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Conflicted About Blogging

In a few weeks I’ll be joining 3,000 or so women at BlogHer. It’s a big blogging conference for women and I’d went once before when it was in Chicago.

I have mixed feelings about it. Although I’m not part of the BlogHer ad network, and I don’t participate in their community BlogHer has paved a path for women to follow. BlogHer took a hobby and turned it into a career. For that I am grateful.

But of course I’m not one to gush, so I have to find the negative too.

As bloggers we have to support ourselves with brand partnerships, advertising or by writing on someone else’s site for a paycheck (just not places like Huff Po who pay you with a thank you note). There’s a delicate balance, and I’m not sure that many people achieve it. I occasionally share product information here and it comes from one of three ways.

  1. A product has blown me away and I’ve told you about it. (like the Diva Cup)
  2. A product line has dazzled me and I’ve begged them to partner with me (like Kenmore)
  3. A brand has a message that they’ve shared with me and I’ve agreed that the message has value and shared it with you. (P&G)

The way that a product would make it’s way to me is pretty narrow, and the way that I’d share it with y’all is narrower still. Not a lot of product sharing goes on here. Which is good, right?

There’s a new kind of blogger, the review blogger. Review bloggers seem to be mostly women, but that’s just the way I see things because I’m smack dab in the middle of the mommy blogging world. I want to dislike the review blogger. You see she takes any old crap and writes glowing reviews of it. Typically the review blogger only writes positive reviews and she might even publish a press release word for word.

The review blogger is the lazy publicist’s best friend. The review blogger will almost always garner positive press for a product and almost never charge anything more than the cost of the trinket and overnight shipping.

The review blogger has also sucked the life out of the blogosphere. The review blogger often calls herself a Mom Blogger (or worse a Mommy Blogger) and her site can create confusion. You see when I tell people that I’m a Mom Blogger they’re like, “But you’re so much MORE than that.” And I smile but don’t say anything because calling your peers crap makes you only better than crap. In my head I’m screeching, “They aren’t bloggers! They’re shills.”

And I’m sure I’m going to meet a huge number of them in August. And I’m conflicted because these are nice women who I like. They’re walking down this same weird path of blogging, but they’re using it very differently.

Is it okay to like someone and really dislike their business?


40 thoughts on “Conflicted About Blogging”

  1. I think there are enough women bloggers who don’t shill (and I count myself among that number) that we’ll find each other at BlogHer. At least I hope so. And we’ll probably find each other at the opposite end of the room from where stuff is being given away for free.

    This will be my first year attending, and already I’m being told to prepare to bring a lot of swag home. I don’t want swag. My life contains enough stuff I don’t want or need. I want experience and learning, and to meet some of the bloggers I admire, if I’m lucky.

    Is that naive?

    1. There are enough types of bloggers that it won’t even matter what kind of blogging they do. You don’t have to bring home any swag, but some of it is nice and even helpful after you get home! You’ll have a great time. :)

  2. Yes.  Exactly.  If someone is trying to sell me on the fact that THIS granola is the best granola ever, I’m gonna have to give her the side eye.  I was actually offered to write about granola.  The *only* thing that made it tempting is that I could use the word NUTS.  A lot.  But you know what?  I don’t even like the way nuts look that much.  I’ll leave that review for some other “nuts” loving mom.  

  3. That was ballsy and I’m glad you wrote it. I totally agree. I’m a new blogger and I started it to WRITE (there’s a novel idea). I’ve done one review and it’s because I wanted to take my kids to a movie that I would have gone to see anyway. However, I am getting so tired of people who have nothing but give aways and do reviews all day. They’re starting to muddy my twitter feed. 

  4. I’ll be going this year too. 
    I’m excited to meet the bloggers that I follow and to learn a few things. 
    Motives for doing reviews on a blog should be considered. Although I don’t do reviews (nor do I monetize my blog at the moment) I can understand the allure of being payed or receiving product for your writing – Especially if money is tights which is often the case with moms – particularly single moms…
    Pure review bloggers who do not vet the products they hawk will go the way of the commercial as soon as the average reader realizes they are being pitched. In the meantime, a wonderfully written blog with a review or two tossed in that is relevant to me (basically what you do) is acceptable and helpful.

