Friday, September 13, 2013

About Advertorials & Being PR-Friendly

A few days back, Leo told me that one of his colleague reads my blog {yay!}. However she said there were "too many advertorials". Really?? To be honest, I was quite upset by that comment, because this is something I'm rather conscious of - that I don't turn my blog into one that just does reviews, giveaways, sponsored posts, advertorials etc and yet someone still thinks that it has. And I'm so disturbed by that comment that I feel it warrants a response... to all my readers and friends that support my blog because some other people might wonder the same thing.

Don't get me wrong. I can take criticism, and I welcome feedback as a way to learn. By no means do I see myself as an "expert" of any sort, and I'm always looking for ways to improve and make this blog better.

I just need to emphasize that when I write about a product or service, it's because I honestly feel that it is something worth sharing about. Sometimes I write them with no sponsorship of any kind but yes, sometimes I may have received a complimentary product / service or even monetary compensation for my time and commitment to the project. However, any benefits received is not payment for my opinion, which is never for sale. Ever.

And in any of my reviews/ event coverages, I always disclose. Sometimes it's to my detriment, but I will always be honest about any relationship with the brands and companies I work with. It's just part of my blogger's integrity and something I feel that must be done to make sure my readers make an informed decision. Maybe it is because I'm always open about any little benefit I receive that it seems like I'm doing a lot of advertorials. Would readers prefer that I don't disclose and work them into my posts like product placements, so that it's not so "in-your-face"?? I think not, and I would feel sneaky if I ever did something like that.

I don't ever want this blog to be "sponsor driven". This blog is our family memoirs, and a reflection of me. This blog is to celebrate who I am, and how my passions like travel, fashion, beauty and cooking fit in a family environment. This blog shares inspiration and ideas about parenting and lifestyle in Singapore. This blog encourages readers to love their life and live their dreams. 

I can't say I will stop being PR-friendly because I don't believe that by working with them, I'm not treating my blog right. Like my readers, brands and companies support my blog and I've actually made some good friends through this. I'm also thankful for the opportunities they've provided by reaching out to help me discover new trends and products {especially kids fashion because I love to dress up Lil Pumpkin!!}, and in a way, help me to save money for Lil Pumpkin's education & upbringing {which can be pretty expensive in Singapore!}. It is not my main source of income, but it might be in the future if I want to pursue blogging full-time... and shouldn't I hone my skills in building relationships and managing this area too?

However as my readers, you can be assured that that I'm rather selective about the companies I work with and what I review or give away i.e. just because it's free or they are willing to pay me, doesn't mean I take it :P

Every day, I receive quite a number of offers and proposals asking me to review this product or try out this service. From the very beginning, I'll only select items that me and my family already like, or will be interested to try from reputable brands that are relevant to the blog and promote the values I believe in. Sometimes I might work with a start-up because I like to help encourage entrepreneurship too.  But no matter what, only if it's worth a shout-out will I share it with you guys on the blog. Some things you may love as much as I do, some things you may not like but hey, isn't it great to be open to new ideas.. no?

Working with brands also allows me opportunities to give back to my readers and friends. Let me tell you that organising a giveaway is not easy. It is time-consuming and requires a lot of coordination on my part. I'm a one-man show here.. no team, no assistants and no blog agents to help me liaise with brands and companies. It's much easier for me to just review a product / service and be done with it, but being able to share that product / service with you via either a giveaway or promo code makes it so much more meaningful.

I'm sorry if any of you felt that this blog has "too many advertorials" or is becoming too commercial. That's not what I want for my blog. And so far, I think that is not what it is.

I've been doing a lot of thinking since coming back from Northern Territory, and how I want my blog to move forward is one of the things on my mind. I'd appreciate if you can leave a comment and tell me what you think of my blog. Truthfully. If you want to leave an anonymous comment, go ahead. I'll still note your opinion and take into consideration whatever you've mentioned.

What do you love, or want to change? What topics do you want to see more of? 
What's a good balance of sponsored and non-sponsored posts?

All your inputs will help to make me a better blogger, and I thank you in advance for that xox



mail4rosey said...

I'm surprised by the comments on the ads too. I like your blog the way it is, and I say just blog with your gut feelings.

I know some people like giveaways and some don't, so I just do what I want for my blog, and hope those who like one will gravitate towards those posts, and those who like the other will go that way. I try to make a healthy balance of the two.

