Quit Harshing My Blog Mellow

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.

  • Lis

    Wow, Stacey. I didn’t realize review bloggers were so frowned upon. Quite personally, I *love* your reviews, especially the few you’ve written for Root & Sprout, because they are so THOROUGH and WELL-WRITTEN. I can tell you really put a lot of time and effort into the product you’re writing about.

    Keep doing what you’re doing. I know many parents rely upon the opinions of review bloggers to help them find the best products out there.

  • Mom

    Hear! Hear Stacey!! Let’em have it! ANYONE who knows you…knows there’s no way you can be “bought” for any amount of money….or product. And one thing you have never lacked is an opinion…and an HONEST opinion to boot! You’ve always given me your opinion…even at age 2!! 🙂 Do your thing Honey…you do it so well. Remember…half the people will love you and the other half won’t…no matter what you do!xoxoxoxoxoxo 🙂

  • Thank you for the compliment, Lis! I think the camp of bloggers who frown upon reviewers is still small, but they’re loud (and to me, obviously annoying!). The ABC News article I linked to about the FTC committee has some replies in the comment section that show some people really have no respect for reviewers. I just find it really frustrating, because integrity and quality are really important to me, whether I’m writing an article for Root & Sprout, a personal blog post or a review.

  • Forget fair trade (and free trade’s accompanying human rights violations). Let’s attack a group of women who perform a service for others by doing the leg work to secure free samples and then explain the ups and downs of the products. But hey, if this goes through, maybe I can get my money back for Breaking Dawn.

    Missed you at Book Club last night.

  • Jen

    While I don’t ever plan on becomming a reviewer myself, I’ve loved learning about different products from the review blogs I read and have “won” several items in the past 6 months since I started really looking at review blogs. Keep up the good work Stacey and don’t let the vocal minority get you down.

  • Well, if you’re little Red Riding Hood, I say keep on leadin’ ’em to “Grandmother’s” cottage where she will reveal her big teeth and eat them up! lol And then maybe she can post a review on how they tasted. 🙂

  • rdefnet

    I’m not really sure how to respond. I filter out what I am and am not interested in. If I don’t care about the product, I don’t read the review and am, therefore, not swayed.

    I appreciate when people give honest reviews and almost look for the “but” somewhere in the writeup when deciding whether a review is credible. Plus I recognize that every product has its good and bad points, and I’d like to know what the bads points are so I can use my own value-o-meter to decide whether I’d give weight to those same drawbacks.

    On a personal level, I enjoy reading your product reviews more for your writing style and your wit than because of the products being advertised. You got skills, girl!

    This doesn’t really relate to your question, but have you read The Prize Winner of Definace, Ohio? The new mommy blogger trend reminds me of the contest era days of the 50s and 60s in that there are always ways for talented women to do something enriching for themselves, connect with one another, and hopefully provide opportunities for their families.

    Okay, I think that concludes my lengthy, random comments.

    Best wishes for your new blog baby! May the two of you grow and thrive together. And happy anniversary!

  • I like review blogs, personally! Just recently I was thinking about how these days, when I’m looking for advice about something, I look first to bloggers. If I look up a product on Amazon, I might find a little blurb someone wrote about it. But if I look on blogs, I’ll find well-thought-out reviews of products, possibly with pictures of little blogger-lets playing with the products (if they’re toys!) I think sometimes people get review blogs mixed up with paid posts, where some people do write positive things about a product because thats what they’re getting paid for.

  • Wowza!

    I am totally shocked to hear that some people have such issues with review blogs. I’m thinking if they don’t like them, than why don’t they just NOT read ’em!
    I personally think that review blogs are a great resource, and you’re right- people should be doing their own research, and visiting blog reviews can be a part of that research.

    For what it’s worth, I think you’re GREAT! Do your thing, and never mind about what people think.
    I LOVE your style of writing and know that your new blog will be a HUGE success!

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