Top ten tuesday … the to-do list

February 1, 2010 at 9:06 pm (Blissdom 10, blogging, random, Top Ten Tuesday)


Going out of town is always so much work.  But almost always well worth it!

And this out of town trip, is definitely worth it.  On SO many levels!!! Girl time, no-kiddo time, blogging time … oh it’s going to be fun!!

But there’s so many things I need to do before leaving at 1pm on Thursday.  So this one is likely more for my benefit than yours, but maybe you can help me if I’m forgetting anything!!  And I can help you, if you’re forgetting something too!

1.  Remove pictures off my camera –  I’m horrible at doing that, but I want a fresh clean memory stick!!

2.  Pay bills –  Blah, blah, blah.  Ugh.  I hate paying bills!!

3.  Pack my bags – which also means figuring out what I’m going to take, leave, wear, not wear, etc.  The packing is the easy part!!  It’s all the deciding that isn’t!!

4.  Pack bags for the kids – they’ll be spending the night with my parents one night & then with Pepper the other two.   But Lord knows what they’d be wearing or not wearing if I didn’t get all that organized before leaving!!

5.  Get some dinners ready – I think they’ll only be home for dinner one of the nights I’m out, but still, it makes me feel better knowing I’ve left some of their favorites ready in the fridge.  That probably means Chicken Casserole & Chicken Pot Pie!

6.  Try to get my new site finished – yep, you read that right.  I’ve been working (not really me, but rather someone’s been working on my behalf!) on a new site for a little while now & my goal is to have it ready tomorrow.  I was going to wait until after Blissdom, and then went back & forth on what to do.  So we’ll see!   Lots of blogrolls & widgets still to change over.  But I’m excited!!

7.  Set up my poken – Eeek.  I haven’t even opened it!

8.  Look at the Agenda one more time – I need to remind myself of where I’m supposed to be, what classes I want to take, who I want to hear speak, etc. etc. etc.

9.  Think about all the random stuff – Camera Charger, Laptop Charger, Phone Charger, Blog Cards, Chewing Gum, Spending Money, Pillow, Notepads … what else??

10.  Try to remember everything I’m forgetting – Can you help me??

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January 29, 2010 at 12:18 am (Blissdom 10, blogging) (, , , )

Most Random Picture Ever!!

This time next week I’ll be at Blissdom ’10 with 499 other women!!  I know I’ve talked about it alot this month, and I still have a week to go, plus recaps of the weekend so if you’re not into all the Blissdom talk, I’m so sorry!!  But stick with me … please!!

But just as excited as I am about meeting a bunch of new, wonderful women I am thrilled with who I am going with!!  On Thursday afternoon I’ll be hitting the road with 3 women that “I love”!

My sister, Simply Staci, will be picking me up.  I typically just call her Staci!!  We had plenty of fights growing up, but I love hanging out with her now & am so blessed to have her as my sister.  And my kids are incredibly blessed to have her as their Aunt (Oh – and on a completely different note, her students are so lucky to have her as their Science Teacher … Teacher of the Year at her school!!)

Then we’ll be meeting up with ohAmanda.  I usually leave off the ‘oh’ when talking to her!  I’ve known her since diapers – seriously!!  She was probably out of them, but I wasn’t it.  I was like 2 years old when our families started going to the same church.  We’ve worked together, played together, ministered together, and now we’re both married, parenting, blogging & tweeting together.

And we’ll be meeting at The Violet Fig‘s house.  And yep, you guessed we usually don’t go around calling her the Fig either!  We typically just stick to Becky!  Becky’s family was really smart when they moved from Florida to Georgia & started coming to the same church that myself, Staci & Amanda went to:)  She came to us in the 6th grade!  And I’m so glad she did!!  She passionate, fun & keeps me on my toes:)

We’ll be really sad that our other girls Kristen and Mandy won’t be with us, but we’re hoping Harry will make us feel better – heehee!

But these five girls are my best friends.  We have litterally ‘grown up’ together in every sense of what that means.  We can laugh together, cry together, talk or not talk at all … and still be able to finish each other’s sentences.  So, while I’m super excited to be at a conference with 499 wonderful women, I’m even more excited that three of them will be my Sisterchicks!

