Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gift Guide or Gift Grab?

If you read even a handful of craft-related blogs, you know that holiday gift guides are "the thing" right now. Crafty Papa and I went to dinner (alone!) a few nights ago and started discussing the fine line between a gift guide and a gift grab. I know, I know, not exactly the kind of romantic conversation you expect for a once-every-three-months or so date night but we both had strong opinions on the subject and actually were in agreement which almost never happens.

So, here's my opinion - and it may not be popular, but I'd really love to hear your opinion too...

I think in general, far too many craft blogs have sacrificed meaningful posts for PR and marketing. It's all sponsors and giveaways and free stuff...and I don't think all blog authors are totally honest about how they stumbled on the product they're reviewing. Buying something on Etsy that you end up loving so much you feel compelled to share about it is very different from someone paying you to review their product or sending you a freebie in exchange for you saying nice things. I'm opinionated...very opinionated...and I like to hear real opinions and feedback. How honest and meaningful can an opinion be when it's accompanied by cash or product?

I got several requests in my Etsy inbox from people wanting a freebie from my shop in exchange for a review or feature in their gift guide. I opted not to do any of them. I'd much rather have someone buy one of my dolls or bags, love it, and genuinely want to share about my shop with no strings attached. Sure, some of the blogs could have been good marketing for me but I guess it's not the style of marketing I'm interested in. And I couldn't help but question how many of these requests came about because the person wanted to give one of my dolls or bags as a gift but didn't have the budget to buy it.

I've seen a few gift guides this season that are so blatantly a gift grab, I couldn't believe crafters actually responded. Literally, "Everyone send me a bunch of stuff, I'll decide what to blog about and what not to blog about, and then I'll give everything to my friends and family and even tell you on my blog who I'm giving it to." If you're truly doing the gift guide to support artisans and not yourself, why not donate the items to charity? Or give some away to the readers who support you and your blog?

As I said, I know my opinion won't be popular with everyone and I really would love to hear what other crafters think. And speaking of gift guides, I'd like to share a few Christmas gifts I've recently purchased on Etsy that I love. Not paid sponsors or freebies, just well made items that I'm excited about giving.

Mini I Spy Bags
I bought these to go in the girls' stockings and they're just too cute! I love the small size, making them easy to throw in my purse or keep in the car. And even though they're tiny, there's still a long list of treasures for the girls to find.

Pippy Scarf
Ok, I bought this for myself and I've already worn it. And I live in California, at the beach no less, so I don't really need a scarf. But this one is so lightweight and definitely more of an accessory. I love all of the colors in it and definitely plan to get another one in a different color scheme.

Donut and Cupcake Soaps
We're giving these to my grandma for Christmas. Random, huh? She has some ball and heart shaped soaps in her bathroom that the girls love. Every time we visit Matea talks about wanting to use the ball soap. So I let each of the girls pick a fun novelty soap for great grandma's bathroom and they look so realistic, I think grandma's going to be confused!


joliesjunebugboutique said...

First off I want to say I love this post!
I have always wondered what the bloggers do with all of the items they recieve. I love your dolls, so I am sure you had tons of requests to do reviews. I think it is great that you opted not to!

Anonymous said...

I agree that I tend to view what you term "gift grab" reviews as advertising rather than reviews. I have seen some bloggers who are not afraid to give a bad review even when the item was free (although they usually don't solicit to get the item), but they are the exception not the rule. I agree that this isn't the most effective form of advertising.

Kerri said...

I have been blogging for a long time, but just for family. These last few months are my first visits to the "wide world of blogging". I will be interested to read the comments here. I think what all of you do is so cool. :)
I will say that some blogs I have seen recently do seem like a continuous commercial for things via sponsored giveaways. As a newbie, I am not as interested in those blogs and all of the "tweet this 5 times to enter and facebook it, blah blah". Other people probably love them, it's just not for me. :)

Marie said...

How did I miss this post? Anyways, I pretty much agree w/ this post. That is a HUGE reason why my blog has remained mainly what I intended it to be...a blog about my family. I know it may not be the most popular because I don't feature a whole lot of crafing, but it's my real life. My family is first and the crafting and sewing aspect of my life I share when I feel lead to. I quickly exit out of a blog if it contains too much about PR and marketing. I like relating to the blogger, not all the other technical stuff. Hope I made sense. Thanks for sharing!