Karin Joyce from Cafe Bebe a product reviewer, an interview
I met Karin at the British Mommy Bloggers Forum. Her blog format is as original as her writing style. She covers it all under one blog, but today we’re focusing on her product reviews.
Tell me about your Blog
My blog is called Cafe Bebe and came about after I had been writing a blog and realised that I wanted to do more than just blog. I wanted to provide reviews, offer competitions and be a resource for parents. I also like to promote brilliant mumpreneurs who have gone the self-employed route after having a baby and are creating a stir with their products. Cafe Bebe is just that…a resource for parents everywhere. You can find Cafe Bebe at www.cafebebe.co.uk, reviews at http://cafebebe.co.uk/reviews/, and my personal blog at http://cafebebe.co.uk/blog/. All of the pages are accessible through the main www.cafebebe.co.uk site.
What was your first blog?
My first blog was through Blogger- I wrote one about being an American Mom in England and the second was the first Cafe Bebe. I then moved to Webs.com for more of a site and chose to take the leap into self-hosting this past summer.
My original blogs are no longer viewable!
What is the biggest tip you would give to product reviewers?
Even if there are things you don’t like about a product, you can still be constructive in your review. Think of it as your opportunity to point out some valuable information to the company. That doesn’t mean that you don’t have to tell the truth but I think it stretches your writing to find a way to communicate a negative in a constructive way. I would also say, you don’t have to accept every product review out there. If a PR company is interested in you, make sure you feel comfortable with what they are offering. Don’t just take it because it’s free.
Are you contacted by advertisers or do you contact them or both?
I have not been contacted by Advertisers but I have been approached by PR’s or Business owners who are looking for promotion. Most of the mumpreneurs I feature on my site have approached me about promoting them in exchange for a reciprocal link on their site. I have never charged a fee for promoting anyone on my site. As my site is still in the beginning stages, I don’t know that I am on the radar of advertisers yet.
What is your favorite product that you have reviewed?
I have had the chance to review 8 different pushchairs (and keep 4 of them). I love pushchairs (strollers)!
What do advertisers do that you wish they wouldn’t/ do that you like?
Not having had the experience, I would say that I wish they might notice me! However, I know that most bloggers who are approached by advertisers are not interested in the pitches because they really don’t relate to the bloggers interests.
What do bloggers do that you wish they wouldn’t/do that you like?
I think most bloggers would agree that when you reach a certain level of notariety, you feel compelled to compete. You’re trying to reach the next level and produce material that’s as good as the top bloggers. It can be a bit of a vicious cycle.
What advertiser would you like to work with given a chance?
As I review a lot of puschairs, it would be brilliant to get either a specific pushchair company or a store that sells a variety of pushchairs.
Did you design your set up of your reviews on your blog?
I devised the format based on SWOT’s analysis but changed it to be Strengths, Weaknesses, Opinion and Technical Stuff. When I write reviews for MadeForMums website and The Great Toy Guide, we are asked for a similar format but they use different headings (Strengths – We Liked- We Loved, Weaknesses- We Weren’t Keen- What to Watch Out For). I like the idea of a short, catchy paragraph to draw the reader in and then hit on the pluses, minuses and my overall opinion. It also keeps the word count in better check as if a review is too long, readers are less likely to read it (in my humble opinion). I could just do a narrative review but I feel that it’s more professional to highlight the strengths, weaknesses and technical information in an easy to digest format.
Where do you see growth in the blogging field?
The UK is just starting to get more interested in bloggers and blogging. The introduction of British Mummy Bloggers social network has really brought a lot more bloggers together and is helping to make the “mummy blogging” industry a viable avenue for advertisers and PR’s. I think there will be a lot more advertising and major media opportunities for bloggers in the future.
What is one thing about you that not many people know?
Not everyone knows that I am American and most people don’t know that I spent 8 years working in the gymnastics industry before moving to England in 2005.
What’s your favorite book?
Regardless of age, one of my favourite books is The Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh.
What is on your iPod?
A lot of Jack Johnson, Eva Cassidy, Newton Faulkner, Michael Buble, Bob Marley and several Baby Lullaby CD’s as the iPod is permanently stationed in my 17 month old daughter’s room.
What are your contact details?
What events do you attend?
Right now, the only events that I have been attending are press launches and baby product related events.
At these events do bloggers connect with PR people?
We generally can make contact but there’s no obvious attempt from the PR’s to reach out to us unless you have more of a personal relationship with the PR. It also depends on the event and the agenda. If it’s more of a social “launch” type event, it’s harder to corner anyone. We are always provided with a “press pack” of sorts which enables us to have access to the relevant information.
Are there forums in the UK where you can find review opportunities?
There are a few here in the UK- BT Tradespace, Response Source, Getting Ink Requests but the Response Source and Getting Ink Requests forums tend to be more geared to “professional” journalists and freelance writers as opposed to bloggers. The idea of a Blogger’s Forum for Product Reviews specifically is a good one though!
When you are asked to write a review do you get a request for information about your blog stats or is more of a match between blogger and product?
Some people do ask but mostly I have been approached as a site with a common link or goal. I have worked with one PR representative who asked for page stats and visitors and then didn’t get back to me after I reported my information. I understand that PR’s want to target bloggers who have a wide audience but just because my numbers aren’t as high as the next blogger, doesn’t mean that I can’t promote a product just as well. It’s hard to know what PR’s or advertisers are looking for in terms of site stats.
How do you prefer to communicate?
Email is fine.
Who would you recommend, and why?
http://omgip.blogspot.com- Brilliant pregnancy (and now birth) blog for first-time Mums
Being A Mummy– An honest blog which has a lot of humour and a lot we can all relate to
A Modern Mother– Susanna, BMB founder, is a clever and funny writer…this is her personal blog
http://and1moremeansfour.blogspot.com -An amazing early-20’s mum with 4 girls under 4 and now expecting her 5th!
http://www.arewenearlythereyetmummy.com – One of the original BMB founders with a wonderful and sarcastic sense of humour.
http://babyrambles.blogspot.com A new find of mine- she’s just got so much to say and says it so very well.
http://www.bringingupcharlie.co.uk A Daddy blogger! An excellent writer with a wonderful take on parenting and being a stay-at-home DAD.
http://www.expatmumsblog.com A compilation effort from Expat (mostly American) Mums- run by Susanna Scott of BMB
http://emilybassin.blogspot.com Maternal Tales from the South Coast- a very witty mum with an extremely kind nature who has a lot of experience with poo!
http://www.perfectlyhappymum.com A French Mum with 2 gorgeous boys. She runs a weekly Friday Cheesey Song which is hilarious.
http://singleparentdad.blogspot.com A touching story of a Single Dad who’s wife passed away. Great writer as well.
http://www.survival4moms.com A collaborative effort from an English and a Canadian Mum in support of their 2010 book.
http://www.violetposy.co.uk A wonderful writer with a passion for home interiors and a massive technical support for BMB bloggers.
What is one thing people can do for you?
I would love for more writing opportunities to come my way- for pay or not! I write paid reviews for MadeForMums website (www.madeformums.com) and also contribute to The Great Toy Guide (www.greattoyguide.co.uk) and Living with Kids (www.kidstart.co.uk/livingwithkids). I would really love to break into the US market a bit and perhaps attract some publications (online or paper) to feature posts or articles from me.