Oh – And if you’re thinking this is the MOST RANDOM PICTURE EVER … you’re right!  So much so, that I named it that!! Normally there’s 6 of us in a group shot, so in order to get just four of us … you get random!!

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Blissfully blissdom links … part 3

January 23, 2010 at 4:13 am (Blissdom 10, blogging) (, , )

We’re only two weeks away from Blissdom ’10 & it’s getting exciting!!!  On Thursday night, my roadmates/ room-mates/ Sisterchicks – ohAmanda, Simply Staci & The Violet Fig (4 out of the 6) met up for a Pre-Blissdom meeting.  It took us three locations before we found free WiFi and then another hour before we knew what time we’d hit the road!!  After that it just became alot of chit chat & tweeting.  Honestly I’m not sure if we accomplished anything, but it was still fun!! And at we at least know we’ll be hitting the road by 2:30pm!!

I am still reading some great posts each week to help get us ready. Here’s a few that I came across this week.

Going from shy to scintillating by Mom’s Travel Tales – this is a great post and reminder that really, we’re all in the same boat!

Blissdom Blogging Conference – What I’m Packing by Mom’s Travel Tales – This is fun, she lays out everything she’s packing (or planning to pack) and you have to look at the great dress AND SHOES that she’s going to wear for Harry!! And it gets better, she added a MckLinky so you can see what some other bloggers will be wearing too!!

Nightlife at Blissdom by Musings of a Housewife – If you’re worried about too many parties or didn’t even know there were parties … go here!!

How to Get Ready for Blissdom (Part 2) by Giving Up on Perfect – Love this information!  She gives us five more tips with several more Blissdom-related links to make sure we’re “getting ready”!!

Conference Attire Do’s & Dont’s … Barbie Style by Linda Sellers – Really.  You must go read this for the information … but especially for the visuals!! When she says Barbie Style, she means it – literally!!

Limitations, or not, of a niche (a guest post by MommySnacks) at ohAmanda – this is part 3 of Bliss*tastic Series … and a MUST read!

But I’m sure I’ve missed some.  Have you come across any must-reads??

Be sure to read Blissfully blissdom links … part 1 and part 2 for more great posts!!

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Blissfully blissdom links … part 2

January 16, 2010 at 5:50 am (Blissdom 10, blogging)

Blissdom is just 3 weeks away & my excitement level continues!!

First, if you haven’t already, be sure to link up to some “unofficial” guest lists to see who all is going and to either meet new people or to say “oh my goodness, I didn’t know you were going”!!

You can find some at Lisa at Simply His and The Nester

But on to the posts.  I’m definitely not the only one excited because there were a lot of great Blissdom-related posts out there this week.  Did you catch any?  Here’s a few that I caught to help me prepare.  Let me know if you caught any others that I should be reading!!

How to REALLY BRING IT to Blissdom by Linda Sellers – some simple ideas with everything from hugs to energy!

Get Ready for Blissdom – Part 1 by Giving Up on Perfect – again, some really practical advise especially for a newbie.  It’s great to hear it from someone who was that newbie last year!!

Conferences Put the “Social” in Social Media by Real Lifeeverything from clothes, to business cards (which you MUST click over just to see her super cute cards!!), to a reminder to bring an extra bag for some ‘swag’!

What to Wear to Blissdom by Musings of a Housewife – an entire post dedicated to “what to wear” … I’m always a candidate for What NOT to Wear, so I definitely needed this one!!

Advice for Making the Most of Blissdom by Musings of aHousewife – another great post from Jo-Lynne with some good tips for breaking the ice and feeling comfortable!

Blogging Niche & Beyond (a guest post by Boston Mamas) at ohAmanda – this is part 2 of her Bliss*tastic series!

And of course the big news of the week is that HARRY CONNICK JR will be a special performer to our small group of 500 … how incredibly fun is that!!!

So, that’s what I read this week.  Did you read anything else?  Leave me a comment if so, and I’ll be sure to check it out!!

And don’t forget to read Blissfully blissdom links (part 1).

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Blissfully blissdom links

January 9, 2010 at 10:07 am (Blissdom 10, blogging)

When I originally registered for Blissdom 10 I was pretty excited about going, but I was really excited about a girl’s trip with my Sisterchicks  Amanda, Staci & Becky.   Today, I’m still super excited about going with them but can I just tell you how incredibly excited I am about the Conference and meeting everyone!!! 

