I’ve had sex with exactly five (5) men in my whole entire life and one of them is my husband. Don’t get me wrong, I was kissually active, having touched lips with probably 8,500.02 males — and that’s in college alone — but I couldn’t “give” myself to someone unless I liked more than their mouth. If I didn’t emotionally and intellectually connect with a person, I just couldn’t do “it.” It took me until I was 22 to give up the pink parts to my first real boyfriend, and that first time, we went through a jar of Vaseline because my privates thought they were closed for business.
Turns out my first real boyfriend was a crab-carrying cheating fart knocker, so that didn’t turn out so well, but the fact remains: I thought he was a keeper and I turned myself over to him.
It took me awhile to recover from being so thoroughly heart blasted, but for better or for worse, I learned something in the process: really know the people you sleep with.
All this is to say that my blog is like my vagina. It’s mine and I don’t give it away easily. I’ve had cause to revisit my blog vagina metaphor lately as I’ve been approached by several PR people asking for product reviews and I find myself wondering whether to invite them into my bed.
There’s a lot of flacknod going around the Internet these days about bloggers who do product reviews and whether this is good and bad and so on and so on. Many, many self-appointed authorities, most who regularly receive free stuff, trips and cars from companies, are lambasting other bloggers for choosing to do so themselves, which makes me choke on righteous anger. In short, shut up. Don’t tell people what to do or judge, especially when you have a big ole “LLC” at the bottom of your blog signifying that you are a business making money off your blog.
Truly, I say live and let live. Or, for the purposes of my extended metaphor: if mommy bloggers want to give away their vaginas, it’s none of your business. As for me, I don’t prefer reading product review blogs. I am a content person and I’d rather read about your sex partners and inappropriate vagina analogies. I click off of product review blogs, because there’s really nothing there that interests me. (But there are some blogs that combine honest product reviews with personal content and I am cool with that.) I told a friend recently that I can tell from the first paragraph whether a blogger is serving their readers or their sponsors, and if the answer is the latter, I’m gone. It’s as if the soul of the blog has disappeared (or been sold) and I’m left feeling empty inside.
Still, if a blogger chooses to write nothing but product reviews, go for it. Who am I to criticize? I won’t be reading, but God speed, that’s the beauty of having 1,000,000 blogs to choose from out there on the web.
And yet… And yet… I would like to accept some of these PR offers (and have, for instance, my whole family is going to the San Diego Zoo tonight for free). My criteria for accepting requests for reviews is threefold: (1) Will my family like it? (2) Will my readers like it (if there’s a giveaway); and (3) Can I write about (or NOT write about) the product/trip, etc. in my own way, without feeling beholden to give a positive, stupid, senseless, biased review that serves no one but the company?
I started my blog so I would write regularly. I would love it to result in money made from freelance writing, not from product reviews. I DO NOT want my blog to be a product review blog. I DO NOT want it to include product reviews even 25% of the time…but if I really, really, really like something and you might really, really, really like it too, I will consider accepting the free item and writing about it in a hopefully real, honest and probably snarky-weird way. In all honesty, I’d much rather run ads from companies/products I like than do reviews because then I will feel I’m supporting this blog more honestly and transparently. The ad is an ad is an ad. A product review implies endorsement and I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that. But it’s all in the way it’s reviewed, I guess.
I do feel pretty strongly about this whole thing. I used to write for a trade magazine and would be regularly asked to write “fluff” pieces about major advertisers. (Look through your magazines at home. Look at the ads, then look at the editorial. I am confident you will see favorable articles and product reviews on the most major advertisers.) I hated this. Every fluff piece felt like a lie and I got by by telling myself that there is always something good to say about something. If I were asked to “review” a coin changer for instance, I’d write: “This coin changer changes coins, exactly as it says it will on the box” or some such vague assertion that wasn’t too disingenuous.
I don’t want to write crap like that on this blog.
What I’m saying is I don’t know what the hell to do. I need to define a PR strategy (Ha ha ha ha! The women who has no filing system or even knows what she’s cooking for dinner tonight just used the word “strategy!”) that clearly states I like to get cool free stuff that would benefit my family and readers, but I will only write about said cool free stuff if I can do so authentically and genuinely. And oh I suppose I could start a separate product review site, but isn’t that a lot of work? Still, free stuff. I am human after all.
I can’t believe I just wrote that.
I think it all comes down to what you want your blog to be. When I wrote Cheri the other day about a PR offer I’d received that would require me to write certain things in a certain way, she wrote back that she prefers her blog to remain “directionless and ridiculous” (p.s. I love her) and I couldn’t have said it better myself. I want San Diego Momma to be whatever I want it to be. Maybe one day I want to write about PR vaginas, and another day I’d prefer to write about how no one likes me. If I like something and I was given it to review, I might want to write about that too. But I will tell you I received it for free and whenever I can, I will try to get you one for free, too.
Finally and in closing, I would like to tell you about my fourth top-secret criteria for accepting PR requests. It is (4) Do I like the PR person? I receive a lot of generic, obviously-haven’t-read-my-blog emails addressed to “Dee,” and nothing irritates me more. But once in awhile, I get a well-thought-out informed email from a guy/gal who “gets it.” Just yesterday, a PR guy wrote me about reviewing a sun shade product (I accepted. Because I am fair-skinned. And it comes in red.). Also, he wrote stuff like the below in his email when I told him I was having an existential crisis about how to incorporate honest reviews in my blog:
Well, may I suggest not calling it a crisis (negative), and instead shifting to a more positive mindset–about how you are enjoying the journey of creatively finding a way to relevantly review products while staying true to your inner self (which is, actually, a confident person, who’s insecurity is not pure, but is an unwholesome reflection of social conditioning which is SO easy to grow on our exteriors from this judgmental society)?
If I haven’t overstepped yet, you might want to check out this book. It’s helped me (so far…it’s a journey) figure out how my head actually works–insecurities, fears, etc. It’s a little heavy, but if you take your time through it, it’s pretty amazing. It’s like Tolle on steroids.
You’d sleep with him too, right?
This post is brought you by petroleum jelly and Mr. Beaver’s CloseyLeggs line of chastity belts.
*I had to change the title of this post because lots of s*xy ladies from Malaysia were contacting me about their legitimate webcam businesses.