Monday, October 12, 2009

Are Product Reviews and Blogging a Rotten Mix?

I don't want to go back and talk about the FTC's new rules about blogging, it seems pretty cut and dried that if you're going to do product reviews on your blog you'll have to make sure you tell everyone what you're doing. Not a big deal, most of the people I know are doing this already and are doing it honestly.

But what I've been thinking about more and more is product reviews in general. I've been doing them for two and a half years now and my feelings over that period have changed quite a bit.

At first I was all giggly that someone would send me something and ask my opinion on it. Me! Who can't get anyone to listen to me when I say something as simple as "Where is your coat?" or "Did you make your bed?"

I decided that I wanted not to do reviews so much as giveaways (though that may just semantics) where instead of offering an opinion on how it worked for me I would be able to give stuff away. It just seemed more fun that way and frankly I don't need that much "stuff." But the biggest reason I did it was to boost my traffic on weekends, which are traditionally the slowest time for blog traffic. It worked like a charm, that first summer I went from getting three or four hundred visitors a day to thirteen or fourteen hundred. [Said in a squeaky old man voice] "Back in those days that was a lot of traffic!"

Weekends were my biggest draw and I thought my evil plan was working very well, thank you very much, but then things began to happen. Other people started asking how to get into the racket (which I was happy to share info on, plenty of fun to go around) and then I started getting a little pickier. I didn't want to do just any giveaways and I began turning people down. I started to worry about what to do if I didn't like something that was offered and I started getting stuck in the middle between making sure the sponsors shipped out their stuff on time and the winners who would sometimes say "Where is my stuff? I haven't got it yet."

With all this talk about the new FTC rules I've heard a lot of people say, "But I already let people know when I get free stuff and mombloggers are already an honest group--why is the FTC getting involved?" and while I agree I've noticed a few disturbing trends that I'm not entirely comfortable with.

1. Product reviews are becoming ineffective.
I've wondered if the days of blogging product reviews are limited--or at least limited for all but the very highest tier of bloggers, i.e. those that see enough traffic to make the whole thing cost-effective because product reviews are becoming so common their power is diluted. You know how I said that I got such a burst of traffic when I first did giveaways? Well while after a year my overall traffic had increased and caught up to what it was on weekends but the weekend giveaways didn't grow likewise, that traffic stayed stagnant and now my week day posts are by far more popular (which is typical of blogging traffic).

Readers have so many things pitched to them that they're starting to tune a lot of it all out the way you tune out commercials on television and radio or ads in a newspaper. They're demanding better and better stuff and some have stopped entering giveaways all together because they've entered every contest they've seen for a year and still haven't won one stinkin' thing so why bother to continue?

Right now companies are experimenting with reaching out to mombloggers but I think that it won't take too many years before they figure out how to do it smarter--i.e. demand that momblogs tell them specifics about their readership and traffic and limit their offers to those that make it cost effective. That doesn't necessarily mean those with the biggest reader base, someone might have a very loyal following that is smaller but more focused on a particular topic, but I do think they're going to figure things out in another year or two or five and the market will naturally adjust.

Which leads me to point number two . . .

2. Blogs should not be judged by what they review or give away.
In fact that's completely backwards of how it's supposed to work--blogs judging products.

Now that I'm working on the marketing end of things and reaching out to bloggers the same way marketing people have reached out to me I'm a little more cognizant of blog statistics. I've seen how blogs can be selected for product reviews and frankly, just because you're giving things away doesn't mean you have good content, a large readership or a blog that will be around for the long haul. It just means that you got someone's notice for one reason or another.

Maybe your content fit the product, maybe they found you through dumb luck, maybe through the friend of a friend, whatever, but I don't like the way that product reviews have become a blogging status symbol as if you're only a quality blog or a blog worthy of notice if you've got products flowing to your door. In fact, I find that often the exact opposite is true, that those blogs who have the best writing and quality content are usually those who shy away from reviews. Doesn't mean they never do them, it's just not their bread and butter. Or Wonder Bread and Land o' Lakes in product placement terms.

