Can You See Me Now?

A woman named Darryle Pollack read one of her blog posts out loud at the conference last week.

I've met Darryle before, and the day after she spoke we spent about an hour together in deep discussion.

Darryle's post was about women becoming invisible in our society as they age.

I haven't been able to stop thinking about her words, or our conversation, since.  I'm a little younger than Darryle, but I'll be following in her footsteps in a blink of an eye.  (Yes, time does rush past faster than a speeding bullet ….)

Darryle is someone I admire and respect.  

She really got me thinking.

Let's back up for a minute, to a day earlier in the conference.

Readership numbers are something bloggers don't generally discuss with each other.  Most bloggers consider it rude, and guard their "numbers" as closely as they do their weight.

However, I've always considered myself a "small" blogger because …

Well, because I'm not The Pioneer Woman or Dooce.

And by those standards, I AM a small blogger.

However,

In talking with several bloggers, I realized the readership numbers I think of as "small" for Twenty Four At Heart are actually pretty decent.  In addition, my readership exceeds that of many popular "mom" blogs.  A few blogs I think of as being famous actually have a much smaller audience than Twenty Four At Heart.

It was a very surprising revelation.

I'm not sharing this information to you to brag, or to pat myself on the back.  After all, it's you, not me, creating the page views.

Instead,

A question began nagging at me –

Why are they ("mom" bloggers with smaller audiences than I have) getting the vast majority of private invitations to brand parties, why are they getting so many more business opportunities, why are they considered the Important People to the brands and marketing people?

I decided to talk to a few of the marketing people in the expo hall, and ask them.

I was shocked when one of the brand/marketing experts told me they don't have "very reliable" tools for measuring the reach of any particular blog.  Yes, they have tools – but they realize those tools often give them very unreliable information.

Not being a "mommy blogger" apparently immediately takes me off everybody's radar.

But should it?

Am I, because I'm not a young mom blogger, invisible?

Invisible on the private party lists.

Invisible on the pr/marketing lists.

Invisible even to many of my blogging peers (who would not, I suppose, think to invite me along when they make plans because I'm OLDER).  

I mention this, because in blogging networking is often everything.  

If you aren't THERE, if you're never invited – you're missing out on amazing opportunities.

Marketing companies are targeting young moms with blogs.  I don't think it even occurs to many of them to take a look at people who are not blogging about their families and/or do not have kids to blog about in the first place.

Now, don't get me wrong –

I do get a lot of PR/Advertising pitches.

Most pitches I receive are on products/ideas related to baby/young kid products which, clearly, do not relate to me at this point in my life.  (My youngest of three children is now 16 years old.)  

Having a background in PR, I understand the logic behind wanting to attract young buyers and build a lifetime loyalty to your brand.  Nonetheless, two minutes of research would provide them with the information to realize my blog isn't the right forum for their baby/young kid products.  When I get these pitches, I know I was just part of a mass emailing campaign.

Alternately, if the pitches I receive aren't about young kid/family products they tend to be about arthritis/alzheimers/vaginal dryness.  These pitches come from marketers who have done enough research to realize I'm not "young."

I wish I were joking, but I'm not.

Many of the brands at last week's conference would be ideal for my audience, but I've never heard from them.

The advertising/pr agencies have serious flaws in their marketing strategies and they are missing out on huge opportunities.  Has it ever occurred to them to target women in their late thirties and up?

I'm not "old" and I'm not "young."

I do, however, have an audience of extremely intelligent and largely affluent readers.  In addition, my readers trust me because they know I tell it like I see it.

(There is absolutely no chance my integrity will ever be compromised by a brand.)

At my not young and not old age, I also have more discretionary income than I did when my three kids were young.

The "baby boomers" are a HUGE buying force, but are largely being ignored and/or misunderstood by marketing companies.

I'm not interested in products for the elderly because I'm not elderly.

Nor am I interested in products aimed at toddlers.

Do I like wine?

Do I like chocolate? 

Do I like yogurt?  

Do I like FOOD in general?  

Do I like to travel?

Do I have an interest in beauty products?

Do I have an interest in health products?

Do I like creature comforts?

Do I send greeting cards?

Do I use technology products?

Do I like photography equipment and other "hobby" products?

Do I like to cook and have an interest in kitchen products?

Do I clean my house/my teeth/my clothes?

Do I ever redecorate my house and have an interest in furnishings, etc?

Do I like activities such as exercise, parties, boat trips, and adventures of all sorts?

YES I DO.

I did not stop doing any of those things when I turned 40.

In fact, I have more time (as well as more discretionary income) to enjoy all of the above than I ever have before.

This is not a "sour grapes" post about BlogHer.  

I attended the conference; I had a great time.  

I was nonstop busy in San Diego with events and (open to everyone) parties, friends, and conversations with marketing folks.

But ….

I'm wondering –

Did anyone there really SEE me?

More importantly,

Can they see me now?

