From the category archives:

Editorial asides

There have been a spate of complaints on some of my sponsored posts over the last few months. I’m not quite sure why people are complaining (mine may be one of the least monetized blogs I know!) or whether it’s several people or one person with several aliases who are posting the complaints. I’ve tried addressing the comments with comments, and then just deleting them, but since they’re continuing, let’s talk about sponsored posts out here in the open.

I blog for the connection with you, the reader, and for the joy of sharing a view of our lives as I see it. I blog because I love to do it, and if I weren’t making any sort of profit from it, I would still be blogging in more or less exactly the same way I have been doing for the past eight years. But yes, I write occasional sponsored posts. I have a great working relationship (and a one-year contract) with Fisher-Price, and I just finished a set of sponsored posts with Conceivable Dreams. I chose to work with these two organizations because I like them, because I would promote them even if they weren’t offering compensation, and because I think they offer something that may be of interest to the people who read this blog. On the other hand, I turn down dozens of pitches each week for various promotions that I don’t feel I could personally endorse, or that I don’t think would have any value to you as readers.

The negative comments that have sprouted up recently are along the lines of “stop selling out with these sponsored posts.” I don’t see being compensated for my time and effort as selling out, I see it as perfectly reasonable. Aside from the out-of-pocket expenses relating to keeping this blog running (domain and hosting, etc) why shouldn’t I be compensated for my time and effort? Like ads on Google or commercials on your favourite TV shows, the sponsored posts help me keep generating the rest of the content that you might prefer.

There was a time when I felt more equivocal about advertising and sponsored posts, and perhaps because of that I have always tried to minimize the amount of sponsored content I post. I am very selective about the advertising and other paid blogging opportunities I accept because whatever I share here on the blog is the equivalent to a personal recommendation, and I don’t take that responsibility lightly. But if an opportunity arises to support a brand or cause that I like, and that opportunity involves monetary or non-monetary compensation, I see absolutely no reason why I shouldn’t take it on.

Maybe you have a different opinion? I’m open to your thoughts here, on this post, and I am genuinely happy to discuss the issue. But this is my space and like it or lump it, my rules apply. If I visit your place and I don’t like the new lime green sofa, I’ll just choose to sit on it and keep my mouth shut or sit on another chair – that’s just good manners. You are welcome to not read the sponsored posts, or to not visit at all, if they truly offend you that much.

If you have genuine concerns and would like to discuss them, let’s do that – but simply scrawling “stop selling out” on every sponsored post isn’t a conversation, it’s graffiti, and I’ll continue to delete those comments from now on.

What do you think, bloggy peeps? It’s not 2006 anymore; blog monetization is the rule rather than the exception for most successful blogs, I think. And I have genuinely tried to be conscious of balancing sponsored and non-sponsored content so the latter largely outweighs the former. Are you perturbed by the sponsored content or do you think it has intrinsic value of its own?


I thought maybe the new bloggy banners would scratch my spring-ish itch for re-invention, but no such luck. Now I’m thinking of re-naming the photography business, and I need your help!

Back in 2009, I launched an Etsy site to sell some of my photographs as fine art prints. Due partly to inattention and neglect, and probably partly because the prints were never actually as good as I thought they were, nothing never really came of it. Well, except for one thing. When I was creating the Etsy account on a whim one night, I needed a name, and at the time, Mothership Photography seemed a perfect complement to my online empire (ha!) here on the blog.

The fine art business fell by the wayside, but I co-opted the name when I started taking portrait commissions. Since I was aiming at a family community that was largely blog based, and since it harmonized with the blog name, and since google confirmed that nobody else on the internet was using the name, it seemed a good fit.

Well, the little photography business grew and grew. I started selling my work commercially through Getty Images and taking commissions outside of the realm of bloggy friends, and last year the gross income crossed the five figure income mark. It’s a full fledged business now! And it looks like another agency will soon be representing some of my images. (Yay! More details on that soon.) And with all this growth in different directions, the name just doesn’t seem to fit anymore.

Another thing that I don’t like about the name is how harsh other photographers are on “moms with a camera”. I’m reasonably confident in my own skills, no thanks to other photographers intimating moms like me are an icon of the downfall of modern photography (ahem!) but I do wonder if I am not undermining my own credibility with the somewhat cutesy Mothership Photography label.