I've had readers tell me specifically that they skip my giveaways (even my husband has told me that) and I have to say I don't like reading reviews myself. They're usually boring. They're usually very flat copy wrapped up as a glorified advertisement--not that there's anything wrong with advertising, which is one of the major arteries of capitalism (Long live capitalism!)

But the blogs I love the most generally don't do reviews and don't need to--they've got other things to say.

3. Product reviews are inherently biased.
I've said it too. "My reviews are completely my own opinion, nobody has got me in their pocket and I'm open and above-board." However . . . I have seen things that make me think otherwise and even make me question my own integrity.

Oh not that I think anyone is guilty of any great sham out there, mombloggers are generally great and good and nice, but here's an example: I got some toys from a company about a year ago, some paint-ball guns. I gave them to my boys to try them out and within five minutes they came back saying the guns were junk. They didn't shoot properly, they were weak and generally poor quality.

I emailed the company telling them my objections and they thanked me for my opinion and I never wrote the post. I didn't give away any of their guns because I couldn't in good conscience encourage people to buy the product. So I guess I got points for not scamming you all but then was it wrong not to write about my experience? My policy has been not to write about stuff I don't like but then I go to the other extreme and only post on products I do like--like that quilt company I mentioned this weekend. Them I liked.

But the crux of the issue is that mombloggers (including me) are too nice to want to crush a company with a bad review so instead we don't write them at all. There's a whole mountain of negative posts on rejected products out there that you'll never read because we don't want to make someone cry by saying that they're selling junk.

Do readers deserve to find out what they should avoid? I think so. That's what Consumer Reports offers and it seems pretty honest. Me? I don't know that I'm at that level and I don't know that any momblogger can be until we're doing the same thing Consumer Reports does: buying all of the products we review ourselves rather than receiving them for free. Bias gone, problem solved. But is there bias? You bet there is.

I subscribed to one particular blog that I liked quite a bit (no names, thank you) and I saw that on her own in a post she slammed Crocs. She said they were ugly and a definite fashion "don't." I chuckled because, frankly, I too dislike the shoes and I gave her the mental thumbs up. But wouldn't you know it, just a month or two later there she was on her blog, pushing Crocs, because the company had offered her the shoes and now she was a spokesman. Forget that she'd said she didn't like them before, forget that the shoes she was selling were completely hideous (one of their uglier styles), the point is she was there with a smile saying in a very ambiguous way how comfortable they were, skirting all around the issue of her real opinion that that those shoes should never come in contact with anyone's feet unless it was a choice between wearing those plastic "Holy Mary Jane Monsters, Batman!" and a pair of trash bags.

I unsubscribed and stopped visiting which may seem unfair but the obvious bias turned me off. Maybe she legitimately changed her mind or had a reason why things were now different but I had a hard time reconciling the change in position enough to continue reading.

And while that's a bit extreme I see a lot of bloggers pushing products and we're generally doing it because we're being offered free stuff, not because we bought the products ourselves and want to share our happiness with you. There's nothing wrong with making money or getting something for free but I'm human and it will always influence my opinion. Anything I get for free I feel more favorable toward than something I have to pay for, right?

I've seen the Frigidaire campaign offering moms new appliances and I can't agree with it because not only has my experience with Frigidaire been anything but happy, but when I posted about my dissatisfaction I got enough comments from readers sharing their experiences with the company that led me to believe I'm not alone and that the only reason I got my money refunded in the end was because I had a platform on which to rant.

But boy . . . if they came knocking on my door to offer me all new Frigidaire appliances the temptation to put all my experience aside and "give them another chance" would perhaps be more than I could bear. I'm glad they didn't come knocking. (What would have kept me strong is remembering how the Frigidaire stuff broke down . . . I've had good luck with my Amanas and wouldn't want to trade them in).

Try as we might, we mombloggers are too nice to give readers the bad reviews and we're such novices and amateurs in the media that the thrill of getting something for free makes us cut companies all sorts of slack. We end up pushing all sorts of things we'd probably never push to our friends in real life on our own.

