The other day on Twitter, I sent out this tweet:
Since starting my review-only blog with Full Nest Reviews, I’ve become painfully aware of a rift in “mommy blogging” that somehow equates review bloggers as bottom-feeders. We are greedy, product-hungry, attention-seeking bloggers who are reaping the benefits of the trail real mommy bloggers have blazed for us in social media. Excuse me while I puke just a little.
I don’t owe anyone an explanation of why I finally decided to launch a review blog, but I’m going to put it out there anyway. If only to toss one tiny little drop into the bucket of reason.
First of all, this is not a facet of blogging that *I* created. The conversation between marketers and mommy bloggers really WAS created by trailblazing female bloggers (moms and not moms alike), and I thank them for it! And as long as that conversation was already happening, I wanted to check it out.
I find it fascinating to talk with company reps and pr reps about different products and learn about different marketing angles. I find it a great challenge to design, build, and grow a blog in this dynamic internet environment. I love connecting with other bloggers in an atmosphere that is generally fun and exciting. ABOVE ALL, I love the writing – writing reviews is the closest thing to “reporting” that I’ve done since my stint on the high school newspaper. I take it seriously, I keep it personal; it’s me, it’s not QVC. I enjoy it immensely.
I do not enjoy when someone accuses me of selling out. Of exploiting my kids. Oh my word, is there nothing better for you to decry in a public platform than how I choose to use this borrowed Dell laptop?
I heard a blogger say that the swelling tide of product review bloggers has plummetted the “stock” of “real” bloggers – after all, if a company can get a mom to work for product, why should they negotiate with a mom who works for pay? I see the point, and honestly, I don’t know what to say. All I know is that the majority of moms at home becoming interested in product reviews don’t have 45 hours a week to dedicate to it, or stacks of money to invest in it, or sometimes even the connections, know-how or desire to be the end-all of mommy bloggers everywhere. We’re finding a niche where our life and lifestyles fit, and we’re making it work for us. Which does not mean we’re trying to take anything away from you. Is there really not room for everyone at the social media inn?
To add insult to injury, the FTC is currently reviewing legislation that would hold bloggers liable for opinions expressed in the course of a product review. The idea being: if a blogger is provided a free item in return for a review, the blogger is then acting as an agent for that company. If someone buys the product based on the blogger’s review, and files a complaint against the legitimacy of the blogger’s claims, then the blogger could be held liable for, in essence, “false advertising.” It is also heavily implied that product reviews provided by mommy bloggers cannot generally be considered reliable, anyway, since we’re apparently held so tightly in sway by the companies we work with. It pulls any hint of legitimacy right out from under us.
There are SO many implications in the FTC’s thinking and theory. Not the least of which is that apparently they think my integrity can be bought with a box of fruit rolls (which I’ll be reviewing next week, thankyouverymuch). Seriously, you think the fact that I receive a product for free means I’ve become a company talking head? That I can’t think for myself? That my opinion has been dictated to me once my name gets put on that shipping label?
I also resent the assumption that people searching product reviews online aren’t savvy enough to consult many reviews before purchasing an item, or that they shouldn’t be held responsible for the purchasing choices THEY make (though I suppose there is a heady thrill to thinking the FTC believes I am so all-powerful). It makes me wonder if we’re not governing for the lowest common denominator here.
My head spins to think of everything I’ve learned in just three short weeks on this new journey. Sometimes I feel like Little Red Riding Hood, trying to stay on a path riddled with distractions and angry, hungry creatures. If I really were her, though , I think now would be the time to pull my hood a little tighter and keep my vision focused. After all, I’ve probably got a review due soon for the yummy treats I’m bringing to Grandma.