Mummy blogging is dead; long live mummy blogging – Anna Spargo-Ryan

Mummy blogging is dead; long live mummy blogging

Mummy blogging is dead; long live mummy blogging

Yesterday, Mia Freedman contributed to the media landscape in her usual way of telling other people why everything they are doing is wrong. ‘Mummy blogs are almost over,’ she says.

Today, a woman who runs a business that relies on bloggers getting paid came out and told us that everything Mia says is wrong.

Shocking, right?

Here’s the rub: they’re both wrong.

Mamamia’s business model has been, until mere seconds ago, to diversify their content across multiple websites. They have a website for older women, a website for younger women, a website for mother women, a website for women with faces. Now, Freedman says, the “women’s network” approach is wrong. Women don’t want multiple websites! Women are busy!

Mamamia’s new strategy moves off-platform. Instead of being a group of websites with diverse content, it will be a single site with a narrow focus, supported by peripheral platforms like rich media apps and podcasting.

What this demonstrates isn’t the ground-breaking nature of the Mamamia network, but Freedman’s fundamental misunderstanding of the way digital presence already works. She says, “She [the generic woman] doesn’t want to be pigeonholed as a mum or as anything else.” The thing is, she isn’t. “Mummy blogging” moved beyond that model several years ago. Top tier engagement in blogging is already achieved through having a suite of coverage, through being a blogger on a literal blog but also creating apps, producing podcasts, working on the festival circuit, writing books, selling content to other sites, writing columns, running workshops, and so on.

This new approach doesn’t put Freedman and her network ahead of the curve. It merely mimics what successful digital publishers are already doing.

Rather than addressing an issue within her own network, Freedman has concluded that the platform is the problem. It couldn’t possibly be a reflection of the quality of their content. Surely it has nothing to do with the way they have insisted on insulting their readers with clickbait headlines, long after they said they were going to stop doing that. Kate Spies herself said: “At Mamamia Women’s Network our approach to the content we publish and the way we conceive and create it is very much reader-led.”

Reader-led.

What we’ve learned from yesterday’s post is that reader-led actually means consumer-generated. It is clear that Freedman isn’t concerned about the quality of the content being produced by these bloggers, because she actually wants to use it for her own gain. What this model actually looks like is content creators move to a Freedman-owned platform instead of their “dead” blog. That instead of embarrassing themselves by contributing to a site they’ve been told — by an authority — is defunct, these people should put their energy into creating content for someone else. That instead of being a nobody mummy blogger, they could find internet celebrity by spring boarding off this new app. Thousands of people could see their videos! Millions, even!

Mummy blogging gained popularity because those are the stories women in Freedman’s target audience tell. Freedman herself began digital life as a personal blogger. I’m bang in that target audience: I’m a woman in her 30s with children, trying to juggle my work commitments and my personal commitments. I have aspirations of “having it all” and “getting it together”. When I write, it’s usually about my personal conflict, personal challenges, woes, concerns, loves, dreams, fears.

What does Freedman envisage will be on this “Instagram-style app”? It will be her existing audience. They will tell their existing stories. Parenting. Womanhood. Fears and concerns. Beauty. Celebrity.

The devastatingly new app will be mummy blogging, in another form. Except that it already is. Personal bloggers are already using this type of media to create content outside of their literal blog.

The Mamamia network suddenly becomes an aggregator. The issue is not that blogging is dead, but that paying people to write content with a singular purpose is dead. And we’ve seen this across all media, most recently with job cuts at News Ltd.

Most sources will tell you that “mummy blogging” (or, vomitously as mentioned above, the “mummy blogosphere”) is in decline. But that’s not representative of the wider issue. It’s not that mummy blogging is on the out. It’s not that super cool Instagram clones to get free content are on the up. It’s that single-platform, clickbait-driven, reader-insulting content is down. People are discerning. The number of places they can find content has exploded.Good personal bloggers know this and that’s reflected in their engagement across multiple platforms. They don’t need to be tricked into reading low-quality content. They want to be informed, entertained, delighted, moved. If the content stops doing that — and if in doing so, the publisher relies more and more on its readers being lemmings — the readers leave. They leave.

They have left.

You know what they say: if you can’t do it, teach. Creating a consultancy business from the ashes of a media organisation is little more than a pyramid scheme. The money is at the top, in being the person who tells other people how to make money in digital by telling other people how to make money in digital.

That is a model on a downhill slope. The focus for Mamamia should be on producing better quality content that will sincerely and genuinely engage readers, and offer innovative opportunities for integrated content. Turning to its readers to create the content is not only lazy, it’s disingenuous. What Freedman is doing is simple: cutting them down to build them up again in her own image.

10 Comments
  • Bec Bowyer

    November 25, 2015 at 10:16 am Reply

    Yes, the whole consultancy business announcement felt a little odd. The ‘Instagram-style app’ feels very much like they’re trying to create another social media network. It’ll be interesting to watch it play out.

    Thank you for this post, I do so love reading quality writing from talented writers, wherever it may appear…

  • JF Gibson

    November 25, 2015 at 1:13 pm Reply

    Well said Anna. In fact it’s the best response I’ve read since Mia’s announcement yesterday. I think it just shows how out of touch Mia and her network are with the general consumers of content. Instead of admitting they maybe got it wrong, they have done a (less than) masterful job of building it as a ‘new’ direction. As if they are leading the pack.

    Consumers of content are over click-bait and poorly written content that is simply recycled garbage. They want intelligent, articulate content. Pure and simple. Perhaps if Mia’s network, and other online publication that are struggling for readers paid for decent content from quality writers they just might find themselves a gold nugget.

  • JF Gibson

    November 25, 2015 at 1:14 pm Reply

    Man I really overused the word content didn’t I? Maybe I should go write for MM. ;)

  • John James

    November 25, 2015 at 1:15 pm Reply

    What Mia has never understood is that Mamamia’s initial success was based on community, not content – she may have been successful in aggregating content (and barely paying for it) but she’s sucked at maintaining an intelligent and engaged readership.

  • shannon @my2morrows

    November 25, 2015 at 2:29 pm Reply

    Well said Anna. I don’t recall the last time I clicked on a mamamia article or any of the mamamia platforms but I can certainly tell you that my consumption and engagement with personal and ‘mummy’ blogs has only increased. Will be interesting to watch this space!

  • Rachel

    November 25, 2015 at 2:31 pm Reply

    Bingo.

  • Janyne

    November 25, 2015 at 9:48 pm Reply

    Anna, really interesting read. You make some valid points. My friends and I love reading blogs – many parenting – and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

  • Jacky Barker

    November 25, 2015 at 10:44 pm Reply

    This article is so on point. So many people I know refused to even read MM content as they really hated the click bait and the articles. I really wanted to know more about this instagram style app.
    I went to problogger and sat in a room with so many “mummy bloggers” and they all seemed very happy and vey engaged. Not everyone does blogging for a profit – some do it because they love it.

  • Corryn

    November 26, 2015 at 11:48 am Reply

    Great article. It’s hard to predict the future of the internet with so many changes coming around the bend all the time. I think you’re 100% right that good quality content is the key. With so much garbage out there these days you get tired of clickbait articles that don’t fulfill or that feel tawdry pretty quickly! I haven’t visited MM in forever for that very reason. Interesting to see what happens with the new business model.

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