© Twenty Four At Heart

31 Responses to “Can You See Me Now?”

  1. Robin

    Excellent post. I feel the same way, even though I am a single brown female with disposable income. Because I don’t have kids and I am not Dooce, no one in the brand arena usually wants to deal with me or people like me.
    On the bright side, I did make some contacts with some forward-thinking brands in the expo hall, and later this week I will contact them to do some reviews/giveaways. Hopefully I can build on those relationships.

  2. Deidre

    I think mommy bloggers do create a more cohesive network of people that’s it’s easy to be “in”.
    Although I am probably more of the age that PR companies are targeting, I am far from a mommy blogger or soon to be mommy blogger. I find my niche harder to define which I think makes me unlikely to get lots of PR offers.
    I guess that just means instead of waiting for offers, we’ll have to go out and ask for what we want.

  3. Rick Bucich

    Interesting revelation and I think it is completely appropriate to publish your frustration. I’ve actually heard similar things from others uttered only verbally.
    I think self promotion comes into play and you are correct about the measurement tools. For the most part, traffic is very difficult to measure from a third party. There is Comscore and Hitwise but they’re probably too expensive for most PR firms and even then they can be unreliable. Unfortunately, people have become reliant on PageRank as a measurement of authority even though it has nothing to do with traffic.
    Hang in there. I am enjoying your photography over at G+!

  4. Amy

    I get it. I am a mom but don’t want to be put into that mom blog category. Maybe I should? I want to write about a lot more than being a mom because I am! You just have to do what feels right and know you are noticed by those who can relate.

  5. Tina Cruz

    Boy, do I know how you feel. I DO have kids, but my youngest just turned 10. I also wrote a post lamenting that I have one foot in two worlds, and it isn’t working anymore. It wasn’t a sour grapes post, it really was the way I am feeling.
    Just wanted to let you know I empathize. I turned 40 a bit ago, and am now celebrating “anniversaries” of my 42nd birthday. And I feel like life is starting to pass me by.

  6. Mrs Catch

    Excellent post. Aussie blog numbersare growing rapidly and struggling with some of the same issues. Media kits are a hot topic. When you find the answer, please tell this “not young, not old” woman too!!

  7. Al_Pal

    Wow, Awesome post! I also was surprised hearing about so many private brand parties. My blog is very small, since I only publish a few times a year currently and I’ve not really promoted it, but some nice folks at the Expo Hall made me actually want to do some reviews!
    I’m 34 & not a mom, but I’m friends with a fair few of the fame-ish mom bloggers, and seeing the parade of private parties on twitter was pretty eye-opening!!!
    I’ll definitely have to check out more of your site. ;D

  8. Jack

    Self promotion is important, at least in the context of generating awareness. There are so many people vying for attention that it has become easy to get lost in the crowd.

  9. Di

    Nice to have a blog with a few ads, but have you seen some of them with ads to the left, the right, the top, bottom. I find them annoying as a reader.
    I agree with you that my generation is being over-looked when it comes to PR/marketing companies, but you have to admit that the Mommy blogger’s readers are younger and more ‘compulsive’ buyers. At least I was at that age. BUT… I think my age group makes less purchases, but BIGGER purchases, like cars, expensive trips, stock investments, etc. Your post is spot on and marketing companies would be wise to open their eyes to we old fogies if they want OUR money. 🙂

  10. karen

    I’m a mid-forties blogger with older kids, and I have to admit sometimes I am surprised at the amount of followers/commentors on blogs that hold very little in the way of interesting material. But, I don’t blog to generate business… I really do it as a creative outlet and as a record to look back upon – a way to journal life as my family knows it, and to share recipes, life’s trials and tribulations, etc. with other bloggers. I get approximately 300 hits a day and between 20-40 comments, which in the big scheme of blogger is probably a small readership. Almost never to I hear from a company or PR person. I tried to join Blogher in the beginning but have NEVER heard back from them. I guess I don’t fit any of their interesting niches, which is OK with me. Personally, ads on blogs annoy me and I wouldn’t want them on mine, but I would have liked to join the blogher community for the other benefits.

  11. Lisa

    *clapping* This totally hits home for me! I don’t have the readership you do, but we’re in the same age and parenting demographic. I don’t get the invites either, but I tend to attribute that to the size of my blog. I’m going to work on that this year and see what changes for BlogHer12. Just as an experiment.

  12. Jenn in Tenn

    *I* see you….and yay for all us late-thirty-somethings! 😉 Great post! I don’t blog, but have thought about it, and always thought because I am just an average mom of a teenager I wouldn’t have anything new to say…. Eye opening post, food for thought.

  13. Megan

    Agreed! It’s much harder for non-mommy bloggers to get the same PR/Marketer/Brand attention. I see and experience it all the time. My suggestion – let the numbers speak for themselves. Find out everything about your readers and post it on your blog, in the advertising section, so that potential advertisers and brands will see it. Build relationships from the ground up. Exchange cards with vendors, promote their products and follow-up. PR firms share email lists and once you get on one, you’ll be added to more.

