Mommy Bloggers Feud Over Swag

Mommy bloggers used to call their craft "a radical act," but now it's a profitable one — in partnership with corporations, moms can get everything from free stuff to payment for product reviews. But is this damaging their cred?

Wal-Mart has a network of popular mom bloggers, like Tara Kuczykowski of DealSeekingMom.com, who "get products they can review from vendors, plus extras to give away on their sites." Wal-Mart doesn't pay them, but Kuczykowski says, "There have been a couple of situations where we've also been asked to do a video for a vendor and have gotten paid. You're giving your opinions on [a product], but they're not paying you for a positive opinion." General Mills has started a similar program, providing bloggers with free products as well as coupons. Though General Mills says it doesn't control what bloggers write, the program's website says, "If you feel you cannot write a positive post regarding the product or service, please contact the MyBlogSpark team before posting any content."

Jessica Hogue, research director of Nielsen Online, says many mom bloggers have come to the conclusion that, "Hey, maybe my blog could be my business." It's hard to fault moms for wanting to make some money, especially in this economy. At the same time, it's tough to be truly objective when one particular company is providing you with free stuff. And this lack of objectivity may be behind blogger Lindsay Ferrier's complaint that, "I no longer believe that mommy blogging is a radical act. It is a commercial act."

Blogger Alice Bradley says before the advent of the mommy blog, "you didn't necessarily get the raw honest truth of motherhood in both its hilarious and horrifying moments." The strong reactions of many moms to the commercialization of blogging shows how much they've come to rely on the "raw honest truth" — a commodity still hard to come by in a society that judges its mothers harshly. Yes, the "bad mommy" is now a cultural trope, but the fact that moms apply this label to themselves when they let their kids cry in a store or eat hot dogs for dinner is evidence that the archetype of the perfect mother still has power, and that women still notice, every day, that they don't live up to it. Motherhood can be lonely and scary, and it's no wonder that moms crave voices they can trust. And when these voices ally themselves, however loosely, with corporations, they necessarily become a little less trustworthy. For many moms, reading a mommy blog is about connecting with women like them — not with General Mills.

Trusted Mom Or Sellout? [Newsweek]