I recently worked with a company that sent Madison a few toys to play with and write about her experience; the big picture was promoting the toys since it was the holidays. When Madison received the products, she was super excited. Why? They were toys that she knew, and she had asked for one of them for Christmas.
As most of you may know, this holiday, I had no intention of doing a Holiday Gift Guide. I had no intention of promoting toys or writing reviews for any said toys for the holidays. This year my Holiday Gift Guide consisted of products received from the Amazon Vine exclusive review program of which I am a member. This time of the year was all about spending time with my family.
Well, let’s get to the heart of my problem today. A draft was required of what we thought of the product, and of course, of Madison playing with said product. Obviously, as a blogger, you expect some edits from companies who would prefer you to say something a tad different but still be authentic while keeping it real. Now those edits I have no problems with, but one that bothered me was that “Madison wasn’t playing with the toy correctly because she has it backward, and we can see the battery box on the bottom of the toy.”
Now, this toy required you to play with it in the air, which the photo showed her doing. Having it turned backward did nothing in terms of the playability of the toy. It still worked and did everything that it promised that it would do. She was happy, she was having fun, and she was, most of all, smiling in a very natural setting. Now my regular readers know that it’s very rare to see Madison smiling in ANY photo unless she’s either super excited or truly incredibly happy, and even then, sometimes you still don’t see a smile. It was a very rare occasion, and I told her to “go and play with your new toy” while having my camera in hand while she played. As for the battery box, since she had it in the air, you could see where you had to insert the batteries.
So I ask, where do we draw the line when it comes to authenticity? Where do we draw the line when it comes to our blog posts and our voice? I’ve tried steering clear of advertorial and controversial posts. I love what I do, and I like to think that I sometimes do it very well. So then if you’re going to ask of my opinion and I then give it to you, why would you want it changed to what you want to say. Doesn’t that now make my post inauthentic? It’s no longer my voice, it’s no longer what I think, but what you want me to say.
While I know, some might say, “well, I’d just do it and get paid,” this isn’t about the money. Growing Up Madison has never been about money. While I do make a good living from the blog, most of my income comes from my retirement check from the US Army. What I make here is for me to “play” with and has helped with vacations etc. However, if I stop blogging tomorrow, I will still be able to pay my bills, and I’ll always be able to take those vacations.
So are you selling your soul for that mighty dollar? Are you taking any job and doing whatever, even lying about said products because you’re getting paid for it?
People read our blogs because they want the truth about products, and I’m going to be honest and say that if I don’t like a product, I would NEVER write about it, no matter how much you offer to pay me. I’ve said it over and over again; I NEVER post what I don’t honestly believe in. For example, and I’m once again keeping it real, I’ve gotten offers from McDonald’s to write about their menu items over and over again, and each time I’ve said no. Why? Because I don’t believe that McDonald’s food is healthy for you. I don’t eat there, and I will never encourage any of my readers to eat there, but I will not tell you not to if you do. If you do, then that’s a choice you made on your own without any encouragement from me.
I have seen countless reviews from bloggers on their blogs and on Amazon about products and how they’re the greatest thing since sliced bread. However, we all know that most of these products are made in China and are practically junk. Products that you wouldn’t even let your dogs near, much less your child. Products that smell so bad, you wonder if they were in a landfill before they got to your house. However, they got said product for free, or they received payment in exchange for a review. We then wonder why readers don’t believe what we write when we do get a product for free. It’s all because they think that we will say anything because we’re getting paid to say nice things about the product. It’s also one of the reasons Amazon has now limited said reviews.
OK, so by now you can guess I’m agitated. I’m on my way to Disney World right now and should be having fun, but when my authenticity and creativity are in question, I have to say something about it. Once again, I ask, where do we draw the line as bloggers when it comes to companies?