I really am! 

I’ve told a couple of bloggers & tweeting friends that they make me laugh or that I enjoy them so much online, I hope they don’t let me down when I meet them in person!

As a newbie, I’m trying to absorb all things Blissdom these last few weeks so I can feel ready but also so that I’ll continue to be excited.   Here’s just a couple really great posts that I’ve read this past week.  If you’re a newbie like me & you haven’t read these, be sure to take a minute and do.  I think you’ll find them helpful like me!!

          Do’s & Don’t for Surviving Blissdom 10 by Life in Grace:  This is a super practical & cute post about, well exactly what the name implies.  Great tips!!

          To Niche or Not to Niche (a guest post by Musings of a Housewife) at ohAmanda:  Amanda is  hosting a series called Bliss*tastic and she has a secret list of TOP guest bloggers lined up each week.  I know this is a series not to miss!!

          A Blissdom Packing List (a guest post by Mandi at Organizing Your Way) at Deal Seeking Mom:  This is actually from last year, but it will give me a head start on my packing list as I’m sure it’s still pretty similar.  Again, very practical information but super helpful to see it all in one place.

And then of course there’s the actual Blissdom Conference website.

          It’s fun to look through the Blissdom 10 Agenda, Session and Speaker Information.  I’ve started planning my schedule.  Have you??

Have you read (or written) any great articles to help a newbie out??  Be sure to leave them in the comments if you have, I’d love to read them if you have.

Are you going to Blissdom 10?  Let me know if you are.  I’d love to meet you!!

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Top ten tuesday … posts of 2009

January 5, 2010 at 8:32 am (blogging, Top Ten Tuesday)

For the first Tuesday of 2010, I thought I’d look back one last time at 2009.

I love stats & analytics.  So interesting to me – and I’m not kidding!!  Or at times so depressing.  As in, these are my Top Ten Posts of 2009.

Hopefully I’ll improve on this (my blogging content) for 2010!!!

#1.  Big Boy Underwear ~ The one about potty training Evan.  I actually removed the picture from this post early in the year.  It’s my ‘forever Top Post’ and the words that people search to come to this post are about as disturbing as you would think!!

#2.  HANDmade Calendars ~ The one about a handmade calendar from Megan & Evan to their Grandparents.  I still love the way the gift turned out!!!  And I’m actually kind of sad that the year is over and it’s not hanging up at my parent’s house anymore!

#3.  Family Recipe Fridays (Broccoli Casserole) ~ The one about my family’s yummy Broccoli Casserole Dish!

#4.  Works For Me Wednesday (Once a Month Cooking) ~ The one where I highlight my Once A Month Cooking Day with ohAmanda & Simply Staci.

#5.  Top Ten Tuesday (Fashions I just Don’t Understand) ~ The one where I show how much of an UNfashionista I really am!

#6.  Disney Questions ~ The one where I ask a bunch of Disney Questions before our family trip and got a bunch of good responses!  (someone Stumbled this one for me & that’s why it’s so high!)

#7.  Finer Things Friday (Local Non-Profits) ~ The one where I talk about Square Peg Ministries.

#8.  Welcome to the Party ~ The one where I link up to the Ultimate Blog Party.

#9.  Top Ten Tuesday (Things To Do When You Mess Up Your Back) ~ The one where I complain about my back hurting.  The search terms on this one always crack me up!!  Poor people are looking for real help & Google directs them to me – Ha!!

#10.  Works For Me Wednesday (Gift Wrapping) ~ The one where I tell you how brilliant I am – kidding!!

For more Top Ten Tuesday or to link up to your own, visit

This post also included in Real Life’s Your Life, Your Blog.

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Blogging goals for 2010

January 4, 2010 at 9:21 am (Blissdom 10, blogging, Savvy Blogging)

Yesterday I posted some personal goals that I have for myself & our family in 2010.  Today, I’m participating in a link-up with SavvyBlogging where I spell out all my blogging goals for 2010.

And truth be told, I’m writing these out because these are my goals right now.  But I’m really excited to be attending the Savvy Blogging Event (if you’re going please leave me a comment – I’d love to read your blog & get to know you better before we meet!!) and the Blissdom Conference in February.  I know I’ll learn lots of wonderful things while I’m there and my goals will either change or I’ll hopefully come away with some clear direction on how best to meet these goals!!  Or at least that’s my goal anyways!!

