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February 23, 2011 8:31 PM   Subscribe

The NYTimes profiles the "Queen of the Mommy Bloggers" Who is it? Why, Dooce, of course! The article also gives shoutouts to Nie Nie, Mama Pundit, Pioneer Woman, Selfish Mom, and Because I Said So, among others.

While putting this thread together, many previous Dooce posts popped up, from as far back as 2002.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero (72 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 


As many comments I have made about parenting on Blog One, Blog Two and Blog Three over the years, maybe my eighteen years of parenting have disqualified me for any further advice. I have also succumbed to the inevitable prejudice of a Heartlander concerning the level of self-absorption of a New York City parent.

Nevertheless, it took about ninety seconds of clicking around here to make my eyes glaze over like a triple glazed window pane after two ice storms and a hit of Ecstasy. I used to think there was something new to say about parenting, but now I view all this ado about...well, about the most important thing in life...as so much mulch in the wind.

There is a lot of scholarship out there about parenting, and a lot has changed in the sociocultural landscape of raising children. I don't see it here, although I am sure it can be found elsewhere. Parents are geniuses; I just haven't been keeping up, really. But Mommy Bloggers are a pretty empty source of inspiration, common sense and eccentricity, from my admittedly brief dip in the pond.
posted by kozad at 8:52 PM on February 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


That's kind of a weird article. It's almost as if the writer of it hates mommy bloggers and doesn't really like Heather and Jon. The whole thing seems oddly derisive of their blogs and lifestyle.

Heather is a great writer plain and simple, doesn't really represent "mommy bloggers" to me (she transcends the genre she created) and I'm surprised it took thousands of words and five pages before they mentioned David Sedaris as a comparison, because Heather and David Sedaris are much the same: weaving interesting and funny tales from otherwise mundane family lives.

It's cool to see her get more recognition but the whole thing reads as if it was written by a non-fan that is pissed Dooce makes a living from writing about her life and wanted nothing more than to embarrass Dooce by speculating in public about how much money Dooce makes.
posted by mathowie at 8:55 PM on February 23, 2011 [11 favorites]


I enjoy Dooce. I think she's funny. So she makes money. Good for her. I really don't consider her a mommy blogger. She just seems like a person who blogs about her life, that happens to include being a mommy. Maybe I'll start a blog and then people can criticize me for being a grandma blogger. Cheez. If I make enough money to live on, OMG, it's my job!
posted by wv kay in ga at 8:59 PM on February 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, it has been only three days since the New York Times declared that Blogging is Dying Out; of course anytime a newspaper declares the death of a medium newer than it, it's 95% bullshit. So take anything the Old Grey Lady publishes about bloggers with a grain of salt in a glass of mouthwash.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:04 PM on February 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


A NY Times Style writer is judgmental and focused on money?
posted by leotrotsky at 9:04 PM on February 23, 2011 [15 favorites]


I think her photos are gorgeous.
posted by docpops at 9:07 PM on February 23, 2011 [1 favorite]




I'm glad the NYT noted the Redecorating Our Office! Sponsored By Verizon™! placement; because oh God that was so, so tacky.

But yes she can write. And her posts about her depression were incredibly raw and incredibly brave.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:21 PM on February 23, 2011


I am kind of fascinated by Dooce. Or I guess I am actually kind of fascinated by the response to Dooce. I sometimes see other women bloggers on the internet complaining that Dooce isn't so special, why don't THEIR blogs make a gazillion dollars, etc. etc.?

There's a bunch of stuff going on at once there: the total inability of many, many people to tell the difference between professional-quality storytelling and what they themselves do, straight-up envy, outrage that someone gets to make a living doing something perceived as fun and/or not-real-work, and (in my opinion) women doing a creepy thing where they tear another woman down for daring to be successful.

(That article seemed to contain many of these same elements, oddly.)
posted by thehmsbeagle at 9:23 PM on February 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


It's cool to see her get more recognition but the whole thing reads as if it was written by a non-fan that is pissed Dooce makes a living from writing about her life and wanted nothing more than to embarrass Dooce by speculating in public about how much money Dooce makes.

Wow, I didn't get this impression at all, but perhaps that's because I read Lisa Belkin's NYTimes blog and so happen to know that she's a fan of Dooce and of the other blogs referenced in the article. Actually, many of the blogs she references are mentioned in her post The Mom Blog Jinx; I wonder if it was the seed for the story.

