As the supply of publishers went up, advertisers gained leverage they could use to insist on more invasive ads and more unethical editorial practices.
It all grew too much for Heather "Dooce" Armstrong, who got fed up with having to pitch products with false sincerity, and censor her authentic voice because advertisers feared it would offend their customers.
It's another aspect of the toxic relationship between advertisers and publishers: just as publishers accept ads because they want money (but are largely indifferent to the sales the ads generate, so long as the advertisers keep buying); advertisers are indifferent to the impact of invasive/dishonest ads on the publishers' reputations (just so long as there's somewhere else to advertise to the same audience).
Armstrong says she faced dwindling revenue, more extreme demands, and an army of trolls who stalked and harassed her -- this last is a very gendered and racially unbalanced problem for publishers, affecting women, people of color and queer people more than white dudes like me. Not that I don't have haters and even a couple stalkers, but they're nowhere near as vicious, specific, sexual and personal as the stuff that women web-writers have shared with me.
For Armstrong, the breaking point was the extent to which advertisers expected her to involve her kids in their pitches. I sometimes write about my kid, or even feature her reviews, but always and only because she's excited about the prospect. No one's ever asked me to, and if they did, I wouldn't entertain the proposition. I have enormous sympathy for Armstrong's position -- it's hard to imagine what sort of person insists that a parent exploit her child as a condition of payment.
Armstrong says for her, the breaking point on blogging for a living came when one of her two daughters refused to go on an outing that was part of a sponsored post plan. There were tears, and with her child pleading with her, Armstrong decided she could no longer bear the invasive requests of the advertisers. “I did it for as long as I could, until I was like, I cannot be that person any more,” she says, simply.
Asked who “that person” was, Armstrong pointed out that her personal brand as a blogger involved a kind of irreverence (to this day, her Twitter profile reads: “I exploit my children for millions and millions of dollars on my mommyblog”), but many brands weren’t comfortable with her tone. “I really had to dial that part of me back, when that part of me wanted to come out and dance,” she said.
'I cannot be that person': why the 'Queen of the Mommy Bloggers' had to quit
[Michelle Dean/The Guardian]
(via Super Punch)