Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Why I Write Articles for Pampers


A few months back a friend of mine sent me an email with a link to a job posting on Craig's List. My friend is a freelance writer and was looking for jobs when she came across the job listing for pregnancy writers. Familiar with my blog and facebook page, she told me she thought I'd be a good fit for it.

I wasn't sure. I didn't consider myself a writer, or at least good enough that anyone would want to pay me to write. My friend encouraged me to go for it, and after some thought I decided it would be worth it simply because of the subject matter. It's easy to write about pregnancy and birth because I'm so passionate about those topics. I applied for the job on the website listed, provided a sample of my writing, and I was quickly accepted to start training and writing.

It wasn't until I started training that I found out my articles would be published on the Pampers website. It made me excited to think that my content would be on a mainstream website!

The company that hired me and edits my articles is called Skyword, and they've been hired by Pampers to provide original content for the pregnancy portion of their site. Pampers doesn't know anything about me other than what's been published on their site. I've never used Pampers diapers and I don't promote their products. They don't know that I use cloth diapers, and they don't need to know. It's not what I was hired for.

The process is interesting. The company purchases key words that come up often in online search engines. They train their writers to choose key words from an available list and write the articles based on those words. I submit my written articles to the copy editors, and they either approve them for publishing or send them back to me for revisions. It can take a few weeks for an article to make it from key word selection to publishing, even longer if the article has to be revised and resubmitted. I've had a couple of articles that had to be revised more than once.

The tricky thing about the key words is that not all key words are workable to use in an article because the phrasing is awkward. For instance, once the key words “birth breech” became available and I claimed them immediately, hoping I'd be able to write about my breech birth experience. When I tried to work with the words in their exact order, however, it just didn't work for the article. I tried several times to make it work, but ultimately the copy editors rejected the article because of it. I had to let those key words go and hope for something that would give me the chance to tell my story. A couple of months later I claimed the key words “vaginal birth” and I was able to use that as an opportunity to talk about my breech home birth.

You can see it can be tricky for me in getting my messages across. The company wants me to write from a purely first person perspective, using personal experiences to portray a message. I'm to avoid using my articles to instruct people or teach them about something. Pampers has expert writers (like doctors and medical professionals) that handle that sort of thing. It's hard for me sometimes to switch from my instructional/helpful mode that I use so much on here and on my fan page to the much more passive tone I have to use in my articles. I've also been instructed not to write anything that would paint hospitals, doctors, or any other part of the medical community in a potentially bad light. Sometimes just saying that midwives are good makes people think I'm saying doctors are evil, so that can be a fine line to walk.

There have been times I've had to let an article go that I cared about, because I couldn't get it approved by the editors. There have been other times that I've stood my ground and worked with the editors to get a somewhat controversial article to be published. I feel like I'm balancing precariously between the two extremes of my personal choices and viewpoints and what Pampers wants me to portray.

So, why do I do it?

To get my voice heard.

I look at this as an opportunity to get some of my “underground” perspective out onto a mainstream platform. There are expectant parents who read articles on the Pampers website who might not otherwise even think about topics like epidural risks, home birth, exclusive breastfeeding, doulas, birthing methods, natural birth, and more. These are parents who probably wouldn't even stumble across this blog. My hope is that my articles can help plant a seed of thought in people who wouldn't otherwise be aware of some of these topics, and that seed will grow either in them or someone they know into something bigger and more tangible. It may not be now, but perhaps some day someone might mention something to them and they'll say “Oh, I remember reading an article about that...”

My Pampers articles are written on a more basic level than what I write for my blog here. I feel they're appropriate for, perhaps, a less informed audience than those who follow my fan page or read my blog. So I ask you, my readers, to please feel free to share my article links with the people you know. Please pass them along in emails, on social networking sites, or however you feel comfortable. Even if it's something you already understand, maybe someone you know could benefit from the information.

8 comments:

  1. Very interesting! As I'm sure you know, this opportunity fell into your lap for a very special reason. You are in the right place, at the right time! Even if they reject some of the more controversial (to them) articles and make you tone down your experiences and opinions, as you said- just reading what you've written may plant seeds and cause expectant parents to look deeper into their birth options. You just never know what will speak to someone, and end up making a difference for them! So much of this info- considering risks of epidurals, even the idea that there ARE options for how/where/with whom to birth- is not shared by many maternity care professionals and not even thought of by most birthing women, so you are doing a wonderful service, within the limits you've been given!

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  2. What's so funny to me, and I have to remind myself every day, is that my views and perspectives ARE indeed "underground", as you mentioned. With all of the support on facebook and from like-minded friends from near and far, I sometimes forget that we're *different* from the mainstream. It's not that I've cacooned myself up only surrounding myself with people whose opinions and lifestyles align with my own... Perhaps it's just my hopefulness, or even my naivety? :) I'm glad you get your voice out there! So we don't feel so alone.

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  3. I am so glad you wrote about this. I was wondering how you started doing it. I love that you are writing and sharing "out of the box" ideas with more "in the box" moms. :)

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  4. I admire how hard you work towards educating women, even to the point of writing for a company that some natural birth/parenting activists might think of as being 'the enemy'(as silly as that sounds). It must take endless patience and perseverance to tweak your articles so that the editors accept them. This is exactly what more birth enthusiasts need to do to reach mainstream moms.

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  5. Thank you all for your comments and your support! The copy editors have asked me to branch out from my usual topics, so you'll likely be seeing some different articles coming soon. As much as I'd like to write the hard-hitting pieces all the time, I need to offer some variety. It's stretching me as a writer, and that's a good thing. Another thing I forgot to mention is that I'm hoping this job will be a springboard for me and help get me into other jobs that will give me more leeway to write what I want, and possibly pay more. There is definitely the need to help supplement my family's income, and as long as I can do that comfortably in my free time at home I'll continue to do so and try to build on it.

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  6. I just got accepted as a writer for Pampers as well. My first batch of four articles got sent back to me fr revision. One was apparently too broad and needed more focus. The rest all had problems with me being too instructional. I tried to couch everything in terms of "I read in a book..." or "my doctor told me that..." but apparently that wasn't enough. I feel a bit stumped and nervous that I won't ever get my articles approved, but I will keep trying!

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  7. Rachael, that's exciting that you got accepted! I wish you the best with your writing and being able to provide helpful information for women.

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  8. I must appreciate you for the information you have shared.I find this information very useful and it has considerably saved my time.thanks:)

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