I don't read Dooce but I do read Mamapundit, which is also cited in the story, and she seems to like the article.
posted by lalex at 9:24 PM on February 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's kind of a weird article. It's almost as if the writer of it hates mommy bloggers and doesn't really like Heather and Jon. The whole thing seems oddly derisive of their blogs and lifestyle.

It's the New York Times. What else is new?
posted by blucevalo at 9:30 PM on February 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Am I the only one that thinks blogs look way too slick these days? Part of me really misses the period when everything looked sort of amateurish and hurried and it was more about the quality of the writing. Blogs nowadays remind me of lifestyle magazines. Even when the writing has remained strong there's something distracting about the gloss that's been laid on. They just seem so lifeless.

I don't know. Even in my own ears this argument sounds weird, but there it is.
posted by Ritchie at 9:30 PM on February 23, 2011 [11 favorites]


Regarding whether a blog is a "mommy blog" or not, if a blog is taking advertising, isn't the definition of what kind of blog it is defined by who reads it, not what it's about?
posted by girlhacker at 9:35 PM on February 23, 2011


I just finished watching two hours of "Toddlers and Tiaras." This post is like a soothing balm on the oozing gash of my soul suffered by watching a mother disparage her 15 month old baby for not walking properly on the runway, and a spoiled pre-pubescent girl in a bedazzled square-dancing costume cry and storm off stage because a baby in a tinier version of a bedazzled square-dancing costume won the Ultimate Grand Supreme Master of the Universe Beauty award instead of her.

So, go, mommy bloggers, go. Unless you are blogging about disparaging your kid because she only got second runner up in Fancy Faces of Farmington Pageant because she messed up the jazzhands in the crap choreography you made up at home, which consisted entirely of pieced together dance moves you learned from contestants on So You Think You Can Dance, Beyonce, and the cast of Jersey Shore, in which case, go to H-E-Doublehockeysticks. And therapy.
posted by Dr. Zira at 9:44 PM on February 23, 2011 [9 favorites]


if a blog is taking advertising, isn't the definition of what kind of blog it is defined by who reads it, not what it's about?

What? Do TV shows get the same deal? Is The Price is Right a game show or is it "about" people who have called in sick to school or work?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:46 PM on February 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


Wow, I didn't get this impression at all

Reading it, I got to re-live a WSJ reporter calling me a couple times and basically demanding that I tell him how much I made per month on my PVRblog when it was new and making money from a blog was a novel thing. He just wouldn't let it go and kept trying to trick me into answering it again and again over the course of the interview. We ended up having almost a shouting argument over the phone about that one key tidbit.

I felt like I read pretty much the same kind of article, but the author went around them when they wouldn't answer and tried to get estimates from her advertising company and other supporters, which seems lame.
posted by mathowie at 9:50 PM on February 23, 2011 [10 favorites]


Heather is a great writer plain and simple, doesn't really represent "mommy bloggers" to me (she transcends the genre she created) and I'm surprised it took thousands of words and five pages before they mentioned David Sedaris as a comparison,

She's a good writer, not a great one. I'll grant you that the "mommy blogger" label is absurdly limiting, of course. But personally, I wouldn't put her in Sedaris' league. I don't recall Sedaris ever resorting to all-caps for easy comedic effect (and I say that as someone who routinely reaches for that hammer), which she routinely does.

I think that my main criticism of Dooce, though, is that her site is lately mostly about her home renovation and her TV show and her vacation and so forth...which I in no way criticize her for having (you go, enjoy the fruits of your well-earned success), but which erodes the relatability she had before when she was solely blogging family stuff.

My wife for one was an avid follower until her site got dominated by stories about her personal assistant and trips to the White House and HGTV show and whatnot. Again, not that either one of us begrudges her that, but just that it became less a blog written by one of our neighbors and more a blog written by one of our neighbors who moved to NYC and started to write for a high-scale publication and suddenly we can't relate to her day-to-day life anymore.
posted by middleclasstool at 9:53 PM on February 23, 2011 [20 favorites]


I'm acquainted with several female bloggers who refer unanimously to Heather Armstrong as "Doocebag," so maybe I'm prejudiced... But I just clicked thru to her blog and read a couple dozen posts and - she's not a very good writer. Plus, she does that "sliver of the photo to force you to click to even see what it is and double the ad impressions" thing that I fucking HATE - that's not "monetizing your blog" that's straight up whoring. I understand that "she did it first" or whatever, but as it stands now that blog looks and reads like a Nick Denton property. By which I mean... Meh. Whatever.
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 9:53 PM on February 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Weird observation: Has anybody noticed that mormons are hugely overrepresented among authors of parenting blogs?
posted by schmod at 10:00 PM on February 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


Weird observation: Has anybody noticed that mormons are hugely overrepresented among authors of parenting blogs?