So maybe the FTC is smarter than us all and is trying to give us a hint that we need to start looking at ourselves a bit more closely and thinking about that undercurrent of motives. I know I am and I'm seriously considering getting out of the giveaway business for good.

But then it's hard to stop . . . I love getting so much free stuff!


No snow yet . . . but you can still enter this month's Write-Away Contest. It's going to leave you shaking in your boots.

Sponsored by Beau-Coup for unique baby shower favors.


PJ said...

Do you have o pay income tax on things you receive if you do not give them away? Or SHOULD you?

Amanda {My Life Badly Written} said...

Hmm interesting post. I have only been blogging since June and I am in Australia so I am not actually sure what the rules are here.

It's a fine line isn't it? I don't do giveaways myslef and don't enter any either. I am usually not eligiable anyway being is Oz and that could be a reason I shy away.

I think if you are honest and upfront about the product then it's fine. I also think that before you review the product that maybe you let the company know that if you do not like the product then you will give a negative review which may make dogdy companies (like the gun one you mentioned) think twice.

Great thought provoking post!

Unplanned Cooking said...

Very interesting post.

I am conflicted about this -- I haven't started writing product reviews or doing giveaways yet, and I agree with you that they would be inherently biased (and you should be required to disclose). I think it changes what you write about to (I saw that refrigerator contest and was considering writing a blog for it -- not one I would normally write but one I would write to win). So even if you do disclose, you are still writing for somebody else and not yourself, and I think your voice would come across differently. Is that okay? I think it's fine if that's what you want, but for now I'm thinking if I want to develop a brand, I need to write what I want to write.

Lis Garrett said...

I thought this was a great post, Michelle.

Personally speaking, I don't usually enter giveaways or read review posts, and I'm doing neither on my own site now. They're EVERYWHERE. In fact, I've begun to unsubscribe from those blogs whose content is mostly reviews and giveaways.

There was one time I was asked to review a soy-based pudding snack. My kids HATED it, and I thought it was disgusting, too. Although I would have given a fair, although negative, review, I emailed the company and told them we didn't like their product and to know what to expect from my review. They wrote back and told me not to post anything. How's that being fair or truthful?

Heart2Heart said...


Great post today with so much confusion going on in the world with the new FTC rulings! I am fine with just using my blog as a journal and an outlet to meet new people. Occasionally do a book review for one of my favorite publishers but that is it.

Love and Hugs ~ Kat

Patricia Linehan said...

Good points. A few months back, I reviewed a book (it was a mixed review-- I always start with the positive and end with the negative) and the author(!) actually commented and seemed a bit offended that I'd found a few things I didn't like (although she did thank me for my honest review). It is a fine line though.

On another note, I enjoy your weekly giveaways. It's when a blogger does more reviews and giveaways than actual everyday posts that I get turned off. It's like they're just blogging to get free stuff...

Flea said...

I don't usually enter your weekend giveaways because I work weekend nights. :( It makes me sad.

I haven't had a lot of experience with companies wanting me to try their stuff. I try and be honest, but I appreciate your reminder. I recently got something for a company for whom I run an ad and it wasn't what I expected, so I need to blog about it.

On the flip side, a company asked me to advertise in exchange for merchandise. I said yes, posted the link, it didn't show, too the link down. Liked the product and wanted it, but found it on EBay for a fraction of the value they'd quoted.

Another company contacted me (I think it was the same one, different name and site) with the same merch, asking me to advertise. Offered me merchandise. I emailed back, told them I'd just purchased said item for 20 bucks instead of 160, that it wasn't worth a year of advertising for 20 bucks, would they be willing to try again with money? Never heard back.

Mommy bloggers may be honest and fun. The people preying on us aren't always.

M said...

Lots of food for thought here...On the "Should I do negative reviews?" I appreciate your blog because it is generally a positive experience when I visit it. I get a chuckle, or a great new link, or something to think about. What I don't come here for is negativity. (I realize I kind of think of it as a negative-free space on the blogosphere.) So, the bottom line is, I think that I appreciate that you don't do negative reviews.

BTW: Snow in Minnesota today. We beat ya!

Scribbit said...

