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July 19, 2008

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Kim/hormone-colored days

I'm one of BabyCenter's MOMformation bloggers and noticed the incoming link. I'm also waiting for much-delayed flight out of San Francisco right now on my way home from the BlogHer conference.

I want to stress the point: "BlogHer offers something different. They offer a long tail community brought together by something deeper than commerce (i.e. ad revenue)." I can't tell you how many times during the conference I had conversations with other bloggers about community. Sure, making money is nice, but most of us started blogging for reasons other than commerce. The information we share and the communities and relationships we form through blogging mean a lot to us. Blogging has opened up my world and presented opportunties I never imagined.

That said, now that we know money is out there, many bloggers are going for it. Fine for them. I'll take on unpaid product reviews that interest me, but I have no plans to monetize my personal blog, my personal space.

http://twitter.com/moldymom

Andrew Foote

I'm here at SFO also - my flight to NYC is never leaving! This was my first time attending BlogHer; it was incredibly refreshing to experience the energy of the panelists and attendees. It's unlike any other conference I've been to.

Kim - your perspective on balancing editorial vs. advertising is exactly right. During the mommyblogging session on ethics, I was a bit surprised to hear bloggers talk openly about pay-for-play product reviews. Several bloggers in the room discussed monetizing their blog through advertorials. They talked about accepting money - not just product - in exchange for writing positive reviews about products and services. No disclosure either. Now, I know this isn't the case for the vast majority, but it's interesting that some are going this route. With mommy blogs gaining more and more attention from national marketers, I think bloggers (the ones who are building a revenue strategy) need to define and establish their own guidelines (viewable on their about page) for how they work with marketers.

The success equilibrium is largely the responsibility of companies. But bloggers can help this by clearly defining their own ethics guidelines and understanding the boundaries between editorial, advertorial, display advertising, sponsorships, contests, etc.

Of course, bloggers can go whatever route they want. There's nothing illegal about a pay-for-play approach and they don't have to abide by formal church & state rules. But, just like mainstream media, a publication that blurs these lines too much runs the risk of being irrelevant.

John Bell

Kim and Andrew - thanks for commenting and good to hear about your experiences there. The pay-for-post thing - especially without disclosure - is, forgive me, pissing in the pool. Readers will figure it out and lose respect.

It is up to everyone - marketers and bloggers - to find more interesting, ethical and valuable ways to connect brands with bloggers and make money.

Kim/hormone-colored days

Good point, John. I know times are tough for many families right now and don't begrudge someone for taking in a few extra dollars.

At the same time, as Andrew points out, the blogger risks becoming irrelevant.

There's a recent campaign that got my panties in a bunch. I'd seen variations of it on several sites, all leading to worthless posts. I want to grab these women and shout: this is boring, artificial content and you're better than this! You are worth more than this! But money is money and there are worse things one could do to pay the bills (or earn enough to afford a trip to SFO for BlogHer08).

Don't why the client signed off on this lame campaign, which was run through an agency that specializes in moms. IMO, it makes them look tacky, too.

Yvonne DiVita

I was there - at the beginning. When Blogher was just a germ of an idea. I met Jory and Elisa and we talked of putting together a blogger's group of women - to get some respect. Now, looking at the phenomenal job these talented women have done, and their great accomplishments in new media, I'm proud as punch to be a friend from the 'old' days.

I did not get ot attend Blogher this year. I spoke at the Business Blogher (more my speed) and I have been telling clients and anyone who will listen, for four years, that the MOmmy bloggers are all-powerful, precisely because of their focus: on community and connecting. Ignore them or diss them and you risk the rage of millions of women (with money to spend).

That said, I find large blog communities becoming too large. They are overwhelming. I demonstrate the power of women blogging, when I speak, and I often use Blogher as an example. As an introduction - it's a bit much. The media model is, indeed, one to watch as we move forward in this new marketing landscape -- this interactive world of consumer generated content, some which is very good, some whic is not.

I think advertisers would do well to look at individual blogs, also. For sponsorship opportunities or to engage the blogger in real conversation. I actually write and manage a petblog for Purina (the pet food company). It's completely above board... everyone knows PUrina sponsors it and I get paid to write and manage it. BUT...Purina and I agreed up front that they do not have the right to dictate what I write. If they send me a press release, it's my choice to use it -- or not. Or, repurpose it for a blog post I'm writing.

I've always fed my pets Purina, and I am a diehard fan...as well as a former veterinarian's assistant. The relationship with Purina, and now their new pet health insurance blog, is one of respect and consideration. I'm paid to help them traverse the blogging landscape and begin to connect with pet owners, in a friendlier and more effective manner. My readers know this...I remind them often...and it works out for all of us.

BTW, this does not influence the writing of my blog on marketing to women - Lip-sticking. Totally separate. But, I will admit that since taking the Purina contract, I am more careful about writing about my pets on Lip-sticking (not something I did much of, anyway).

Kudos to the Blogher ladies. This is one model... I think there are others emerging.

Jory Des Jardins

John, if there's a way to describe what we do, and how the BlogHer co-founders envision our place in the media-marketing world, you've just written it here. While I am very flattered at the compliments over how BlogHer has grown over the years and attracted great brands--who throw great parties--the story that I would like to impart is how we were able to create partnerships of understanding with these brands, and that our community is comprised of consumers who value the relationships their blogs have enabled more than they value the revenue they may generate. It's always been about building community and personal expression first, and revenue is gravy. Once this understanding has been struck, everybody wins.

I love Andrew's comment: "There's nothing illegal about a pay-for-play approach and they don't have to abide by formal church & state rules. But, just like mainstream media, a publication that blurs these lines too much runs the risk of being irrelevant."

I always say, you can only give out free iPods for so long. The cream always rises, and as soon as the entire marketing world no longer has to quantify success by immediate mentions/endorsements of a brand, the sooner we can get onto the business of building lasting relationships with these powerful influencers.

Great post (and yes, I'm biased) John.

Chubbles

Just a little quib. It seems like you think Momformation is trying to do BlogHer? Just to make it clear, momformation is trying to be a blog that serves it's audience based on blog/content idealism that came before the concept of BlogHer or any of those types of concepts.

Kim/hormone-colored days

Momformation is simply a group blog, staffed by a group of a dozen or so paid bloggers. We are separate from BabyCenter's editorial side and are free to blog about what's on our mind as it relates to moms, kids and family, though we may refer to BC content because it's all about moms, kids and families, or the BCPF blogs because they have excellent content.

I can't speak to BabyCenter's new community or BC's partnership with the Federated Media Blogs. But Momformation is NOT at all like BlogHer.

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