Dooce is a liberal ex-mormon, according to the Jezebel link from availablelight: "...she writes about her kids, her husband, her pets, her treatment for depression and her life as a liberal ex-Mormon living in Utah." I would stress that this is very different, and that would be a huge understatement.
posted by Brian B. at 10:09 PM on February 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Agreed on the sheen and design of the more popular mommyblogs making them sort of creepy "lifestyle packages" that are hard to relate to. The only blog I suppose you could call mommyish that I read is the resolutely uncommercial and barebones Mimi Smartypants.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 10:11 PM on February 23, 2011 [13 favorites]


It makes me feel internet-old to think back to reading Dooce while she was being derided for being "that lady who got fired because of her blog." Then I recall that at the same time I listened to a lot of Death Cab and was annoyed when eventually they got on a major label and even my sister listened to them.

Haters gonna hate.
posted by kyleg at 10:18 PM on February 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I remember how Dooce got canned over her on-line remarks about her work- mates. I really had no sympathy for it OR her employers.
I just learned you up page views by being a Drama Queen. Of course we all know page views = $. I do like the idea of publishing your hate mail and making money from it! Dooced clever if you ask me!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 10:19 PM on February 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


My wife for one was an avid follower until her site got dominated by stories about her personal assistant and trips to the White House and HGTV show and whatnot.

Yeah, I think that kind of explains why I lost interest as well. I think the writing was more interesting when her posts were more akin to the sort of posts that people tend to heavily favorite on MeFi; posts that share something from personal experience that make the reader feel like the author is sharing something deeply meaningful to the author. Maybe that's the downside of blogger success: the increased exposure sort of destroys the vulnerability that was perhaps the key ingredient in the success of the writing in the first place. For example, I find the bits where she shares bits of her personal experience growing up Mormon fascinating because she's kind of sharing something deeply personal about the conflicts between her personal worldview and what was her religion at the time. That's a fundamental struggle many humans go through, so its easy to relate to those experiences.

Now, it's more of a decorating/shopping/photography type blog, which is probably a more lucrative market. Not better or worse, just different, and probably way more fun and sustainable for her to write.

On preview: Yeah, I think mimi smartypants is a great comparison. She strikes the perfect balance of maintaining the distance necessary to protect her family, while writing engaging, entertaining posts that sort of make you feel like you've been invited into her world, rather than just being held at arm's length.
posted by Dr. Zira at 10:22 PM on February 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


Haters gonna hate.

Who's hating on her here? I love her. I am so happy for her success. For me it's not "I liked her before she became popular." It's more "I liked her a bit more when she was writing about things that I can connect with."
posted by middleclasstool at 10:25 PM on February 23, 2011


The transition over the past few years to Dooce Media Enterprises Sponsored by [Your Name Here, Email For Rates] is fascinating to me, because it's clearly indebted to the reality television phenomenon, but exists somewhat askew to it, and raises slightly different questions about voice and brand and authenticity -- a kind of commercial coming-of-age in the online world, with all of the vicissitudes and temptations of the Bildungsroman.

So, of course, you end up with the whole "keeping it real" thing, which has fairly shaky foundations as an objection to begin with, and also raises the question of whether wistful nostalgia for the candour of vintage Dooce material differs only in degree from the contractually-obligated performance pieces that take place on the site. And I think the piece actually does well with that, although it's buried right at the end -- the question of whether lifeblogging creates a kind of puppeteering dynamic, and whether what changes is who pulls the strings.

It's almost as if the writer of it hates mommy bloggers and doesn't really like Heather and Jon.

The NYT has a quirk of treating its target ad demo of wealthy upper-class Americans as people, and everyone else as human animals. The tone of this piece, for the most part, is "look at the human animals impersonating people."
posted by holgate at 10:40 PM on February 23, 2011 [9 favorites]


For archival purposes, the original doocing post from archive.org (menu using Kottke's Silkscreen font, I believe), and how it looks today.