The majority of my goals can fall into four categories – The A, B, C’s and D’s for It’s come to this:

Aesthetics – The overall look & feel of my blog, specific goals:

  • Purchase a Domain ~ I mean obviously I was NOT planning on anyone reading this when I chose “mlbh” as my domain name with WordPress!!  The specific domain I wanted is of course already taken, so I’m just stalling on making a decision for 2nd best!
  • Get a Re-Design ~ or rather have it redesigned!  I really enjoy WordPress, but I hate the limitations of design.  I can’t wait to have a more fun & updated look!

Build A Bond – Aka Community, specific goals:

  • Read and Comment More on Other’s Blogs ~ I read a lot of blogs, but I don’t comment near enough.  I know how nice it is to get a really nice comment from a stranger and I want to give that in return.  I also know how “unsure” it can make you feel if you have a lot of readers but hardly any comments!!
  • Update my Google Reader ~ ohAmanda left a great tutorial on how to comment directly through Google Reader.  I still need to follow these steps.  I think it will help me a lot!!
  • Comment more on Comments ~ Alot of times I email readers that leave me comments, but I also love how other bloggers leave comments within the comments on a feed.  I want to do better at that in 2010.

Content – It’s King!  Specific goals:

  • Create a Blogging Schedule ~ Sure I might deviate from it time to time, but I want to get in a good rhythm and flow for this coming year.
  • Find my Niche ~ I think when people say this they automatically assume a niche to make money with.  But honestly I didn’t start this blog with that intention so I’m totally fine without going that route.  I just want to get in a groove that I really enjoy.  I have a lot of opinions and a lot of interests but I’ve struggled with writing about those consistently.  I have a few things I’m going to focus on the first of this year and see how that treats me (and you!).

Delivery – My Style, specific goals:

  • Brush up on my Writing ~ and brush up is probably weak at best.  I love writing (and take pride in the fact that I was a published author in Elementary School through our local paper – ha!!) but too often I through throw (updated after this was published and someone kindly pointed it out … see – it’s a good thing this is a goal for 2010!!)  a post together and hit publish.  You can always tell the difference in a quick post and a though out post.   I just want to make sure I deliver my best!

So, those are my goals for 2010 … now I’m off to work on them!!

And again, if you’re coming from the Savvy Blogging link-up, please leave me a comment! I’ll be at the event & I’d love to get to know you & your blog before we meet in person!! (YAY ~ meeting in person … so exciting!!)

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Happy new year!

January 3, 2010 at 12:46 am (2010, blogging, diet, family)

I’m not really a big resolution kind of gal, but this year I’m actually feeling “it” (resolutions that is)!  I think it’s because I feel a little out of balance and out of sorts in several areas of my life.  So more than just resolutions to make & break, I have a few goals to hopefully improve my life and the life of my family.

So my apologies in advance that the last post of 2009 and the first post of 2010 are more for myself than you, but really – isn’t that all I do on this blog anyways?!

Personal Goals (for me):

  • Lose 18 lbs. – I got a good start on my weight loss goal last year.  In 2009, I wanted to lose 42 lbs.  I had hoped to come in on the last day of 2009 with a 29 lb loss, but the holidays got to me and I totally slacked so I gained a few lbs back and came in with a total loss of 24 lbs.  I’ll continue with Joy’s LIFE Diet (more on that later) and kick up my exercise!
  • Run – This is totally NOT me.  I actually can’t even believe I’m saying this.  I don’t like running.  In school I enjoyed relay races (you know the one where you pass the Paton to the next runner?), but long distance was totally NOT in my vocabulary.  I’m not even ready to say my goal is to run a 5k yet, I just want to be able to run in the neighborhood without stopping after 2 mins.  I want to be able to run for exercise.
  • Find a Balance – I spend too much time online.  But it’s my hobby.  It’s also my source of information, the way I pay my bills, communicate with friends, get some awesome deals (totally scored through Twitter & FB Fan Sites this year!!) & work on outside commitments.  But it’s also a trap for me!!  I get online with the intention of paying the bills and then three hours later I’m still paying.  And it’s not because Bank of America is that slow!!  It’s because I get that distracted.  I need to find a balance.
  • Bible Reading – I’ve neglected this pretty badly the last several years.  I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve re-learned a second “story” from the Jesus Storybook Bible that I’m reading with Evan.  I need to spend daily devotion with Him again!!