  5. I’m going to my first blogher!  I’m so excited.  But I have to admit, I’m a mom blogger who does reviews regularly.  I’m not sure if it’s the right approach but you are right, you’ll only see glowing reviews on my blog, but not because I’m lying or some super happy person who LOVES everything. But I simply don’t write about the products that I am sent that suck or just aren’t relevant to me.  I give the company the feedback and thank them for their time.
    But my blog isn’t all review, there lots of other stuff too.  So can you only hate me…a little! :)

  6. I’m going to my first blogher!  I’m so excited.  But I have to admit, I’m a mom blogger who does reviews regularly.  I’m not sure if it’s the right approach but you are right, you’ll only see glowing reviews on my blog, but not because I’m lying or some super happy person who LOVES everything. But I simply don’t write about the products that I am sent that suck or just aren’t relevant to me.  I give the company the feedback and thank them for their time.
    But my blog isn’t all review, there lots of other stuff too.  So can you only hate me…a little! :)

    1. Lisa, I am curious as to why you won’t write a negative review.  If a company asks for a “review” shouldn’t you give them what they ask for?  No disrespect meant just really curious.

      I think that is part of the problem with “review bloggers” (of which I kinda identify).  If you only show the good, how can your opinions be trusted to be real?  I write a lot of reviews, books, movies, products, some are solicited from companies some are just me voicing my opinion.  But all are honest and relevant to me and my family.  Whether it is relevant to my reader or not, well, I learned from my first BlogHer conference to not write for anyone else but myself. 

      And absolutely you can like someone and not like their blog, or their style choice or their smell.  They can still be a good person.

      1. I think that’s a difference between posting recommendations versus reviews.

        Also, since bloggers who do reviews are inundated with pitches, they generally only accept what they think they’ll like.

        Comparison posts are helpful but require a lot of legwork–but I do find them useful.

        As far as not reviewing products that are just so-so…I don’t think you owe anything beyond honesty and transparency to anyone if there is no contract. And many of these companies want the in-context link.

  7. I would love to go to BlogHer. Pesky ocean in my way. But say hi to three of my Australian peeps (definitely not review bloggers!) @woogsworld:twitter , @mummytime:twitter and @edenland:twitter . 

  8. I would love to go to BlogHer. Pesky ocean in my way. But say hi to three of my Australian peeps (definitely not review bloggers!) @woogsworld:twitter , @mummytime:twitter and @edenland:twitter . 

  9. “The review blogger has also sucked the life out of the blogosphere.” That is a sad but true statement. Thank you for making it.

    Technically, since much of my blog content is book-related, I suppose I could be called a “review blogger” – but I’m really not (I’m more than that!). There are plenty of book bloggers who are, though, in the very way that you describe. In some respects, it’s all product – some of us just handle it differently than others.

    I do participate in the BlogHer community online, but am uncertain of how I fit into it off-line these days, and so I’m skipping the conference this year. If you decide to turn around and come back home, let me know – I’ll be in town!

  10. Absolutely. Being dishonest doesn’t help them, either. You can challenge them to aim higher. You can at least plant a seed to make them realize that they are capably and worthy of better.

  11. I ran Blogher ads a couple of years ago and considered attending the next Blogher.  I searched Google trying to find what others got out of the previous Blogher conferences and found nothing more than what party they attended, what swag was best, what swag was stolen, what swag they had to have, what swag they were cheated out of, and don’t get me started on the foo foo frat party photos.  Disappointing. 

  12. I never read the review blogs. They always seem fake. I still like stopping by and reading women’s blogs about real life. I don’t mind a review here and there mixed in on a regular blog. It feels more authentic, even if it isn’t.

  13. Here’s the way I see things …. I don’t care for labels. Some people see me as a review blogger, others as a “mommy blogger”, food blogger, etc … the list goes on and on. But at the end of the day, I’m just a blogger and what I write reflects my life. If someone doesn’t like my blog, then they probably wouldn’t like me as a person and I’m cool with that. The blog world is full of different flavors and it’s up to each individual to decide which ones they have a taste for.

    But to answer your question, yes you can definitely like a person and not like their blog. There’s tons of bloggers I connect with daily and genuinely love who they are but I won’t read their blog because it’s just not my reading style.

  14. I am this way with Twitter partiers. I followed them because I liked them, and because they had interesting things to say. Then, suddenly, it was like being invited over to someone’s house for a nice evening in, then BAM! Out comes the Pampered Chef crap and the order forms and the “you could really use this in your house”, but all under the guise of “Let’s chat about parenting.” What do you say to that person the next day?


  15. Is it okay to like someone and really dislike their business?

    Works for me. I give you full absolution- not that you need or want it. I rarely if ever read review blogs. If there is no “real’ content in a blog I haven’t any time for it. I am snotty about it, but it just rubs me the wrong way for people to claim to be bloggers when they don’t produce real content.

  16. Your thought process isn’t wrong. But I think you’re misunderstanding review bloggers. I’ve given bad reviews before. The rep asks me to change my review and I say no. I do try to find something to like about a product – I’ve always been told if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all. So I do my best to provide both the pros and the cons of the product. I suppose since the majority of my product reviews are books, and not expensive items, it might be easier for me – but I’m not sure, since I don’t have a lot to compare it with. But, really, and truly, above all things, I do my best to be truthful, accurate, and fair. And I’ve never called myself a mommy blogger.

