I’ve been asked a few times lately to give my thoughts on the rise of mummyblogging / parenting blogs in Australia and the power and attention these are starting to get from marketing and PR companies. In all honesty, I’ve not been much help as this subject does not rate high up in my list of blogging priorities, and I doubt it ever will, so haven’t given it much thought.

Though once I sit down to ponder it, I realise it already consumes some of my time, and might do yours, too: you ask yourself what do I do about all these emails that keep pouring into my inbox, more and more often?  Do I ignore them? Do I respond? Should I expect compensation?

Or – and this is also asked – how is it you get them and I don’t? I might want these in order to develop my contacts list &/or scope for blogging potential?

The following is an assortment of ideas (and hopefully tips) that I have put together.

I feel I should state that I’m talking here about personal blogs. This is a personal blog and so I must use this as my only reference. It would be wrong to presume I speak for all kinds of blogs written by mothers, as they are so many out there that differ from being purely ‘personal’ so I just want to make that clear.

Question: why am I getting PR emails all of a sudden?

I think as blogging, and throw social media in there as well, is growing in significance in Australia, so has it also become important to certain companies to monitor these blogs and their writers in the hopes ‘they might work together’ some day. This means they hope you mention their stuff for free, or very little in return. They find you if you’ve been lucky enough to be mentioned on any or all of these top blogging lists, (here’s a new one) or also possibly if you feature on the blogroll of the women on these lists. I am on the lists mentioned above, which means I receive releases from both Australia and the United States.

Okay, so what do I do?

That’s really up to you. Most people I know hit delete immediately. I at least skim through the salutation and depending on how it’s addressed influences whether I keep reading. Here’s what I get in order from right to so wrong:

Dear Karen (fine)
Dear miscmum (um – my name IS on my blog, you know)
Dear Karlie (no, try again)
Hey there! (Hey back! Professional much?)
Dear Lady, Blog Owner, Administrator etcetc (blech)
No salutation at all

Then sometimes you might be offered products. Here’s another point: if you’re already affiliated with a blog ad network you might be contractually obligated NOT to do certain promotions or giveaways because they clash with advertisers that are already paying money to appear on your blog. So tread wisely. The same goes when you sign up to more than one ad network.

Let’s assume you’ve read the spiel and think hey this sounds okay, I might re-post this if they give me a free sample or it just seems like an exercise I might like to give a go. If this sounds like you, and here is my point, then go ahead if it works for you. Does it work for your readers? That’s another question entirely.

In the spirit of disclosure, I don’t think I’ve yet done something similar. The only exception is if I write a blog post for a charity that will make the charity money (something I did do recently). I’m not being negative in writing product reviews here, not at all. I understand a lot of people like to do it. I am just stressing you should do it with your eyes open and attentive to all pervading factors. If I were to do something like this in the future there would have to be some exceptional perks!

What I usually say to people who email me is: “If you want your product on miscmum.com I have ad space available for you to purchase. I do not do reviews.” Keep it short and sweet. Interestingly, since I’ve nutted out that philosophy I’ve been getting emails back saying, “Thank you for your honesty.” I then get offered tickets to a movie premiere. So you could be surprised.

And last, here’s something interesting:

These rates are based on the 2008 National Freelance Rates approved by the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance and apply to all genres except poetry. The rates are exclusive of GST.
Per day $813.00
Per half day (2/3 day rate) $542.00
Per hour $203.00
1000 words or less $829.00
Per word thereafter $0.83

This information is public. You can find it here. You mightn’t even have known it existed, which is forgiveable, but now you do. I should stress at this point that although these are the desired and approved rates  – and for freelancers it’s the per word rate which is typically most pertinent to their concerns – many publications don’t offer them: you are told, “We pay X per word” and it’s not negotiable. This is mostly tolerable because most often publications are reasonable. (And lucky you if you score a writing gig for an inflight magazine, as they often pay over $1 per word).

I mention all this because when I see the occasional job opening posted for paid blogging positions that offer as little as two cents a word, I can’t help but get slightly incredulous and confused. Why throw away your labour for next to nothing? I can certainly understand if the position were one that that would offer some kind of security, but even then there would have to be other consolations, such as if the subject were one you were passionate about.

The real point of this post – the bit where I sit here, chewing my nails, in thought – is how I feel this is connected to the wider social/feminist issues these questions raise about how mothers put a price on their labour and whether the returns are a) fair and b) worthwhile. Perhaps I’ve been burned too much by our former Howard government, who wanted nothing more than to hoik mothers out of the home and back into the ‘real’ workplace. I don’t feel the fact that our homes are real workplaces, too, with our own challenges, ambitions, frustrations and, yes, money-earning capacities ever got mentioned in their rhetoric.

I daresay I find this confusing because I find myself straddled between these two worlds. I make a little money, but not much (and certainly not as much as others). I’m fine with that. I don’t consider myself an expert. I’m fine with that, too.

I welcome your thoughts in the comments section. How do you feel? Have you got it all worked out or are you confused too? Do you think this subject gets talked about enough? Do you even feel like it is an issue or are you happy as you are?


Karen Andrews is the creator of this website, one of the most established and well-respected parenting blogs in the country. She is also an author, award-winning writer, poet, editor and publisher at Miscellaneous Press. Her latest book is Trust the Process: 101 Tips on Writing and Creativity