  14. Liz Ditz

    I see you. Well I didn’t see you at BlogHer, although you and I were both there.
    But I am even more invisible: I’ll be 60 this year.
    I got a few private party invites but ignored them. I wanted to see women I know online, not make new marketing relationships.

  15. Michelle

    We lived on peanut butter and crackers when my children were young. Now we have the means to enjoy life much more. I love reading you every day and I think this is an important article. I hope the right people take note.

  16. Twenty Four At Heart

    Karen,
    I also tried to join the blogHer ad network when I began blogging. I got an email that they had no availablity for new blogs but that they’d be in touch in a few months. I’ve never heard back from them. In the meantime, new “mommy blogs” have been getting ads for all the years I’ve been waiting. I’ve discussed it with more than one person at BlogHer …
    And I’ve got nothing to show for it still.

  17. LindaSalem

    While I browsed and so may have missed them, it seemed to me that most of the speakers seemed to be between 25 and 45. I am 64 and I know there are quite a few “grandmother/father” bloggers. I plan on attending BlogHer next year and frankly, I would like to hear from some of these more senior people too.
    I don’t intend for my blog to be necessarily totally family oriented. While I adore my children and grandchildren, my life is centered on a much wider number of interests and concerns. I know there are many other bloggers who feel the same and PR people are once again limiting the outreach for their products if they don’t look beyond a certain demographic. I think some of your commenters are right. When we’re at these conferences, we (the bloggers) need to bring ourselves to their attention.

  18. Jan

    A lot of it has to do with “niches.” Unfortunately, not many advertisers seem to care too much about us “midlife” bloggers – which is really a shame, because we tend to have much more disposable income and buying power than the “mommy” bloggers. I know that you, like me, rank very high among the midlife bloggers but for some weird reason that’s just not a market “niche.” Something should be done about that.
    I will tell you, though, that since I went “paleo/primal/real food” my readership has ore than *tripled* – I appear to have found my niche. Not necessarily the niche I wanted (I truly wanted to be noticed as a “midlife” blogger) but hey – I’ll take what I can get.

  19. Twenty Four At Heart

    Jan,
    I’ve always thought of you as a food blogger who happened to also be in mid-life. I’m glad your interest in paleo food and writing about it has increased your readership and niche presence.

  20. Juliacantor

    I LOVE this and am honestly so enlightened. It was wonderful speaking with you at BlogHer and am very excited to explore this more. It is such an interesting subject to me, after years of creating media lists for “technology” and “food bloggers” 😉

  21. Darryle

    Great post, Suzanne–that really reflects what we discussed, and what I noticed and have wondered about since the first BlogHer I attended 3 years ago. Since then I’ve made some headway, despite what I wrote about invisibility— although my own work is focused on the creative, not the commercial aspect of blogging.
    As for BlogHer itself, the fact that they chose me to speak hopefully speaks loudly enough that BlogHer is inclusive of all ages, and NOT just for mommy bloggers (although I have to say I consider myself (sort of) a mommy blogger, too, even with two grown kids out of the house.)
    I’m hopeful that your post will inspire more conversation and more changes. And I’m really glad you took our conversation off the convention floor and onto the internet–although you did NOT mention that while we were deep in conversation we were also deep into Dove bars.

  22. Jason

    I was not at BlogHer, but you are anything but invisible to ME! If I had some sort of a product that I needed help with, you’d be the first blogger I would turn to.
    To me, your blog is highly successful. It’s due to your wit, intelligence, talent, creativity, and you are consistent.

  23. Leann

    Very well “said”! I agree 110%.
    I don’t have a blog but I read several. At my age, I am beyond the typical “mommy blogger” age.
    Thank you for being so insightful:)

  24. LPC

    There’s a meme going round, if you read Une Femme D’un Certain Age, for example, called Visible Mondays. On Monday, post a picture of yourself. Be visible, as a woman of a certain age. We’re just as worthy of a look, after all.

  25. Kelly

    There’s ageism everywhere in our society. You’ve got a voice and you just might be the one to make a difference.

  26. annie

    You hit it when you said “discretionary income”, the older bloggers have much more of this! So why ingnore us? Some of my very favorite blogs are written by the over 40-50 even 60 set! Mommy Bloggers are boring unless you have young childern. Been there done that, lets live a little.

  27. magpie

    Fascinating post. You articulate a lot of things I’ve felt swirling around in my head – me being an older mother of a seven year old, I fall out of the mom blogger demographic (and I wouldn’t call myself a mom blogger even when I do write about my kid).
    Good to meet you – I was with Neil, or you were, or something. That Neil, he gets around. 🙂

  28. Erin

    This was an awesome post! You are real, funny, and a great honest writer. It is the brands that are missing out!

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