And I understand what you mean M, I don't like reading negative stuff myself typically and tend to edge away from it. It just feels so cheap.

PJ--I'm afraid I have no advice on the tax issue though someone left a comment in last week's post about the FTC that mentioned it and seemed to indicate that you should declare the value of the item on your taxes.

Headless Mom said...

As usual, a lot to think about Michelle. Thanks. I've been thinking a lot about blogging lately and this just fuels the fire. (I actually wrote about it today as well, but not about the review process.)

NGS said...

Snow here in Minneapolis today!! Yay!! It's so pretty!!

MommyK said...

I think product reviews and giveaways CAN be valuable *IF* they are done right...but in so many cases, they aren't. And that's why the FTC had to step in. A friend of mine has a review blog and I have her on my reader out of loyalty, but I almost never read her reviews and just read the stuff about her kids. It's boring, and as long as I have known her, she has NEVER had a negative opinion of something.

Now, that may be due to the fact that a lot of bloggers, myself included, don't take on a review unless it's something they are interested in. I wouldn't review a book on crying it out because my family doesn't practice that, and I wouldn't review a lot of packaged foods because we don't eat them.

However, I do sort of think it's cheating to not publish a bad review. I did a review last year of a dinner set from Prego and my opinion was lukewarm. Basically, I said, "I like the idea, but it needs some improvement. Go for the sauce, but choose another pasta." The HR rep I was working with thanked me for my honest review...and then I never heard from her again. My reviews have always been transparent, but I think a lot of bloggers feel pressured to put up a good review so the trickle of free stuff doesn't stop. And in my friend's case, it really helps them because her husband's job is shaky due to the economy and I know it's a relief to not have to put money towards toys and clothes and shoes for her kids when she can get them for free by offering her opinion. Although I do wonder where she puts all that stuff she gets!

I do like to do giveaways, because if I believe in a product, I want to share it, but I don't do it to bring extra traffic to my site. I noticed that my stats would go up for a giveaway, then go right back down when it was over. I stopped advertising giveaways on a lot of places, because people would visit my site to enter, and then never return. I like it better when I can offer giveaways to more regular readers who stick around to read what else I have written too.

I haven't done a giveaway in months, but I'm getting ready to do one for Disney On Ice tickets. It's something fun for the family to do together, and I'm not ashamed to say that it's cool they gave me tickets too. Otherwise we probably wouldn't go. And I try to keep them to a minimum, because first and foremost, my site is about my family and my kids, and I don't want to lose sight of that.

Great post, lots to think about here!

Laura said...

I too only write reviews of the products I like but that is because I don't like to waste my time on writing down negative thoughts. It's how I am in real life too so I hope that comes across on the blog. Having said that I don't do reviews very frequently because they take so much time and research and as well I don't like to bombard my readers with too many at once.

MommyK said...

P.S. About the tax issue--over the summer, I was one of 5 bloggers that did a review of a menu planning and shopping system through Kraft Foods. I was compensated both for my time and for the items I bought, and Kraft gave me a very specific transparency clause that I had to include in my posts. Anyway, I asked about the tax thing and was told that the giveaway items were priced at an amount that meant I didn't have to do anything, and my monetary compensation should be claimed as income from being self employed. Which means that I lose a big chunk of it to social security tax. Something to consider when taking on a review or payment.

Momish said...

This is a great post, Michelle, because like you said this is becoming a bigger deal. I was contacted recently to review a product. First time ever and I was really not sure what to do. I ended up doing the review (free stuff is nice indeed) and am grateful I actually liked the product!
But truth be told, no one will read it since I do not have a large reader base. I think you are right that companies will start to demand minimal traffic, stats, etc. And unfortunately, I think that will have a negative effect on blogging. Because then it will force people to do anything to build traffic to be able to get free stuff.

I appreciate your honesty in this post as someone who knows a lot about it and has really put much thought into the topic.

thordora said...

This was a great post on the subject. (and as someone who has sold appliances in the past-HELLS YES on the Frigidaire. And a bigger HELLS YES on the Amana's. LOVE their products-I'd review Amana's in a heartbeat.)

