This struck me the other day after reading a great blogging post by Wonderful You. She noted that she’s more likely to trust reviews from newer blogs where the products aren’t PR samples over more established blogs that inevitably review more samples sent to them.
This really got me thinking about how I blog and how other readers and bloggers perceive reviews where there’s a sample sent by a brand or PR company involved.
I’m lucky enough to deal with a lot of PR companies and brands in Ireland and the UK and they’re a huge ongoing help when it comes to me reviewing a diverse range of products. To be perfectly honest, I simply couldn’t afford to review all the products I do if I was only relying on what’s in my purse. So I feel truly lucky to be able to avail of samples that I find exciting and that I think readers will enjoy seeing a post about. I still buy a huge amount of beauty products and mix in opinion pieces like this, so on a balance I’m very happy with the range of reviews I write.
But here’s the thing. I don’t review everything I’m sent. If I request a product based on a press release sent to me, it’s because I’m genuinely interested in the product and would love to review it. But if I’m sent products without asking for them, I’ll only feature them if I think they’re interesting. If you tend to see more positive reviews of samples it’s because I don’t review the products I find a bit meh. If they’re woeful though, or I think people would be really interested in a review, that’s a different story. When I first began blogging, I feel like looking back now, I was probably more blinded by samples. I’m being really honest here, in the first few months if I was sent products I was so bowled over to be sent beautiful things I would now say that they had to have an impact on my review as I was so excited. But while the argument on Wonderful You’s blog seemed to be that more established blogs are sample driven, which I would often agree with, I actually think I’m a much more discerning blogger now than I was when my blog was new.
Now, reasonably established after nearly 2 years, I’m not afraid to speak my mind. I still cringe a little when I know a PR company or brand will read a bad review on a product they’ve sent me, but I’m no longer in the slightest bit afraid to do so. I’ve become more confident in my own voice so honestly after all this time, I think I’m a more transparent and honest blogger than I ever was before.
I understand that seeing the same product featured on a wide variety of blogs in the same week can be a little repetitive but I don’t think you can blame a blogger for wanting to feature a new product when it’s exciting and new. I do think though the quality of the review is what counts, and I actually enjoy reading a cross section of reviews on the same product as opinions invariably differ.
So for me personally, samples are a huge perk and help me blog about a wide range of products that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to feature, but it’s not the be all and end all. I love buying interesting products for the blog and do so on a weekly basis, I love writing opinion pieces like this and I love that it can help me put a more personal stamp on my blog. For me, I think it’s all about balance and honesty and if a blogger is honest, frankly it shouldn’t matter if a product is a sample or not.
So I’d really love some opinions from you all, whether you’re bloggers or readers. How do you feel about reviewing or reading reviews based on samples and do you think blogs can be biased? Or do you feel a certain pressure if you’re reviewing a sample?