  17. I tend to disagree with you that review bloggers have “sucked the life out of the blogosphere.” I actually think they’ve brought a lot of attention to the blogosphere that wasn’t here before. Many brands never thought to work with bloggers until the review blogger came along. Plus, when I’m looking at a big purchase, those review blogs are the first things I go to for opinions because I can generally count on them to be honest with their review. I know many of those women and they’re almost all pretty spectacular women and businesspeople.

    And yes, I think you can easily like someone and dislike their business.

  18. I think you can absolutely like a person and not necessarily like their business. At the end of the day, I think we are all just trying to be our best in the most genuine and sincere way possible(well, most of us anyway). More and more I tell myself I’m done with writing reviews because after I write them I almost always regret it so I’ve gradually pulled away from writing them and my ultimate goal is not not write. I have no problem sharing the negatives of a product, though, and I’m sorry but somebody who calls themselves a reviewer and only writes positive reviews should rethink that title to, maybe say, advertiser.

  19. I agree that your perception of review bloggers are just a small handfull of them.  I’m a review blogger, I have posted reviews that aren’t all positive, I have NOT posted reviews because it was something that I didn’t want to feature to my readers because it wasn’t worth my time or theirs.  I’m picky about what I review, I won’t take your 10 cent trinket and blog, tweet or facebook gushing about it.  I’ll gush about products that I do like, have used and think are worthwhile!

  20. If your only looking at review bloggers that always giving glowing reviews… well… not all of us do that. :) They are the suck ups. And yes the ones that post press releases word for word are really really lazy. But there are some great review bloggers out there!

    And you can like people and not like what they do of course. :) But Review Bloggers are Review Bloggers not Mommy bloggers unless they are doing more mommy stuff I think than review stuff.

  21. I kinda have to laugh… because to me… Money is money and free stuff is money you don’t have to spend.. which translates to money.

    Who cares if you’re a review blogger or a deal blogger or a personal blogger or a fitness blogger or an amateur blogger or a professional blogger or a gynecologist…

    My entire family hates my lifestyle……… but they still like me.

    People do what makes them happy, and if other people don’t like it, they just don’t have to read along with them in their book!


  22. I personally think stereotyping any person or blogger is narrow minded.

    Each blog is a personal journey that the blogger wishes to take. If all they want to do is review products and post about them, then that is their choice. People can chose to read or walk away.

    As for the question I do agree you can like someone without liking their business

  23. I’ve been a silent subscriber to your blog until now. Yes there are some reviewers who give positive reviews even if the product or service sucks ass. However, not all reviewers are like that. I review products, which saves me from having to buy them. Simple things like coffee, laundry soap, food and makeup. And when there is a product I’ve tried and don’t like, I don’t give a positive opinion. Which, is why I may be losing work with a company because I refuse to give positive reviews 100% of the time. In addition, I also get paid real money for reviewing products and get to keep those products.  Free laundry soap and big bucks to review that laundry soap?? Yep, works for me!!!

  24. Yes it is perfectly ok to like someone and not like their actions. See I’m in the opposite part of the conversation. I do review blogging, but will post the negatives. I have lots of ads on my site because it pays the bills. I find I enjoy reading all blogs, but a lot of the women who claim to be “original and not a sellout” discriminate against the review blogger. My POV is that everyone is allowed their own thoughts and belief. :)

  25. Totally okay to like someone and dislike their business. I aim for balance. I do reviews for my readers lord knows I do not need more shizz around my apartment. They break up the monotony of my constant bloggy rabble rousing and caterwauling.  

  26. You know, I half agree and half disagree. I am a so-called review blogger, cause I do review BUT I also fill my site with actual content. While I have seen the bloggers that love absolutely everything, I have also read other bloggers give the good, the bad and the ugly. I think a blog is what you make of it…and just like everything else, just cause you are labeled one thing, doesn’t mean you should format yourself to just that alone. A blog is only as strong as the woman behind it- review blogger or not.

  27. I have some very good friends who do review blogs so I am usually really quiet about my opinions of them . . .

    but I completely agree with you on all points.

  28. If you feel so strongly about review bloggers, I wonder how you feel about deal bloggers :)  I’m proud to be a review blogger and have no desire whatsoever to be labeled as a “mommy blogger”. Reviews are very important to me when I make a purchase, and that’s why I chose that genre from the beginning when I started my blog. There are people who do it well and people who do it horribly. I’m picky about the brands I will work with and have done many unsponsored reviews. To each her own, I say. I have met lots of bloggers whose work I don’t think is great, but they are nice people who enjoy what they do and work hard at it.