I increasingly notice how quickly things drop off the metaphorical front page when it comes to a sense of online history, and in terms of Heather's trajectory as a blogger, things like, say, SXSW '06 feel a lifetime away. I think part of that is because gradual structural change is built into Dooce.com -- the monthly banners, for instance, or the structure of the site's archives.
posted by holgate at 10:56 PM on February 23, 2011


I LIKE HER PICTURES OF HER DOGS AND THAT'S WHY I GO BACK TO DOOCE.COM AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN
posted by infinitywaltz at 10:58 PM on February 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


The article has a weird and condescending attitude toward work and money. I have never read dooce, so I don't know how good/ungood her writing is, but I think it's great that there are still people out there making a living through writing. There is nothing wrong with making money doing what you love, and in some cases that money may come from ads.
posted by betweenthebars at 10:59 PM on February 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh goody, I've seen this post before it hits 327 replies, which it will totally have the next time I look at it after waking up in the morning.

On the one hand, if you can make a living off of living your life, good for you.
On the other hand, would this chick be a hit if (a) she hadn't been fired, and (b) hadn't had a kid? Would she be a hit if she was just blogging, not "mommyblogging?" I have always found that to be weird. Like her kid's a moneymaker or something.

Now I'll go to bed and see what drama explodes on this thread in the morning...as "Dooce" and "mommy" and "mommyblogging" threads all tend to do.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:02 PM on February 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Count me as another long-time Dooce/Blurbomat fan. Heather's gift is that she's a great storyteller. And, like every person who makes their living telling stories, some she tells will resonate with her audience (that means you) and some won't. Just enjoy the ride.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 11:31 PM on February 23, 2011


From "pussy-ass cocksmacks" to "We’re a privately held company and don’t reveal our financials.” Too funny.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:40 PM on February 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I can't remember where, but a few months ago I came across someone who said she gave up on reading Dooce when she found out that the new house had a studio. I found that an interesting reaction, because you presumably wouldn't say the same about a self-described artist or photographer or film-maker or some other producer of "media" with a home studio.

On the other hand, I can see where the sentiment is coming from, given that it's the kind of facility you associate with the Gosselins and the Duggars and now the Palins. Studios make crafted things, and while personal websites have always been crafted things, going right back to Justin Hall, it's taken a while to notice the crafting of a life given online form. That's why I think it represents a certain coming-of-age.
posted by holgate at 12:48 AM on February 24, 2011


Weird observation: Has anybody noticed that mormons are hugely overrepresented among authors of parenting blogs?

On top of the fact that Mormons are probably overrepresented among parents, Emily Matchar had it in her recent piece on Mormon Housewife Blogs on Salon... the huge emphasis on parenting in the faith, plus a lot of encouragement towards journal writing and personal and family history. Blogs are a pretty natural channel for that.

Dooce is a liberal ex-mormon..I would stress that this is very different, and that would be a huge understatement.

Distinctive in some very significant ways, but probably still driven to some extent by the influences of the culture she's moved on from.
posted by weston at 12:55 AM on February 24, 2011


I wonder how their kids will feel in 20 years having been the subject of their parents' blogs, whatever those were.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:26 AM on February 24, 2011


"Mommyblogging" is one of those words that didn't used to exist (like "foody") that just make me angry because of the terrible way that they sound. I don't care if you're a foody, a mommyblogger, or a mommyblogging foody, but for fuck's sake find something else to call yourself. And make people call you that. Please. Please.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:44 AM on February 24, 2011 [6 favorites]



I wonder how their kids will feel in 20 years having been the subject of their parents' blogs, whatever those were.


The article ends on that note, wondering how the kids' changing feelings towards the exposure will change the business of writing the blog.

I've always marveled at the sheer popularity of mommy-blogs. A lot of blogging can be really banal, and what little I've read of the prominent mommy-blogs takes banal to new heights. But if that's what people want to read, I by no means begrudge them the income.

I disagree with Mathowie, though, about the appropriateness of asking about that income. Earning money from a blog is still a comparatively new phenomenon, and I think the question of how much money is involved, where it comes from, and how the blogger deals with the ethics and disclosures are very fair questions. The article got into that somewhat, comparing different disclosure approaches by different bloggers, something I found more interesting than the main part of the article about dooce.com.
posted by Forktine at 5:46 AM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mimi Smartypants is the best 'mommy blog' I've come across.
posted by judson at 6:28 AM on February 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


Thanks to mommy bloggers I have an unnatural understanding of mucus plugs and meconium.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:32 AM on February 24, 2011


What? Do TV shows get the same deal? Is The Price is Right a game show or is it "about" people who have called in sick to school or work?

