“It’s OK if you behave unethically around my children”
Keep that statement in mind as you consider the saga of the Mummy Blogger Domain Name Drama.
Mummy Blogging is a popular thing. Mummy Blogging can be a lucrative thing. It’s fast becoming a legit media thing. It’s got legit agents and legit advertisers – but is mummy blogging a legit industry with legit businesses? Domain Name Gate of 2013 – 2014 has dragged some serious questions to light about these supposed kitchen table entrepreneurs and their legitimacy in the business world. So what is the case for and against?
Derision and Pride – The Modern Mummy Stigma
Firstly, housewife, stay at home mum, full time mummy and at home mum are all phrases used with pride or derision depending on your side of the change table. It stems from the idea that mothers sit around with nothing better to do but to write about sitting around. The fact is, women’s roles have changed so much, so quickly that it’s created a kind of stay at home mum backlash amongst working women. Yes, it’s not just Tony Abbot making derogatory comments about full time mothers, women are hardest on other women! The fact is, few modern mothers get the chance to engage in a traditional role. Forcing mums into the work place may be framed in “feminism” but feminism is about making choices. Debt and a political system that has failed to evolve fast enough has taken away all choices for women – much like the 1950s, only backward. And so, backward has become the attitude towards mothers choosing to stay in the home, and so backward becomes the attitude to mummy bloggers in mainstream society.
The mother as an economic powerhouse
Since when did the grocery buyers, the ethical beacons, the purchase researcher, influencer and decision maker become a secondary consideration in marketing? Not once. Never. There’s a reason so many companies are targeting A/B spending, 25-54 year old women with children in the home – that’s where the money is at, that’s where Australia is at, that is where mass consumerism is at. Derogatory comments aside, mothers are still the holders of the purse strings, in fact, their role in spending decisions is burgeoning, making the “mummy blogger” into a potential cash cow for advertisers. In fact, it is. “The Stay at Home Mum” mummy blog is reportedly worth 3 million dollars. It might seem like a drop in the ocean when compared to TV budgets, but it’s done with just a handful of staff! Mummy Blogger Katie May sold her little website to Newscorp for $45 Million dollars – and so was born the media powerhouse that is Kidspot.
So, if it’s just business, why the drama over the Organised Housewife Domain Name
If you weren’t aware, The Stay At Home mum blog admitted purchasing a number of domain names directly related to other mummy blogs. In 2013 we approached them on behalf of one of those bloggers and attempted a “good faith” return of the domain name. We received a somewhat hostile response and the offer to sell the domain name back for more than the typical mummy blogger could afford. In 2014 one of those domain names (organisedhousewife.com.au) was then redirected to the Stay at Home Mum blog and the brand mocked Mummy Blog, The Organised Housewife publicly via Twitter. The resulting furor rocked the mummy blogger industry.
The issues for Organised Housewife and the other mummy bloggers
Katrina Springer, aka The Organised Housewife has a loyal and dedicated Facebook following of over half a million (mostly) Australian women. She’s a housewife who blogs about organisation, budgeting and parenthood – and clearly she strikes a chord with people. But, does she run a business?
In short, yes. She derives income from advertising. She has powerful brand equity. She’s an emerging celebrity on the speaker scene and she’s got her ABCs (and ABNs, GSTs and the like) in order…now.
But, starting a blog does not a business make. Here’s the thing, 75% of start ups do so as a one wo/man show with no outside investment. That means, like so many small businesses in Australia, she lacked a marketing team, business adviser and digital strategist at start up. One of those people would have told her to register all versions of her URL. But, it didn’t happen. Katrina is paying the price for being a start up.
The Stay at Home Mum company has done nothing legally wrong….really. Parking domains (registering domains for future use) is legally questionable but completely unenforceable. Because the two businesses’ are in the same niche it’s very difficult to determine if they’re parked domains or simply in reserve for future use. It comes down to trademarking – another low priority for start-ups.
So, what if it was a local dry-cleaner? Is there a difference
If it was any other small business, the sympathy may not be there. It sucks but really, you should have known….it sucks but that’s just business. It sucks but…. It does suck, it’s a sucky thing to happen to any small business owner. The difference is that this is that unlike dry-cleaning, at the core of this industry is the concept of “women helping women”. In a day and age where mothers feel forced to return to work, feel guilt for returning to work, feel guilt for staying at home, feel guilt for breast feeding, feel guilt for bottle feeding, feel guilt….for just about everything… mummy blogs are all about feeling reassured, feeling part of a supported community. That is one powerful message. I dare you to find a dry-cleaner with branding that can match that!
The domain name drama is a business consideration but it’s not a question of whether Katrina Springer lacked business skills at start up, it’s a question of whether the Stay at Home Mum website can now deliver on its branding promise in an industry that thrives exclusively on branding promises. The value in mummy blogging as business is in the branding promise – it all comes down to the value in this promise:
“It’s OK if you behave unethically around my children”
I guess the question should not be “is mummy blogging a real business” but “which mummy bloggers deliver a viable business brand”.