Riding With No Hands

May 18, 2009 by Mariana  
Filed under review blogger

This week’s Blogger of the Week is - me! Mariana from Riding With No Hands. I’ve been in charge of this column for a few weeks now, but since you all know very little about me I thought I’d answer a few of my own questions. I’m not a stranger to talking to myself, after all.

Tell me a little about your blog and how you became a product reviewer.

Inspired by a Ralph’s World song, I started blogging just over a year ago, mainly as an outlet to express myself and to keep track of my daughters’ milestones. I joined Twitter a few weeks later, and saw a tweet one day from Jane Porricelli of Mom Generations, saying that Mom Central was looking for a few bloggers to try out some Kellogg’s cereal and write about it. I thought it was a grrrrreat opportunity to try a new product so I contacted Mom Central right away, and was invited to join their Moms Panel. The review opportunities came rollin’ in after that.

What’s your favorite product that you’ve reviewed and why?

Gosh, there are SO many! Last summer I wrote about a Beaches promotion for a Mom Central blog tour and was randomly selected to win a trip to Jamaica. Yes, I know - that’s not really a review. But it’s worth mentioning. ;)

I love reviewing things with my daughters - whether it be food, shoes, toys, events - it’s just fun to see their reactions. We’ve really enjoyed playing with the Playskool Sweet Lily Castle, for instance, and had a blast at Busch Gardens Williamsburg last month.

The Presto Printing Mailbox also has a special place in my heart. I reviewed it back in January, soon after I found out my grandmother’s cancer had returned, and it’s been a godsend! I, along with about half a dozen other family members, send her photos, recipes, and jokes on a daily basis… anything that that might take her mind off her chemo treatments and help lift her spirits.

As much as I like the Presto, however, I think my new favorite will be the Frigidaire washer and dryer I’ll be getting later this month!

You split your blog in two a few months ago, to separate your reviews from your personal posts, and then put it right back together last week. Huh?! Why go through all that trouble?

I originally separated my blogs because I thought that’s what my readers wanted - product reviews were taking over and some people didn’t like that. I put my blogs back together because I realized that I need to do things for myself sometimes. Having to go back and forth between two similarly-named blogs is time-consuming and confusing!

I decided that if my readers like what I have to say, they’ll understand. I did make the effort to create different feeds so that if my readers only want to subscribe to my personal posts, for example, they can easily do so.

This isn’t to say that a separate review blog isn’t a good thing for some people that have a specific niche - it just didn’t work for me.

Any advice to those who strive to become successful product reviewers?

  • I think it’s so important to know when to say ‘No’. It’s incredibly easy to get overwhelmed and take on more than you can handle. Don’t be afraid to pass on a review - another one will come along, and the company you’re dealing with will appreciate your forthrightness.
  • Join review networks and email lists - and check your email often!
  • Use Twitter for more than just publicizing your blog posts! There are tons of companies using it now, making it easy to network and find new review opportunities.
  • Keep in touch with your favorite PR people. I have a group in TweetDeck just for this purpose, and make an effort to chat with them on a regular basis. If they’re looking for bloggers for a new campaign, I’m confident that I’ll be fresh in their minds.
  • This is just a pet peeve of mine, but I think it’s good advice as well - don’t use partial feeds on your blogs. Your first thought may be that more readers will click over to your site if you only show the headline or first paragraph, but this isn’t the case at all. I’m more likely to click over and leave a comment after reading the entire post, aren’t you?

Visit Riding With No Hands to read more of my reviews and anecdotes!

If you’re a product review blogger and would like to possibly be featured here, please let us know by filling out the contact form above. We look forward to hearing from you!

Red Sox Mommy

May 11, 2009 by Mariana  
Filed under review blogger

This week’s Blogger of the Week is Natalie, the Red Sox Mommy.

Tell me a little about yourself and your blog.
I’m the 30 year old wife of a Colorado State Trooper and the mother of two of the cutest little girls in the world. We’re more than a little obsessed with the Boston Red Sox in our house, thus the name of my blog. I like doing a lot of reviews and giveaways on my blog. It gives me a connection to the outside world since we live in the boonies. (We’re moving a little closer to civilization at the end of May and we can’t wait!) I also love doing giveaways because it means I get to make someone’s day when I tell them they won.

Currently I’m training to run a half-marathon, all in an attempt to rid myself of the leftover “baby” weight. You can read about my ups and downs with that on my other blog: http://byebyefatmom.blogspot.com.

How do you think your daughters would describe you?
As completely crazy! I’ve seriously turned into my mom and I always thought she was crazy. LOL! I have to laugh when I catch myself doing all the weird things she used to do, all just to make my girls laugh.

