Josi Denise became a “mommy blogger” in 2013, building up her American Mama blog until it reached “tens of thousands” of monthly readers, generating the mother of three “thousands of dollars” in some months.
But the blog came to an abrupt end late last week, when Denise had a crisis of conscience and quit.
In a splenetic rant on her new namesake blog (which is worth reading in full), Denise said much of the content posted to her mommy blog — and countless like it online — was garbage. She has deleted many of those posts, she said, “Because, like 90% of the fake nonsense I used to share on the internet as a mommy blogger writing about my fake life and oh-so-happy marriage, they are pure b——t.”
First, there’s the readership. According to Denise, barely anyone is actually reading mommy blogs. The comments, she said, are mostly from other mommy bloggers looking to build up their networks:
“Why? Because your shit is boring. Nobody cares about your shampoo you bought at Walmart and how you’re so thankful the company decided to work with you. Nobody cares about anything you are saying because you aren’t telling an engaging story. You are not giving your readers anything they haven’t already heard.”
Read more: The 12 best gadgets for new parents
Then there is the relentless fake happiness, signaled with exclamation marks. Denise said the most recent brand she worked with even sent back a draft post “edited with at least half a dozen exclamation points added.”
Denise is particularly sick of mommy bloggers’ fake endorsements — “sunshine and f—ing daisy reviews” — in which bloggers fail to tell a brand what they really think of their product because of the risk that the brand might not work with them again.
She also opens up about her own experience when her blog was more opaque than it should have been: paying a virtual assistant to post her links over the internet for SEO and back traffic; embellishing her stats in her media kit; and using social-media management services to connect with similar bloggers and then unfollowing those who didn’t follow her back on Instagram or Twitter.
Most of the techniques were not effective.
Denise recalls running a prize draw in 2014, offering people the chance to win a KitchenAid mixer if they signed up to her newsletter. She gained hundreds of email subscribers and thousands more on social media and was “invited on an all-expense paid trip to tour a certain chicken corporation’s headquarters to hear about how much money they donate to said charity, and then roped into a writing a post about that even though I didn’t agree with the ethics of the company at all.”
But in reality, she gained nothing.
Bloggers inflating their numbers are “f—ing cheating,” Denise said, adding that if they’re interesting enough, they shouldn’t need to incentivize people to follow. She said her most viral post was an angry open letter directed to an ex she said wasn’t paying child support.
“Genuine content, with a genuine voice, is the only way to gain real readers and connect with real people,” Denise wrote.
She signed off her blog post with this piece of advice to mommy bloggers:
“Just quit. Quit now before you get burnt out and feel guilty. Quit before you realize you wasted years of your life writing bullshit about your kids’ childhood and your relationships instead of being actually involved. Quit before you get caught up in some legal mess with a brand contract and your house is cluttered with shit to review that you do not need and nobody else needs either. Quit before you feel like a failure instead of finding the intersection of happy and fulfilled.”