Interview with Talya Stone of
'Motherhood The Real Deal'
The term ‘Mummy blogger’ conjures up images of women lazing around in their pajamas, feeding their children fish fingers and writing articles that the general public would have us believe, no one reads. Of course a lot of this is driven by newspapers such as the Daily Mail who love pitting women against each other.
The reality is that those who use their blog as a hobby or outlet for their own parenting experience are often doing so because it’s helpful to find others in the same physical and mental situation as yourself. Postnatal depression is a hugely underestimated problem. People often don’t have a ‘village’ raising their child like communities did years ago and so something which may be easily dismissed actually serves a very useful purpose.
So who reads mum blogs?
The truth is all of us. Many of the articles you read daily on your phone or tablet are written by women and mothers. Most of us prefer to read things by people who are actually using the item we’re looking for, or whom have experienced the problem we are facing. We trust these opinions now over ‘Experts’ and often these influencers now are mothers. Women influence 70-80% of household buying decisions and this has not gone unnoticed by brands.
Many of the critics of mummy bloggers are actually mums themselves using the forums on sites like Mumsnet, often to discuss the very topics they dislike on the blogs. There is some solidarity but it's a shame there is so much scorn. There appears to be an impression that mummy bloggers are having freebies thrown at them, being paid or given free holidays for doing nothing and that blogging is really a little hobby that no one works very hard at or takes very seriously.
So is it easy to turn blogging into a career? Can anyone do it?
I spoke to Talya Stone, creator of top 1% UK parenting blog: Motherhood The Read Deal.
She left her job 3 years ago to set-up her blog which now she treats as a full time career. She works with a host of household name brands and recently appeared on BBC World.
I wanted to find out if ‘Mummy blogging’ has always been seen so negatively and if it’s well deserved?
Talya, how do you think the term ‘Mummy blogger’ has evolved since you first started your blog?
Well I think it depends who you are asking and what is currently going on in the media landscape. When I started over two years ago, I don’t think people really understood what mummy blogging was all about. I would often be met with perplexed expressions when I said that I was a “Mummy blogger” and even got sneered at about it at a party once! Fast forward to now, and while I think there is generally more of an understanding around the term, with generally a more positive acceptance along with the rise of influencers in general, there has sadly been a recent isolated backlash thanks to the recent keyboard warriors over on the Mumsnet discussion forums (who apparently loathe us).
Why did you become a Mummy Blogger? Hear directly from Talya below!
Do you think there is a lack of understanding of how the blogging world works and that this is part of the problem?
Definitely - I think quite frankly most people don’t realise:
What hard work blogging is.
That it can be and is a viable career.
That it is a fantastic flexible working opportunity for the modern day mum.
Unfortunately I do think a small number of bloggers who are on the hunt for constant freebies and then lording it up with them ruin it for the majority who are actually very passionate about what they have set out to do as a blogger.
What do you think is the main reason mums decide to try and turn blogging into a career rather than going back to a conventional job?
There is a huge lack of flexible work available as a mum, and I think blogging has provided a fantastic flexible working opportunity which I am not sure I would have managed to secure outside of what I’m doing now. You make your own hours, you can be your own boss, and love what you do and you can be there more for your children. I think the chance of that happening is enough to entice so many mums to give it a shot...although the reality is that probably a small number of mummy bloggers will make it through to becoming commercially viable and I must add that it is still a huge juggle.
How seriously do these mums take the change in career and how easy are they finding it?
I think it’s a mixed bag. Some have fallen into it by chance and are riding the wave. Some have set out to do it from the start and are absolutely owning it. And there are some who I think really want to have that dream but will probably fall short. Being a blogger seems easy but I think the reality is it can be quite challenging and for some...it can be as if they have bitten off more than they can chew.
How much work is involved in becoming successful enough to gain attention from brands?
A huge amount - first of all you have to spend a vast amount of time and effort building up quality content to generate the sort of traffic and social media presence that a brand would be happy to engage with - that sort of stuff certainly doesn’t happen over night and takes real commitment. Then there is the amount of time it takes to get in front of and pitch to brands - if you think about the fact that companies have new business people to do this you can see how much time that alone could take!
How long before you start to create an income that you can afford to live from and are the hours long?
Although I started generating income after about a year of blogging, it certainly wasn’t something I could live off. I would say that when I came closer to two years I started making enough money to live that could contend with a part time salary. However it’s not just about that - it’s also about the fact that you have the flexible hours which mean you don’t have to spend all your earnings on childcare and that you can work from home which means you don’t have to spend a fortune on commuting either! And yes, there is never really an off button - evenings, weekends - they are all fair game and although I try to switch off after 8pm during the week and over the weekends the reality is that social media always demands your attention.
Why do you think mummy bloggers have become so influential?
Because they are ordinary mums, accessible people, telling it how it is about motherhood and life and they really appeal to people out there looking for comfort or answers about their own situation. That also makes them incredibly powerful to brands as they are in the perfect position to make or break a brand because consumers are far more likely to listen to them over their own company advertising.
Do we need to be a Slummy/ Yummy Mummy? Why do you think the media especially likes to try and label mothers?
I can not stand labels! I don’t know why our media is so obsessed with pigeonholing people. It’s peoples choice to be the sort of parent they want to be - just THEM! We do have an innate fascination with comparison and I think the media has jumped onto that and it is bleeding it dry - something I absolutely detest!
What's the main benefit that parents derive from reading parenting blogs such as yours?
It’s the knowing that you are not alone when your baby never sleeps, it’s the comfort you seek when your baby is screaming from colic, it’s the tribal feeling when you wish wine o’clock couldn’t come any sooner after a hard day with a toddler. It’s someone making you feel that you are actually sane when in fact you thought you might be a bit mad.
Do you feel parenting blogs are filling the void that years ago a community would provide?
Definitely - communities in the Western world are drying up and becoming more isolated. Life is moving more and more online whether we like it or not. Parenting blogs provide a way of connecting with others who either might be in the same situation as you, or who have been there and done that and can offer you some advice. The support is still there - it’s just shifted online.
Thank you Talya! Find out more about the Motherhood The Real Deal community here.
Talya is the creator and blogger behind Motherhood: The Real Deal. Conceived initially from the pure frustration (and of course amazing experience!) that motherhood can be and at her disbelief at how much people don’t talk about openly or share, she created the platform to get some of the issues and struggles mothers should be aware of out there.
Talya is a mum to a very intense, amazing little three year old gal who most of the time specializes in driving her round the bend. Having given up the working mum role when she hit 12 months (she was the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief for an online lifestyle platform) she’s sat on both sides of the fence as a working and then stay-at-home mum and like many, has grappled with the issues which come hand in hand with both scenarios.