mom and child looking lovingly at each other
Storytelling Communications

Does the Mommy Blogger Stereotype Hurt Freelance Writers?

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“Aww, cute. You’re a mommy blogger.”

That’s what a friend said when I told her I was leaving traditional employment to start working for myself. You might think she didn’t know that I was a managing editor for a content agency before going solo or that I had a graduate degree in creative writing. But she did. In fact, we’d had many conversations about my work writing for brands and businesses.

She pigeonholed me as a mommy blogger because I’m a female parent who writes for a living.

You might think this was a solitary incident. But it wasn’t. Almost a year into self-employment—at a marketing conference of all places—I was chatting with a few acquaintances from social media when one of them suddenly exclaimed, “Oh, that’s right. You’re the mommy blogger.” When I suggested they may be thinking of someone else, they pursued it. “No, I remember the essay you wrote to your daughter about Valentine’s Day.”

I’d like to interrupt this article to explain that of the 276 articles I wrote last year, only one of them was about my immediate family—that one about Valentine’s Day. Barely even about my daughter, the post is an article for every woman and girl from my perspective of a new parent to a young girl.

Now, anyone who follows me on social media knows that I regularly (and frequently) share all of my written work. I’m also careful to never share a holiday-specific post in a different time of the year. Which means, of all the wonderful contributions I made to the writing world in the first half of the year, the one that defined me (to this person at least) was one in which I referenced my child. And because of that, I got downgraded from content marketing writer to mommy blogger.

What Is a Mommy Blogger?

In the heyday of personal blogging, those who shared stories about their lives online did so unabashedly. There were the good times and the bad times, the awkward times and the highlights.

How do I know? Well, I was once a blogger. Personal blogging done well was where journaling met creative nonfiction. It was vulnerable. It was raw. It was relatable. And about the time that I transitioned out of personal blogging was when content marketing truly embraced storytelling. There was this mad influx of writing on the web and I wanted to do what felt to me like graduating to the next level of my online writing career.

Many of the people who kept up with their personal blogs evolved into mommy bloggers, possibly since many of the bloggers of my time were young women just about entering that phase of their life. However, with the rise of the gig economy, stay-at-home moms looked for a way to gain income while raising their children, and many attempted (and even more still attempt) to monetize a lifestyle blog about their family. In fact, if you search online for stay-at-home-mom jobs, you’ll find article after article that advises women to start a mom blog. (As if it’s that easy.) If you dive into those posts, there will be tips on how to look for sponsors, how to review products, and how to procure paid opportunities for your family experiences.

Quite simply, a mommy blogger is a parent who chronicles her family’s lives online in attempts to monetize those efforts.

But is it a profitable career?

Well, for some, like Suzi Whitford from Start a Mom Blog and Elna Cain from Twins Mommy, blogging about their lives has been quite profitable. However, if you look closely, they’ve created a business out of their original passion of documenting their lives. They’re now showing other parents how to earn money with a blog. So they’ve transitioned from blogger into small-business owner. While they may occasionally share personal anecdotes about their lives, their aim (and audience) changed.

Mommy blogger

Image attribution: London Scout

What’s So Bad About Being Called a Mommy Blogger?

Add the term “mommy” or “daddy” before your profession. How does that make you feel? Empowered? Probably not. Does it make you sound like an expert in your field? Doubt it.

Here’s my problem: Adding the word “mom” or “mommy” to my job title diminishes the authority I’ve already earned as a writer and blogger for well over a decade.

If the addition to my title were being used in a positive way, then why don’t we also do this to fathers? Why don’t we do this for all other professions? Writers have always struggled to be taken seriously by their professional counterparts. I hear all the time about how anyone can be a writer. All you need is to put your thoughts to paper. If it were that simple, we’d all be rolling around in a vat of money for fun, wouldn’t we?

Yes, anyone can write—or blog. But some of us writers practice this committing-words-to-a-page thing as our professional livelihood. We are not simply documenting our everyday experiences. We are researching, interviewing, drafting, editing, rewriting, and repeating that process over and over until the end result is quality content. We are fighting through the sea of writers to prove how well we can do our jobs. We are taking every course and reading every book under the sun to stay current.

Again—by putting the disclaimer of “mommy” in front of a job title, you’re diminishing that writer’s worth.

I’m not trying to knock anyone. Stay-at-home moms who start working as a way to increase their family’s income are my heroes. However, if you consider yourself a mommy blogger who writes about parenting, I suggest you consider reframing how you present your career. Calling yourself a lifestyle writer who focuses on parenting gives way more weight to the important work you do.

Let’s Start Adding “Daddy” to Everything

Next time you schedule an appointment with your dermatologist, ask to be seen by the daddy doctor.

If you need some self-care, call to make an appointment with your dad masseuse.

Got a question when you pick up a refill? Ask the daddy pharmacist.

mommy blogger

Image attribution: Nathan Anderson

If it sounds ridiculous, that’s because it is.

Until we start adding “daddy” to every profession, we should probably stop referring to women as mommies. That is, unless that person happens to be your own mother.

In the same token, let’s give up the terms “mompreneur” or “girlboss” while we’re at it for the very same reasons. Unless the male-identifying self-employed professionals start calling themselves “dadpreneurs” or “boybosses,” there’s no reason for us to preface our professions with our gender or parenting roles.

Writers Who Parent Deserve More Credit

You may know this already, but I want to point out that parenting as a professional is difficult. I can only speak from my own situation as a work-from-home mom whose child is with her at all times, but I struggle with both facets of my life every single day. I’m either on top of my parenting game but failing at work, or I’m making strides in my career while my daughter overdoses on episodes of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. Some days I find a nice balance, but to be honest, those days are rare.

I work every time my daughter naps. I stay up every single night for hours (and hours and hours and hours) after everyone else in my house falls asleep to finish my work for the day. Then I wake up early in the morning to send my son off to school or get my daughter—who’s yelling quite impatiently for me—out of her crib. I sneak away from her during independent play to answer emails or engage on social media. I stop working and help my son with his homework while I’m researching or writing an article. I get calls from friends asking if I can watch their children because they can’t imagine that I’m actually working while I’m at home. I get questions from strangers about whether or not I even get paid to write. Ask me when I find time for self-care. I don’t. Ask me how I fit in pitching story ideas or marketing myself to new clients. I’m not even sure how I’d answer that one. Magic?

So please don’t diminish all the hard work mothers put into their careers.

Call me a writer. My job as a parent does not define me. It is a beautiful facet of my life, but so long as I’m not writing exclusively about my children, don’t use them to define my profession.

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Featured image attribution: Bruno Nascimento

Erin Ollila graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. After a 12+ year career in human resources – specializing in employee health and dental benefits, as well as wellness programs– she's jumped headfirst into digital strategy and content creation. Erin believes in the power of words and how a message can inform – and even transform – its intended audience. Her writing can be found all over the internet and in print, and includes interviews, ghostwriting, blog posts, and creative nonfiction. Erin is a geek for SEO and all things social media. She lives in Southeastern Massachusetts, neighboring Providence, Rhode Island, one of her favorite small cities. Learn more about her at www.erinollila.com.

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