Dance with the devil...

>> Friday, 14 November 2008

First off - it's been a blustery evening here Chez Potty. And not only because I've made the mistake of serving up chili con carne the very night after I gave the Boys chorizo casserole. (Will I ever learn?)

No, I'm being buffeted by more than the internal weather of my children, and I can't make up my mind about something. I need input, and here's why...

I'm at a bit of a crossroads - and so, it seems, are an increasing number of bloggers out there.

When I started this malarky, it was for a number of reasons, including (but not limited to); recording my darling Boys' antics (oh, how we laughed!); exercising the little grey matter I have left (could I still string a sentence together after 2 years of solitary confinement with my children?); to do something for myself; and not least, to connect with people worldwide that I would never usually have any cause to meet.

What it was not about, and what I was determined would never drive 'The Potty Diaries' was cash. Of course, if someone read my witterings and contacted me with an offer to be paid money for writing then I would have bitten their hand off, but I haven't written a single post with that aim in mind and have never really believed for a moment that it would happen. Which is lucky, because it hasn't.

What has happened, though, are two things.

1. Blogging is dead, apparantly. Wife in the North referred to it her most recent post - and check here on Wired for a pithy summary of why we bloggers are passe, according to those 'who know'. Apparantly the blogosphere has become a 'tsunami of paid bilge', and the cool kids can now be found elsewhere.

I take issue with this comment because as far as I'm aware most of the blogs that feature on my sidebar are neither bilge nor paid for, but who am I to argue against 'medja' opinion? However, whilst it may be true in general - and what would I know differently, being only a mummy blogger and all - the 'tsunami of bilge' is not the blogosphere that I inhabit, thank god. At least, not so far.

Which leads me very neatly onto the second thing.

2. Within the last 3 weeks I've been contacted by 4 or 5 separate pr and marketing agencies asking me to get involved in various panels and reviews of products, concepts, or ranges.

Now, I used to be in marketing myself. I like to think that I am not a complete idiot. There is clearly a current wave - you might almost call it a 'tsunami' of 'let's put the show on here!' enthusiasm going round these companies about this great new source of information and publicity that they've found in Mummy Blogland. And no doubt, the most exciting aspect for some of them (oh, alright, probably all of them) will be that it is mostly free. In my previous working life, I would no doubt have been presenting this concept to my clients with all the gung-ho 'it's a win-win situation' attitude I could muster.

At no stage have the parties who've been in contact offered to pay me. Should I agree to get involved, there is no obligation on my part to review these products or services favourably. I could be as rude as I like and not lose a night's sleep over it. But as someone who has not yet even made the jump and installed GoogleAds on my blog, it just doesn't feel right.

It feels more than a little bit like exploitation, and as if I would be adding to the seas of 'paid bilge' that those who are - ironically - paid to write refer to. (Not that I'm calling 'Wired' bilge, you understand...)

So yes, pay me to write (as if!), or be up front and pay me to review.

But expect me to do it for free?

I may be hopelessly naive, and ignoring the remote - very remote - possibility these offers could result in something more concrete and financially rewarding in the long term. I may write a blog that begs for ratification at every turn. But should I really be that needy?

What do you think?


The Boisterous Butterfly 14 November 2008 at 23:47  

I say, go for it, Potty. As long as nobody cramps your style and you can say what you want, why not. Maybe it will lead to bigger and better things and you know what they say, "You don't look a gift horse in the mouth."

Anonymous,  14 November 2008 at 23:58  

I was contacted by one of these companies recently and decided to turn it down. My main reason was that I didn't feel the sort of promotion they did was relevant to me or my blog host, the local education department.

My other reason was that I don't really like reading that sort of post on other people's blogs and I didn't think I could write about products I was asked to review in a way that would make people want to read it. Or me to write it.

But then I don't have a marketing background so you might well succeed on that score!

Grit 15 November 2008 at 15:25  

if a blog became a place for review of goods or services, i probably would move away; basically i aim for the pain, misery, daylight and laughter in people. i'm not sure those blogging qualities shine through when hung around the latest children's film release.

Expat mum 15 November 2008 at 17:12  

It sounds already like you have more reservations than anything else. I can't think what it might lead to in the future. I do a lot of writing for free but I always get a link to my book, and it sometimes leads to other things. I am definitely getting something out of it. These companies are getting a good blogger to advertise free for them?? (what's that all about). And then it would change the nature of your blog, which might not get you as big an audience....?

aims 15 November 2008 at 17:44  

Perhaps a separate blog for doing reviews.

I'm not coming here to read about other people's products - I'm coming here to read about you and yours.

And if I'm bilge water - this is the first I've heard about it. I know a lot of UK bloggers have been picked up and are making money from their blog and I say good for them! However - since I haven't heard one word or offer on my story I'm still plugging away - and not for money - but for the people who are reading and concerned and want to know more (and see a happy ending).

Reviews and personal just don't mix in my books.

Bush Mummy 15 November 2008 at 17:53  

My view is that the day you stop writing your blog for yourself and do it for other people, it loses its raison d'etre.

I'd sit tight for that multi million pound book/film/play deal that you will inevitably get..

You worked in marketing too? we definitely live in a parallel universe..

BM x

Susanna 15 November 2008 at 19:02  

I'd do it if it fits into your lifestyle. I've reviewed lots of products on my own accord and w/o payment (such as the thumbguard -- great to stop thumb suckers!)

I have lots of friends that have a 2nd blog for reviews...

But I am afraid you will get more and more requests, I got four yesterday!