Personal Goals (for my family):

  • Get Organized – I used to be organized and pretty much on top of things.  But that’s when I was taking care of only myself and Pepper.  Now I lose someone’s shoes EVERY day, can’t find checks that people give me, and still haven’t filled in page one of Megan’s baby book!!  I’m horribly UNorganized right now & I absolutely HATE that feeling!!  I need systems and I need to de-clutter!
  • Better Eating – Yes, I followed a plan and a diet to lose the weight I did last year, but the basics of it is eating clean, unprocessed, real food.  Fresh fruits, veggies, lean chicken/meats and fish.  Nothing really came from a box except the occasional whole wheat pasta.  I want to continue that & improve upon it for the whole family.
  • Activities for Kids – Evan is in school a half-day for three days out of the week.  I need to be better at planning activities though when he’s home.  It’s better for all of us … too much free time drives everyone a little crazy!!!  I want a planned schedule (within reason) of crafts, snacks, play time, and fun stuff.
  • Lower Expenses, Increases Savings – I’m trying to master (ok, that’s probably strong … how about “understand”) couponing more than I do now.  I did alot better this year, but my goal this year is to consistently save 30%+ at each trip to the grocery store.  Sites like MommmySnacks, Keeping The Kingdom First, Money Saving Mom and Coupon Mom have all been my go-to sites this past year.   I’m also starting to get really excited about Swagbucks and Ebates Accounts.  If you don’t use either of them … you should definitely look into it!!!  I didn’t have enough points to bother cashing them in this Christmas, but my goal is to “buy” gifts throughout the year and next Christmas with these accounts!!


  • I actually have several goals for my blog this year.  One of those will be happening next month, when I go to Blissdom 10.  I’m really excited to meet a lot of “real” bloggers and Twitter friends there.  I’m also excited to be going with my IRL friends ohAmanda, TheVioletFig and Simply Staci.  But more on my Blogging Goals later.  I’ll be linking up to Savvy Blogging Carnival on Monday.

So, those are my goals. Now the real question … how am I going to get there?? Honestly, I’m still working on that.   If I knew exactly how to eat better, stay organized, run, and plan activities I’d probably be doing all that already!!  So the truth is I’m not sure.  I’m working on some things and I’ll post more as I go.

Do you have any awesome suggestions for me?

What are your goals for 2010?

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The closing of a decade

December 30, 2009 at 9:55 pm (blogging, memories, random)

I was reading over at The Vanderbilt Wife today and she did a great re-cap of her life this past decade.  I thought it was a great way to think about the last 10 years and highlight some of the major events in my life.  Also a way to remember it for many years to come.  So I apologize in advance if this is super boring,  just know I’m filing this one away for my personal memory bank!

In 1999 I was celebrating New Year’s Eve with my brand new husband on the beach in Destin FL.  We were with some friends & it was a great way to ring in the new decade because we got to celebrate the countdown twice – once for “Georgia Time” and once for “Florida Time”!  That way if the world came to an end when Y2K hit in Georgia, we had at least an hour to prepare – ha!!


  • Working at my church as an Assistant to the Children’s Ministry Pastor and the Pre-School Pastor.
  • Attending school Full-Time.
  • Celebrated my Grandparents 50th Wedding Anniversary!
  • Graduated from school with a Business Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing.


  • Took my first post-degree job for a company that I can’t even remember the name of (I didn’t stay very long because they were scum-bags … literally!!).
  • Accepted a job with a now-defunct division of LandAmerica OneStop.  This had nothing to do with my degree, but only to do with a paycheck!  I will however, always remember that job as the place I was when I heard of 9/11.
  • Visited the Bahamas for a summer vacation.
  • Purchased our first car as a married couple – a Toyota 4Runner … which I still drive today!


  • Began my career with Alucid Solution – a user interface company in Atlanta, finally getting to put my degree back to use!
  • Visited some dear friends in California & got to see parts of LA, San Diego & Beverly Hills for the first time.
  • Pepper and I both lost a grandparent this year.