Sponsors are important for many reason, including keeping a blog alive by attracting new readers who come to visit a product, and (hopefully) decide to stick around.

Just my opinion. There's never a way to blog that will make everyone happy, so just be true to you. :)

I love your blog as is. My opinion.

EssentiallyJess said...

It's a hard one, trying to find that line between too much and none at all. I don't think you are too advertorial, though I do wonder if he was referring to your unofficial reviews? So often you will write about where you go to dinner and what you had, and it's just a story of you guys, but maybe he was thinking you were promoting that business? And if he is unaware of blogging disclosure policy he might not get the difference? Does that make sense?

Your blog though, is exactly what you say it is in my opinion. Little stories about your gorgeous family and the things you do together in Singapore. I think you personally have a good balance.

sock peng said...

've been doing a lot of thinking since coming back from Northern Territory, and how I want my blog to move forward is one of the things on my mind.


我也很怕读者说我的部落太商业化,可是我在想,我们能有机会和商家一起合作,产品又是我们喜欢的,这样子何尝不是好事? 从中给大家知道我们认识的好康,也是我们写部落分享意义。


Stacy said...

To each his own. No point trying to please every single body. Whatever you serve up, some will like it and some won't. The latter will go elsewhere. If you change to suit them, the former might go elsewhere and you end up chasing your own tail.

Just do what suits you.

I read your blog. Obviously I like it enough. :p

Stacy said...

And didn't you win Best Blog recently? Went on some trip and single-handedly emptied out some shops? :p :p

An Apel a Day said...

I think your blog is very well balanced. I try and mix in stories about my kiddos along with a review, or giveaway here and there as well.

Grace said...

I don't think that your blog is full of advertorials. It's very obvious that the products you talk about, you believe in. As a previous commenter said, you can't please everyone.
The important thing is you stay transparent and stay true to what's important for you to share on your blog.
What I love about your blog is that you have a nice mix of everything - stories about your family, stories about the products you love and the engagement of your community.
You're doing this all very successfully, Ai because your readers keep coming back. xxx

Ai Sakura said...

mail4rosey: that's true, especially when the sponsors recognise the value of a blogger and works for mutual benefits not just for promoting their products. thanks for your support :)

Jess: it IS so hard to find that balance!! I get what you mean.. how it might seem like I'm just doing a promotion.. when I'm really just sharing good stuff I come across with friends haha. well this is a bit tricky because there really is so much to discover in Singapore and so much to do!

Sock Peng: thanks for taking the time to write this. I guess that trip really touched all of us. That's what I thought of too when working with brands.. it's just about sharing experience and knowledge, but I can also see how people might feel a wrong way about it. Still learning about the balance part. So hard I tell ya!

Stacy: Thanks dear. I think it's because there's a lot going on in my head now and feeling rather sensitive, so that comment really hit a soft spot. Thanks for the reminder that ultimately, I must blog for what I believe in and can't please everyone.

And I did not empty the shops with my NT shopping!! haha

Alissa: yup that's what I like to do too!

Grace: thanks. it's amazing how we've seen each other grow our blogs and I'm glad you still see me the same way after all these years xox

Susan said...

I think you have a balanced blog, between the blogging about little pumpkin, your family, your interests, and sponsored posts. Guess for that person to make the remark, they may not have been following your blog all along. We can never please everyone so don't stop what you do and blog for yourself :) I have to turn down some opportunities so that I don't over clutter my blog with ads and sponsored contents. And it may help to remember why you started blogging in the first place. Hope this helps.

Unknown said...

I love the stories that are written about your family and I enjoy reading about your experiences. Clearly, you have a strong following and I am sure readers will be glad to know that you are careful about what you choose to review.

I do wonder whether someone who is new to the blog might get the impression that you are overly PR friendly based on the info in your about page and the giveaway buttons at the end of posts can be mistaken for advertisements. I wonder if that misunderstanding can be avoided by pulling that information into a media kit instead that can be disseminated to PR agencies directly.

What do you think?

Theresa Mahoney said...

I feel exactly how Rosey does. I think you have a healthy mix of product reviews balanced out with family. You actually have way less reviews than most of the blogs that I visit. In my opinion, you have found a good mix.