Anonymous,  15 November 2008 at 23:26  

It occurred to me that you caould always have a second page on your blog for reviews :-)

Tracey 16 November 2008 at 00:38  

Second go at commenting (sometimes I hate Google/Blogger). Since yesterday pretty much everyone has covered what I was going to say. I too lose interest in blogs that start reviewing products. (It's not why I read blogs.) That said, finding some way of doing it on a separate blog could be an answer. If it could lead to a working from home opportunity, then, hey... grab it. (Or that could be just me being envious!)

Iota 16 November 2008 at 01:01  

I was contacted by a similar organisation who said I'd be an ideal person to review products for preschoolers. I declined as I assumed that if I gave negative rather than positive reviews, I'd soon be off their list, and if I was only allowed to give positive reviews, then that wasn't really free speech. I asked, out of interest, why they thought I'd be such an ideal person (I wondered if they actually read my blog, or whether they just email tons of bloggers from lists), and although they acknowledged my email, they didn't answer that question (which I guess sort of answered it).

I don't imagine they pay all that much, but I have no information to base that on.

I didn't want to feel under obligation to anyone, so that's why I declined, but I did wonder if it might lead to some hard cash somewhere along the line, and that felt a bit tempting. They gave Noddy as an example of their products, and he is my all-time most-loathed character in the preschool armoury, so the thought of feeling in some way obliged to endorse his horrid little persona turned me off. (Maybe you love Noddy - it's a free world.)

So the Chuggington thing was unpaid then? I'd sort of wondered if you'd got more out of it than just a free day out.

And blogging definitely isn't dead, as I think that WITN post proved - that really wasn't the kind of thing she could ever have talked about on Twitter or Facebook, and look how many people it touched.

Iota 16 November 2008 at 01:03  

And there's nothing wrong with being passe. I've always maintained a healthy disrespect for the cutting edge.

sharon 16 November 2008 at 04:16  

I think this could be a hmmm moment. Personally I don't read your blog for solicited reviews but,if you feel you might benefit from this in some way, maybe you could do as others have and set up a second site?

Mom/Mum 16 November 2008 at 06:15  

Hi PM - just catching up on all your November posts - great as always and did laugh at the poo/raisins moment! Glad it's not just me who has such dramas in the middle of the street too.
Anyway, as for this post, personally like so many have commented before me, I dont read blogs for product reviews, but I would not be offended if there was a reviews section on someone's site. It wouldn't stop me from logging onto them.i guess I'm just wary of these people solicting for reviews. I've been asked and igniored it to be honest, as I wasn't sure of its authenticity.
However, who knows where these things may lead...wherever it is I am sure that blogging isn't dead! As if!

nappy valley girl 16 November 2008 at 19:12  

It's a grey area, but I think you are right - if you are going to write about a product, you should probably be paid for it. After all why give these companies free PR? If you were a writer for a magazine, you would have to be writing about these things because they would potentially be advertisers, and that's the way the game works. But you're not - as you say, you haven't even installed Google Ads (neither have I, for that matter). Personally speaking I think good blogs are a lot more honest than most editorial journalism, and that's why they are valuable.

Another thought - I don't for one minute believe blogging is dead, but maybe if it is becoming passe, it's exactly because of this problem - a bit like product placement is ruining Bond films?

Potty Mummy 16 November 2008 at 20:07  

Ladies, thank you all for your points of view on this one, it's been very useful. The jury's still out - will keep you posted (if you'll pardon the pun!)

Jo Beaufoix 16 November 2008 at 22:53  

Potty Mummy I feel the same as you. I have written on e paid review, but it was on a subject that I wanted help with and was relevant to what I write about so I felt ok. I mentioned I had been paid and my readers seemed ok with it, but if I did it constantly I would feel like I'd sold out and I would get bored as well as my readers.

I've had a few offers lately too and declined them as my blog is somewhere where I feel I am trying to write well and develop skills as well as reach out to people and from relationships.

So I think the odd review is fine, but a blog of reviews becomes a consumer blog and I wouldn't want to write or read that. I'm rambling a bit I think, but I suppose I'm saying go with what you feel.

And I do occasionally do free reviews/appeals if something touches me and I think that's ok/ It's nice to be able to do a little bit of good.

Sparx 17 November 2008 at 00:07  

Hmmm... tough call. I started (but never moved on with) a blog designed for us parental types to review all the kit we bought for our kids so that new parents could sift through the bilge... it's a good idea but only if the opinions are honest, methinks.

Kerry 17 November 2008 at 15:49  

The devil writes....

Hello! I thought I'd step in and offer an opinion from the other side of the coin - I've contacted a few bloggers recently (yourself and Iota included) after spending around 6 months reading and researching blogs written by parents across the UK.

The company I work for specialise in family/kids campaigns/products so we're trying to create a network of bloggers - who are also parents - that we can contact on a regular basis with stuff that may be of interest – to be a kind of ‘sounding board’ for new websites/games/products etc that we work on.

Whilst we're not able to offer payment at the moment our network is in the very early stages (33 bloggers and counting!) so I wouldn't like to rule that out at a later date. At present payment (as such) would be via any of the items we may send you to review (as has been stated here there is never any obligation and we would always expect honesty)- be it a book, dvd, game etc. It might also just be something you want to get behind - I'm currently working on the new road safety campaign for the DfT which is aimed at educating children (and parents/teachers) about how they can be safe on our roads. This is the kind of campaign where feedback from parents is invaluable as I’m sure you can imagine.

Anyway – just wanted to stick my oar in and give my two-penneth! :)


Post a Comment

Go on - you know you want to...

  © Blogger template Simple n' Sweet by 2009

Customised by Grayson Technology

Back to TOP