2003 – this year is marked heavily with good & bad.

  • Closed on the house that we still live in today.
  • We lost Pepper’s 18-year old brother to a car accident.
  • Pepper quit his job in the Life Insurance Business because life was short and he didn’t want to sell something he didn’t believe in anymore!  (side note:  He believes in life insurance – it’s important & we have it!!  But he didn’t believe in how the company sold it … not looking out for the customer but only selling what gave the biggest commission!!).
  • Vacationed with my family on an Hawaiian Cruise!!
  • Became an Aunt when Pepper’s sister had her first child.


  • Purchased our first of four “flipper houses”.
  • Began traveling for work a fair bit … DC, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, and Los Angeles several more times.
  • Vacationed at El Dorado Royale in Mexico for our 5-year Anniversary
  • Visited the lovely state of North Dakota with some dear friends ~ a real life ranch experience that I never dreamed I’d ever have!!!
  • Found out I was pregnant with Evan in November of 2004 …


  • Finally announced to friends & family that we were expecting in February of 2005 (yes – we waited for 2.5 months … it was our little secret only!!)  I waited an entire month before even telling Pepper!!
  • Water broke just as Pepper was dealing out the poker chips of his last ‘free-man’ weekend party!!
  • Delivered a healthy baby boy 8 days early weighing in at 8lbs 6 oz.
  • Visited the Neurosurgeon with Evan for the most scared moments of my short life as a mommy … all was well though!!
Evan ~ 2005

Evan ~ 2005

Oh my gosh, we’re only half way there!!!


  • Stopped working at Alucid Solution to stay at home full-time with Evan.
  • Vacationed in Orlando with my family.
  • Celebrated Evan’s 1st Birthday with a Luau-Themed Party for our families.
  • Helped my sister-in-law open an All Natural Skincare Clinic.


  • Celebrated Pepper’s 30th birthday in Las Vegas ~ a first time trip for both of us!
  • Wrote my very first blog post!
  • Began working part-time with my sister-in-law  & went back to work part-time for Alucid Solution.
  • Started Evan in a Mother’s Morning Out Program two days a week.
  • Found out I was pregnant with Megan in November of 2007 …


  • Finally announced to friends in family that we were expecting again in January of 2008 (yes – we still waited … but we told everyone a whole month sooner this time!!!).
  • Finished my part-time work with Alucid Solution.
  • Delivered a healthy baby girl 2 weeks early after having to stop & get gas (while having serious contractions) and having to wait in the waiting room for a room to open!!!
  • Celebrated our 9th Wedding Anniversary over hospital food since Megan chose to come into this world on our Anniversary!!
  • Celebrated my 30th Birthday!!

Megan ~ 2008


WoW – if you made it to the end of this you should entered in a giveaway or something!!!  But sorry, I don’t have anything!  Thanks for letting me remember though!! Did you do a decade recap post?  If you did be sure to leave your link … I owe you the courtesy of reading it all:)

Happy New Year!!!

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Reviews – do you write them? do you trust them?

October 6, 2009 at 10:23 pm (blogging)

Have you ever written a bad review? Did you publish it? Or have you ever read a bad review on someone else’s blog? Have you ever been invited to a blog event hosted by a company (what’s it called Junket, or something like that – new to me!)  and written poorly of the company? Did you publish it?

I received my college degree in Marketing.  The time I spent in the work force after graduating until I left after becoming pregnant with our 2nd child was brief.  It was all of six years.  So I am by no means coming at this as some Marketing Expert and not even as a Marketing Expert wanna-be, but rather just thinking out-loud … (and maybe with my marketing “cap” on – not brain, just cap!).

I spent those six years with a User Research / Market Research Company.  We evaluated websites, software programs, hand-held devices etc. to determine their usability or in most cases lack of it.  Most of our research was done through one-on-one studies with participants, focus group studies or observed interactions.  Our primary selling points to our clients were:

1) we were a third party.  While you likely would have never heard of the company I worked for, you very likely have heard of all our clients – Fortune 50,100 & 500 clients.  So we sold the fact (to our clients) that we were a third party & therefore they stood a much better chance of getting honest, real opinions because the participants weren’t talking with the person that created the product or idea but a third person that was not biased & was impartial either way. Also related to this, we sold our location – studies & interviews were conducted in a neutral location – not specific to the client or brand … i.e. you didn’t walk through the Coca-Cola doors & drink a Sprite during our study.