Even with reviews, you can find a way to incorporate your family life into those, like how I did talking about my illness with my Tofutti review. I have seen you do that in yours also.

Just keep doing what you have been and ignore the hurtful comments.

~Summer~ said...

Dear Ai, please don't be sad by that one comment, I'm sure she/he still loves your blog enough to follow it! =) Yes, there is no one perfect blog that can please everyone, sometimes when I try to write about my family and the things that we do, I even get comments like "Go get a life"! Haha, believe it! I think your blog is great as it is, advertorials and part and parcel of it and giveaways are great in my opinion, totally understand the part about having to run it single-handedly! I have been inspired by many of your heartfelt posts, especially the ones where you speak of your love for lil pumpkin and the ones where you bare your emotions. So please, keep up the great work! Self reflection is good at times, just don't let it affect you in a negative way. Great to know you had a fabulous trip, can't wait to see more pics! =)

Tony Johor Kaki said...

Hi Ai, I like your blog and I especially like the way you take this difficult matter by the horns. As a fellow blogger, these issues are in my mind all the time, and I still haven't figure it out complelety. I just resolve to keep learning as blogging is, after all, frontier territory. Customs and best practices are still being evolved and formed. And like you, I practice full disclosure. I state clearly when I post an invited food tasting within the first paragraph, if not within the first sentence. In this first sentence, I also have a hyperlink to a fully written out "invited food tasting policy". Like you, I believe in letting my readers make informed choices. Keep up the good work and have fun - fun is the reason we started in the first place :) Thanks.

DerrickTan said...

Hi Ai, cheers up! I think all of us went through the same stage. It is a balancing act that is not easy to manage. I think in life it is hard to make everyone happy. First of all blogging is a personal thing where you documents your life. So why bother about the negative voices even if there is no reader.Believe in your path, still honest and continue the journey. Second, if bloggers are not there, these readers probably get their info from traditional media like advertisement, magazine...isn't these more commercial driven?

Ai Sakura said...

Susan: yes it certainly helped :) thanks for sticking with me through the years and knowing what I truly stand for.

Jasmine: A few people have brought up the giveaway button that it might be misinterpreted as an ad. I see that now but the reason I had it was so readers who might have missed that post won't miss out on the good opportunity. Thanks for pointing out that I need to be conscious of not just my content, but layout too.

Theresa: thanks for your good advice and reminder to just do what I do best :)

Summer: thanks dear! I don't think the person who made that comment meant for it to be hurtful, but it certainly did sting. glad to hear you like my blog too :)

Johor Kaki: yes we are all certainly still learning and I admire you being so honest on your blog too. I'm sure your readers all appreciate that. Keep up the good work as well!

Derrick: thanks for your support. Glad to know I'm not the only one going through this and you're right, I need to focus more on the positive and just take the negative with a pinch of salt. Good point on the traditional media part too!

Candice said...

Hey Ai, I gotta admit that being the mountain tortoise in these parenting/family blogosphere, I only started reading your blog after we got to know each other.

I like your writing and have seen for myself how much effort you put into doing a review. And you do take time to drop by our blogs/FB pages, etc to read and leave comments. All these show your sincerity.

One thing I'd like to highlight is probably the banners at the bottom of each post. I totally get that you are trying to ensure that readers don't miss out on your good deals. But it does look kinda cluttered and somewhat like more ads to me. That's just my opinion.

Other than that, I do enjoy your writing! So glad to have gotten to know you or I'd have missed out on this!

Anonymous said...

I dont think your blog is "overly" loaded with advertisements. So keep on writing!!!

Yours is much better than some blogs.. where the writers and their real lives...dont match at all..

Ai Sakura said...

Candice: great to have gotten to know you too! I'm definitely doing something about the giveaway reminders.. maybe not so frequent or not so "in-your-face" like "ads". thanks for the feedback :)

Anon: thanks, I definitely will keep writing :)

Simple Mum said...

Hey Ai! I love your blogs as well as many other Singapore mummy blogs too! I love reading advertorial too. However, as long as your blog is not like more than 60% advertorial, it is acceptable in my opinion. I know that are some blogs that go 80% media invite, media this and media that, that really puts me off, but still, I follow to keep myself up to date with some new products that are out there targetted for mums and children. Don't be too affected and I think that comment is a good one to keep a blogger stay on track.