And so, for the last few months, I’ve been pondering it. Change the name? Embrace the name? I think I’m at a crossroads. If I am going to change it, I’d better do it sooner than later and if not, I have to own it for keeps.

On the other hand, I think a large part of my success with family portraits is the fact that I *am* a mom and I know how to deal with kids, to put them at ease and get them to show their sparkle to me. And I do have two years invested in the name, and a Facebook page. And a logo! (Oh how I love the little shooting star in my logo. I even considered the name “Shooting Star Photography” – it has a PUN! – for a while, but lots of other people had that idea first.)

The biggest hurdle of all, though, is not brand recognition or marketing but this: what the heck SHOULD I call the photography business? There’s already a DaniGirl Photography on Facebook in Amarillo Texas (4 likes) and one on MySpace with no entries, and a blogspot blog with one post, so that one is more or less available.

I could go with the more traditional “Danielle Donders Photography”. Angela cleverly suggested “Donderful Photography”, which makes me smile. And Beloved and I rolled around the floor laughing at the logos and marketing mischief we could develop if I called it “Double D Photography”.

The porch portraits are working for me. “Perfect Porch Photography”? Hmmm, maybe I’d only get calls for real estate shoots. Some of my favourite photography concepts are “whimsy” and “serendipity” but those are already pretty much taken. I want something that represents ME, my creativity and sense of fun and play, but is also professional and says more than just “I bought a DSLR and now I’m a photographer”, yanno?

What do you think, oh clever bloggy peeps? What IS in a name? Shall I commit to Mothership Photography once and for all, or do you like one of the other alternatives? Or maybe you’ve got a clever idea to share?


I‘ve been hankering for a bit of a bloggy makeover. I’d started playing with new banners three or four times in the last year or so but never managed to put together anything I like. When I started using the new watermark, I thought I’d pull that font into a new header, and eventually I’ll pull the same style into a new header for my photo site as well. (If you’re reading through a feed reader or on the mobile theme, please click through and take a peek! You might also have to clear your cache – my computer keeps calling up some of the old headers even though they’ve been deleted from the server.)

So – what do you think?

There are eight versions right now, and it should randomly rotate through them as you refresh or click on individual blog posts. I pulled together the typewriter and the camera on the left as a bit of a play on the idea of telling stories in words and pictures, and because a blog banner with my Nikon and MacBook didn’t seem quite so visually appealing. And the photograph at the right is just because I like the idea of a bit of variety in the headers, and I think these pictures offer a bit of a riff on my common bloggy themes of family and play and life in Ottawa.

Here are all of the current headers:

Blog banners

Already forgot what the banners used to look like? Here’s the ones I made up back in 2010:

New blog banners

Let me know what you think, I’d love to hear your comments!


Facebook fan pages redux

by DaniGirl on August 28, 2012 · 0 comments

in Editorial asides

If you’ve been reading for a while, you know I haven’t been a huge fan of Facebook. Over the last year or so, I’ve been slowly warming up to it, though, and find myself spending as much if not more time on Facebook than Twitter.

More and more lately, and especially after a conversation on (ironically) Facebook, I’m feeling motivated to finally publish the fan page I created for this blog a few years ago. (I know, welcome to 2009, right?)

The last time I thought seriously about this, I couldn’t think of a reason to have a fan page for the blog because I couldn’t see the value-added; what would be on the fan page that wouldn’t be on the blog? But not that I’m not blogging as obsessively as I once was, I do find things fall between the cracks, or just get posted to my personal FB page, just because it’s a quick and easy way to post a thought or two. There are fun things for Ottawa families that I don’t have time to post, or wee things that don’t seem to merit an entire blog post. There are shareworthy links that I might have posted on Pinterest, had I not quit it several months ago, or other bits of flotsam and jetsam that die in draft format because I can’t get them out quickly enough. I also have a few ideas for some fun giveaways and contests.

I was going to put up a poll asking you whether you’d be interested in “liking” a fan page for Postcards from the Mothership, but then I decided to let the liking speak for itself: if you’re interested in hearing a little bit more, please do!

