question.

    • admin says:

      Hello gorgeous – I know you are right and also want to make sure this topic is opened up instead of whispered about. Craft and industry still have their palces in the blogosphere, as does independent thinking and altruism.

  2. Karen Bryan says:

    Eva, I’m a full time travel blogger so need to earn a living from it. However I’ve had some stick from other bloggers about how you either blog for the love of it or you sell out and blog for money. I don’t see why they are mutually exclusive.

    Yes their are expenses involved such as hosting, a laptop, mobile internet but the biggest outlay is the time you spend on your blog. Readers are willing to pay for content, so they only avenue for revenue generation is ads.

    However many PR companies and/or brands are increasingly offering bloggers “free” content, to enhance their blogs (no, not really it’s to get free links to their clients/brands). If the advertising budget is being diverted to this sort of PR then none of that revenue is reaching bloggers’ pockets.

    • admin says:

      Hello Karen – Hence the need for our discussion – and a mutually beneficial result in the long term. Or failing that a paradigm shift in the new media business model needs to evolve. If content is king (or queen) that’s a powerful place to be.

  3. Potty Mummy says:

    Totally with you on this NM. It’s down to the individual concerned how commercial they make their own blog, and if readers don’t like what they see then they won’t come back, simple as that. If, on the other hand, a blogger writes content that is engaging, and brings readers back time and again to interact, then why on earth shouldn’t they be allowed to profit from it, even if it’s only enough to fund a coffee habit? And if it is more financially rewarding than that, then good on them is all I can say. Oh, and can I have their secret to finding enough time in the day to be organised enough to make that happen?

    • admin says:

      I don’t even have time to clean the house if truth be known, and while I’ve been a purist about blogging I’m also very curious and inquisitive too so will continue to seek out all avenues of interest while they last!

  4. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Karen Bryan, nixdminx eva keogan. nixdminx eva keogan said: BUMS it is what it is or is it? My thoughts on the whole thing http://bit.ly/deqsF5 feel free to comment (typotastic on the last tweet) [...]

  5. grit says:

    i think natalie makes fair points; if it works for the individual then no-one can judge; we all do what we feel is the right thing to do.

    as a reader, i can only trust the writer. if they can handle pr content in a way which doesn’t make their blog a mouthpiece for others; doesn’t turn their copy into tedious advertorial; doesn’t cause their blog to lose the individuality that made it interesting in the first place, then i’ll carry on reading.

    these are difficult issues for any writer, and i think to succeed they need to handle pr content with dexterity and skill. some won’t make it, maybe, and they lose this reader. but others will do a great job, and i’ll still go reading, and be glad they earned some coffee money.

  6. Linda says:

    Have you heard that song: “I love it when you call”?

    I love it when you blog.

    You talk so much sense.

    Like a lot of people I think it’s up to the individual and I do make money connected to blogging but then this has grown out of a connected profession.

    In the spirit of bums here’s a new movement for you, (there’s a joke there somewhere about movement, but still:…)

    And
    Really
    Sussed
    Everyone
    Helps
    Or
    Loves
    Engaging
    So there

    • admin says:

      Ah Linda I wouldn’t expect anything less of you than a high but bum note and I will promise to check out the hairy bikers tomorrow, much love x

  7. clareybabble says:

    I’m with you! I have a review blog linked to my main blog so ‘sponsored posts’ are not in your face. It hasn’t got half as many readers but I don’t care. I love getting the chance to review things and my children benefit big time. If they get an extra toy or day out then so be it. Their happy memories are reward enough and to hell with what everyone else thinks!! x

    • admin says:

      The toy reviews are really good to do because we try out things we may not necesarily buy and it’s good to share feedback too I think x

  8. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to make a bit of money out of your blog if you can. Or a lot of money, for that matter. It’s a very British attitude, I think, this whole art for art’s sake thing. We don’t have to starve in garrets to make our writing worthwhile. And given the choice, I’d rather earn something for doing what I love than return to the hell that is working for someone else.

