Zippy Sandler The Review Broads An Interview
Zippy is funny, in fact hilarious at times, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t knowledgeable about writing product reviews that provide necessary information. She also shares how to save money but live large.
Tell me about your Blog –
Champagne Living was my first and I set it up in order to teach people how to live as though they were rich, only on a small income. It includes things like how to buy your car from a wholesale dealer, how to send your children to college tuition free, how to live in a million dollar home for the price of an apartment, as well as how to dine out for cheap or free, how to attend movies, concerts & theater for less (or free) and how to get VIP treatment when you travel even though you’re paying rock bottom prices.
The Review Broads was born because my best friend (who’s a published author), wanted to get back into writing again, while I needed a place to post the overflow of reviews that I was getting on Champagne Living. We started by doing mostly book, DVD and CD reviews, but have expanded into reviewing just about anything that passes our desks. It has grown SO QUICKLY that we’re thinking about adding more reviewers to our team. There are currently myself and Ava, and we have a regular set of guest reviewers so that we can fit the product with someone who can review it the best (for example we have a Blu-Ray reviewer who’s a filmmaker in real life).
What is the biggest tip you would give to product reviewers?
1. Pace yourself. It can feel like Christmas when all of the boxes show up at your door with products for reviews, but you must remember that you’ve got a job to do and you owe it to both the company that sent it as well as to your readers to actually test the product and give your honest opinion. I learned this the hard way, and found myself backed up with too much on my plate.
2. THINK ABOUT YOUR READERSHIP! We don’t necessarily take products that we’d like to own ourselves, instead we try to think about what our readers want.
3. Try to balance your reviews. There are two sides to every story and sometimes you have to take a step back and see the good or potential problems with a product.
Are you contacted by advertisers or do you contact them or both?
When I first started reviewing I was doing mostly the Team Mom, Mom Select, etc. types of reviews and blog tours. When we decided that we were going to devote an entire blog to reviewing I went to some of the major publishing houses and PR reps and pitched our concept to them. The Review Broads is only about five months old now and I find that we are being pitched by companies daily.
What is your favorite product that you have reviewed?
Tough question…..I’d say that the most USEFUL product has been the Primo Water Cooler that I reviewed a few weeks ago. It’s a large water cooler, but it loads from the bottom rather than the top. I LOVE it and find myself telling everyone I know about it. The one that was the most FUN was a hotel chain that sent me away for a short vacation in order to review their newest location. I could DEFINITELY get used to that. The funny thing is that in the back of my mind, I dream of being a travel writer.
What do advertisers do that you wish they wouldn’t do?
I’d love it if they gave me the facts and just let me do my job. Too often I have companies who will e-mail me 5 or 6 times about things that they want me to add to the review. If I’m writing what they want, then it’s just an ADVERTISEMENT. I need to let MY personality shine through. If you like my style enough to pitch me…..let me do my job.
What do bloggers do that you wish they wouldn’t/do that you like?
I see a lot of so called review bloggers who just cut and paste from the products website and call it a review. The point of doing a review is offering up your own insight into the product. I understand that with some products that’s difficult to do, but at least give it a spin that’s uniquely your own.
What advertiser would you like to work with given a chance?
Are you ready for a list? I’d love to be able to work with some of the cruiselines and tourism departments. I travel quite a bit now and would love to be able to offer them a spot on one of the blogs.
As far as products go – probably Nikon (I’ve never used one of their cameras). I’d also like to get into doing some fashion/beauty reviewing as well (although I think that belongs on Champagne Living rather than “the Broads”).
Where do you see growth in the blogging field?
Blogging is still a relatively new field. We who do it daily assume that EVERYONE has a blog, but when I talk to people in my day to day life I realize that it’s still in it’s pioneer phase. There are so many untouched areas of blogging right now – the sky is truly the limit.
What is one thing about you that not many people know?
I used to be an performer. I say performer because I did everything from acting, to dance to being a magician’s assistant and a clown. I lived in Paris for a while when I was young and taught American Modern Dance there. I still go back to visit yearly.
What’s your favorite book?
I have two.
My favorite novel is: All Families are Psychotic by Douglas Coupland. There’s something about dysfunctional families that helps me to laugh at my own problems.
My favorite non-fiction book is: Changing Your Course by Bob & Melinda Blanchard. The Blanchards also wrote “A Trip to the Beach” and both books are about living your dream. “Changing Your Course” is not only inspiring, but it also outlines how to go about turning your dreams into reality.
What is on your iPod?
I love the old school stuff like James Taylor and Joan Armatrading (showing my age).
What are your contact details?
Readers can contact me at zipporahs(at)gmail(dot)com or check out
The Review Broads – http://www.thereviewbroads.com
Champagne Living – http://www.champagneliving.net
I update my facebook page regularly – http://www.facebook.com/champagneliving
Once in a while I’ll spend a half hour or so on twitter – @zipporahs
What events do you attend?
I’ll be attending BlogHer this coming summer.
I just came back from the Blogger’s Brunch, The Good Housekeeping Research Institute, and the FloTV events in NYC about 2 weeks ago and next week I’m off to Los Angeles to attend a Marshall’s event.
If an event is sponsored by a company and they’d like me to cover it on one of the blogs, I’ll usually go. It all depends upon the relationship that I have with the rep or the product. Of course it has to be in-line with what I write about.
How do you prefer to communicate?
What is one thing people can do for you?
I love to work with other bloggers. Please don’t be afraid to reach out.
How did you get started in blogging?
I had planned on writing when I “retired” and thought that blogging might help me test the waters a bit. It has already brought me a bit of unexpected outside work writing. The plan is still to take what I/we do to print.
Is there a reason that you don’t have an About Me page on The Review Broads?
Yes, there is. It’s because the bevy of broads is constantly changing and you never know who’ll show up to write a review. If readers would like information about myself or my partner in crime at “the broads”, they’ll find a short bio on each of us in the “Media Kit” section.
Do you share the work equally on the blog or do you share it by who does what better?
A good portion of it is about who has the capability to do the job. I do all of the admin work, because Ava doesn’t even have internet access. She just got a computer last week and has been typing her reviews and e-mailing them to me from the library. As far as the reviews are concerned – we match the product with the reviewer.
What forums are you active in?
I tend to not be a forum type. I may check in every now and then at a couple of ning’s like the BookBlog ning, but I’m not really what you’d call an active participant. If I spent too much time in the forums, nings, twitter, etc. I’d have no time to LIVE. I’m more likely to be traveling, dining out, going to the theater, etc. I can’t write about living rich (on Champagne Living) if I’m not actually LIVING it and that’s where I put my focus.
How do you feel about sponsored posts and tweets?
I have mixed feelings. I understand that they have their place in the world of social media as companies consider us the new frontier of advertising. If the post something that you’d write about ANYWAY, then it’s fine. If you’re a beauty writer and all of a sudden a casket company wants you to post their latest “ground breaking” deal – then you’re doing your readers an injustice.
Twitter is a whole OTHER story. I’m finding that there’s so much SPAM on twitter anyway. Can you tell I’m not a huge twitter fan? I like to have conversations with people. Twitter makes me feel as if I’ve interrupted a conversation that they’re having with someone else and that’s just rude.