Women’s Work, Blogging, and Pay

Photo Credit: blacque_jacques on Flickr

It’s no secret that certain types of work are more often undertaken by women in our culture than by men. There are varying opinions on why this is, and none of them are really within the scope of what I care to write about here. Whatever the reasons, some women feel very at home in these stereotypically female roles and others of us simply do not. I am one who usually enjoys the everyday tasks associated with mothering and work with young children, cooking, and – if I’m not too overwhelmed by other things – sometimes even cleaning.

For many years I worked for pay, but because I was in nurturing-type roles, it was disgustingly little for the amount of work that I did. I held down two, sometimes even three or four jobs at a time, because I loved my work so much that I was willing to do it for far less than I deserved.
For nearly eighteen months, I have been staying home with my daughter during the day. I’m working, of course, but not for a paycheck. My work as a mother, too, is undervalued by society, but that’s another topic that is outside the scope of what is on my mind at the moment, and has been covered extensively by other writers. In addition to my work as a mother, I have taken on this role as a blogger. I write here, at least two or three days a week, usually more, and that writing represents several hours per week of work. Most of it is therapeutic for me, and I certainly enjoy it, but at the same time, it’s work.

When I started blogging, I specifically avoided any sort of monetization as well as giveaways. I feel like we’re marketed to all day long, and I wanted people to be able to interact with my writing without having anyone attempt to sell them something. I also wanted to be able to share my honest thoughts and opinions without having to worry about keeping a sponsor happy. I am still ad and affiliate free (though I have added the occasional giveaway because, well, I like them), and I still enjoy the freedom that comes with blogging purely as a hobby.

At the same time, I am starting to wonder if those of us in the “mommy blogger” community who aren’t selling ad space community are assigning too little value to our work, and if this tendency to undervalue what we do is related to society’s tendency to view women’s work as unworthy of pay. For me, seeking compensation feels somehow inappropriate. I have this sense that if I look for some sort of return on my work, the work itself must have been purely selfish. I must be insincere. Somehow, I feel that by giving without expecting to be compensated, I prove that I am genuine. I don’t have this same sense when it comes to my husband’s work, or that of any male I know. If I can’t view my own work as valuable, however, how can I ever expect anyone else to? In order to have my work viewed as worthwhile, perhaps I need to start attaching value to it myself?

6 thoughts on “Women’s Work, Blogging, and Pay

  1. Melissavose

    VERY good point, I had not thought of monetizing in this way before!  I feel similarly to you regarding wanting a commercial free space, and that giveaways are more fun than advertising per se.  Especially because you can be honest about pros and cons in reviews.  I'm a huge believer in women getting paid fairly for their work.  BIG believer.  It's gross how unequally pay is distributed between the sexes.  I also write 2-3 times per week for mothers of change, AND a few hours a week on my personal blog: I'm hoping to use this as a stepping stone to turn writing into something that makes me some income at some point, which helps me to deal with the volunteer hours now.
    I don't want my blog to earn me money, but something else somehow.  I admire what Heather Armstrong has done with Dooce.com but I don't think I could deal with that level of publicity and public scrutiny.  I'd rather write a book or edit or something.  =)
    Anyways, excellent food for thought, thank you!

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  2. Dionna@CodeNameMama

    " I am starting to wonder if many of us in the "mommy blogger" community
    aren't selling ad space community aren't assigning too little value to
    our work"
    This is exactly why I decided to make the switch over into a monetized blog. I didn't have ads (or giveaways, for that matter) for well over a year. But my blog came to a point where I was really devoting significant time to it, answering reader questions, trying to make it look professional . . . and I thought – why am I selling myself short?
    Now don't get me wrong – I've barely made enough to cover the hosting fees that I've paid out, I'm probably making a few cents per hour writing, but I do feel like monetizing was the right choice for me – it helps me justify the insane amount of energy I put into maintaining the site and community :)

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  3. Melissa Kemendo

    Ah, and your quote found my typo, too. Maybe that's why I'm not getting paid? ;)

    Your decision makes perfect sense, and I'm starting to think exactly what you did: why am I selling myself short? I don't intend to pay my bills with this work, and frankly I don't think that's something within most of our reach, but maybe I do need to assign more value to my work if I want others to see it as valuable. 
    For what it's worth, I know I'm not alone in that I deeply value the work that you do, both at Code Name: Mama and NPN. You certainly deserve more than pennies on the hour!

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  4. Janine @ Alternative Housewife

    I used to feel guilty so much as receiving products to review, as if I was a mooch. But blogging does take effort and does have an impact. I have definitely researched a product by reading blog reviews and been influenced. Bloggers do matter. At this point I offer advertising and paid posts because I don't really have a choice. I don't have the means to turn down any income. I wish I could be a bit choosier. Hopefully as my blog grows I will get more relevant offers but even now there is no conflict of interest at least.

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  5. mrs green @littlegreenblog.com

    brilliant discussion; I've been brewing some similar thoughts but they are no co-herant yet. I think you *should* value your time and as our culture currently rewards that with money, maybe you should embrace that model of the world. Like one of your commenters wrote I spend hours crafting responses to emails, doing reviews, helping people, sharing my knowledge, researching information for people, talking to media / PR and I also have considerable hosting costs as I've had to upgrade my server to cope with traffic. I would love to be able to make a living from this; I just don't know how to! Anyway, good luck and go for it; your work is valuable and enriches other people's lives

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  6. Kimberly

    This piece speaks volumes to me. My little blog space is eating up much more than a few hours per week of my time. I am not "working" for pay at the moment either, with my blog, or as a homemaker, but all I do is work from morning 'til night. I have thought quite a lot about pay, or the lack thereof, and at the end of the day, always dismiss the idea of trying to monetize by blog, as if I am not worthy of it. But if my husband were to have a blog, I would most definitely encourage him to seek ways to monetize. It's so interesting that as a woman who takes great pride in her work, I completely undervalue myself. Frankly I enjoy reading blogs with and without ad space, though I will say that when I do find an interesting ad-free blog, I welcome the break from the flashing gifs. That said, I applaud the woman who are more business-savvy and few them as role models in this blogging world. Such contradictions!

    Reply

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