April 3, 2013

Question: How Come I Don't See Negative Posts on Your Blog?

Oh boy this is a good one!  Every once in a while I'll have a friend or a reader ask why they never see any posts on my blog that show a product I don't like or would give a negative review to.  I guess I could go down that road and between you and me if I did it would probably bring more traffic to my site than all of the positive things that I write about great products.  But honestly, that's not what I'm after or I'd just be doing giveaways all day long.

We want the dirt!

It's human nature - we want to know what is wrong with things, find out what to avoid and quite frankly we want the dirt!  I get that, I really do BUT there is a part of me that is just uncomfortable with that.  Why?  A few reasons...

I don't want to waste your time.

It's true!  Your time is valuable to me.  Way more than my own time is of value to me.  I am grateful for the fact that you care about what I have to say.  I also respect the fact that odds are you are incredibly busy.  

If you read my blog, it probably means that you have kids and therefore I know just how precious your time is.  So with those couple of minutes I might have your attention each day I want to give you something good.  I want you to walk away from my blog feeling like you found something neat, uncovered a cool craft to add to your arsenal, learned something new or discovered a different way of thinking about a product.  

It's just not my style.

Seriously.  It's not.  Can I tell you a secret?  I've told you how I sort of fell into blogging, but had never really imagined it would be my career.  The number one reason?  I had a pretty negative view of bloggers before I started blogging.  For every good one out there I'm going to guesstimate there are 10 bad ones.  Maybe more.  If you had asked me what words came to mind when I heard the word blogger I would have told you narcissistic, hoarder, dramatic, greedy, entitled.  

It's true.  I really had a negative view of bloggers before I started.  I saw so many blogs that basically seemed to exist either to 1) receive lots of free products 2) find a way to exercise their cynical muscles 3) just bash companies and complain continuously about the perks they received or even worse 4) to glamorize every product they received whether they actually thought it was good or not.

Now I can say that I'm proud to know many amazing bloggers who are nothing like those qualities listed above.  They are people of a high moral conscience and have high standards. Most of them feel very much like I do and try to just ignore the insanity of the bloggers that exist only to sling mud, play games to boost their numbers and are just looking for more free stuff.  

It's a huge waste of my time too.

I'm not going to tell you how much work goes into each post I write because I don't want to complain about my job.  I love my job and I feel incredibly lucky that I get to wake up each day, spend time with my daughter and then do a unique job and spread the word about things I think are great.  

That being said, for every post you see I spend a great deal of time taking photos, editing those photos, experimenting with the product, talking to the company that makes the product, researching the web to see if there is something about the product I may have overlooked or not considered, writing about the product, editing that writing until I think it's something you might actually want to read and then spreading it around the web through social media channels.  So I don't want to waste the time I could have spent doing all of that for a great product on one I think stinks.  

So do companies send you stuff left and right?

Okay, another secret.  You may think a lot of products come through this crazy house of mine and you are 100% correct.  However that amount of stuff doesn't even compare to the amount that would if I said yes more frequently.  Believe it or not I get dozens of emails a week from companies wanting me to check out their products.  So now you can see just how few make it on to Mommy Testers.  Of all of those emails only a few end in me asking for a sample of their products.  

Again, this all goes back to the whole your time and my-time-is-valuable thing.  Also, I hate to accept products I don't think are going to be great because whoever made that product obviously does think it's great and I don't want to waste their products.  Some are large companies but many are also small business owners and parents just like me.  

I have a lot of friends who say things like "wow how cool, you must get so much free stuff."  Which I think is a common interpretation for those who don't actually write about products.  It's true, sometimes it's pretty cool.  When your child gets to check out a toy before it's released in stores - there is no question, it's cool.  

However that free stuff really isn't free and personally I feel that it comes with a lot of responsibility.  Responsibility for me to tell you how I really feel, to make sure I really spend time with each and every product and if a child should be abusing it, playing with it and trying it on, that has to happen too.  If it's a brand new product or a brand new company I know that sending me that item was a part of their budget, a labor of love and lots of consideration went into it so I want to make sure I do my part to help show just how cool it is if it meets my expectations.  Trust me, cool...but not really free.

What happens if you get a product you just don't like?

This sucks.  It does happen and there is no better way for me to say it.  It's the worst feeling.  Wouldn't you hate to send someone something and then hear from them that they just don't think it's right for their audience?  Yeah it totally does stink having to deliver that news.  It doesn't happen all that often because I try to really screen products well before ever even taking a sample, but I'm not always batting 1000.

I feel awful having to relay that news, but I do.   Because you know what would make me feel worse?  Telling you that you should run out and buy something when it's really not so great at all.  Just recently I had a company send me something that I thought would be great, but what I received wasn't very reflective the quality that they advertised their product as.

The company's response in hearing that I'm picky about what I show you was that they understood that they probably couldn't please me, but that they could please you guys, my readers.  Because obviously your standards are way lower than mine, right?  Can I get a heck no?  Your time and money is just as valuable if not more so than mine.  Right? Exactly.

It kind of made my blood boil.  Not because I was probably being called picky and difficult.  I have 3 sisters and a husband who will all attest to that.  In front of my face.  It was because they felt that my standards aren't the same as yours.  I'm a picky parent and so are you.  Otherwise you'd be out there buying every piece of junk that came your way and every product any blogger wrote about.  

How come I don't see that many giveaways on your site?

Ah.  The giveaway.  A blogger's best friend and possibly worst enemy.  Here's my take.  Most of the time you come to read my blog to check in, see what I'm covering and see if it's for you.  If we're like minded and we probably are if you listen to me ramble on then you're probably not highly motivated by free stuff.  Like I mentioned, I choose not to live in a house that looks like an episode of hoarders by saying no to most of the free stuff I'm offered and I assume you might do the same if you were me.

Therefore I tend to only do a giveaway when I really think it's something exciting and something you'll really want.  I do occasionally enter giveaways myself, but it has to be something good otherwise why bother?  Many bloggers use giveaways to boost their traffic and grow their social media following.  That's fine and I totally get it when it's something that is relevant to the content they discuss and something their readers might want.  But I will say you're not going to see random giveaways for iPads that have 90,000 entries and $20 Amazon gift cards on my site.

My logic is that the folks who tend to enter those are "giveaway pros" who spend tons of time entering giveaways all day in the hopes of winning something, anything.  Odds are they aren't so interested in why I genuinely like a product and will probably never become a customer of the brands that I work with so it's sort of a lose/lose scenario.   

 So will you ever write anything negative?

I guess it's a good idea to never say never.  It would have to really be such an awful thing that I truly felt in my heart of hearts I had a responsibility to tell you and not just on a personal level that it was a bad product or experience.  Like a "your child will almost certainly get hurt if they use this" kind of thing.  

This blog is really for you.  And thank you!

Having gotten all of that out and in the open I recognize the fact that this blog -while technically it's mine it really is for you.  Because when I started Mommy Testers it was to show you neat products and ideas as I discovered them along the way and to help other parents when looking for gifts and things to do with their kids or families.  You'll hear about my family and what's going on in our lives in bits and pieces, some more personal than others, mostly because I think it's so sweet of you to let me into your life, so it's only fair that I show you mine.  

And with that being said, THANK YOU because this month marks the one year anniversary of this blog and without you I guess I would just be a girl at her computer, playing with toys and writing with no one reading or listening.  I promise, year two will be filled with awesome things!!
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