I just noticed too many people are sacrificing this little thing called ethics in order to get something for free. Most things reviewed I wouldn't want-and I wouldn't want to review for a company that only used me if I was lying.

There's nothing I want bad enough to lie for personally.

CrAzY Working Mom said...

Wonderful post! As a "small time" mommy blogger, I do some reviews here and there. I work with a publishing company and do DVD reviews which works out great for my family. We receive DVDs that we would otherwise be purchasing in exchange for a link. I always give my honest opinion. Most of the time we LOVE the movies. There have been a time or two when the kids did and I didn't. I'm always honest, though. If it costs me the company's business in the end, then so be it.

Thanks for posting this. It's a must read for many bloggers out there.

The Girl Revolution said...

Excellent Post. I too was excited about the $300 makeup I scored - at first.

Then I realized I NEVER would have bought the stuff and had basically negated all the real advertising that company might've done before Mommy Bloggers were giving it up for free - you know the kind where they pay you in MONEY. Money, you can pay your mortgage and car payment with - Makeup you can not. Then you have to pay taxes on it.

I think moms are selling their true worth out for a box of Cheerios (seriously saw a woman do a youtube ad for a box of cereal - CEREAL people - she sold her ad-space/blog-space/time/praise, etc for $3.50.)

I used to do giveaways and reviews (I still review pertinent books) until I realized that what it amounts to is FREE WORK. It's another way for women to give themselves away for free - or a "free sample" to be more accurate. It's time consuming, its an energy suck and you're absolutely right - we ARE swayed by the courtesy of free stuff.

Back in the day I used to get free trips as a travel reporter. I once stayed in a hotel that was terrible - nearly killed myself in the bathroom on wet marble floors, their "baby-sitting service" was a scrounged up concierge's mother. But, I never said a bad thing about that hotel b/c I was grateful for their generosity and you're right - I didn't want to make anyone cry. Ditto the jewelry that fell apart, the necklace that gave me a rash, and the toys my children won't play with because they are boring and lame. (This is why I dislike that pharmaceutical companies give free stuff/trips to Drs. too.)

I no longer enter contests either b/c of the hoops - enter twitter, FB, rub head and tummy, yada, yada.

But, offer me a free trip someone and I'm totally for sale. LOL

Candace April said...

A few thoughts:

1. Honestly, I don't read a lot of product reviews even though I write them. There are a few I've read that I think were very well-done and a few blogs that focus on these that I do read regularly...but generally, no. HOWEVER, as an editor of a product review blog, I can tell you people do read them. They do like them. There's an audience for pretty much everything.

2. When we started, there were only about a dozen review blogs. They all focused on a different aspect of reviewing products. Some suited my tastes (or means!) more than others but they were unique. Now it feels like every blog has the same products over and over again. Many just post the press release. I know because I got the press release e-mailed to me, too.

3. I think it is fine if a blog only reviews products they liked--yes, people are also interested in negative reviews, but if you are focused on "finds" or "picks" then generally it is more about what is cool than what you found did not work. Positive or a mix, as long as you are honest, I think you'll keep your integrity and your readers.

4. I think that, in general, it is a good ROI for most companies to send out product. The links alone are generally worth it--I suspect there are a number of companies that view product samples as a cheap, non-Google irking way of buying links. I wonder what would happen to all those samples if bloggers added nofollow to the links.

5. Companies are definitely looking at more innovative ways of reaching out to mom bloggers and even to other mom influencers who may not blog at all (such as through playgroups). And the more talented and hardworking bloggers are learning to "pitch back" so that they are adding value to their communities and their own lives. I think this will evolve and it will be interesting to see how.

At any rate, very interesting post as always!

tjhirst said...

Thanks for your honesty Michelle! We beat you on snow? Wow. I wish we hadn't. We had snow on Saturday, Sunday and today nd its looking to stay around with temps under freezing. The leaves haven't even dropped their leaves.

Kim said...

I like how you keep your reviews and giveaways in perspective and on a schedule; some blogs intersperse them too much with their writing, and it gets wearisome. I'm just about ready to unsubscribe to a blog because the author reviews and gives away so much that her writing—which I really do enjoy—is getting rare.

