Mum’s the word as on­line mar­ket is born

Mummy blogs at­tract ad­ver­tis­ing blitz, writes SUSIE MESURE

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

AT FIRST it gave lonely new mums the chance to re­claim some form of so­cial life once they’d fi­nally got DD* or DS* down for the night. But the phe­nom­e­non that is mummy blog­ging is gain­ing a life of its own, turn­ing from a vir­tual take on the church hall cof­fee morn­ing to some­thing like a busi­ness for many of the UK’s emerg­ing com­mu­nity of par­ent blog­gers.

Mummy blog­gers re­port com­pa­nies are queue­ing up to bom­bard them with the lat­est chil­dren’s DVDs, books, shoes and even kid-friendly hol­i­days in the hope of scor­ing a favourable on­line re­view that might help their prod­uct to stand out amid the clut­ter in a fiercely com­pet­i­tive chil­dren’s mar­ket.

Some blog­ging par­ents (there are a hand­ful of dads among the mums) get at least 10 pitches a day from re­tail­ers and brands keen to harness one of the in­ter­net’s new­est sub-groups. And ear­lier this month, But­lins took a group of blog­gers to the launch of its Ocean Ho­tel Spa in Bog­nor Regis, hop­ing to swop a free mini-break for some free pub­lic­ity on­line.

Al­though a hand­ful of mummy blogs were around as far back as 2006 – three years is an eter­nity in web­world – the vast ma­jor­ity of blog­gers such as mom­my­hasa­headache or lon­donci­ty­mum are much newer to the scene. One rel­a­tive old-timer, Laura Driver, who has been writ­ing arewe­n­ear­lythereyet­mummy? for the past 13 months, said: “I can’t be­lieve how quickly it is snow­balling. There used to be just a few high-pro­file mum blog­gers, but now there are so many start­ing up each week that you can’t keep up with them all. It seems ev­ery­body is fight­ing for a place in the top 100. Peo­ple are get­ting quite fran­tic about it.”

Last week, Bri­tish Mummy Blog­gers, a fo­rum for the bur­geon­ing com­mu­nity, hit a mile­stone when its 500th blog­ger signed up. It has al­ready gained an­other 25 mem­bers. Su­sanna Scott, who set up BMB in late 2008, said the UK was mak­ing up for its slow start com­pared with the US, which has at least 6 000 mummy – or mommy – blogs. “Mums used to share in­for­ma­tion over a cof­fee at the church hall. With blog­ging, you can ef­fec­tively have a cof­fee morn­ing when­ever you want – even at mid­night if that is when you have a lap­top and a few min­utes to your­self,” she said.

The boom means that “every­one is tar­get­ing mummy blog­gers th­ese days”, ac­cord­ing to Scott, 44, who has three daugh­ters and writes four blogs, in­clud­ing A Mod­ern Mother. She has re­viewed prod­ucts for Dyson, HP, Sains­burys, Snap­fish, Dis­ney and Blu-ray. “The whole mar­ket has gone crazy. I get, not kid­ding, about six to 10 pitches a day,” she said.

Dul­wich Mum, the nom de blog for an­other vet­eran, Bea Parry-Jones, is an­other pop­u­lar tar­get for com­pa­nies anx­ious for an on­line men­tion. “I’ve been on lux­ury hol­i­days, I’ve been sent de­signer coats, DVDs, hand­bags and co­pi­ous amounts of cos­met­ics,” she said.

As Dul­wich Mum, she doesn’t re­view prod­ucts as such but will “name-drop ap­pro­pri­ately” – prod­uct-plac­ing for a dig­i­tal read­er­ship. What Parry-Jones, who has more than 1 000 read­ers for her satir­i­cal mus­ings, doesn’t do is re­gard blog­ging as a get-rich-quick scheme. “I have a job. I don’t see blog­ging as a busi­ness,” she added.

Oth­ers, like Tara Cain, who writes Sticky Fin­gers, in­sist they’re “not a news ser­vice” for new prod­uct launches. In­stead, her blog is “the per­fect on­line di­ary for the big things you don’t want to for­get” about her chil­dren. She dis­cov­ered mummy blogs while she was preg­nant, en­joy­ing their “nitty-gritty de­tails and bru­tal hon­esty” about par­ent­hood.

Most blog­gers re­gard writ­ing on­line as an es­cape. Cather­ine San­der­son is pe­tite anglaise who has been blog­ging about her life as an ex­pat Bri­tish mother in Paris for the past three years. She said: “I found it a nice way to reach out at a time when my so­cial life had been re­duced and I was grop­ing to find my iden­tity again.”

* Dar­ling Daugh­ter, Dar­ling Son – The In­de­pen­dent on Sun­day

GO FORTH AND MUL­TI­PLY: The num­ber of mummy blog­gers is grow­ing by the day.

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