Suburban Snapshots

The Secret World of Bloggers

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

I want to talk about some insider blogger stuff that might not interest a lot of you, so feel free to carry on. But if you want a glimpse into the glamorous world of anonymous criticism, presumptuous pitches and writers' block, keep reading.

A funny thing happens each holiday season to bloggers. We start getting tapped via email to help promote products, television shows — you name it, really — usually for zero dollars. Emails will read something like this:

"So-and-so has a new series dropping this Thursday and we've chosen you to help get the word out!"

It will then go onto outline all the ways we can spend our time and talent and be paid in a currency I understand to be as legit as what my 5-year-old and I use to play "store".

That is to say, they'd like us to work for free. Often.

All of my professions involve the arts: writer, photographer, web designer. And at several points in my career, I have worked for free. I've been desperate to get my name out, and I've spent hours I would probably vomit if I tallied giving free labor to for-profit companies. Twenty-something me, you are fired.

In addition to offers like, "Write a post, tweet, and spam your Facebook fans about the new Kardashian line of enemas," my contemporaries and I who happen to be both moms and bloggers are collectively slapped — usually condescendingly — with the label "Mommy Bloggers". From the outside it seems pretty benign, but in the larger world of online writers, it's held in as high regard as "personal injury lawyer". To me, "Mommy Blogger" is another way the work of women becomes marginalized, but that's a post for another time, when I'm not wearing a bra.

We bloggers care about you readers, so when we do opt in on a sponsorship or giveaway, we pain over whether it will suit you, whether you'll flee in droves because you're not here for a free bag or discount code. We consult each other on how to best write about products so that we satisfy both the requirements of the client and the needs of you, our readers. Because in all honesty, while free shit is always nice to get, you are our true priority.

In real life, I am friends with many blogging men and women you've probably heard of, and some really talented people I'm sure you don't know yet, and it amazes me how generous, supportive and encouraging this community has been. Maybe I cultivated my group well, but I haven't experienced any competition, snarky in-fighting, or egomaniacs. I don't know any bloggers whose goal is to get famous. We all like to see our readership grow not for fame or riches, but as a validation that we're doing good work, that we're reaching you, that we are relating.

What we all have in common is a love for this gig, a desire to do it really well, and tremendous gratitude for you, the audience — for your comments and debates, your loyalty — and nothing makes us prouder of this work than the occasional note telling us we've made you laugh or helped you feel less alone. When you reach out, we also feel less alone.

I have a full-time job and don't blog for income (about that — sorry it's been a month), but even for those who do, those notes and comments are the true currency of this often solitary work. We put our experiences on blast anticipating as much criticism as acceptance, and we relish every word of your appreciation.

From all of us behind these screens, thank you.