Companies pay mom bloggers thousands

HOUSTON - An article in Advertising Age magazine reported women not only make 80 percent of household purchasing decisions, but also account for $2 trillion in purchasing power.

As a result, the demand by companies trying to reach female customers has opened up money-making opportunities for moms with blogs.

Sara Patterson of Baytown started blogging about the products she used and places her family would go on her blog Momma Findings. It soon caught the eye of a educational book company.

"They sent me a whole stack of workbooks and I thought they are going to send me free stuff just so I can talk about it on my blog," said Patterson. "Suddenly, I thought this is something more than a family blog where I talk about my kids."

She tried the books and wrote reviews, which she said opened the floodgates. Soon, other companies were sending her products to try.

For Crystal Reagan, it started with laundry detergent. The detergent begain arriving two years ago, and now Reagan's blog Simply Being Mommy receives hundreds of thousands of hits.

In fact, there are local mommy blogs that have anywhere from 150,000 to 350,000 unique visitors every month. Those website can earn between $3,500 to $4,500 for their writers in the same time period.

"I would work with anybody, but now it's not their rules, it is my rules. I get to decide who I work with and I get to decide who gets space on my blog," said Reagan.

Patterson and Reagan are just two members of an emerging industry of power mom bloggers.

"Moms have been giving toother moms recommendations of this is what I used and I didn't like, and now companies are tapping into moms online to get that same message out but about their own product," said Patterson.

They are women with contact lists some PR companies would envy. Patterson told KPRC Local 2 she has numbers for H-E-B, Whirpool and Disney employees in her iPhone.

"My contact list is pretty impressive. I am way past workbooks, I just started working with Whirpool so they sent me a brand new Duet washer and dryer," said Patterson.

The mommy bloggers jet across the country to red carpet premieres and visit the headquarters of major brands.

"Disney is huge. Whirpool, Nissan, Ford, Lexus are some I have been to recently. I have taken about ten to 12 brand trips in the last year," said Reagan.

Amy Gross, another mommy blogger, said brand name companies are seeing a shortcut to their prime demographic through the moms on the net.

"I think that the brands are recognizing the power of the mom and it is not just the power of the mom in her family but women are looking for advice and the bloggers are trusted and they can share that advice," said Amy Gross, writer and creators of Mom Travel Tales, Mom's Toolbox and Vine Sleuth.

That mentality has companies like H-E-B exploring connections with the women behind the most popular blogs.

"I wouldn't say this is major piece of what we do, but it is becoming an important source to reach a certain demographic that are into finding value on the internet," said Scott McClelland, president H-E-B Houston. "So, I think instead of focusing on just TV and print, this becomes one more medium we look at. It is not major, I would say it is emerging."

The Houston area grocery store has ten beauty bloggers in the community who receive products to test, to write reviews of and to use as prizes for their readers. Last August, H-E-B hosted a contest where mom bloggers were paid to write recipes and send readers to the store website.

"At the same time we were running a promotion that provides feature pricing on the items they were using in their recipes, so it really works in a 360 degree wheel," said McClelland.

Blogger Jessica Benton told KPRC Local 2 mom bloggers are not just writing about diapers and detergents. She changed her money saving family blog into That Tech Chick and became a star in the mom world of gadgets. Each year she is invited to the CES conference, where tech insiders get a glimpse of what is coming out the following year.

"When you are the blogging community, companies see you as an influencer," said Benton.

"If a company contacts me and I don't have to write about whatever they are pitching, I will let them know, 'Hey, you can buy an ad and my readers can still see you,'" said Patterson.

Ads are the obvious money, but bloggers also make money from sponsored posts.

"Say they want me to include a product -- so I will tell a story about something I would normally write anyway, but include how we use that product in my story," said Reagan. "That is a sponsored website and they pay us for it, the mention."

Bloggers are also required by the Federal Trade Commission to mention that fact somewhere I the post.

"I write at the bottom of my post, 'This has been brought to you by,' maybe it is Nestles," said Patterson.

Another money-maker is an affiliate link. Readers can make a purchase and the blog owner receives a cut of the sales.  Benton told KPRC Local 2 she did this with a tech gadget and was able to go back to the company and show them how many were sold because of her story.

The mom bloggers admit while the money is nice, having people pay attention is a greater reward.

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