What’s your favorite product that you’ve reviewed and why?
That’s a tough question. I’ve loved a lot of the products and liked a bunch of them too. I’m a HUGE bag fan, so any of the bags I’ve reviewed would be right up there. My most recent one was for Baggino, which is really an AWESOME diaper bag/changing belt. I’m also a sucker for kid’s shoes and fashion, so I’ve loved the Smaller, See Kai Run and Eleven Collection shoes I’ve reviewed.

Ultimately, what are your goals as a product review blogger?
I’m not sure I have goals for it, so I guess I’m just taking it day by day. I love writing the reviews and how it keeps my writing skills up for when I return to the workforce someday. So I guess my goals are to just keep at it.

What do you like to do in your free time, when you’re not behind a computer or chasing after your two girls?
I like to workout and run, I like to read and am obsessed with The Biggest Loser on t.v. and I, of course, LOVE watching the Red Sox!!!

Thank you to Natalie for sharing her story with us this week. Be sure to visit Red Sox Mommy to read her great reviews and get to know her even more!

If you’re a product review blogger and would like to possibly be featured here, please let us know by filling out the contact form above. We look forward to hearing from you!

Feels Like Home

May 4, 2009 by Mariana  
Filed under review blogger

Feels Like Home
This week’s Blogger of the Week is Tara from Feels like Home.

Tell me a little about yourself and your blog.

I am a high school science teacher with a master’s degree in curriculum. I intended to be a single professional forever, and I aspired to be known as the neighborhood cat lady. But then, I met my soulmate and got married. Our daughter was born eleven months later, and our lives were changed forever. Today, I think a lot more about strollers and bibs than about cats and business suits, and I like it that way.

My blog is called Feels like Home. I primarily blog about my passions - food, crafts, raising a family, maintaining a home, and my gorgeous baby. A few months ago, I also started a review blog, Feels Like Home Recommends, where I evaluate products that fit into those categories.

What made you decide to separate your personal and review blogs? I know that many product reviewers struggle with this decision.

I struggled with it, too. On one hand, separating the reviews means that fewer people see them because they don’t click over. On the other hand, however, I didn’t want to clog up my blog with product reviews. I didn’t want my readers to think that I was selling out. In the end, I separated them because it’s what I prefer as a reader.

What’s your favorite product that you’ve reviewed and why?

I’ve had two. The first was the Presto Printing Mailbox because it’s a revolutionary product. My Grandma is very anti-computer; she doesn’t even want a computer in her house. She’s 82, and she’s skeptical of the internet. I took the Presto to her house, and I set it up for her. I email her, as do a lot of our family members. She shows off her emails to everyone who comes to her house.

The second was a Freshadama pearl necklace from Pearl Paradise. As an earth science teacher, I am keenly interested in the science of pearls, and the whole review process was fascinating. I loved learning all about Pearl Paradise and the route the pearls take before they become Freshadama pieces. And they’re the most gorgeous pearls I’ve ever seen, so that didn’t hurt, either.

I see you’re going to BlogHer ‘09 as a Live Blogger. Exciting! Can you name one person you’d love to meet?

I’m excited to meet so many people! Kelby Carr and Allison Worthington have both been instrumental in my writing career. I totally admire Amy from Mom Advice and Tsh from Simple Mom. Of course, I can’t wait to meet many of the women I call friends, including Mariana from Riding with No Hands, Shannan from From Cribs to Car Keys, Amy from Resourceful Mommy, and about fifteen other fabulous ladies.

You write for a variety of other websites including FoodieMama.com, TypeAMom.net, and BlissfullyDomestic.com, so it’s obvious you love to write! What are your goals as a blogger?

I do love to write. Initially, my goal was to keep a journal for my daughter. I even considered writing it as if the whole thing were a letter to her. Things changed, though, and now my goals are more complicated. I want to build a blog that people look forward to reading. I want to build a blog that is as useful to my readers as Simple Mom and Mom Advice have been to me. And a book deal would be nice, too.

Thank you to Tara for sharing her story with us this week. Be sure to visit Feels like Home and Feels Like Home Recommends to read her great reviews and get to know her even more!

If you’re a product review blogger and would like to possibly be featured here, please let us know by filling out the contact form above. We look forward to hearing from you!

Things Moms Like

April 27, 2009 by Mariana  
Filed under review blogger

Things Moms Like
This week’s Blogger of the Week is Erin from Things Mom Like.

Tell me about yourself and how you became a product reviewer.
I only recently became a product reviewer when I realized that my friends were asking me what I thought about things and actually taking my advice. I like to shop and I think I’m seen as “in the know” about various products. I wouldn’t call myself a trendsetter, but when I really LOVE a product or item, I let everyone know about it. I have a background in PR and event promotions, so when the idea came to me to do it in my blog, I took the lead from other “giveaway” and product review blogs and started my own!