Postcards from the Mothership

Promote Your Page Too

Consider it a sort of Postcards-lite, with a little extra something on the side. I hope to see you there!


Upgrades and other timesinks

by DaniGirl on April 22, 2012 · 4 comments

in Editorial asides

I have spent waaaaaay too much time this weekend with my nose pressed to the monitor of my laptop, doing back-ups and upgrades and all the ridiculous site maintenance issues that I should do more frequently but never seem to get around to doing.

First, I updated the banners on my portfolio site, and then made a matching one for the Facebook page for Mothership Photography. (Are you a fan yet? Now would be a good time! *hint hint*) I’ll wait here while you click around and enjoy them. The photo site has rotating banners like this site does, so you get a fresh image when you refresh. (Speaking of refresh, I haven’t updated these ones since 2009. Eek, I suppose that’s next on my list!)

And then I got around to fixing something that’s been bugging me for a while – I changed the ugly navigation menu across the top of this site to more closely match the one I had coded into the photography site, and I dropped the navigation below the blog header. How is it displaying for you? All in one line? Readable? Looks okay in IE and Firefox from here, but that’s about as far as my attention for testing goes. (One of so many reasons I would make a lousy coder. No mind for details and no patience for testing or debugging!) Here’s what it looked like an hour ago, for comparison:

What do you think? The navigation menu doesn’t get lost, does it?

After all this time, I still do my site backups manually. Do you have a favourite plug-in to do yours? I don’t know why I don’t trust a plug-in to do this, but for some reason I don’t.

Now I’m off to back up EVERYTHING – blog files, photo files, Lightroom, client files, the whole she-bang. After we lost a hard-drive full of pictures, I’ve become a fan of redundant backups, so I have online backup through Backblaze and two separate external drives, which I try to rotate between home and office. Sigh. I think I need to hire a digital housekeeper right after I find the funds to hire an actual housekeeper…


Hey bloggy peeps, I need your advice.

Beloved and I have been discussing online backup of our computers for a while, but haven’t yet got around to it. I happened to say this weekend that I really, really want to get around to this before it’s too late — and today, my 1TB back-up drive with I can’t even tell you how many photos, including a good chunk of my professional work and most of my first 365, stopped working. I’m still holding out faint hope even as I’m sick with the possible loss — but at least it wasn’t *everything*.

At least I have whatever is on the laptop, which is 80% of the digital negatives from the last year or so, and most but not all of my other documents. Silver lining, I suppose. Beloved has downloaded some diagnotic tools, so maybe all is not yet lost.

So anyway, do you do online backups and if so, with what company? I’ve heard good things about Carbonite, and Rogers Online Protection would be an easy choice as we already use them for cable and Internet. We have an HP laptop running Windows, for whatever that’s worth. Any opinions or advice are most welcome, thanks!


Help me choose!

21 May 2011 Editorial asides

You ever notice how people who love to take pictures seem to hate having their picture taken? Couple that with a deeply embedded aversion to change, and it becomes a huge ordeal for me to even think about changing my online avatar. Further, I think it’s good personal “branding” to have one picture across all [...]

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Mothership Photography is on Facebook (please like me!)

17 May 2011 Editorial asides

I‘ve mentioned before that although I’m an early-adapter on a lot of social media platforms, I’ve never really warmed up to Facebook. I signed up for an account when it was first opened up, but aside from an early addiction to Scrabble when I was pregnant with Lucas in 2007, I never really found a [...]

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Because I am a dork for stats and numbers

2 April 2011 Editorial asides

Some time today, the 500,000th visitor will drop by the blog. Half a million hits? Never would have guessed it in a million years. Also? Never would have guessed I’d make it to 1 951 posts or 24 570 comments either! I don’t watch the stats as obsessively as I did when I first started [...]

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Postcards to go – now optimized for your mobile device!

9 August 2010 Editorial asides

Just a quick editorial note to let you know that I’ve finally made the blog mobile-friendly. You shouldn’t see any difference from a PC, but thanks to the WPTouch plug-in it looks a whole lot better on the most common mobile devices. If you’ve got one, let me know how it looks! I still want [...]

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