OK, so "mommy blog" refers to the author, not the targeted readers. I'll make my mental adjustments.
posted by girlhacker at 6:42 AM on February 24, 2011


P.S. and no, I wasn't thinking about TV shows, I was thinking about most written media like magazines and industry blogs which are written by writers and journalists who cover a specific topic.
posted by girlhacker at 6:47 AM on February 24, 2011


I've read Dooce for years and I like her. I think she's not unlike newspaper columnists who write about their families and their lives. It's been fodder for writers like Erma Bombeck, Linwood Barclay, Dave Barry, and loads of others. She writes about her life and her family. Sometimes she's more interesting than other times, but did people criticize Erma when they made that movie based on her column?
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:54 AM on February 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Distinctive in some very significant ways, but probably still driven to some extent by the influences of the culture she's moved on from.

That's a perfectly reasonable theory, but in some scenarios there is a clear line between infected and immune.
posted by Brian B. at 7:07 AM on February 24, 2011


I wonder how she will sustain success as the kids get older though. Her 7 year old daughter has apparently already made it clear she doesn't want to be included, and the little one is too young to speak up yet. They are putting a lot of pressure on Chuck the dog to support a 50K a month blog. I hope he is up to it.
posted by COD at 7:22 AM on February 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


I was curious about the site mentioned where Dooce posts her hate mail: Monetizing the Hate.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:32 AM on February 24, 2011


I read a couple of parenting blogs, but not Dooce. Just never got into it. But perhaps it's worth noting that the two I read the most -- A Little Pregnant and Here There Be Hippogriffs -- both started out as infertility blogs, and they both have some black, bitter humor in them that really got me through some awful times. Both Julie and Julia have completed their families now and blog about, you know, parenting and current events and the weather rather than shooting yourself in the ass with gonadotropins or the tenth D&C following an aneuploid pregnancy, but I just keep coming back. I call them my imaginary friends. Because apparently what defines "friendship" for me is "unrelenting snark."
posted by KathrynT at 7:55 AM on February 24, 2011


I had never heard of Dooce until MeFi (not a mommy myself, so perhaps I just was never in the target audience) but the whole topic reminds me of the Living With Teenagers column in the Guardian. Although it was anonymous, the mother turned out to be Julie Myerson.

The Tumblr blog posted up earlier is weird, and reminds me of when I was still young and bored enough to find LJ snark communities funny. Honestly, I don't care if someone wants to put stupid stuff about themselves online, unless it is EXCEPTIONALLY funny.
posted by mippy at 7:58 AM on February 24, 2011


Oh, A Little Pregnant is one of my favourite blogs as well. Everyone should read it.
posted by gaspode at 7:59 AM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, do I have a bone to pick with this lady. I was using the online handle "Deuce" ages before her little "web log," and then she went and spelled it wrong and had the audacity to get semi-famous with it. Plus I eventually realized it's a not-uncommon euphemism for poo. But still. DAMN YOU, DOOCE!

But seriously: Heather's been an inspiration to me for nearly a decade now. Not for her writing (which is hilarious), not for her photography (which is gorgeous), but for being utterly, absolutely fearless. To me, she's the patron saint of Not Giving a Fuck, with a Ph.D. in Haters and a respectable post-doctorate body of work in how they Gonna Hate.

Being a content creator online is tough. I've been doing it for more than half my life, and it's as difficult as it is rewarding. Sometimes it feels worth it, sometimes it doesn't—but here's Dooce, attracting the kind of vitriol that would straight-up cripple me, and she just shrugs it off and keeps doing her thing.

You don't have to like her, or her writing, or her parenting, or her blog design. De gustibus non est disputandum and all. But I hope she's making shitloads of cash. I hope she has solid-gold toilets and caviar smoothies all day long. And I hope that someday I'll have half the steel she does.
posted by Zozo at 9:43 AM on February 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


My wife for one was an avid follower until her site got dominated by stories about her personal assistant and trips to the White House and HGTV show and whatnot.

I became an avid, avid reader of her archives after my son was born, because her experiences with post-partum depression were so a) powerful and b) public. She fearlessly told that story, and because she of what she said and her openness about her experience she became sort of a hero to a lot of moms who could, I think, relate both to her as a member of a shared generation and as someone who was brave enough to tell the whole world about something most of us can't even share with our doctor, mother, or spouse.

That being said, I completely stopped reading her after she went to the White House for some working mother's conference, and then -- and this is the important bit -- got very publicly upset because a number of other bloggers said, basically, that she doesn't really represent working mothers. She and her husband may, technically, be small business owners and I'm sure there are a lot of headaches associated with that, but their experience is so far removed from that of 99% of working parents (SBOs or not) that I find it really disingenuous for them to get upset at the criticism.
posted by anastasiav at 9:49 AM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


she transcends the genre she created

You don't mean this literally, do you? Dooce in no way created the "Mommy blogging" genre.

