travel & lifestyle blog by ruth dela cruz

iBlog7: Insights, Learnings and Realizations of A NonPro Blogger

April 4, 2011

Back to the traditional form of writing, I have made a rough draft of this entry in a notepad because I have thoughts running in my mind, and I just cannot log in to my pc and transfer these thoughts in a form called blog entry.

So the day 1 of iBlog7 has ended (I wrote this on a notepad but just uploading and typing now). The first time I have heard of it, I never know this type of summit existed but the fellow bloggers I just recently met invited me to join and so I signed up. I never know that summits, organizations and blog events exist. I am too busy writing stuff, sharing my experiences and publishing them (or maybe I am just too busy stalking my crush online?).
On Blog Events
My friends (who are not bloggers) always ask me if I ever attend blog events as they have read some bloggers covering releases and product launches. I told them I did not. First of all I did not get invited to such events, and second, I wanted to stay an anonymous blogger. I wanted to keep my identity private. I am a very shy person and I can only open up to the people I am close or comfortable with.  BUT, I know I have to move forward and learn more as a blogger, especially I have readers (especially coworkers) who would send me messages and tell me they love my write-ups and reviews. PLUS, I always dreamed of working in a magazine or media, covering events and sharing them with readers. It is time to take the next step thinking that I need to offer more to my readers. Glad to be connected with very supportive bloggers (thank you!). So when I received invitations to product launchings, I said yes because I believe in the products and I know it won’t be hard to make a good review and coverage for such event.

As I explore the blogsphere and explore more blogs and sites, I noticed that there are some which only publish blog events- sites/blogs which only talk about how fun the event was and what tokens they had received for attending the event. It saddens me. The bigger question now is if these sites even reach out to the target readers? The question of blog traffic now comes in. It seems to me that the purpose of marketing the product through blogs have been defeated, if the post and review would not be cascaded to the target market. But then again, I hope that these bloggers are doing their part since they got the precious invite. 
In attending product launches, I keenly observe how things are done. It surprised me that some events appear to be more like a get-together of old friends (bloggers) enjoying the whole show/event and I wonder if they are really doing their part as bloggers – that is to know more about the product and share the info to their readers – and not just take pictures and get tokens/freebies. I hope they do. As for me, I try to bring my work ethics and be professional. As if I would attend a meeting, I have taken notes that I may use for the write-up.

Notes from the recent Magnolia Bloggers’ Party
which write-up I have yet to do πŸ˜€

On Writing Reviews
It has been my nature to take pictures of places, restaurants and services that I have availed so that I can share them to my readers together with a write up and review (I have a pending Hospital Review! πŸ˜€ – oh yeah, I would review not just restaurants and hotels now :D). My friends know very well not to touch the food yet, or jump on the bed until I have taken some shots.

Whenever we dine out, my friends would tell me to tell the manager that I am a blogger. But I never use that word, and never introduced myself as one (I am not a professional blogger in the first place) to get special attention and treatment and even freebies like cake for dessert. It is a no-no for me.  I would never use that term to get special treatment. The very reason is I want to get the real customer experience – good or bad (plus I sometime do mystery shopping for establishments). I sometimes get special attention whenever we dine out because people think that I am paid to walk in the ramp and wear clothes (but I am not).

I do not want to be tagged as a TALL BAD BLOGGER after the BIG BAD BLOGGER issue. I pay for my meals, and hotel accommodations, and I invest on my trips. I am happy to check my site analytics and see hits  for a certain blog entry regarding a restaurant review, or hotel review or any hits in the page that my readers might have found helpful. If they do Liked and posted a comment on my page, that is close to nirvana.  
Being a blogger and a netizen, I somehow know how to read a paid blog review and I see alot of them. I have learned to check forum and not-so-popular sites if I want an honest review of a product. Although there are some credible blogs which features honest reviews, (I am a fan of Animertrics World!) I still do my research before I decide. 
I have seen a lot of beauty blogs that talk about product reviews (and how good a product is) and I always wonder how do they manage to use different products in less than a month, and if they ever get worried about chemical reactions and its effect on their skin? (Read this nice insight from one blogger called Tanggera regarding product endorsements – she has well put everything in a good entry. Too bad I missed the Day 2). I am just glad that I am not the type who always try every new skin or beauty product in the market. But I am concerned for the readers who don’t know how blog campaign works. 
Bottom line, in making reviews, always give the highlights and challenges of the products. If you would notice on my restaurant reviews, I have a section LOWLIGHTS where I put in the restaurant’s not-so-nice-points to set my readers expectations and to give the establishment feedback on what areas to improve on. If you think that the comments are too harsh to publish, or if the advertiser/client asked you not to publish such things, better shoot them an email and share your views.

On Online Contests
I love joining contests and wining. Who doesn’t? It also shows support to my fellow bloggers. Too bad, I missed Jayson Biadog’s talk regarding online contests on the iBlog. But I would like to think I am being more responsible now when joining contests. Right now, I only want to join contests that (1) promote advocacies (like promoting love for country, etc) AND (2) contests which prizes are something that I really, really like. 
I used to join every known contests in the internet (and even asked for freebies/samples from campaigns), that   once I won, I would end up with a prize that I never really like or I cannot use. I think I would say pass on the  contests that giveaway items that I do not have use of, like giveaways of beauty products and stuff (sometimes I wonder if these are just overstock of items they got from campaigns that they cannot use and just nearing expiration? That’s a harsh thought! Sorry). There is nothing really wrong with holding contests. I love contests and I love joining them. I once hold a blog contest and I gave away some stuff – and yes, they are indeed my favorite things. My point now is, I would give chance to others to join and win the prize that they wanted; but I would still continue to support my fellow bloggers’ contest sites. 
The iBlog7 is such a meaningful event for me. I thought that everything can be learn online especially that there are alot of information, sites and even interviews available with just a few searches; but reality is, no man is an island – we need to converse, interact and learn from each other.

I have to thank the people who I just met who are helping me become a more responsible blogger. Your interviews, your winnings, your fashion sense and your blog posts are truly helpful and inspirational (you know who you guys are – I am just not fond of mentioning and typing names in my blog posts to protect and respect the people concerned).

So what are your take-aways from the iBlog?

If you have comments, violent reactions or death threats, send them away; just please don’t attack me when you see me outside, I am just not into cat fights πŸ˜‰ Now, I have to sleep, as I have a day job (night job actually) that I need to keep πŸ˜‰

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