  29. I started blogging (2004) before I was a mom…and i was a writer before that. Then, I had a baby with a heart condition and started researching products and giving friends advice. A friend who was in Internet marketing suggested we put it all in one spot and raise money for charity.

    No, not all bloggers writing about products are shills. There is a place for trend-spotting and consumer advocacy, and product comparisons.

    But yes, it has gotten insane…and yes…it has a negative impact on community and the expressiveness of the honest, funny, and sometimes raw voices of blogging. Having worked (paid) behind the scenes on campaigns I can verify what you are saying about bloggers copying a few lines from a press release and calling it a post, etc.

    I won’t be at BlogHer…too far to fly with a newborn for a conference…but no, I wouldn’t be offended if you didn’t care for my blogs. You don’t have to enjoy someone’s writing to like that person…especially if it isn’t deeply connected to that person’s life… you’d probably have a hard time enjoying a person’s company if you find their actions unethical.

    I have friends whose work I find boring…but none whose work I think is morally reprehensible.

  30. Well I don’t like to be considered a *mommy blogger* because although I am a blogger and I am a mom, I don’t really write about my kids or kid stuff. Yes, I do reviews but I do other things too. No, all my reviews aren’t positive and I certainly NEVER cut and paste a press release and call it a review. I think that gives bloggers a bad name. I’ve also turned down opportunities and products from companies that I don’t believe in or support.  I think there are some who simply post good things about everything no matter what it is but there are some who don’t.

  31. One of my closest friends is a review blogger BUT her and I would definitely agree what and why she blogs is completely different from what,why and how I blog. I am all about content. I base my entire blog on the premise of writing. I am a Mommy and I am a blogger. I don;t get offended if people call me a Mommy blogger but my entire blog is not about my kids. It’s a social perspective on womanhood, parenthood and life.
    I think it all depends on what you do it for. I know some of these women review products to contribute financially to the family and that is great. They serve a purpose for PR firms and the PR firms serve a purpose for them. BUT that being said, that’s not what I want to be known for. I am all for sharing great products with my readers, if I believe in the product and the brand BUT I can’t be bought. YOu can pay me for a review but my honest opinion can NOT be bought. I’ve made that clear on my PR page and anyone who’s approached me to work with their brand..knows this:)

  32. I don’t appreciate the stereotyping of review bloggers. Just because the review bloggers you’ve seen write all positive reviews doesn’t mean we all do. Plus some of us only review the things we liked, so you would only see positive reviews. However I mention the good and the bad in my reviews. I posted press releases when I was new to blogging but I didn’t say it was a review, it was labelled as a press release. Now I know that’s not good blogging. I also refuse to do a review for payment other than the product. I accept money for sponsored posts or ads but not sponsored reviews.

    I do appreciate however that you just stated your opinion and you didn’t attack review bloggers.

    Why I don’t like in blogging is the blogs (and some are book blogs, some review blogs) who receive products and only write one paragraph reviews, all the time. Why do the companies even send them the products? Is a small mention really worth it?

  33. I agree with you that many women do reviews on bullshit products for nothing at all.  They are most likely new to blogging and assume it’s an opportunity because they don’t know any better.  

    HOWEVER, BlogHer reviews and reviewers are a bit different.  We are offered a number of reviews depending on our readership and if the product fits our audience and we choose which to do or not to do.  We also have to write the review on a completely ad-free site, usually one that gets no daily traffic whatsoever until a review is up because it’s also a giveaway.  We are also paid by BlogHer in cash and not just in product, or “trinket” as you so eloquently labeled.  I only accept reviews that pay $125 or more. Otherwise, it’s not worth  my time.  

    I will be attending the conference as well.  I don’t normally do conferences but since I’m Style Editor at  BlogHer now and live in LA, I thought I may as well.

    Maegan Tintari

  34. I just found this post on Stumble, and so glad I did! What a great conversation. I have always been a writer. In 2003, I started my own newspaper (more of a newsletter) in my dorm room. Then I discovered blogging and it all became so much easier (and cheaper!) to get my message out there.

    I began to write and write and write! I loved having an audience! Then I had kids and discovered how much CRAP I can get FREE! WooHoo!! I wanted to please the “gift givers” so I wrote all positive things. After like 4 months of this, I hated it. Seriously! I went to school for journalism, I knew what excellent writing was and I was not doing it.

    Not all review bloggers do what I did. But oh-so-many do! 

    I am currently discovering creative ways to work with brands I love and earn MONEY for my family. I haven’t reviewed shampoo or toothpaste yet this year. And I won’t! I am a writer, and my audience is valuable. They are more valuable to me than the brand and I will cost money for them to reach my dear readers. I love my readers :)

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