I like Dooce, and I admire her for writing openly about her struggle with depression, but she is by no means the first mommy blogger, no matter how many times she has been called "the original mommy blogger" in the media. That's just a catchphrase. She is certainly the most popular right now, and she is FANTASTIC at marketing herself, but she did NOT create the genre. Lots of women came before her.

I've met many of them personally, and they have great stories. She is not, for example, the only one to lose her job because of her blogging. Others have dealt with issues like infertility, breast cancer and postpartum depression, which is what inspired them to write. And most of them have never been, nor will ever be, invited to the White House.
posted by misha at 10:02 AM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


The article ends on that note, wondering how the kids' changing feelings towards the exposure will change the business of writing the blog.

Heather has been dealing with this on the blog lately, explaining that since Leta is has been expressing an unwillingness to be photographed and a desire for privacy, she's been writing less about the child.

I've also felt a protectiveness growing about her as she's gotten older and knew that I'd be writing less as that feeling continued. I've said before that the story of most babies is pretty much just like the story of all the other babies who have ever lived in the world: pooping, crying, screaming, sleeping (and a lot of not sleeping), and then more pooping. ... That's why I feel like it's okay to write so much about Marlo, because it's the same story of a million other babies hopefully told in a way that we can all laugh about it enough to want to wake up tomorrow morning.

She now asks Leta for permission before talking about her on the blog. What'll happen when Marlo hits that age? Who knows, maybe Heather and Jon will just have another one. Ha.
posted by arcticwoman at 10:06 AM on February 24, 2011


People should NOT be angry that this talented, funny writer may be making a million bucks a year. They should, however, be OUTRAGED that the Kardashians gross over $60 million. Seriously.
posted by Blogwardo at 10:32 AM on February 24, 2011 [9 favorites]


I don't begrudge any of these bloggers their income for the most part. I blogged for mortgage payments for a few years there, until I had a kid and had to choose between my child + meatspace job and child + blogging. Since then, my blog has lain dormant, end of story. My writing was mediocre at best, my story was interesting to some because of my unusual situation which had little to do with me and more about my crazy house at a time when DIY was hot and heavy, etc. I was able to meet some fun and creative people through that experience, which was the real payoff for me, and I'm still friends with many of them today. It was a really interesting experiment.

I have found the peripheral world of interactions and conversation around the phenom known as "mommyblogging" to be quite fascinating. I was always interested what people were paying less attention to during those times, such as:

--The desperation of women to find some kind of work that would also allow them the flexibility to spend more time raising their kids. Blogging was important because earners such as Dooce held out the hope that you COULD be at home, available when your children came home from school, and still buy groceries. To me, this is a sad commentary about U.S. society and the lack of options for parents who need work flexibility.

--This desperation bred a lot of weird and dysfunctional emotional behavior online. Seriously. The competitiveness, the ranting, the comment bombing. It was strange and more than a little sad.

--I always wondered, where were the fiery screeds and complaints about Dad Bloggers, or political bloggers, or tech bloggers? The **sniff** "she's just a political blogger" (adjusts spectacles, looks down nose) comments? The value judgments implicit in the very lopsided criticism of the mommy blogging genre just floored me, and that was even before I had my kid. Because parenting is a walk in the park, I guess, compared to that job reviewing gadgets.

--The fuzzy and strange line that everyone was trying to negotiate between advertising and integrity. The whole "paid blog posts" phenomenon. The "give aways." The sponsorships. The rapid devaluing of bloggers' time as more bloggers were willing to spend their time spewing content for the lowest bidder or for freebies. The blatant crossing of the line between content about one's personal life and marketing. The companies who preyed upon smaller, desperate bloggers, including the paid conferences that promised the moon to desperate hopefuls. I found it to be gross and ugly.

--The real need for authentic writing about difficult issues around depression, parenting, sexuality, infertility, etc. From real people, who were not being edited by reality show producers or agents or book editors. I valued Heather's contribution to that. She helped to break the rest of us to break through a barrier that many of us have struggled with in writing or speaking out loud and publicly about depression. It wasn't a bad thing.