And 2) that we screened for qualified participants. We had to find a range of individuals that fit the client’s target market through surveys & background information.  While we kept a database of potential participants we shuffled through them & would not use them repeatedly (within reason) .  We would even throw participants out of the database or pool for future studies if they weren’t ” good”.  For example – there is such thing as a “Professional Participant” – they “know” what to say & how to act & what they think you want to hear; however, they don’t know that you can pick up on that and see that they’re being fake in their answers.  And then there’s just the bump on a log that can’t communicate enough so you have to remove them because it’s like pulling teeth to get any kind of feedback what so ever.

So maybe much of this is just because it was drilled into my head for six years that this is how it should be but I seem to struggle when I read a product review on a blog … and maybe that’s because the majority (not all, but definitely the majority) of the ones I read are all good! How is that? Is it because they’ve only been given awesome products and there’s nothing bad to say about them?  Is it because even if they weren’t great, they’d still write a great review because they don’t want to ruin any PR relationships?  Is it because the only reason someone would want to enter a giveaway is if the reviewer likes what they’re giving away?  Is it because they reviewed bad products dozens of times but just never wrote the post so all you see are the good ones?

I’ve only written one review & I took the “nice” approach.  The product was fine – not exceptionally wonderful, but not even as bad as average, so I picked out the things I liked I focused on them.  I didn’t play up on them but I didn’t harp on the little things.  I’ve heard & read articles that it’s pretty common for bloggers to write a review if they like it & simply not write a review if they don’t (as opposed to writing an honest review).  But that’s not right.  Or is it?  Shouldn’t we be honest with our readers in both the good & the bad – giving them the whole truth? Or do we need to protect our PR relationships?

I actually read a bad review today here, courtesy of Momdot.  I was so happy to read a bad review!!  An honest review – it was almost all bad actually, not just a point or two.  It was actually very re-assuring.  And just yesterday the FTC made new rulings that bloggers (and others) must provide better disclosure.  I think that’s wonderful!!

The third aspect that’s totally different for me IRL as opposed to blog-world, is payment. I’m not about to pretend that I know who gets paid, what they get paid, etc. And I don’t believe that’s anybody’s concern but the two involved!  But in my opinion I think anyone asked to write a review, attend a junket (again – is that the right word!?!), or endorse a product (again, asked is the key word) in any way should be paid money – cold, hard cash. When a company pays an individual the playing field (in my opinion) is level again.  If a company thinks highly enough of an individual to ask for their opinions, then I think they should think highly enough of an individual to pay them.  Then it’s not about getting a “free*” product or a “free*” trip for writing a review it’s instead about a job – a consulting job for a company – either about the company or their product.

* Free – please note, that by free – I know it’s not really free.  I know reviewers will put alot of time into using the product or going on the event, writing the review, handling the giveaway (if applicable), etc. I just mean “free” in the terms of cash not being exchanged … and that’s why I think cash should be exchanged:)

Or I think of it this way – we would have been absolutely crazy if we asked participants to get off work or arrange for someone to keep their children, drive through Atlanta traffic, come and sit with us for an hour or more of their time & then the only compensation we provided was their gas reimbursement & a meal.  We would have NEVER found anyone.  Yet, people will travel across the country for some events.  And frankly, I would be one of those people if it was a cool enough opportunity.  I love the behind the scenes stuff!!  But typically, people participated in our studies for two reasons – 1) they enjoyed it AND 2) they received something for it (money).   I would venture to say that the reasons bloggers review products, hosts  giveaways or attend junkets  (there it is again) is for those same reasons – 1) they enjoy it & 2) they receive something for it – although in these cases the compensation may or may not be money – but maybe it looks good on the resume, opens up more opportunities, etc.

Now I also think you (even I) could play devil’s advocate & say if bloggers get paid then they’ll become that “professional participant” because who wouldn’t want to get paid for these opportunities & do more & more of them?  And I can definitely see some validity to that point.

So – that’s where I’m coming from? Do you agree?  Do you see it different? This whole concept is just something that’s new to me … it’s opposite of my way of thinking. I by NO MEANS think my way is the only way, I’m just curious if there are others out there that think similar to me.

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