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The mommyblogger who dared speak her mind

June 5, 2016

Josi Denise

A few weeks ago, popular mommyblogger Josi Denise published a 4,000-word rant that went viral.

The subject of her rant? Mommyblogging. Specifically, sponsored posts.

She explains the sheer misery of pumping out reviews of products and services on behalf of sponsors for her site, the American Mama, then calls out other blogs for also participating in the echo chamber of nonsense.

It’s a compelling read, one worth careful consideration, whether you’re a blogger, a brand manager or a marketer.

I’ve always admired mommybloggers (whether they use that label themselves or not) for their creativity, their communities and their time management. The moms I know are juggling so many things simultaneously that to produce a blog on top of all that is miraculous.

Denise’s essay imparts nine lessons for bloggers and brands:

  1. Nobody is reading your shit. And that is true for most bloggers, most authors and most journalists. Don’t go into blogging to be a famous writer.
  2. There’s no way in hell you are actually that happy. I’ve been accused of negativity on occasion. But I have never been enamored of the “all positive all the time” trend in blogs and social media. God bless Denise for maintaining this artiface while suffering postpartum depression and navigating a divorce.
  3. Your goals are just as confused as you. Pretty much the first question I ask of anyone asking my help is “What is your goal?” If only I could be paid by the blank stare …
  4. You are wasting your money. She refers specifically to blogging conferences and Web designers. I take no offense as a blogging conference organizer: Lots of conferences are mediocre to awful, and do little to actually empower bloggers. She’s right: Save your money.
  5. PR friendly = “I have no soul.” Coming from a journalism background, this enabling of brands through a positive-only approach is foreign to me. I understand why bloggers do it, but I couldn’t live with myself. At the very least, bloggers should clearly define their boundaries, rather than let them be defined for them, one soul-sucking post at a time.
  6. Building your own prison with copycat guards. Denise takes bloggers to task for acting as shills for corporations. I don’t have a problem with sponsorships, partnerships and other brand collaborations, but I can understand why she thinks the deck is stacked in favor of the big companies. It is.
  7. Sunshine and fucking daisy reviews. She writes, “This shit would never fly in traditional journalism.” Have I got some bad news for her …
  8. Giveaway entries are not real fans. Aligning incentives with goals is a challenge, but not impossible. But it’s certainly a common mistake.
  9. You are wasting your time. Nothing is a waste of time if we learn and grow from it.

Her bracing honesty makes me wonder two things: First, where was this Josi Denise all this time? And second, would readers and subsequently paying sponsors have embraced her as readily?

I’m glad she escaped a lifestyle that was ruining her life and that she could share her experiences with all of us. Fortunately, she’s still blogging and sticking to a new tactic, radical honesty.

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