BlondeMomBlog (Jamie) said...

I think Bossy (Georgia Getz) does a great job of incorporating product reviews and giveaways on her humor blog.

This is a slippery slope issue for me. I launched a separate blog last May solely for reviews and giveaways because they didn't feel like a good "fit" for my regular blog. However, I will still occasionally do a giveaway at my main site if it is a good content fit (i.e. I just gave away a Southern humor book...makes sense since I am Southern!)

I turn down many pitches and I try to focus on products that "make sense" for my family. For example, I don't write reviews about infant/pregnancy products.

I think this has all just brought a new level of awareness to reviews and hopefully will legitimize blogging as a mainstream medium. There is definitely a whole new "review/giveaway" blog genre out there now that didn't exist four years ago when I started blogging.

p.s. I was one of the lucky Frigidaire moms...honestly that was a review opportunity I could not turn down!

Melissa Stover said...

interesting post. i think it is something we are all thinking about right now. things change so quickly in the landscape of blogging. i imagine things will look very different in a couple of years.

Daisy said...

I wrote a negative review for a book that was sincerely awful. The sponsoring site asked me to modify the review or they wouldn't link to it! I was appalled. Take the review down, maybe, but change it? No. Integrity is worth something, I think. Maybe. Perhaps.

thediaperdiaries said...

WEll what timing!! You write this as I gear up for a big ole stretch of reviews and giveaways on my blog because I just had a baby and am frankly too tired to put together "creative" posts. Here is the thing about it: I have begun soliciting companies that make products I care about and want to promote rather than respond to all the crappy ones that pitch me stupid stuff. That way when I promote something it is typically something that I really loved anyway, but just happened to get for free.

I think (hope) most readers can see through a real review and someone blowing smoke up my you know what. I can't stand reviews that cleary just regurgitated whatever press release they got. I want to know truly why they loved the product. Something you do very well.

I too am tired of the status symbol side of things and although this will sound like a jealous rant, very sick of the same freakin 20 bloggers doing all of the bigger product reviews. Because frankly their blogs have started to suck and sound like one big infomercial.

Which is ironic because for the month of August that is pretty much what mine will tend to be. But I have some good giveaways so come on over ;)

Dr. Dolly said...

You voice some of the very concerns I have regarding reviews I read and those I write. Sometimes I wonder if mom bloggers are getting the short end of the stick as underpaid marketing/advertising personnel for companies with our loyal and regular readers. We spend lots of time writing the reviews, pushing the giveaways on our networks, and running fair contests...all for some "free stuff".

I agree that I'd rather not write a completely negative review than promote something I like (and note pros and cons) or something I love. After all, once something's posted on the internet, it's ALWAYS there.

I don't know of many or ANY Mom blogs with seething and in-your-face reviews on crappy products, but if a mom blogger DID start writing that way, she might have the readership area of the market cornered.

Anonymous said...

i like the blog and your tips, recipes,crafts, and giveaways. Haven't won any yet but I most always enter.

Taxes should be a 4 letter word. What can we do but pay them.

Brigitte said...

I love when you post stuff like this... just sharing your honest opinion.

I've never been offered free stuff to promote but I do enjoy reading what other bloggers like so I share my favorite products too. But when I see bloggers highlighting their sponsors I skip those posts since "they are being paid to say that."

It'll be interesting to see how, if at all, things change around the blogosphere.

Lori said...

Very good points. Especially that there is an inherent bias--aside from not actually having to shell out for the product one reviews (after all, one can only imagine what it would be like to take the money from her budget), it's hard to say negative things about a company. I can understand not giving a review at all. So many of these companies are new start ups or smaller companies driven by aspiring parent-inventors. We empathize for them and it would be really hard to give them negative publicity.

And while I do tune out many reviews, there are some that I can't help love reading, like this one blogger's take on a tv show, or your quilt review (which is still in my mind--such a beautiful gift for her).

Anonymous said...