What’s your favorite product that you’ve reviewed and why?
My favorite product that I’ve reviewed so far are EarthLust Stainless Steel bottles, which can really make a difference in eliminating plastic and saving some of our earth’s resources. I bought these months ago and they are holding up well and very, very cool-looking, too! I try to do my part!

Your blog’s been around for several years now. What do you find to be the hardest thing about blogging? And the most rewarding?
The hardest thing for me about blogging is consistency. I find that I’ll blog in spurts and I am not big on the epic posts that you see on some of the other bloggers out there. I want to write the epic posts. I want to always find the wittiest way to say things, but let’s face it…I have two children, one of which is a teenager and the other is high needs. I can rarely get through a sentence without interruption. You should see my “Drafts” file. LOL

The most rewarding thing for me about blogging is that when I do want to put my thoughts out there and just write it down somewhere, my blog is reliable. It’s never busy. It never goes out of town. It’s never too busy to hear what I have to say. If you look back over my blog posts over the years, I’ve obviously always written for myself up until this point. I have friends who read and follow, but I had to import years worth of posts into a new blog and lost a lot of the funny comments and even some of my favorite posts. Rebuilding.

Do you have a mentor, or anyone that you look up to?
I wish I had a mentor. My writing style might be more consistent if I did, but I can tell you who I’ve been reading a lot lately.

DateWrecks -this is in no way pertinent to my life as I am happily married, but she’s a good friend of mine and, bless her heart, is surfing the internet for dates. Hilarity ensues. She gets entries from all over the place on dating site listings that can only be described as Date Wrecks.

I love The Pioneer Woman. I want to cook like her. I want to take photos like her. I want to be her when I grow up. And I’m not even going to pretend that Dooce isn’t one of my all-time heroes/idols. I recently read her new book “It Sucked and Then I Cried: How I Had a Baby, A Breakdown and a Much Needed Margarita” and reflected on when I first heard about her and her claim to fame, which was to be fired because of her blog. You never forget the first time you heard that.

Tell me some ‘crazy thing’ about yourself!
A crazy thing about myself…a crazy thing about myself…I am often surprised to be reminded that *I* am the mom. Sometimes I sit and wonder who in the world put me in charge of other human beings. I am a serial volunteer and I’m trying to kick the habit just a bit. But only a little. What’s that saying? Stop me before I volunteer again?

Thank you to Erin for sharing her story with us this week. Be sure to visit Things Moms Like to read her great reviews and get to know her even more!

If you’re a product review blogger and would like to possibly be featured here, please let us know by filling out the contact form above. We look forward to hearing from you!

Sage and Savvy

April 20, 2009 by Mariana  
Filed under review blogger

sageheader

This week’s Blogger of the Week is Gem from Sage and Savvy.

Tell me about yourself and how you became a product reviewer.
I’m a mom of two boys, married to a wonderful husband and I recently became a SAHM. Once I became a mom I started to become paranoid about the cleaners I was using in my home, so I started to buy eco-friendly cleaners. A lot of my friends asked me what I products I used so I thought about starting a blog, but never got around to it until months later, after I stumbled upon Kailani’s An Island Life. I was so impressed with her blog and it gave me the inspiration to start Sage and Savvy in June of 2008. Since then Kailani and so many other bloggers have been wonderful resources in providing information on product reviewing, and without them I would never have started or would not have been able to keep up with Sage and Savvy.

What made you decide to separate your personal and review blogs? I know that many product reviewers struggle with this decision.
I decided to create a separate blog because there were those who were more interested in the reviews and giveaways, and others were more interested in my personal posts, so for me it was actually an easy decision to start Sage and Savvy Sentiments. It’s hard for me to keep up with both though. I don’t know how those of you do it with two or more blogs/sites!

What’s your favorite product that you’ve reviewed and why?
I have so many favorites, but my most recent fave is Haagen-Dazs Five Passion Fruit ice cream. I love ice cream, and I simply love reviewing anything I can eat!

You seem to have covered all your bases with your privacy policy, disclosure, and the notice posted in the footer of your blog. How important do you think transparency is for product review bloggers?
I think transparency is very important. It’s important to disclose as much information as possible so readers can make their own informed decisions based on your own honest opinions and experiences with a product or service.

What do you like to do in your free time, when you’re not behind a computer or chasing after your two sons?
I love to do things as a family, such as go to the beach, the zoo, or pretty much anywhere just to get out of the house! I also love to read when I have the chance. And watch reality shows. I’m addicted to reality shows!

Thank you to Gem for sharing her story with us this week. Be sure to visit Sage and Savvy to read her great reviews and get to know her even more!

If you’re a product review blogger and would like to possibly be featured here, please let us know by filling out the contact form above. We look forward to hearing from you!

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