--The journalists who really weren't very creative in sourcing bloggers to go to for quotes. Was it flattering when we were called for most stories about houseblogging back in those days? Sure, but I also sent a fair amount of journalists to other bloggers who had interesting stories to tell because, well, sometimes they had better stories than mine. (And probably because I suck at self-promotion and self-marketing and public relations which is a lot of what makes a blog rise about others. You have to have either good writing or an unique story that transcends the writing, yes, no question. But self-promotion savvy is part of it and having an existing professional network in the content space helped, too, but a lot of mommy bloggers didn't TALK about that part with the hopefuls. It helped if you were part of the club. It did. You'd get the panels and the calls, etc, just like in any career. But that wasn't always obvious to the hopefuls and created a lot of angst around "Why always her? Why not meeeeeee???")

I'm with a previous commenter. It's very akin to Erma Bombeck or Dave Barry, except I can't remember if Erma was required to drop sentences into her column like, "Then I fed the kids their favorite cheese, K---- Cheese, because they just won't eat any other kind!".

Also, when I was blogging on a daily basis, I learned very quickly how hard it is. It can be exhausting to cough up a succinct, entertaining or informative post every day on command. I got lucky, because when your house is falling apart around you, that stuff just writes itself. Everyone loves a good car wreck to gawk at. But if I didn't have that? No, thanks. Yikes. Keeping up the archives was a PITA, just keeping the site up and running was often a PITA and sometimes killed hours of time. And the tough skin you had to develop? Again, I was lucky, I wasn't often the target of full blown attacks, but whoa. It's not something I would submit myself to as much as others have.

TL:DR? It's a job, one that those who want it are welcome to have if they can get it. Those who moan are always welcome to click away.
posted by jeanmari at 10:43 AM on February 24, 2011 [11 favorites]


Agreeing here with middleclasstool; I had been an avid Dooce reader until her site's pages became so bloated with crap and tv bits that I couldn't load them on cranky old dial-up. I read her posts back in the days before Jon, while she was working at her L.A. gig and when she got fired, it sent a shockwave through the online community. I quit reading them when she started the slices of pictures and all the t.v. excerpts. So I missed the White House and the Jon's shortness of breath, and that Leta is in elementary school now! I do wish her well and I'm glad for her and Jon's success. In conclusion: I do miss Chuck (her first dog) and I LOVE Mimismartypants and have enjoyed her posts for many many years, as have many of the posters above.
posted by Lynsey at 10:53 AM on February 24, 2011


my favorite mommy blogger
posted by p3on at 11:05 AM on February 24, 2011


Oh, and pppppbbbbbbbtttttttttt to that snarky USA Today writer who expressed his "extreme disappointment" in my spouse and I--including a rude and loud hanging up on us--when we would not disclose our blog income to him way back whenever. We weren't a publicly-held company, none of your business, dude. Same with Dooce. What do you make per year, Mr. Writer Guy?
posted by jeanmari at 12:04 PM on February 24, 2011


TL:DR? It's a job

If it is a job and not some sort of weird hobby, what is wrong with being asked how much somebody makes from it?

People certainly wonder what kind of money is involved in any new type of business. If I were a young person, with a few different ideas for careers, I could type them into a search engine and find studies that will tell me the average salaries of most stuff out there.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:37 PM on February 24, 2011


I could type them into a search engine

And get a scale of possible salary figures. And then there is always an outlier. You can ask in general what you think any blogger in a field might make, and I'd be happy to give you a possible scale based on the data that I have. (More than the cost of a small Shetland pony, less than the price of a racehorse.) Of course, you can ask. And you can always ask what I make...me, personally. And I would politely decline to answer. But it wasn't enough money to warrant getting ranted at and hung up on, IMO.
posted by jeanmari at 2:06 PM on February 24, 2011


We weren't a publicly-held company, none of your business, dude.

True, that. But you were a business. The inherent tension in "the business of the personal" that you mention in that excellent comment upthread deserves better analysis than an obsession with raw numbers. At least, to me, but I'm not a journalist, just someone interested in the evolution of the medium from person to LLC to Inc.

(That's not a moral judgement: that's the same trajectory MeFi has taken, for very good reasons.)
posted by holgate at 2:34 PM on February 24, 2011


Well, I'm definitely distinguishing the salary that I was paid by our LLC and the earnings of the LLC. Which were different. I was asked my salary, declined to answer, and was hung up on. No offense taken, and I still think it is perfectly okay to decline to tell someone your salary. And private companies aren't required to disclose their earnings. That's why IKEA finally doing so after 67 years was big news.