I simply skip the reviews that don't interest me at first glance. Two of your reviews/giveaways have led to me purchasing from the companies. I recently purchased from Alison Kelley Designs after discovering her jewelry on your blog. I'm also a repeat customer of JaC Jewelry after you had a giveaway for one of her gorgeous pieces. Please don't stop!

Janet said...

I had my very first offer of a freebie in exchange for posting a link on my blog. I haven't done it yet because I haven't posted in over a month. I can't decide if I want to yet. I feel like I ought to buy something first, see if the customer service and all are OK, then accept the offer of a freebie. But I'm not that interested in getting busy with a bunch of promotions. I kind of like being anonymous with my 20 or so bloggy buddies who check on me when I don't post in awhile. :)

Monkey's Momma said...

Michelle, Thanks for the excellent post! I have recently had much the same thoughts as you.

Stephanie Frieze said...

Very thorough and thought provoking. I will tell my fellow blogoias about it!

An Ordinary Mom said...

What an interesting post, and I loved reading the comments, too.

Anonymous said...

I write negative reviews of books (DON'T ask me about "Twilight") because if I didn't I wouldn't be doing my job as a librarian and might as well work for a bookstore.

Blog reviews won't last, but I can tell you that I have never been dissatisfied with a product I have bought after reading reviews on People really give you honest opinions when they've plunked their hard earned money down to buy stuff!

Laurel Nelson said...

I followed your link to the Frigidaire article, and I gotta say, you should use Omega Technical Service next time you need appliance fixin. I've used them several times, and have liked them. They don't generally make you wait a long time to get someone out, and there is no whining or griping from the repair guy - in fact, I think the owner of the company is the one who comes out. At least it's the same guy every time. He's pretty nice too. So there ya go. :) And I have heard that Frigidaire is not a very reliable brand also. Consumer Reports consistently puts Kenmore near the top of their ratings. (I ALWAYS check Consumer Reports)

Laurel Nelson said...

Oh and I like your reviews too. You introduced me to Shabby Apple, which I think is a great place. Thank you!

Kristen M. said...

You've described my feelings better than I could. I have not blogged since July. I've been re-thinking my motivations for blogging. It started innocently. First I blogged about family life. Then after winning a few contests on other blogs, I became "addicted" to entering contests. Next I sought out products that I was passionate about and posted reviews/giveaways on my blog. Finally companies approached me with their products and I gladly posted reviews in exchange for product. But what has happened is that I've become disinterested in my own blog - I've realized that I'm longer writing for myself. I do hope to return to blogging in the future. Right now I'm content with reading other blogs. I've slowly begun unsubscribing from "mom communities" and "mom marketing" campaigns. Removing temptation has been extremely freeing!

Carrie-in-TN said...

What you said. The point that hits home, and one I make when I talk about giveaways, is that women are reluctant to slam a product. I was a newspaper reporter so the idea of not writing about something because it stinks is contrary to my training...Hence, I don't think of much on a "mom blog'' as a review, but an endorsement.

I've done a few giveaways on my blogs and I thoroughly do not enjoy them. They're more work than pumping out a 400-word essay. Call me cranky, but I'm leaning more toward "Hey, company slap an ad on my site, so we can both be obvious.''


Adventures In Babywearing said...

I've found that honestly, I'd RATHER buy things myself than get it for free. It's not really free if you have to work for it, write about it, and diminish your own brand or reputation for it.

Some bloggers have been able to do it all and still come out on top, but lately I am thinking I don't want to be lumped in with many of the review bloggers. I've really stopped doing reviews or trips unless it is completely something that is SO me.

I think some people got carried away and now say yes to anything and everything. It takes away the authenticity, like you referred to about the Crocs. I did say yes to Frigidaire because I hadn't had any experience with them before and had a broken fridge that needed to be replaced. Nice timing! But had I not been a fan before, it wouldn't have made sense for me to align with them. (That is one of the reasons I said no to Nestle and a few other trips/pitches lately.)

I've also seen many Mom bloggers get burned out and depressed, taken away from their children and their home because they are flying off to another brand headquarters or Blogging conference. If they set out to do this professionally, great. But if they are supposed to be a stay at home Mom? I see negative effects of being gone all the time for BLOGGING- it drains you and for little or no pay. Bloggers really need to ask themselves if it's really worth it.