  9. Emily O says:

    I think it boils down to the reason why you blog. Many would probably describe blogging as a hobby and few people get paid for their hobbies. If you want to get paid for blogging then do you start differentiating between amateur and professional bloggers? I don’t have the answers. I have found paid freelance work through blogging but have never been paid to blog. So my personal blog has earnt me nothing apart from some product reviews and advertising, but it has helped open some doors. I don’t begrudge being a BUM, it’s become a means to an end. And I love blogging for what it is.

    • admin says:

      You’re right, I think it is a great door opener but what we have also done is learn to navigate the technology with ease which is no mean feat. Like everyone else I started blogging to stay sane challenge myself. It’s nice to have somewhere to write independently without a boss.

  10. I was listening to the radio when this was mentioned and the way it came across then was very different to how you’ve put it now. Problem being that soundbite doesn’t contain the same amount of info as a post. On the radio it sounded like you were looking down on those of us who blog without being paid – and as I’ve been doing that for over 7 years, that’s a lot to be looking down on ;)

    However, as I’m exploring ways to make something from my blog to support the being at home with home educated children, I guess I can’t be that against the idea of a small amount of commercialism.

    I probably didn’t ought to be trying to comment on this, which I think is an important issue, a day after a night which involved no sleep…

    • admin says:

      Wow – I had no idea it came across that way. I was talking with a friend over lunch and we had a rant about domestic drudgery and how I’d been out of work and a blogging unpaid mum and we just laughed that I was being a bum. It had no reflection on the wider community, but I thought it was a valid point. When I look at blogs I am reminded of the fanzines that people used to handout which were usually photocopied and really cool but so expensive to put together that they need to work somehow. Print media exists on a 60/40 editorial and advertising split and many of these fanzines didn’t last but blogging is a much more permanent version of that. I don’t look down on anyone and I really appreciate the blogs I read for their unique and individual take on the world, especially one like yours

  11. Katie says:

    Great piece! I worked for months for free to get my first paid job in the media. Over a decade later it feels like I’m having to do it all again because I’ve had children. But saying that I’m really enjoying the satisfaction of growing and nurturing my blog from a mere idea to a tangible part of my writing identity.

    I’m watching this debate with interest. It’s exciting to be part of this new world.

    • admin says:

      I think you hit the nail on the head and there’s the rub, there’s a sense around me sometimes that I’ve tumbled back ten years down the experience ladder because I’m a Mum and I could go on for pages about how casual discrimination in the work place have taken place, but I’d rather spend my time writing! It took me a while to find my voice too but it’s great once you do because it’s a new versatility and I love the writerly high that comes with giving your brain a work out; and of course the other people who come and comment and the other blogs I read. I think the other important point is that we have changed our lives with children and it’s really important to seek a new sense of self and identity and blogging is a great way to do that. x

  12. RebaMc says:

    Hear, hear! For me it’s all about the enjoyment, and trying out new things. If it works, it works – if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.

  13. The comments seem to have covered it all really. I think you have to be a bit savvy and remember that brands are there to make money, so if they are asking bloggers to write about them then they should pay for that content. It annoys me when brands offer me ‘free’ content for my blog and all I have to do in return for this ‘great writing’ is include several links to their site. As I do freelance work from home I’m very aware that time is money, so I’m not going to give it away for free. I’ve also worked in business so I can see it from both sides, which I think helps.

  14. Like most bloggers I never started my blog in the hope of making my fortune but for the joy of travel, sharing those experiences and having some creative release from the decidedly uncreative day job.

    Now a couple of years on, having sending more hours than I’d care to admit to my husband writing posts, not to mention taking my laptop everywhere I go, and producing endless articles for the entertainment of anyone who will read them I’m hoping that there may be a little financial reward eventually.

    Everyone else expects to be paid for hard work so why not bloggers?

    • admin says:

      Thanks Heather – you’re right on all of your points and also the extra effort and impact all this writing can have on family life when it becomes a long term habit. It seems the spin off work; consultancy, books, tv shows etc. all seem to work pretty well. Many youtubers make a decent living from their videos, it seems editorial content is not so valuable somehow.

  15. [...] have to kind of know what that personality is all about. Reading the comments on NixdMinx’s BUMS post a particular line stood out to [...]

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