How to Profit from Mom Blogging without Selling Out
Selling out is a term used for compromising your integrity, principles, or morals to gain money or success. The problem is, if everyone had the same principles and definition of integrity, there wouldn’t be much need for different political parties or religions.
People can be accused of selling out if they simply do things like broaden their horizons or develop new interests over the course of time. Additionally, you may have certain beliefs in place that seem important now, but become less important as you gain more experience and knowledge.
A great example of this is the evolution of the very organization that provides standards to bloggers who work with brands: the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA). When WOMMA was first established, its founding members came from a very traditional media background and took old-school journalistic standards and applied them to all marketing in the new world of social media.
For several years, WOMMA formally said that members were not allowed to pay money to bloggers for writing blog posts, but they could offer products for free. The founding members felt strongly that this led to the perception of buying opinions from bloggers.
Yet as the blogging industry evolved, bloggers began to feel taken advantage of. They didn’t want useless free products; they wanted to be compensated for their writing and input. The tables began to turn as WOMMA realized this position was enabling brands to get free or cheap advertising at the expense of bloggers’ businesses.
In a reversal, WOMMA changed its policy (and its board management) to reflect the new needs of social media marketing, and now states that it’s absolutely ethical to pay bloggers for writing sponsored content as long as they comply with the FTC guidelines.
Sadly, mom bloggers are sometimes accused of selling out when they get opportunities to work with brands. The importance of this is not that the accusers are right — usually they aren’t. They are projecting their own definition of selling out onto other people. And they are usually coming from WOMMA’s old-school perspective that is out of tune with the reality of running a blogging business.
Here the crucial issue is that you know what selling out means to you, because true selling out can only hurt you in the long term if you don’t correct your course.
No matter what you decide is right for you, here are some general topics and guidelines that apply for everyone who wrestles with the idea of what selling out means:
Unethical advertising: An advertiser that specifically asks you to write something positive about the company is being unethical. All professional bloggers will refuse any opportunity that requires they lead their readers to believe that an opinion expressed is their own when it isn’t.
Breaking FTC guidelines: An advertiser that wants to hire you to write something and asks you not to disclose that the content is sponsored is breaking the FTC guidelines. If you do not disclose that the content was compensated, then you’re breaking FTC guidelines, too. Both you and the advertiser would be liable for fines or damages that could arise in the future. This is not ethical social media marketing.
Conflicts of interest: A blogger maintains a respected blog and is a trusted voice in social media only by avoiding opportunities that present very clear conflicts of interest. For example, a mom who writes as a breastfeeding advocate shouldn’t become a spokesblogger for a baby-formula company. Most opportunities are not this clear-cut, however, which is why it’s a must to create an editorial policy for your blog.