Often I wonder if it's more about getting more famous or popular in the blogosphere. Which is so very fleeting. And silly if you think about it.

It could be that personally I'm just not into this kind of thing anymore and I don't want to rain on anyone else's parade. I've been around for a while, though, and things are just *different*... and not in a good way.


PS Sorry I just wrote a post in my comment, but I have felt passionately about this lately!

J at said...

I never get anything for free. Maybe that makes me feel more free to say I don't like a product. Not that I do many reviews, but if for some reason I go to a restaurant (which most readers don't care about because they don't live near me), or read a book, or try a product, that I don't like, I say why. I think that's the least I can do, because if it's a great product, I want to know it. And if it falls short, I want to know that, too.

miriama said...

I started entering blog contests because it is a great way to win things for my granddaughter. I have won pedipeds, etc and I dream of winning See Kai Run! LOL I started a blog because it was an extra entry for many. It is more like a journal for me. I would never do giveaways or reviews because basically I am an introvert and that puts me "out there" past my comfort zone.

As far as other blogs and giveaways I am annoyed by many. I just know that some of those products are not that great and if you have to give a review that isn't completely honest in order to give something away...then don't. I have seen a lot that I know were slanted. I will visit some blogs because the prize is amazing BUT the ones I subscribe to, the ones on my favorites (yours for example) are because they are written so well. I don't always reply but I do read yours EVERY day. I like the recipes, the stories about your family and even if I don't agree with everything you say, at least you are gentle about it. You know what I mean?

AND the single most annoying part of blogs is just when I think I left high school behind, here come THOSE blogs. Ones with awards, cliques, blog-bashing, snooty blogs..y'all know which ones I am talking about. Next teen movie up: Bitches who Blog. Um, did I say that out loud?

And on that note I must add I haven't gotten a newsletter at my yahoo in a while. Did you stop?

MelADramatic Mommy said...

Thank you for your insight Michelle. I agree with you. I think (actually I hope) that marketers will stop being so lazy. As one person pointed out, the same people are presented with the same opportunities, over and over. As a reader, it gets boring.

I've stopped reading many blogs because the sidebar clutter from their badges and the amount of "stuff" they talk about is overwhelming and uninteresting.

Lately I've turned down almost every pitch that has come my way. Nothing has "fit." I've also upped the dollar value for giveaway items and said I may charge a fee depending on what the company's requirements are. Basically, I decided to stop giving away my space for free.

As for the trips, it seems many moms are going on the same junkets, which, in my mind, diminishes the product a little, especially if one of the mom ends up pitching another brand of same product weeks later.

To respond to Steph (Adventures in Babywearing) no one is taking these women away. They have the option to say no, as you have done. If blogging has become such a chore, then it seems they need to re-evaluate why they're doing it in the first place and why they don't feel comfortable turning down a trip. As you said, the status they gain from attending only lasts so long. (Not to pick on you, the choice of words just stuck with me)

This space we've created for ourselves seems to be constantly evolving and changing. What has started out as a hobby for so many has become a lifestyle and a career. In the end, IMHO I think it all comes back to good content. If a site consistently has something people want to read, the traffic and subsequent "fame" will follow.

Kerja Keras Adalah Energi Kita said...

what a great and interesting post for us !! thanks a lot for sharing with us

SkippyMom said...

Hi I have been reading your blog this evening [just found it]and would like to comment on what I did when I was given a product that I disliked.

I wrote the company, explained why and didn't like it and offered to return and not write a post or write an honest post. Surprisingly they said I could keep the product and I was to be completely honest as to why I didn't like it.

So I posted honestly [this piece of kitchenware had a lot of flaws] and also added the disclaimer about being contacted by them[not vice versa] and that the product was free...blah, blah, blah.

I couldn't post a false review but I felt I had to post some sort of review since they asked. So that works for me.

And if you only post about what you like doesn't that make your reviews skippable? If you post it you must like it right?

Anyway - I like your blog. Thanks for all the good tips and recipes. Neat!