Like I said, no offense taken at anyone's curiosity. I'm cool with that. Doesn't mean you'll get the information, but it's totally fine to be curious.
posted by jeanmari at 2:53 PM on February 24, 2011


"I wonder how their kids will feel in 20 years having been the subject of their parents' blogs, whatever those were."

They're gonna be pretty cheesed off if Mom and Dad didn't have the foresight to lock up [kidsname].com for them while it was still available.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:45 PM on February 24, 2011


"The NYTimes profiles the "Queen of the Mommy Bloggers" Who is it? Why, Dooce, of course! "

Good choice, when you have that 'not so fresh' feeling...
posted by markkraft at 4:55 PM on February 24, 2011


No offense taken, and I still think it is perfectly okay to decline to tell someone your salary.

Oh, absolutely. I can sort of understand the journalistic instincts here, because there's clearly a difference between, say, hobby-blogging that pays for your crafting supplies, full-time blogging that pays the mortgage, and personal media empire blogging that foots you a big ol' house, and quantifying it is one way of making the distinction.

I think that raw numbers miss the point, though, especially when you juxtapose it with the amount of dosh that floats around in television. It's more a matter of relative perception. With Dooce, I think you're finally seeing what Carl Steadman described as "microcelebrity" -- being famous not for 15 minutes, but for 1,500 or 15,000 people[1] -- evolve into something you could call "minicelebrity". And that's more a reflection on the sprawling growth of the online world over the last ten years than on anything that Heather has personally done.

The online world, and particularly the blogging world, has become accustomed to microcelebrity while remaining comfortable with celebrity. It seems to get very anxious about minicelebrity, especially when it's on an upward trajectory.

[1] The Twitter follower count is a good illustration of this, I think.
posted by holgate at 5:00 PM on February 24, 2011


...The only blog I suppose you could call mommyish that I read is the resolutely uncommercial and barebones Mimi Smartypants.

^THIS^
posted by terrapin at 8:19 AM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Confidential financials: It's a business strategy, pure and simple. If we take shit for doing what other privately held companies do, so be it. At least we're thinking of any number of possible futures and trying to be as smart about it as we can, as should anybody else who is running a private company.
posted by blurb at 3:15 PM on February 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wonder, are business journalists any more or less intrusive about questions into your financials than maybe general journalists or lifestyle journalists like the NYT Mag reporter who did your story? I'm curious as to whether journalists without a business background have more difficulty understanding the importance of keeping privately held company financials private, and are therefore more aggressive about asking you about this stuff.
posted by Dr. Zira at 5:02 PM on February 25, 2011


A reporter's job is to get as much information as possible for a story. If a reporter doing a profile piece didn't ask about financials, regardless of the "vertical" or section or beat they are covering, I'd be suspect. The Wall Street Journal did an interview with Heather in 2008 and pushed for financial information. Our response was the same to them as it will be to anybody: "We're a privately held company it's our policy to not discuss our financial information publicly."

The WSJ did the same thing that any good reporter (Ms. Belkin included) would do; make some calls corroborate the information from sources, and publish. Every single private company faces this. I wonder how much of the $300 million in cash Huffington Post will actually receive in their buyout, but keeping their financials private undoubtedly played in their favor as they negotiated a selling price. Same with TechCrunch (sorry, @mathowie, but they fit the point I'm trying to make). We would likely never sell. But we shouldn't be stupid and not rule out any potentiality.
posted by blurb at 9:12 PM on February 25, 2011


blurb -- for curiosity's sake, at what point did that become your standard response?

(As you can tell from upthread, I'm interested in this more from a web history/culture perspective than OMFG TEH $$$ because, picking up on what Kottke said, ten years of Dooce conveys a fair bit about ten years of the web.)

get well soon, btw.
posted by holgate at 10:13 PM on February 25, 2011


I used to work at a financial magazine's website back in 1999 and later a web ad agency. At both companies, We were instructed that if any reporters called us, that should be our response.

We took that to heart and the day after we incorporated, it became our standard response.
posted by blurb at 7:54 AM on February 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I really, *really* miss her monthly letters that she used to write to her older daughter, before the new one came along. She says it's due to not having any time any more, but I wonder is it an aspect of not spending all day, every day with the kids? Now that they've got nannies, assistants, and all kinds of various business trips and vacations at the Blurbodoocery compound, it would make sense that she has less month-to-month play-by-play. Of course, it's also possible that having two kids just means she IS way busier. It's also possible that her increased popularity is causing her to want to write less personal details about her kids' lives and personalities.
posted by antifuse at 12:05 PM on March 8, 2011


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